Ad Imperium Devine
the Imperium, the weald
he Mercians have dominated southern Tnarem for so long that the cardinal direction, when represented in cartography, is represented by the Veturii gryphon, an honor not afforded to any other nation of Tnarem. The Divine Imperium, "ad Imperium Devine" in the native Marcher tongue, stretches from western to eastern coast and is the most culturally diverse of all the regions, and encompass coastal, agrarian, arboreal, and pastoral sub-cultures. All unified under the identity of being Mercian, an undoubtedly strong cement. There is no inherent dislike for outsides in Mercia (excluding that for the people of Lornesse), but there is a staunch self of superiority that is pervasive throughout the entirety of the Imperium and core to the Mercian identity.
Authority, honor, and power of all kinds are respected and expected in Mercia. There is no bettering Mercia, there is only converting the lesser to the superior lifestyle of the Imperium or pitying them for not seeing the truth in the Mercian ways. Within the society, it is a point of pride to embrace one's social status and earn respect by mastering it. That mentality extends to all strata. The only acceptable ways to climb the social ladder are via service to the Legion and/or the Curia. Still, to earn a higher position, one must not acknowledge the effort in doing so--the purpose should be wholly humble and entirely in the service to Mercia rather than to the self. The whole comes before the piece in Mercian culture.
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The common phrase "A Mercian is capable of only two things," is often stated with snide laughter, insinuating that the Mercians are a people prone to primal behavior: fighting and fucking. By foreigners, they are largely seen as brutish and needlessly aggressive, a belief perpetuated by their military-centric culture, their infamous blood arenas, and their unforgiving attitude toward crime. Along with the violent reputation comes one of strength and tenacity. The province is known for its brilliant military minds, its unparalleled swordsmen, and people who are dauntless.
Long-time enemies of the Lornesians, the Mercians most vehemently hate the ruling family, Caemire. A historical rivalry has fostered a contemptuous relationship between the two, and Mercian superstition and teachings by the Temple have added to the dislike by creating an atmosphere of mistrust and fear of magic and those able to harness it. It is also no well-kept secret that the South views the northern people as ostentatious and pretentious.
Mercia's social ladder contains both the unobtainable status of nobility and also a fluid lower and middle class. Relatively, the bridge between the two is an easy one to cross, though it is undeniable that those born to a higher social standing have a much better chance of amassing further wealth. Social standing in the Imperium come with rights, such as the right to vote, the right to own land, and the right to mercantile permits.
The nobility of the Imperium, known to them as the nobiles
. This is, perhaps, the most exclusive of all the noble classes in Tnarem as it consists of a single family. The Imperator and his extended family make up the entirety of the nobiles, and with that status come the widest range of rights and freedoms. Wealth and service to the Imperium are not required in order to be part of this class, as it is one bestowed by birthright. However, it is rare to find a member of the nobiles that does not serve the Imperium.
Comprised of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Mercia, the patricia
are second only to the nobiles. Oftentimes, the wealth and lands they hold are greater than that of the lesser nobiles, as title is bestowed regardless of holdings. The same is true for the patricia; the status of patricia is honorary more than it is indicative of someone's birthright. However, it is also functional. The patricia are afforded more rights and freedom than plebs, but less than the nobiles. They've earned those rights--and their title--via service to their Imperator via the Legion or the Curia.
The Imperium is also unique in that it has two distinct middle classes. Alongside the patricia are the wealthy plebs
. These people are wealthy citizens who have never served the Imperator. Their clout comes from the private sector, and without having served, they are not afforded the same rights as the patricia or nobiles, however, they can sometimes be just as wealthy or influential.
This class is inhabited by what are known as plebs
. Plebs are citizens of the Imperium, but they are not afforded the rights to vote as they are not government actors, high ranking militants, or bureaucrats. This is the largest class of the Imperium, and the most diverse, as it includes all those who find work in the private businesses of Mercia.
There exists the belief that a plebian can rise through the ranks to sit among the gentry classes by gaining wealth on his own, through service in the Legion, or by gaining public office. While this is most certainly true, accounts of this actually happening are few and far between.
