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Rectory of Herciana
Overseas territory of Urcea
|Ceded from Caphiria||1943|
|• Rector||Maurice Alfinno|
Herciana is an island east of Sarpedon in the Sea of Canete that is part of Urcea.
The home of one of the earliest polities in Sarpedon and a bedrock of the Ancient Istroyan civilization - the Messisorian Kingdom - the island has been continually inhabited for thousands of years. During the height of the Messisorian Kingdom, the island was famous for its wealth, cultural achievements, and architecture, but the island entered a slow decline around 500 BC as the center of the Kingdom's political power shifted away from the island. The Kingdom was destroyed in 198 BC and the island was sacked by Caphiria, who carried away much of its wealth and population. The island was conquered by various groups between then and the 15th century, when it was retaken by Caphiria. During that time, it existed as a mostly irrelevant island primarily reliant on fishing, taken in various phases by the Oduniyyad Caliphate and Crusades. The Caphirian reconquest lead to a slow economic revitalization of the island. The island, populated by Veltorine people, took part in the Veltorine War of Independence and became part of independent Veltorina in 1782. It was once again conquered by Caphiria at the end of the First Great War, then taken by Urcea in the Second Great War, who has possessed the island since. The island saw significant investment and militarization during the Occidental Cold War, but has been pursuing significant economic relations with Caphiria since the Assumption Accords while remaining geopolitically aligned with Urcea.
Herciana was one of the earliest hubs of Ancient Istroyan civilization in Sarpedon, with major colonies being established around 1650 BC and the island becoming a major hub and port for further colonization efforts heading west. The makeup of the pre-Istroyan population of the island is not clearly understood, as no written language exists prior to the spread of colonies to the island and material artifacts provide inconclusive evidence. A wide range of theories exist, but the most accepted theory suggests an Istroyan-adjacent peoples living on the island before the arrival of foreign colonies and quickly adapting to the new urban lifestyle. Unlike most other places in the Istroyan world, decentralization was a temporary phenomenon and evidence suggests that the colony of Messisoria quickly established itself as the preeminent political and economic city on the island beginning in ca. 1200 BC, building an informal hierarchy that was increasingly centralized in the centuries to come. The city would eventually establish what would become known as the Messisorian Kingdom. The island of Herciana underwent significant growth as a result, as the wealth conquest began to flow directly to the island. Most of the cities of Herciana appear to have been either directly incorporated by Messisoria by around 970 BC, although it appears extension of Messisorian citizenship was used as the primary method of centralization. As the island grew, appetite for additional foreign conquest appears to have taken place.
While the Messisorian Empire would continue to exist until its gradual conquest by Caphiria in the 200s BC, the Empire's priorities and focus would increasingly shift away from Herciana as the Messisorian Kings sought to increase their hold in the more populous, richer mainland portions of the Kingdom. Investments and riches began to flow increasingly to Royal magnates who ruled the mainland on the King's behalf, and many began to leave the crowded island for opportunities in the Sarpedonian interior, displacing local Sarpic people and establishing new Istroyan colonies. The major blow came in 500 BC as the court of the King of Messisoria moved from Messisoria to the mainland city of Constantinopolis Borealis (modern Constanz), moving the center of political and economic power away from Hericana; the island entered a period of significant decline. With Caphiria encroaching upon its mainland possessions gradually throughout the 200s BC, the court relocated back to Messisoria in around 225 BC, but the Messisorian Kingdom was in a period of terminal decline and the island itself was conquered by Caphiria in 198 BC. The island was sacked of its wealth with most of its major cultural and architectural achievements destroyed during the sack. Much of the island's population was deported by Caphiria into the modern province of Sennium in order to establish a "civilized" urban population in otherwise Sarpic tribal lands. The majority of those deported did not survive the journey, but colonization efforts were generally successful.
Herciana became a relative backwater under the First Imperium, with most of its population turning to subsistence fishing for survival. Many of the buildings of Messisoria and the island's other great cities and structures were pillaged for their building material. Most historians believe the island's population was reduced to around 15,000 from a high of over 200,000 during its peak. Christianity was introduced to the island in around 110 AD with most of the residents of the island being adherents by 280 AD. The island remained an insignificant fishing outpost when it was conquered by the Oduniyyad Caliphate in 676 AD. The island was used as a base from which Oduniyyad raiders would harass Halfway and Greater Canaery, eventually taking the former in 890 and establishing an independent Sultanate. Herciana was recaptured as part of the Crusades and was part of the shortlived Principality of Thessia before being conquered by the resurgent Second Imperium of Caphiria in the 15th century. From there, it began to grow following a millennia of decline, becoming an important port location on the way from Venceia to Audonia while also being the primary means by which southeast Dericania traded with eastern Sarpedon. As trade prospered, many mainlanders began to move to the island, and the island's population grew to about 75,000 in 1600. The Great Schism of 1615 disrupted public administration in the area as well as trade. The island, as part of the broader east Caphiric Istroyan culture, began to organize against the area's continued subjugation, and joined with others in launching the Veltorine War of Independence. The island became part of the new Veltorine state in 1782 and remained an important trade hub. During the Tyrian Revolution, the island was a holdout of Royal forces from 1863 to 1865 as the old regime was supported by mercantile interests on the island in opposition to the socialist regime; the island was eventually taken by socialist forces in 1865. Trade was disrupted again during the first socialist period as imports into the country dried up, but the island rebounded after 1892. The island was conquered by Caphiria during the First Great War, though mercantile activity once again entered decline as eastern Sarpedon and the Sea of Canete became a warzone.
