Geopolitical Notes of the Western Isles



1             Klagenstill

1.1          The people

www.retrokat.com.medievalDescended from successive generations of marauding raiders based in the Kingdom of the North, the Klagen are physically similar to the Northerners of Carentan. Sometimes called, only semi-disparagingly, the bears of the north the Klagen are massively built, deliberate in speech and movement. The men are boisterious and wild by nature, believing that the most important activities in life are fighting, drinking and fornicating (not necessarily in that order). The women generally put up this behaviour, but pushed to their limits, are not easily intimidated, being tough and physically formidable. Both men and women are usually fair in hair and skin colour with blue eyes and rugged facial features.

1.2           Country attributes

1.2.1       Natural features

The formidable Ventrikken mountain range in the north provides a protection against the north winds and a source for fast-flowing rivers, tumbling waterfalls, deep dark lochs and watery glens. The north and east of Klagenstill are a barely habitable wilderness of gorse and rocks. Also in the far north is the dense forest of Vent in the foothills of the Ventrikken mountains. Most of the small population of the country live in the more temperate southwest whose more (relatively) fertile plains are fed by the Hakken, the main river of the country.

1.2.2         History and antecedents

Klagenstill was founded by successive generations of roving barbarian clans from the Northern Kingdom. Driven from their homeland by various factors including rebellion, a desire for adventure and a belief that the Isles offered a fertile land for the future, the clans settled into the bleak and barren North and developed into a loose federation which became Klagenstill. Throughout their history, a widely held article of faith was their belief that Klagenstill’s destiny was to maraud down into and conquer the rich and fertile countries of the mid and south lands of the Isles. Klagenstill originally extended south almost to the border of what became Malvas. The rich and fertile plains and downs of mid-to-south Klagenstill soon became populated with farmers and herdsmen who learnt from and freely intermarried with the Malvatians. Inevitably, conflict arose between the lifestyles and objectives of the more peaceable farmers and their wild semi-barbaric Northern cousins. Slowly, over half a century of intermittent conflict (which became known as the 50 Year War), the more fierce and uncivilized tribes were confined to the far north and the country of Tennengaul was born.

1.2.3         Language

Linguistically, Klagenstill was somewhat fragmented. Although the Jarv clans were the most dominant and thus Jarvik was the commonest language, many clans held stubbornly to their own original language or dialect. For the purposes of trade and negotiation with the rest of the Isles, Etanese was learnt by a small number of the more educated classes.

1.2.4         Class structure

Klagenstill exists as a loose confederation of semi-autonomous clans, each having its clan Chief (usually though not always a heriditary position). There is little formal structure or hierachy within each clan, the Chief being assisted by a few of the oldest and strongest men of the clan. The nation is ruled by the Chieftain of the clan of clans, typically one of the Jarv selected usually by public acclamation, sometimes by a formal duel (mostly, though not always, to the death).

1.2.5         Religion

Although religion did not play a large part in the ordinary lives of the Klagenstill, most Klagens displayed a ritual respect for the Northern pantheon they had brought with them from their original homeland. Thus they believed that there are three “clans” of deities, the Æsir, the Vanir and the Jötnar. Subsequently, Odin gave them life; Vili gave consciousness; and Ve provided senses. Sol is the goddess of the sun, and every day, she rides through the sky on her chariot, pulled by two horses named Alsvid and Arvak.

1.2.6         Foreign relations

Although technically at peace, Klagens live in a perpetual state of tension with their Gaullian neighbours and with practically every other country in the Isles. Marauding Klagen war parties frequently sail south, raping, looting and pillaging undefended coastal villages. When challenged, the Chieftain disclaims all knowledge and responsibility for these acts of savagery describing the perpetrators as “rogues” and “pirates”. This activity is a source of considerable irritation to the other countries of the Isles and if they could ever get around to agreeing on a joint course of action, Klagenstill would be in danger of being destroyed and its people banished.

1.2.7         Sources of income

Klagenstill’s economy is largely based on agriculture and fishing. Klagens typically live under conditions of considerable scarcity, though famine is rare. Except for certain fertile areas in the south and west, crops are limited to hardy grains, such as oats, rye, and barley; also sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, and some poultry; in places this is complemented with hunting. Fishing all around the coast is dangerous work, though fish such as herring, cod, halibut, and other cold-water species are found in abundance.

