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Principality of Benham
House Rumi
The coat of arms of the Principality and House Rumi

Country

New Tarajan

Capital

Roermond

Foundation

1678

Population

3.200.550

The Principality of Benham is a Heerlijkheden in the Kingdom of New Tarajan, ruled by House Rumi.

Its capital is Roermond.

History

The lands of Benham were among the first ones to be conquered by the wave of Antanaresian knights who migrated into Tarajan in the XVI century. Due to its vicinity to Antanares, indeed, that hilly territory was already taken by few Antanaresian families in the first decade of the century, just few years after the arrival of Sigismund Van Der Grudeln in Alleskandberg in 1505.

Around the middle of the century, Benham was divided in three zones: the northernmost was controlled by House Van Vinkel, which had established itself in Merlberg; the easternmost part, instead, was ruled by members of House Van Aardenne from the family stronghold in the valley of Gravan; the remnants of Benham were still independent, under the rule of at least ten different lesser houses. However, at the eve of the birth of the Kingdom, House Van Aardenne had been able to extend its dominance even over those last independent rulers, fully integrating those lands inside the Landsraad system. This in turn allowed the Van Aardennes to pose a direct threat to the Van Vinkel's possessions in the Principality of Merlberg, as demonstrated during the subsequent war between House Van Vinkel and the other Landsraad Houses.

However, the war proved a disaster for the Landsraad, which was forced to recognize the supremacy of Sigismund Heinrich II, bestowing upon him the title of King of Tarajan. To ensure the safety of Merlberg from further threats, the new King donated the city of Roermond with its surrounding lands to Ulrich Van der Mark, a lesser noble who was already vassal of his House through his few lands near Merlberg. With Roermond, the Van der Mark received the title of count, and the elevation to Major House, with accession into the Landsraad.

The new arrangement proved to be sound when, almost fourty years later, a power struggle ensued inside the Royal Court, between Queen Regent Elise Van Sondenburg and Duke Robert Van Aardenne, who retained the fundamental post of Chancellor under King Heinrich IV. In 1631, when civil war broke out, the duke was able to lay siege against Merlberg. However, the resistance offered by Count Ulrich III Van der Mark, who, unable to face in open field the Van Aardenne army, resorted to a sort of guerrilla warfare against its rearguard, created a serious threat, which ultimately forced the duke to withdraw. The Van der Marks kept their allegiance to the Van Vinkels during the subsequent troubles and conflicts, which finally ended in 1652, with the Second Capitulum Pacis. In recognition of the merits earned by House Van der Mark, King Sigismund VI then enlarged their possessions in Benham with the addition of a part of the lands belonging to House Van Aardenne, elevating the county to duchy in 1655.

During the following decade, the duchy thrived, thanks to the renewed peace in the Kingdom. In 1666, Ulrich V Van der Mark died. Being the last male heir of the duchy, his title passed to the husband of his daughter, Mahmoud Rumi: a member of one of the few Ajanic noble families which had converted to Christianity during the conquest, now Mahmoud became the first Ajan to have a seat in the Landsraad. In 1678, in recognition of his services as Counselor of the King, Mahmoud received from Heinrich VI the title of Prince.

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