The island rebuilt in time for the Second Great War, when it was invaded and occupied by the Urcean Royal Marine Corps in 1938. The island was subsequently ceded to Urcea as part of the Treaty of Kartika. Due to the symbolic significance of the Messisorian Kingdom and Veltorine majority on the island, the Veltorine government-in-exile relocated to the island in 1943. Negotiations between the Government of Urcea and government-in-exile began with the possibility of the government-in-exile assuming autonomous control of Herciana as some kind of free state, but the issue was a red line for Caphiria which threatened resuming war in 1948. An early victory for the Caphirians in the Occidental Cold War, negotiations were cut off and the government-in-exile was relocated to Talionia. After being governed by a provisional military rectory from 1938 to 1948, a civilian Rectory government was established in 1948.
Herciana was the site of significant militarization during the Occidental Cold War, with the construction of an expansive Royal Air Force base completed in 1951. The island was significantly invested in by the Urcean government until about 1970 as part of propaganda efforts to induce Veltorine diaspora to relocate to the island, efforts which were only partly successful and the project was later abandoned. Herciana saw significant out-migration with the establishment of Cetsencalia (now New Veltorina) in Crona, with about twenty thousand Herci leaving the island for Crona since 2016.
Herciana is a tropical island sitting close to the equator with very few notable topographical features. Most of the island is covered in a tropical rainforest which abates slightly towards the coasts due to the weather and wind patterns of the Sea of Canete, and accordingly most human settlement is on the coastal sections of the island. The coastal littoral regions of Herciana, with wind factors, average about 120 F highs all year long, with the interior portion of the island getting significantly hotter.
Politics and government
Herciana is a civil rectory of Urcea, and accordingly it is governed as an overseas territory in accordance with the provisions of the Rectory and Overseas Territory Law. The island is governed by a Rector appointed by the Apostolic King of Urcea by the non-binding advice of the Government of Urcea. Unlike many other rectories, the civil rector has broad executive and quasi-legislative authority over the island and governs in consultation with an elected legislature, the Body of Notables, which provides non-binding advice on the laws of the island, although since the end of the Occidental Cold War the advice of the Body has been increasingly adopted as standing law by the Rector in part due to the increasing workload of the Rector. The Body of Notables members, called Notables, serve seven year terms. Much of the Rector's daily responsibility includes serving as the liaison between the Body of Notables and his own administration of the island and the Government of Caphiria, who has historically refused to receive any other representative than the Rector himself.
The Oceanic Regional Overseas Administrative Court is responsible for the administration of criminal and civil justice in Herciana, with Veltorine judges making up a lion's share of all OAC judges due to the presence of New Veltorina within the overall overseas judicial system.
The island is divided into twelve conrudiments, following the nomenclature of the Judiciary of Urcea, which are administrative and legislative divisions which encompass the twelve major metropolitan areas of the island. Uniquely, the Herci conrudiments are all perfectly divided as like a pie chart, with straight lines running directly from a dividing point on the center of the island out to the island's sovereign sea borders. The conrudiments were established in 1960, and serve not only as local governments but also the constituencies from which members of the Body of Notables are elected. The conrudimental system has become subject to increasing criticism as the growing population of the interior of the island are not well represented in the system according to Levantine democracy analysts, with many new towns and villages being divded into thirds, halves, and even one town near the center of the island divided into eight conrudimental parts.
Since the Assumption Accords, Herciana has existed within Caphiria's customs control zone and market, and consequently is subject to the economic regulations of Caphiria. Its economy is becoming increasingly integrated with that of neighboring Thessia. It, along with Ventotene, are the two island possessions of Urcea where Urcean importers are required to pay customs and dues on their goods. Most of the Herci economy is dependent on trade, with shipping-adjacent service industry, fishing, and service industry adjacent to the Royal Air Force base on the island making up a majority of the island's economic activity. Efforts in the late 20th century by the Government of Urcea to make the island a major hub of shipbuilding were largely unsuccessful, but accordingly many of the island's port infrastructure is considered world class. Tourism on the island is relatively rare, although has been increasing in recent years due to newly uncovered ruins from the era of the Messisorian Kingdom. The Royal Air Force base has small adjacent airstrips for civilian use, and no major international airport exists on the island, although civilian flights from Halfway have become increasingly common since the end of the Occidental Cold War.
Ethnic groups and language
The vast majority of Herci consider themselves to be Veltorine people. 89.2% of residents of the island reported to be fully or partly Veltorine, with 5.4% considering themselves to belong to the broader Istroyan ethnic group. The remaining roughly 5% are mostly Urcean people, though several thousand Caphirian nationals have moved to the island for business purposes since the Assumption Accords. Accordingly, most people on Herciana speak the Veltorine dialect of Istroyan with minorities speaking Caphiric Latin and Julian Ænglish. Since the end of the Second Great War, an increasing number of self-identified ethnic Veltorines have been adopting Julian Ænglish as a first language, and most residents of the island are fluent in the language.
Nearly all Herci are members of the Catholic Church, particularly with the end of the Great Schism of 1615. 92.1% of the island's residents report membership within the Catholic Church, with most of the remainder being irreligious.