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Great Perm was the first Ugro-Finnic state in history. The territories over which it spans had been inhabited by hunter-gatherers and later by silviculturalists and reindeer pastoralists for more than 30,000 years. Millennia before CE, speakers of Uralic languages spread across these lands. Resulting from contact with the steppe dwellers to their South, they developed a kurgan-building culture. The roots of Northern Shamanism presumably also lie in this era.
In the last centuries BCE and the first centuries CE, both before and after the PoD, the Ugro-Finnic population did not come into direct contact with the Mediterranean empires. Between them and the powerful empires of the South lay steppe empires of the Scythians, then Sarmatians, then Goths, then Antes. Throughout the 5th and 6th centuries, though, this isolation weakened: trade contacts along the Volga, conducted mostly by Ostrogoths, intensified and first contacts along the Arctic route to the Celts and Norse occurred. Market places developed into towns.
Then, Magyar and Mari came under Göktürk / Chasar hegemony, and the Volga trade route was interrupted once again.
In 654, several towns and marketplaces along the Volga refused to pay tribute to the Chasars, seizing the opportunity of the Chasars' weakness after the long war with the Nushibi. A Chasar cavalry was met and defeated by an alliance of Magyar and Mari horseback warriors. Together with Merya and Mescherian boatsmen, they attacked Chrysosydor and overcame its defenses. After a bloody and inconclusive battle against a Chasar army sent from Atil, the allied Ugro-Finns invited Roman mediation.
In 657, the Ugro-Finnic alliance and the Chasars agreed on where to draw the border between both states, and the Roman Republic guaranteed both parties safe passage from Chrysosydor on the Volga to Sarkel on the Tanais (OTL Don) by establishing a military outpost in Chrysosydor. Chrysosydor would become an independent city republic associated with the Potamian Koinon of the Tanais (although it lies on the banks of the Volga).
Throughout the 7th and 8th centuries, Great Perm became a close-knit alliance and institutions developed which safeguarded this cooperation. At the same time, it also expanded, and dozens of new towns were established along the Volga, Kama, Moskwa, Oka, Dwina and White Sea. The core region from which Great Perm expanded was the Upper Volga region; its early culture carriers were the Magyars, the Komi, the Merya and the Mescherians.The driving force behind the unification of various tribes and their extension into new territories was the booming trade with the resource-hungry Roman (and to a lesser extent, Celtic) Empire. Great Perm provided the Mediterranean civilizations (and the developing Germanic and Slavic states at its fringe) with wood, meat, honey, furs and fish. Later, as urbanisation deepened and crafts blossomed especially in the South-Western, core region of Great Perm along the Volga and Moskwa, which had intense contacts with the Potamian Koina of the Borysthenes and the Tanais, Great Perm's economy diversified and things which had previously been imported were produced autochtonously, allowing for the import of the latest waves of technological innovation from the Mediterranean.
The vast majority of Great Perm's growing population had come to live in river towns, which served both as marketplaces, fortresses and places of political gathering and government, after the model of their Southern neighbours, the Slavs and Ostrogoths. The countryside was dominated by very sparsely populated endless forests, where members of the same Ugro-Finnic peoples, who were also the core of the urban population, only slowly modernised their traditional lifestyles in order to meet the demands for increased production.
As the population of the Slavic Ventichi and Kriviches as well as of the Antes and the Moksha, who had been organised since the 7th century in "river federations" uniting all the polities along the Tanais resp. the Borysthenes, began to grow and Slavic settlements in the drainage basins of the Moskva and nearby regions appeared, conflicts between Great Perm and these Slavic settlers and the Potamian Koina behind them arose. While small-sized at first, they developed into three fully-fledged wars between Great Perm and the Potamian Koinon of the Tanais resp. the Borysthenes in the 9th century. Thanks to a very active Roman diplomacy, all sides agreed on the Watershed Solution in the Treaty of Partav in 892.
The 10th and 11th century saw increasing conflicts with the Swedish Empire, which attempted to expand further Eastwards into Ugro-Finnic lands. Great Perm allied itself with Olavist Norway and participated in the Scandinavian Wars of Religion on the Norwegian side.
In the 12th century, Great Perm expanded Eastwards and conquered the former Pecheneg Khaganate as well as establishing control over Chantic and Mansic lands. These new lands in Siberia were only really incorporated into Great Perm in the 13th century, when the country began to industrialise. From the 14th century on, Eastward expansion was halted and several wars occurred against the unified Türkestan in the East.///conflicts with indigenous groups and their resolution - climate change: receding permafrost, pandemics, expansion of agriculture - support for Baltic Finnic national secession movements - global alliance with the Union of Atlantic Nations///
The formation of Great Perm in the 7th century initiated a process of fusion between various Ugro-Finnic languages (Zyrian, Komi, Merya, Muromian, Meschcerian, Erzya, Mari and to some extent Magyar). Throughout the 9th to 11th centuries, a process of standardisation of Common Permian took place, while in the countryside`s vast forests and sparsely populated tundra, away from the rivers and their towns, the same languages and many more remained and developed separately.
Standardisation extended across the countryside in the industrial age and absorbed the Chantic and Mansic languages, too, while separate indigenous languages only continued to exist within reserved areas for the indigenous groups. An exception to this rule is the Magyar language, which, though structurally similar, was not mutually intelligible with Common Permian in the last third of the first millennium CE, so that most Magyars have been and still are bilingual and their language has continued to develop as a modern language of an industrial and later post-industrial society.
