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  1. Cattle die Walls crumble Crops wither same as with Men but I know of something that is eternal and that is the glory of the Raven City Raise the Raven Banner - A Guide to the Free City of Essen Description The Free City of Essen - the Raven City, the Black City and home of the Ever-Oak - is nested in the upper bend of the mighty river Karn, at the foot of the Iron Hills. Once a powerful and high-standing duchy, it lost most of its might and territory during the Dance of Dukes: a dynastic dispute with its rival Aden that saw the death of all of Essen’s von Helborg rulers and thus their claim to the Carnite throne. Despite its historical misfortunes, Essen still remains one of the strongest city-states of Carno, backed by a powerful economy that thrives on metalworking, forging and arms manufacturing, which have earned the city the title of Carno’s Armory. Nickname Essen has several monikers, but the most common ones are the Raven City or Carno’s Armory. Colors Predominantly black, accompanied by shades of dark grey and odd traces of white. Flag The historic flag of Essen was yellow and black (figure I). However this flag is rarely used nowadays and is known as die Fahne der Grossmachtzeit, or the Flag of Great Power (Times). It was the flag flown during the heyday of the city, when its was still ruled by its duke and before it was defeated during the Dance of Dukes. As a sign of the great wealth they lost, the Essians since decided to discard the yellow-gold from their flag and now fly a stark solemn black and white banner instead (figure II). Iconography Der Rabe, or the Raven (figure III) - the Raven is the symbol of Wotan, chief god of the Essian pantheon. Legend says Hraban the Founder settled his people after following a raven to the location of what was to be Essen. Essen's riches are said to have been a gift from the gods themselves. Der Totenkopf, or the Skull (figure IV) - the Skull was added to Essian uniforms and general iconography after the Dance of Dukes. It is the symbol of the nation's perpetual mourning for the loss of their dukes and the city's prestige and stands as a reminder of what once was and should be re-won. It was also chosen as a means to strike fear in the hearts of opponents. Die Eiche, or the Oak Tree (figure V) - while not as often used as the Raven and Skull, Oak iconography still forms a major part of Essian symbolism. The oak is the tree to which Wotan speared himself in search of greater understanding of the world. As such a great oak tree was planted at the city's founding in his honor. The tree was later burned down with the rest of the city in the aftermath of the civil war, but has since slowly started to regrow. Many Essians see this as the symbol for things to come and believe one day, they will be the ruling city-state of Carno once more. Oaks and oak leaves also form an integral part of Essian religion and places for contemplation are often centered around ancient oaks. Laurels made of oak leaves are bestowed upon those who have performed great features or deeds for the city. A DETAILED LOOK at the FREE CITY OF ESSEN Leadership Stadtrat or City Council The Free City is governed by the City Council: a body of thirteen members total comprising mostly of wealthy merchants and guild seniors, representatives of Essen’s dependencies and ranking figures of the military. The Council is presided by the Stadtholder, the official head of Essen appointed by the King in Aden. Stadtholder or Steward In the aftermath of the civil war, Essen was stripped of its authority and its nobility and ruling lineage was eradicated. Over time, the City regained some of its privileges and rights, except the right to appoint its own leadership. For decades now, the city has been ruled by a Stadtholder, a royal Steward sent from outside of Essen and chosen by officials in Aden. While the City Council has the right to govern and makes most day-to-day decisions, the Stadtholder has the power to veto and turn back any of the decisions made by the Council. Location The Free City of Essen and its surrounding territories are located in the upper bend of the river Karn. Upstream to the west of its rival - and the nation’s capital - of Aden. In the past, its great power and western location gave rise to the nickname 'Grand Duchy of the West', with the von Helborg dukes referred to as 'Grand Dukes of the West'. Fiefs and dependencies The dominion of Essen not only controls the Free City itself, but also holds sway over vast farmlands and smaller villages and hamlets outside of the city’s walls. Although Essen’s territory has greatly diminished since its heyday, it is still large enough to make Essen one of Carno’s powerhouse city-states. Points of interest: In the Old World: Drachenfels - A small mining village in the Iron Hills, mostly known as the place of origin of the Karsten family. Karlsbad - A spa town founded on natural springs in the Iron Hills. A luxurious place where many of Essen's elite come to relax and spend their weekends. Kärnitz - A rural village located on the fertile plains around Essen. A farming and husbandry community, Kärnitz supplies Essen army with a unit of Kärnitzer Ulanen. Wiesenburg Karnemünde - An exclave of the Free City situated at the mouth of the river Karn, on the Carnite coast. It was acquired by Essen via marriage politics and was once the capital of a larger strip of land along the coast. After the war Aden gifted most of Karnemünde's territory to its own allies, leaving