The Matriarchate of Periaslavl is the largest country in Shijuren, based on land size. It stretches generally east to west for around three thousand miles. It is ruled by the Velikomat, or Great Mother, usually with a designated heir, the Velikodoch, the Great Daughter.
In 263, two nomadic groups came across a flame that seemed to be eternal at about the same time. During the ensuing battle, known as the Battle of the Pyre?, one group was devastated and driven away. The other side, though victorious, lost its leader, Rurik Kyrre?. Rurik's heir, Volodomyr Rurikson?, decided to feed Rurik's body to the flame, which then became known as Rurik's Pyre. Volodomyr also decided to found a settlement at the site. Because Rurik's tribe had run across a number of bears during their travels, the settlement was called Medvedgorod. Volodomyr at this time took the title kniaz.
Volodomyr built his hall around Rurik's Pyre. Soon, his hall was called the Firehall. When, nearly a century later, the country called upon Helga Mikhailovna to become its first Velikomat, she built the original Dvorets Materi, or Castle of the Mother, around the Firehall. The Dvorets Materi has been expanded and added to often by each succeeding Velikomat.
Since Hakon never wished to challenge the primacy of either his brother or Medvedgorod, he accepted that Medvedgorod was the capital of the newly founded Grand Duchy of Periaslavl? and Volodomyr as the velikokniaz?.
The Matriarchate of Periaslavl has been ruled since 348 by a Great Mother, or Velikomat. Following a series of conflicts between three kniaz over the succession to velikokniaz after Volodomyr II? died in 347 with no surviving son, the people of Medvedgorod increasingly turned to the wisdom of Helga Mikhailovna, the matriarch of a prosperous merchant family and a widely known ocharovat.
Eventually, as the battles became too costly, with no end in site, the other kniazi who had no claim forced the claimants to accept Helga as the leader of Periaslavl. When Helga sat for the first time in the throne of the Firehall, Rurik's Pyre flared and burbled as if in recognition.
In the centuries that have followed, it has become clear to all that Rurik's Pyre and the Velikomat are connected in some way. All future Velikomats receive the same flare of recognition when they come into the Firehall, usually as Velikodoch but directly as Velikomat in the case of Marya Vasilovna?.
Helga also realized that Rurik's Pyre could amplify her power over emotions. In the small collection of towns and cities that formed Periaslavl under her direction, she discovered that with the Pyre's help she could influence emotions across the whole country. With this in mind, she chose as her heir, Feodora Borisovna?, who was already a powerful ocharovat even though she had only just turned 15. The Pyre seemed happy with her choice, and flared in recognition.
Most of the area around Periaslavl during the early centuries was occupied only by small nomadic tribes, of the type that Rurik had led. Periaslavl grew quickly in those early centuries and Feodora realized that she needed help so she decided to get married. This man, Igor Antonov?, became the first Great Husband?. As Periaslavl has grown, the number of Great Husbands grew to two per Velikomat and then to three.
All of the Velikomats have had unusually long lives. Alisa Iosevnovna? is the only Great Mother to have actually died in office, and she was slain by a great plague that came to be known as the Mother's Death?. Essentially, the magic of Rurik's Pyre seems to keep the bodies of the Velikomats and Velikodochs in stasis in a process no scholar has yet been able to completely understand or document. In any case, after Feodora created the Great Husbands, it seems to have kept them in stasis as well, though only while the Velikomat remains in that position. While the Pyre seems to allow the Velikomats to age normally after they step down, the Great Husbands die swiftly as old age catches up to them almost immediately.
In 387, Helga, who was as healthy then as she was in the 348, stepped down in favor of her chosen heir. Helga then left Periaslavl, never to be seen by any Perislavlans again and her fate was never recorded. This has set the pattern for all other Velikomats. They all step down and live a life, generally outside Periaslavl, but certainly outside Medvedgorod.
The banners of Periaslavl are white with a red, orange, and gold flame in the center. The personal standard of the Velikomat adds a gold border around the banner; the standard of the Velikodoch has a red border. The standard of the Great Husbands of the Velikomat charges the flame with a black bar. The Husbands of the Velikodoch have no personal heraldry and display the standard of their wife when necessary.