Anvil: History and Background

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Anvil: History and Background

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The County of Anvil, also known as the Gold Coast (or the Strident Coast to old folks) consists of the entire western seaboard of Cyrodiil. Its name derives from its windswept plains of yellow grass, dotted with wind-worn hills and exotic flora, adapted to the region's hot, coastal climate. The County lies between the forbidden jungles of Valenwood to the south, the scorched deserts of Hammerfell to the north, and the sudden elevation of the merciless Colovian Highlands to the east.

The people of the Gold Coast have a more cosmopolitan attitude than most Colovians, due to their trade contacts with the nations surrounding the Abecean Sea - Bosmer, Altmer, Redguard, and Breton. Life on the wind-swept edge of Cyrodiil, in contact with foreign influences, has made them more attuned to the harmony and poetry of their world, of life on the waves and the plains - though they hold have the martial, puritan, frontier-spirit of Colovia at heart. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the city of Anvil.

Early History
Prior to the Alessian Rebellion, the Gold Coast was a precarious borderland between the Ayleid Hegemony and their rival Elven nations in the west. Several Ayleid city-states were founded here: the kingdom-cities of Garlas Agea, Garlas Malatar, Niryastare, and Beldaburo, as well as several sea-fortresses. These kingdoms, along with most of Colovia's Ayleid population, are considered the Lipsacullean Ayleid by modern archaeologists: a rather marginalized culture group within the larger Ayleid civilization, whose primary task was to defend the coastline from the foreign aggression of Alinor and Direnni. Some exceptions notwithstanding, they were less magically apt than their eastern masters, and held a marginally more tolerant attitude to the Nedes, even accommodating independent human settlements along the coast. Little is known of these human cities, save that they were culturally and geographically distinct from the Nibenese tribes.

After the Alessian Rebellion of 1E 242, the lands of the west were shared out as rewards to the Nordic mercenaries who aided Alessia. Nordic settlers and tribeless Nedes moved into the region, subjugating or displacing the former inhabitants. Most Ayleid kings had surrendered after the fall of White-Gold Tower, and were incorporated into the new Empire as Elven enclaves with restricted rights. The exceptions were the off-coast kingdoms around the area of Stirk, along with the kingdom of Garlas Malatar: all of these were relatively young kingdoms, founded not by local Ayleid, but by emigrated kings of the High Heartland, who held the more brutal Adonacyrean philosophies. While the off-shore kingdoms long opposed the rule of man, the kingdom of Garlas Malatar fell swiftly after its lord, Masamalir Thousand-Hands, was assassinated by his Lipsacullean councilors. Nordic relations with the local Nedic peoples were even less friendly: the Nedes of the Nibenay accused them of collaborating with the Elves, giving the Nordi chieftains opportunity to seize their lands, plunder and burn their cities, and drive the remnant into the northern deathlands. Later records occasionally mention raids by these desert peoples, but these cease after the Redguard invasion of 1E 808.

The Kingdom of the Strident Coast
Several Colovian kingdoms were founded, among them what was then called the Kingdom of the Strident Coast. Due to the inhospitable nature of the northern wastelands and the hostility of the Camoran kingdom in Valenwood, this short stretch of coastline was the only viable road for the Empire to trade with the nations of the Abecean. As such, the rulers of the Strident Coast (known only as the Shore-King dynasty) could afford to ignore the many internal Colovian quarrels, and grew rich off their trade monopoly. That is not to say they had it easy: during the First Empire, the coastline was under constant threat of Bosmer, Sload, Alinor, Orc raiders, and the displaced natives in the north. Due to their stalwart defense of the west, their independence, and their impartiality in inter-Colovian conflicts, the early dynasty was very respected by other Colovians. The Shore-Kings did not rule from Anvil (at the time a small fishing village), but from their large ancestral castle on an island to the north, known as Mischarstette.

During the Marukhati period, the Shore-Kings defended against Sload slave-raids: Several high lighthouse-towers were erected in this period, to serve as lookouts for Sloadic airships. Of these no trace survives, save for the fishing village of Thraswatch. It is said that the Crown of the Strident Coast was a great copper helmet, studded with Sload-teeth - an artifact now thought lost.

Of all the Colovian kingdoms, the Strident Coast suffered most from the arrival of the Redguard in 1E 808: large swathes of the north were annexed, and the Redguard founded the outpost of Sutch there. After initial unpleasantness, friendly relations between the Redguard and the other Colovian kingdoms were established, and, with a large, prosperous and sea-faring neighbor to the north, the trade monopoly of the Strident Coast diminished.

