Begma

Historical/Fictional? Inspiration
Canonical Shadow, history modelled on aspects of France and England
Population
3,000,000 roughly
Travel Time from Amber
3 weeks ride by land
Time Differential
1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.
Heraldic Animal
The Falcon

Geography:

The Kolvir range turns into hills which run northwestward along Begma's eastern border. These hills gradually turn into downs as you go west, then finally decline into gently rolling plains which run west to the Forest of Mysteries, a vast wall of trees that runs north and south for hundreds of miles. With the cooling of the lands, it has spread southwards again. Begma's northern border is formed by the Desla mountains, which rise from the northern tip of the Kolvir hills, then arc westward to the Forest of Mysteries. The Barimen River, which flows out of the Forest of Mysteries, has usually marked the southern border of Begma.

Most of Begma is alternating patches of scrub forest and fairly flat farmland, cut through by several rivers which mostly run northwest to southeast and flow into the Barimen river. However, the Harad River also runs through Begma to Harad, having had its headwaters in the middle of the Desla mountains. The rivers irrigate the land, making it fertile, and carry massive river traffic.

Begma's capital is Begma City, far west of Amber, a good two weeks ride into the interior from Darien, the city of Begma closest to Amber City itself. It is home to about forty thousand people; half the city sits on a huge island in the center of the Begma River, while the rest live in suburbs on the northern and southern banks of the river. Begma Air Port is on the southern bank.

History:

When Amberites first found Begma, it was divided into dozens of city states along the river valleys and most of the land was overgrown with forest. About half of them had been loosely united into the Wanecki empire, which was very unstable. The Catalans came from the northeast around 400 AY, ushering the land into the Iron Age, conquering and uniting it.

After King Ura's assassination, his kingdom broke up as his heirs squabbled. In 468 AY, the peace of Alsace divided Catala among three kings: Kashfa, Eregna, and Begma, under the nominal leadership of Eregna. However, Begma and Kashfa soon teamed up to squeeze Eregna between them.

Begma's dynasty was short lived--in 490-500 AY, the Pecheneg, driven from Harad, invaded and conquered it, turning it into a state much like Merovingean France. The Pecheneg dynasty gradually went into decline, and by 604 AY, Begma was reduced to paying a tribute yearly to the Cimbri to avoid being invaded. Things didn't turn around until the Mayors of the Palace, theoretically simply the stewards of the royal estates, more or less took over the government and ran the country, able to do so because the repeated Cimbri assaults created a demand for leadership.

In 635 AY, Pepin the Short defeated the Cimbri at the battle of Karest, driving them out of Begma. He defeated them again in 639, 645, and 660. It wasn't until around 680 that his descendents managed to drive out the Cimbri entirely, though. His great-grandson, Pepin the Strong took the throne and founded the Silesian Dynasty.

By the nine hundreds, the Silesian dynasty had also crumbled and become corrupt, with its authority largely usurped by the Prime Ministers. The Orkuz family managed to turn that position into a hereditary one in the 990s to 1020s, when they expanded into Eregnor in the wake of the collapse of the Alans who had seized it. This led to conflicts with Kashfa, and a dozen wars since then over Eregnor with Kashfa.

During the Annadil Crisis, Begma supported Amber, and was rewarded with control of all of Eregnor.

Begman forces fought and died by Amber's side at the Day of the Dead.

In 1389 AY, there was a coup in the city of Nicephorus, a Talman city. Nicephorus went over to Begman allegiance; many suspect this was the result of manipulations by Nadia Orkuz, Prime Minister of Begma. The Talmans claimed Begmans had staged a coup; Amber declared neutrality. This set off the War of Nicephorus. To the surprise of many, Begma suffered hideous early reverses, as the Talmans stormed into Nicephorus and retook it.

The war went badly for Begma, as many of the border cities were overrun in the following years.

However, in 1393, Nadia Orkuz had a heart attack and died. Her son, Keitaro became Prime Minister. Keitaro successfully called upon friends he had made in the royal families of Amber, Arcadia, and Ember, and with their 'unofficial' help, turned back the Talman tide.

Since 1398, there has been a tense peace between Talma and Begma, but many fear another war is likely.

Today:

Prime Minister Keitaro Orkuz rules Begma, and his aunt Coral Orkuz is married to King Rinaldo of Kashfa. He is a notable trump artist, married to Princess Shinobu Minor of Amber. They have no children yet. He seems determined to keep the peace with Talma, though many Begmans are spoiling for a rematch.

Begma flourishes, mining ore in the mountains and cutting timber from the forest of mystery and producing a wide variety of metal and timber products. They're especially noted for their production of paper and books; the Begmans do have printing presses and love to use them.

Begman society is dominated by the hereditary nobility. They've lost most of their personal political power, but they control the regional assemblies, and the central assembly where all the major decisions are made. The Silesian dynast who holds the throne, Pepin XVI, is largely powerless, while the real executive power is in the hands of the Prime Minister, Nadia Orkuz, who struggles with the assemblies to direct the course of government. Pepin seems content to make clocks and locks; he's a noted maker of mechanical gizmos, and seems little like a king. This has made him beloved of the people, who can see him as one of their own. Pepin is growing old, however, and his son, Carlo, seems likely to try to reassert some of the royal privileges. Many worry about the likely results. Especially since Carlo has been seen in the company of Prince Kuonji of Amber, who is known to rather dislike Keitaro.

The Begman military is very efficient when well paid, but has constant financial problems. It consists of regiments of pikemen and crossbowmen, supplemented by a small force of light cavalry for scouting and a very competent noble-dominated heavy cavalry corps. Begma is noted for its excellent siege equipment and skill at seige warfare.

Many Begmans have adopted the Cult of the Unicorn; the rest worship the Sons and Daughters of Pechena, the twelve dieties worshipped long ago by the Pecheneg, the usual squabbling pagan pantheon of horny people who act out humanity's worst impulses. Each city has a different member of the pantheon as its patron; there are many minor deities, the sons and daughters of the Sons and Daughters.

Many Begmans are very much wanting a rematch against Talma.

Primal Chaos leveled the City of Begma, though most of the city was soon after rebuilt by Fuyutsuki, Nagisa, and Chloe. The royal family and the Prime Ministerial family narrowly escaped the devastation and have since returned.