The Principality of Merida (/prɪntsɪpalɪti: ɘv mɛri:dɛ/ (Meride: /pɾɛ̃sipote də meɾida/))
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Merida, formally entitled the Principality of Merida is a modest feudal state located along the northern coast of Southwest Galisea. Bounded by two rivers, the Tinib and the Fleuve Saône to its south, great mountains to its east, and ocean to its north and west, Merida is a relatively quiet realm generally safe from major invasions, though incursions by Jorgan raiders is a frequent occurrance. This relative peace and prosperity has allowed the country to develop fairly quickly in recent years, going from the backwater of Southwest Galisea, not unlike the lands to its north, to a near peer of The Kingdom of Gallaca, technologically and economically, as well as more stable to boot. The government of Merida is a feudal monarchy headed by a Grand Prince, in this case Grand Prince Reynard III Candilis. Below the Grand Prince serve a number of vassals pledging fealty to the crown, who in turn have their own vassals, with the chains of loyalty reaching from landed knights with a collection of farms, perhaps a village under their rule all the way to the mighty dukes and duchesses of the realm. The nobility is highly militarized, with most of the existing members of it tracing proud lineages of warrior-nobles back to the original band of knights and soldiers at arms that had captured and unified the region under the Candilis banner two hundred years ago. The realm, despite the militancy of its ruling elite has largely been at peace for the past two hundred years, with only the odd raiding band to contend with, a situation that has caused many knights to bristle for action. Reynard III, like his father, and his grandfather have been focused primarily on building up the economic might of Merida, importing tools, and hiring foreign experts to quickly modernize the realm, and have brought about significant changes to the once sleepy region of Merida. To keep the rowdy upper class in line, the Candilis dynasty has promoted a culture of questing knighthoods, where those seeking to be accepted as peers of the realm must embark on epic quests to slay great beasts or obtain lost artifacts.
Meridan culture is, in the modern era a hodgepodge of numerous influences it had acquired in the centuries since the first Mardish peoples arrived in the region. Coastal regions especially have become a melting pot of different influences as the clear majority of foreign trade goes through that route. The heart of the culture is of the Mardish and the Eagon who were the first two peoples to migrate into the region that still live in the area today. Other influences include Volgier, Hadar, and Elleryc, with lesser influences from Gallaca, and Aeillan cultures. Meridan culture tends to favor independence and strength, as Meridans have long been a hardworking people building a life for themselves, first out of a wild land, and then with the sweat of their brows in the fields. Since the arrival of the Band of the Unicorn, these views have been melded with the martial tradition of the mercenary band, and a porud martial tradition has been forged. This particular code of conduct emphasizes prowess at arms, but also a sense of honor and a duty to protect those that cannot protect themselves. A spirit of healthy competition pervades Merida as well, with the tournaments of honor among the knights of the realm being popular attractions. The pinnacle of this code is the Rite of the Unicorn, in which one who wants the exclusive privilege of being able to ride a unicorn must first seek out and destroy a great threat to Merida, or overcome many challenges in an epic quest to retrieve some long lost artifact. Meridans are strongly in favor of the physical arts over the performing arts, with sculpture and metalworking highly prized. Beautiful statues, and jewelry are highly prized both by Meridans and foreigners, and their intricate metalwork has been applied to more practical matters as well with simple, but masterfully made tools, and ornate tournament armor alike being marks of pride for Meridan craftspeople. Though performing arts are not as emphasized as craft, poetry and music are quite popular, with the Meridan people adopting the Jorgan tradition of flyting and seeing it as another form of entertaining competition for those who do not necessarily possess great prowess as warriors.
