Grand Duchy of Marlheim
- The Grand Duchy can trace its origins to one of the last successful Reaver Warlords in the Ea subsector.
- Grand Duchy of Marlheim, an aggressively expansionist totalitarian state founded by one of the last great Reaver Warlords.
They seek to maintain control over their current holdings and will use any means to secure this. In reality, it seems they are far less trusting of their own citizens. The fear revolt far more than alien/foreign aggression.
Tensions have been high between the Grand Duchy and the Confederacy of Duncinae for some time and the Grand Duchy closed its borders to all shipping from the Confederacy following the MacBeth Affair in late 1113 on Mirak (Reaver's Deep 1127).
Non-canon: The Grand Duchy of Marlheim has referred to two different states.
Early Grand Duchy
Non-canon: The "Grand Duchy of Marlheim" was formed on Marlheim in around -300. It was a small, human-run state, with outposts on Marlheim and a colony on Pendang (Reaver's Deep 1231). It was an outpost of order in an area dominated by outlaws.
Over time - through the 200s and 300s - order turned slowly to disorder. Some of the systems petty nobles, especially in outlying parts of Pendang and the home system, began to cut deals with Reaver gangs, looking the other way when Reavers ran operations from their territory.
By 450, as the fortunes of the Reavers were ebbing elsewhere in Reaver's Deep, many of the more successful Reaver clans pulled back to lairs in the Marlheim and Pendang systems. The "Grand Dukes" and the rest of the "royalty" by this time had been largely co-opted by the Reaver clans; for the most part, Reavers were the nobility. By the late 400s, the nobility had effectively been absorbed into the Reaver settlements. The last "Grand Duke" of the old system, Grand Duke Spelk XXXIX, died in 538; he wasn't replaced on the throne.
Non-canon: Spelk's demise left a power vacuum that was filled by a chaos of different Reaver groups - some of them adopting the mantles of the petty nobles they'd co-opted, others as clan operations, still others operating as fiercely democratic buccaneer gangs living in the open on Marlheim and Pendang.
Over time - through the 600s and 700s - the more powerful clans began consolidating their power over rival groups by means both fair (political and economic) and foul (gangster-style rub-outs springing from literal and figurative turf wars).
By 825, the chaotic patchwork of small Reaver fiefdoms had consolidated into five major Reaver "nations" - the Grzyadsh and the Tuppernal of Pendang, the Aofhad and the Kurr of Marlheim, and the Bolyard, who had presences on both worlds. Each was, in essence, an underworld syndicate operating in the open, as a de-facto government, extorting protection in the form of "taxes" from those in or traveling through their spheres of influence. Trade through the area largely enriched the "nations". The five "Nations" co-existed - albeit with considerable tension - for the next century or so.
Rise of the Totalitarian State
Non-canon: In 932, Ysef Zdarlak - the chief lieutenant and "Security Chief" of the Grzyadsh nation - engineered the assassination of Starod Grzyadsh, the nation's "Godfather". With allies among the Tuppernal and Aofhad, he quickly moved to liquidate the leadership of the Kurr and Bolyard nations from within (by factions that had, between money and promises of power, been brought into Zdarlak's conspiracy). This left Zdarlak as the strongest among the three warlords.
In 935, Zdarlak - using "evidence" that was likely fabricated - accused the chieftains of the Aofhad clan of working with the Aslan to subvert the remaining clans, and had the entire leadership murdered. The Tuppernals, seeing that Zdarlak had accreted all power to himself, fled to their traditional stronghold in rural, southern Pendang, where their military force was destroyed in what is known in Marlheim history lessons as "The Battle Of The Four Nations", but was in fact the systematic extinction of the Tuppernal by Zdarlak's forces. The few Tuppernal survivors either fled to Duncinae - where a few descendants still live in exile - or went underground.
There, as Zdarlak conducted an inspection of his forces on 194-936, a suicide bomber exploded herself near Zdarlak's dais, killing many of his lieutenants. Zdarlak himself survived - indeed, conspiracy theorists hypothesize he planned the attack himself, to purge his "security forces" of any leaders that might be more popular than him.
Zdarlak became deeply paranoid, however - and hunted down all Tuppernal supporters, and their families, and then neighbors, and eventually everyone who could be connected to a Tuppernal supporter by any means, no matter how circuitous, and eventually by no means at all. It even involved attacks on Tuppernals in exile in the Imperium, the Principality of Caledon, and Duncinae - an ongoing threat that led in great part to the rapprochement between Duncinae and the Caledonians.
