The Sarnori Commonwealth (Lynkheos Fenserni) is a maritime republic centered in the city of Saath. It is the remnant of the old Sarnori Kingdom (which had been destroyed by Dothraki over three centuries ago), and claims legal descent from the Sarnori Kingdom. The Commonwealth is known for its peculiarly republican political system, dependence on trade, and pantheistic native religion.
The Sarnori people first settled along the great river Sarne milennia ago and surrounding plains, boasting descent from the legendary king Huzhor Amai. Sarnori politics were never united, however, with political power decentralized amongst various allied city states, all nominally united under a confederacy, the Kingdom of Sarnor, ruled by a High King in the city of Sarnath.
However, following the Doom of Valyria, vast migratory hordes of Dothraki overwhelmed the Sarnori city-states, leaving all but Saath in ruins. While several Sarnori city-states managed to inflict defeats upon the Dothraki, the most famous of these (which managed to halt the northward Dothraki advance along the Sarne) was the Stand of Saath, during which a nascent alliance of Sarnori nobles and refugees managed to break the Dothraki army outside the gates of Saath.
Following the Stand of Saath, the city of Saath was host to the First Diet, which produced a constitution for the new Sarnori Commonwealth. Though the Commonwealth officially lays claim to all former lands of the Kingdom of Sarnor, its influence does not today truly extend beyond the lands surrounding Saath and the Sarne river delta.
City and GeographyEdit
Sarnor is considered an exceptionally large and wealthy city, acting as a major trading hub for commerce at the confluence of the River Sarne and Shivering Sea. The city is host to two thick walls, separating an inner city containing the mansions of the upper nobility, and an outer, more densely populated one. Proximity to the inner city is considered a measure of prestige for the burghers and lesser nobility in the outer city. The city itself exerts influence throughout the northwestern Sarne delta, but no further. The total population of Saath and its rural holdings is estimated at somewhere between 300,000 and 450,000, making the Commonwealth slightly smaller than the overall populations of cities such as King's Landing and Oldtown.
Saath and its rural holdings are noted for its architectural achievements, particularly with regards to flood control and irrigation systems: Saath itself is home to numerous canals and bridges, and its rural, agricultural sections (including the outer city) are well-irrigated. The city's buildings, many of which rise to four stories' tall, are grey stone and granite, with black tiled rooves. Like many Sarnori cities, Saath exemplified classical urban planning, and its streets and canals criss-cross in straight, square formations. The city is also known for its relatively advanced plumbing system, which is supplied by a series of aqueducts: notably, citizens over whose houses the aqueduct is allowed to run are paid a subsidy by the state to compensate for the inconvenience.
Culture and ReligionEdit
Saath is a relatively diverse city, owing to its status as a prominent hub of maritime trade. However, its rural holdings tend to be overwhelmingly populated by Sarnori Tall Men (Tagaez Fen), though they also make up the majority of the city itself. Sarnori philosophy and religion (Endokoism) are notable for exemplifying a sort of pantheistic rationalism: the native Sarnori Endokoites do not honor any gods, but believe that the world itself is inhabited by an impersonal divine force that acts as the 'cause' of natural phenomena. Just as a machine behaves the way it does because it has an innate 'soul' which 'motivates' its behavior; the natural world behaves the way it does - with seasons, climate, etc. - because of its impersonal 'soul', to which the Sarnori ascribe semi-divine status (as the origin of moral law).
Endokoism is generally regarded as an irreligious, academic philosophy, as it has no clerics (though Saath is host to several academies at which Endokoite thinkers study) - this stands in stark contrast with the old pantheon of Sarnori gods, whose names are lost to time. Endokoism is generally identified with cosmopolitanism and rationalism, concerning itself with the practice of formal logic and calling all men 'citizens of the world'. Nonetheless, Endokoists frequently fall into scientific empiricism and racialism, attempting to develop taxonomies for all natural phenomena - this has led many Endokoist philosophers to consider the Dothraki a race of 'non-men' distinct from their own.
Because of its tolerance and lack of clerics, Endokoism has lost some of its popularity outside of the political and academic castes of Saath, and increasingly large swathes of Saath follow Rh'lorr and the Black Goat of Qohor. Relations between these two minorities are extremely tense, especially due to Rh'lorric attempts to burn idols of the Black Goat in Qohor and Saath.
Sarnori people are quite tall (hence the name 'Tall Men'), with brown skin and black hair and eyes. Today their numbers have recovered to several hundred thousand in Saath, with non-trivial populations inhabiting the old Sarnori kingdom under the vassalage of the Dothraki. The wearing of silks and jewelry has fallen out of popularity, as they are viewed as gaudy and pretentious: Sarnori have adopted the practice of the Braavosi wealthy classes of wearing grab coats of brown, grey, purple, and blue. Bodily modification and mutilation (such as manipulating bones, castration, and circumcision) are considered abominations which are prohibited by law. Slavery and the slave trade are illegal in the Sarnori Commonwealth, though debt peonage is practiced and enforced by law. Sarnor is considered unusual in the world in its outlawing of prostitution, and courtesans, procurers, and soclicitors are strictly prosecuted by the state.