Built like mountains, Mercians are a broad, meaty people whose constitutions are purportedly the stuff of legends. Men range, on average, between 5’10” and 6’2”, while women stand at 5’5” to 5’10”. Mercian faces are full with strong features, hidden cheekbones and wide-set eyes. They are often hairy, accentuated by the dark hue of their tresses and body hair, which range from deep chestnut to nearly black. Brown of varying shades are the predominant eye color as well, with the very rare green or hazel showing up from time to time. In the central valleys of Mercia, the people are olive skinned though skin tones tend to lighten as one travels further north and darken heading east or south.
The courts of Mercia favor flowing gowns and clothing. While sleeves hug tight at the wrist, they bellow out between the wrist and shoulder, ending around the palm in soft ruffles or lace. These delicate undershirts and chemises are usually covered by open robes of black and other dark shades of various colors accented in gold or silver. Shimmering silk, bubbling skirts, and bustling are the name of the Imperial fashion game. Colors are usually not used as a primary fabric, but as accents to peek through the robes in the form of a patterned skirt, or a only slightly exposed corset. The men favor tightly fitting around the chest doublets that end in elaborate shoulder pieces to allow for their flowing sleeves. Their pants are usually a black or brown, comfortable fit, with a boot rather than a slipper. Swords are considered ceremonial, and are carried most places.
While they have never been offended by sweat, nor the odors that come with it, nevertheless bathing is an integral part of Mercian culture. Like their Nisi neighbors, bathhouses are common establishments in cities and towns, though in Mercia they are segregated by gender. After bathing, many Mercians use spiced oils on their bodies to attain a subtle gloss on their skin, a popular grooming trend among both men and women.
In terms of fragrance, Mercians prefer to accent their natural body odor rather than covering it up. Floral-based perfumes are uncommon; instead, they use wet clay blended with herbs and spices, smearing the mixture on their face, body, and sometimes even their hair, allowing the clay to dry before washing it off. The result is an earthy scent and smooth skin, and many swear this concoction also wards off disease.
The freedoms of women in the Imperium are a complicated affair comprised of both northern and southern influence. Welcome in the political arena and able to pursue mercantile endeavors in the name of her family, the women of Mercia are able to satiate their more ambitious natures with far greater ease than the women of the north. The ability to possess wealth and property, however, remains solely a man's right, though the women in his family are welcome to utilize and contribute to growing the family's ownings. Women, like all children in the Imperium, belong to their family until marriage, at which point they enter into a union with their husband, each becoming beholden to one another, though she will not be his property. Imperial law protects all people from physical harm, and should a man commit a criminal offense against his wife, she reserves the right to end the marriage in the eye of the Imperium.
Women are not held to a higher standard of chastity in the Imperium, though they are certainly expected to be the more civil sex and the more socially-minded.
Dignitas & Auctoritas
are intangible social concepts unique to Mercia. Together, these two concepts are regarded as the sum of the worth of a person, man or woman. What determines someone's dignitas and auctoritas is culturally subjective, but most often includes factors such as personal reputation, moral standing, and ethical worth. These things are considered alongside someone's entitlement to respect and proper treatment due to social standing within society. Auctoritas is most often closely associated with a person's general level of prestige in Mercian society while dignitas often refers to the more nebulous moral, reputable, and ethical concepts. The two are entwined, however, sharing a positively correlated relationship--the more dignitas a person has the more auctoritas they have and vice versa.
Blood sports are the pinnacle of entertainment in Mercia, held in large, public arenas where even the most common of people are welcome – for a small cover charge, of course. Some arenas are grandiose like the stone colosseum in Raevenna and can seat tens of thousands, while others are smaller with bleacher-like structures and seat only a few thousand at a time. Betting on the outcomes of events is a common and perfectly legal practice, a pastime which many of the nobility enjoy.
The events themselves are gladiatorial in nature – violent, brutal, and quite often deadly. The bloodier the event, the more popular, and those who survive the ring are lifted up as champions of the people until they themselves are killed. Most events are one-on-one fights, though team events are a crowd favorite. If swords are carried into the ring, it is a fight to the death. Brawls – similar to boxing matches – do not necessarily mean death for the loser; however, deadly force is legal. Wrestling is the only sport where killing your opponent means that you too will be put to death, publicly and immediately.