only the city in Essen's control. In the New World: Treesborg - The Carnite name for 'Fort Arltrees'. It is not truly a proper colony, but rather a joint settlement with Oléon on El Oleonda. It has grown out of a regiment of soldiers stationed there in the aftermath of the Lotti conflict. History To be updated, currently a copy-paste from Flickr. Essen was founded a long time ago by Hraban the Founder, who had followed a couple of ravens into a bend of the mighty river Karn. There they nested upon a black rock, which Hraban took as a sign of Wotan, the All-Father. Thus he settled his people - descendants of Garveyan stock - there. In honor of the gods, Hraban planted a mighty oak, a holy tree that would become a symbol for Essen. The black rock turned out to be coal and coupled with an abundance of metal ore in the surroundings hills propelled Essen's economy forward in unprecedented ways, transforming it into the metalworking and arms forging capital of Carno. The power of Essen grew and the Duchy came to dominate the southern banks of the Karn, rivaling and perhaps even outshining Aden. Under the guidance of the von Helborg dukes, first Wilhelm and then his son Karl, Essen clashed with Aden over control of the Kingdom of Carno through a dynastic dispute. It was a bitter-fought civil war that saw both dukes killed and Essen on the losing side. Aden would remain the prime city state of Carno. As a punishment for their uprising, Essen and its mighty oak were burned to the ground and stripped of their ducal titles. However, Essen and its people are resilient and just like the oak started to regrow over time, so did the city and its people spring back up with an iron resolve. Not looking for another war, Aden compromised and restored some of Essen's privileges making it a Free City in the Kingdom, ruled by a Stadtholder appointed by the King. Essen begrudgingly accepted the terms. In an act of defiance, however, they decided to change their uniforms to black in honor of their late rebellious dukes and added the skull and crossbones to their caps, so their deaths would never be forgotten. The Esseners still refer to their beloved fallen duke as Carolus Dux Perpetuum: Karl, the Eternal Duke. Society and Culture A Mercantile Nature The Essians are very mercantile in nature and belief that hard work pays off eventually. Unlike most other great cities and city-states in Carno, Essen does not have a strong base of nobles. This is because many of its nobles families lost their lives either during the civil war or were put to death afterwards as a reprisal measure to ensure no other claimant could rise up to defy Aden. As such, the divide between commoners and upper class is less rigid in Essen and a strong mercantile middle class has sprung up. Indeed, the city’s wealth has come from its merchants and artisans for ages. Thus, it is no surprise they hold much of the city’s power. Many powerful merchant families have worked their way up into highest echelons of Essian power over time and large conglomerates control much of Essen’s economic and political life. The most well-know and mightiest of families is that of Karsten. Originally a miner from Drachenfels, their ancestor moved to Essen some generations ago and through mad luck and entrepreneurial endeavor managed to acquire a smelting oven. The combination of mining and metalworking provided a great nucleus to amass wealth and over time the family rose over all others, managing to acquire more land and businesses during its ascendency. Religion As is common amongst the Madrice Peninsula, Essen too knows the Faith. However, only a minority of its subjects follow the Faith in its traditional sense. Carno in general, just as Garvey, mostly has its own unique versions of the Faith, its gods and its customs and Essen is no exception. Slightly deviating from standard Carnite practice, most people of Essen practice a very naturalistic and spritual approach to the Faith called Wotanism. Wotanism focuses on the purity of the mind, body and the surrounding world through contemplation and finding solace in work and understand one’s surroundings. Wotanism has no real rigid structure and is more of a collection of customs and beliefs than an actual religion as such. Like the Faith, it knows many deities and spirits, but as its name implies Wotan is the chief god. The One-Eyed Allfather who speared himself to the World Tree in search of understanding of the world. It is known some radical Rune priests follow his example and take their eye, hoping to unlock the secrets of the world, just like the All-Father. Fondness of Science Perhaps a combination of the Essian mercantile instincts and an influence of its naturalistic Wotanist ways of finding enlightenment have led to a great scientific interest. Essians are thoroughly intrigued by all things technological and have amassed vast knowledge in the field of metallurgy and ballistics over time. Many rich families send their children to famed Corrish universities so they can learn from the best there. Values and Traditions After their defeat at the hands of Aden and its allies, Essen lost most of its power base and prestige and was stripped of virtually all privileges it had obtained over time. Its people were at a loss, the city had lost its leadership and income. However, diligent as any Carnite, the Essians doubled down on their values and traditions and somewhat secluded themselves from the outside world, working on rebuilding their city and recovering its former glory. While most Carnites