Benalia is a powerful nation with a long history on the continent of Aerona on Dominaria. It was conquered during the Phyrexian Invasion and held for the duration of the war. After the war it recovered, and became the mercantile and military power sometimes referred to as New Benalia.
Shortly after the Ice Age, the Sheoltun Empire, a militaristic and expansionist nation, collapsed. From its ashes would rise Benalia. The knight Torsten von Ursus, in exile since an evil mage conquered his homeland of Wrenna, founded Benalia at the spot of the blighted city of Benfosa which he took to be a perfect place to implement his gathered wisdom and philosophies. He took up the reins of the great Horse Civilization and guided the ancestors of Benalia out of the ruins of the once-great Sheoltun Empire. Torsten chose the name Benalia, which meant "aspiration", proclaiming the new nation's intent to rule the world.
The Lost Edict
Using sometimes-brutal tactics, Torsten brought an entire nation into being using nothing more than the force of his will and the brutal charisma of a natural leader. After succeeding in much of his goal, he died at the age of seventy-two, leaving behind the legendary Lost Edict, proclaiming that none of his seven lieutenants would succeed him as sole ruler of Benalia. Instead, Benalia would be ruled via a complex system in which the seven clans of the country each bore a different responsibility.
During the Phyrexian Invasion, Benalia was the first nation victimized by Tsabo Tavoc's specialized killers. It began with sporadic raids on the borderlands with the ultimate goal to destroy the bloodline of Clan Capashen, which had been prophesied to bring about the destruction of Yawgmoth. When the invasion reached its peak in 4205 AR, Benalia City was razed, and its people scattered.
The Years of Salt
Over the course of the next three centuries, Benalia devolved into a patchwork of competing states. When the time rifts opened, the land was plagued by dust storms and catastrophes. The states devolved into roving bands struggling to survive in a barren wasteland of salt flats whipped by unforgiving winds. What remained of Benalia City was besieged by slivers, and it became a salt-choked ruin.
After the Mending, the seven houses were quick to reassert themselves. Those who could most reliably trace their lineage to the ancient clans took charge. In the ruins of Benalia City, under the blessing of Serran priests, they forged the Compact of the Seven Pillars in emulation of the Lost Edict, laying out how power would be shared. Using the white limestones of fallen buildings, the city was rebuilt as New Benalia. The Church of Serra was officially embraced as the official religion of the state. Statues and stained-glass murals were raised honoring their fallen heroes. New arrivals were a flock of Aven, which fled Otaria after the cataclysmatic events on that continent.
Influence of the Cabal
Benalia covers much of the western portion of Aerona and nearby islands, including (once again) the isle of Avenant and much of the Spice Isles to the west. Benalia is a land of natural and architectural beauty. Vast fields of grain are crisscrossed by meandering rivers and dotted with cities of white limestone towers and vivid stained glass. Though most famous for the fertile fields, the land also includes forests, mountains and a lengthy coastline.
Benalia is bordered to the east by the Red Iron Mountains. The mountains' native Crookshank Kobolds fared poorly during the Rift Era, and the mountains are now dotted with Benalish mining settlements. Beyond the Red Iron Mountains lie the more formidable Hurloon Mountains, where permanent settlements and missionaries are met with open hostility by the local minotaurs. To the southeast are the Kb'Brian Highlands, whose warrior clans are effectively a Benalish protectorate. The Ironclaw Mountains in the east prohibit land passage to the east coast.
- Benalia City. The capital, a port at the Reitmar River on the northwestern peninsula.
- Andrion Bay, the bay soth of the pensinsula.
- Capashen Manor, on the west coast.
- Lake Tarmula in central Benalia, surrounded by a forest.
- The Floating Spires, the floating buildings of the Church of Serra dotting the skies, with a heavy concentration above Benalia City.
- The Caligo Morass, situated on the narrow coastal plain between the Red Iron Mountains and the Sea of Avenant, fed by the Tiel River.
- Vess Estate
- The Atrivak Mounds, once Benalia's greatest penal colony.
- Devas, a village that was home to the Serran refugees of Lyanii.
- Sursi, a colony on Aerona's east coast.
- The Isle of Avenant
- The Spice Isles
- The City of Estark in southern Aerona, conquered by troops under command of Knight-Commander Aryel.