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2                Tennengaul

2.1             The people

www.retrokat.com.medievalMany generations of interbreeding with Malvatians has resulted in the Gaullians (as they term themselves) becoming a slighter, darker haired version of their northern cousins. Many Gaullians show the blue eyes and fair complexion of their origins, but most are slightly darker with brown or hazel eyes. Their temperament combines some of the strength and taciturnity of the northerners with the more relaxed, leisurely behaviour of the southern regions of the Isles.


2.2              Country attributes

2.2.1           Natural features

The north of the country comprises rocky sloped and rough moorland similar to Klagenstill. Further south the terrain is gentler with rolling plains, fertile land and grassland meadows. The river Stenn, flowing down from the Ventrikken mountains divides Tennengaul into the western and eastern regions. An extension of the Malvatian Trom mountains protects Tennengaul’s short western coastline and in the south the Dernhelm forest is shared with Malvas, the border between the two countries running through the forest.

2.2.2           History and antecedents

Through the years marauding Northerners and Easterners, fleeing from various internal conflicts, had settled directly in Tennengaul or indirectly via Malvas. The origins of the country are described in the history of Klagenstill in the previous section.

2.2.3           Language

In many remote farming areas, several of the more well known Klagen languages and dialects are commonplace. However, over much of the country and certainly in the upper and merchant classes, Etanese is the language of choice.

2.2.4           Class structure

Due to its mixed cultural ancestry, Tennengaul began with an uneasy compromise between the egalitarian clan fiefs of the north and the more traditional feudal aristocracy of the southern countries. The outlying regions retained a loose clan-based structure which formally swore allegiance to a hereditary ruler under who a conventional upperclass and aristocracy developed. Unable to overcome their distaste for Kings and Queens, Gaullians termed their ruler a “Prince” (no female rulers) and his heirs Counts and Countesses. There was a thriving merchant class and the usual population of artisans, craftsmen etc.

2.2.5           Religion

As in class structure, Gaullians have mixed views about religion. The clan based regions generally followed the traditional Northern pantheon of their Klagen ancestry, whilst the ruling classes, the merchants and the ordinary people in the towns and cities worshipped to a greater or lesser extent the One God of the south.

2.2.6           Foreign relations

Since the end of the 50 Year War, an uneasy truce existed between the Gaullians and their bellicose northern neighbours. Border violations were commonplace, but usually trivial in nature. As the Klagens knew all too well, the Gaullians had longstanding mutual defence treaties with Malvas and those two countries combined military strength would crush any serious incursion into Tennengaul.

2.2.7           Sources of income

Due to its long eastern coastline, Tennengaul derived considerable income from its fishing industry. In addition, the fertile plains and grasslands of the south provided farm produce such as wheat, maize plus the meat, wool and leather output from its herds of cows and sheep. Also, timber from the great forest of Dernhelm was much prized for ship building purposes.

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3                 Malvas

3.1              The people

www.retrokat.com.medievalPhysically, the Malvatians showed their Eastern heritage combined with some of the characteristics of their northern neighbours in Tennengaul. They were usually slender, mostly with brown hair, fair complexions although blonde hair and blue eyes were not uncommon particularly in the outlying country regions. Malvatians generally exhibited a relaxed tolerant attitude to their fellow beings and were renowned for their musicians and poets.

3.2              Country attributes

3.2.1           Natural features

The western coast was protected from the Green Island and other marauders by the long, towering Trom mountain range. The northwest corner of Malvas was an uninhabitable jumble of gullies, escarpments and rocky moorlands. Originating in this area, the river Stavan wound its way through Malvas eventually emerging into Carentan through Hells Pass in the Helm mountain range where it became the river Caren. Toward the east coast lay the huge forest of Dernhelm.

3.2.2           History and antecedents

As in many other countries of the Isles, Malvas evolved from a combination of Etanese and various invading forces from regions outside the Isles (mainly Southern and Eastern) in search of land and natural resources. The small numbers of the original Etanese had, over the years, been absorbed into the Easterners who had annexed large parts of Malvas. Links with the home countries of these invaders withered away as time passed and the once foreign invaders realised that their future lay with the country that subsequently became Malvas.

3.2.3           Language

Some scholars and members of the aristocracy persisted in keeping alive the language of their original homeland for reasons of academic interest or self-esteem. However in the main they, like the rest of the population, spoke the Malvatian version of Etanese.

