The Merchant Republic of Escalon
“Every Man a King”
In the western regions of Almaris, close to the base of a foreboding volcanic region, lies the Merchant Republic of Escalon; founded in the name of free enterprise by Cesar Komnenos, the Republic is a democratic society that places value on individual freedoms, doing its best to learn from the harsh lessons of other nations to better the lives of its people.
Society & Culture
Before the formation of the Republic, the region was largely unexplored, much less settled. As a result, little is known of the region in its pre-Republic days. Republican Hall, which today serves as the official residence of the head of state, is built from the remnants of the only known structure to have survived from a settlement which existed centuries ago: an old fort that likely served as a defensive structure for the small community around it, surviving through subsistence farming and mining the nearby volcanic region for valuable mineral and metal deposits. At some point, many centuries ago, a volcanic eruption drove the settlers from the area and the tiny rural village was destroyed, save from the castle due to its stone construction. The region became known as Ashpeak, as tales of the eruption spread and put off any thought of returning to the province, lest the new arrivals experience such an event themselves.
The rediscovery of Ashpeak in 1885 by a survey team from the Orenian private holding company Komnenos Enterprises led its Chairman, Cesar A.P Komnenos, to approach the Rex of Krug'Mar, the Orcish leader, about investing into the region, redeveloping it into a trading hub to help open the Orc lands up to the rest of the world. The Orcs were happy to accept such an offer, officially granting Cesar the power to establish a merchant republic in the Ashpeak region and construction soon began on the foundations of the new settlement, now known as Escalon, centred around the renovated remains of the old fort.
Society & Culture
Founded in a previously uninhabited region, the Republic’s population is largely made up of Human settlers encouraged to move to the area as part of Komnenos Enterprises’ efforts to develop the region, the majority of whom are ethnically Orenian Heartlanders. The collapse of Oren has seen an influx of former subjects fleeing the war, persecution and the fall of the empire and then the kingdom, ranging from Heartlanders to FarFolk. The resulting mixture of ethnic and national backgrounds, though predominantly Human, has resulted in an emerging identity of Escalian; a cosmopolitan identity formed from the magnetism of the Republic, drawing from cultures the world over, many of which are still the primary identity of those who choose to make the Republic their home.
True to its founding principles, the Republic puts a great emphasis on individual freedoms and liberty. A conscious effort was made to avoid the mistakes of the old regimes; setting out to foster a society with a strong sense of community and belonging, where equal rights are afforded to all and a meritocracy that enables any individual to make their life what they want it to be, provided they have the drive and determination to make it happen. These guarantees of freedom, equality and opportunity encourages an environment of strong work ethics and free enterprise. People the world over with an entrepreneurial spirit are free to settle and establish businesses, where they can let their industrious and creative minds flourish in a place that won’t censor or restrict that creativity.
Similarly, there is no state religion, with the Republic allowing for the private practice of any denomination or faith group that the individual believes, at least up to the point that it begins to interfere with the comfort or well being of another. As a result, there are no dedicated religious structures or centres within Ashpeak or the City of Escalon.
The Republic has no standing army. The lived history under the Orenian Imperial State Army left many with the perception that full-time militaries are too prone to becoming a tool of oppression, as such Cesar Komnenos took the decision to remain demilitarised in peacetime. In the event of war, the Republic operates a volunteer enlistment system, in which citizens of the Republic are able to enlist to join volunteer regiments until the wars’ conclusion known as the Fencibles, that follow a similar structure, doctrine and equipment as the Komnenos Enterprises security force. Beyond that, the Republic relies on the Horde of Krugmar for national defence, with the Orcish army providing protection against invasion.
The Republic is a democratic society, lacking any aristocracy or legal peerage system. Instead, citizens administratively belong to one of six Crafts within the Republic; the Merchants, the Craftsmen, the Smiths, the Mages, the Alchemists and the Citizenry, based on the skills and employment of that particular individual, with the Citizenry for those who do not fall into one of the others. Each Craft is represented by a Master of that Craft, who then sits on ‘The Board’: a council of elected representatives who are based in the Council Chambers of Republican Hall and serve as advisors to the Head of State on matters of governance, such as bringing forward concerns or requests from their constituents, or proposing legislation and other acts of law for the Doge to consider.
Above the Board is the official Head of State: The Doge. They are the executive authority of the Republic, responsible for the running of the nation and of representing both the national interest and the best interests of the Republic’s citizens. Unlike the Board, the position of Doge is not elective, instead following male-preference primogeniture succession, creating political dynasties. The position of Doge is presently held by the founder of the Republic, Doge Cesar Komnenos. The official residence of the Doge is Republican Hall in the city of Escalon, which serves as both the home of the sovereign and the seat of government, with impressive faculties for the administrative apparatus of the Republic.
As the Republic lacks a standing military, public order is instead maintained by the Ashpeak Constabulary: a civilian police service which provides law enforcement for the Republic across both the city of Escalon and the wider County of Ashpeak. The organisation is somewhat experimental in nature; founded in 1885 in order to keep the peace, Doge Cesar Komnenos placed the responsibility of devising a modern police force to Olivje Mikelis, the ward of his father from when he was young, resulting in what has become known as the Mikelian Policing Model. Dressed in blue and grey uniforms with hardened top hats, the Constabulary is responsible for crime prevention and investigation, ensuring that the peace is kept and providing high visibility patrols within the City of Escalon and the surrounding countryside.
The Republic occupies a stretch of land north-east of Krugmar and south-west of the Kingdom of Norland, geographically bridging the two nations. To the west, much of the Republic territory is taken up by mountainous volcanic ridges dotted with lava pools, which despite being mineral rich is difficult to exploit. The capital city, Escalon, sits at the opening of Lemagne Valley, through which the Volvic river runs. It is a lush region, with highly fertile soil provided by the volcanicity of the area.