Brythunia was a loosely-knit Hyborian confederation of largely autonomous city-states. Its southern, Nemedian frontier was the Yellow River. Another river flowed eastward along the Brythunian side of the Graaskal Mountains and marked the northern border. The highlands in the northeast were cleft by numerous passes, through which Hyrkanian invaders poured into the West during the years following the Age of Conan. Interior Brythunia was a land of fertile, humid prairies interspersed with very thick, wolf-haunted coniferous forests. Brythunia’s economy was probably primarily agricultural, with its aristocracy centered upon land-owning boyars who made their homes in the fortified cities. The most fertile soils were found in the alluvial deposits of the interior river valleys and in the southern piedmont.
The folk of Brythunia had the dubious honor of serving as the traditional butts of Hyborian Age humor which painted Brythunian men as thick-witted oafs and their women as saucy and willing wenches for other men. The women of Brythunia, mostly blonde, spirited and beautiful, were much sought after by slave traders. Modern Brythunians descended from a mixture of ancient Hyperborean and native Brythunian stock. The Hyperboreans had been stocky (like the Shemites), with dark hair; ancient Brythunians were tall, fair-skinned and blond. Modern Brythunians were a mixture of these traits, being stocky, but with fair skin and blond hair.
Most Brythunians lived in small villages of wattle-and-daub huts. In the central regions, these villages were set into copses of trees, while in the northeastern highlands, they were perched upon the tops of high crags. Where necessary, steps and footholds are carved into the rock to ensure easy climbing, and most Brythunian villages have at least one horse-path. In the fertile central plains, farming fed most Brythunians, but in the highlands men hunted wild game to survive. Brythunian women remained at home, weaving, embroidering and raising children. A Brythunian widow moved in with her husband’s brother or her own family.
Brythunians lived in many Hyborian cities outside their own homeland, especially in Corinthia, where they worked as skilled weavers and dyers. Central Brythunia was ruled by hereditary nobles who officially owed allegiance to the Brythunian king but were in fact independent in all but name. This divided leadership caused many of Brythunia’s problems, and put the king into a difficult position when bargaining with the other Hyborian nations. The Brythunian nobles bickered with one another as frequently as they ignored the throne. The difficulties of Brythunian life prevented any Brythunian noble from having the manpower or wealth required to raise large standing armies, but each noble maintained a few household guards who raided neighboring steadings for cattle and sheep (or on the whim of a piqued noble). This constant internal strife prevented Brythunia from consolidating into a true nation-state.
The Brythunian monarch was constantly trying to make other kingdoms acknowledge his sovereignty over Brythunian territory. However, as he had no real army to draw upon, Nemedia and Corinthia generally ignored the Brythunian “King of Oafs.” Brythunians in the populated central plains were usually worshipers of Mitra, although there was also some worship of the gods of Turan and Zamora.
Names: Brythunian names are Italian and Teutonic in tone. Examples: (male) Aratus; (female) Hildico, Natala.