3.2.4           Class structure

In common with many other countries of the Isles, Malvas had a feudal structure comprising an aristocracy ruled by an hereditary King (No Queens as rulers. A relic of the Malvas Eastern heritage was that women were not allowed, in theory, to occupy any position of power or control). The current monarch is King Phillipe Rudelle. Below the nobles were the usual assortment of knights, squires, freeholding farmers, artisans, craftsmen and so on.

3.2.5           Religion

The Eastern invaders were devout believers in the One God which became the official religion in Malvas. The priesthood were a powerful force in Malvatian society and having ruthlessly suppressed the existing primitive beliefs left over from the Etanese were vigilant in maintaining their iron control over the religious practices of the ordinary people.

3.2.6           Foreign relations

The Malvatian temperament was essentially peaceable and thus the country had few problems with its neighbours. Malvas had traditionally maintained a cordial relationship with Tennengaul and historically a free flow of goods and people between the two countries had been in place for some time. In addition, strong mutual defence treaties gave protection against external threats, particularly from the belligerent Klagens. In the south, the formidable Helm mountain range inhibited unhelpful incursions from adventurers.

3.2.7           Sources of income

Much of the Malvatians’ income came from mining and ship building. Malvas was fortunate in that the foothills of the Trom mountains sheltered a number of silver and gold mines all of which made a large contribution to the country’s wealth. The ship building skills brought over by the Eastern migrants were put to great use augmented by the magnificent timber provided by the forest of Dernhelm.

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4                 Carentan

4.1              The people

www.retrokat.com.medievalThe people of Carentan can be roughly divided into Northerners and Lowlanders although, of course, many generations of interbreeding have produced individuals who display some of both sets of physical and emotional attributes.

Northern men tend to be big and muscular with broad shoulders and massive thighs, clearly showing their genetic inheritance from the barbarian tribes of the north. Northern women are similar, though more slender of build (unlike their Klagen counterparts). Both are usually fair complexioned, blonde (though auburn and red hair is not uncommon), with blue eyes. They share the same uncompromising facial features of hawk noses and determined chins. Northerners’ stern, dour outlook on life is largely shaped by the arduous and demanding existence they lead in the foothills of the great Helm mountain range. Northerners conduct most of the iron ore and other mining operations in the mountains. (Note: both Alaric Beothys and House Borsa show strong Northern physical characteristics).

Lowlanders, by contrast, are generally shorter and slimmer, albeit with a muscular athletic physique, displaying the impact of successive waves of invasion from the Southern and Eastern lands. Lowlanders have a warm golden brown complexion with dark brown to black hair and brown, hazel or sometimes green eyes. They are generally relaxed, open minded and tolerant; slow to wrath, but with occasional flashes of incandescent temper. Carentan Lowlanders are, by general agreement, amongst the most handsome people in the Isles, the girls being particularly prized for their beauty and charm. (Stealing Carentan girls was a time honoured sport among the young men of the bordering tribes of Salat and Tordre until King Reiner established the Ranger border patrols. Subsequently, these kidnappings declined rapidly as a result of the Rangers’ tendency to visit a swift, brutal and sometimes terminal retribution on any village found to be harbouring young men engaging in this activity).

4.2              Country attributes

4.2.1           Natural features

The main natural features of Carentan are the towering Helm mountain range in the north, the river Caren which bisects the country from north to south, and the dense Forest of Dreams to the west of Carentan.

The highest mountain range in the Isles, the colossal snow bound peaks of the Helm remain an age old barrier, safeguarding Carentan from the depredations of the northern barbarian tribes. The mines, located in the foothills of the Helm yield iron ore and malachite, (from which cyprium, better known in modern times as copper), are refined.

The mighty Caren, which has its headwaters in the the Tron mountain range in Malvas provides Carentan with a plentiful supply of water for irrigation and other purposes. It is also a reliable thoroughfare for travel and trading purposes. Flowing from north to south, the Caren bisects Carentan into the Eastern and Western Territories, eventually reaching the sea at Verton in Vermondie and, via a distributary, the port of T’sar in Tordre.

The vast and dense Forest of Dreams (known to most as simply “the Forest”), has for many centuries kept Carentan’s western border safe from repeated hostile incursions by Salat. The Forest is also a rich supply of timber, one of Carentan’s greatest sources of wealth.

