Torenth (fictional)

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Torenth
Deryni novels location
Other name(s) Kingdom of Torenth
Created by Katherine Kurtz
Genre Historical fantasy
Type Monarchy
Notable locations Beldour (capital)

Torenth is a fictional kingdom in the Deryni series of historical fantasy novels by Katherine Kurtz. It lies to the east of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, and the rulers of the two kingdoms often oppose each other, with the Torenthi monarchs serving as antagonists to the Haldane kings that are the primary protagonists of the novels.

Geography[edit]

The Kingdom of Torenth is one of the largest realms in the Eleven Kingdoms. Much of northern Torenth in bordered by the wild and untamed Norselands, but the northwestern edge of Torenth gives way to the Gulf of Normarch and the Northern Sea. East of Torenth are the distant lands of Érskeburg and West Veskitsa, while the Beldour River forms Torenth's southern border with the Principality of Orsal and Tralia. To the west of Torenth is the Kingdom of Gwynedd, which lies on the far side of the Coamer Mountains and the Rheljan Mountains. Torenth's western border primarily touches three Gwyneddan estates: the Duchy of Corwyn, the Earldom of Eastmarch, and the Earldom of Marley. The capital of Torenth is the city of Beldour, which is located near the junction of the Beldour and Argent Rivers in south-central Torenth.

The kingdom is divided into a collection of smaller estates, the rulers of which form the nobility and peerage of the realm. The largest of these estates are duchies, which include Arjenol, Arkadia, Jándrich, Lorsöl, Marluk, Nördmarcke, Östmarcke, Sasovna, Tolán, and Truvorsk. In addition, there are numerous smaller counties, which include Brustarkia, Czalsky, Fathane, Gwernach, Komnénë, Kulnán, Medras, and Sostra.

Government[edit]

Torenth is a feudal monarchy, similar in structure to the kingdoms of medieval Europe. The head of state is a hereditary monarch which descends through the senior male line of the royal family. Women are strictly forbidden from inheriting the crown of Torenth. The titles of the nobility are also based on hereditary inheritance, but the monarch reserves the authority to change the standard rights of inheritance under certain circumstances (such as attainting the family of a convicted traitor). Additionally, the monarch has the power to create new nobles and new titles when necessary. The monarch has nearly-absolute authority in all secular matters throughout the realm, and each noble wields significant power within their own lands. The primary administrator in the realm is a powerful minister known as the Grand Vizier.

The ruling family of Torenth is the House of Furstán, a line of powerful Deryni adepts who are often described in the novels as being ambitious and ruthless. Throughout the centuries, the Furstán kings have ensured that Deryni, although a minority of the population, still wield a significant amount of political and ecclesiastical power in Torenthi society. The contrasts between the Furstáns of Torenth and the Haldanes of Gwynedd, as well as the differing treatment of Deryni in the two lands, often serves as a point of conflict between the two lands in the series.

The King of Torenth, or padishah, is formally invested as the rightful monarch in a ceremony known as the killijálay. The killijálay usually takes place on the New Year's Day immediately following the accession of a new king, but extenuating circumstances have occasionally forced that tradition to be broken. The ceremony is performed by the Patriarch of Beldour and All Torenth, who girds the new king with Sword of Furstán and infuses him with the legacy of arcane power established by the first King of Torenth.

Religion[edit]

The primary religion of Torenth is a Christian faith which pre-dates the creation of the kingdom itself. Unlike Gwynedd, where the resident faith is based on the Roman Catholic Church, Torenthi Christianity is more closely based on the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Torenthi church is hierarchal in structure, with ranks including parish priests, abbots, itinerant bishops, metropolitan bishops, and archbishops. The church is led by the Patriarch of Beldour and All Torenth, who is elected by the Holy Synod. In addition to the Christian church, an unknown number of Torenthi citizens practice a religion that is closely based on Islam, but the specifics of this faith have never been detailed in the novels.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

The area of Torenth, originally known as Beldour, is first conquered by the Byzantyun Empire at the beginning of the 2nd century, eight hundred years before the events of Camber of Culdi. After the Byzantyun withdrawal in the 5th century, the rulers of Beldour embark on a campaign to conquer the neighboring lands, and Duke Furstán III Torenthály declares himself the first King of Torenth in 545. Over the next century, the borders of Torenth slowly expand to the south and west, occupying much of the fertile lands surrounding the Beldour River. Torenthi forces make excursions into Gwynedd in the mid-7th century, but the invasions are unsuccessful and result in the death of King István Zsolt Furstán. István's death sparks a five-year civil war for the Torenthi throne that is eventually won by King Tamás Termöd Furstán in 657. Tamás' descendants are known as the House of Furstán Tamásy, or the Second House of Furstán.

