Amarr Reconquista Part 3: Fitting the Pieces Together

2017-08-21

We reach the end of our trilogy into similarities of the Amarr and Spanish. The first article went over the historical timeline of the Amarr Empire and the second article did the same with the Spanish Empire. This final piece is the culmination of months of research, reorganizing, and trimming down what I found into a cohesive narrative. I hope you read the first two and can fully appreciate the parallels I am about to draw. Furthermore, I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

Similar origin stories

The first initial similarity is that both civilizations came from elsewhere. The Spanish were descendants from the Visigoths that had settled down while originating as nomadic tribes from Gaul. The Amarr are descended from the “Conformists” who had settled on Athra (Amarr Prime) having come from Earth. Not only that, but the Conformists got kicked off of the continent of Assimia and were isolated onto Amarr Island for thousands of years.

Both civilizations had powerful founding figures. For the Amarr it was simply Dano Gheinok, who had positioned himself as a prophet. The Spanish had several individuals who filled this role, the most prominent being King Reccared I who was the one who converted the Visigoths to Catholicism. Reccared I and Dano Gheinok both specifically changed the trajectory of their respective civilizations by solidifying the religions that would define them. Both also laid the foundations for the development of their respective cultures.

Societal Similarities and Differences

While the Iberian Peninsula was not truly unified under one major power (save for Portugal) until the marriage of Isabel and Ferdinand, the similarities between the Spanish and the Amarr are very striking. Both the Amarr and the Spanish are absolute monarchies that have strong theocratic systems in the form of centralized religious leadership. Both had feudalistic societies with the roles of the nobility strongly defined. Even the role of the church manifested very similarly, with the Papacy in Spain and the Theology Council for the Amarr.

Spanish Monarchy

In Spain, the Monarch served as the head of the church in the place of the Pope in their kingdom. Essentially the pope’s representative. As stated in J. H. Elliot’s Imperial Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella had been dubbed the “Catholic Kings” by Pope Alexander VI. Elliot points out that the power couple believed in royal justice and the responsibility to protect the weak, the humble, and the proud. They both had a divinely appointed sense of obligation to protect the rights of their people, which would vary greatly from Castille to Aragon in who had claim to what. But above all, they were the protectors of their faith, Roman Catholicism. As they were the final Monarchs of the Reconquista, they were culturally obligated to spread their faith, even at the point of the sword.

If you recall from the second article, the discovery of the tomb of St. James had shaped Spanish culture in viewing themselves as sacred protectors of the one true faith. This ideology made its way to Ferdinand and Isabella and was a factor of their expansionist tendencies. This includes their descendants and the subsequent monarchs that ruled Spain. The Amarr Monarchy is a bit less personable.

Government of the Amarr Empire

The Amarr Emperor (or Empress) has a bit more complicated role in the Amarr Empire. Rather than having an autonomous single leader of the church in their nation, the Amarr Emperor article cites that the office of Emperor eventually evolved to Caesaropapism (secular government with religious power). The closest real world example of this would be the Eastern Orthodox church in the Byzantine Empire, with the Emperor serving the same role as the Pope and Monarch. During the time of the Principate (16,470 AD-21,460 AD), the Amarr Emperor was the leader of the Council of Apostles, out of which his authority was channeled. However, Zaragram II (aka The Mad Emperor) went berserk and treated himself as if he was the manifestation of God in human form. He was assassinated and attempts were made to scrub his memory from history. The system of Shastal is where he attempted to make his own “City of God”. The location has a beacon for those of you who wish to visit it in-game.

As a result of Zanagram’s insanity, “The Moral Reforms” saw a power struggle that lasted 75 years between the Monarchy and the Council of Apostles. Eventually, the Emperor won, transferring the power of the Council of Apostles to the Privy Council. The Privy Council has since served as the highest secular administrative body. The Five Royal Heirs and the Emperor/Empress have seats on the Privy Council, along with representatives from the other branches of the Government.

He also created the “Theology Council” whose role was to create new scripture and secure the power of the Emperor. It also has since functioned as the Supreme Court equivalent. It also serves the equivalent function of the Papacy and is responsible for the employment of Inquisitors to hunt heretics.

A major difference between the Spanish and Amarr Empire is that the Imperial position is competed for rather than hereditary. This is done by having appointed champions fight on behalf of their respective royal heirs. While the Spanish Empire temporarily was part of the Holy Roman Empire in later centuries, and even had a Spanish king on the Imperial throne via Charles V, the succession system involved more bribery and votes with less bloodshed.

