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The Ghiscari Empire was a vast empire in Essos during the ancient times, mentioned in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe. Posthumously known as the Old Empire of Ghis, it was one of the oldest known civilizations and cultures in human history. The Old Empire is still known today as an economic and military powerhouse with a very rich culture.
The Old Empire of Ghis held a large portion of the continent of Essos. The empire predated the old Valyrian Freehold by thousands of years, and still existed while the Valyrians were still growing in in power.
The Valyrians became rivals of the Ghiscari, and the Old Empire attempted to wipe out the new Freehold. However, it failed miserably; the Ghiscari lost five wars against the Valyrians, and during the fifth, most of the Ghiscari legions were burned alive by the Valyrians' dragons. After the Ghiscari military was crippled and the cities were vulnerable, the Valyrian army marches straight on to Ghis and sacked the city. Soon after, dragonriders were brought in to destroy the entire city.
With the Ghiscari capital destroyed and the octarchs dead, the empire was left in anarchy. The Valyrians returned to Valyria and let the rest of the empire destroy itself from the inside. Colonies started declaring independence, and the Dothraki of the Great Grass Sea began pillaging the northern colonies. Soon, the Ghiscari Empire became nothing but a memory. The ruins of the ancient cities of Essos served as a reminder to never wake the dragon. Until the Doom of Valyria, that was.
Most of the maesters agree that the Old Empire of Ghis was ruled by an oligarchy of eight noblemen, known as the Octarchs. However, some maesters dispute this, claiming that the Octarchs were actually eight regional governors who answered to an emperor.
The Ghiscari adopted slavery as part of their culture, and founded the region known as Slaver's Bay, where the Masters rule today as a shadow of the Old Empire. However, as a historical circumstance, the Masters and the rest of the population of Slaver's Bay speak High Valyrian, and not Ghiscari.
Known Ghiscari cities
- Ghis (now known as Old Ghis)
- Hazdahn Mo
- Vaes Mejhah (Dothraki name)
- Vaes Efe (Dothraki name)