Mahara of Azoz (Origo Mundi)
Illustrated manuscript depicting
Mahara as a Holy Patra, c. 1650
|First Citizen of Azoz|
|Predecessor||Prackyob the Younger|
|Lord of Thalutia|
|House||House of Gehana|
|Father||Jeodun II of Thalutia|
|Mother||Larada of Azoz|
Mahara of Azoz (c. 1064 – 1130s) was an Azozian noblewoman during the late Derigi Empire, who was given the unprecedented position as the only woman First Citizen of the empire, and according to one rumor was even the first and only Holy Patra of the Ulm church. During her lifetime she wielded exceptional power over the church and on the politics of Azoz, controlling the capital of the empire on and off for much of the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries.
Mahara was the daughter of the Lord of Thalutia, a city she would later inherit, that gave her a position as one of the premier military powers near the capital. Through careful marriage alliances and her alleged skills at seduction, she would marry at least two emperors, control several Holy Patras, and become one of the most rich and powerful nobles in the city. Her ties to Farrajulen II and the Farra-Daran Dynasty allied her to gain the title of First Citizen in 1097, becoming the only woman to hold such a title. Nearly a dozen of her sons or grandsons would be elected to the office of Holy Patra, many of which during her lifetime, a feat that would not be matched in history.
She would become a controversial figure during and after her lifetime, due to her unprecedented rise to power and control over Azoz, and her supposed insidious ways of seizing and maintaining power over the nation. Many chronicles of her life would be written by her detractors, who took a highly slanderous approach to her and her family; the Paltonian writer Laturun called her a "shameless whore... [who] exercised power on the Azozian citizenry like a man." Her reign in Azoz is often nicknamed the "pornocracy", as her detractors claimed the city was ruled by prostitutes through male surrogates, and would be called a dark age of the church by later church historians.
Early years[edit | edit source]
Mahara was born about 1063, the daughter of Jeodun II, Lord of Thalutia and head of the Gehana dynasty, and Larada, a prominent noblewoman of Azoz. The Gehana dynasty rose to prominence one generation prior under Jeodun I, when he established himself as ruler of the city of Thalutia. Jeodun was a talented commander and made his fortune serving in the civil wars of the late Mouri Empire, particularly on the side of Pauodegus during the Seven-Star War. As one of the few Azozian lords to side against the anti-Ligerian cause in Azoz province, Jeodun was awarded heavily and became a commander for the Emperor. During the reign of Yumanalun, who ruled from Jaligena, Jeodun acted as one of his allies in Azoz, exercising extensive power in the city until his death in 1051. Jeodun II grew up in Azoz and continued his father's role as a commander and nobleman in the city, but he quickly switched sides when Azoz seemed likely to be besieged by future emperor Treeman.
Mahara's mother Larada was supposedly a prostitute earlier in life, although it is unknown if this was factual or later slander. She is first noted as being the concubine and possible wife of Holy Patra Cassius (1021—1090), who was elected to the office in 1084. She is known to have wielded a great deal of influence over the Holy Patra and the city of Azoz as a whole, and she used her connections to the church to gain a small fortune and be declared Senator of Azoz, becoming the first known woman to do so. She would outlive her husband Jeodun II, becoming the de facto ruler of Thalutia as well until her children came of age. Cassius would prove to be the last Holy Patra of a unified Azozian church for the next several decades, as in 1090 the Reckoner successfully sacked the city of Azoz, causing chaos among the church leadership. At least three Holy Patras would be elected that year: Jair II (1050—1098) who was eventually universally accepted as an Anti-Patra, Patra Dara (1056—1097), who was elected among the church leaders who fled north to the Castilean Wall, beginning the Castilean Patracy, and Ishbakin II (1045—1096), who Larada no doubt had a great deal of influence in electing.
Larada was known to have had alliances with most of the Farrapatra, allowing her to be a major player in the succession of the Holy Patra. She then established an alliance with Ishbakin II by offering her daughter Mahara as his mistress, despite Mahara being only 15 years old compared to Ishbakin's age of 43. Mahara would later arrange for a formal marriage with the Holy Patra after their affair produced two children, including the future Holy Patra Cassius II. Together Mahara and Larada would become two of the most influential women in the city, and they were backed with the military force of Mahara's brother, Ierad, who became one of the few commanders around the city of Azoz with a sizable force of his own. Ierad would be killed in 1094 at the age of 22 during the Prackyob-Roneth War, resulting in Mahara becoming the Lord of Thalutia.
