Senate and Freeborn Landholders of Ephyra
1626 AD - Present
Ever For Our Honour (English)
Territorial extent of the Freehold
Ephyra, known in formal discourse as the Senate and Freeborn Landholders of Ephyra (SFLE), and informally as the Ephyral Empire, the Ephyral Freehold, or colloquially as the Freehold, is a sovereign country and recognised great power centred politically in south-eastern Europe, but with territorial authority exercised over land as far east as the Zagros in Asia, as south as the Nile in Africa, and as west as Tunis. This extensive border brings it into contact with two prominent states, Russia and Pontus, and with many other smaller and less significant states generally falling under its sphere of influence. The Freehold maintains effective control of the eastern half of the Mediterranean through encirclement of its coastline, as well as controlling the vital strait between Asia Minor and Europe and the canal linking the Mediterranean sea to the Indian ocean. Controlling over 5 million square kilometres of land, the Freehold has a total population of over 68 million per the census of 1950, estimated in 1954 to be over 71.5 million.
The Freehold operates as a classical republic, a unitary state centred on the geo-administrative metropole of Selia. With political power largely monopolised amongst the ruling social and economic class, the Freehold has been referenced as oligarchic or plutocratic, although self-styles itself as aristocratic timocracy. The office of head of state and head of government are one, the archon; the executive magistrate of the Freehold elected annually for a term of a single year. Primary political power lies de facto with the Senate of the Freeborn Landholders, an indirectly-elected quasi-aristocratic body of men whose seats in the institution are awarded for life through election to the first office in the political hierarchy. The archon, and all members of the executive council, are members also of the Senate. Functioning in a similar but distinct matter to foreign legislatures, the Senate is responsible for the budget and making law amongst other duties. Laws passed by the Senate must be ratified by the Symposium of the Freeborn Landholders, an in absentia 'body' of all citizens with the right of suffrage to vote in blocs directly for or against Senatorial legislation.
Whilst the city of Ephyra certainly functions as the capital of the Ephyral state, the term 'capital city' is inaccurate due to the formation of the Ephyral state from identity to the city as opposed to a nation. Though controlling millions of square kilometres, the Freehold is in effect an Ephyral city-state, comprised of its core (the city itself), and remaining territory organised into settlements designated as colonies, municipal towns, provincial communities, and their respective territory recognised by the state. Outside of the metropole of Selia, these colonies, municipal towns, and provincial communities are located within administrative provinces managed by a Senate-appointed governor from the pool of former archons.
The 68 million people who make up the Freehold's population are of diverse origin, with the overwhelming majority being the descendants of populations conquered by the Freehold over the last three centuries. These people are socially stratified along a caste-like class system distinct from economic prosperity. Full Ephyral citizens sit atop this structure, internally divided amongst the senatorial, equestrian, freeholder, and prole economic classes. The Lykosian rights are a legal set of rights and duties held by those who comprise the class immediately beneath citizens. Under them are foreigners or 'metics', immigrants to the Freehold and their descendants. Provincials comprise the bottom free class of residents in the Freehold, absent nearly all rights but possessing of legal personhood. At the absolute bottom reside the slaves, an unfree class held as chattel by free private individuals or the state.
On ethnic and racial origin, the recognised native group of the Freehold are a people known as the Selians. Originally, this group existed beyond the political entity that was Ephyra, but were divided into states sharing common cultural affinity and understanding of a wider identity with the then narrowly-defined Ephyral. The Selian people were first 'united' under the Arconian Empire of the 4th century BC, largely united under the Mantaran Empire from the 5th to 12th centuries AD, and a third time under the Freehold from 1626. In both blood and language, Selian people exist outside the Freehold as minorities such as in Washington or Germany, and even comprise the native population of other polities such as Pontus. In Ephyral discourse however, to be Selian is a composition of blood (genos), language, cult, and custom (ethnos); consequently many non-Ephyral Selians are regarded by their kin in the Freehold as non-Selian altogether. Selians by ethnos and genos in Ephyra comprise the majority of its minority citizens, and have an ethnic monopoly on the aristocratic senatorial and equestrian classes. Non-Selians in the Freehold include various south Slavic ethnolinguistic groups, the Arab peoples, Armenians, Georgians, Azeri Turks, Persians, Berbers, and smaller minorities like Yazidis and Jews. Religiously, Ephyra is split between its own native Selian pagan religion, and the Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Though apparently multicultural and certainly multiethnic, the Freehold does not operate on a basis of egalitarianism. Selians by genos and ethnos are regarded as the betters of non-Selians, whilst a great deal of social intolerance is manifest towards the Abrahamic faiths (due to the latters' own intolerance of pagans). Selianisation or Ephyralisation remains a prominent national policy.
