“Awake, arise or be for ever fall’n.”
But alas, the Great Kingdom was not the whole of the Flanaess. It never was.
It ruled Old Ferrond, but only in name. So too Veluna and Perrenland, the Pale, and Tenh. The gods know that it never really ruled the Bandit Kingdoms. Had anyone? And it had never, ever, held dominion over the Wild Coast, no matter what they might claim in sight of the Malachite Throne. I doubt that anyone could claim that.
|Steeped in Secrets|
The most successful union of Suel and Oeridian came in the Sheldomar Valley, where Keoland was founded eighty years after the Twin Cataclysms. The Suel Houses of Rhola and Neheli joined with Oeridian tribes on the banks of the Sheldomar and pledged themselves to mutual protection and dominion of the western Flanaess, an agreement that set the course of history for the region for the next nine centuries. Of all the new realms formed during those tumultuous days, only Keoland remains. [LGG – 13, 14]
The Kingdom of Keoland, located between the Javan and Sheldomar Rivers, is the oldest surviving nation in the Flanaess. Since the Twin Catalysms forced the Great Migrations of prehistory, Keoland has had the most impact upon the history of the Flanaess of any nation outside the Great Kingdom. [LGJ #1 – 8]
The Silent Ones are a guild of mysterious spellcasters who hail from the Sheldomar Valley in the Flanaess. The are an eldritch order of ascetics dedicated to uncovering and safe-guarding ancient secrets of magic and arcane history. The Silent Ones are often called “Those Wo Must Not Speak,” a phrase roughly translated from their original name in the ancient tongue of their Suel ancestors. Their more common sobriquet derives primarily from the name of their central meeting which from ancient times has been called the Silent Tower. […]
The Silent Ones are nominally servants of the Keoish Throne, however no actual authority can be exercised upon them by that crown that is not explicitly given to it by age-old writs. [LGJ #4 – 11]
Gillum I of Neheli (aka The Mad] [LGJ #1 – 11]
Keoland had never realized its promise. It remained a backwater as the Great Kingdom swelled. It surely would have fallen under the suzerainty of Dyvers had it stayed its course.
In 49 CY, the throne reverted to House Neheli, where it remained for nearly two centuries. A long stagnant period in Keoish history ensued, during which the country remained a benevolent, if slumbering and introverted land. [LGG – 65]
287 to 299 CY
The Hool Marshes have always been an inhospitable place. Few prosper here. The lizard folk do, but they are native to such places, their flesh thick and scaled, a natural defence against the clouds of insects that plague its marshlands and bogs and sinkholes that know no bottom.
The Flan have long adapted to its trials, their towns perched on poles driven deep into the marsh, their boats shallow-draught, narrow and nimble betwixt the reeds and mangroves.
Suel pirates had long settled Port Toli, too, and none had yet succeeded in ridding their presence from those fair shores. Worse, the most decrepit of brigands skulked in the marshes, venturing out into the Dreadwood and beyond, sowing havoc as they did.
Tavish had had enough of the brigands and bandits. He meant to tame borders and his seas, once and for all time.
The Hool Marshes have long been both a boon and a bane to the people of Keoland. The vast expanse, produced by the confluence of the Javan and Hool rivers, is primarily a trackless marsh filled with too many dangers to settle and civilize. And while the marshes are most notable for their bottomless bogs, tribes of lizardmen, and countless monsters, the natural terrain has also protected the southern border of the kingdom from widespread invasion from the south for centuries.
King Tavish the Great was the first to march around these marshlands to conquer the wilderness between the Hellfurnaces and Jeklea Bay [….] Until the 3rd Century, these lands were controlled by isolated Suel brigands (based at Port Toli) and largely inhabited by Flan and humanoid tribes. The new Keoish conquerors changed all this. [LGJ #1 – 18]
Tavish I of House Rhola (The Great) [LGJ #1 – 14]
The rise of Tavish the Great in the late 3rd Century CY finally broke the tight hold that the Silent Ones held over the magical arts in the Sheldomar valley. The brash young Tavish envied the might of the Aerdi Empire (which was then at its apex) as much as he reviled the stagnancy of his own kingdom. Tavish attributed this primarily to the pervasive superstition which prevented Keoland from fielding the magical power of its neighbors and he vowed to bring this stupor to an end. [LGJ #4 – 13]
|Tavish the Great|
When the last Neheli king died without issue in 286 CY, the summer conclave of the following year recognized the ascension of the first Rholan king in more than two centuries, King Tavish I. Tavish, the duke of Gradsul, was the scion of his house and its most formidable leader. He was determined to make the aspirations of Keoland rival that of the Aerdi and the nascent Furyondy, both of which already dominated the neighbors of Keoland and its rivals in the north and across the Azure Sea.
