The Count of Years Commentary: 9    [ Text ]

The conquest of the Plain

The muster

Timeline: Lerīmanio died in -376, the year before the conquest of Metayu.


Inibē is of uncertain meaning.

Voricêlias 'flaming sword'.

Calēsias is traditionally explained as cadi 'command' + lēsias 'arrangement'-- roughly meaning 'commander' or 'lawgiver'.

Lēivio is a formation from lēivas 'wolf'.

'Little brothers' = bardīllū, a name traditionally applied to the nearby Karazi tribes. Socuole = 'hawk'; Bisbēruos = 'fearless'.

The Cuzeians were divided into clans (sodīlli, literally 'little lineages'). A clan was not ruled by a single leader, but divided among several lords (namō). Once they were settled, a namo was the ruler of a House (aure) or estate, largely independent of central control; at this time the namō can be considered captains of a band of riders. A clan was simply the collection of those lordships which acknowledged a distant mutual descent. They had some political meaning in the first centuries after the conquest, but afterward were of only genealogical interest.

The lords owed allegiance to one of the four paramount clans. These latter could be used narrowly-- e.g. the Calesiōrē, Calēsias's clan or dynasty-- or broadly, in the sense of all the people who acknowledged allegiance to this clan. I've used 'lineage' for the latter sense, usually actually xusodeyas 'sublineage' in Cuêzi since these were divisions of the entire Cuzeian sodeyas.

It's clear that the Cuzeians liked to relate political groups to genealogy: they traced themselves and the two groups of Little Cuzeians to the three children of Masāntio. They probably would have liked to trace the xusodeyi back to the sons of Norunayas; but perhaps there was some recognition that the same clans wouldn't have been on top for 15,000 years.

Some historians, indeed, have doubted that there were four sovereign clans before the invasion. In their view, Calēsias and the others were simply later rebels against the rule of Inibē; alternatively, there may have been additional clans whose adventures were less successful and who thus are lost to history.

CAA gives the names of some of Lēivio's lords, while CLE gives some of Calēsias's. I've taken this as evidence that both manuscripts are supplying ancestors for the local lords-- a practice which continued with Anacūlato and his successors. Every lord wanted his own ancestor mentioned here and preferably also in a battle scene. Some of the insertions may reflect ancient family traditions, but it's likely that most of them have simply been manufactured.

The sizes of armies are usually exaggerated in traditional accounts; some scholars suggest that these are at least doubled, though the proportions are probably accurate. The numbers purport to be those of able-bodied warriors only; the total populations would have been three or four times larger.

The Cuzeians present themselves as a nation of horsemen. Historians compare them to the nomadic conquerors of later times (the Gelyet, the Curiyans, the Somoyi, down to today's Eluye-Makši), but this is more misleading than helpful. The stirrup had not been invented yet, nor the chariot; as the Count of Years itself makes clear, horses were not that useful on the battlefield except for for quick movement and picking off stragglers. Most effective fighting was done on foot. Horses were highly prestigious, however, and to envision the Cuzeians as all-cavalry is to portray them as a nation of elite warriors.

The Count of Years has little to say about the Central tribes (the Cazinorō) purportedly allied with the Cuzeians; and indeed all but the Kahinisa seemed to forget the conquest, coming to believe that they had always lived in Eretald. The later Caďinorians had to learn of their own ancestors' conquests from the Cuzeians. The story fit in with their view of themselves as conquerors, but uneasily; it was head-knowledge, and never made its way into myth or even popular storytelling.

In the legends of Kaino, the Kahinisa were a proud but poor people "in another place", when emissaries of Davūr offered them dazzling gifts in return for a hundred of their women, who were the most beautiful in the world. Learning some years later that the women were being mistreated, however, the Kahinisa invaded and destroyed the land of Davūr, taking it for their own. This is done with the approval of the Cuzeian king (represented as already reigning in Eleisa).

The conquest of Metayu

Timeline: Metayu was conquered in -375.


Cumixāugo = Meť. Kumikhawigo 'many virtues'. His city, Araunicoros, is 'eagle port' in Cuêzi. The Meťaiun would be Jeiritemno, but we don't have evidence that it was ever called that.

