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The Gepid Kingdom was annexed by the Byzantine Empire in 535, and since that day the Gepid nation lived as subject of the Byzantines. However, in the few decades them, the Gepid people adapted very well to their new realm. The Gepids converted to Christianity by St-Iakonos, who would later become the patron saint of the Gepid Nation, and many learned Greek as a secondary language, to the point that the Gepid language changed to include the new Greek influence.
But still, the Gepid hoped for independence once again. And the occasion came at the start of the 7th century, when the Byzantine Empire and the Gothic Empire were fighting a difficult war, and the Gepid's lands, called Dacia by the byzantines, was one of the main battlefield. This sparked desire to revolt against the byzantine who were destroying the lands and local towns in a stupid war.
Five man became the symbol of this desire for independence, five men later known as the Five Founding Fathers: Elemund Aric, Theodulf Umund, Ardaric Valomer, Geberic Hunigild, Sigibald Bessas. According to the stories, they were all descendants of old noble houses that served under the Gepid Kingdom, and thus were the perfect leaders for a new Gepid Realm. Hunigild, who once went to Rome, and Aric, who lived in Constantinople for a time, were both inspired by the Roman Senate, and saw in the old Roman Republic a symbol of perfect society. Thus, inspired by the Roman Senate, the Five Founding Fathers organized the first meeting of a Gepid Senate in 605, with the topic of starting a rebellion against the weakened Byzantines. During the meeting, the senators choose Elemund Aric as the first Consul because of his charisma and his role in the founding of the Senate, and choose Geberic Hunigild as Leader of the Assembly, since he was the expert in the senatorial system. The speech of acceptance that Elemund Aric gave to the Senate that day would remain in history.
“I, heir of Rome, son of Gepid, accept the responsibility of leading the Senate and Republic, of preserving our independence and lands, and of leading our people to their destiny through history.”
After 10 years of war, the Gepids were finally able to win the war against the Byzantines, who were forced to recognized the independence of the region. Thus, the Five Founding Fathers, with the help of the Senate, built in details the their own republican system, mainly based on the Roman Republic, which included many elective offices. Geberic Hunigild, in particular, helped to make the laws of the Republic, and created many offices, including the one of Justicar, which would serve as a counterbalance to the Consul. Elemund Aric was allowed by the Senate another five years as Consul, Geberic Hunigild became the first Justicar and Theodulf Umund, who had replaced Hunigild as Leader of the assembly in 613, continued in the office.
Rise of the Five Founding Fathers (615-650)
In the years that followed the independence, many realized something. The power was supposedly in the hand of every senators, and each of them supposedly had a chance for high offices. But in fact, the power in the Senate was in the hand of the Five Founding Fathers and their relatives and descendants, known as the Five Founding Families. The other senators, in order to obtain something out of the power structure, had to support one of those families, which in the end only served the Five Founding Families. The new Gepid nation, which was a republic on paper, was in fact an oligarchy.
After the independence, one problem remained to solve. Although they achieved autonomy, the Gothic Empire still held lands that were part of the historical Gepid Kingdom, and thus that should be under the Gepid Republic. Three successive Consuls tried to regain those territories, without any success. Elemund Aric wanted to organize a military operation to regain those lands, but realized that the Gepids were tired after the war for independence, and died in 619 before he could make his plan a reality. Ardaric Valomer took Elemund's idea, but in the end failed to conquer the lands in 624, which led to his political downfall. Theodulf Umund tried another tactic, corrupting local officers and trying diplomatic approach. Although it did not succeed, it made possible for Geberic Hunigild to regain the territory, conceding to the Gothic rulers commercial rights in the region for 50 years and giving them any sums of money.
The last Founding Father to become Consul was Sigismund Bessas, a religious zealot who helped during the independence war by convincing the local religious authorities to support the Senate. But the 57 years old man rapidly became unpopular after his election, mainly because of his submissive attitude toward the papacy and the archbishop of Buteridava. But because of his image as a pious man, he helped to improve the relations with the Gothic Empire and Frankish Empire, who finally recognized the independence of the Gepid Republic. Still, his unpopularity paved the way for Carobald Umund.
The Umund Brothers (650-670)
In 645, Vidimir Umund, the first son of Theodulf, became Justicar. Under the unpopular Sigismund Bessas, he became popular figure of the government, even opposing the Consul in many nomination of generals. In 650, when came the time for the Consul's election by the Senate, Vidimir proposed his younger brother Carobald, who had been a popular senator since his arrival to the Senate. Both Houses Aric and Valomer supported Carobald Ucmund nomination, opposed by an old and sick Sigismund Bessas and another candidate of House Hunigild. Carobald was easily elected by the Senate as the 6th Consul of the Gepid Republic.
