S’Mary’s World: The Wars of Irreligion

The first settlements on S’Mary’s World were run along the lines of monastic communes: the people of the settlements, though not professed religious, lived, farmed, worked, and built their homes and infrastructure together, and held it all in common. The settlement’s church was usually the first permanent structure, and, as many of the colonists were tertiaries of various orders, an abbreviated form of the divine office was usually sung or said each morning and each evening.

As the second and third generation of colonists grew to maturity and the settlements began to grow, this communal life became unwieldy and the settlements began to be organized in family households. Households began to specialize, with particular skills (e.g., shoemaking, tailoring) being passed down in families. The church remained the center of each settlement; and as the population grew many settlement churches turned into true monasteries. These monasteries provided the settlement schools, and worked with the Albertines to pass needed knowledge and technology to the people of the settlements. There was never a conflict between science and faith on S’Mary’s World, as the Prefecture and the religious orders were closely associated with scientific and technological progress in both the popular mind and in actuality.

The original settlements were carefully planned and positioned near various kinds of natural resources, and were thus from the earliest days bound together in a network of trade and interdependence. As they grew and prospered, however, settlements naturally began to compete for land and other resources, with those within the interior of the network feeling the pinch first. This led to the first significant inter-settlement conflicts, which were occasionally bloody, but were constrained and moderated by the influence of the Prefecture as enforced by the Knights Particular.

In time, and as settlements grew out of proportion to the size of their core monasteries, the influence of the monasteries began to wane. Guilds, long existing as benevolent societies for the members, became more powerful, and as nearby settlements merged (peacefully in many cases, forcibly in others) the settlements began in the late fourth and early fifth centuries to be full-fledged city states. Although the Order of St. Albert was disinclined to promulgate those weapon technologies found in the Archive, increasing population meant that technological progress was no longer strictly dependent on the release of historical documents, and hence was no longer strictly within the purview of the Albertines. The rediscovery of gunpowder, unsuccessfully suppressed by the Prefecture, led to a renewed round of conflict between the new city states. Because these wars were conducted in defiance of the authority of the Archprefect, they became known as the Wars of Irreligion. The wars are generally said to have begun in 415 YOE with a series of battles between the states of Fatima and Guadalupe, and continued sporadically until the beginning of the Great Plague in 532 YOE. The recovery from the wars and the plague continued until the Times of Exile came to an end in 633 YOE.

photo credit: Nrbelex via photopin cc

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  • http://acatholicviewoftheworld.wordpress.com/ Roki

    I have several questions that I offer, both in hopes of eliciting more information about S’Mary’s World, and to let you know the kind of questions that the descriptions so far elicit – at least in my mind.

    So, the Albertines and other monastics

    pass needed knowledge and technology to the people of the settlements. There was never a conflict between science and faith on S’Mary’s World, as the Prefecture and the religious orders were closely associated with scientific and technological progress in both the popular mind and in actuality.

    Then you mention “The rediscovery of gunpowder, unsuccessfully suppressed by the Prefecture….”

    My impression was that the Prefecture has a more or less complete library with technological knowledge up to the level of Earth technology at the time of their departure. The limitation on technology came from the lack of population and the lack of resources.

    This post implies that the “tech level” (for lack of a better term) of S’Mary’s World was also directly and deliberately regulated by the Albertines and/or the ArchPrefect. Is this accurate?

    Why did they choose to develop a semi- or pseudo-feudal society, then? Why withhold gunpowder? Or internal combustion engines? Or computers? Certainly, the first generation of colonists would have known of such technologies. Within a generation, if there were enough of them to build a cathedral, wouldn’t there have been enough of them to build a machine shop?

    I understand that there is a particularly religious culture among the first generation of colonists, and that regaining technological capabilities may not have been their first priority. But they also were under the duress of lost population and a hostile environment. I would think that many “modern” technologies would have been useful for them, and probably several “sci-fi” technologies developed between the present and their departure from Earth.

    I presume that I am missing some information about the culture of The Prefecture, or perhaps I have assumed wrongly about the knowledge base that was available to them. You did mention that the ship was damaged.

    Thank you for sharing this world you’re building with us! It is fascinating.

    • Will Duquette

      Thanks very much for your comment! Clearly, I need to do a post on technology on S’Mary’s World. The short answer is that with one damaged ship they had insufficient resources to maintain the advanced technological base they had expected to have, and so had to fall *way* back. Before you can have internal combustion engines, you need reasonably good metallurgy, and before that you need to identify where the ore is, and you need some kind of liquid fuel, and you simply can’t do everything at once.

      • http://acatholicviewoftheworld.wordpress.com/ Roki

        Oi! I hadn’t thought about liquid fuel. Hm….

        Looking forward to the post on Prefecture tech!

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    This is a book, right? Or will become one? I hope!

    • Will Duquette

      That’s an interesting question. What it is, so far, is an extended exercise in whimsy. :-) But seriously, the posts so far are intended to develop the background for a series of stories set at different times in S’Mary’s history. Making up the background is the easy part; telling interesting stories in that world will be more challenging. Should the stories ever get written, they could certainly be a book.

      But these short posts aren’t full stories. One could ultimately assemble them into some kind of book, I suppose; would anyone be interested in that?

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        World-building was always one of my favorite parts of writing, along with character-building. The writing was enjoyable, but it takes more focus and intent. I understand why some fantasy authors put the entire history of their world in a prologue–it has been one of the pleasures of writing the book.
        I would read a book set in S’Mary’s World.

        • Will Duquette

          Good to know!