4.2.2           History, antecedents

The nation state of Carentan emerged naturally from the area defined by the given boundaries of the Helm and the Forest of Dreams. The people, like the language, came together over time from interbreeding between the original Etanese and the local tribes. Other strands in Carentan’s evolution was successive waves of invaders from the Eastern countries and marauders from Klagenstill. The combination of these various cultures resulted in the currently recognisable Lowlanders and Northerners. Over a period of time, people started to refer to their country as Carentan, an elided version of Caren Town. At some time in the past, ancient history and legend speaks of a defining moment in Carentan’s history. This transpired at Caren Town, the centre of the country’s ruling and merchant classes, then a thriving trading and mercantile city located on the banks of the Caren.

The barbarian tribes of the north had for generations envied the wealth and power of Carentan and had made in the past, persistent but unsuccessful attempts to penetrate the Helm. This changed one fateful day, when some unknown barbarian genius managed to organise a large, coherent force of tribal warriors. This force broke through the Helm and launched an invasion army transported down the Caren in barges and river boats. This strike was aimed at Caren Town, rightly perceived as the key to controlling the heart of the country. The defender of Caren Town was then the legendary warrior king Helden Canrac. The ensuing three day battle, bitter, bloody and unrelenting, resulted in the extinction of the barbarian threat at the cost of the almost total destruction of Caren Town. In honour of their saviour, the people unanimously re-named their capital city Canrac. Helden Canrac died of his wounds shortly after the battle and his daughter Caitlin succeeded to the throne. She subsequently married the son of Baron Andolin and thus the Andolin dynasty was founded.

A note on Castle Helmstedt

The ancestral home of the Andolins is Castle Helmstedt. The castle was built around 500 years ago by the founder of the House. The castle was named Helmstedt to signify its kinship in terms of massive impregnability with the towering Helm mountain range. Over a period of half a millenium and after countless bloody conflicts, Helmstedt has never been conquered or occupied by an enemy force.

The castle, located just north of Canrac, is built on a promontory on lake Mariac, a freshwater lake fed from the river Caren. Bounded on three sides by the lake and on its fourth side by precipitous cliffs, Helmstedt has formidable natural defences in addition to its multiple layers of man-made fortifications. The only access point from the mainland is via a wooden bridge (easily destroyed) which leads to the Outer Gate drawbridge and linked portcullis that protects the Outer Ward. Surrounded entirely by water, the Outer Ward with its massive walls and four defensive towers is, in its own right, a daunting obstacle as attacking forces in the past have discovered. Only twice in the long history of the castle has the Outer Ward been overrun by the enemy.

The Middle Gate drawbridge/portcullis connects the Outer Ward to the Middle Ward which contains the main castle complex. Within the Middle Ward are the armsmens’ quarters, training ground, freshwater well, orchards, flower and herb gardens. The Inner Ward, protected by its own moat and the Inner Gate, houses the main Keep and the huge array of rooms for living, dining, meeting, sleeping, cooking and so on. Many rooms have been added in a random manner through the years. The result is a complex maze of rooms, passageways, corridors and hallways totally mystifying to a newcomer or visitor to the castle. The only other entry to the Inner Ward is via a hidden postern in the north end the to which the keys are kept under strict guard and available only to the Andolin family and inner circle.

4.2.3           Language

According to the scholars, there were at least 15 individual languages spoken in the Isles. A large number of these were, and still are, used in the highly fragmented, tribal dominated countries of the north, Klangenstill and Tennengaul. Within the midland and southern countries, Salat, Carentan, Tordre and Vermondie, the common language of most people is Etanese. According to the old stories, the Etans were one of a number of Southern and Western tribes who colonised the southern territories of the Isles. Over many generations, Etanese developed as a mixture of the original Etan language and the existing native tongues. Buran, whose origins are even more mysterious than Etanese, is considered by scholars and the priests, to be the classical language even though it is no longer in common usage.

4.2.4         Class structure

Carentan is an aristocracy where the reigning King or Queen is the supreme authority. (Women can reign because, in the absence of a male heir, the eldest unmarried female in the direct line of descent is the heir to the throne). A reigning monarch would normally be saluted as “Your Majesty”. Since Caitlin is Queen Regent and has not been crowned monarch, she cannot be addressed as “Your Majesty”, so most people call her “Your Highness”.

Below the monarch are the various barons. Barons vary greatly in size and power, but in essence control a lot of the wealth and resources of the country. Barons are generally addressed as Baron this or Baron that. Not unsurprisingly, most barons exist in a semi-permanent state of shifting alliances and desperate manoeuvring for position and power.