Many gladiators are trained warriors, those who chose this path and enjoy the prize money and glory from their wins. They are beloved by their audiences in so much as the crowds love to watch them sweat and bleed, and some of the most legendary even gain notoriety across Mercia. Other gladiators are not voluntary, but convicted criminals whose sentence is to fight in the arena until their death. Most of these unfortunates are practically no more than fodder, pitted against better trained warriors or wild animals, often with few or shoddily made weapons.
Though the worship in Mercia has evolved through the ages, always it has been The Four who have guided the people through life’s joys and challenges. Traditionally, The Four were worshipped privately in a family’s home, led in spiritual development by the father. In their homes, the family was the focus and how other households worshipped The Four was of no concern to the rest. With the influence of Creatorianism and Northern expectations to convene publicly for worship, modern Templars have obliged, though the times of private worship are still far more meaningful. The northern areas of The March bordering along Lornesse and Dubhion were more familiar with the practices of Creatorians and Patheonic believers, thus their adaption to gathering together in the Sight of The Four and their community was more easily done. In southern Mercia, however, the emphasis is still on familial worship, with heads of households often teaching a lesson or settling a conflict during Prope Liberi. Despite the regional differences, one thing remains true across The March. To be devout to the Divine Temple is the only acceptable way of living. No other religions are considered acceptable for a Mercian to practice, and anyone who speaks or behaves in a manner contrary to the teachings will find themselves facing social and familial consequences.
Read more about the Divine Temple here.
The primary voice in the anti-magic front, Mercia has a long history of opposition to the witches of Tnarem and their perpetual home, Lornesse. So severe is the distaste for magic that the unsanctioned use of it is punishable by death. In the last several centuries, however, the rise of the Augury has seen to a shift in the way casters are dealt with. Now, as an alternate to death, witches are branded, sent to an Athenaeum, and put to use in various ways by the Augury. Still, even now, the attitude toward witches is that of distrust and hatred, Mercians near unanimously decry the ability to cast as unnatural and foul; it is an abnormality to be contained and controlled at the very least.
IMPORTANT: All witches in Mercia must submit to the will of the Augury, meaning if your character is able to cast magic, they will have to incorporate the Augury into their story in some manner. You can read more about the Augury here.
For as influential Mercia has been on the continent and for how much it has mingled with the other cultures that inhabit Tnarem, it's tongue has not changed overly in the centuries the Mercians have dominated the southern hemisphere of the land. Regal High Mercian is no longer spoken at large, having softened into a more romantic-sounding common tongue, Common Mercian. In addition to the native language, Common Nisi and Common Markish are often spoken, depending on which region of Mercia one finds themselves in.
- High Mercian (Latin)
- Common Mercian (Italian), Common Nisi (Mozarabic Spanish) or Common Markish (English)
IMPORTANT: Characters from Thedaea, Pargos will speak Common Nisi as their third language. Characters from Lebissa and Enui will speak Common Markish as their third language. Characters from Meis have the choice to speak either Common Nisi or Common Markish as their third language. All Mercians will speak common Mercian.
Mercian names consist of three parts: the given name and the surnames of the father's family followed by the surname of the mother's family. When a woman is married, her husband's surname is added, preceding her father's surname. In formal situations the entire name is used, in more personal situations, the given name is used alone. It is also important to note suffixes for surnames. When referring to a single person, a surname will always end in -a or -ia, and when referring to a family as a whole, or using the name as an adjective, it will always end in -ii.
Arturius Maricia Valentia
"Arturius" being the given name, "Maricia" being the father's surname, and "Valentia" being the mother's surname.
Names are very rarely familial, the need for that satisfied by the emphasis on surnames. Instead, the common practice is to name a child after an aspect that the parents hope they will embody. As a consequence, this results in many similar names, as Mercian culture lionizes very specific traits in their men and women.