With both brothers to support each other, they were able to pass their reforms without opposition, and for the first time Consul and Justicar truly worked hand in hand. He was able to turn the harbor of Buteridava in one of the main harbors of the Black Sea, used by Byzantine, Persian and Rus' ships and merchants. He also gained in from the situation in Crimea, as one the Gepid main rival in the sea economy was in turmoil.
After both of their reelection to the Senate in 655, they got into an argument with the archbishop of Buteridava. Saying the Gepid Republic should imitate the Roman Republic on religious matter, he proposed to the Senate to make the archbishop of Buteridava an elective title, similar to the Maximus Pontifex of Ancient Rome, a title that could be given to a senator for a given time, thus affirming the Senate power over religion. Although opposed by House Bessas, who claimed it would be an insult to St-Iakonos (who was the first archbishop of Buteridava), the idea was in general well received, and he proceeded to action in 656, and the Senate elected Rechimund Aric as their first elected archbishop.
The brothers remained undisputed for the following years, and held more and more power in the Gepid Republic, and both were still in office in 665. However, with the power centered in their hands, many began to fear that Carobald Umund hold on power would end up with a monarchy. This lead to an alliance between the Aric and Hunigild, who accused the Umund of abusing their power. They were joined by the Bessas, who were against the elective archbishop. In hope of destroying the alliance, the Umund brothers elected a Bessas to the office of archbishop, hoping it would stop the movement. But in 670, Carobald was replaced as Consul by Rechimund Aric, the first elected archbishop of the Gepid Republic. Vidimir would also lost his office of Justicar five years later, ending a period of Umund domination in Gepid history.
End of the Century War in Lombardy (670-698)
The end of the Umund brother left the political scene open for the four other families, who gladly occupied it. However, none of the decrees applied during the consulate of Carobald Umund were revoked, as the other houses had to admit that Carobald helped the Gepid Republic to rise even more.
When the High Council of the Mediterranean began war against the Lombardy, the Consul Rechimund Aric decided to open border for Lombard refugees, a decree adopted by the Senate. However, they refused any possible implication in the war, which was agreed. The new Lombard immigrants easily adapted to the Gepid lifestyle and society, with one exception, the religion. This would be dealt with Rechimund successor, the Consul Berig Bessas, who helped to convert many Lombards. Some Lombard nobles decided to stay and became citizen, some of them even entering the Senate. In 698, however, a new Consul was elected, Euric Umund (son of Vidimir Umund), who closed the border in order to became totally neutral in the war. After the war, some Lombards who didn't adapt in Gepid society would returned to their homeland.
Neutrality in the European Conflict (698-730)
Consul Euric Umund took a neutral stance in the european conflict, remaining entirely neutral, refusing help to both side. He believed this would help to secure the Gepid Republic from any nation that would use this war as an excuse to invade. His successor Hilderig Hunigild, also continued his policies of neutrality and peace, focusing more on interior matters. But the population was more and more afraid of the conflict in Europe, this lead to the election of Recimer Valomer as the 12th Consul of the Gepid Republic.
Recimer Valomer was part of House Valomer, which had always been known to be the more militarist of the Five Founding Families. Many Valomer served as general before taking high office, and Valomer was no exception. He was also Leader of the Assembly since 5 years by now. His election didn't came as a surprise in this time of insecurity. Still a defender of the neutral stance, he argued that neutrality didn't mean being defenseless. He passed many military decrees, appointed more generals than any Consul before him and re-enforced the garrison on the frontiers and in the cities. Although he was elected three times, people began to fear the increase of military in their daily life, and in 725, the Senate made sure he wouldn't get another five years as Consul, instead electing Galindus Aric.
Galindus Aric was in a difficult position. Both Byzantine Empire and Frankish Empire were at war with the Gothic Empire, and the Frankish King Peter I claimed he wanted to reclaim the city of Rome and create a Papal State. Galindus had Frigeridus Bessas as Justicar, and the Bessas were known as fervent Christians. He had to support it somehow, but still remained neutral. He first sent a letter to the Pope elected in the Frankish Kingdom to congratulate him, then send an offer to both Franking King Peter I and Byzantine Basileus (Emperor) Leo III to reunite in Buteridava in order to talk about what would follow. The meeting became known as the Christian Meeting of Buteridava. All that Galindus had to do is provide two mercenary armies, and so was able to involve himself without officially entering in war.