Another notable difference is that the Amarr heirs are actually expected to commit suicide when they lose. The reasoning behind this being that it prevents civil war forcing the Royal Families (which have their own fleets) to stay in the Empire. The heirs are the most independent Holders in the chain of command and have the most power only super ceded by the Emperor/Empress, so this is a very smart solution. The only time this did not work out was when King Khanid II refused to kill himself (due to his father dying before the tournament) and broke off from the Empire. This did actually lead to a civil war, and eventually, he was reintegrated as an heir and in theory actually honored the tradition when he lost a second time after the death of Jamyl I.

The most interesting similarity and contrast was the culture of expansion both developed.

Reclaiming & Reconquista

Not only are the names strikingly similar, but the way that these came about were very similar. Both had two phases to their reclaiming. The first phase (or original phase) consisted of an initial problem, catalyst, and a conclusion. The second phase was their expansions out from their original boundaries for their Reclaiming/Reconquista. For the Amarr, the initial problem was the fact that they had had contact with the Udorians and they were causing civil unrest with their cultural clashing with the isolated Amarr. The Spanish initial problem was the Umayyad Conquest that had destroyed the Visigoth kingdom and nearly driven out the Christian Kingdoms that followed. The catalyst for the Amarr was the revelation that it was actually the Udorians who had forced the Amarr off of Assimia, and the Emperor then declared a Reclaiming. For the Spanish this was twofold: first being the victory at Covadonga in 722AD which gave the Christians momentum and the second being the discovery of the “Santiago de Compostela“, or the fabled tomb of St. James. Their respective first phases ended when the Spanish conquered Grenada in 1492 AD and when the Amarr conquered the final Udorian state in 20,544 AD, having absolute control of the planet.

The second phase for the Spanish started in the same year, whereas the Amarr’s took some time to get going. It is important to note that the Spanish were completely shocked by the discovery of an entirely new continent between Europe and Asia, let alone that there were people living there. The Spanish eventually saw the new world as their own personal mission field, evidenced by the multitude of priests that were sent along with the soldiers, intent on fighting for the souls of the natives. In the same fashion, when the Amarr discovered the Eular, their entire worldview was thrown into question. The lore is vague as to what exactly the impact of the discovery of humans outside of Athra had on the Amarr society. Regardless, the Amarr Emperor ended up silencing the debates and ordered them enslaved, sparking off the second reclaiming. And here we come to the most controversial issue facing both civilizations.

Slavery, Encomiendas, Human Rights, oh my!

This is by far the most sensitive topic to be covered in this piece. It is also one of the more complicated. The Amarr and the Spanish Empires both practiced slavery, but in very different ways with very different reasoning. The Amarr relationship with slavery is less of a “justified” approach. That is to say that the Spanish actively had to justify their actions, whereas the Amarr had it as an integral part of their religion since the launch of the reclaiming.

Amarr Slavery

The Amarr have the far simpler approach to slavery. The most notable aspect being they see slavery as a path to salvation. The Slavery Wiki puts it rather well, saying “Slavery is considered a sacred burden, both by the Amarr and those they enslave. The Amarr are expected to Reclaim the entire cluster and enslave its people, eventually teaching them the ways of God and bringing them fully into the fold. Those enslaved are expected to toil and suffer until they have purged themselves of the sins that caused their ancestors to be cast down.”

Now the cultural idea is that this is a rather benevolent and rather begrudging duty on behalf of the Amarr. In practice (as evidenced by various dens one may encounter in various missions) this may not always be the case. But again, culturally this is a significant responsibility that is reserved for Holders. In spite of this contradiction where many holders abuse their slaves as livestock, there are Holders who take their religious duties very seriously. Still, others used Vitoc poison as a major form of control, as the owner holds the narcotic antidote Vitoxin. The Slavery Wiki explains that “A Holder is responsible for the religious education and conversion of his slaves. The nominal ultimate goal of slavery in the Empire is to eventually convert every slave to the Amarr religion and have them become free members of society. Thus Holders are encouraged to eventually release their slaves as they prove their loyalty and piety.” None of this actually excuses slavery in the Amarr Empire with the moral standards of the 21st century. It is also important to remember this is fiction. However, for those under Spanish rule, it was anything but.

Spanish Slavery

For the Spanish, slavery took on two very contradictory forms. Unlike with the Amarr, however, it did not happen in a vacuum, producing some of the first human rights advocates. This was due to two different kinds of slavery being practiced. The first being the aptly vilified Atlantic Slave Trade. The second being something called an”Encomienda”. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, an Encomienda was a “grant by the crown to a Conquistador, soldier, official, or others of a specified number of Indians living in a particular area”. The intention of this being to organize the conquered native population, provide protection to the natives and instruct them in Catholic Faith, and reward the Spaniards who had taken part in the conquest. It failed horribly, leading to severe abuses of the population who were driven by the greed of their masters to extract valuable resources, primarily gold. While the Spanish Crown did make various decrees and laws over the 16th century to try and remedy the situation, they did not do much to help.

