Ravenna

(rah-VEN-na)

History

Ravenna recovered from the Sundering faster than any other nation. Scattered pre-Sundering records indicate that it was once a network of city-states; post-Sundering, it fell into exactly the same pattern. By the mid first century A.B, Ravenna contained 13 distinct nations which all maneuvered against one another for advantage, but warfare was relatively infrequent due to the unique position of the Ravennan citizenry. From early on, Ravennans were actively engaged in trade and increasingly wealthy; they made contact with the peoples of what would become Magua, Cadria, and Termecia early on. This wealth and freedom from serfdom made it difficult and expensive for Ravenan princes to recruit large armies of peasants to throw at each other. Instead, assassination and subterfuge were commonplace.

Ravenna

By 301, the number of nations had dwindled to six, the largest of which was Neintess. Her ruling family was exceedingly clever and morally flexible; family members were moved like pieces on a chess board. A marriage here, a younger son sent to an influential priesthood there, a loan to an up-and-coming merchant there. The family was headed by Ilvata Neintess, who pulled the strings on his family as a master puppeteer and was rumored to wield magic. In 303, a carriage containing the ruling family of Suluine suffered an unfortunate accident and careened off a cliff, and Neintess marched into her capital unopposed. In 305, a disastrous fire in Essia left it ill-prepared to resist the timely arrival of Neintess’ troops for ‘humanitarian’ purposes.

The remaining three states moved to ally themselves against Ilvata. The son of House Ackrage and one of the daughters of House Osbur announced their engagement to help seal the alliance. When Ackrage arrived to meet his bethrothed however, he discovered her in bed with the scion of House Losesi despite the public distaste they had previously shown for one another. Enraged, Ackrage turned on Osbur and Losesi, and Ilvata joined Ackrage in destroying the two Houses. In the next few years, the members of House Ackrage quietly disappeared.

In 308, Ilvata announced the formation of the Republic of Ravenna and made Adamo his capital. He cemented his power by allowing the other Houses a say in the running of the country, designating the most powerful as Princes and establishing the Assembly for the princes to bring matters of import before the throne. He lowered trade barriers and tariffs between the old nations as he transformed them into provinces while pouring money into roads and ports.

Unfortunately, Ilvata’s sons did not inherit their father’s intelligence. Over the next seventy years a series of three bumbling descendants ground down the power of House Neintess. In 377 the last of his line died in his sleep despite his young age and left the nascent republic leaderless. The Assembly descended into chaos and civil war threatened before the temple of Adail intervened. Under the guidance of the clerics, and the threat of the paladins, the Assembly agreed to elect a new First Prince on the death of the previous.

This relatively stable agreement led to a century of peace before relations with the Empire of Cadria began to deteriorate in the 490s in a dispute over access to the Golden Passage, the land route by which precious goods from Nyashightgaro were brought westward. War broke out in 494 and Ravennan infantry made rapid advances into southern Cadria, using pikes and crossbows to thwart Cadrian cavalry. However, in 496 Ravenna suffered a serious setback at the Battle of Roell. The bulk of their army under Prince Voriza was shattered and in 497, Ravenna and Cadria agreed on a return to status quo. The three year war established a rivalry between the nations which continues to this day, and Ravenna has continually sought to help other nations contain their imperial enemy.

In 641, Ravenna suffered a powerful earthquake on the western coast which decimated much of their maritime infrastructure. This coincided with the rise of piracy in the area, sponsored by Cadria. When a pirate carrack was captured bearing a letter from the Grand Steward of Cadria, another round of warfare ignited between the two nations. Ravennan victory at the Battle of Cerbel re-established Ravenna’s naval supremacy in western Tantas but a series of defeats by the Cadrian army prevented the republic from seizing any new territory.

Ravenna has spent the last two hundred years engaged in a cold war with Cadria, trying to secure new allies against her. They have aided the Maguans in building a strong cavalry army that they hope will counteract Cadrian knights; they have helped Norhelm build castles along the border.

Appearance

Ravennans run the gamut of hair color, eye color, and height, and generally have no remarkable physical characteristics. The average level of wealth is higher in Ravenna than in other countries, and as such they are often better dressed in high-quality wool or silk, dyed in rich colors. Clothing is often used to telegraph social station through the amount of embroidery on it.

Economy

Ravenna is an economic powerhouse and has its hands in every type of trade on the continent. The western portion of the country has a strong tradition of maritime trade and Ravennan carracks are a frequent sight in foreign ports. A large portion of the economy is devoted to supporting this trade; customs agents, mercenary guards, caravan drivers, bankers, clerks, and sailors to name a few. Ravenna is particularly involved in trade through the Golden Passage, bringing furs and gold out of Nyashightgaro to ports in the west, from where they ship them all over the continent. They have been trying to work with Norhelm to expand its southern port to handle trade from Bertok but the unstable nature of the country’s leadership has frustrated progress.

Government and Relations

Ravenna is ruled by a First Prince, who is elected by an assembly of the heads of the other noble houses, themselves called princes. Once elected, the First Prince wields considerable but not absolute power. Princes in the assembly have the right to bring business before the throne to be considered and debate it in the assembly, but the First Prince has no obligation to necessarily act on it. Intrigue and even assassination are commonplace, particularly as the current First Prince ages and an election draws near. Bribery is a fact of life in all levels of administration. The current First Prince is Emisold of House Cerrane.

Ravenna’s symbol is a red rose on a white background, with a further red vertical stripe on each side. Its capital is Adamo.

Ravenna’s relations with Cadria are poor, at best, and an open state of war at worst. Much of its foreign policy is dictated by its desire to hurt its imperial neighbor.

Ravenna has excellent relations with Magua, which it has been slowly bringing forward from its nomadic traditions for the past several centuries (a made a bundle in trade in the course of doing so). The assembly hopes to use Maguan troops against Cadrian cavalry, but some privately wonder if Ravenna may have created a monster on its southern border.

Ravenna has aided Norhelm in building a string of fortifications on its border with Cadria, but the tumultuous history of the country has prevented strong ties from forming.

The nation has good ties with El’Atol, including a recent and controversial mutual defense pact designed to contain Cadrian aggression.

Ravenna’s relations with Termecia are uneven. The disunity of its states have prevented Ravenna from using them against Cadria.

Combat and Military

While Ravennan citizens were initially reluctant to fight for their lords, as their relative wealth gave them privelege and education, the conflicts with Cadria have instilled a new ethic of service that has given birth to a tradition of tough, independent infantry. Pikes and crossbows are widespread and they generally fight in tight formation. Loses to Cadria have given rise to a new cavalry corps as well consisting of mounted crossbowmen and lancers.

Ravenna has the most powerful navy in Tantas, consisting of 32 carracks and 10 more lightly armed caravels.

Ravenna

Greywall Senatorium