Numiodelo = 'god-given'.

A proper Cuzeian battle story begins by noting the disposition of forces, includes an initial parley showcasing the vaunts and aims of both sides, and continues with accounts of noteworthy individual actions. The accounts in the Count of Years are based on oral tradition, and are obviously highly idealized. Some historians dismiss them all as heroic fabrications, but they seem too prosaic to be entirely legend.

Both sides were equipped with bronze weapons; some individuals had iron weapons acquired from the elcari. The Metailō are depicted as relying chiefly on ranked spearmen, rather like an ancient Greek phalanx-- a very powerful formation, especially for defense. Each man held his spear forward; successive ranks held their spears in between the men in front. Tactics were simple-- stay put or move forward to engage the enemy-- and thus suitable for a part-time army.

The Count of Years states that the Metailō had no horses at the time of the invasion. This is unlikely to be true; though their preferred habitat is the great plains south of Eretald, the Metailō could easily have acquired them in trade. The association with 'monsters' may derive from Meť. lorajeiri 'horse-eagle', a mythological beast; the Cuzeians took lorade 'horse' as a derivative of this, rather than vice versa. Nonetheless the picture of a nomadic people familiar with horses overrunning a settled people where horses were rare is largely accurate.

The Cuzeians had spearmen of their own, but their preferred weapon was the sword (cêlas). The epics and Golden Age sources all stress the superior training and discipline of the Cuzeians; this, rather than the simple existence of horses, is undoubtedly responsible for the conquest. A Cuzeian general had more options, and a Cuzeian soldier was more battle-hardened and flexible.

Both sides had archers as well. It seems clear that these were organized into separate companies, and used chiefly to defend a position, or to harrass an oncoming army.

In Bronze Age warfare, cities are extremely difficult to capture, except by siege warfare or treachery. Cumixāugo essentially loses his cities through overconfidence: he makes a sortie with his army, a tactic which might have defeated a barbarian raiding party, but was suicide against the enormous Cuzeian host.

The battle of Dunōmeyū

Balūniu is from Meť. Balwuni 'fox leader'.

Dunōmeyū = 'two waters', i.e. two rivers, Caď. Dinceleret.

Nayas is Cuêzi in form, possibly meaning 'overness, greatness'.

The battle of Dunōmeyū is a classic of Almean military studies, still examined by aspiring tacticians. Balūniu had a good grasp of the strategic situation, understanding that all his resources would be necessary to resist an entire invading nation. He was confident in his spearmen, and for good reason: a line of spearmen is almost impossible to dislodge by cavalry alone-- even cavalry with effective weapons of its own, which at this stage the Cuzeian cavalry did not have. Moreover, though cavalry tactics were new to him, he was flexible enough to account for them; he stationed archers in the hills to harrass them as they charged.

Thus, he addressed the new tactical situation--but not enough. A phalanx-like army is formidable from the front, but extremely vulnerable on its flank, and the Cuzeian horses allowed them to attack both flanks of Balūniu's army, and simultaneously to find and dispatch the covering archers.

A sub-theme of the conquest is the increasing arrogance of Inibē and his lineage. Though always given his due as a leader, Inibē is depicted as greedy for power and dismissive of the claims of his allies. The compilers of this account-- themselves descendants of Calēsias and Lēivio-- show their forebears winning the battle itself, while Inibē virtually sneaks into the city they are fighting for.

Inibē defies the Knowers

Names: Oruidelo = 'blessing'

Here the Cuzeians develop their first religious controversy. Inibē and his lineage, like most conquerors, want to take wives from among the conquered. It's not clear if monogamy was traditional among the Cuzeians or not. Beretos, writing some centuries later, mentions that slavery and concomitant concubinage were found among the Little Cuzeians, so it's likely that Inibē was expecting to continue old raiding practices.

However, the worship of Iáinos, and the transmission of the religion to the next generations, are new concerns, and the Knowers foresee that taking local wives will dilute Cuzeian beliefs. They don't seek to ban the practice entirely, but state it as a consequence of monogamy. (This would presumably affect mostly the experienced men: only young warriors would be likely to still be unmarried.)