The prevailing Selian-born Ephyral culture of the Freehold is an ancient and rich one, emphasising strongly conservative social mores, and placing great weight on the ideas of family, religious cultivation, honour, and civic virtue. It is not without its critics and detractors both within and without however. The Freehold's continued legality of a chattel slave system, honour-related violence, and the political disenfranchisement of women are amongst the issues raised against Ephyra by critics, whilst supporters and admirers of the state from without, and its most vocal advocates within, defend the long-standing traditional culture of honour, nobility, family, and virtue.
Ephyra's power on the world stage, though not supreme, remains considerable. Able to exercise diplomatic and political soft power over many less significant states, as well as being a source of concern and consideration for numerous other powers, the Freehold reinforces this soft power with a sizeable, well-funded, and socially venerated military. Reformed in the last twenty years, the military of the Freehold places significant emphasis on naval power projection and terrestrial warfare, with considerably reduced though not altogether absent aerial power. Calling upon citizen volunteer soldiers, veteran elites, and provincial auxiliaries, the Freehold's sheer size is a testament to its prior military domination, whilst its modern reform guarantees the ability of the Ephyral to defend their homeland and as importantly, project power unto others.
I | Etymology
II | History
...1 | Recent history
III | Geography
...1 | Climate and biomes
IV | Demographics
...1 | Population
...2 | Civic demographics
...3 | Language
...4 | Religion
...5 | Race and ethnicity
...6 | Largest cities
V | Government
...1 | Foreign relations
...2 | Law
...3 | Policy
...4 | Administration and provinces
...5 | Military
VI | Economy
VII | Culture
VIII | Infrastructure
...1 | Energy
The site upon which the city of Ephyra - heart and capital of the modern Freehold - now stands is believed by historians and archaeologists to have been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years, with sporadic prior habitation largely assumed. Though mythology and legend suppose a founding of the city some time in the 13th or 12th centuries BC by the culture-hero Lykos, Ephyra had already achieved significance in the late bronze age by this time, organised around a palace complex like many of its contemporaries. The violent collapse of the bronze age in the 12th century may or may not have seen the destruction of Ephyra by the Sea Peoples or by Kolkosian migrants, but population and economic decline is known. Iron Age Ephyra, divided between the Ancient and Classical Era, became one of the most significant cities in the world for culture, education, philosophy, and politics.
The golden age of Ephyra arose in the 5th century BC, where the city-state obtained political hegemony over its neighbours alongside economic growth and a flourishing of culture and learning. This golden age however would be terminated by numerous and costly wars with various rival city-states, and eventually the Achaemenid Persian Empire (during the course of which, Ephyra would be sacked more than once). Ephyra became subject to the Arconians in the 4th century BC, and its soldiers participated in an all-Selian war against the Persians led by the Arconian kingdom, a war which saw the destruction of the Persian Empire and the rise of the Arconian successor states following the dissolution of its empire to the infighting of generals-turned-kings. Ephyra would retain significant degrees of independence in both this new Selianistic Era under a much decreased Arconian state, and again under the administration of the Roman Republic turned Empire, a foreign state which would have tremendous impact on the cultural evolution and political innovations of future Selian states including Ephyra itself, and which was itself influenced by Selian manners and customs.