The region of Merida has been recorded for only a brief time relative to many of the older civilizations in the known world, and, particularly in the ancient days much of what is recorded is subject to a great deal of historical bias. The oldest known sentient beings to occupy the lands were the giants, though no widely known records provide details of giant civilization in the land, with the only traces being the runestones which stand to this day throughout the region. After them came a migration of the Mardic peoples, leaving their homelands further to the south. These Mards began to settle throughout the southern river valleys, slowly expanding north. Yulan-Tai explorers began to arrive, heralding the Yulan-Tai colonization of Merida. Yulan-Tai and Mardish peoples would fight bloody wars throughout the period, with conflict only coming to an end after the The War of Frozen Scales, and the The Fall of the Yuan-Ti shortly after. In the quiet years after the fall of the Yulan-Tai, their own urban society crumbled and many of the Mardish peoples returned to their rural, and tribal ways of living. During the Forging Era, the area remained relatively static as a whole. It was the arrival of settled Eagon peoples from the Nabari Plateau during The Brother's War that would signal another great change. As the Eagon began to build settlements, the moved and settled in the east close to their former Volgier masters. Conflict between the Mards was relatively short lived, as many of the Eagon assimilated into and culturally mixed with the Mards forming new communities particularly in the north, which had, at that point been largely depopulated since the Yulan-Tai left. Other newcomers, the Qadi would also arrive during this time, fleeing the sacking of Al-Qadish after the end of The Hadar Pirate War would join later, filtering into the region towards the end of Eagon migrations into the region. As various groups moved into the region, a more cohesive Meridan identity began to emerge, with more and more ancient Mardish tribes and Eagon settlements forming mixed societies with the incoming refugees. Tribal rulers during this period began to amass more power, particularly those of more urbanized peoples, with the tribal communities slowly being reorganized into princedoms, duchies, and other societies in the 8th-13th centuries. The Gallacan Invasions brought major changes to society in Merida. An alliance of Meridan rulers came together in a hasty alliance to push out the invaders. Though the war was brief, the alliance concentrated power in the hands of the most powerful rulers, laying the foundation for the formation of the six duchies that dominated Meridan politics for almost two centuries; Meridoc, Quincée, Trône, Elyseés, Gastonne, and Auberge. After the Gallacan invasion, barring the occasional minor incursion from foreign powers, and an increase in raids from Jorgmark, Merida remained relatively quiet. The duchies of Merida began to lose interest in protecting one another and quickly fell into infighting. Conflict between the duchies escalated quickly with raids and skirmishes becoming open war in the century after the Gallacan invasion. This increased instability left an opening that would be explored by enterprising foreigners. The Band of the Unicorn, an influential and powerful mercenary band from Gallaca and Aeilla, and under the command of Reynard 'the Feytouched' Candilis, quickly seize Merida in the Candilis seizure of Merida, deposing the existing dukes, and establishing most of his generals as dukes before declaring himself the Grand Prince of the newly formed Principality of Merida. Since this event, Merida has been focused primarily on spreading the Pandroi faith, building a modern economy, seeing off, for good raids from Jorgmark and securing the western frontiers against Aarumite raids.
Demography and Population
The realm of Merida is only modestly populated, having only started to grow quickly in recent years. Roughly 7,003,000 persons live as subjects of the crown within Merida, though exact numbers can vary significantly depending on the methods used to count the populace. The population of Merida is ruralized by the standards of Southern Galisea, but has a higher urban population than the northern states. In recent years however, the population has begun to urbanize at a steady pace as the coastal cities develop economically and opportunities for the children of serfs to possibly break out of their condition prove attractive to those seeking a better life. The largest city, as well as the capital of Merida, and its capital is Tourdicorne which has a reliable population of 26,000 residents, though it has grown largely as a result the political influence of the Candilis Dynasty. Smaller cities include Trône, the former largest city in the area with 15,000 residents, Elyseés with 13,000, and Vimyville with 10,000. Overally, populations are concentrated near rivers, with the northern coast being densely settled, as well as the Tinib River valley, and the Fleuve Saône valley, with interiors more sparsely settled. The population of Merida is fairly diverse, though most of it is human. The largest ethnic group are the Meridans, who are culturally dominant as well. There is a considerable minority of Eagon persons in the east, and large numbers of people from further afield have moved here as well, offered good payment by Reynard's talent seekers. The ruling classes are even more diverse, as the mercenary band which allowed Reynard 'the Feytouched' conquer Merida consisted of people from throughout Galisea, though the nobility has to some extent "gone native", assimilating culturally into the Meridan majority. Nonhumans are present in numbers, with Dwarves being especially common. Half of the population consists of serfs, who are generally bound to their liege lords by contract (one which is usually signed with dubious informed consent), the remainder are largely freemen of the realm, above them are the skilled tradesfolk and the soldiers at arms, who make up a minority of the freemen population, The nobility represent slightly less than one in one hundred persons at the pinnacle of society.