The most interesting aspect of this was the various priests who protested the Encomiendas. The most famous being Bartolomé de las Casas, a Dominican Friar who was dubbed “Protector of the Indians”. In his In Defense of the Indians (1548), he is noted as saying “Christ seeks souls, not property. … He who wants a large part of mankind to be such that … he may act like a ferocious executioner toward them, press them into slavery, and through them grow rich, is a despotic master, not a Christian; a son of Satan, not of God; a plunderer, not a shepherd.” He is credited with being one of the first human rights activists. The only unfortunate part about this was his compassion did not seem to extend to African slaves.

Ultimately many Spaniards were driven by greed and it led to the exploitation of the natives. This was combined in an unholy marriage with religion to justify their actions, even though there were those who knew better. The Amarr were driven by greed in a different way, but more along the lines of the need to dominate. Both from a religious perspective and a cultural one.

Conclusion

I do not have any direct proof that CCP specifically fashioned the Amarr Historical timeline to follow a similar path to the Spanish. The general consensus among the roleplaying community is that the cultural basis for the Amarr is an amalgamation of the Eastern Roman/Byzantines, with some Islamic and Catholic influences here and there. This is evident in the concept art that CCP has accompanying individuals and architecture in the Evelopedia Wiki and Chronicles.

However, what I’ve found during my research does raise many questions regarding the narratives of theocracies in history and fiction. The fact that these two civilizations had so many similar traits suggested that to me that there was somewhat of a sociological checklist that needed to be met for a society to develop in a similar way. While not every fictional civilization has to follow the narrative that seems to be interlaced in both the Spanish and the Amarr, they both have very distinct and strong foundations to identify the origins of what would later lead to different consequences down the line. A major difference, however, is that the Amarr were able to develop as the major dominant force without having to compete with other cultures until they were spacefarers. The Spanish have gone through many societal changes in no small part due to being a member of the interconnected world that we live in.

Both have fascinating histories and there was so much of both that I could not cover here. Regardless, this was a fun and interesting research project. I hope you found it as interesting as I did. I genuinely enjoy EVE’s lore and would love to help make it easier to digest for others.If you have any questions about the history or lore in this article or have a request for a topic in the future, please let me know in the comments below or contact me.

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Comments

  • Pew Pew

    Interesting series, the effort shows.

    “The closest real world example of this would be the Eastern Orthodox church in the Byzantine Empire, with the Emperor serving the same role as the Pope and Monarch.”

    In addition to this, on the Caesaropapism wikipedia page it says

    “Caesaropapism was most notorious in the Tsardom of Russia when Ivan IV the Terrible assumed the title Czar in 1547 and subordinated the Russian Orthodox Church to the state. This level of caesaropapism far exceeded that of the Byzantine Empire.”

    another example is tibet, before the communist invasion the Dalai Lama was both head of the government and head of the state religion, though maybe that’s more of a theocracy.

    August 21, 2017 at 10:58 AM
    • Vulxanis Viceroy Pew Pew

      I appreciate it lol I spent a long time working on this trio.

      Well yes but I meant the closest real world example to the amarr culturally that would be an effective representation of this point as well. I would say that Ivar the Terrible would be like a blood raider becoming emperor xD

      August 21, 2017 at 7:50 PM
  • Anaan

    Amazing job once again, the historical data is accurate 100%, loved how you noted the difference between the rights of the Aragonese and Castillians, Isabella did indeed had more power than Ferdinand did in his kingdom and this is something some Spanish don’t really know, and can be used to defend the Catalonian discourse. You see, I observed a few misleading sentences due to historical vocabulary, “Both also laid the foundations for the development of their respective cultures.” By this you’re misleading —maybe unconsciously— to the conclussion that both the Spanish and the Amarrians had a “potential” culture, and they didn’t were Spanish nor Amarrians before that cultural event. Before the Visigoths, the Iberian peninsula had Romans who were born in Hispania which preserved some prerroman customs thanks to the tolerant policies Romans had over invaded cultures (and this is something I believe The Mittani took for Goonswarm Federation) they were labeled as peregrinus instead of Roman citizens (until I don’t know which Emperor granted citizenship to every person who lived in the Empire, but this was by the end of it, you may know better). This is also one of the reasons why the Aragonese had so much power: they wanted to preserve those prerroman rights (and customs) they had. So by saying “the foundations” you’re giving a point in history where the Spanish per se were born, this also misleads to an inevitable asseveration: The Spanish are Catholic a priori, they were determined to be it.

    What I’m trying to say here is that the Spanish (and any) culture is contingent (it is as it is, but it could have been different also) and somehow defend that bullfighting is wrong, lol.

    Also, sorry for my broken English.

    August 22, 2017 at 1:30 AM