After Roman collapse, Ephyra capitalised on its prior autonomy to quickly establish not only independence but a small league of allies under its hegemony known as the Rhyosian League. The League contended with the rising power of Mantar, another Selian state, from Asia Minor, denying Mantar conquest of southern Selia until the 7th century AD, when defeat at the Battle of Gossis forced the League's capitulation and dissolution. Remaining a subject of Mantar for the next five centuries, the city's next surge for independence occurred during the dying empire's contention with eastern threats including the Mongols. Much reduced, Ephyra was only able to establish control over its local region of Lykosia, forming the Lykosian League as a means of defence against its other Selian rivals.
Whilst many of the Selian-ruled states succeeding Rome fell to the Muslim Arabs and the Mongols, never to return in their prior form, Selia proper endured. Internally however, bitter and brutal wars were waged between ever-shifting alliances. Ephyra was no different, and its power waxed and waned over the next four centuries. July 5th 1626 was the day of significant change. Valaemedes Anogarios Artalos, a general with the personal loyalty of his army, and the support of the people of Ephyra, successfully overthrew the ineffectual oligarchy that had governed the city. Known today as the First Cultural Revolution, it was one of the major acts of the wider Selian Renaissance, a revival of ancient Selian art, literature, and philosophy across the local region. Ephyra, living up to the past it was rediscovering, became a hub of the Renaissance, with Artalos reviving ideals of classical republicanism, civic virtue, honour, property, and martial exellence, finally implementing himself as archon with popular support. His reforms were vast, inspired by both ancient Ephyral democracy and Roman military and political concepts. New laws in the Artalos Code laid out the rights, responsibilities, and protections of Ephyra's revitalised citizen population. A resurgent behaviour on precedent was established, the birth of a new social mores inspired by the old. On July 16th 1626 the Senate and Freeborn Landholders of Ephyra was proclaimed into existence.
Under what became the perennial Archonship of Artalos, Ephyra achieved through the diplomatic expansion of the Lykosian League in conjunction with military conquest a gradual domination of Selia, Ephyralising conquered Selians and bringing them under an identity ignorant of the tribal sub-divisions of their race. The Lykosian League's original definition was rendered obsolete when member-states were given citizenship prior to Artalos' death on May 11th 1653, with the rights and duties of those states carrying on in legal terminology into the semi-citizen Lykosian class. The new Senate of Ephyra, comprised of elite family heads, conferred perennial Archonship twice more; on Daenegon Kelerios Araenor, and Kymidon Eresios Raheris. After Raheris' term, marred by incompetence and unaccountable decision making, the authority of the office of Archon was limited by demand of the Symposium of the Freeborn Landholders, who also won the right to annually elect three Freeholder Delegates who could by their own internal vote, veto the actions of the higher elected officials including the archon (but not the emergency office of archon dictator). The term of office was also reduced to ten years, however by 1795, all offices followed suit of the Freeholder Delegates and became subject to annual election. A political ladder and age requirements in the style of the Roman Republic were also implemented by this time, and it is this system which persists today.
Traditions of marital prowess and maritime excellence were resurgent in the 17th and 18th centuries as the Freehold's expansion out of Selia focused on coastal domination, with interior conquests mandated as the circumstances dictated. Extensive slave-raids along both the eastern and western Mediterranean saw a rise in the significance of chattel in trade and commerce. The reordered armies of Ephyra, coupled with a swiftly built large and powerful navy, granted it command of the Mediterranean long before all the lands surrounding its eastern half fell to the Freehold. Centuries of expansion and conflict elevated in Ephyral social and religious consciousness a reverence for war waged correctly and decisively. The two most major military setbacks before the 19th century were a failed invasion of Egypt and Pontus, however the former of these eventually fell.
The 19th century saw military and economic decline due to the crippling of the slave-trade by separate wars with Washington in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and the Russian Empire in the east. Economic prosperity fell and corruption amongst elected officials grew. This state of decline would continue, marked by internal rebellions and ever more gradual provincial autonomy threatening to break up the increasingly bloated and inept Freehold until the middle of the 20th century.