The War for the Ashes of Rome (730-745)
The Christian Meeting actually backlash on Galindus. Thinking of it as a way to keep his neutral position in the war, it instead sparked a desire to join what seems to be a holy war. Supported by the Bessas, this movement wanted full support to the Pope, and the intervention of the Republic against the Gothic Empire, especially after they dissolved the Roman Senate. Thus, Galindus lost all support and Hermenigild Valomer, who was suppose to lead a Mercenary Force, was elected Consul instead.
The main presence of the Gepid Republic was during the Campaign in Italy, were both mercenary and main forces were able to help their allies make significant gains. The First Gepid Mercenary Force, which was led by Vithimiris Aric (son of the Consul Galindus), was exceptional in keeping Byzantine territories in southern Italy, even going so far as conquering most of South Italy without any help.
The main force, led by the Consul, followed the Frankish offensive over Rome, and participated to the siege itself, playing a key role in taking the city. With the city mostly under control of the Gepid Consul after the death of Peter I, the Senate was able to elect Witiric Hunigild as the new Pope in 744, the man taking the name of Felix V.
The Italian Question (745-760)
Fearing the militaristic Hermenigild Valomer would ruin the Conference of Toulouse, which was organized as a sign of peace by the Hispanic Queen, Sventhila Lousean (beofre this Queen of the Visigoth Kingdom). Vithimiric Aric was send instead, and to make his actions more legitimates the Senate elected him Consul in 745. However, only a few number of people attempted the Conference, and it was in the end a failure.
During those times, the Gepid had been raided on their coasts by the Lombards, a bunch of Pagan who was at war with the Franks to recover their homeland. They thought of making pressure on the Gepids to support their cause. Instead, this lead to a new sentiment anti-Lombards, and almost lead to a war with the Lombards, who decided to stop raiding in order to avoid it.
In 752, the Justicar Vidimir Hunigild (who was the son of Pope Felix V), published "The Six Laws of God" with the help of the Archbishop. Those laws were mainly restricting the actions of Arian Christians, and adding more powers to the function of Archbishop. However, those laws were mostly symbolical, as no Arian Christians lived in the Gepid Republic (or not enough for them to be even considered as a minority), and because the power given to the archbishop are only honorifics. The only law with real power was the one referring to the trade of religious icons and figures, which became punishable by death.
Around 750, the Empress of the Byzantine Empire, Clelia I, first refused to divide Italy according to the Christian Meeting of Buteridava, and instead tried to propose a new division. However, both Consul Vithimiric Aric (son of Galindus Aric, who wrote the treaty) and the Senate (who had few respect for a woman in power), felt insulted, and pushed the Empress to accept the division according to the Christian Meeting.
In the end, however, the Christian Meeting was not respected by either Franks and Byzantines, forcing the Gepid to keep their lands in Italy. This became a problem, as the Senate did not know what to do with it,since they were not suppose to keep it in the first place. But the Justicar, Vidimir Hunigild, had an idea. Instead of turning it into an outright colony, they could turn it into a client state for them, a vassal. Then comes Leonardo Di Fillipis. Italian member of the local nobility and an ardent partisan of the Gepids (to the point he adopted their religious views and speak Gepid), he appeared as the perfect man to rule the region for the Gepid. The Senate thus crowned him “Prince of Benevento”, establishing the first Gepid Principality.
The Two Expeditions (760-785)
In 750, the Empress of the Byzantine Empire Clelia I, offered the Consul of the time, Vithimiric Aric, to join her war against the Caliphate, ether proposing that the Gepid Republic sent troops as mercenary or that they join in themselves and conquer new lands. Vithimiric decided to join in, supported by the Senate, as new lands in the Black Sea would clearly help their trades.
Ten years later, however, Vithimiric hasn't sent an army yet, and the Senate became frustrated by his inaction. He lost all support, and was replace as Consul by Sigeric Bessas, who also served as general of a mercenary force during the War for the Ashes of Rome. Sigeric rapidly organized an expedition, and went to the Caucasus with a massive army by lands, passing by the Byzantine Empire, which opened their gates to their Gepid allies. When he arrived in Caucasus, he found the region in chaos, and use it to conquer the coasts that were still in control of the Caliphate.
In the following years, Sigeric Bessas died, and was replaced by Amaric Valomer, who decided to use the incursion of Lombard ships in the Black Sea as an excuse to invade the Lombards and expel them from the Mainland, thus no only helping the Franks but also gaining more lands from this expedition.