Controller of the Church[edit | edit source]
After the death of her mother, Mahara became the de facto controller of the church in Azoz, oftentimes being the sole decider of patra elections in and around the city. She continued affairs with many of the highest church leaders and members of the Farrapatra, and used her vast wealth and military might to compel others to follow their lead. Ishbakin II was succeeded by Vedun V in 1096, and although he cooperated with Mahara, he is known to have not been as much of a puppet ruler as his predecessor. Vedun V would be discovered dead in the Holy Patra's residence only a few months after taking office, leading many to suspect that he had been murdered. He was quickly succeeded by Cassius II, who was Mahara's own son, despite Cassius being only 18 year old.
It was also during this time that Mahara married Xamian, Satrap of Eskaladun, gaining the loyalty of most of Azoz's northern forces. However, Xamian would die suddenly in 1090 while fighting in the Reckoner Wars, leaving Mahara in charge of several children. The oldest son, Xamian II, would become the new Satrap of Eskaladun, and acted as a loyal commander and ally of his mother. He would be killed in 1112 during the unsuccessful defense against Garania. Mahara also used her connections in Azoz to have Xamian II's brothers placed into positions of power, such as Daran, who became Satrap of Sykorn, and Ierad, who became a prominent figure in the church and later Archprelate of the Farrapatra.
During this time Mahara contended with several rival dynasties in Azoz. According to one source Cassius II was likely murdered within a year or two, perhaps at the hands of one of Mahara's rivals. She is known to have feuded heavily with the Nazemeca Dynasty, and accused patriarch Tahmurs, Lord of Uvestis, as having a hand in the conspiracy against her son. During the occupation of Azoz by Emperor Gambli, relative of the Reckoner, her power diminished, particularly as Gambli targeted the church. Despite this setback, she successfully came out ahead in the early 1100s but correctly guessing that the pretender Farrajulen II would retake Azoz and depose Gambli and his allies. Mahara would marry Farrajulen II, proving to be an important ally in his retaking of the city. She would also allegedly have an affair with his brother Nathon, and held a high degree over Nathon's son Roshtam, who became Holy Patra Roshtam III.
It was during this time, when Mahara's control over the politics of Azoz was at its absolute height, that she arranged for the title of First Citizen to be bestowed upon her. The title had technically last been held by Prackyob, but after around the year 1095 he had made the title of Derigi Emperor his primary title, and the role of First Citizen had largely been vacant. The move was controversial and highly contested, with many in the nobility refusing to recognize her as First Citizen during or after her life. Additionally she was the first ever woman to be proclaimed the title. Although she was now de jure one of the most important nobles in the city of Azoz, this move also painted a large target on her back, and most of the nobility soon began to ally against her.
After Roshtam III's death in 1110, a conspiracy led by Tahmurs of Uvestis and his allies managed to upset Mahara's control over the Farrapatra, successfully getting Tahmurs' son elected as Holy Patra Vedun VI. Furious, Mahara and her allies within the church contested the election, and Mahara launched an exodus of the church leadership to instead disavow the Azozian Patracy in favor of the Castilean church. At the end of that same year she successfully arranged for her son with Xamian to be elected Holy Patra Cassius II/III, in direct opposition to Vedun VI. Additionally by this time many of Mahara's main benefactors had died, including Farrajulen II and Prackyob. She had been opposed to Treeman, supposedly because he was unable to be controlled by her seduction, and as such his adopted son Jair II despised her. Jair would also ally the nobleman Bahram to take the title of First Citizen, despite Mahara's claim to it.
It would not be until around the year 1117 that Mahara regained the same degree of power over the church and Azozian politics. By that year Tahmurs of Uvestis had been killed, possibly by her orders, but also her son Cassius II/III had died in the north. Rather than continue to support a separate Patracy, Mahara helped negotiate the return of the Castilean church into the Azozian church, hosting the council that would end the schism in her city of Thalutia. Vedun VI was successfully pressured to abdicate, and he would die three years later, while both churches were united to elect a new, sole leader. The result was the election of Cassius II/III's brother, who became Holy Patra Landrew III. Mahara gained control over the office of Holy Patra once more, and for the first time in church history two brothers served consecutively in the office.