History is written by the victors; this was no longer a controversy in the Golden Age. (On the other hand, there was little conquest of new lands, either... perhaps Inibē was right that this policy would discourage the expansion of the empire.)

Beyond this, of course, the issue is whether Cuzeian beliefs were binding on kings. Inibē argues that he can do as he wants because of his military victory; the Knowers reply that his victory was given by Iáinos. Stories like this, of course, were passed on to remind Cuzeians of the consequences of disdaining Iáinos-- and his Knowers.

Inibē's sons

Timeline: Inibē died in -360, fifteen years after the conquest of Metayu.


Îcemēgro 'seeking glory'; Îcecêlos 'seeking the sword'; Itīrante 'willful'.

There was a taboo against Cuzeians fighting each other, again reinforced by the sad story of Inibē's lineage.

This story also underlines the difficulty of taking a city in Bronze Age warfare. In a sense any river town had the vulnerability here assigned to Nayas: its port area must be open to the river and thus accessible to an invader. However, it was usual for the walls to surround the city, leaving a well-defended route to the port. It's likely that Balūniu's men could have resisted the attack even without advance notice.

The Metailō had lost every pitched battle so far; the lesson they drew, naturally enough, was not to offer any. This made good sense, and frustrated the Cuzeians, but it contributed to the prejudice that the Metailō were a weak and cowardly race.

The conquest of Davūr

Timeline: The cities of Davūr were conquered in -360.


Cadriume = Meť. Kadriumi 'happy'. Cantiego is of uncertain origin, though it's Cuêzi in form.

Osuripoli = Meť. 'sun city'; the Caďinorians renamed it after their sun god, Caloteion.

Colsindas: sindas is 'city'; the first morpheme may derive from coêli 'be fond of' or cōli 'collect'.

Giruēse = Meť. Giriweťe 'Longbeard'. Tosios is Meť. Toťio, of uncertain meaning.

At the battle of Cantiego, Cadriumi had an almost unassailable position and a firm grasp of phalanx tactics. He had good reason to believe that victory was his if his men would simply hold the line. The line couldn't be broken by assault; but Calēsias showed that it could be broken of its own accord, if lured away by a false retreat. Once the right flank was disorganized by its own advance, the horsemen could simply ride around them and destroy the army from its rear.

Here and elsewhere, the Count of Years explains that the conquerors were just-- despoiling only those who resisted and were killed in battle. Historians generally assume that this represents a later sense of morality projected back onto the conquerors. Some have even maintained that the Metailo aristocracy was entirely killed or exiled, and much of the peasantry driven off as well.

I find this extreme revisionism unnecessary. There is evidence for a good deal of linguistic and cultural interchange, references to Metailo communities within the Cuzeian lands even several centuries after the conquest, and no positive evidence for genocide. As pastoralists, the Cuzeians were outnumbered by the Metailō, and needed them to learn urbanism and agriculture.

Though they were always conscious of ethnic origins, the Cuzeians did not have the racialist orientation of their remote cousins the Ezičimi, the invaders of the southern plain. Their laws make it clear that anyone who spoke Cuêzi and worshipped Iáinos was considered Cuzeian, and though every lord wished to trace his ancestry to a conqueror, lordly genalogies also included Metailo names. Very likely the conquered Metailō were simply absorbed into the Cuzeian population over the next few centuries; if this process was not much remarked upon, it is because it was not considered interesting.

Giruēse's war

Timeline: -355


Alaldas 'star'; Tōurias = 'flowing'. Sonardos is usually explained as 'provider'.

Līxiruitas 'high fox'.

Sūās, the name of Voricêlias's duchy, is of uncertain origin, but commonly related to suale 'sky', perhaps because it was the most northerly and thus warmest Cuzeian kingdom.

Zeuseugo = Meť. Zewseugo 'loyal strength'

For the politics behind Giruēse's war, the compilers evidently had access to Metailo sources. The Metailō didn't have writing, but this was no obstacle; the compilers could consult oral tradition in the remaining Metailo states (Agimbār /Ažimbea survived till the Munkhâshi conquest), or simply ask the conquered Metailō in Cuzeian territory.