Tavish immediately brought a cosmopolitan air and youthful dynamism to sleepy Niole Dra when his court assembled the following year in the capital. He quickly reversed the course of the nation and raised armies in great numbers. He accelerated castle-building across the frontiers of the nation and abolished certain magical prohibitions that had stood for centuries amid the strong opposition of the anchorites of the Lonely Tower, the Silent Ones. [LGG – 65]
|Taking Fals Gap|
Keoish forces verged on the Fals Gap, where the city of Thornward was founded by the Knights of the Watch as a northern outpost to ward and tax the trade roads between the Baklunish and Furyondy. While a brief skirmish was fought with the Baklunish of Ket, large-scale actions were as yet unknown. [LGG – 65]
Tavish was not a rash ruler. Why conquer what could be won through diplomacy?
Peers of Ulek join the Council of Niole Dra [LGJ #1 – 14]
Tavish negotiated a treaty to formalize the union of the Ulek states to Keoland, bringing them into closer cooperation with the Throne of the Lion. Keoish ambassadors were dispatched even to Enstad, and distant outposts were soon tolerated by Celene and its fey court. Tavish accomplished the near total confederation of the Sheldomar Valley, from the Crystalmists to the Azure. [LGG – 65]
Tavish set his sights south as well as north.
Tavish I established the port of Monmurg in 301 CY and set about cultivating the central lands between the Hool River and the Azure Coast. [LGJ #1 – 18]
Unfortunately, the lands to the south were far less hospitable than those north.
Was Tavish a tyrant? There were those who might think him so. He meant to increase his holdings, after all, by any and all means at his disposal. And he did. But he also meant to raise his people up from the depths of their superstitions. He certainly tried. And he sought to rid his lands of slavery; that in itself might make him the greatest sovereign of his age.
After abolishing slavery in these new territories [Tavish I] ordered built the fortress city of Westkeep […] in order to shield the central lands from incursions from the swamp and facilitate widespread settlement of the south. [LGJ #1 – 18]
mid 4th century CY
|The Buccaneers of the Azure Sea|
In the mid-fourth century CY, as Keoland made war in the north, the buccaneers of the Azure Sea and Jeklea Bay grew courageous, correctly assuming that the king's wartime ambition would leave much of his southern holdings for the taking. Operating from hidden island and mainland bases, these pirates harried the coastline as far as the Sea of Gearnat, from Monmurg to Gradsul, from Blue to Scant. [ LGG – 101]
Alas, he failed; but he had left Keoland a far more modern and profitable nation than he had found it.
346 – 395 CY
Tavish II of House Rhola (The Blackguard) [LGJ #1 – 14]
Following the death of Tavish the Great in 346 CY, the throne was taken by his eldest son, Tavish II (called The Blackguard), a move that was grudgingly approved by the Council of Niole Dra. [LGG – 65]
The king’s son and successor, Tavish II […] further marginaliz[ed] the role of the Silent Ones by abolishing the advisory post traditionally held by Wyrd the Tower and appointing his own court wizard. A thirty year underground conflict broke out between both magical guilds which only ended with the death of Tavish II in 395 CY. [LGJ #4 – 13]
The Suel and the Celestial Houses of the Great Kingdom were not the only ones to believe in manifest destiny.
Wealsun Proclamation [LGJ #1 – 14]
During the early summer of 348 CY, the new king [Tavish II] made his so-called "Wealsun Proclamation," over the objections of the members of the Council. In it, he asserted the manifest destiny of the Keoish to hegemony over the Sheldomar Valley and all its borders. [LGG – 65]
Tavish II began with the "Poor March.”
In 350 CY, the whole region was absorbed into the Empire of Keoland and set up as a march of its own (the Poor March, a title that was eventually shortened to the “Pomarj”). The region was called the Poor March because of its distance from Niole Dra, which was then considered the center of learning and culture in the western Flanaess, from whence all intellectual wealth flowed. [Dragon #167 – 11]
c. 357 CY
One wonders if those who raised objections to the Weaslun Proclamation still did as evil and decadence corrupted the Great Kingdom. Mayhap they did even more vehemently. They must have watched, first with concern, and then horror, as that powerful force fell from its supposed grace. Did they see that Kingdom’s pride and hubris mirrored by their own throne? And did they worry that their own nation might suffer the same fate?
