Map of the Nation of Essenia
(Compact of the Ten Nations Era)
The Nation of Essenia arose at an unknown date in the early centuries after the Breaking of the World and joined the Aes Sedai Queen of Aramaelle Mabriam en Sheered's Compact of the Ten Nations, which came about in 209 AB and collapsed only by the end of the Trolloc Wars, over a millennium later.
The borders of Essenia reached north of the hills above the deep forest known as Haddon Mirk, to the Eastern side of the hills of Kintara and followed the Manetherendrelle (likely to have had another name once it left the territory of Manetheren) south down the whole peninsula on which Illian now stands, to the Sea of Storms
The ruler of Essenia by 209 AB was First Lord Cristol. The political system of Essenia, and whether it remained constant through its history, are unknown.
During the Second Covenant era, Essenia was reputed for its scholars and philosophers.
The nation of Essenia is also remarkable for at least two features still existing on the Eve of the Last Battle. First, the fortress of the Stone of Tear built in the city of Tear a few leagues north of the Delta of the Fingers of the Dragon. Built at an unknown date using the One Power, it was completed either at the tail end of the Breaking or shortly after it. At the heart of the Fortress the san'angreal Callandor was preserved, warded to recognize the Dragon Reborn. The second feature is the unique ter'angreal system that was created on the site of the capital, Aren Mador (present day Far Madding). Known as the Guardian, the ter'angreal prevents channelers from touching the True Source (however, it doesn't prevent the weaving itself of the saidar or saidin, as long as the channeler can draw either from a ter'angreal known as a well. It seemingly can't break weaves and so Far Madding would still be vulnerable from channeling done outside the perimeter of the Guardian. The larger perimeter for men would allow female channelers to surround Far Madding and protect it from a false Dragon, while preventing them from channeling too near the city. We do not know, however, if the different perimeters of effectiveness was a goal of the builders or the result of natural differences between male and female channeling.)
The circumstances that led to the building of the Guardian are a mystery, nor is the exact date of its making known. That it predates the collapse of Essenia is however, virtually certain, if only for the technological knowledge involved. Some readers of WOT have suggested it may have built only around 335-6 AB, as a result of a crisis sparked by the rise and depredations committed by the infamous false Dragon Raolin Darksbane, a native of the city, perhaps following a failure from the Tower to bring him down rapidly. Others have suggested the ter'angreal may have been built by Aes Sedai around 209 AB, perhaps as the price Essenia asked of the White Tower to agree to join the Compact of the Ten Nations. Other theories include its making by the same group of channelers involved with the placement of Callandor in the Stone; another has the ter'angreal made during the Breaking to protect a city that has not survived, and it was later found and installed in their capital by the Essenians - and yet others have suggested the Guardian was the result of an early bargain with the Eelfin. It was also suggested the ter'angreal dates back from the Trolloc Wars only, and was meant to protect Aren Mador not from Aes Sedai but from the Dreadlords. Hopefully more information about Guardian will come in the last books or, failing that, with Harriet McDougall's Wheel of Time encyclopedia, to be published once the last book of the main series has been released (the manuscript is presently due one year after the publication of the last WOT book, dixit Harriet).
A culture that don't hesitate to stand up to the Tower with some confidence, by forbidding channeling altogether if not the presence of Aes Sedai themselves, is typical of both Far Madding and Tear in the New Era, and with the Guardian Far Madding has the means to enforce this law strictly. It is unknown in which era since the Breaking this cultural trait arose, though as it is prejudices shared by the whole region, these attitudes against channellers may well date all the way back to Essenia or at least the Trolloc Wars, when between the Dreadlords and the betrayal of Manetheren by the Red Amyrlin Tetsuan the Aes Sedai's reputation got seriously harmed.
Beside Aren Mador and the city-fortress of Tear, the name of a third Essenian city has survived: Desande. The location of this city is unknown. Too many possible locations for a big city exist to really guess, but a logical location would be facing the Eharonin city of Dorelle Caramon. Dorelle Caromon was later rebuilt as Illian, however it probably had to stand on the western side of the river (unlike Illian which stands on the eastern bank), as it marked the border with Essenia (the historical maps, however, are a little imprecise). The Ogier rose Groves and created Waygates near both Tear and Aren Mador.
Map of the Nation of Moreina and the south-east area
(Free Years Era)
By the end of the Trolloc Wars, the nation of Essenia had collapsed and its territory gave birth to five new nations, possibly out of what used to be provinces or districts. Khodomar got a fairly insignificant portion of Essenian land situated above the river Irallele. The nation of Talmour covered what is now the heavily forested area of Haddon Mirk. A well-known historical figure from Talmour was Rogosh Eagle-Eye, a hero of the Horn who had this incarnation in the times of Hawking. Esandara formed in the area of the hills of Kintara, around the location of the old capital of Aren Mador, and included parts to the north which later belonged to Andor. Fergansea covered the land from the Manethrendrelle to the Erinin, including the whole plains of Maredo. It was bordered to the West by Shiota.
