The Wheel Turns...
Mayene is ruled by a lord or lady named the First of Mayene. The First is a hereditary ruler. As with Andor, internal realignment and power struggles may result with ruling Houses being displaced and new ones rising, but the First must be a direct-line descendant of the founding ruler, in this case Tyrn sur Paendrag Mashera. The First is advised by a council of Seconds, who each have a responsibility for a different branch of the government. There are also guilds and merchant groups, who are influential.
It was recently revealed that Mayene has a strong relationship with Tar Valon. Due to Tear’s antipathy towards Aes Sedai, this relationship was kept secret from them. The First enjoys the counsel and wisdom of an Aes Sedai adviser at almost all times, and is schooled in the arts of rule in a similar manner to the Daughter-Heir of Andor, regardless of her ability or inability to channel. The First is also given martial training and is taught how to avoid assassinations and knife attacks. A combination of these factors makes the First both an unusually canny and personally dangerous ruler.
The First and Mayene are both defended by the Winged Guards, an elite military formation who are noted for their skill at arms and promotion through merit. Given the extreme remoteness of Mayene, it is a tribute to the Winged Guards’ performance as part of the Grand Alliance during the Aiel War, and more recently their service to the Dragon Reborn, that they have built up an impressive reputation for martial prowess.
The First’s primary duty is to keep Mayene independent from Tear. Mayene’s independence despite these claims relies on the Mayener’s knowledge of the location of the secret oilfish shoals, the oil from which is highly valued and competes with similar products from Tear, Illian, and Tarabon. Oilfish are taken in nets, precluding any conjectural identification of them with whales.
Another tool the Mayener rulers once used to maintain Mayene’s autonomy was a ter’angreal in the shape of a twisted redstone doorframe which took them to the land of the Aelfinn. Anyone may enter this doorway once in their life; on the other side, they are allowed to ask any three questions, and will receive three true answers. These answers were a great aid to the Firsts in maintaining Mayene’s independence, but one young First named Halvar, who had already stepped through the doorway in his lifetime, eventually bargained it away to Tear. Despite this loss, the Mayeners are intent on remaining apart from the High Lords of Tear; this wish led Berelain to ally Mayene with the Dragon Reborn, the first nation to do so freely.
Most modern historians and geographers name only the fourteen other kingdoms of the modern day, counting Mayene either as independent city-state (along with Falme, Far Madding and Tar Valon) or as part of Tear. However, Mayene controls more territory than those other city-states, including most of the peninsula it sits upon, which extends for a hundred miles or more from the mainland.
The Mayener peninsula forms the eastern and south-eastern edge of the Bay of Remara, and is cut off from the mainland by the Drowned Lands, a hostile swamp impassable to large armies. The peninsula does not appear to be easy to invade by sea either, forcing any attack to come through the city itself, which is defended by stout walls and formidable defences.
Mayene is located at the southern tip of the peninsula on the Sea of Storms, and is the eastern-most city of the Westlands, and is the closest city to Shara, the enigmatic land beyond the Aiel Waste. Fishing shoals rich in oilfish lie somewhere to the east of Mayene, but the location is a closely-guarded secret. Mayene also lies close to the Sea Folk island of Cindaking. A combination of its location on key trade routes to the Sea Folk isles and Shara, plus its dominance of the oilfish trade, make Mayene extremely wealthy and covetable in the eyes of Tear.
Mayene was a city of Artur Hawkwing’s Empire. The date of its construction is unknown. It was part of the province of Moreina and was one of the ports where Hawkwing assembled his fleet for the ill-fated invasion of Shara in FY 993. As the nearest Westland city to Shara, Mayene was ideally placed to both launch the invasion, and also suffer any retaliation: however, this never took place and the Sharans bizarrely maintain to this day that no invasion ever happened.
In FY 994, upon the death of Hawkwing, the city of Tear declared independence and claimed all the lands of the province of Moreina, including Mayene. Other factions resisted this claim and during the War of the Hundred Years Tear was too busy fighting for its own survival to worry about its claim to Mayene. Mayene, for its part, made no claim until FY 1004, when its ruling council claimed that Hawkwing’s grandson Tyrn sur Paendrag Mashera had survived the calamity that killed his mother. They acknowledged him as First Lord of Mayene and proclaimed their own independence. Tyrn died in FY 1054 and was succeeded by his daughter Miselle.
After the War of the Hundred Years ended, Tear renewed its claim to Mayene, but was rebuffed. Several attempts to capture the city by force were defeated. Given its size and manpower, Tear could have seized the city in a grinding war of attrition, but only at the expense of exposing its western border to an attack by Illian. Instead, Tear resorted to subterfuge, espionage and blackmail in an effort to force Mayene’s capitulation, but to no avail.
In 999 NE, the current First of Mayene, Berelain sur Paendrag Paeron, officially allied Mayene to the standard of the Dragon Reborn, winning an assurance that Tear would not be allowed to seize control of Mayene during the Dragon Reborn’s governance. With Tear regaining some autonomy from the Dragon Reborn’s control with the appointment of Darlin Sisnera as the first-ever King of Tear, it is unclear if the Dragon Reborn’s arrangement with the First will continue to hold.