The territories of Merida are somewhat hard to define as it relies primarily on the fealty of various lords, however, thanks to the geographic positioning of Meridan territory it is somewhat easier to estimate. Currently, the Principality of Merida holds a territory roughly 280,000 kilometers in area. The borders of Merida are almost entirely demarcated by geographic barriers, with the Tinib River and Fleuve Saône serving to mark much of the nation's southern borders, mountains to its east, and ocean to its north and west. The land of Merida consists of primarily moist, rolling hills and valleys with a lot of fertile land. In the west almost any land that can be used productively taken up by farms, ranches and orchards. The Saône Valley is much wilder by comparison with dense forests stretching from the coast almost to the borders of Merida. The terrain is generally quite hilly which does limit the agricultural output without proper management, but makes for suitable enough farmland with good technique and the right tools, or as excellent habitats for wild animals when not. The northern plains by comparison are relatively flat, and densely settled.
As a feudal state, the military of Merida is highly decentralized with most persons at arms serving at the behest of their own liege lords rather than the crown directly. Each knight is expected to provide military service, as well as arming a personal retinue of five levies including at least one archer, if called upon by the crown. Nobles of a higher status are expected to compose their retinues of knights as well as arming non-noble soldiers at arms of their own. In the rare event that a noble can obtain the services of a spellcaster, they may instead send that caster in their own stead. The Prince does retain a small cadre of particularly skilled knights and their own retainers, known as the Order of the Unicorn, as his own personal retinue. Exact numbers are hard to ascertain but it is believed that were every noble to beckon to the call of the crown, some 30,000 soldiers would respond. Mercenaries are uncommon in Merida, though some, like the Liúwáng Zhě, ply a good trade in the region. Knightly Orders on the other hand are extremely common, being one of the few means commoners can quest, and possibly obtain peerage through merit rather than birth. Equipment varies significantly, depending on the financial capabilities, and eagerness of the nobles to spend money on arms. Most knights of the realm can afford plate armor, lances, and frequently carry swords as a symbol of status and as a sidearm. Soldiers at arms and levies can expect less equipment to be sure, though some are afforded munition armor or plate cuirasses, but most must make do with mail hauberks or byrnies, or even just wearing thick clothing or gambeson. Armaments are motley but typically include spears, polearms, and crossbows (including an unusually large number of repeating crossbows). Firearms are rare, but not entirely unheard of in Merida with Meridan alchemists developing a unique weapon, known as the Firelance, utilizing gunpowder technology. The Meridan Navy is fairly sizable for the region, consisting of fifty ships, but is badly out of date, with a handful of ships hailing from the days of the Candilis conquest of the region, only a rare few being newer than fifty years old. They are poorly suited to warfare in the modern age. Meridan marines are however quite well equipment, iron men compensating for ships that are insufficient to the task on their own. Some wealthy merchants maintain small fleets of ships that could conceivably called warships to hunt down Jorgan raiders and other pirates.
The Principality of Merida, like many of its neighbors is, compared to the realms of the Tealestrian-Yulan region a technological backwater. Lacking access to many of the more advanced technologies of the age, such as most gunpowder, water milling, and many of the advanced machines that have allowed the states its south to expand economically at a rapid pace. Its advanced water and yield management is reliant on foreign experts, with local technical skill in that field only in its nascent stages. With some foreign assistance, and an unusually high number of talented smiths, Merida is fairly advanced in the fields of metallurgy with master crafters being highly regarded among those who are not dwarves in that regard.