The nation of Moreina was a monarchy, its capital and seat of power was Tear. Late in the War of Consolidation of Artur Hawkwing's High Kingdom, the High Governor of Moreina declared in his favour and surrendered the nation to him. It seems likely, though it's so far uncorroborated by the series or Guide, that the High Governor of Moreina first toppled the last monarch of Moreina before declaring the nation for Hawkwing, unless perhaps the last King of Tear had fallen in FY 943, as the False Dragon Guaire Amalasan conquered Moreina and besieged the Stone, if unsuccessfully.
Map of the Nation of Tear
According to the RPG book (RJ apparently provided its authors with the historical information about the New Era nations), the Nation of Tear was born around FY 974, at the end of the War of Hundred Years that followed the death of Hawkwing and the collapse of his High Kingdom. Tear was apparently formed by a group of lords from the area led by Lord Istaban of House Novares and the Lady Yseidre of House Tirado. Power struggles within the group led to the establishment of the Council of High Lords as the ruling body of Tear. The High Lords themselves choose who among the Lords or Ladies of the Land are powerful enough to be deemed a High Lord/Lady and join their Council. At any given time, there has been between as few as six or as many as twenty High Lords. While constantly scheming between themselves, the High Lords are keen to hide these cracks and weaknesses lower Lords might use to advantage: all decisions of the Council are presented as unanimous, the Lords of the Land are reduced to applying these laws. The rule of the High Lords is very harsh (not necessarily compared to similar real life societies in the 17th-18th centuries, but by Wheel of Time standards) , exacting massive taxes from the common folk, and resorting to torture, which is forbidden in the more socially advanced nations, like Andor.
The modern successor to Essenia and Moreina is bordered to the north by the forest of Haddon Mirk, in which the nation of Mar Haddon used to stand in the New Era until its collapse at an unknown date. The area has been completely reclaimed by the forests and today Haddon Mirk is very dense and without roads and paths.
To the west, Tear has reclaimed over 20 Leagues of the Plains of Maredo from the FY era nation of Fergansea. North of this area used to stand the kingdom of Maredo, its capital Far Madding. All that remains of Maredo nowadays is the city-state of Far Madding. To the south, Tear is bordered by the Sea of Storms, its capital Tear standing on the eastern bank of the Erinin, some leagues north of the delta of the Fingers of the Dragon . To the east, on the Bay of Remara and facing the peninsula on which the City-State of Mayene is situated, stands Tear's only city beside the capital, Godan. Further north, the eastern border lies along the Spine of the World.
Jealous of their power over trade, the High Lords forbid any Lords of the Land to build communities bigger than manorial lands and villages. Along the banks of the Erinin, they forbid anything but small fishing villages, to avoid any competition with their Erinin trade. Their deadlock over Tairen trade is complete with their control of the roads leading east to Illian and north-west to Far Madding, and their grip on passage of the Fingers of the Dragon, which under Tairen law must be passed with a Tairen pilot aboard, on pain for ships that don't comply of being forbidden of ever docking in Tear again. Tear also used to control trade over the Erinin with the Sea Folk, as much what comes south on the river from Tar Valon, Cairhien and Andor as what went north. The city of Godan is allowed to thrive as a competitor and a threat to Mayene. Stallions of Tairen stock, raised on the High Lords's domains and on pastures they own outside the capital, are prided and fabled over the Westlands and another trade good of the nation. Tairen carpets, with their Tairen maze motifs, are also prized.
Most of the population of peasants are little more than serfs on the manors of the Lords of the Lands and High Lords, not enjoying any possession of land or much liberties. Their living conditions are harsh, the laws of the High Lords given them few rights while excluding the nobility crimes like rape or murders of the peasantry.
Like the other nations near the Spine, Tear is fairly hilly to the East. The North and West are a major agricultural are of the Westlands, on which grain is produced. Grain is stored in granaries in the capital and traded through the High Lords. To the south and east of the city there are major Olive groves. Another major activity in Tear is high sea and river fishing. A few leagues east of the City, through the eastern gate known as The Dragonwall Gate, an old Waygate can be found in the area where the Ogier Grove used to grow, before it was razed down. The Ogier were not the builders of Tear, but have been hired frequently for repairs and various buildings. There are also four Portal Stones on the territory of Tear, one of which is also near the old Ogier Grove east of the City.
