Today we finish off the Princes of Middelburg series, and for a bit of symmetry the last Prince, just like the first, will be more than one person.
This week’s Prince is the Matriarch and Patriarch of the Progenitorist Faith!
As with the Prodigalist High Priest, Alfresia never had its own Matriarch and Patriarch until its independence a century ago. Before this, the Progenitorist faithful were led by the by the two Exarches under the command of the Matriarch and Patriarch of Fresland. The exarches were among the happiest of Alfresian citizens when independence came as it meant an instant promotion for them. Unlike the Prodigalists, the Progenitorist faith carried on much the same as ever for it is an old religion and it takes quite a bit to upset the order of things.
As the first organised religion in Alfresia (and most of eastern Jytoh), Progenitorism has a history that stretches back to before the Great War with the Inhumans. Other than prestige, this means that the religion has had the time to get comfortable. Most of its greatest philosophical and theological questions have been debated and answered, its most famous saints have been canonised and the greatest religious upheavals are in the past. It is a quiet and slow religion these days when compared to Prodigalism or even the strange and foreign Completism. Its philosophies and practices have seeped into the very soil of Alfresia, and today it merely cares for the nation rather than actively converting the “heathens”.
The main reason for the slow, often languid, nature of Progenitorism is the relationship between the Matriarch and the Patriarch. In the eyes of the faith and the gods they are equals in everything, just as the Heavenly Progenitors are. They have equal authority, demand equal respect, do equal amounts of work, but most importantly: only together do they form the leader of the faith for their nation. No decision can be made except through the approval of both the Matriarch and Patriarch. Should either not approve, then no decision is made. Sometimes it can take decades (or centuries in particularly egregious cases) for a simple decision to be made if the Matriarch and Patriarch are not on good terms with one another.
This dual leadership of the faith can sometimes be confusing for non-believer as it seems unintuitive at first. It becomes even more confusing once the structure of the faith is revealed. It seems obvious that the Patriarch would be responsible for all priests, monks and abbots, and the Matriarch responsible for their feminine counterparts, but this extends even to faithful flock. All male Progenitorists, clergy or not, are under the command of the Patriarch while all female Progenitorists follow the Matriarch. No male Progenitorist has to listen, agree, or follow any order by any priestess, nun or abbess, and a female Progenitorist can ignore the Patriarch himself should she so choose. However, it takes a brave (or stupid depending on where one stands) person to actually do this.
It is because of this dual leadership of the faith that the Matriarch and Patriarch represent only one of the Princes of Middelburg, as it is only by acting together that they can make decision representative of the entire faith. It is also because of this that the Matriarch and Patriarch are the least active member of the Princes and they are only truly called in when a matter arises of the greatest importance.