The Sarnori Commonwealth is notable in its practice of a peculiar type of republicanism. The Commonwealth's head of state is the High King (currently Venkhleos I), who is elected from among the Grand Electors (chief members of the Diet), though the position has always passed down through the same family, so there is some legal dispute as to whether the 'election' is a purely formal ceremony or an actual statement as to the crown's dependence upon the Diet (as the constitution is unclear on this matter). There exist two separate houses of the Sarnori legislature, the Diet (Diets I and II). Participation in the legislative process is limited to Electors (members of the two legislatures) and Grand Electors (electors who hail from the forty prominent families responsible for the Commonwealth's foundation and whose seats are constitutionally guaranteed), whose votes 'count' for several.
Electors (other than Grand Electors) are selected by the votes of citizens of the Commonwealth. Strangely, however, citizenship is considered a marketable good in Sarnor: an individual residing in Sarnor must purchase the right to political participation through a contribution to the state, and the degree to which that citizen's political participation is weighed is dependent upon the size of his contribution (for example, a citizen may purchase a single vote for a relatively small contribution, but a citizen who makes a larger contribution will be apportioned more votes). The monetary value of a single vote is decided every five years (the electoral cycle) by a committee appointed by the electors of the Diet. In order to limit the political influence of any particular citizen and prevent the consolidation of power by conspiracies, a citizen may only purchase the right to vote in one of the two houses of the legislature, providing a degree of insulation of one legislature from the other. In this way, political influence is linked to the provision of a public good (contributing to the state's expenditures): this is the sole mechanism for financing the Commonwealth's budget, save for fees levied upon the estates of the Grand Electors. There are no other taxes in the Commonwealth, though committees aggressively prosecute cartelization of the electoral process (a conspiracy to exert influence across legislatures is a capital offense) and prevent monopolization of markets under guilds.
The Commonwealth depends upon three sources to exert military influence in Saath, the surrounding lands, and the Shivering Sea. The city of Saath itself maintains a professional army of five thousand troops, the "Crown Army", loyal to the Diet, High King, and city of Saath. Intended primarily to deter the Dothraki to the south, the Crown Army makes heavy use of scythed chariots, heavy cavalry, and pikemen. Equipment for the Crown Army is relatively standardized: iron lamellar armor centered around a disc-like 'mirror', lobster-tailed pot helmets, long pikes (around 6.5 feet long), and curved, guardless sabers (meant for cutting, not stabbing, through unarmored or lightly armored Dothraki). Sarnori cavalry and charioteers (along with the wealthy nobility) are notable for their ornate masks: beneath open-face helmets, Sarnori often wear steel, bronze, silver, or gold-plated facemasks, in the shape of the faces of men, eagles, lions, etc.
A larger portion of Sarnori troops are levies, provided for by Electors and the land-owning nobility, which consist of irregular forces. The entire Commonwealth could conceivably field perhaps ten-thousand levy forces to complement its professional army.
Finally, sellsword companies provide for the majority of the Commonwealth's naval forces, usually contracted to protect maritime trade between Saath and Morosh, Braavos, and Westeros. They are independently contracted by private citizens of the Commonwealth, not the Commonwealth state.
State of the CommonwealthEdit
The Commonwealth is currently teetering on the edge of crisis. The landed classes, landless farmers, and many investors are hungry for more land, and are instigating for war with the Dothraki to retake the lands along the river Sarne for colonization, while more conservative forces in the Diet (primarily the old landed families and the urban bourgeois) oppose war. The Commonwealth is still stinging from a disastrous failed campaign against the Dothraki in 504, and many seek to avenge this national humiliation.
The High King, Venkhleos I, is mentally deteriorating, and many suspect he will die before the year's end. The throne would traditionally pass to his son, but this requires the confirmation of the Diet, who theoretically may override hereditary succession and name one of the Grand Electors to replace the High King. Prince Valcas, the King's ten year old son, is viewed by many as too young and unequipped for leadership to steer the Commonwealth in its present state. Though not a Great Elector, the current Chancellor of the Commonwealth, Czibir Byagot (a minor noble viewed as competent in administrative affairs), would succeed as regent following the King's death: this, however, has become a source of controversy, as the aggressive forces of the legislature fear that Czibir will oppose war, and they may seek to limit the power of the regent or overthrow Czibir and Valcas by extralegal means. Conversely, conservative forces are clamoring for Czibir to preempt the hawks in the Diet by instigating his own coup, installing himself as ruler of Saath. It is unclear at this time how Czibir will act.
More worryingly, rumors abound that warmongering elements of the Diet have sought privately to enlist the assistance of Qohor against the Dothraki, and talk of the dark arts and blood magic devoted to the Black Goat of Qohor have been circulating, eliciting a violent response from the Rh'lorric minority of Saath.
Finally, tensions have risen between Sarnor and its traditional trading partner, Morosh, whose growing wealth and power has led it to attempt to assert its own independent maritime power in the Shimmering Sea in opposition to the Commonwealth's naval hegemony. For the warmongering commercial and landed powers, it seems that the Commonwealth is quickly losing its position of strength against its Moroshi and Dothraki rivals, and ought to strike quickly to secure its position of primacy.