Above the city of Godan in the Dragonwall stands Stedding Shangtai. Stedding Jenshin is situated north of Haddon Mirk just above the river Irallel.
Tear is very inimical to the small but prosperous City-State of Mayene, mostly over Mayener trade in Oil from fish (these Oil Fish are likely whales), cheaper than Tairen olive oil. As whale oil is not favoured for cooking, it's probable much of the Tairen oil is also destined to the lighting markets. In 998-99 NE, Berelain Paeron su Paendrag was was kidnapped and held hostage in the Stone of Tear, in an effort by the High Lords to bring Mayene to its knees. Berelain was freed by the conquest of Tear by the Dragon Reborn, who also forced the High Lords to sign a treaty with Mayene and hire her fleet to carry grain to Illian.
Tear and its western neighbour Illian have long been fierce enemies. In recent years they have gone through two wars between 957 NE and 976 NE. By late 998 NE, another war was looming, after Sammael took over Illian as Lord Bren while Bel'al took over Tear as High Lord Sammon. If rumors comported by Tairens traders is true, High Lord Sammon planned not only a war with Tear but also promised one against Tar Valon. The enmity between the two nations is deeply rooted, and they compete on the oil market. According to Tairens, there is a lot of Illianer pirating against Tairen ships on the coast of the Sea of Storms. Giving the state of relationships between the two nations, these could well be privateers.
At various times in the New Era, Tear and Cairhien have sought to extend their respective territories north or south, have claimed land and have warred over it, without ever being able to keep control of these areas for very long. There were also wars between Andor and Tear. These were not very likely to have occurred over territorial claims, however a likely casus belli could have been Tairen control over the Erinin trade in the south, for instance over the taxation of Andoran trade goods or some discriminating measures against Andoran traders in Tear harbour Andor fought to have lift.
The Stone of Tear fell in early 999 NE, with the coming of the Dragon Reborn and the Aiel and the fulfillment of important prophecies of the Karaethon Cycle. With his coming, Rand has seriously undermined the power of the High Lords, making them equal of the common folk under Law, banning torture and forcing them to lift inhuman taxation measures. Rand then freed Tear of its tyrants' grip by sending most of them North to oversee distribution of Tairen grain in Cairhien ravaged by the civil war. This was originally seen as an opportunity by the Tairens who browbeat the Cairhienin nobility and sought to establish domains in Cairhien. Coming back from the Waste with a massive Aiel army hunting Couladin, Rand put an end to Tairen hopes in Cairhien, which lead to a revolt by several High Lords who took refuge in Haddon Mirk. Rand was able to gain the support of one of the rebellious High Lords, Darlin of House Sisnera, who became his Steward in Tear. The rebellion came to an end in 1000 NE, with the help of Aes Sedai Rand sent to Tear to negotiate. The rebels have accepted to put an end to it if Rand agreed to let High Lord Darlin be crowned King of Tear. It is a sign of the depth of the High Lords's resent of Rand's rule of Tear and despair to see an end to it that they chose to raise the High Lord he has favoured above themselves as King.
The nation of Tear is largely based on the Spain of the Conquistadors and the Spanish Inquisition. Jordan spiced it up with a sub-tropical climate and vegetation like bamboo and fig trees with overtones of South-East Asia, likely inspired by his experience of Vietnam. He was far more successful in his east-west cocktail with the Tairens than he was when he mixed French and Japanese cultures in TGH to create Cairhien, avoiding this time to mix illogical cultural traits, like French Baroque attitude and tastes with the Zen dominance of Togukawa Japan. In Tear, he avoided such clashes, rather picking Asian elements that don't clash with the European, Spanish inspired, culture in Tear. The Dragon Reborn may thus mark the point where RJ really began to master his world building, which only got better from there, the cultural elements that differentiate each nation becoming more subtle and believable, staying away from the weird, slightly schizophrenic cocktails such as he had done for Cairhien, in my opinion still the weakest of all his invented cultures, though he was able to broaden and correct its introduction in The Great Hunt a bit as the series developed.
In complement to this post and in conclusion to The Dragon Reborn Read-through, we publish The Nobles of Tear, documenting the various Tairen Houses, their members and their deeds up to Knife of Dreams. This article was newly researched and written by Linda in March 2009.
We have reached the end of our The Dragon Reborn Read-through for 2009, and with it we have also reached the end our the Thirteenth Depository's 'recap'/expansion of the Read-through activity we had begun on Wotmania last year. From The Shadow Rising and onward, each Read-through will last at least two weeks, mixing general book commentaries with posts on themes/symbolism/parallels. We expect to begin with book four of the Wheel of Time early next week.
- You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Dragon Reborn Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.
- Got any nagging question about a topic from The Dragon Reborn? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.