Benalia ever had a complex caste system that changed with the lunar year; the highest caste became the lowest and the process repeated. In the past, the lowest caste of Benalish women had to submit to higher casted males on a whim. The only caste that could be attained without heredity or money is that of the Hero. The Heroes were neutral guardians of the realm, trained to place Benalia's interests above clan politics. Gerrard was a member of the Masters of Arms, an elite group of Heroes that had shown examplary skill and courage in the service of the Empire.
In the Modern Times, Benalish knights can be recognized by their white and silver armor, and their quartered shields. The mage-smiths of New Benalia have perfected the art of blending fine steel and enchanted glass into weapons that are both beautiful and deadly. Benalish glazeplate is stained with salts from the Rift Era and enchanted to deflect blows. Only elite knights are entrusted with these martial works of art. Stained glass is predominant in all artistic expressions. Benalish citizens born under the same constellations share a star-clan. Their loyalty to one another interlaces the Seven Houses. The army consists of knights and soldiers, each aligned with one of the seven Houses. Battle Priests of Church of Serra march with the army and Aven form their own airborne companies. The leather-clad heroes still make up a special class. They owe their loyalty directly to Benalia City and the Council of Seven.
The Seven Great Houses
The primary unit of government within Benalia are the Seven Great Houses. Most of these date back approximately a 1000 years to the Lost Edict, but at least three houses have fallen by the wayside and have been replaced with a new noble line established by a prominent heroic figure. One of the house that has disappeared is that of Clan Ternsev.
- House Capashen
- The strongest and richest house, ruling the north of Benalia. Current leader: Aron Capashen. Symbol: a tower with seven windows.
- House Avenant
- A matriarchal family ruling the Isle of Avenant. Current leader: Cerise D'Avenant. Symbol: a pattern of seven crossed arrows.
- House Croger
- A family of rugged individualists and expansionists from eastern Benalia who are still adherents of the Church of Angelfire. Current leader: Eadith Croger. Symbol: profile of a wolf's head with seven pointed teeth.
- House Rosecot
- a military clan guarding the grain fields of southeastern Benalia. Current leader: Alvan Rosecot. Symbol: a rose with seven thorns.
- House Tarmula
- A family of scholars and wizards living on the wooded shores of Lake Tarmula in central Benalia. Current leader: Rache Tarmula. Symbol: a seven-pointed star.
- House Deniz
- A family of naval traders and merchants, originally from Oneah. They live along the western coast. Current leader: Jerek Deniz. Symbol: a conical seashell with seven twists.
- House Joryev
- A secretive house living on the southwestern coast, with possible ties to the Cabal. Current leader: Aveya Joryev. Symbol: a ring with seven keys.
The Council of Seven
The Council of Seven is the ruling body of Benalia, made up by the leaders of the seven house or their representatives. Similar to the old days, each lunar year sees the rotation of the Ranking, the official hierarchy of among the houses. The highest ranking house becomes the lowest and the second highest attains the highest rank. Some official functions are filled according to the Ranking. The Aven have no reperesentation on the council yet, but some hope to see that changed.
Quoted or referred to:
- Ardent Militia (Weatherlight)
- Aven Sentry
- Blessed Light
- Call the Cavalry
- Capashen Knight
- Capashen Standard
- Capashen Templar
- Capashen Unicorn
- Darkheart Sliver
- Dauntless Bodyguard
- Drudge Sentinel
- Even the Odds
- Fury Sliver
- Global Ruin
- Goldenglow Moth (Magic 2011)
- Guard Dogs
- Llanowar Cavalry
- Phyrexian Slayer
- Quilled Sliver
- Screeching Sliver
- Sidewinder Sliver
- Sparring Construct
- Spitting Sliver
- Tower Drake (Invasion)
- Tromp the Domains
- Wall of Glare
- Encyclopedia Dominia - Torsten von Ursus (archived).
- Encyclopedia Dominia “History of Benalia”
- Flavor text for Aven Sentry
- Martha Wells (March 21, 2018). "Return to Dominaria, Episode 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Ethan Fleischer (April 20, 2018). "Dominarian Cartography". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- James Wyatt (2018), The Art of Magic: The Gathering - Dominaria. VIZ Media.
- Ethan Fleischer (April 25, 2020). "I created a highly-detailed version of the Dominaria map for internal reference use.". Twitter.
- Loren L. Coleman (1999). Bloodlines. Wizards of the Coast
- William R. Forstchen (1994). Magic: The Gathering - Arena. Harper Prism.
- Flavor text for Knight of New Benalia
- Flavor text for Call the Cavalry