Ethnicities of the Imperial Race - Cultural Diversity

Discussion of Elder Scrolls lore and how it will be used in Province: Cyrodiil
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worsas
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Ethnicities of the Imperial Race - Cultural Diversity

Post by worsas » Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:53 pm

In the previous forum this discussion was mostly about the visual appearance and possible head variants of Imperials depending on region and subrace. We should maybe use this new thread to primarily discuss cultural aspects.
Infragris wrote:Before we get too far in this, I think it's worth reiterating that the Imperials should give the impression of being a united people, with many regional differences, but a solid foundation of shared cultural beliefs. That is how they manage to rule an Empire that spans the known world, after all. Some differences between groups are perhaps best left alluded to, like the Velothi underclass in Morrowind.
That being said, these are some possible options:
  • Colo-Nordic: pseudo-Nordic upperclass, descendants of Nordic mercenaries that came to aid the rebellion against the Ayleid. Nordic chieftains and warriors were given large stretches of the western frontier in reward. Even today, the rulers and nobility of Colovia are mostly Nordic in heritage (not in race), while the common people are more likely to be Nedic or have but a little bit of Nordic blood. The situation is similar to Saxons and Britons in medieval England. Colo-Nords hold to some of their old tradition, "Nordic Virtues", and the worship of Shor - as a matter of fact, they sometimes tend to be more "Nordic" than the average Nord.
  • Colo-Nedic: descendants of a large group of "tribeless" Nedes who, after the Rebellion, moved west. Intermarried with Nordic footsoldiers and today make up the majority of Colovian commoners.
  • Pre-Colovian peoples: Orcish settlements and "Nedic" people who were culturally distinct from the Nibenese tribes, and lived in an uncomfortable peace with the Ayleid. Pushed out into the northern deserts by the Nords, where they were subsequently exterminated by the Redguard invasion. Still, traces of Pre-Colovian or even Orcish blood can still be found in the Colovian population, where they are regarded as marks of shame.
  • Colo-Redguard: mix of Colovian and Redguard customs, mostly in Sutch. After initial hostilities, the Cyrodiils became friendly with the Redguard fast, and took many customs from them - such as the tradition of Arena fighting.
  • Heartland Nibenese: the mainstream of Niben culture, descended from the various Niben tribes. The Niben is an urban, cosmopolitan region, so I would say most of the tribes have merged completely, save perhaps for locally powerful clans, like in the Imperial City. In practical terms, the role of tribal affiliation would be filled by religion, with the Totem-societies. Heartland Niben includes the Lake Rumare and the banks of the river on either side.
  • Blackwood Nibenese: rural natives of the vast eastern marshes and wilderness. A mixed bag, the remnant of older tribes who, like the Kothringi, never really identified with the Imperial project, and various groups who were pushed out of Niben civilization, such as cults who started getting too weird even for Niben standards. Insular people, who live in isolated villages in the swamp and avoid contact with the outside world.
  • Akaviri Heritage: mostly coincides with the status of Battlemage or Niben aristocracy. These noble families have a Tsaeci ancestor somewhere, dating from the era of Reman and the Potentates. Niben aristocrats take special pride in this, and often affect certain "Akaviri' customs, like Tsaeci theater, philosophy or architecture. Tsaeci blood usually manifests as a complete lack of body hair for both sexes. Other than that, the only physical mark is a typical criss-cross tattoo pattern on the cheeks, meant to imitate scales. Very conservative, and opposed to the younger aristocracy of merit that has arisen under the Septims.
  • Ayleid Heritage: for most Imperials, having an Ayleid ancestor is merely hypothetical, as the blood has been so diluted that it leads to no notable traits save perhaps a certain aptitude for magic. The Imperial attitude to the Ayleid is complex: despite the years of slavery and rebellion, early Imperial culture is very much indebted to the Ayleid civilization, and people sometims look back on the great Ayleid civilizaiton with reverence and affection. Some peole with Ayleid blood dabble in Ayleid Revivalism, claiming that stories about torture and slavery were fabricated by the Empire, that the slaves had it good under the Ayleid, and that the greatness of Ayleid civilization should be renewed.

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Re: Ethnicities of the Imperial Race - Cultural Diversity

Post by Infragris » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:55 am

Didn't we have a semi-finished set of Colo-Redguard faces and hairstyles somewhere?

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Re: Ethnicities of the Imperial Race - Cultural Diversity

Post by worsas » Wed Jun 24, 2015 5:54 pm

Infragris wrote:Didn't we have a semi-finished set of Colo-Redguard faces and hairstyles somewhere?
Just check our Data Files. :P They've been in for months by now.