The Expedition in Caucasus would prove to be a success, and by 780 the Gepid forces under the COnsul conquered the coast of the Azovian Sea. However, Amaric died in 782 from old age. He was succeeded by Goderic Hunigild, who ended the expedition and founded the Principality of Abkhazaria. Sadly, the Expedition in Lombardy was a failure, which resulted in the utter defeat of the Gepid armies.
Based on the Roman/Byzantine senate, where noble families vote laws and make the decisions of the nation. It is the base of the Gepid Republic. Members of the Senate are elected to higher offices by the the other senators.
The Founding Families:
The Founding Families is the name used to talk about the five noble houses that mostly control the Senate and the Gepid Republic. They are also commonly acknowledged for creating Gepid Republic and winning the Gepid Independence. Those houses are:
- House Aric, sometime called the First House, was responsible of creating the Senate and leading the Gepid nation to independence, their founder Elemund Aric being the First Consul of the Republic.
- House Valomer is famous for their militaristic vision of the Republic. Their founder Ardaric Valomer was responsible for creating the bases of the Gepid Army. They are traditionally expected to be the better choice of Consul in time of war.
- House Umund is considered the expert house in trades and money. Their founder, Theodulf Umund, came with the idea of the actual currency, the Ardar.
- House Hunigild is the house that created most of the laws and institutions of the Republic. Their founder, Geberic Hunigild, was both the first Leader of the Assembly and first Justicar, an office he helped conceive in 615.
- House Bessas is the more pious house of all. It is famous for it's conservatives ways about religion, and for their tendency to promote peace instead of violence, except were it come to fight heretics or pagans (time when they are more pro-war than the Valomer). Their founder, Sigibald Bessas, is famous for convincing the religious authorities to support the independence, a task not even Elemund Aric could have done.
Based on Roman consul, it is the highest political office of the Gepid Republic.
- Civic powers: He has the task of carrying into effect decrees and laws voted by the Senate. He can call an assembly of the Senate every time he want, and had the task of presiding them. If the situation require it or if the senate isn't available to take the vote, the Consul can take authority over any matter of the state. He can also present any law he want to the Senate. During war time, he can order the arrest of any person he suspect of being a traitor, but cannot judge them.
- Military Powers: The Consul is the commander-in-chief of the Republic's army, and thus have full authority over it. In war times, he must lead the troops on the front. He can order new deployments of troops and promote officers without passing by the senate. However, the Justicar has the final word over nominations. The Consul is also responsible of the state diplomacy.
- Mandate: Five years, can be elected again. If the Consul die in office or is forces to resign, the Leader of the Assembly will take his place until the end of the mandate.
Based on the Roman censor, it is the second highest political office of the Gepid Republic.
- Civic powers: He is task of being the judge of any crime and accusation in the capital about including the nobility and senate (paysans are dealt by local military officers), although he can delegate some case to one of his five assistants, called Suspectants. When the Consul arrest someone, the Justicar is charged of dealing with the case. As military officers can serve as judges for the low-born population, the Justicar has the final word on the officer's nominations, the Consul only proposing the nominations to the Justicar. If the Senate think the Consul is abusing of his powers and pass a Decree of Abdication, the Justicar is the one deciding if the Consul is in his right or not, and what punishment should be applied if he isn't.
- Mandate: Ten years, can be elected again.
Honorific political office, his role is similar to the one of a regent. He is to preside the Senate if the Consul is absent. He also has the civic powers of the Consul, but must pass by the Senate to act. If the Consul die in office or is forced to resign, the Leader of the Assembly will take his place until the end of the mandate.
- Mandate: Can be given and revoked by the Senate any time. The Leader of the Assembly is traditionally proposed by the Consul.
A religious office, the Gepid Republic decided in 656 to make it elective as well, which wasn't appreciated in the christian realms. The owner of this office is considered the main religious authority in the realm after the Pope.
- Mandate: Two years, can be elected again for mandates of one year. The normal condition to become archbishop aren't applied here.
There is 10 of them. They are the assistants of the Justicar. Although not an official law, candidates for the post of Justicar had habitually been Suspectants by the past.
- Mandate: Two years (by being chosen by the Justicar as Suspectant), then can be elected by the Senate again for one more year each election.
The Gepid Principalities are a political system created in order to manage foreign lands owned by the Republic. Created in 760 by the Justicar Vidimir Hunigild, it is based on the idea of a local ruler from the local population whose power come from the Senate, making him dependent of the Republic and thus acting as a client state or vassal to the Republic.