The Freehold is one of the geographically larger nations of the world, boasting over 5 million square kilometres of control across land in three continents. Though the core heartland of the Freehold, Selia, is located entirely within Europe, the bulk of the Freehold's authority lies upon land in Asia. Asia Minor and Anatolia to the Zagros mountains fall under the Freehold's law and administration, as well as south across the Levant and into Arabia. West across the Sinai, Ephyra's African possessions extend as far as the former power of Carthage, whilst journeying south from the Nile keeps one in Freehold land as far as the south-eastern tip of the Sahara desert. European control extends north of Selia itself, in the lands of Thrace and Illyria.
The scale of the Freehold's control emphasises maritime superiority, as the entirety of the eastern Mediterranean finds itself surrounded by land under the banner of Ephyra. Territorial penetration into Africa is limited, with control of the coast along the Mediterranean and Red Sea having taken greater priority. Inland control of Anatolia is near-total with the exception of the neighbouring power of Pontus, whilst the Fertile Crescent finds itself entirely under the administration of the Freehold.
Two significant states share a land border with Ephyra; Pontus and Russia. Whilst numerous less significant states dot Ephyra's extensive borders along Africa, Asia, and Europe, many of these find themselves under the Freehold's sphere of influence. The Black Sea is shared with tension between Pontus, Russia, Karthspire, and Ephyra. Relations with these neighbouring states is variable, with Pontus having emerged as an ally, and Karthspire and Russia reviled as long-time enemies.
The 1950 census of the Freehold's population measured in at 68,034,586 people, only marginally up from the 1940 census of 67,211,055 people. This insignificant increase is attributed to the Great War, with births almost entirely offset by rising death tolls in the course of the war, slowly being corrected after its conclusion in 1946. A population estimate in 1954 gave a figure of 71.5 million, indicating significant birth increases. Demographers attribute this to overall fertility across social classes, but in particular to the citizen-centred pro-natal policies introduced by Archon Lenaleos in his reforms, which have continued under his successors; taxation of unmarried men older than thirty-five, and laurel honours presented to citizen women who bear and raise a certain number of children are two of the most significant. Average birth rate across the Freehold is measured at 4.3 children per woman as of 1950, which whilst lower for citizen women at 3.89, indicates strong fertility and pro-natal attitudes amongst the population contributing to a predicted 1960 population of over 76 million. Unusually, the Freehold also sees a high birthrate amongst women of higher social class, with citizen women of senatorial or equestrian property-classes at a birth rate of 3.6, only slightly lower than their freeholder sisters. Freeholder women of the fourth class had the highest birthrate amongst citizen women in 1950 at 4.14 children per woman.
Discrepancies between citizens and non-citizens indicate the number of citizens is likely to slowly decrease in proportion to provincials, metics, and Lykosians, however if Lykosians are factored in and future elevation of status ignored, the amount of people possessing rights above metics is on the rise.
Civic demographics in the Freehold are the assessment of social class (as opposed to economic) by percentage. These are Ephyral citizens, Lykosian semi-citizens, foreign-born / -descended metics, provincials, and slaves. All legal residents of the Freehold hold one of these five statuses, which serve as substitute for the concept of nationality through citizenship, as many of the residents of the Freehold hold no citizenship in any nation, but are not stateless as a result of this system. Whilst these broader camps can be broken down internally either by an official or unofficial means, the five serve as they are to indicate the general rights and responsibilities of a given person in the Freehold.
As of 1950, 22% of the Freehold's population hold Ephyral citizenship, granting them as a bloc the highest rights and privileges in Ephyra. A further 24% of residents hold the rights of Lykosia, meaning that 46% of the population total hold at least partial citizenship within the Freehold. Lykosians have been the fastest growing group for a while, due to both birth rates and the regular elevation of non-Lykosian communities to that status. 8% of the Freehold's residents are foreign-born, or descended from accepted foreigners. The largest single group are the provincials, conquered peoples and their descendants, who make up 32% of the population - afforded in effect the basic rights regarded in the Roman-inspired Ephyral legal and philosophical concept of the law of all peoples. Finally, the remaining 14% of residents belong to members of the other four as slaves, lacking even the basic legal standing of personhood under the law of all peoples afforded to non-citizen free-born foreigners.