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History of Nouveaudébut
Antiquity
  Prehistory of Nouveaudebut
  Development of the Belleau River Valley
  City-states of the Belleau River Valley
  Ouvreur Empire
Middle ages
  Dark ages of Nouveaudebut
  Renaissance of Nouveaudebut
Modernity
  Modern history of Nouveaudebut

Following the amalgamation of the dominant Highlanders into Valley Dweller culture between 3,000 and 2,000 BCE, the Belleau River Valley was home to relative prosperity that saw the growth of technology and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a merchant class that would eventually begin the expansion of Belleau culture outside of the valley.

Development of the written Ouvreur languageEdit

The written Ouvreur language was first developed in order to provide accurate accounts of trade transactions. The earliest written system was one of pictorial representations of trade goods. This system was first utilized by the Valley Dwellers roughly around the time of the Highlander conquest and continued after the unification.

EarlyOuvreurWriting

An early Ouvreur language tablet depicting a grain transaction.

The accurate account of trade debts allowed by this new writing system encouraged trade along the Belleau River Valley and led to the first accumulation of wealth, particularly by merchants along the lower Belleau River who monopolized and controlled the flow of resources in the Valley.

As demand for a more flexible and comprehensive writing system grew, the traditional pictorial writing system was slowly phased out in favor of a less object-focused writing system. In this transitional period, glyphs began to refer not only to the object or idea they represented but to the name of the object or idea, as well. This period in the growth of the writing system occurred roughly around 2,500 BCE.

In time this transitional writing system gave way to the earliest coherent "true writing" system, wherein glyphs were first used to represent sounds or spoken symbols irrespective of their meanings. This phonetic system consisted of three stages:

  • 1. The verbal: glyph represents a whole word;
  • 2. The syllabic: glyph represent a syllable;
  • 3. The alphabetic: glyph represent an elementary sound.

With these developments, the written language essentially took the form still utilized today. This development coincided chronologically with the first uses of iron, roughly near the middle of the second millennium BCE.

Advanced metallurgy and coinageEdit

While copper and bronze had allowed the Highlander domination of the Valley Dwellers in the 4th millennium BCE, it was the development of iron production in the second millennium BCE that would at once stratify and centralize the Belleau River Valley.

Though iron ore was abundant in the Belleau Highlands, the process of smelting it was significantly more difficult than similar processes for tin and copper. For this reason, it took considerably longer for the development of iron and steel production than for bronze. However, the much sought after superior qualities of steel led to considerable investment in its development, particularly by the affluent merchant class. When the smelting process was finally perfected, iron and steel replaced bronze in the Valley almost overnight.

The advances in metallurgy brought on by the transition to iron production led as well to the development of the first coinage. Previously, wealth had been measured in the accumulation of raw resources, a system that was inefficient and difficult to quantify. The first coinage began in the area that is modern Coeur du Pays. The wealthiest merchants of Coeur du Pays worked together to issue gold and silver coinage. This process was soon copied by merchants along the river.

Development of city statesEdit

With the development of coinage came the necessity of law. Merchants, made ever more affluent by their control of coinage, began to codify aspects of the Belleau River Valley society. Notably, the Charbonneau Tablets (dated to approximately 1,700 BCE, discovered by Claude Charbonneau near Ville de Belleau in Coeur du Pays) codified and standardized amounts of interest on debt, fines for 'wrong doing,' and compensation in money for various infractions of formalized law.

This monetary focus further tightened the control over society held by merchants, particularly in the growing cities of the river valley, where mercantile influence was highest. The wealth accumulated by a merchant was passed to his son, and affluence was inherited. In this stratified society, merchants became the de facto rulers of each city.

Though at first merchants throughout the Valley had worked in unison for their universal benefit, greed and mistrust led to the rise of a distinct merchant power structure in many of the major cities. In time, these city-states would compete with each other for power.

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