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The Winds of Change (ASOIAF SI)

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The Age of Reformation

A Complete Account

Co-Written by

ArchMaesters of History Harion Cartwell, Jonas Wythers, Charlie Herston, and Kyllan Lanser

 

Year 165 C.E.

 

A Prelude by

GrandMaester Ivarn Cafferen

 

The Age of Reformation was a period of history that most historians agree lasted from the year 23 B.C.E. to the year 140 C.E. It involved the drastic reshaping of the Westerosi politics, the end of the feudal system, and the development of the first modern trade economy. The “reformative period”, as it is sometimes called, also intersects by the “Decade of Enlightenment”, consisting of the first 10 years of the [Common Era].

This volume seeks to chronicle the massive changes undertaken during this age, and examine and explore the incentives and the historical events needed to produce such changes.

The ‘Reformation’ itself has, to date, been cause to the most extensive and widespread changes to all levels of Westerosi society in chronicles history. Every tranche of society, from the most poor of smallfolk to the most privileged of the nobles, has seen their very livelihoods, professions, and place in life uterrely uprooted by the period. The simply monumentous shifts in the systems of economics, politics, religion, military, and culture are certainly deserving of being made distinct with their own timeline. The year “0” of the [Common Era] to be clear, is to mark clear the separation between the era of feudalism that existed for thousands of years and that of the modern age, of which there is no lack of identifying differences.

In the chronicles and tomes that give sight into the countless centuries B.C.E., it is understood that significant manipulations to professions, statuses, and tranches occurred maybe only once a century. Events such as Aegon’s Landing in 309 B.C.E. which unified Westeros into one nominal state, the flight of the Rhoynar around 700 B.C.E. which populated the land of Dorne and established a detached culture to those to the north, and the death of the last dragon of House Targaryen in 237 B.C.E. which renewed the tradition of large military concentrations all served to define and shape the history of their respective fields.

Even so, the feudalistic period maintained its supremacy up till its last years. No matter the changes described above, it was not until the very onset of the [Common Era] that it was ever considered that feudalism might actually be on the descend. The system had certainly morphed in the centuries prior, but its strength was never doubted up until the end. While systems could and would change inside the feudal order, it seemed as though the order itself was to live forever. The ‘Reformation’ proved this to be wrong.

Events of supreme influence, normally reserved as a rarity in history, exploded in frequency during the ‘Reformation’. Where one field, such as that of the military, may have evolved slowly over the course of century in the times of feudalism, the C.E. forced it to adapt at intervals ranging in the decades, if not single years. Such mighty compression of change no doubt shook the very foundations of Westeros to the core, proven by the fact that their constantly changing norms led to a myriad of conflict and evolution.

In every way, those professions, statuses, and tranches are unrelatable contrasted to their former counterparts. The creation of the first notion of ‘rights’, and the sovereignty of any institution or state, no least people, was nothing short of revolutionary for its time. The ‘Enlightenment’, or the freeing of knowledge from the hands of the old Order of Maesters allowed even the most illiterate and lowest rank of smallfolk access to information both past and present. The institution of elections, previously only in the context of a top-down structure, has turned the state into a instrument of the nation, and not the other way around. The invention of the cannons and rifles, apart from the forced emphasis of skill and tactics in battle, thrust the nobility from their stranglehold on armed conflict, yet another strike at their previous powers.

Perhaps the most important revolution is that of ‘democracy’. Though it would be impossible to call the current iteration of the state a ‘democracy’, it must be acknowledged that the philosophy behind the political science is less than 200 years old. Indeed, the first transcribed ideas that resembled the modern philosophy can be found during the Age of Reformation.

The very concept of smallfolk and non-nobles having a say in the actions of the state, as laid out in “From the Ground Up”, a popular manifesto published around 9 B.C.E., laid the platform for the expanded political doctrine that called for the dissolution of political privileges, equal representation under the law, and the ‘right’ to a vote for every citizen of Westeros. From the strict aristocracy of the feudal order, the influence of ‘democratic principles’ most heavily impacted the evolution of the state and the concept of the nation as a whole during the ‘Reformation’. Finally, this work addresses many of the controversial opinions of the famous Maester Samwell Tarly in his work “An Uncertain Course of Events”, written in the last years of his life and published posthumously in 51 C.E. In it, Maester Tarly argues that the end of the feudal system and its involved elements was by no means a certain fact. “Progress,” he wrote, “Was never guaranteed for the Westerosi people. We had to build it, block by block.”

Indeed, it has been the subject of debate for many decades if the Age of Reformation, as a time in history, was destined to unfold. Many sectors of popular culture, especially in more recent times, claims that the ‘Reformation’ was bound to happen regardless of the individual actions of certain characters. This is in addition to religious acertations of a path charted by God and those of politicians who claim the noble tradition. This theory has been called “Linear Progression”, or the belief that progress is eventual but certain to the human species. For sure, this theory has been a critical factor in the creation of the ‘Westerosi identity’, which one might remember is too a fairly recent development. The very idea of a populace being destined for something, in this case, the ascension from the poor landscape of feudalism.

Yet, there is another side that argues that the ‘Reformation’ was a matter of complete circumstance; that unless a wide variety of events and peoples came together to do what they did, it might never had occurred, a theory which is inversely called “Circumstantial Civilization”. This theory directly contradicts the stated opinions of most major religious groups across the nation and is also seen negatively amongst most in power today. However, the argument does put much more weight behind the study of history and the particular study of individuals, the most popular of which may be His Lord Eminence, Alexander I.

Alexander I, the first Westerosi head of state in the [Common Era], is no doubt at the center of the argument between “Linear Progression” and “Circumstantial “Civilization” He is also perhaps the figure most closely associated with the ‘Reformation’ itself, having a direct hand in the wars that gave birth to the period and the subsequent political and economic reforms which defined it. Little is known about the person of Alexander, though much of his public actions were extensively recorded. As such, it is difficult to ascertain the exact influence that His Eminence had. Nevertheless, he is key to the positions of both theories.

Apart from examining in close detail the events both large and small of the ‘Reformation’ as well as the characters involved, it is also a case study into the individual that was Alexander I. Was he truly the wise leader that reshaped a nation in his image, or was he merely a coincidence of the time that should instead be confined to the footnotes of history?