Subordinate to the barons are freeholders who hold tracts of the Barons’ land which they farm, or mine. (All the people of Carentan are free in the traditional sense. Slavery, which is universally despised by all classes in Carentan, is outlawed and any slavers caught plying their trade within the frontiers of Carentan are summarily executed).

Freeholders pay taxes to their lords and are subject to a term of military service. Also subordinate to the barons are the Lordships. Lords, who have to swear fealty to their baron, are generally landholders of varying size and power though a few, through bad luck, bad judgement or indolence have been rendered landless, nonetheless cling onto their titles. Lords are usually addressed as “Your Lordship”, but the term “Lord” is generically used by anyone from a lower to a higher rank. Thus a carpenter might address a landowner as “Lord” knowing that he is not strictly a “Lord”.

Knights exist somewhat to one side of the conventional hierachy. Theoretically, anyone who survives the arduous rites of passage of page and squire and then distinguishes himself in some way can achieve knighthood. Some do, and the very best of those rise within the ranks of armsmen to become valued warriors such as Master-at-Arms or, occasionally, Warmasters of their Lordship or Barony.

Commoners have their own hierachy. The cities and towns contain craftsmen and artisans such as armourers, smiths, jewellers, cabinet makers, bowyers and so on. Landowners, farmers and craftsmen are addressed as “Messer” or “Mistress”. Lower orders are called by their name or function such as “maid” “cook” “hostler” and so on.

Alongside the aristocracy is the merchant class who, though despised by the aristocrats, wield considerable power and whose activities are responsible for much of Carentan’s wealth.

4.2.5            Religion

The priesthood, though lacking secular power, has significant influence on ordinary people and some of the aristocracy. The beliefs of the ancient native tribes were a fairly confused mixture of pantheons involving various families of primitive gods. However, the mainland (Southern and Eastern) people who conquered and then colonised the southern territories of the Isles brought their religion, the One God, with them. The One God rapidly displaced the ancient deities in most of the Isles except for the northern nations of Tennengaul and Klagenstill where the old beliefs still held sway.

4.2.6          Foreign relations

Following a series of debilitating and inconclusive wars, most of the countries of the Isles now co-exist in a wary state of armed neutrality. Carentan, as probably the wealthiest of the Isles nations, attracts more than its fair share of envy and jealousy. In terms of military resources experience and belligerence, Carentan is more than a match for any one of its neighbours as past experience has proven. But, despite the natural barriers to the north and west, Carentan is vulnerable to a concerted strike along its long Vermondie/Tordre borders from an alliance of its southern and western neighbours. Fortunately, the inherent inability of the nations of the Isles to sit around a table and agree on almost any topic, had, so far, impeded the development of such a dangerous alliance. Nevertheless, previous Carentan rulers, and now Queen Regent Caitlin, use their considerable political skills to disrupt any nascent attempts at agreement between their apparently friendly neighbours.

4.2.7            Sources of income

Rich in natural resources, Carentan derives considerable wealth from trade of the output of its mines and timber forests. Additionally, its rich lowland plains yield wheat and other grains surplus to its needs. The good grazing country of the plains also enable large herds of cows and sheep to provide meat, leather and wool for export. The river Caren is a low cost, safe transport medium for trade between Carentan territories and the countries of the south and west.

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5                 Sarlat

5.1              The people

www.retrokat.com.medievalThe Sarlat pride themselves on being the people closest to the legendary Etanese of any in the Isles. But for some reason, possible an influx of impoverished tribesmen from the Green Island (though this may be doing them an injustice), the Sarlat character was starkly divergent from the legendary honesty and probity of the long dead Etanese. In fact the Sarlat are renowned throughout the Isles for their tricky and sometimes downright dishonest dealings. As honourable as a Sarlat was the bitter accusation used to describe a suspected dishonest person. In the same vein, when you’ve shaken hands with a Sarlat don’t bother counting your fingers, just make sure you still have a hand. Physically, the Sarlat are short, slightly built with a light brown complexion, darkish hair and brown or black eyes.

5.2              Country attributes

5.2.1           Natural features

The plains and moorlands of central Sarlat are protected on three borders by natural barriers. The northwest coastline was guarded by an extension of the Trom mountain range. To the east, the dense Forest of Dreams both protected Salat from Carentan, but also inhibited excursions into that country. Dense tidal salt marshes in the south shielded Sarlat’s southern border from Tordre.