Conquest of Gwynedd[edit]

Torenth continues to grow over the next century and a half, as the Furstán kings push the borders of the realm to the Northern Sea and the Purple March. Border conflicts with Gwynedd become increasingly more common, and Torenth succeeds in gradually eroding the defenses of its western neighbor. In 822, Prince Festil Furstán, the younger son of King Kálmán II Imre Furstán, invades Gwynedd and overthrows King Ifor Haldane in a coup supported by his father's armies. Festil is proclaimed King of Gwynedd, and he swears fealty to his father as Overlord of Torenth. The House of Festil rules Gwynedd for the next eight decades, during which time Gwynedd is a vassal state to Torenth and every King of Gwynedd is required to travel to Beldour and acknowledge the supremacy of the King of Torenth. Gwynedd regains its independence in 904, when the last survivor of the House of Haldane, Prince Cinhil Haldane, deposes the last Festillic king, Imre Furstán-Festil, and ascends to the throne of Gwynedd. Imre's cousin, King Nimur I Zsigmond Furstán, supports an attempt to retake Gwynedd in 905, but the effort is unsuccessful.

Festillic invasions[edit]

Although Torenth loses control of Gwynedd, King Nimur I succeeds in expanding Torenth's eastern borders by conquering the lands of Arjenol, Vorna, Lorsöl, and Vechta. Despite occasionally being plagued by barbarian raids, Toreth's borders remain secure for the next two centuries, allowing the Torenthi kings to focus much of their attention on Gwynedd. Torenth rarely makes any formal move against their western neighbor, but several Torenthi kings support the ambitions of the Festillic Pretenders, the descendants of the House of Furstán-Festil who still claim the throne of Gwynedd. In 948, King Arion I Mátyás Furstán provides mercenaries and financial support for an invasion led by Prince Marek I Furstán-Festil, but Marek is defeated by King Uthyr Haldane.

Arion's grandson and successor, King Malachy II Miklós Furstán, joins the invasion of Prince Imre II Furstán-Festil in 984, leading the Torenthi army into Gwynedd itself. However, King Jasher Haldane defeats the Torenthi forces at the Battle of Grecotha on August 3, and both Malachy and his eldest son, Prince Nimur, are slain in combat. Malachy's second son, Károly II, dies the following week from his wounds, leaving the throne of Torenth to Malachy's third son, King Kyprian II Könyves Furstán.

Kyprian waits four decades before supporting another invasion of Gwynedd, but he eventually agrees to engage in a joint attack of Gwynedd. In 1025, Torenth attacks Gwynedd with the support of its allies, Sovereign Prince Jolyon II Quinnell of Meara and Prince Marek II Furstán-Festil, the Festillic Pretender. However, the Mearan forces are quickly routed by Prince Cinhil II Haldane's Gwyneddan army, which then turns to meet the combined Torenthi and Festillic forces. The decisive battle occurs when the two armies meet at Killingford on June 15, 1025, engaging in three days of bloody carnage that result in thousands of casualties on both sides. When the battle finally ends on June 17, the Gwyneddan army emerges victorious, and the Festillic Pretender is killed with his father and son. Disgraced by the utter defeat of his army, Kyprian leads his surviving troops back to Beldour and abdicates the throne on July 21 in favor of his eldest son, Arkady II Arpád Furstán.