It was at this time that the evil began to grow within the rulers of the Great Kingdom. The House of Rax became decadent, its policies ineffectual and aimed at appeasement. The powerful noble houses took this as their cue to set up palatinate-like states, and rule their fiefs as if they were independent kingdoms. [Folio – 6]
c. 375-399 CY
The Great Kingdom’s fall was long and slow, torturously slow.
Local rulers who were members of other royal houses began to use their titles of prince rather more aggressively. They began to enact more laws of their own, to administer local taxes increasingly independently of the overking, to build fortifications not only for themselves but for their own liegemen who came less and less to answer to the overking and more and more to obey only their own local lords.
Mercenary armies became more common, and some princes conquered slices of other princes' lands. The drunken, enfeebled, or effete overkings allowed this to happen.
The House of Naelax was the first to use humanoid mercenary troops around the Adri Forest for provisioning raids late in the fourth century. And it was this royal house which came increasingly to the fore.
At this time, the Great Kingdom still had a relative freedom and equality of many priesthoods, although those of Lawful alignments were dominant. In Rauxes itself, the priesthood of Pholtus still played a commanding role as advisers, judges, and mediators. However, Naelax aligned itself firmly with the burgeoning priesthood of Hextor. In a land with increasing strife and struggle, this aggressive evil priesthood became more influential as the decades passed. [Ivid – 3]
Nemonhas of Nehali refuses the crown (The Spurning) [LGJ #1 – 14]
Keoland's aggressions took a lengthy hiatus under the rule of Duke Luschan, the new regent who had no stomach for war. [LGG – 65]
413 – 453 CY
Malv Sellark becomes Tavish III of House Rhola (The Boy King) [LGJ #1 – 14]
In 414, the old regent became ill and died, and his young nephew assumed the title Tavish III. [LGG – 65]
House Naelax reached its [apex] in North Province with the rise of Herzog Ivid I of the North in the 430s CY. Over the intervening two centuries, the Naelax had grown to be the strongest individual house in the kingdom, and by this time an undeclared war was raging between Rax and Naelax. [LGG – 74]
|A Victim of Pirates?|
Tavish III’s younger brother, the Duke of Gradsul, disappears in the Amedio Jungle. [LGJ 1 – 14]
Tavish Ill's errant younger brother and the heir to the duchy of Gradsul disappeared, and reports placed the duke as lost in the Amedio, the victim of pirates or other foul play. [LGG – 65]
Pitates would be a safe bet, I would say, considering what was about to transpire. Piracy had been a thorn in Keoland’s hide for longer than anyone could say, and they had been far more brutal regarding Kaoish shipping than other nations’ since prior Tavishs’ crusades against their numbers.
434 – 453 CY
Tavish III was distracted by the Small War in the north. A few Suel pirates took advantage of his armies being occupied. Others soon followed their lead. They revolted against his depleted garrisons and declared themselves free of Keoland’s “tyranny.” Soon they began to refer to their selves as princes of the sea.
|Harrying the High Seas|
The rise of the Sea Princes […] proved fateful to Keoish efforts in [the Hool coastlands], and these lands eventually fell to the usurpers under the rein of Tavish III. His ill-fated attempt to regain the lands from the pirates resulted in the Seige of Westkeep (453 CY). [LGJ #1 – 18]
The old king attempted to salvage some dignity in a doomed expedition to reclaim the south, culminating in the Siege of Westkeep, 453 CY. In a prolonged battle against the insurgents, King Tavish III was himself slain. [LGG – 65]
And still the endeavour failed.
c. 440s-460s CY
Torn by turmoil, the Great Kingdom began to break apart. At first the Throne took no action. But as the tapestry of state continued unravelling, it had little choice but to rise from its stupor and take action, lest it lose the entirety of its lands. But try as it might, it could not stem the tide. What choice did it have? The Crown was embroiled in what came to be known as the Turmoil Between Crowns, and it took no interest in the administration of its provinces.
