MTG Mondays: Benalia

“My people swore to protect Benalia to the end. It is battered, but yet stands, as do we.”Benalish Calvary

Benalia

Hello everybody, today I am talking about the nation state of Benalia on the continent of Aerona on the plane of Dominaria. Benalia is a major location in the world of Magic the Gathering and has shown up all throughout MTG’s history on a whole lot of cards, but where did the state come from and what is it all about? Well I am here to explain all of that.

Dominaria as a whole

Before we speak about Benalia, we must talk about what came before it, the mighty Sheoltun Empire. At the end of the Brother’s war between planeswalkers, Urza and Mishra, who I will be talking about in a later blog, the world was plunged into an Ice Age that lasted for almost two and a half thousand years. After the Ice Age, the Sheoltun Empire was formed with it’s capital being Benfosa. The Sheoltun Empire was a military state that ruled with an iron fist and before long it conquered a lot of central Aerona. One of the most famous Sheoltun residents was an advisor named Tobias Andrion. Tobias was instrumental is wiping out the pirates that surrounded the shores of Sheoltun, but while he was successful in driving them out of Aerona, he got caught up in a thirty year war against the pirates of the Spice Isles. The Spice Isles was a location where sailors could rest before continuing on a long journey, the only problem was it was ruled by pirates. Tobias eventually won, but died by what is widely reported a magical lightning bolt. They say that Tobias is still under the water and dancing on the crew of his fleet for the rest of time. With Tobias’s death, the Sheoltun Empire started to decline. The final nail in the coffin was a revolt by a region called Epityr. Epityr was a region that was flourishing for about three hundred years until the Sheoltun Empire conquered it. The Sheoltun Empire imposed it’s will on the people of Epityr and for forty years they had to adapt their culture to that of the Sheoltun’s. The people of Epityr had enough and revolted and a mage by the name of Thabit of Almaaz summoned Serra Angels, mighty warrior angels to help the Epityr cause. The Sheoltun Empire was beaten and with that came the collapse of the once powerful empire.

The next chapter in the Benalish story begins in a region to the Northeast of the Hurloon mountains called, Wrenna. Not much is known about Wrenna other than it had an order called the Knights of Jenges. An evil sorcerer came to Wrenna and seized it’s throne and corrupted the knights, but one fled south named, Torsten Von Urses. Von Urses came upon the ruins of Benfosa and from here he decided to create a new empire called, Benalia. Von Urses chose the name Benalia as it means ‘Aspiration’.

“Some aspire to climb the mountains of honor. The Benalish are born upon it’s peak, and from there ascend among the stars” – Benalish Marshall

Torsten Von Urses

Benalia was ruled by Von Urses, but he had seven lieutenants from seven great and noble houses which were the ruling families in Benalia. The seven houses are as follows:

  • House Capashen – The wealthiest and strongest houses of the seven. The Capashens rule the north of Benalia. Their leader is Aron Capashen. Their house sigil is a tower with seven windows.
  • House Avenant – The Avenant are a matriarchal house that rule the Isle of Avenant. Their leaders name is Cerise D’Avenant and their house sigil is a pattern of seven arrows.
  • House Croger – A house that is full of expansionists and individualists. They rule Eastern Benalia and they still very much worship the church of the Angelfire. Their leader is Eadith Croger and their sigil is a wolf’s head with seven teeth.
  • House Rosecot – A militaristic house that protects all the grain fields of Benalia to the south east of the country. Their leader is Alvan Rosecot and their sigil is a rose with seven thorns.
  • House Tarmula – A house of wizards and scholars, they rule in and around central Benalia. Their leader is Rache Tarmula and their sigil is a seven pointed star.
  • House Deniz – The house of the great traders, merchants and naval traders of Benalia. They rule along the west coast of Benalia and their leader is Jerek Deniz. Their sigil is a conical shell with seven twists.
  • House Joryev – And finally, not much is known about this house only that it might have possible ties to an organisation called the Cabal. Their leader is Aveya Joryev and their sigil is a ring with seven keys attached.

The mentioning of the seven houses leads on to the Lost Edict. Von Urses wanted to dominate his realm before he died and he did do most of what he wanted in terms of that. At the age of seventy two, Von Urses passed away leaving the leadership of Benalia in question. Von Urses left behind instructions detailing the fact that he didn’t want any of the houses becoming the soul leader of Benalia, but the seven of them ruling together, each taking on a different part of the running of Benalia as a whole.

Benalia became a military state with a lot of religious backing from Gabriel Angelfire and the churches of Serra. Gabriel Angelfire was an extraordinary warrior angel who was worshipped through the churches of the Angelfire. A strange thing that is not primarily seen in the MTG universe is that, Gabriel was a male angel, where most other angels are female.

Then came a dark time in Domiaria’s world, The Phyrexian Invasion. I won’t speak too much on the Phyrexian invasion today as it is a MASSIVE storyline in the MTG universe, but basically the Phyrexian invasion is the invasion of the plane of Dominaria from the artificially created plane of Phyrexia that brought a lot of death, destruction and chaos in it’s wake and a lot of heroes fell trying to stem the tides of the invasion. How does Benalia fit into all this? Benalia was the first region on Dominaria that was attacked and it was utterly destroyed. The goal of the Phyrexians was they wanted to destroy the Capashen house bloodline as it was prophesied that they would be the downfall of Phyrexia.

Phyrexian invasion

After the collapse of Benalia and the disaster that was the Phyrexian Invasion, Benalia’s woes were not finished yet. Next came the Years of Salt. What was left of Benalia devolved into warring states. Time rifts started open around which is part of another massive MTG arc which I won’t be discussing today. Benalia was riddled with natural disasters and then came the Slivers, horrible creatures with claws and tentacles that operate under a hive mind working towards a singular purpose, whatever their brood leader wants.

Lastly came the Mending, which was when the time rifts closed and the plane started to truly heal again. The descendants of the houses established the seven great houses again and rebuilt Benalia. The capital was rebuilt as New Benalia and a new way of governing Benalia was created called the Compact of the Seven Pillars which brought in The Ranking in which every year the leader of the council of seven would drop to the lowest ranking and the second highest ranking would be the leader and the rest would move up a rank. It gave each house a chance to rule. There were stained glass images and statues built to the fallen heroes and a new race joined Benalia, the Aven, flying humanoid creatures. Benalia also adopted the church of Serra as its official religion.

Stain glass honouring the heroes of Benalia

Benalia has a very interesting story in the MTG universe and one that is far from finished. It has been a part of the MTG universe since the beginning and I can definitely see it being there in terms of the game and the lore right up until the end. I hope you enjoyed my write up of the history and lore of Benalia and I will continue next week.

New Benalia

I hope you enjoyed and as always, thanks for reading!

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