5.2.2           History and antecedents

The original Etanese population of the region which was to develop into the present nation of Sarlat was heavily protected from serious external incursions by its natural barriers. But, the eastern coastline not guarded by the Trom mountains allowed access to ship-borne explorers, traders and warriors particularly the long-ships from the Green Island. Inevitably, Green Islanders settled and intermarried with the native Etanese. Since the people of the Green Island were physically quite similar to the Etanese, Sarlat was able to claim to be the nearest in looks, if not in character, to the ancient race. Sarlat still maintained close trading and family links with the primary tribes of the Green Island.

5.2.3           Language

In view of their ancestry, Sarlat claim to speak and write the purest form of Etanese in the Isles.

5.2.4           Class structure

The ancient records, such as they were, seemed to indicate that the Etanese had a somewhat more egalitarian political structure than the present feudal aristocracies of most nations in the Isles (this conclusion is however hotly disputed, some scholars claiming to have evidence of a legendary Etanese warrior king). Whatever the truth may be, Sarlat, in common with most other nations in the Isles, developed the now traditional monarchy and accompanying panoply of barons, lords, knights, freeholders etc. The present ruler of Sarlat is Alvar Correze, well known for his acumen and guile as for his chicanery.

5.2.5           Religion

Whatever god or gods the original Etanese may have believed in, over time proselytes of the One God had penetrated Sarlat and spread their ideology widely throughout the country. Successive rulers had encouraged this process, concluding that it was preferable to deal with one priesthood and set of beliefs than having the problems of keeping the peace between multiple faiths all competing for funding and followers.

5.2.6           Foreign relations

Sarlat was nominally at peace with the other nations of the Isles (with the exception of Klagenstill of course) and also enjoyed close links with the Green Island. In practice, Alvar Correze had been engaged for some time in unofficial and clandestine talks with leaders in both Tordre and Vermondie aimed at agreeing to combine their three forces to seize the wealthy prize that was Carentan. Adroit manoeuvering on the part of Queen Regent Caitlin of Carentan (whose spy network kept her well aware of these ambitions) had so far frustrated the successful completion of such an agreement.

5.2.7           Sources of income

The people of Sarlat are expert shipbuilders and much of their income derives from sales of ships. Sarlat also maintains a very large merchant fleet which, protected by an efficient navy, trades widely around the Isles and the mainland. Also, like Malvas, gold and silver mines in the foothills of the Trom yield considerable revenue.

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6                 Tordre

6.1              The people

www.retrokat.com.medievalTordre (like Vermondie) was settled by land-seeking migrants from the Southern regions of the mainland. For some reason lost in history, the Etanese did not settle in any numbers in the southernmost regions, thus the Tordreans were physically very similar to their forbears in the Southern mainland. The people who migrated from the mainland into the extreme southwest of the Isles were tall, of fair hair and complexion with grey or blue eyes. Temperamentally, Tordreans are independently minded and not inclined to reverence toward either authority or the priesthood.

6.2              Country attributes

6.2.1           Natural features

The granite mass of of Journey’s End tumbles into the sea at the end of the The Western Peninsular which is the most western point in the Isles. In the south, palm trees grow in sheltered coves, while in the north, black cliffs defy the gales of the Western Seas. T’sar, the capital of Tordre lies in the north by the estuary created by a distributary of the Caren. Located east from the nothern coast is Deltan Moor with its granite tors and tricky marshes providing a natural barrier between Tordre and Vermondie.

6.2.2           History and antecedents

Tordre and Vermondie (like Klagenstill and Tennengaul) were originally a single region settled by adventurous migrants from the southern mainland. For various tribal reasons, settlers from the northern regions of the mainland tended to cluster in the western peninsular of the Isles whilst others colonised the southern and eastern parts of the Isles. Conflicts between the two regions arose and inevitably a warrior baron of the west led a revolution against the ruling monarchy. The contest appeared somewhat one-sided since the people of the peninsular were substantially outnumbered by the much larger south and east regions, but the westerners were dour, obdurate and superior warriors. They hid in their moorlands and marshes emerging to wreak havoc on their less war-like cousins. Eventually, an uneasy peace was declared, a border between the two warring regions was agreed and so the two countries of Tordre and Vermondie were born.