Zdarlak then purged his own leadership of anyone who might threaten his power, and established a government made a three-legged Derhagaar (loosely translated as Troika). On 005-937, he proclaimed himself "Grand Duke of Marlheim", at a state ceremony attended by five million - a million of the security forces.
The regime he - and his descendants - has been ruled as a paranoid kleptocracy ever since. It has also been highly expansionistic - having conquered the neighboring worlds of Fask, Dran, Mirak, Emmaline, Lestrow, and St. Denis, in campaigns that seem designed more to keep the Marlheim populace at a war footing than gain useful real estate.
Government & Politics
The Government is run - absolutely - by the Grand Duke (or, currently, the Grand Dutchess, Yparu Ygald Zdarlaku), who governs through the GOVBOD - the heads of the MARLAR (Marlheim Army), the MINITOL (Secret Police), and the GRYMOV, or "Grzyadsh Movement", which is loosely similar to a political party.
Each of the three branches has parallel institutions; the Army has its own political and security apparatus, the MINITOL has an army and a political branch, and the GRYMOV has its own troops and intelligence service. All three branches also maintain their own propaganda ministries.
The Grand Duke governs, in effect, by constantly pitting the weaker two of the three branches of government against the stronger of the three, keeping them in a constant state of paranoid flux.
See Bureaucracy of the Grand Duchy of Marlheim for details.
Marlheim Interstellar Relations
Marlheim always presents an exceedingly aggressive face in its foreign policy.
The population of the Grand Duchy is almost entirely human.
The small Aslan minority on Pendang and St. Denis, in particular, suffered badly under the rule of the GRYMOV; their cultural imperative to own land clashed with the GRYMMOV's collectivist doctrine. Most Aslan fled the Duchy by 960; none remain today.
Marlheim's economy is centrally planned with manic rigidity. Outside the military and government sectors, it is largely also a basket case.
The Duchy is a weapons exporter, and also exports drugs (an area where the MINITOL's MINIVICE excels), indentured labor (slaves in all but name), and "mercenaries" - soldiers rented to foreign powers.
Trade is strictly regulated, and foreign traders are restricted - strictly - to the Marlheim and Pendang system up-ports. There, every aspect of a trader's movement and interaction with the Duchy is controlled; their movements are watched by MINITOL "minders", their commercial activities attended to and their "tariffs" collected by representatives from MINECOMM (who administer the Duchy's rigorously planned economy) - even the starport's prostitution trade is managed by MINIVICE, the bureaucracy that controls all vice-for-profit in the Duchy. If foreign traders get out of line, MINITOL is exceedingly unlikely to be amused.
The planned economy - depending on the observer - either "offers challenges" or "is a disaster". Spot food shortages have popped up, and more frequently, especially on densely-populated Pendang.
The human inhabitants of the systems that became the Grand Duchy spoke a language, Kdaar, that is a linguistic anomaly; in the years before the Grand Duchy became a paranoid kleptocracy, scholars theorized that Kdaar was a hybrid aboriginal tongue descended from ancient the ancient Saie language, intermixed with bits and pieces of Aslan painstakingly adapted to human speech patterns. This dialect has intermingled with the various forms of Reavers Cant carried to the system over the centuries to make a language very unlike that of any of the Duchy's neighbors.
Since Marlheim became a paranoid kleptocracy, the GRYMOV - operating through its "LINGBUR", or Linguistic Bureau - has taken official control of the language, which it has rechristened Marldaar. Official Marldaar as it is taught in Marhheim's compulsory education system subtly shades meanings of approved groups, ideas, and people in a positive way, and negates that which is disapproved.
Marlheiim's elites, however, speak Galanglic - fluency in which is a key part of moving into any leadership position in any branch of the bureaucracy. Galanglic is, thus, a key class distinction.
Military & Intelligence
The Marhleim Army (MARLAR) is a huge force for a state with about eight billion residents. 126 million "citizens" serve in the military at any given time, although twice as many are in "the reserve".
There is general conscription, and any male over the age of 17 receives at least some military training.
The Marheim Army Star Force (MARARSTAR) is relatively huge, with a large and rapidly expanding force of battleships.
This polity is primarily located in the following areas:
- Reaver's Deep Sector
The Marlheim military has been on a slow, steady course of conquest since the rise of the Zdarlak clan. Starting with Marlheim and Pendang in 936, the Duchy has absorbed the following systems:
- Dran - in 960
- St. Denis - in 983
- Theodora - in 999
- Fask - in 1023
- Mirak - in 1067
- Lestrow - in 1101
- Emmaline - in 1114