This is the second of five posts looking at the major empires in New Eden. This time around, we'll be examining the Minmatar Republic.
The Minmatar Republic: 7 Tribes for 7 Brothers
It shouldn’t be surprising that the history of the Minmatar Republic is intimately interwoven with the history of the Amarr. While the Minmatar are a rich culture in their own right, of course, the brutal enslavement for centuries left an indelible mark on their society, and in many ways still dictates how the Republic and individual Minmatar react to many situations. Currently headed by SanmatarMaleatu Shakor, the Republic is really only a Republic in name, given that Shakor disbanded the Republic Parliament when he came to power a few years back, though he is attempting to constitute a more representative tribal council. This has done little to affect the temperament of the Republic, however, and the Minmatar remain a deeply spiritual people, dedicated to their tribes and their Elders. The Minmatar consist of seven different tribes, each now united and represented in some way in the Republic: the Thukkers, the Brutors, the Nefantar, the Starkmanir, the Sebiestor, the Krusual, and the Vherokior.
The deep history of the Minmatar is a bit more hidden than the Amarr’s. We know that Pator was settled around 8017 AD and quickly developed due to its hospitable climate. From there, we jump right through past the Dark Ages, to when the Minmatar formed a global government, about 200 years before the Amarr managed to conquer the entire planet. The Minmatar also quickly re-entered space only about a century after the Amarr did. However, the stargates in Pator were much better preserved than in Amarr: instead of needing to build their own, they were able to use the ones still built, quickly colonizing three different star systems.
Then came the Amarr. As noted, the Amarr encountered the Minmatar in 22355. For the next 125 years, the Amarr would raid Minmatar worlds for slaves. Then, in 22480, the Day of Darkness arrived, when the Amarr completely conquered the Matari homeworlds (Matari and Minmatar, like Amarr and Amarrian, are fairly interchangeable, with no definitive usage rules coming out of the literature, although preferences do vary). The Matari quickly formed their own resistance groups during the Occupation, to varying degrees of success. This required the Amarr to develop more and more effective means of controlling their massive slave populations (the main modern technique, Vitoc, will be discussed in Part 4). Given that the Matari were the largest civilization to date absorbed by the Empire, it was no surprise that they had trouble completely maintaining order. However, they did manage to attract some Matari to their side. Most notably, the Nefantar tribe adopted the Amarrian religion en masse and came to be seen as the Empire’s closest allies among the tribes. This meant that the Amarr invested heavily in Nefantar space (now known as the Ani constellation), and they reaped the rewards. Other tribes did not fare nearly as well. Internal political schisms within the Empire eventually lead to the annihilation of the Starkmanir homeworld. It was assumed at the time that this led to the loss of the entire Starkmanir tribe, and is generally seen as one of the pivotal causes of the Rebellion 250 years later.
The end of the Occupation, as mentioned during the Amarr section, began after the Battle of Vak’Atioth. The Minmatar, sensing weakness after the Amarrian’s resounding defeat, quickly seized the opportunity to throw off their master’s yoke, as well as exile the Nefantar for their role in aiding and abetting the Amarr both prior to and during the Rebellion. However, it wasn’t until 23216 AD, over 730 years after the Day of Darkness, that the Matari once again claimed Pator as their own, with strong help from the Gallente through materiel and support.
Recent history has proven just as interesting for the Republic. For obvious reasons, tensions are still high between the Republic and the Empire. These tensions came to a head during the Elder Invasion of YC 110. The Elders were, until quite recently, taken as the mythical head of the Minmatar prior to the Day of Darkness. They proved to be quite real when they led a combined fleet of secretly built capital and subcapital ships into Amarr space for an invasion. Precisely who or what the Elders are, and how they fit into Tribal culture, has never been entirely explained. It seems that the Elders withdrew from the Tribes around the time of the Day of Darkness, biding their time to allow a triumphant return, but there are also indications that they kept an eye on the Tribes, and might even have some mystical powers. Suffice it to say though, that they are greatly revered by the Republic as a whole, even moreso now after their invasion of Amarr space. First, they managed to completely destroy CONCORD’s rapid response capability (after testing their abilities first), and then invaded Amarr space. They managed to free many recently-discovered survivors of the Starkmanir tribe in Ammatar space (the Ammatar’s interesting background will be discussed in Part Three), and wiped out the defensive fleets surrounding the Kor-Azor homeworld. They would have done the same in Sarum Prime if not for the return of Empress Jamyl and her aforementioned superweapon. Since being stopped in Sarum Prime however, the Elders seem to have disappeared again and have not been in the news since.