are know to be disciplined and industrious, the Essians are double so, making them seem detached, overtly serious and distant to many outsiders. The society of Essen became geared towards one purpose: showing their adversaries that despite their defeat during the Dance of Dukes, Essen was and still is the beacon of Carno. Essians are known for their austerity, determination, discipline and extreme industriousness and punctuality. A strong sense of loyalty, obedience and respect is instilled from an early age on and one is heavily frowned upon when neglecting these values. The Military The army is the pride of Essen and the reflection of its might. Like all Carnite city-states, Essen controls several of its own units, next to the tithe of men they are obliged to send the crown for the nation’s unified royal army. Essen’s soldiers are famous for they black uniforms and aggressive tactics, whereas many other Carnites prefer to be cautious and tactically defensive. While the infantry forms the largest part of Essen’s army, there are also small yet effective cavalry units, drawn from the surrounding rural villages. Have an in-depth look at the army here. Characteristics of the Free City of Essen Overall when part of the Carnite nation proper, Essen will follow Carno's general values. However, in terms of Essen's specific background or for actions concerning Essen specifically, some values differ from those of Carno. Naval Power • • • • • • • • • • | As a largely landlocked state, Essen holds very little naval power. It upholds a minor trade fleet that plies the Karn river and some military vessels to protect its trade posts. The Essian exclave of Karnemünde stations Essen's little ocean-going fleet. Military Power • • • • • • • • • • | Essen is renowned for its disciplined infantry and agile combat doctrines. In the military field, Essians tend to be less conservative than other Carnite states and more easily adopt new strategies and armaments. Essen's combat stratagems emphasize speed, surprise and psychological warfare. Science • • • • • • • • • • | Like most Carnites, Essians are quick to accept tried-and-tested advances. However, unlike most other Carnites, Essians themselves also search themselves for scientific insights, especially in the fields of metallurgy and engineering. Diplomacy • • • • • • • • • • | Essen lost most of its diplomatic autonomy after the civil war and as such holds little official diplomatic influence outside of Carno. Behind the scenes, it still has considerable sway over lesser city-states it once dominated. Inner Stability • • • • • • • • • • | The society of Essen runs like a clockwork and is geared towards one purpose: the greater good of the city and restoring the honor and power it lost. Treasury / Coffers • • • • • • • • • • | Essen's role as prime metallurgical and arms manufacturing center of Carno have given it considerable wealth. This, coupled with its strategic location perfect for trade with Carnite interior and other Madrician nations, has made the city one of the most wealthy and powerful in Carno, rivaling Aden itself. Exploration • • • • • • • • • • | While Essians have always been intrigued by the world surrounding them and try to learn and understand as much about it as possible, state-sponsored exploration and colonization has never been a prime objective. Most explorative enterprises are undertaken by private individuals. Culture • • • • • • • • • • | Essians are considered dour by most and their cultural exploits are often put away as "archaic" and "passé". It is true that the pragmatic Essians are rather conservative in terms of art, but they still love artistic fields such as architecture, painting, theatre and poetry. They are romanticists at heart somewhat stuck in an idealized past. Known Essians Maximilian Coehoorn, Chief of Essen's military on El Oleonda Helmut Von Braun, Knights Treasurer Chapter Master in Terraversa [OL - @Ross Fisher] Sources A collection of links and posts containing RP'ed information pertaining to Essen and its background: The results of the Battle for El Oleonda - Here you can find out about Carno and Essen's involvement in the conflict, plus the aftermath. Advent calendar MOC - Here you can find an in-game MOC pertaining to Essen's religious customs. Fort Arltrees Carnite house, by @CapOnBOBS - Following the Essians' footsteps, other Carnites too have come to Fort Arltrees to make a profit off close Carnite-Oléonder relations in the area. You can also check out the post below to find more MOCs with their own topics. Inspiration The Free City of Essen draws inspiration from many sources, both fantasy and real-world. Main real-world influences are: Northern Germany in general Hanseatic city-states such as Hamburg, Lübeck, Duisberg, etc. Kingdom of Prussia A small dose of Sweden and a dash of Dutch Republic You can view an architectural mood board I put together here. Essians are down-to-earth, pragmatic, militaristic and conservative which is reflected in their sparsely decorated (neo) Gothic brick buildings, the likes of which you would see along the Baltic Sea among various Hanseatic cities. Note: I made this guide to centralize all of the currently available information about the Free City of Essen, its people and history. I intend to further update this with more pictures and work on the lay-out, but the general idea is there already. None of this stuff is really new, but it was all over the place. I thought it might be easier if the background information could be found in one place.