Dukedom of Zottehal
Notable for being one of the largest, and most agriculturally productive nations of the Mountain Principalities, the Dukedom of Zottehal is often held up as an example of the prosperity and productivity that existed in the region of the Felsspitze Mountains before the fall of the old Kingdom of Reinhart. Zottehal’s rolling fields and vineyards are, however, only a stone’s throw away from the looming menace of Korinthos, whose swift and aggressive takeover of the Isthmus of Xana is a foreshadowing of what might be unleashed on Zottehal in the near future.
Zottehal has been ruled by the same Ducal family for generations, and the family can trace their noble origins back to the very founding of the Old Kingdom of Reinhart, when they were handed control of the area. By sheer coincidence, the majority of the rulers of Zottehal have been women, and as rule by Duchesses has been so predominant through Zottehal’s history, that the years in which a Duke ascends to the Ducal seat are seen as years of ill omen and bad luck. As a result, most male children from the Ducal family will choose to renounce their claim to rule Zottehal in favour of their female relatives, rather than risk bringing bad luck to the Dukedom. This traditional superstition has also filtered down to the families resident in the Dukedom, which all view the eldest female member as the head of the household. The Duchesses of Zottehal maintain an aristocratic council to advise them on their decisions, membership of which is by the invitation of the Duchess only. As a result, the noble, or wannabe noble households of Zottehal are continuously falling over themselves in their attempts to ingratiate themselves with the Duchess and gain access to the council.
Zottehal’s position in the Mountain Principalities, in the southern foothill of the Felsspitze Mountains gives the Dukedom a much more temperate climate than its northern neighbours, who get caught much more frequently in the bad weather that strays down from the mountains or the ice flows of the far north. This allows Zottehal to invest far more in agriculture, which has become the Dukedom’s primary export and industry. The relatively flat plains in the south of the Dukedom are much better for growing staple crops such as wheat and barley than the majority of land in and around the Felsspitze Mountains, whilst the foothills in the north have been cultivated heavily for use in viticulture. Although wine produced in Zottehal is no match for the excellent vintages that come out of the The Republic of Castar, it is generally considered to be superior to the more mass produced wines from the south of the Kingdom of Dazscor and Aramore. As far as the tastes of the other nations that make up the Mountain Principalities, Zottehalian wine is deemed to be very drinkable, and is consequently the Dukedom’s most numerous export.
Demography and Population
For the most part, the Dukedom of Zottehal is a mixed species society, though the majority of its population is made up of Human and Halfling. In addition, there is a strong community of Elves to be found spread throughout the Dukedom, larger than those found in most other areas of the Mountain Principalities. As much of the agricultural land in Zottehal is owned by small holder farmers, rather than by a small number of landowners, there is a strong middle income bracket in the Dukedom, and the network of small holder farmers supports a large amount of lower income individuals who work as farmhands and labourers in the nation’s agricultural operations.
As one of the larger micro nations in Mountain Principalities, the Dukedom maintains a reasonably large standing army to be able to adequately patrol and monitor the nation’s borders and defend its territory. Another driving factor for Zottehal’s large military force is the presence of the Isthmus of Xana on the Dukedom’s southern border, and the unpredictable military might of Korinthos. Soldiers from Zottehal are primarily trained in the use of the Halberd, and item that has become so synonymous with the Dukedom’s military that it even appears on its flag. Zottehalian Halberdiers are renowned soldiers amongst the people of the Mountain Principalities, which serves as an excellent deterrent from other micro nations trying their arm at conquering some of the Dukedom’s territory. Recently, Zottehal has expended a large amount of money and resources defending their southern border from any possible incursions from Korinthos. Although nothing suggests that a Korinthian invasion is imminent, the Hobgoblin unscrupulous invasion and conquest of the Isthmus of Xana, which was once the southernmost province of the Kingdom of Reinhart still leaves the closest nations of the Mountain Principalities on edge.