Common Mercian Male Names - Aemilius, Aetius, Atticus, Augustus, Brutus, Cassius, Cornelius, Decimus, Felix, Gaius, Lucius, Magnus, Marcus, Remus, Serverus, Sextus, Tiberius, Titus, Valens, Valentinus, Vitus
Common Mercian Female Names - Aelia, Aemilia, Agrippa, Alba, Claudia, Cornelia, Decima, Fabiana, Luciana, Lucretia, Marcella, Marina, Nerva, Nona, Porcia, Priscilla, Tatiana, Tullia, Vibiana, Vita
Because they are not given their father or mother's family name, bastards have surnames of their own, to denote their unique parentage. They will be addressed as an appropriate status, equal to the legitimate children of their father, but without the family name. Children born to a Mercian father will be given the surname of Pueromino
. If born to the Imperator, a child will be given the surname of Pueregis
Common Phrases & Expressions
|Novi bene||Hello (formal),|
|Gratias tibi||Thank you|
|Libenter dedi||You're welcome,|
I gave/did it with pleasure
|Ave atque vale||Goodbye (formal),|
Hail and be well
Sexuality is seen as fluid in Mercia, and it is common for people to have lovers of the same sex openly and proudly. Same-sex marriages are not allowed due to the emphasis on the importance of family both secularly and religiously, but neither deter the people of the Imperium from pursuing lovers of the same sex. There is no concept of homosexuality/heterosexuality, the Mercian view of sexuality is just that it is. There is no distinction between or prejudice surrounding someone's preference in partners.
Marriage is done for political advancement, but sex and romance transcend their utilitarian uses south of the Dubhio-Mercian border. The Imperium is known for its carnal behavior, and sex is a large part of this reputation. Affairs are not secretive things, are something that both sexes engage in. What's more, it is no strange sight at a party to find many of those attending nude to some degree and engaging in various sexual acts casually, an offensive thing to the North, but an ordinary day to the Mercians.
Of all the nations, Mercia has the second highest average age for marriage. Those ages being 20-22 for males and 18-20 for females. Those of higher social status will marry earlier, on average, than those of lower social status. Arranged marriages are not common in Mercia, contributing to the high average age of marriage.
pregnancy & childbirth
Within the contract of a marriage, pregnancy is seen as a boon and something that is expected. Outside of marriage, pregnancy is treated as a fact of the southern lifestyle. Mercians are not likely to make use of Maiden's Milk, not from some stigma surrounding it, but because they do not see a need to. Their culture is one that allows promiscuity and pregnancy is a known outcome of such behavior. A woman who falls pregnant outside of wedlock is treated no differently than were she pregnant in it. Marriages, except for in extreme situations, like illegitimate male heirs or sticky political situations, will not be forced upon extramarital conception.
As common things, bastards are treated as any legitimate child of the mother might be. The child is born and brought into the mother's family, raised as a sibling to her if she is young, or as a child, if she is old enough. The father will rarely take the bastard, but he will acknowledge his part in siring it.
Divorce & Annulment
Annulment is not a legal means of separating a marriage in the Mercian Imperium. All marriages must be acknowledged by the state via an arbiter's signature on the contract drawn up between both parties, and in the circumstances that the marriage should end, the arbiter's signature is again required, and the documents are filed away for the Crown to make use of when necessary. Along with this paper trail, the Crown recognizes as all marriages entered into as legitimate and binding while they remain intact.
Love & Romance
Romance is not something heavily focused on, it is only a concept used in passing. There are typically far more important things to be gained from marriage and sex in the eyes of a Mercian, though romance is certainly present in the background.
Because of the heavy push for young men to discover themselves in the same way Vulcus has, trysts and paramours are encouraged, though always with the knowledge that they will not evolve into marriage or interfere with one's existing marriage. The expectation does not extend to women in Mercia, either, making the courting process a one-sided affair; men as the perpetual pursuer and women as the objects of courtly love. The love affairs of the Imperium are passionate by all accounts and lack boundaries that the more muted affairs of the northern regions engage in. Accepted as common behavior, professions of love for mistresses are common and often very public. It is seen as a point of pride for a husband to have his wife desired by so many, and he will often not deter the affections, but may deter the consummation of such love affairs, depending. A woman, expected to be passive in these affairs, will not profess her love publicly in return, but will do so subtly by way of wearing gifts, giving her favor in tourneys, and other covert means. Within the construct of marriage, love is not encouraged or expected, but nor is it deterred if it occurs naturally during the lifespan of the union. Shows of affection in these situations are not frowned upon, but are considered odd.