Rel Astra has been essentially independent for nearly a century and a half, since the end of the Turmoil Between Crowns, when it gained palatinate status from the Malachite Throne. For most of that time, it controlled a large swath of the Solnor coast in a great arc extending over 30 leagues from the city's walls in all directions. This border begins in the north and includes nearly all of the Lone Heath to the town of Ernhand, proceeding west into the vast expanses of the Grandwood, and south to the border of Medegia at the town of Strinken. While the city of Ountsy is largely independent of Rel Astra, its lord has been subject to the latter for a large part of its history. [LGG – 92]
The pirates of the Azure Sea and Jeklea Bay bound together as one.
|A Loose Confederation|
Okay, that may be an exaggeration. They were pirates, after all, and free by any measure of the sea. They bowed to no man, not even their selves. But they had put aside their differences to defend against their common foe.
They fought Keoland and all comers. And survived the ordeal. By the skin of their teeth, so to speak. Even as their besiegers tired and quit the field, the pirates were tiring too, exhausted, if fact, and all but defeated, and surely would have been had Keoland continued to press them.
Over the ensuing decades following [the Seige of Westkeep], the border of the Kingdom of Keoland slowly retracted northward to the Deadwood [….] [LGJ #1 – 18]
What was to be known as the Turmoil Between Crowns, rocked the Great Kingdom. Wars were waged over the succession, and wars, being expensive affairs, had to be paid for.
The third recent split in the Great Kingdom came in the south, in 446-447 CY. Extreme repression and taxation of the population led to a general rebellion among commoners and nobles alike. [TAB – 18]
Ivid I of House Naelax assassinated Overking Nalif of House Rax, and claimed throne of Great Kingdom, putting the Rax/Naelax dispute to bed, once and for all.
Overking Nalif was the last of the Rax line descended directly from the overkings. A flock of misbegotten cousins, exiles and ne'er-do-wells of Rax could lay some claim to the title of overking when Ivid had Nalif assassinated, but after a century of hopelessly ineffectual Rax rule all of the royal houses agreed that another Rax overking was simply unacceptable. [Ivid – 4]
|Ivid I of Naelax|
Ivid proclaimed himself overking immediately (in 446 CY) and plunged the Great Kingdom into civil war. [Ivid – 4]
Ivid must be mad, some said. Ivid must be deposed, others said. And thus civil war broke out within the Great Kingdom. I suppose some few must believe that was how the war began, but in truth, the war had been brewing for some time, steeped in a cauldron of ambition, avarice, and hate.
Among the competing houses, the House of Cranden opposed Naelax, as did many elements of the House of Garasteth and the remnants of Rax. But in all houses’ princes were busy using the civil war as a cover for settling old scores and attacking their inhouse rivals. Ivid certainly had some such princes assassinated; the blame would be laid upon their own blood for this, increasing within-house divisions and making opposition to him less organized. [Ivid – 4]
|Imprisoned, Tortured, and Executed|
The tyrannical Ivid I assumed the Malachite Throne at the price of granting greater autonomy to the provinces, notably Medegia, Rel Astra, and Almor. The recalcitrant herzog of South Province was quickly deposed and replaced by a prince from House Naelax, who sought immediately to bring the southern insurgents back into line.
In 446 CY, the herzog granted an audience to representatives of Irongate, who went to Zelradton to air their grievances. The offer turned out to be a ruse, and the ambassadors were imprisoned, tortured, and executed for Overking Ivid's enjoyment. The whole of the south arose again in violent rebellion, and one year later formed the Iron League and allied with Nyrond. [LGG – 24]
Onnwal was shocked. Onnwal was incensed. Onnwal declares itself a Free State.
Onnwal was originally a lesser fief of the Herzog of South Province, to be granted as he saw fit to his faithful followers. The oppressive rule of the Great Kingdom brought great discontent and instigated open rebellion, the whole of the South Province being in arms. All of the lower portion was lost to the empire when the Iron League was founded. [Folio – 13]
When the Turmoil of Between the Crowns sowed rebellion and caused widespread division in the Great Kingdom, Onnwal joined the other southern states who broke from the Malachite Throne. [LGG – 80]
Long-standing pressures upon South Province to bring the southern fiefs into line drove Damalinor of Naelax, the new herzog appointed by Ivid, to attempt to break the rebellion with an infamous act of villainy. In 446 CY, the lord mayor of Irongate petitioned to have his grievances heard in Zelradton and accepted an invitation to attend the herzog at his palace. When he and his party arrived, they were imprisoned and tortured to death for the overking's entertainment. Their remains were on display for weeks in the Traitor's Garden in Rauxes. So horrified were the people of Irongate by the account of the mayor's demise that the city revolted against the herzog and the overking. South Province was plunged into civil war and chaos. [LGG – 57]
Hextor's Faith gains ascendency in the Great Kingdom with Ivid I's rise to power.