Edit:
PC_B_Imp_F_Head_06
PC_B_Imp_F_Head_07
PC_B_Imp_M_Head_06
PC_B_Imp_M_Head_07

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Re: Ethnicities of the Imperial Race - Cultural Diversity

Post by dobren » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:39 pm

I'd like to take issue with one thing here.
...descendants of Nordic mercenaries that came to aid the rebellion against the Ayleid. Nordic chieftains and warriors were given large stretches of the western frontier in reward
.
While I wouldn't say there were no Nordic immigrants during the Alessian Empire, I would disagree with the scale. Any that did settle there have long since intermingled with the Cyro-Nedes (or the Old Colovians, for convenience sake). While the Pocket Guide refers to "the Cyro-Nords that settled it had relinquished the fertile Nibenay Valley long ago, determined to conquer the frontier", it also refers to the Nibenese as "the original Cyro-Nordic tribes". Now, I understand why you've named them Colo-Nedic & Colo-Nordic, but to my mind, Colo-Nedic, if it refers to "genetic heritage", should be Cyro-Nedic, which would be the Old Colovian people of the Colovian Estates (the native Nedes & Nibenese colonists during the First Empire).
Culturally, the Old Colovians were frontier people, "their primitive ferocity was disinclined to magic or the need for industry, preferring bloody engagement and plunder instead". Their ability to resist Alessian doctrines, coupled with the increasingly wide cultural gap between themselves & the Nibenese mercantile-magocracy, ensured the Old Colovians were still culturally "complementary" to the Nords when they (the Nords) eventually settled en-masse. This brings me to Tiber Septim.
General Hjalti Early-Beard had already "reclaimed or consolidated" the Colovian Estates for Cuhlecain, before the Nords heard his thu'um & joined his army. That Colovian conquest would've produced a significant degree of depopulation.
The traveller on the Skyrim page of the Pocket Guide says,
I found many of these mountain villages almost empty of young men, who have been seduced into joining Septim's army by promises of wealth and glory; the village elders see little hope of their sons ever returning
. These are the Nordic component of "modern" Colovians. Hjalti (or Tiber after he killed his king & took the throne, [it makes the most sense to me]) got the best of all scenarios; he stripped Skyrim of it's strength, kept those soldiers loyal to him by giving them depopulated lands in Colovia & had a permanent fighting force/loyal recruitment pool near the heart of his new Empire. The Old Colovians "intermarried with Nordic footsoldiers and today make up the majority of Colovian commoners", as opposed to "the common people are more likely to be Nedic or have but a little bit of Nordic blood". I think having little Nordic blood would only make sense if there wasn't a cultural & religious similarity between the native Old Colovians & the Nord colonists. I also think the Nords would've settled more in the Highlands than the coastal lowlands to the southwest, due to the heat.

An Alessian mass-settlement of Nords just doesn't make any sense compared to the Septim settlement in the Third Era. The problem, I think, derives from this Pocket Guide's use of Cyro-Nord.

With all that in mind, a Colo-Nordic elite makes a lot of sense to me, especially the Shor worshipping aspect. Although, "more Nord than the Nords themselves" may not make sense for the majority of this group. They are Colovians, the officer class of the Legions, after all. I say this because I see little difference between Old Colovian (since the Reman Empire) & Nordic values, as relating to a large body of military families whose existence & purpose has depended on loyalty to each other & to the Emperor for over four centuries.

I hope I've made sense so far.

One final related point. Shezarr.
Four centuries is not long enough for the Colo-Nords to forget that Shor was the original. With all the time that has passed between the Alessian Empire (when Shezarr was "born" together with the new names for the Eight Divines to alleviate political tension between Ayleid, Nord & Nibenese/Colovians) and the waning decades Septim dynasty, I think the majority of the Colovian populace would've added Shezarr, even though "the pantheon of Eight Divines...survived unchecked" by Nibenese doctrines.
The Nord settlers would've eventually (it has been over four centuries) worshipped the Eight Divines over their older, similar Nordic pantheon, with Shor being the exception. Of course, Talos (as an amalgamation of Hjalti, Zurin & Ysmir Wulfharth [an avatar of Shor]) could well have replaced Shor & Shezarr for most.
The question is if Shor/Talos is the chief god for some in private, with Akatosh being top dog when in less nordic circles???
That difference in religious/ancestral doctrine is what I'm looking forward to seeing...
Last edited by dobren on Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Ethnicities of the Imperial Race - Cultural Diversity

Post by dobren » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:39 pm

On a side note (I realise this has probably already been addressed, it's just been on my mind):
I always thought the description of "endless jungle" and "the grassland of the Nibenay Valley, is enclosed by an equatorial rain forest" conflicts to a highly confusing degree.

Whether the equator is at the Imperial City's latitude or to the south of Elseweyr's deserts (for me the south makes more sense, with the Niben watershed helping to maintain a wetter sub-tropical climate, allowing more dense rainforest [or jungle]), I see the Highlands as being a temperate region, not arid. Whether located in tropical or sub-tropical latitudes, the Highlands would be more populated than desolate. They would also soak up the last of the moisture in the air travelling north from the tropics, ensuring the aridity of Hammerfell (barring any rivers/seasonal wadis that may flow north of the Highlands).
This is why I see the Highlands as the centre of the Colovian / Colo-Nordic population (the coastal regions south-west of the Highlands may not have had as much nordic settlement, due to the climate). "Their austere cliff-fortresses" are most likely located in the highland cliffs.