Since the Elder Invasion, Matari society has undergone a bit of an upheaval. Karin Midular, former prime minister of the Republic, was assassinated at a Gallente cultural festival. Midular eventually died, but more importantly, her death served to drive a wedge between the Gallente and the Republic. The Federation insisted on prosecuting the shooter, a Gallente national, before extraditing him to the Republic. Though Gerne Broteau was found guilty by Federation courts, the Republic was furious that the Federation waited so long to turn over the shooter, and he was pretty much summarily executed once the Republic finally got a hold of him. Since then, a number of stories have come to light demonstrating that despite the Federation’s long-touted tolerance, Gallente of Minmatar origin suffer discrimination inside Gallente space (BREAKING: humans dislike people who are different from them; details at 11).
The loyalties of a Minmatar are first and foremost to a Matari’s tribe. The tribe determines much of a person’s beliefs and the rituals he or she adheres to. One of the key features of becoming an adult in Minmatar society is the acquisition of a special tattoo through the ritual of Voluval. The tattoo gained through this process is said to determine one’s future, and certain symbols from the ritual can mark certain people as having a great destiny.
Although they have the largest numerical population of the major empires, the Matari are very spread out. A full 20% of Matari have emigrated to the Federation, while almost a third of the 7 tribes are still enslaved by the Amarr. Even those that remain in the Republic are often not tied down, and vast Thukker caravans are known to roam the Great Wildlands.
Inter-tribe tensions can also at times reach a head, especially in the modern day. As noted above, the Republic recently received a huge influx of Starkmanir tribesmen and they are having trouble integrating within the Republic, as are the Thukker tribesmen who have decided to settle down in recent days. Furthermore, the same Elder invasion that rescued the Starkmanir also resulted in a large number of Nefantar returning to the homeworlds after a long absence. Given their tribe’s history, they are often shunned from the greater Republic polity, and their integration into the Republic is ongoing.
The tribes each have different traits. The Sebestiors are valued for their intellect and engineering prowess. The Brutors, as their name might suggest, are among the more disciplined and militaristic of the tribes. The Krusual are much more secretive and far more adept at the political game. The Thukkers, as noted above, are much more nomadic and able to rely much more on their judgment and instinct in emergency situations. The Nefantar and Starkmanir have only recently returned to the flock, and other than troubles integrating have not really distinguished themselves as of yet.
However, the ongoing tribal tensions have not stopped Sanmatar Maleatu Shakor, current leader of the Republic, from instituting widespread changes in Minmatar government. Shortly after forcing out Midular, Shakor actually disbanded the Republic Parliament. After some years of political wrangling, he has since instituted a Tribal Council. Details of the Council are scant (scant enough that the Evelopedia doesn’t even have a wiki page for them (then again, the Evelopedia still states that the Republic Parliament, you know, exists (PARENTHETICAL-CEPTION))), but from what little we know, it appears that the Council adheres much more closely to Tribal – including, I might add, the Nefantar and Starkmanir tribes – lines, rather than a traditional parliament divided by party lines. Elections seem to be held within a tribe, rather than based on geography, but other than that, the powers and responsibilities of the Council (beyond, presumably, taking over many of the functions of the old Parliament) remain unknown.
As might be expected, the Matari are seen mainly as the rebels, especially against the Amarr. They're often played off as anti-establishment, sometimes just for the sake of being anti-establishment. Although many RPers these days choose to have some direct connection with slavery (either by being recently escaped slaves themselves, or the children of slaves), this is apparently changing somewhat. Although there are still strong anti-Amarr feelings throughout the Republic, some are choosing to play themselves as only more distantly or abstractly aware of slavery and its Amarr connection. As with most things in RP, of course, there's a broad spectrum of how to play your characters and how anti-Amarr you'd like to be.
As I mentioned above, a Matari's loyalties is first and foremost to his or her tribe in most cases. The Matari have a bit of an awkward situation in that only 3 of the 7 tribes (the Sebestior, the Vherokior, and the Brutors) are actually playable in game. To make up for that, some choose to have some connection to the other tribes (the most notable one probably being the nomadic Thukkers). Another important aspect of a Matari identity is their tattoos (which they receive through the Voluval ritual) and their piercings. It shouldn't be too surprising either that they tend to be fairly friendly to the Gallente as well, but as noted above, the relationship between the two has become rather strained in recent months.