[The alliance between the Hextorians and the House of Naelax] led to the faith’s ascendancy over all other faiths in the Great Kingdom as of the coronation of Ivid I in 446 CY, but also resulted in the church of Hextor falling under the thumb of successive overkings. [Bastion of Faith – 90]
|Taking Port Toli|
The Sea Princes wrested control of Monmurg from Keoland, breaking the kingdoms control of the southlands.
The Sea Princes raided the mainland coast, conquering even Port Toli and finally Monmurg in 446, breaking Keoish control of the southlands in a flurry of naval actions. As Tavish III's northern holdings crumbled, however, he ordered the eradication of the Sea Princes, charging his military commanders to regain all of the land lost to the seafaring opportunists. The Sea Princes' operations had expanded even to the mainland, a fact that infuriated the king. The pirates openly scoffed at his decrees and challenged the monarch to a battle by sea. Tavish III would not oblige. [LGG – 101]
Ivid’s treatment of the envoys shocked the entirety of the Great Kingdom. How dare Ivid! Onnwall screamed. So too the other southern provinces. The entirety of the southern Great Kingdom rebelled, with only the core of the South Province, Ahlissa, remaining loyal to Rauxes.
The oppressive rule of the Great Kingdom brought great discontent and instigated open rebellion, the whole of the South Province being in arms. All of the lower portion was lost to the empire when the Iron League was founded in 447 CY. This alliance joined Onnwal with the Free City of Irongate (which barred the Onnwal peninsula), Idee, Sunndi, and the demi-humans of the Glorioles and the Hestmark Highlands in economic and military alliance. Onnwal and Irongate supplied the sea power, while the other members furnished troops for land actions – although strong contingents from both of the former places were also sent into battle. [Folio – 13]
Onnwal and Irongate provided the primary naval support for the Iron League, with the Szek responsible for shuttling league business between the Azure Sea and their allies in Nyrond and the north. [LGG – 80]
[The] whole of the south was in arms against the realm, and after a brief struggle the Iron League was founded, an alliance of mutual support which aided the rebellious states to throw off the yoke of the Aerdi tyrants. [Folio – 11]
When the Turmoil of Between the Crowns sowed rebellion and caused widespread division in the Great Kingdom, Onnwal joined the other southern states who broke from the Malachite Throne. The herzog of South Province failed to force them back into line, and Szek Parmus Destron became an independent lord in the aftermath. [LGG – 80]
Onnwal had to pay. Ivid and the South Province believed that if Onnwal’s sedition was put to task, the city and its allies would fall and come to heel. Forces were gathered. Ships put to sea. Never before had such an armada been raised by the Great Kingdom against one of its own.
|The Battle of a Thousand Banners|
lrongate was besieged by Aerdian forces for several months, but in the Battle of a Thousand Banners the siege was lifted when a ruse panicked the northerners, and great numbers of them were subsequently slain by a combined host of men and gray elves of the League. While never invaded, Onnwal is subject to periodic sea raids from the Herzog's squadrons. [Folio – 13]
Word of the success of Irongate's defense quickly spread, and a great conference was called in the city, including representatives of other various rebellious states once a part of or governed by the vast South Province. Irongate, Onnwal, Idee, Sunndi, and the Lordship of the Isles declared independence from the Great Kingdom, witnessed by ambassadors from Nyrond and dwarf nobles from the Glorioles, Hestmark Highlands, and Iron Hills. This was followed by the formation of the Iron League by Irongate, Onnwal, and Idee in late 447 CY. Irongate became the headquarters of the alliance, accepting ambassadors from the other states. [LGG 57, 58]
The world as all knew it was coming to an end.
Or so it seemed.
But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.
“With rebellion, awareness is born”
“A little rebellion is good now and then.”
One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable.
Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.” Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
The Silent Tower illustration, by Sam Wood, from Living Greyhawk Journal #4, 2001
Bullywug illustration, by Louis Vasquez, from Living Greyhawk Journal #4, 2001
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11442 Bastion of Faith, 1999
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer