What is a dictator? With Tauria, it is a good question to ask. For the kings of Tauria are all but gods in their country; absolute power is theirs for the taking if they can just wrench it away from the senate's hands. This they can do, all too easily. For there is an emergency power that can be granted to a king in times of crisis. This power is making the king into a dictator, giving him (eldest male child inherits the throne) complete and utter control over Tauria. The king remains dictator for as long as the crisis remains.
What classifies a crisis, then? It is but a threat. Something, some enemy, that is powerful enough to be able to destroy Tauria. Threats such as the one during the barbarian's Territory Wars, where the highest numbers of barbarians attempted to raid and pillage and loot human lands and holdings in Atheian history. Threats, such as the one during the World War, where Tauria with its sole ally went up against the world and won. Threats, such as the one being made up, invented, by the current dictator-king about the high numbers of barbarian raiders.
Inventions of fact are made up by the king to seize power. Since a king of Tauria has very little power without being dictator, manipulation and bribery and deceit are used to make up for it. Thus, the people, and thus to a lesser degree the senate, believes that the barbarians storming across the borders occur in far larger numbers than is actually occurring. And thus, the populace forces the senate's hands. They conferred their largest, most serious duty, to the current king's father.
Absolute power doesn't come easily, weeding out the weak and leaving the strong in the royal lineage. This has led the kings of Tauria to be a conniving, manipulative, and diabolical lot. The country, too, has been influenced by Lunism, and as the moon never truly dies, so too do the kings. The position, and all rights associated with it, has never seen a death, and but simply a new face beneath the crown. This is important to note as it makes not only the kingship hereditary, but also the dictatorship, too.
The current king inherited the title and powers of dictator from his father. King Jacob II, the current king, has so far kept being dictator by, like King Jacob the First, making the barbarian raiding threat seem larger than it actually is. Yes, barbarians do loot and pillage in the west, and yes, raiders do sail to northern Tauria to loot and pillage during the summer, but not in the numbers that the king says there are. This fear, along with the heavy amounts of racism encourage by King Jacob II, keeps the people and the senate happy with having a dictator.
Unlike Obstaria, when Tauria conquered and betrayed and manipulated its way to unification (they got the idea from Obstaria, and did what they did), it did not leave the conquered kings with slightly diminished power. Instead, Tauria simply executed them, took their money, and redistributed it to ministers. These ministers oversee and rule a certain parcel of land for ten years, and are usually elected and picked from the middle to upper classes of the land itself. After their ten years of being minister is up, they join the senate, and stay as senators until the choose to retire or to die. Note that ministerial elections are not all held on the same date.
The senate and the king balance power between them when the king is not a dictator. Either the king or the senate makes a decree- the senate through majority vote- and if the other approves it, the decree goes into affect. However, when the king is a dictator, the senate is a purely advisory group, and can simply suggest to the dictator-king courses of action.
Unlike most of the world, Tauria sports a middle class. It is allowed to flourish because of the debt slaves. These debt slaves are the poor people who, unable to repay a debt they took within a specified amount of time, become slaves to the creditor. This has led to the rich having slaves to exploit, allowing those who through smart financial policy to amass enough wealth to not need to go into debt, or being able to repay a debt when the took it. More on this later.
Because of the middle class, learning is creeping into the populace. Knowledge is never a good thing for the populace to have when you have, in effect, a dictatorship. Whispers and rumors of rumors all point to one thing: revolution. The dictatorship, the Code of the Cavalry (see below), and other such things are adding to this, and something needs to happen before dissent and rebellion and rebels actually start happening.
The city of Redstone is the capitol of Tauria. Called so because of the red clay deposits common in the area, the city is sited on a large lake which it half-encircles. This lake provides fish for the populace, as well as the aforementioned clay. Redstone has laws against the dumping of trash and sewage into it, so as to keep its last resort water in times of siege pure.