During the civil war between the two of Treeman's adopted sons, Zadashim and Xeracles, Mahara became a major benefactor of Xeracles. This was due to Zadashim marrying into the rival Halara Dynasty, which produced Holy Patra Vedun VII after the death of Landrew III. Before Zadashim and the Halarans could be deposed, the Nazemecans also defeated one of Mahara's sons in the hotly contested election of Prackyob V after Vedun VII's death. Mahara would formally marry Xeracles III, who eventually launched a series of highly unpopular purges against the opponents of Mahara. The new Derigi Emperor would be assassinated soon after taking power, and Mahara instead arranged to marry Ouxodimasauri, a warlord that threatened to invade Azoz. It was apparently around this time that the rumor that she was the Holy Patra began to circulate. This would have made her the first and only woman Holy Patra in the history of the church, and is likely based on the fact that she began to be more brazen in using the residence and regalia of the patracy during the long election leading up to Prackyob V's ascension.
Mahara and Ouxodimasauri were allegedly married in a proxy wedding, however, the circumstances and validity of this claim are highly disputed. According to legend, during the wedding ceremony one of Mahara's own sons, with the backing of most of the Azozian nobility, attacked the ceremony and had Mahara imprisoned. She would apparently die in prison after several years of imprisonment, never witnessing the city's eventual capture by her would-be husband Ouxodimasauri. Although her grasp on Azozian politics was shattered, her family succeeded her in her practices, continuing to act as one of Azoz's most important noble families and influencers in Holy Patra elections until long after the fall of the Derigi Empire. It is known that several sons or grandsons of Mahara would eventually become elected to the office of Holy Patra over the course of the next century, establishing her dynasty as the most successful controllers of the patracy.
Family[edit | edit source]
Mahara had numerous spouses during her lifetime, although the sanctity of several of her relationships would be disputed. With these partners she had several children, both legitimate and illegitimate:
- First husband: Ishbakin II (1045—1096) - Holy Patra (Elec. 1090)
- Cassius II (1079—1097) - Holy Patra (Elec. 1096)
- Larada (1084—1097), betrothed to Levian of Fashnoq but never married
- Second Husband: Xamian (1051—1090) - Satrap of Eskaladun
- Cassius II/III (1080—1120) - (Anti-)Holy Patra (Elec. 1109)
- Landrew III (1082—1124) - Holy Patra (Elec. 1120)
- Daran (1086—1112) - Satrap of Sykorn
- Ierad (1088—1130) - Archprelate of the Farrapatra
- Third Husband: Farrajulen II (1059—1103) - Derigi Emperor
- Fourth Husband: Ierad
- Fifth Husband: Xeracles III (1085—) - Derigi Emperor
- Sixth Husband: Ouxodimasauri (1109—1140), this marriage is of disputed validity and known to have never been consummated
- Condarun Ghesemba (1044—1101) - Senator of Azoz
- Prackyob (1060—1081) - Grand Cup-Bearer of Azoz
- Remu V (1051—1099) - Patra of Perea
- Joam Daiperea (1046—1090) - Vicar General of the Templar Order
- Daran "the Black" (1081—1127) - Lord of Hicel
- Erisoh Iskandi (1060—1114) - Senator of Azoz
- Prince Nathon, brother of Farrajulen II
- Roshtam VI (1033—1099) - Archprelate of the Farrapatra (Elec. 1094), Patra of Thalutia (1066—1094)
- Daran (f. 1090s) - Prelate of the Farrapatra (Elec. 1090)
- Jair "the Jinxed" Daimedan (1068—1140) - Senator of Azoz
- Lucretia (1092—1093)
- Cassander (1092—1151) - Senator of Azoz
- Leto Nolri (1070—1137) - Chamberlain Superior of Azoz
- Iskandar II (f. 1090s) - Prelate of the Farrapatra (Elec. 1094)
- Cassius IV (1060—1114) - Archprelate of the Farrapatra (Elec. 1099), Patra of Sykorn (1085—1090), Grand Secretariat (1090—1114)
- Landrew II (1049—1090) - Holy Patra of Teman (Elec. 1088)
- Jaren (1091—1071), this child was given the name Jaren as he was anointed in water from the Jareni River. Died before the age of one.