Folkhame

The capital city of the Folkdeed of Greatvale and the center of Greatvalish civilization and culture.

Founding

In 5449 P.C., Wulfred selected the spot near the fall line of the Great Tidewater as a suitable spot for encampment as it was a natural spot for the construction of a mill.  The city is located right at the end of the tidal estuary and thus still has a deep channel allowing for larger, seagoing vessels to navigate up to the city.  Wulfred always intended that the new city function as a trading port in addition to providing a defensible home for his people.

Map of Folkhame, capital city of the Folkdeed of Greatvale
The city of Folkhame and surrounding countryside.

The initial settlement centered around a fortification atop Cynric’s Hill known as the Burhfast, which became the main citadel of the new settlement.  It would be in that citadel that the king and his council of advisors (eventually known as the Ealdormoot) would come to be located.

With the growth of the Kingdom of Greatvale in the first millenium P.C., King Godwine I decided that the king was in need of a larger, and more defensible fortress than the old Burhfast citadel.  In 922 P.C., Godwine constructed the Cynestol or the Royal Keep, a far more massive structure just to the east of the old Burhfast. Eventually, the Ealdormoot also took up residence in the Cynestol, not so much out of need as out of the king’s desire to keep an eye on the council.

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The Trade Tongue

The Trade Tongue is the main lingua franca in the Lands Under the Sun and the language in which you are reading this article.

The Trade Tongue is the language of Broadland on the west coast of the Sunrise Lands and shares a common history with the language of Greatvale, though the Trade Tongue has been influenced by a number of languages of both close and distant relation and its vocabulary and grammar reflect this.  The people of Greatvale can understand the Trade Tongue with some effort, while the peoples of Broadland find Greavalish overly complex and archaic. The Trade Tongue is of a different stock altogether from the Elder Tongue, though it often incorporates words from that language.

Broadland speech, which continues to be known in that country as Brallanish, became the speech of the mercantile fleets that traveled up and down the western coast of the Sunrise Lands as Broadland merchant fleets became the trade conduit for goods from surrounding nations.  Even after those fleets surrendered market dominance to the fleets of Greatvale, the Broadland tongue continued to be used among the ports of the west coast and even the Chain Islands.  The Trade Tongue over time became the dominant language of merchant fleets, due to the fact that most merchant fleets drew sailors from different lands and it became a convenient common tongue. As it became the dominant tongue of merchant fleets, soon it was the dominant tongue used by those engaged in trade among the ports of the world.  From there, it became the language of those who sought to benefit from trade, investments in trade, or other areas of commerce. It is a rare thing to travel to any port in the Lands Under the Sun and not to hear the Trade Tongue spoken.

Aelfwine Theodwita

On the 4th day of Windmath (4 Othalul) 1174 A.C., Hendryck and Æthelhilde of Fiscerehæfen welcomed their first born son, whom they named Aelfwine, after Æthelhilde’s grandfather, a renown sea captain in that same port city of Fiscerehæfen.

From a young age, Aelfwine demonstrated considerable intellectual acuity and his teachers in the city’s Leorninghus noted that he was an avid reader and consumer of stories. His parents, however, saw him entering the family business: a fleet of merchant ships engaged in trade along the west coast of the Sunrise Lands, from Carmadh down to Cape Verunnu in the south.  Fortunately for Aelfwine, the Boroughmoot of Fiscerehæfen mandated a minimum of eight years of schooling for the children of the city. And so, while his parents would have happily placed him aboard ship as a midshipman at the age of nine, Aelfwine was required by law to remain in school for another four years.

Aelfwine was seen as a serious child, rarely smiling but nevertheless demonstrating a biting wit.  It was said that his wit was so dry even as a child that his comments in response to his classmates’ taunts would send his teachers into fits of laughter and leave his fellow classmates dumbfounded.  Wyverun Larsmith, his teacher at the Leorninghus, told a story of a day when a larger boy, Brand, was picking on Aelfwine. After the older boy had finished his rather pedestrian insults, Aelfwine simply said, “Were the bliss your family must feel on account of your collective ignorance something we could bottle, we’d never have to trade with Carmadh for poppies again.”

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Kingdom of Greatvale

The lands of the Greatvale
The lands of the Greatvale

The Kingdom of Greatvale was one of the Nine Ancient Realms that dominated the Greatvale region for over five thousand years until it was reorganized into the Greatvale Folkdeed.

Around 5450 PC, Wulfred of Dunburgh led a party of colonists from the Hidden Lands toward the Sunset Lands. After their expedition was blown off course in bad weather, and after surviving a shipwreck that nearly claimed the life of Wulfred, they arrived in Greatvale near what is now known as the Beacon in Fralin’s Deep.

Wulfred led the survivors of the expedition up the estuary they named the Great Tidewater to a site suitable for encampment.  It is said that upon seeing the site for the first time, Wulfred exclaimed, “Ah, here at last is a home for our people.” Thus was the place named “Folkhame.” Accounts vary as to when the term Greatvale was first used, as it is not entirely clear when the scope of the valley was realized.

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The Long Campaign

The Long Campaign is the name given to the nine-year long civil war that removed the Last King of Greatvale and established the republic known as the Greatvale Folkdeed.