The division of Davūr is according to the lords' original agreement:

After its founding,

Sūās virtually disappears from the text. It was not such a backwater as this suggests-- when the Caďinorians conquered Davūr about a century later Sūās was their ally-- but the early manuscripts only follow the affairs of Eleisa and Aure Árrasex.

In 92 Sūās was invaded by Cayenas; when Sonardos was lost, in 95, the Sūelō asked for Cuzei's help. The Cuzeian king, Lôdicūnas, agreed-- but only on the condition that the duchy ackowledge his suzerainty. The Sūelo duke Yerorōvas refused, but had to change his mind when Tōurias was besieged by the Kahinisa. Lôdicūnas invaded and bundled them out of Sūās. Yerorōvas's daughter was married to Lôdicūnas's son, and Lôdicūnas allowed to rule until his death in 104, when Sūās was formally incorporated into the kingdom of Cuzei.

Anacūlato extended the Count of Years to tell this story, but didn't do much to fill in the rest of the duchy's history since the time of Voricêlias.

The founding of Eleisa

Timeline: Eleisa was founded in Z.E. -350; this is the start date of the Cuzeian calendar. So, of course, Cuzeian dates (Cuêzi sōni Eleisaē; V. Zon Cuzeë) can be found by adding 350 to the date Z.E. (Zon Erei 'year of the South', dating from the founding of Ctésifon).


Eleisa is of unknown origin. The Cuzeians related it to elēsas 'founder, arranger'; I'm tempted to derive it from Meť. lesio 'forest', especially since it was founded in territory sparsely populated by Metailō.

The name of the Luore river is traditionally related to lûre 'twist'.

Yeremizos = 'word of gladness'.

It was a point of pride for both Eleisa and Aure Árrasex that they were never Metailo cities. This should be taken as mere civic boosterism; after a few centuries Cuzeian culture was fairly homogenous, and there was no survival of Metailo worship. The Metailo cities on the Isrēica were smaller and younger than those on the Cayenas, anyhow.

The blessing of the iliū

This section is shorter in CAA, lacking some of the discussions of protocol and details of the entertainment provided to the iliū.

The water is for washing and drinking; the oil, fragrances and pigments are for adornment. The Cuzeians liked some oil in their hair, kohl (lēnidas) and other pigments for the eyes.

The blessing of Iáinos is however in both manuscripts; it is the foundation of the Cuzeian kingdom, similar to the sh'ma in the Hebrew Bible. In effect, Iáinos blesses the Cuzeians for coming to know him and for conquering the plain; but conditions his blessing on their continuing to pursue religion, justice, and holiness.

As explained in Almean Belief Systems, Cuzeian religion distinguished morality (yēvīras), the basic rules that applied to all men, from holiness (nēreyas), the loftier disciplines pursued by those who wanted special closeness to God. A persistent conflict in Cuzeian history was between the pietists and the privatists. This is a favorite passage of the pietists, since it shows that Iáinos desired Cuzei to be a 'holy nation'. On the other hand, the privatists pointed out that Iáinos did not speak as the Knowers expected him to, in the Glade; they therefore argued that public displays of holiness were irrelevant or evil; Ulōne would bring holiness if and when she wanted to.

The conquest of Tevarē

Timeline: Tevarē was conquered in -320.


Xāugose = Meť. Khawigauth 'good dawn'. Noxos is of uncertain meaning.

Vionnosindas = 'city of the lyre'.

Līxielâsas = 'high riser'.

It has been questioned whether chariots really existed at this date. They were used by the Ezičimi against the Wede:i starting about -150, and they became commonplace in Eretald from -100. The compilers of the Count of Years were clearly familiar with them, and also knew that the original invader were not. It may be significant that this is the only battle where the role of chariots is described.

They are instrumental in the victory, and one interpretation of all this is that the Cuzeians had indeed learned how to use weapons in some way from horses. Even the ability to throw javelins would be an improvement.

The account here follows CAA; CLE's story is a bit more rushed, omitting details of less interest to the northerners.

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