The Chronicles of Malta
History - A Brief History of Malta
A Brief History of Malta by Treforth, published 934 EC.
…Because of the vast impact of religion upon Nexus, nearly every culture is directly tied to one, specific deity. As the deity increases in power, so does the culture. Likewise, as the culture grows in power, so does the deity. This symbiotic relationship between deity and worshippers allows for varying relationships between the church and state.
In some cases, the church is a separate entity from the ruling government. However, the church often will have substantial influence over the government. In most cases the head of the state is also the head of the church. By controlling both entities, the ruler is able to maintain a tight grip on his culture and his power can often extend over vast areas. In some rare cases, the ruler is seen as a god, himself.
Furthermore, the vast differences in species’ development and culture lend an eclectic air to The Nexus. The mix of elves with Dwarves and Humans with Goblyns all set among sub-mortal races such as Cyclops and Centaurs, even magical creatures such as Imps, influence the view and feel of Malta’s landscape.
Several different forms of state government exist on the continents of the Nexus. The first and most common form is the independent city/state. A small ruling class or nobility typically controls these city/states. Titles such as king, lord, liege lord and doge are common for the head of the government.
Feudalism or feudal societies are based upon relationships between vassals and lords. A vassal pledges fealty, or support, to the lord and offers military services. For this pledge, the lord gives the vassal rights to control, occupy and tax the land known as a fief. A feudal society often has several layers of lords and vassals. The king may grant land to several vassals whom, in turn, grant fiefs to several vassals who also grant fiefs to vassals, etc. Since the custom in a feudal society states: A vassal must show fealty only to his immediate lord and the vassal has only to provide a limited amount of military service every year, the king may have very little actual control over the armies occupying his kingdom. Should the king decide to engage in warfare, he can only demand service from his immediate vassals and must pay for the remainder of his military needs.
The oldest sons, or closest relative, of a vassal usually inherits fiefs. By accepting his new fiefdom, the vassal is also accepting his ancestor’s pledge of fealty to his immediate lord. Over several generations, loyalty to a lord often wanes. Additionally, vassals often war amongst themselves for the rights to fiefs. With this being the case, a vassal may quite possibly server different lords.
Another form of government is the empire. In this case, the government extends its control over surrounding communities. However, unlike a feudal kingdom, the empire places a “governor” in the local community to rule in the stead of the emperor. The governor is always an emissary from the empire’s community with no legal rights to the land. The governorship is not a hereditary position. He is a direct subject to the emperor and can be replaced at will.
Further, the governor cannot grant any fiefs of land to subjects since he owns nothing. In order to maintain control of the community, empires place, in the local communities, standing armies of soldiers from the empire’s own community. These soldiers are given spoils from the community and, hence, are extremely loyal to the empire and its governor. Wealth derived from a community by the soldiers is allowed to pass from one generation to the next, yet title and rank are not. By maintaining direct control over all his subjects and creating a militaristic state, the emperor is able to control vast areas of land.
A third form of government found on the Nexus is the tightly controlled theocracy. In the theocracy, the ruler is considered absolute. His laws and commandments are believed to have been delivered directly from the culture’s deity. The followers of the religion are typically fanatic. They will follow the religious leader of their culture without question. Large, dedicated armies are often found within these cultures. They strive to grow their power and their culture as quickly as possible. They will desecrate the temples of any overthrown cultures and demand that their deity is worshipped.
Because of the complexities of these societies, the political stability of the Nexus is in constant flux. Power among the warring states, kingdoms and empires is shifting continually. Even family members constantly struggle between the greed for power and the loyalty to their heritage.
As a community gains power and people, its patron deity’s power is equally increased, and therefore, the power of the community is again strengthened. Yet, if its power or the power of its deity is diminished, another force is always there to exploit its weakened position. Upon Malta, this year’s victor may be next year’s vanquished.
This critical and irrefutable link between deity and culture provides an added dynamic to The Nexus cultures. The people may have a good harvest and win the appropriate battles and even negotiate the correct treaties, yet if their deity loses power or is defeated by a rival deity, then the culture will wane, battles will be lost, and crops will wither and die. Without the protection of a deity, the culture will invariably die. Additionally, the vengeance of other deities looking for more power will reap plagues, and disasters upon the community. This link thus throws religion into a central position in society. Therefore, no culture promotes atheism, and only rarely does a culture allow polytheism.
Additionally, this link between deity and culture with the added dimensions of varying cultural values received from different species, which inhabit The Nexus, causes many unique governmental forms to be established. Theocracies are common,. The Goblyns often practice a lottery system, where chance determines the new leader. Their patron deity, of course, controls this “chance”. Other cultures let the deity directly pick the leader. Cambris actually descends as an avatar to name the high priest and ruler of the Horiconian Empire. Thus we can see in The Nexus many new and creative forms of government.