Background

map of Greatvale
The lands of the Greatvale

In the year 120 PC, Archon Zajjasu of Carmadh celebrated the tenth year of his reign with a hunting party.  This hunting party attracted some of the great nobles and leaders of the western Sunrise Lands. Notably absent from the invitation was King Godwine III Beorncyning of Greatvale, though few were surprised by this, as relations between Carmadh and Greatvale were cool at the time. Zajjasu took his hunting party along the western side of the Kiting Mountains, the name by which Carmadh refers to the Westvale Mountains.  Toward the end of the expedition, Zajjasu led his party into the Deepwood, the forest to the south of the Westvale Mountains that marks the boundary between Carmadh and Greatvale. Although at this time the border had never been firmly established between the two realms, the woods were considered something of a “neutral zone” between the kingdoms, available for ordinary use by the people, but off limits for military or commercial use.

When Godwine became aware of Zajjasu’s party’s presence in the Deepwood, the slight of his non-invitation became insult.  He declared that Carmadh’s presence in the Deepwood was an affront to all of Greatvale and especially to the honor of his house. To announce his response, he spoke before the Ealdormoot, many of whom were skeptical, but since Godwine merely convened the gathering to declare his intention rather than seek their counsel, their opinions were largely irrelevant. This followed a long pattern of erratic behavior on the part of Godwine and his increasing indifference toward the opinions of the nobles and aristocrats who made up the Ealdormoot. On the first day of Lenctenmath 118 PC, Godwine led a great host out from Folkhame toward the Deepwood to engage Zajjasu and to secure the Deepwood once and for all as Greatvale territory.

On the way west, the army camped outside the town of Oxbridge, near the farm of Swithin Sceaphyrd, a commoner landholder.  During the encampment, the men of Godwine’s host resupplied themselves with the produce of Sceaphyrd’s farm, slaughtered his flocks, and, at one point, seized his daughters for the “comfort” of the troops.  Sceaphyrd pleaded to the king for justice for his daughters and restitution for his lost crops and livestock.  The king rejected Sceaphyrd’s plea and sent him away. The king was reported to have said, “The problems of peasants are nothing when the honor of kings is at stake.”

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The Beacon

The Ancient Beacon of Greatvale, also known as Cynric’s Light, Cynric’s Rock, or simply The Beacon, is a massive stone monolith on the southern tip of Wulfred’s Byland, which juts into Fralin’s Deep. The name “The Beacon” refers to both the monolith itself, as well as the light or lighthouse on top. It is both symbol of Greatvale’s economic power, serving as the most important lighthouse leading to Folkhame, and a bitter reminder of its monarchist roots, as it is home to the Tomb of the Elders, formerly known as the Tomb of the Kings or the Royal Crypt.

Legend holds that around 5450 PC, Wulfred of Dunburgh embarked with 5 ships and 400 settlers to join a colony in the newly discovered Sunset Lands. Wulfred was accompanied by his wife, Fralin, who was pregnant at the time of departure. A few weeks into the journey, a great storm from the west blew the ships off course and toward the Sunrise Lands. The storm thrashed the small fleet, sinking two ships and severely damaging the ship that Wulfred was on. The stress of the storm sent Fralin into labor as the remaining ships all but abandoned hope of survival.

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The Folkdeed of Greatvale

The Greatvale Folkdeed is the only republic in all of the Sunrise Lands. Occupying the lands surrounding the breakwater of the Great Tidewater, the Folkdeed is an anomaly in the cultures of the continent.

Governance

Seal of the Folkdeed of Greatvale: “The Ealdormoot and Folk of Greatvale: Justice, Truth, Equality”

The Folkdeed is governed by an Ealdormoot, consisting of Ealdormen and Ealdorwomen elected by the people of Greatvale to serve for a term of four years. The Ealdormoot is assisted in its work by a series of lower houses known as the Gaderungs responsible largely for defining the regulations and the parameters of the laws promulgated by the Ealdormoot. Each region of the Folkdeed has its own Gaderung, which elects an Ealdorman or Ealdorwoman to serve in the Ealdormoot. There are also a number of Gaderungs-at-Large, responsible for the oversight and administration of particular areas, such as food, resources, medicine, and education. Each Gaderung-at-Large elects its own Ealdorman or Ealdorwoman to the Ealdormoot. Every two years, the Ealdormoot elects two Rædgivers who serve essentially as head of state and head of government, though the divisions are not clear and are fluid, depending on the working relationship of the two Rædgivers. In addition, the two often function effectively as War Chief and Peace Chief, one responsible for foreign and military affairs, the other for domestic and economic affairs. In times of crisis, the Ealdormoot may choose to elect essentially two war chiefs or two peace chiefs, depending on whether the crisis is foreign or domestic. Together, the Rædgivers may exercise a veto over legislation passed by the Ealdormoot. If one Rædgiver vetoes a bill, the Ealdormoot may override the veto by a two-thirds majority. If both Rædgivers veto the bill, the Ealdormoot may override the veto by a three-fourths majority.

In addition, the Gaderungs, in conclave together, elect the Witeger, which loosely translates as “prophet.” The role of the Witeger is to serve as ombudsman and critic of the government. The Witeger serves for a period of nine years and can only be removed from office by evidence of corruption or other serious crimes. The Witeger has no formal veto power but their opinion carries significant weight with the people and may inform subsequent elections. The position is considered sacrosanct by the traditions of the Folkdeed and Rædgivers who ignore that fact do so at their peril. (See, the story of Eadlin Lahwita.)

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