It is a flourishing city, and quite powerful in its own right. Its culture, though by no degree could be labeled as in a golden age, is flourishing. Architecture and theater, sculpture and painting, all have been given there place amongst the walls of Redstone- though it by no degree can compare with that of Triastu. It has three concentric circles of walls guarding it, marking the cities growth, with the inner ones having their gates removed. The ten foot space on either side of each of these inner walls is currently being used as a bazaar/forum area, with tented stalls and wagons marking where the hawkers shout about their goods.
In its entire history, no one has cared enough to give the northeastern swamp a proper name. Deemed mostly unimportant by all, by the time a bit of worth was discovered, the name of Northeastern Swamp had stuck. This worth is the plant Friars Weed, and was used by the Taurians to great affect during the World War.
Of course, it still bears its share of secrets, with most of its inner sections remaining un-mapped. The areas of the swamp next to the ocean, however, is famed for its craps, with a variety of colorful towns catching them and selling them to the larger world.
Unlike most of the world, Tauria has always been a plains country. Though some forests have sprouted here and there, grasslands and farms are in the clear majority. It is perhaps because of this environment that both cattle and horses originated the lands that would become Tauria. Indeed, after unification the king changed the name of his kingdom to Tauria, which roughly translates to 'Land of the Bull.'
Horsemanship is thus a prized virtue among the Taurians, and an annual contest of sorts occurs, where contestants race from the city of Redstone to the city of Isador (located in southern Tauria) and back. First place gets a large prize and quite a bit of glory.
In honor of Iustitia, the Goddess of Justice and Vengeance according to Lunism, Tauria was the first nation to institute a judicial system, using the idea of jury as its base. During a trial, a request for a fair and honest trial will be given to Iustitua, and then the trial will commence much like the modern version. Two lawyers, one arguing for the conviction of a accused criminal, and one arguing against, will present a series of facts and witnesses and experts to sway the jury to their side.
The jury is composed of your peers. That is, adult male citizens of a middle to high socioeconomic standpoint. Debt-slaves, women, and other such "inferiors" are not "mentally capable" of such duties. Men, upon coming of age, are required to present their name and address with their local minister so if a juror is needed, they can be called upon. A jury will be composed of 15 people.
Once a criminal is found guilty, punishments set in. Iusitia is the goddess of not only justice, but vengeance. Her better side was present with the jury, so now her ugly side manifests in the punishments. Capital punishments are common occurrences, with torture and more horrible deaths than mere hangings present for the worst crimes. It takes the form of an Eye for an Eye type system. Partners of criminals and other such assistants are caught to under the Conspiracy Laws- briefly, it states that if you conspire with someone to commit a crime, or help them with it intentionally, you face the same punishments.
The ancient customs of the Taurian people uses the idea of debt-slaves. In short, when you go into debt to a person, you have a year to pay the creditor back. If you cannot do so, then you become their slave. Your children, as well, become slaves. Your spouse becomes a slave. In short, your entire intermediate family becomes the slaves of the creditor.
Attempts to alleviate this were made. Old kings managed to get the senate to agree that once the debt-slave has done enough work to pay the creditor/master for the original cost, a small interest, and food and housing costs, the debt-slave and his/her family go free. This was based off average national income of the profession.
Of course, this law was not enforced effectively in the rural areas. Government policy on this issue is one of lack of interest. In short, the government does not care. This lets the rich get as many permanent debt-slaves as it so chooses.
The Code of the Cavalry
Tauria was where the horse originates, and thus Tauria is where the cavalry originates. As such, it has always had a powerful equestrian military branch, and it was no surprise when King John IV instituted the Codes of the Cavalry. In short, it is a period of time when a dictator can declare martial law. It must be a dictator, as they felt that only certain times of crisis would require the calling in of the Code, and that only the dictator would be able to effectively make that decision.
The Code of the Cavalry gives permission for the Taurian armed forces to do the following: freely use a village, town, or cities food supply, quarter itself within a township's houses, destroy or use private property, and more. The populace is not allowed to complain in any way, and a curfew is put in place in the cities. In short, the Code was put in place to allow the Taurian army to implement a Scorched Earth policy to hinder an invading army's advance, and keep the populace from complaining and rioting about such a thing, as well as guerrilla type tactics with sudden cavalry charges on infantry flanks and retreats.