Torenth and Gwynedd fight a series of minor border conflicts throughout the remainder of the century, but these incidents never escalate into formal warfare. Though the antagonism and enmity between the two kingdoms remains firmly in place, the Battle of Killingford has taken a serious toll on the armies of both lands and neither Gwynedd nor Torenth has sufficient military strength to seriously threaten the other. When another Festillic Pretender, Prince Hogan Gwernach Festil-Furstán, attempts to claim the throne of Gwynedd in 1105, he receives the blessing and approval of King Nimur II Dénes Furstán, but virtually no troops or military support. Like his ancestors before him, Hogan fails to win the Gwyneddan crown, and he dies in personal combat with King Brion Haldane.

Hogan's daughter, Princess Charissa, marries the son of King Károly III, Prince Aldred, and both she and her husband are suspected of eventually being responsible for Károly's death in 1110. King Aldred II reigns for only a very brief period, as his cruel despotism inspires his own family to revolt against him. After Aldred has his pregnant wife brutally beaten for his own amusement, Charissa joins with Aldred's uncle, Prince Wencit, to remove him from the throne. Aldred is deposed on April 15, 1110, and Wencit ascends to the throne as King Wenzel II Furstán. While Wencit moves to secure his position on the throne, Charissa spends the next decade plotting her revenge against King Brion Haldane, and eventually succeeds in murdering him in 1120. However, her attempt to claim the throne of Gwynedd is thwarted when she is slain by Brion's son and heir, King Kelson Haldane on November 15, 1120. Upon her death, the Festillic claim to Gwynedd passes to Wencit, and the King of Torenth quickly plans an invasion of Gwynedd to press his claim. Wencit leads a Torenthi army into Gwynedd in 1121, but he is defeated and slain by King Kelson in July of that year. Following Wencit's defeat, Kelson becomes Overlord of Torenth, and Torenth becomes a vassal state to Gwynedd. In addition, the House of Furstán d'Arjenol ascends to the throne of Torenth as the Third House of Furstán.

Recent history[edit]

Wencit's nephew, Alroy Arion II, inherits the throne as a twelve-year-old boy, but he dies under suspicious circumstances shortly after attaining his legal majority in 1123. His successor, Liam Lajos II, spends four years at the Court of Gwynedd, where King Kelson attempts to train the young king in the skills of statecraft while bridging the cultural gap between the two lands. Liam returns to Torenth after reaching his legal majority in 1128, and he is forced to immediately deal with the notoriously dangerous Torenthi political scene when two of his uncles attempt to murder him. However, Liam survives the attack with the assistance of King Kelson. Following the killijálay, Kelson releases Liam from his vassalage, allowing Torenth to become an independent nation once again.

The second edition of the Codex Derynianus includes several additional events that occur after the conclusion of King Kelson's Bride. In November 1128, Liam is betrothed to Princess Eirian Haldane, the daughter of Kelson's uncle, Prince Nigel Haldane. In addition, Liam's sister, Princess Stanisha, is betrothed to Nigel's youngest son, Prince Payne Haldane. Both marriages are intended to further solidify the growing good relations between Torenth and Gwynedd. The following year, Liam's traitorous and exiled uncle, Teymuraz Furstán, issues a proclamation claiming the thrones of both lands, but his pretensions generate no significant support in Torenth.

Kings of Torenth[edit]

Since the foundation of the Kingdom of Torenth in the mid-6th century, there have been over thirty members of the House of Furstán to sit upon the throne. However, only a few of those kings have appeared directly in the course of the novels, and most of them are only mentioned in passing (if at all). The following table lists the reigning King of Torenth at the time of each of the Deryni novels.

Novel Years King of Torenth
Camber of Culdi 903 – 904

Nimur I Zsigmond Furstán

Saint Camber 905 – 907

Camber the Heretic

917 – 918

Arion I Mátyás Imre Furstán
The Harrowing of Gwynedd 918

Arion I Mátyás Imre Furstán

King Javan's Year 921 – 922
The Bastard Prince 928
In the King's Service 1082–1091

Nimur II Dénes Kyprian Károly Furstán

Childe Morgan 1093–1096
Deryni Rising 1120

Wenzil II "Wencit" Zsubit Furstán

Deryni Checkmate 1121
High Deryni
The Bishop's Heir 1123–1124

Liam Lajos II Lionel Lászlo Furstán d'Arjenol

The King's Justice 1124
The Quest for Saint Camber 1125
King Kelson's Bride 1128

Sources[edit]