Chandarjal’s written history can be traced back to as far as 3300 BC with the establishment of the first organized states in the Jalsiri Peninsula. The Chandarjal River and its many tributaries allowed for the rise of multiple large and relatively sophisticated agricultural societies. It is as such perhaps little wonder that the regions predominant religious practices came to center on the river, and gradually coalesced into the Jalsarist faith. Many small kingdoms and oligarchic proto-republics formed across the Peninsula during this period. Although some persisted well into the days of the Jagd Dynasty, most ultimately either confederated with each other or were absorbed into their larger neighbors until the region was dominated by a relative handful of Jalsari polities.
East of the Svargeey was an entirely different world. By 1000 BC the early teachings of Paxism had taken hold in the city of Maryan(modern-day Suryagaon), which became a center of power on the far side of the mountains as well as its first recorded society. In 600 BC the first Akuans arrived further to the north in settlements they named Helligiek, Østlig’Zke(modern-day Surabad), and Vørborgs(modern-day Spirgarh). These foreigners came both overland from Musetszna and by sea from Borea and Hvaloaszna, and they provide the oldest written records from the far-flung area.
The region witnessed the rise of Jagdesar from 464 BC onwards. The city was well positioned on the Chandarjal riverine network to control inland trade, and it had gradually grown to claim dominance over its neighbors. By 360 BC, Maharaja Madhariputra of the Jagd Dynasty had reached the coasts of the Concordian Ocean. When Maharaja Chandra took to the throne he inherited a powerful empire with a battle-hardened army and a well-led administration. Not to be outdone, Chandra was determined to build upon his father’s accomplishments and went on to conduct a lengthy campaign which brought the Dynasty’s borders to the Packilvanian Ocean and the Svargeey Mountains. There, he legendarily invited the Padishah of Maryan to treat with him atop Mount Kalmandan. When he was refused, the Maharaja led his armies through what had once been considered an impenetrable barrier and subjugated Maryan after the Battle of Marahran.
The sight of the Packilvanian deserts spread before him is said to have inspired the Maharaja, who was now determined to push onwards to the far oceans themselves, just as his father had once done in the west. His quest to circumnavigate the desert took him north, where he demanded the surrender of the by now well-established Akuan polities there. Vørborgs fell and Østlig’Zke yielded soon afterwards in exchange for its autonomy. But when Chandra’s armies prepared to march on a defiant Helligiek in 327 BC, the Maharaja was assassinated in his own camp by members of the Bitt’Arb, a Ny’saenuri clan.
Chandra’s death on the far side of the mountains would bring the demise of his domain as well. The Maharaja’s long absences from home and unexpected passing meant that there was no clearly defined heir, the generals of the Jagd Dynasty fought among themselves for power, and the first empire to unite all of Chandarjal splintered. Its legacy, however, would last far longer. A Jalsari elite composed of the descendants of Chandra’s governors continued to reign east of the Svargeey, and though they gradually assimilated into local populations their cultural impact was irreversible. West of the mountains, Jagdasar’s power was greatly diminished, but it remained dominant on the Chandarjal River and its accomplishments were not easily forgotten.
Many States Period
The decline of the Jagd Dynasty moved the Jalsiri Peninsula back towards the historic norm of multiple competing polities. However, in many instances local powers continued and built upon the systems of administration and infrastructure put in place by the Jagd. This led to increasingly organized and interconnected state actors within the region, and Jagdasar remained a preeminent power throughout much of this period. Countless other empires and confederations rose and fell during this period, many of whom attained significant size, power, and longevity. However, none ever achieved the level of unquestioned dominance that Jagdasar had once held across the entire region.
Across the Svargeey Mountains, Paxist rule gradually reasserted itself in regions once conquered by Maharaja Chandra, although elements of Jalsari rule remained, including continued usage of Jalsari language and writing systems. The region now contended with the spread of Akuanist influence. The Akuan states of the far north had become increasingly established and engaged in active missionary efforts during the instability following Maharaja Chandra’s death. Their religious message proved to be particularly welcome among the lower castes of the area - Or at least, their charitable efforts were. While Akuan commitments to nonviolence made them sufficiently nonthreatening for local rulers in most circumstances, Akuanists would face varying degrees of scrutiny or persecution east of the Svargeey for the next several centuries.
The Many States Period ultimately came to an end not because of any Jalsari power, but the rise of the Alvan Empire. Alvan nomadic tribes had long raided against the sedentary populations of the Jalsiri Peninsula, but the unification of Alva in the 12th-century brought with it a new and unexpected threat. By 1175, the Alvans had swept east, reaching the Svargeey and going past them as Chandra had once done before turning west again in 1199.