In the largest towns in the South-West, individual dialects and Common Permian came to be written in Greek letters around 700 CE, while the Northern (Zyrian) Komi and Karja dialects were written in Latin letters from around 750 CE. In the North-West, Common Permian was also written in Latin later. Today, Common Permian is still written both in Latin and in Greek letters. Magyar was initially written in the Old Turkic script, then the Greek script became dominant. In the regions occupied by Türkestan in the 12th and 13th centuries, the modernised Turkic script was mandatory during this period, but it was replaced by a modified Greek script in the 14th century, which is still used for writing the Magyar language.
A linguistic minority are the Turkic-speaking Chuvashs in the South-East. Their native Chuvash language is presently endangered, many of its speakers giving up their native language for Permian.
More than half of Great Perm`s population speaks either Latin or Greek fluently, and approximately a quarter of the population also speaks either Norse or Slavonic as a foreign language.
Constitution and Politics
Great Perm is a federal parliamentary republic. Its federal parliament is bicameral: it has a chamber with representatives from the various regions and indigenous groups, and another chamber directly elected in nation-wide elections held every three years.
Both the heads of the executive branch, the judiciary branch and the head of state are elected by the parliament.
Permian politics follow a consensualist ideal. Although dominated by three major political parties (Populists, Greens and Liberals), ministries and supreme judges are often selected after unwritten laws of proportional representation, and most laws are passed with overwhelming majorities. The influence of indigenous groups on politics has increased greatly in the 20th century, which has only strengthened the consensualist principle.
Permian society differs greatly between the urban centres and the countryside. While in remote Arctic regions, indigenous, neo- and post-indigenous groups live communal lives, in the small and middle-sized towns, nuclear families are the foundation of Permian society. For many centuries now, family values are relatively liberal and both patriarchy and matriarchy are absent, but nuclear family structures are much closer than, for example, in the Roman Empire.
In addition, urban Permian society has been influenced by ancient (often 1300 years old) commercial and professional societies, whose influence on politics, education and the job market are less pronounced than they were in the past, but is still felt.
Permian literature is very diverse - from the oral tales of Siberian indigenous groups over adaptations of globally popular Roman-Celtic formats to a modern and uniquely Permian literature and film business.
The latter is influenced by Ugro-Finnic animist culture and has brought forth (globally) successful genres like horror movies based around ancestor, animal and place spirits - similar to the smaller productions from Suomi, Karia and Wessia - and literary fictional works exploring different dimensions of the factual and spiritual world, which have been characterised by the renowned Roman literary scholar Theophilos Karavastis as "blurring the line between sanity and insanity".
Permian music relies heavily on various percussion instruments and is frequently characterised as "dark".
While theatre is a Greek import product which has never taken deep roots, interactive dramatic performances - whose background may be shamanistic - are popular and enacted both in schools' and associations' initiation ceremonies, in the context of family, village or town celebrations etc.
Permian painting and plastic arts were marginalised in the age of (Roman) realism and mimetic ideals. Over the last centuries, Perm's artists have become the vanguard of abstract art and non-documentary photography, though.
Several systems and suppliers of education have co-existed in Great Perm for a long time: public schools and universities (run by towns, districts or the federal government), schools run by professional associations (mostly with a vocational focus) and schools run by religious groups (especially Celtic and Olavist Christian Churches, but also Jewish Schools). Tertiary education rates are at 69% nation-wide, with only 3% among indigenous groups like the Nganasani.
In the towns, several scriptural religions have found some followers. The largest among these minorities are Judaists, mostly citizens whose ancestors were Ostrogoths. All Christian confessions together are a larger group, but Olavists, Apostolians and Celtic believers maintain separate and often mutually inimical communities - not to speak of smaller minorities like Paulicians, Lukianists, Nestorians and SImonists. Scriptural Tengrism from Chasarstan has some adepts in the South, while Buddhism has a few followers dispersed across the country.
The vast majority of the Permians, though, adhere with varying degrees of intensity to the autochtone animism. Atheism and scientism have exerted influences on it over the course of many centuries. Thus, Permian animism (like its Finnish counterpart) does not feature a prominent role for the traditional deities of Uralic mythology anymore. On the other hand, it has preserved and deepened its occupation with "souls" and of their relation to one another and to nature.
There is a great number of sacred places in Great Perm: springs, lakes, certain forests or single trees in them, hills, etc. are associated with specific myths; ritual offerings are part of everyday life and today often consist of simple gestures like throwing a coin in a water well.
A number of lakes is mythically associated with (entrances to) the world of the souls of the deceased. Burial sites are often at a considerable distance from villages and towns. In large modern cities, the graveyards and the forests which must surround them are important green lungs. Wealthy and powerful families bury their deceased in crypts under mounds (kurgans) in these burial sites.
Waterbirds (ducks, geese, gulls, swans, etc.) are considered holy animals. Killing or eating them is considered a religious taboo. The birth of a Permian child is usually celebrated with a festivity which takes place near a lake or river with plenty of waterbirds which are said to imbue the infant with souls.
While most physical illnesses are treated with modern, Greek medicine as almost everywhere else in the world, psychical illnesses like depression, anxiety and PTSS are often treated in (private or communal) rituals presided by spiritual healers ("shamans" if you like).
Permian animism is not a uniform concept, though. Apart from, perhaps, the common belief in the existence of a "dimension of souls" that is somehow linked to our perceptible physical world, there are great variations in the animisms from the North-West to the South-East and between urban, rural and indigenous populations. While, for example, most Permian animists are non-theists, there are Magyar and Mari animists who believe in a supreme deity akin to (and influenced by) the Tengri of the Turkic nations.
The state has been and is religiously neutral and secular. Throughout its history, religious conflicts have been relatively rare, even at the height of Olavism, inner-Germanic conflicts and Slavonic anti-Semitism.