The official religion of the Principality is Pandroi, a relative newcomer to the region. Historically Pandroi didn't have a particularly strong influence in the region, with traditional folk religions predominating the interior, Ashevite communities still clinging to the southern frontiers and Pandroi communities mostly existing along the coast. The efforts of the Candilis dynasty in spreading the faith after their conquest of Merida has proven highly successful, between coerced conversions benefitting the faithful, and rarely expelling particularly stubborn holdouts, the religion has become the majority faith in Merida in less than two centuries.
The Principality of Merida maintains a relatively neutral stance in foreign relations, seeking peaceful cooperation with as many of its neighbors as it can. In effect, the ruling dynasty has, for at least a few generations, made it a priority to secure trade with foreign powers rather than viewing them as targets of conquest. In an effort to modernize, diplomats representing the Principality have gone as far afield as Dothara and Qua'adar to secure trade agreements. This policy of securing trade into the realm has been a key aspect of the diplomatic objectives of Reynard III. Relations are not always as peaceful as the Meridans would like however, and the people of Merida are subject to several raids from Jorgan raiders, an action which is met by more than a few "quests" undertaken by knights seeking fame and glory saving Meridan peoples from the Jorgan slave markets, and avenging the sacking of coastal villages. More infrequently raiders from Aarum wander into the southern territory of Merida, and cause damage pillaging and raiding the countryside before being seen off by whatever host can be assembled.
Agriculture & Industry
The Principality of Elleryca, like nearly every state in the known world is, first and foremost an agricultural economy, with some 95% of the population participating in the agricultural sector, with a clear majority of even that number working primarily as farmers. There is plenty of surplus food, enough to sustain a growing urban population despite substantial losses to the nobility, raiders, and exports to foreign countries in exchange for more advanced technologies. Other primary industries have grown quite powerful, particularly mining and logging which produce massive surpluses that are utilized extensively by craftspeople, and the urban population. The skilled trades have historically been rather geographically limited and tied tightly into the agricultural economy. In modern times, the skilled trades have started to become more collectivized and urbanized, steadily building a growing surplus of production. This is especially true in the largest cities where non-agricultural trades are most concentrated. Aside from these, there are financial institutions, academic institutions, institutions of the state and bureaucracy. Last are the military professionals who compose a disproportionate number of the people living in the Principality.
Trade & Transport
Trade in Merida is primarily carried out over the ocean, with Merida being the western terminus of the southern Galisean maritime trade lane, and with northern and western ports becoming more prosperous and wealthy from that trade. Rivers serve as the other main arteries of commerce, particularly on the northern coast and in the south with the Tinib River being a major mover of goods out of the nation, particularly into the Kingdom of Gallaca. Overland trade routes are less common, serving primarily as a regional means of moving locally produced goods from their source to the nearest market town. Meridan markets are diverse and raucous with a fairly wide variety of goods available on the open market. Most common are locally produced tools, pottery, and clothing, though arms and armor are unusually common sights as well. Magic items are a rarity, and, when they can be obtained at all are made on commission rather than being made for sale as is, assuming of course the local nobles don't monopolize the means of magic item production. Foreign good are also quite common with exports from Erigan and Jorgmark as well as its Southwestern Galisean neighbors, Aeilla, and even as far off as Qua'adar, Leandris, and Felora.
The infrastructure of the Principality of Merida is basic, but relatively well developed and fairly well maintained. Though the region historically was critically underdeveloped, recent efforts to modernize the region have begun to pay off. Many of the major roads throughout the country have been partially, or completely paved, using the methods developed in far off lands. Sanitation infrastructure has started to be constructed in the larger settlements, though it remains relatively rudimentary even in those locales. More advanced systems such as aqueducts, streelights, and other technologies are still foreign to the realm.
Head of State
Souverain d'or, Morceau de dix (1/10th of a Souverain), the Cuivre
Official State Religion
Order of the Unicorn
Organization | Dec 26, 2022
The most prestigious knightly order in Merida, the Order of the Unicorn serves as the personal retainers of the Prince of Merida.