Velikye Byelgorodniya - A Brief HistoryTo His Royal Highness, Grand Prince Dmitry IV Dmitrovich of the House of Mikhailov, Duke of Kapusta Zemlya, Count of Novi Byelgorod, Hereditary Hetman of the Cassock Horde, and Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Cockerel;
From Your Most Obedient Servant, Chronicler and Librarian, Baron Pyotr Afanasyovich Bibliotekhsky, Greetings on this, the occasion of Your Royal Highness' Natal Day!
Long may Your Royal Highness live and reign!
As Your Highness commands, here is a brief summary of my humble researches to date into the history of our proud and noble people.
I must, however, offer up a small note of caution; Your Royal Highness did command me to withhold nothing found in the course of my studies, and I fear that some of these sources may be less than reliable. I ask only that Your Highness' anger falls not upon your humble servant.
Radiant Prince, the academicians of Velikye Byelgorodniya await your judgement as to what is to be included in the published version; we trust Your Perspicacity implicitly!
The Early Years - Foundation to Consolidation376AD - The Migrations
Nomadic Byelgar Tribes fleeing the Hunnic invasions arrive in the Cimmerian Bosphorus (Crimea) to seek sanctuary among the Ostrogoths. The hospitable Goths take pity on the Byelgars' destitute state, and welcome them with open arms.
However, the Byelgars soon make themselves unwelcome owing to their cavalier attitude to the notion of personal property, their vile personal hygiene, and their tendency to turn up unnanounced at meal times.*
*Jordanes, Secret History of the Goths - I regard this source as less than reliable, as the Goths share a common ancestry with the Saxe-Coburnskis and the Buchholzniks. PAB
After much awkwardness, the Byelgars are left behind when the disgusted Ostrogoths leave their now-trashed kingdom for the Balkans.
A new Byelgar leader arises, the legendary warlord Glosh the Loud. Glosh receives a vision from the gods, and decrees that his people must travel to find a new home in the west. The Byelgars pack all their possessions onto their wagons, ponies and women, and set out.
The Byelgars reach the shores of Lake Baikal and finally realise that they have spent nearly two years travelling east.* The unsuspecting Glosh is left sleeping in his tent as the horde very quietly packs up and turns west.
*This is clearly a garbled account of Glosh's epic journey of conquest, where he obtained the submission of the Huns and Avars before deciding to remain to rule over them. PAB
408AD - Settlement in Byelgorodniya
The Byelgars arrive on the Danube, but the Ostrogoths have long memories, and turn the migration back into Central Europe. The Byelgars are led by visions to follow a magnificent white spoonbill, eventually settling on the mephitic shores of Lake Vonyuchniya and founding the settlement of Staraya Byelgorod.
783AD - Conversion to Christianity
Orthodox missionaries convert the Byelgars to Christianity. Soon after, Byelgorodniya gets its first saint: St Semyon is martyred when a block of stone falls onto his head from the new cathedral as he is passing. The Byelgars show only a tenuous understanding of the definitions of martyrdom, and there follows a rash of canonisations as over 3,082 men, women, children, and domestic animals are elevated to the ranks of the saints within two years. St Asinus the Patient remains a popular intercessor among the peasantry to this day, while St Fido comforts those who remove dog hair from household furnishings.
862AD - Norse settlement (or not)
Viking invaders move into Eastern Europe from the north and arrive in Byelgorodniya. They take one look at it and decide to give it a miss*, turning instead to found settlements in Russia.
*Clearly intimidated by the valour of our fighting men! PAB
1189AD - Crusades and Consolidation
Grand Prince Ilya the Hirsute of Byelgorodniya decides to raise an army and join the Third Crusade against the Turks in the Holy Land. He gets as far as the lands of the Tupoy and reduces them to vassalage, telling his troops that they have just liberated Jerusalem. Masses of thanksgiving are sung in all the churches of the Principality for this deliverance.
Grand Prince Ilya is invested with the title of King of Jerusalem, a title held by all subsequent Grand Princes up to 1608, when the House of Lorraine lodges an official protest at this blatant falsehood.*
He follows this triumph in 1192 with the conquest of "Constantinople" (actually today's province of Nizhzy Bublik), but has to retract his proclamation when the Orthodox Patriarch of Byelgorodniya, the energetic Andreas III, points out he has actually been to Constantinople, and Nizhny Bublik doesn't resemble it in the slightest.
Ilya outwardly remains a loyal son of the Byelgorodniyan Orthodox Church, but his relations with the Patriarch become somewhat strained.
*May I respectfully suggest that this detail be omitted from the official history. PAB
1238AD - The Coming of the Cassocks
The Mongols under Batu sweep into Russia, displacing the Cassock tribes, who escape the worst of the invasion by migrating into Byelgorodniya. Their leaders bully* the now-elderly Grand Prince Ilya into allowing them to settle in the open grasslands to the east of Staraya Byelgorod.
Ilya does, however, derive some satisfaction from sending Patriarch Andreas to act as Apostolic Envoy to the Cassock Tribes; the aged prelate is quickly exhausted by the effort of following the nomads to and fro on the steppe, and retires to leave a more compliant successor to be enthroned in his place.
*Perhaps "beseech" would be a better word in this context? PAB
1240-1245AD - Expansion and Serfdom
Coronation of Grand Prince Vassily Ilyich. Vassily continues his father's program of aggressive expansion, adding Plodsk, Strakhski Oblast, and (tentatively) Gruzinya to the Principality by 1243. It is at this time that Byelgorodniya becomes officially known as Velikye Byelgorodniya.
Plodsk and Strakhski Oblast are both sparsely populated, and the Boyar Vsevolod Igorevich of Tvistan' Knout suggests a solution to encourage settlement of these regions; introduce serfdom, and then the lower orders won't have a choice where they're sent.
The idea meets with the Grand Prince's approval, and Plodsk and Strakhski Oblast soon echo to the sound of trees being felled, stone being quarried, and serfs being knouted.
Gruzinya remains free of serfdom, as the inhabitants are too violent to subdue completely.* Byelgorodniyan rule of the area consists largely of sending coinage in exchange for their military service; when they can be persuaded to stop killing one another, they prove to be valuable (if undisciplined) additions to the Grand Prince's armies.
*No argument here. PAB