On the Jalsiri Peninsula, the Alvans faced a broad range of powerful and well-established nations, chief among them a resurgent Jagdesar under the descendents of the Jagd Dynasty. However, the continued disunity among the Peninsular states left them unprepared for the invading Alvans. At the titanic battle of Chandkhira, Tugri Khan led a reported 120,000 Alvans and local auxiliaries and destroyed a numerically superior Jagdesari army. This marked the final end of the Jagd Dynasty which had shaped the course of Chandarjali history for nearly two thousand years. Jagdesar itself would be captured intact by the Alvans, but its role as a center of power remained undiminished as it now served as a seat of governance for a new empire.
The fall of Jagdesar was soon followed by the conquest or surrender of the other Jalsiri states and the complete conquest of the Peninsula. Tugri Khan’s mandates on literacy and education served to further Chandarjal’s position as a center of learning and knowledge. In many cases, Alvan rule both entrenched and spread Jalsiri culture and language. Trade flourished under the comparative stability and unity provided by the Empire. While Ayalism took root in some northern areas, the offer of religious freedom averted population hostility against the minority Alvan elite and also served as an important precedent for future Chandarjali rulers.
The killing of Tugri Khan brought the collapse of the Alvan Empire, and the Jagdesar Khanate became its largest successor. The Khanate consisted of the Jalsiri Peninsula and the territory of Maaran on Yasteria Minor. With its capital still in Jagdesar, the Khanate was effectively a complete continuation of the existing Alvan administration which had become increasingly integrated with the local population and preexisting power structures over the course of their rule. While the rest of the Empire fell, Chandarjal entered a golden age of its own.
Seeking to consolidate his power, the ruling Arash Khan launched his own campaign of conquest in 1375. Once again, Jalsiri armies marched on the Svargeey, and unlike his forebears Arash did not stop at the passes. In a deliberate reenactment of the legendary Chandra Jagd, the Khanate’s armies invaded the mountains and captured the fortifications once built to hold out the Alvan hordes before breaking through to the plains of Suryagaon. There he captured the Paxist city for the Khanate before marching north towards Spirgarh and Surabad, who yielded without a fight. Finally, Arash made for Helligiek, and is said to have laid down his helmet in respect on the sport where Maharaja Chandra died. The Khan then treated with the Bitt’Arb clan which acceded to Jagdesari rule in exchange for promises of protection to Akuanists across the Khanate. With this, Arash’s legitimacy in post-Alvan Chandarjal was secured, and the Khanate persisted for nearly two centuries more.
Over the following decades, the many distinct parts of the Jagdesar Khanate continued to prosper, each in their own ways. While Jalsiri influence had been carried far and wide by the Khanate’s expansion, minority populations such as the Paxists in Suryagaon and the Arulnithi in Maaran remained relatively protected. The Akuanists, protected by Arash Khan’s promise, now began to spread across the Khanate, with converts reaching as far as Jagdesar itself. Akuan groups were generally well-looked upon by much of the population due to their reputation for charity, and their vocal support for the Khanate proved to be an important propaganda tool that helped keep the Alvan minority in power long after Alva itself had ceased to be an empire.
Fall of the Khanate
By the early 16th-century, the Jagdesar Khanate had entered a period of decline. The Khanate’s administration remained centered in Jagdesar, and thus had become increasingly absorbed into and controlled by the Jalsiri population, often at the expense of other groups. Meanwhile, the uppermost levels of the Khanate were still solidly controlled by Alvans, which fostered resentment from the Jalsiri themselves. The Khanate had also begun to suffer from external threats, such as encroachments by the Bakil tributary of Heden in the south.
In an effort to secure his faltering reign, Noorazid Khan moved to cement Jalsiri support by converting the ruling family from Ayalism to Jalsirism. However, this in turn undermined his support among other Ayalist elites and in many peripheral regions which feared that a Jalsiri ruler might renege on previous guarantees of religious freedom. Indeed, the increased promotion of Jalsiri interests over those of other regions served to stoke unrest on the outskirts of the Khanate.
Change would come not from within Jagdesar, but from the distant outpost of Maaran. The city-state had once been conquered by the Alvans and later became a peripheral territory of the Khanate. Avanesh Kaushikan, the Chitarasan of Maaran, initially began forming alliances with other southeastern principalities in order to ward off Heden invasions. However, these movements soon drew the suspicion of the Khanate itself which summoned Kaushikan to Jagdesar. The Chitrasan was arrested upon arriving in Jagdesar, but escaped with the assistance of Shahzade Zahera of Suryagaon. The two went on to raise a rebellion in the east against the Khanate.
Noorazid marched out with a seventy-thousand strong army, which consisted of the Khanate’s well-trained and loyal Alvan soldiers. His initial strategy was to secure the Svargeey mountain passes, severing Suryagaon from the rest of the rebellion before swinging south to destroy Kaushikan’s forces. However, his army was instead caught in an ambush by Kaushikan’s and Zahera’s combined forces. The armies met at the Battle of Bakhtiar Pass in 1530, where a well-prepared rebel force of twenty-five thousand destroyed the last great standard bearer of the Alvan Empire.
Noorazid’s death and the destruction of his loyal Alvan armies led to a palace coup in Jagdesar by Jalsiri elites, who sought to secure power for themselves. The royal family escaped thanks to the heroic efforts of remaining Ayalist forces, but this act plunged the realm into chaos. Remnants of the Khanate lived on in the northwest in the form of the Aliyan Khanate, but Alvan rule over Chandarjal had effectively come to an end.
Rise of the Shanti Dynasty
The union of Kaushikan and Zahera created a new dynasty in the east. Their successors would take up the Jalsiri word for “Peace” as their name as they began to extend their power over the Peninsula, but in truth much of their reign was neither peaceful nor Jalsiri. With its centers of power in Suryagaon and Maaran, the Shanti Dynasty was from its inception an eclectic mix of non-Jalsiri powers which had historically been left at the periphery of successive empires. The Dynasty consolidated an arc of power over the Khanate’s former eastern hinterlands, and established its capital in the strategic city of Bakhtiar which controlled the passes between the Dynasty’s two power bases in the Peninsula and Suryagaon respectively, while also being close to Kaushikan’s domain in Maaran. Initially, the Dynasty’s power stretched over a vast swathe from Sheymandi to Helligiek in the north.
Across the western Peninsula, the Khanate’s former heartlands had largely collapsed as former suzerainities reasserted their full independence and began to jostle for power. Jagdesar was now under the control of an oligarchic republic run by powerful Jalsiri families, while other territories splintered off.
Both the Shanti and the independent Jalsiri would have to contend with the rising power of Heden, which had rushed to fill in the void left behind by the Khanate’s fall. By 1600, Heden had reached Maralayn(modern-day Vijaypur) where its advance was met by Jagdesari forces who defeated the Paxist invaders in a battle beneath the city’s walls. Although this checked the Sultanate’s northward advance, Heden continued to control significant territories on the Jalsiri Peninsula until the 1692 Dekuuliye Revolt. Continued warfare against Heden occupied much of Jagdesar’s greatly diminished strength, and prevented the city from immediately reestablishing itself in the dominant role it had historically held on the Peninsula.
To the east, the Shanti Dynasty continued to consolidate its own power. By this time the ruling family had wholly adopted Paxism, a reflection of Suryagaon’s hand in the Dynasty’s formation but one that had raised the ire of its Jalsiri subordinates. Despite a nominally shared religion, intermittent conflicts erupted throughout the 17th century between the Shanti and Heden. By 1670, the fleets of Maaran had defeated Heden’s navy and seized control of strategic island outposts at the mouth of Hikaru’s Gulf, establishing a chokehold that severed the Sultanate from its access to the Packilvanian Ocean and greatly curtailed its power.
The presence of both the Shanti and Heden served to introduce Paxism to the Peninsula for the first time. While most of the population remained Jalsiri, Paxist art, literature, and culture flourished in the region for centuries, and the effects of its influence can still be felt in the Peninsula’s southeast even today. The Shanti’s growing strength also marked the first time that the most powerful polity of the Jalsiri Peninsula had based itself somewhere other than Jagdesar or the other great central cities.
The loss of Heden’s supporters in Bakil and the ongoing strife within the Sultanate served to embolden both the Shanti and the neighboring Jalsiri states. The Sultanate steadily lost ground on the Jalsiri Peninsula, until by 1690 Shanti armies had taken the fortified city of Amarem(modern-day Alagarh) and advanced into the Aanura island chain before sacking Andaridha. Renewed conflict between the Shanti and the Jalsiri precluded further advances into the Sultanate’s remaining heartlands.
Conflicts with Vistaraland
First War Across Water
The Dekuuliye Revolt ultimately sealed Heden’s fate as a significant power within the region. The Shanti and the Jalsiri states fought a series of inconclusive battles over their new borders before the dust settled, but by the dawn of the 18th-century Chandarjal was entering a new cycle of conflict.
The Vistari-supported Dekuuliye Revolt had worked to the advantage of Heden’s neighbors, and it also brought a rising Vistari influence to the region. This was primarily concentrated in smaller coastal states which sought external protection against their larger neighbors and offered their positions as outposts for trade in turn. These activities saw the introduction of Vistari economic, cultural, and military links across several enclaves on the western and southern Jalsiri coasts. It also served to draw the ire of the larger polities in the region. Western states such as Selamure, Selwur, the Sanwala kingdoms, and the Aliyan Khanate had escaped the worst effects of the Jagdesar Khanate’s fall, and in many ways had flourished since then. As inheritors of the Khanate’s naval traditions and its fleets in the Concordian Ocean, the western Jalsiri had in the course of their independence grown into formidable military powers in their own right.
There are reports of clashes between the Selamure Confederation and Vistari shipping as early as 1702, and of inconclusive conflicts between the Confederation and Vistari-backed principalities by 1705. These minor wars and skirmishes culminated in the First War Across Waters in 1730, where Vistari forces and their local auxiliaries prevailed against the Sanwala and forced a truce with Selamure. Vistari concessions in Sanwala allowed for control over the mouth of the Sanwala River, one of the many Chandarjali tributaries which disgorged enormous wealth from the interior into the Concordian Ocean. The truce with Selamure similarly expanded access along the southern Jalsiri coast and secured the way to Hadena.
Despite these Vistari gains however, Jalsiri privateers continued to plague the waterways with the covert or overt funding of various rival states, and more stubborn hostilities with Selwur persisted. By the the 1770s the Aliyan Khanate under the ambitious Farzana Khatun had entered into an alliance with its Suvani neighbors. The Khatun later persuaded her neighbors in Selwur to do the same. This trifecta of states had grown emboldened by the Vistari decline and the outbreak of the Ducal wars and once again began exerting their power over regional waterways. They were later joined by Selamure, and in 1774 made use of Vistaraland’s distraction to invade the Sanwala kingdoms. Vistari-allied local rulers were ousted and the Vistari garrison destroyed. This process repeated itself elsewhere as Selamure invaded Vistari outposts along the southern coast and once again took control of nearby trade routes.
Second War Across Water
1785 saw the start of the 12 Years’ War, known in Chandarjal as the Second War Across Water. Though the Suvani began the conflict, they were soon joined by the Aliyan Khanate and their Jalsiri allies, this time including the newly formed Sanwala Confederacy. They were met with initial successes, peaking when Chandarjali fleets under the Khatun raided Halvartet and the Vistari coast.
However, circumstances elsewhere in Chandarjal did not remain static. The preoccupation of the powerful western Jalsiri states with the Vistari had left central Jalsiri polities isolated and bereft of allies against the ever-expanding Shanti Dynasty. Indeed, many of them had suffered economically as trade to the Concordian Ocean was choked off by the higher taxes implemented by the coastal states to fund their war. Jagdesar remained a shadow of its former glory, and advances under Padishah Masyar of the Shanti had brought the dynasty to the great city’s doorstep. With the ultimate prize now in hand, Masyar agreed to marry the daughter of one of Jagdesar’s ruling families in exchange for its peaceful surrender. Thus, in 1773 the historic capital of Chandarjal became home to the Shanti Dynasty without a shot fired in anger.
The surrender of Jagdesar paved the way for the Shanti to now claim dominion over all the Jalsiri Peninsula. The following decade witnessed a series of campaigns and capitulations across the Jalsiri interior until by 1790 the western states were forced to contend with a large new overland threat. The need to combat the Shanti in the east led to a diversion of Jalsiri resources from the Vistari. To make matters worse, in 1796, a recovered Vistari fleet attacked the Jalsiri fleet anchorages at Selwur. Once thought to be impregnable behind their barrier islands, Selwur was attacked over a seven-day battle which saw Vistari forces engage numerous coastal fortifications before invading into the bay and torching the fleet trapped within. The subsequent bombardment of its capital crippled Selwur, whose leaders elected to signal their surrender to the Padishah in exchange for protection.
Farzana Khatun’s army had taken to the field, but the Khatun herself was strangled in her sleep by traitors within her ranks, who then placed her son on the throne under their own regency and surrendered to Masyar. The Padishah accepted the surrender, only to then order the executions of the traitorous regents as a measure of justice for the murdered Khatun.
Only Selamure and Sanwala offered further defiance. At the Battle of Chakgara, Masyar’s grand army which had marched from victory to victory since Jagdesar met the hardened soldiers of Selamure. In what would be the last battle he commanded, Masyar prevailed over Selamure and stormed the greatest Jalsiri city in the west. The Shanti then marched on Sanwala, which as an unwilling participant in the war surrendered soon afterwards. Masyar is said to have dipped his sleeve in the Concordian waters, mimicking the act of Maharaja Madhariputra of the Jagd Dynasty who had reached those same shores over a thousand years ago. To seal his conquest and to mark the unification of all of Chandarjal as it had once been, Masyar claimed for himself the title of Maharaja - The King of Kings, unused since the days of Chandra. In doing so, Masyar not only set aside his eastern title for one more familiar to his Jalsiri subjects, but also did as Arash Khan had once done and claimed Chandra’s legacy for himself.
The War Across Water would come to a close with Jalsiri fleets in the west destroyed and the Jalsiri states of the west conquered. Trade routes previously closed by Jalsiri warships were reopened, both as a tacit offering of peace to the Vistari and out of necessity as the Shanti Dynasty held no naval power of its own in the Concordian Ocean.
By the start of the 19th-century, all of Chandarjal had been once again united, this time under the Shanti Dynasty. While the capital returned to Jagdesar, the Dynasty retained its Paxist roots and drew its strength from its eastern homelands. Much of the military and the top levels of government were dominated by easterners and Maarani. Although this was the cause of no small amount of tension with the Jalsiri majority, the first half of the 19th-century was marked by a relative atmosphere of peace and stability which had been sorely lacking since the fall of the Khanate. The continuous cycles of warfare had largely ceased save for internecine clashes with Alvan tribes to the north.
The 19th-century saw the establishment of Chandarjal as a modern state. In many ways these were revivals or modernizations of previous tools of government reaching as far back as the Jagd Dynasty, such as the use of civil service examinations to maintain a complex bureaucracy. However, the Shanti Dynasty was well positioned to implement these on a much broader and more sophisticated scale as it formulated the concepts of a Chandarjali state and national identity/ By 1810, the Dynasty’s centralized military forces had fully supplanted the remaining standing armies of its vassal states. A unified and publicly available postal system was implemented along with the introduction of the electric telegraph in the 1850s, which replaced traditional optical systems. The expansion of railway networks served to further tie the country together to an unprecedented degree.
While trade and culture flourished, a variety of factors also began to lay the roots of the Dynasty’s stagnation and decline. Despite its advances in governing, enormous wealth and power was still held by a class of local elites which included well-educated urbanites and petty rulers of Shanti suzerainties. These individuals were often the best positioned to sit for government examinations and join the royal courts, and regional monarchs often held considerable political sway over their populations. Successive Maharajas had to work with these aristocrats to maintain day-to-day control over their vast and diverse empire. This aristocratic class’ wealth was largely held in the form of land worked by peasants and sharecroppers often bound by law or contract to specific estates. By the 19th-century this feudal system had begun to seriously stunt Chandarjal’s economic development. The low cost of serf labor made investments into mechanization and industrialization less profitable, and it prevented the expansion of an urban labor market or domestic consumer base.
While nascent industrial enterprises began in the 1840s and 1850s they were still dominated by inefficient monopolies and driven by serfdom which led to poor labor productivity. Chandarjali factories continued to rely on a combination of the cheapness of labor and imported machinery throughout this period. This led to an incomplete and uneven industrial revolution which kept vast swathes of Chandarjal in an agrarian state and prevented it from leveraging its enormous population and natural resources. Efforts at reform were brought to a halt by the government’s inability and unwillingness to end serfdom. Such a move would have alienated the aristocracy and directly attacked the strict social structures upon which the Dynasty relied.
These issues resulted in a series of peasant revolts in the Jalsiri heartland towards the end of the 19th-century, which were put down by force. Brutal scenes of communal violence plagued Jalsir as the manors of particularly hated landlords were pillaged and sacked, and war elephants after centuries in ceremonial usage only were now used to terrorize angry mobs.
The Dynasty had also begun to face mounting pressure from elites as well. Despite the degree of centralization implemented by the Shanti it was still ultimately a Paxist minority ruling over a large, multilingual, and multiethnic nation with a Jalsirite majority even in its own capital. In addition to class conflict, many groups had begun to demand a greater voice in governance at every level, and these demands could not be so easily dismissed.
In 1902 Maharaja Arman sought to entrench his position and ease pressures by establishing the Lok Sabha, a popularly elected parliament which could formulate or block the passage of legislation. However, the Lok Sabha suffered from key limitations as broad autocratic powers remained with the Maharaja, and only landowners were granted suffrage. The body did add voices from across Chandarjal to the topmost level of government and it created the first constitutional system that applied across the entire nation. In this sense it was a valuable framework for the future of the Union, but it also failed to give those voices anything other than a means of venting frustration.