The Gepid army is mainly compose of light to medium infantry fighting on foot, commonly equipped with a shield and a spear. Most of the time, they receive support from archers hidden elsewhere on the battlefield. The infantry forces, although not varieties, are still well trained and fallow byzantine formations, the Byzantine Empire being the main inspiration for the Gepid army.
An army is under the command of a General, who is a Senator proposed by the Consul for the office and validated by the Justicar. They are then placed in garrison somewhere in the country. Because those garrisons are placed at a good distance of each other that allow a garrison to join another one in short time if needed, they can easily form a defensive front if needed, wherever it is needed in the country. This system, which was put in place the Consul Ardaric Valomer, and perfected by his grand-nephew Videric Valomer.
One of the function of the Consul is to act as supreme commander of the Gepid armies, and in time of war must lead the troops to the front line and command them.
The General is the officer responsible of a garrison. He is formed in strategy and warfare, and is expected to lead his men from the front, even if few out of House Valomer really do it. When two generals are on the same battlefield, the one in office since the longest time will be the leader of the armies, unless a Consul is present, in which case he will take command.
During peace time, a General is in charge of his garrison and of the life in the fort they are affected. But he also has civic duties, which are similar to the one of a Roman governor. He must deal with the region, impose order and judge crimes in the region. He doesn't have any right to collect money, however, as it is part of the Suspectant tasks.
Because of their civil duties, the nomination of a General must be approved by the Justicar, who is his hierarchic superior in the civic domain. The candidate are proposed by the Consul, however, who is not forced to ask the Senate before presenting the candidate to the Justicar, who has the final word about it.
The currency of the Gepid Republic is the Ardar, named after the first king of the Gepid Kingdom, who is considered as the founder of the Gepid State. One side of the Ardar represent a portrait of the incumbent Consul and the other side show the incumbent Justicar. Each portrait is of profile and looking right. New Ardar are frequently made to show the change of rulers.
During their time under the Byzantine Empire, the Gepid were converted to Christianity by the priest Iakonos Nogopolos, future St-Iakonos of Dacia, and patron saint of the Gepid Republic. His work among the Gepids and his creation of the archdiocese of Buteridava helped to spread Christianity among the population, and by 600 the pagans beliefs of the region had been totally abandoned. The Cathedral St-Iakonos in Buteridava is the main symbol of the Christianity power in the region, which stand unchallenged.
The Gepids adopted an Iconoclast vision of the religion for some reason. Because of this, their churches don't have any sort of art that would represent scenes of the Bible of religious figures (including St-Iakonos and the incumbent Archbishop of Buteridava).
Because of their iconoclast perception of the Christian faith, representations and creations of religious inspiration are forbidden and perceived negatively. This includes portraits of the religious figures during their time in office. Because of this lack of religious arts, many christian foreigners perceive the Gepids as a backward population.
However, many artists find some sources of inspiration public domain, including portraits of public and/or historical figures. Because of this, King Ardaric (founder of the Gepid Kingdom) as become one of the main source of inspiration, and a cult of the personality had been built over him, which is encouraged by the state, who see him as the founder of the Gepid State, even if the actual government is opposed to a Gepid monarchy.
Since painting and sculpture are not at their highest in the Gepid Republic, many turn to writing, especially member of senatorial families. Because of the number of text wrote in those times, historian have a great number of sources about what happened during the Gepid Republic.
Music is also encouraged, especially Gregorian chants, which appeared during the Byzantine occupation as a way to express faith through singing, and was introduced by Pope Gregory the Great (590-604). Gregorian chants also became part of the national anthem after the Senate, during their first reunion in 605, sing a Gregorian chant to mourn Pope Gregory the Great, who died the precedent year.
Since the Gepids are part of a tribe who descent from the same tribes as the Goth, their language is very similar to the Gothic, which helped for comprehension between the Gothic Empire and the Gepid Republic. Under the Kingdom of Ardaric I, the language gained changed a little bit, distancing itself of the Gothic. Influence from the Huns, who Ardaric worked with, was found in the Gepid language, but only a few of it remain today.
The time passed under the Byzantine Empire changed the Gepid language. A Greekification of the Gepid language became more and more apparent to foreigners, as the Gepids introduced Greek words and sounds to their own language.
The Greek language itself is still spoken by many Gepids, mainly because of its use for trade and diplomacy. Many Gepids in the southern lands speak Greek as a second-language, although it is less the case in northern or eastern regions.