6.2.3           Language

The early settlers of what was to become Tordre and Vermondie brought with them from their homeland their native Langan language. Although the Etanese influence was slight, the scholars and academics cultivated and maintained Etanese, promoting it as the aristocratic tongue. Moreover, the Tordreans soon realised that a good working knowledge of Etanese was essential for trade and working relationships with the rest of the Isles. Educated Tordreans, merchants and traders were thus fluent in Etanese in addition to their native language.

6.2.4           Class structure

Although the Tordreans brought with them from their original land the traditional monarchical, aristocratic, feudal class structure, they had developed, certainly since the revolution, into an independent-minded society with some egalitarian overtones. Thus, the rules of succession to the throne were somewhat unusual in that the immediate descendants of the current monarch were not eligible to serve as the ruler (although their descendants could). Upon the death of the current monarch the next incumbent, who could be male or female, was chosen from a pool of aristocrats by an arcane combination of votes and acclamation.

6.2.5           Religion

The Tordreans (like the Vermondiens) had brought with them from their original homeland the fanatical religion and priesthood of the One God which had spread rapidly throughout the Isles. Although the ruling classes displayed the conventional God-fearing and orthodox behaviour, they were in no doubt as to the secular ambitions of the priesthood. Consequently, beneath the surface, there was a constant ebb and flow of power and influence between church and state.

6.2.6           Foreign relations

Despite the prickly relationship with their Vermondien cousins, the Tordreans are a peaceable nation and have few problems with other countries of the Isles. They were the least enthusiastic member of the long drawn out three nation conspiracy against the Carentans and nourished a secret admiration for their northern neighbour’s independent spirit. Much of the information about the conspirators’ plans were leaked, either by accident or design, by Tordre to Carentan’s agents. Queen Regent Caitlin was deeply appreciative of Tordre’s actions and made very clear the benefits Tordre might enjoy if she continued to frustrate her fellow conspirators.

6.2.7           Sources of income

Fishing is a significant source of income, the waters off the north coast of the peninsular providing an abundant supply of herring, cod, halibut, and other cold-water species. But, the largest contributor to Tordre’s revenues is its manufacturing capability, particularly in metals. Descendants of the original blacksmiths and craftsmen developed a wide range of metal-working skills. Tordre provides all the metal products the Isles require from plows and anvils to spears and arrowheads.

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7                 Vermondie

7.1              The people

www.retrokat.com.medievalAlthough the Vermondiens originated from the same mainland area as the Tordreans, their ancestors lived in the far south of the Southern lands and physically were shorter, slighter and darker than Tordreans. They were more subservient to authority than Tordreans and the ordinary people were (by Tordrean standards) considerably oppressed by the ruling classes. Slavery (thinly disguised as a form of indenture) was widely practised to the disgust of their Tordrean and Carentan neighbours.

7.2              Country attributes

7.2.1           Natural features

The Old Forest dominates the centre of southern Vermondie.The wooded glades and heaths of the forest are home to deer and ponies. Trout streams and rivers flow down to the coastal inlets. The Verton Delta forms a natural division between the fertile south and the soggy, windswept east, where Vell Ness is the most eastern point of the Isles.

7.2.2           History and antecedents

This is largely covered in 6.2.2 above.

7.2.3           Language

Very similar to the Tordreans except that the original tongue was more deeply embedded in the lives of the more traditional eastern region of the country.

7.2.4           Class structure

Vermondiens brought with them from the mainland a heavily autocratic monarchy and aristocracy. Class distinctions are closely defined and rigorously maintained by both state and church. There are no freeholders in Vermondie, all land being owned by the monarchy, the upper classes and the church, and leased out to farmers at exorbitant rates. The lower classes live their short lives in abject poverty in the most squalid parts of towns and villages where crime and lawlessness are rife.

7.2.5           Religion

The One God, as manifested by the priesthood, maintains an iron grip on all aspects of Vermondiens’ lives from birth to death.

7.2.6           Foreign relations

Although nominally at peace with her neighbours, Vermondie has had, in the light of history, an uneasy and unstable reations with Tordre. Also, for centuries, Vermondie coveted the wealth and riches of Carentan and was the prime mover in the prolonged tri-nation conspiracy to invade and conquer Carentan.

7.2.7           Sources of income

As a result of the rigid social structure, an indolent upper class and an oppressed lower class, Vermondie is a poor nation, relying largely on (highly inefficient) farms for her basic food supply. A small fishing industry, its size severely inhibited by heavy taxes and rigid control, produces a limited amount of fish products.

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