I seem to remember another thread in this forum described the deciduous forests between the Niben & the Highlands as being different to their more sub-tropical cousins to the east/south-east. I loved that, made so much sense when you consider "the elevation rises gradually to the west". I also remember someone saying the Great Forest had been excluded from settlement in the past & been the battleground for the War of the Righteous. Also loved that description, helps to show the Highlands as the traditional population centre for the Legions' recruitment pool. All this made the complete absence of settlement in Oblivion so shocking for me.
The Highlands towards the Jeralls, however, I do agree they would be more arid (far less rain, cold arid). More meadow than forest, leaning toward alpine tundra & unlikely to support a dense population.


The part about "the grassland of the Nibenay Valley, is enclosed by an equatorial rain forest" is what's most confusing for me.
With the elevation rising "gradually to the west and sharply to the north", and this forums' description of deciduous forest on the western "slope" (which I do adore), I see the Jeralls as not having as much foothill action going on as Colovia. The grassland being enclosed only makes sense if there's a relatively narrow band of forest south of the Jeralls. This would be a temperate rainforest, not an equatorial one.
(Again, I fully acknowledge this has been dealt with in that there's already a planned difference between forest zones)
Grassland, however, implies there's not enough rainfall to support forest. It makes sense, geographically, to be "enclosed" between the Great Forest on the western gradual rise & the Niben watershed & the northern forest hugging the Jeralls. I just don't yet imagine how big it is or how it fits into your mod.
I write this for a cultural reason, of course; these grasslands would be a significant producer of horses. Is this aspect already planned? I'm thinking about the Legion's cavalry or a Nibenese industry that complements the Imperial City's needs.

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Re: Ethnicities of the Imperial Race - Cultural Diversity

Post by Infragris » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:26 pm

Uh, there's a lot here to respond to. I'm a little tired so I'm not sure I followed each of your arguments. It appears the source of this confusion originates from the PGE's use of the word "Cyro-Nord" when referring to the early Nedes who populated Cyrodiil: this is an intentional misdirection of the author. It refers to the "out-of-atmora" theory most Imperials would have believed in around the time of Tiber Septim, which claims that all humans on Tamriel first came from the north. This propagandistic notion was later refuted.

It makes no sense to claim that the Nordic part of Colovian culture came in after Tiber Septim's conquests. This would mean that Colovian culture as it is described in the PGE only arose after the PGE was actually written. You are also overestimating the Alessian mass-settlement: the first Highland pioneers would not have been numerous, but their population slowly grew naturally (and through small migrations from the east and north) over thousands of years. The First Era alone lasted almost three thousand years - more than enough time for a small population of settlers to grow into a people - one whose culture and religion would naturally diverge both from its Nordic and Nedic forebears.

About Shezarr: as I wrote elsewhere, I see no evidence that Shezarr was invented by the Alessians, or that he is an artificial offshoot of Shor: rather, his cult developed naturally among the native Nedes in isolation, presumably from a shared ehlnofey source.

The grasslands in the Niben Valley and Heartlands are in my eyes not so much a natural feature as the result of extensive agriculture in this area, the vast ricefields that support the enormous population of the Imperial City and its satellites. Most likely they would have been jungled in a natural state. There's also the possibility of weather shenanigans involving White-Gold Tower or the will of Tiber Septim.

There are horses in Colovia, especially in the lowlands around Skingrad which are very suited to them. While known in he east, horses and cavalry have never really took off there due to the difficulties of the terrain: jungle, mangroves, lots of marshes and rivers make traversing the Nibenay easier by water.

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Re: Ethnicities of the Imperial Race - Cultural Diversity

Post by dobren » Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:52 pm

"there's a lot here". Yeah, I don't tend to do things by halves, it can be both a virtue & a vice.

"It refers to the "out-of-atmora" theory...propagandistic notion was later refuted."
I'm pretty sure what I wrote agrees with this sentiment.

"It makes no sense to claim that the Nordic part of Colovian culture came in after Tiber Septim's conquests. This would mean that Colovian culture as it is described in the PGE only arose after the PGE was actually written."
I really think I implied that the already established "Old Colovians" were quite similar, culturally, to the Nords in many ways, which allowed an easy cross-assimilation of Tiber Septim's new Nord soldiers after the likely de-population due to Cuhlecain's/Tiber's campaign to re-unify the Colovian Estates. I'd wager this similarity derives as much from the rugged nature of the Highlands as from their persistent frontier spirit (how else could they have resisted Alessian doctrines?).
I didn't discount Nord settlement completely, but as you've pointed out, "The First Era alone lasted almost three thousand years". The descendants of any Nords that did settle in Alessia's time would've forgotten they were ever Nords.
Nor did I make any estimate of the Alessian settlement of the Highlands, over or under. I just implied it was unlikely to have as large a Nord component as during Tiber Septim's time.
I do see the original Highland pioneers in a similar way to your description though, it is logical.

I've already replied about Shezarr elsewhere.

Your ricefields definitely clears up my grassland confusion. The horses only made sense if there was naturally occurring grassland, but that doesn't fit at all the description of river-based travel for the Nibenese. Thanks for that.

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