Captain Rietha may well be the single most influential figure of the modern age. Born Lady Rietha, of House Chelor in Dacia, Rietha was Chelinn’s great-granddaughter (through his adopted daughter Sarna). As a child, she learned a great deal about tactics from the retired Captain Chelinn, and grew into an excellent soldier and tactician.
In those days, skirmishes and raids against (and by) the other cities of the southern coast were common, and Rietha’s competence in battle meant she advanced quickly. In her twenty-third year, she was granted the silver-plumed helmet of the Captains—and by coincidence, the same helm had belonged to Chelinn in his day. Rietha was assigned an unpopulated region—in her case, Stolevan, a few days’ sail west of Dacia.
As was common for Captains with unpopulated territories, she set out on an exploratory tour; they sometimes found a purpose on these journeys. Sailing east and south, her caravel was caught in a major storm and blown aground in the South Sea Islands. The ship required extensive repairs, which gave Rietha time to observe the local customs. To her surprise, she found that the Islands were a matriarchy. It was then that Rietha asked her crew the famous question: Must women rule only in the south? Why not in the west as well?
Returning to Dacia, she made careful plans. Her great-grandfather had attempted to resettle his territory in Vlis, upriver from Ak’koyr, in his day, but had failed. So Rietha gathered people, both women and men, who shared her vision of a new kind of nation. About eight hundred people from the coastal cities answered the call.
The phrase “social engineering” is unknown on Termag, but Rietha’s attempt at it was successful. To establish the tradition of women in charge, from the household to the throne, she used laws until they were set enough to become custom. Compulsory education, both for children and immigrant adults, was an innovation that has been copied by several other nations (most notably the Northern Reach); besides letters and numbers, schools taught history and the social norms of the Stolevan Matriarchy. Thus, the Matriarchy has a very high literacy rate. (In the Matriarchy, it is a truism that since men cannot fight for status and position, they devote their energies to the good of the nation, and all prosper as a result. Scholars in other nations suggest that universal literacy may be the actual key to the Matriarchy’s strength.)
Although Rietha renamed the city Queensport, using the old name for the nation as a whole, she never took the title of Queen. Respecting her decision, she is simply called the First Matriarch. After the Council of Captains agreed to dissolve, Rietha sent her helm to House Chelor, where it has a place of honor alongside Captain Chelinn’s sword. When she died, her final resting place became a shrine of sorts; women (and some men) leave prayer candles with requests for guidance and wisdom.
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