The Oloman Dynasty
Disaster struck in the shape of the Thrassian Plague, which practically wiped out the population of the west between 1E 2200 and 1E 2260. The ruling family was decimated, and the crown fell into the hands of the Baron of Anvil, Bendu Olo. A gifted ruler and commander, Olo united the nations of the Abecean in a punitive expedition against the Sload. Afterwards, he maintained internal unity between the Colovian Estates in the shape of the Oloman Confederacy, which presented - for the first time - a united front against the Alessian east. Deprived of trade and tribute, the Alessian theocracy collapsed, followed by the particularly destructive War of Righteousness (1E 2321-1E 2321).

The Ayleid client-kingdoms in Colovia disappeared around this time, either as a result of the Thrassian Plague, growing anti-Elven sentiments, or simply due to dwindling population and emigration to Valenwood.

The kingdom of Anvil profited well from the War of Righteousness, as they were far from the actual center of the war. Though the Confederacy had dissolved after the war, Bendu Olo had managed to restore the pride of the west, and his kingdom, now ruled from the city of Anvil, prospered under the Oloman dynasty. With the old rulers gone and the center of power shifted, the name "Strident Coast" falls into disuse, replaced by the Gold Coast.

The king of Anvil was among the first Colovian monarchs who swore fealty to Reman in 1E 2703, and Anvil was a key military asset in his conquest of the west. The region of Sutch was retaken, and given to Anvil as a reward for its services. Anvil held a privileged position in the west, especially as the rival kingdom of Kvatch was in disgrace for most of the Second Empire due to a perceived insult against Reman I during his coronation.

The Decline of Anvil
After the end of the Reman Empire, Anvil was one of the first regions that fell from the Potentates' grasp. Repeated attacks of Redguard, Bosmer, and pirates eroded the kingdom's power, while spiteful Kvatch obstructed aid from the east. By the time of the Interregnum (2E 560), Anvil had once again lost Sutch to the Redguard. The last heir of the Oloman line died, and was succeeded by a weak-willed Imperial magistrate under the control of the Potentates. After the fall of the Potentariat, control over Anvil was usurped by a series of eccentric pirate rulers, including the dreaded Pirate Queen of Anvil.

The founding of the new Empire under Tiber Septim (2E 852 - 2E 896) did little to improve the situation: Sutch remained part of Hammerfell under the First Treaty of Stros M'Kai, and Anvil had become a shadow of its former self. Tiber installed one of his generals, Junis Matillis, as Count of Anvil, but he and his descendants were more interested in the politics of the Elder Council than their nominal domain. Anvil became a provincial and neglected harbor town, with a questionable claim to historical importance, and accrued a reputation as center of piracy in the Abecean.

In 3E 249, the so-called Camoran Usurper led an army of the undead from Valenwood to the north, demanding the unconditional surrender of all in their path. Count Sevantius Matillis made an attempt to meet the Usurper in the open field, but his forces were decimated and he was forced to return to Anvil. There, and unpleasant surprise awaited him: the city had fallen to a pirate attack in his absence. Matillis and his entire family were executed, and the pirates struck a deal with the Usurper: during the eighteen years of the Usurper's reign of terror, Anvil was a lawless pirate town, safe from the Empire's attention due to the war effort. Imperial supply-lines were continually harassed by Anvil-based pirates - especially by the infamous captain Torradan ap Dugal.

After the Usurper's defeat in 3E 267, the Emperor tasked Commodore Fasil Umbranox with bringing the coast to order, in return for the vacant post of Count of Anvil. Umbranox destroyed the pirate fleet, burned the shanty-town of Anvil to the ground, and raised a new, prosperous city on the ashes. The large political heft of the Umbranox line allowed him to annex the city of Sutch back into the county (much to the displeasure of the Redguards.) The new Count had strong contacts with the Order of Dibella in Mir Corrup (several of his family members belonged to the priesthood), and he convinced them to move their main temple his new County capital. Dibella being one of the most popular Divines, the new city of Anvil became a popular pilgrimage destination, especially among the wealthy and idle nobility of the east. Under the patronage of Dibella, establishments dedicated to joy and indulgence, like the city's many brothels, society clubs and the great casino were founded, bringing in even more money. The new infrastructure and prestige of this harbor brought in more trade, and Anvil once again became a fixture in the western sea trade, which it remains to this day.

Today, the city of Anvil still stands strong, though there are dark clouds on the horizon. The city of Sutch' clamoring for independence is a real threat to Anvil's trade monopoly: if merchants could move their goods through there, they can dodge the exorbitant tarrifs of Anvil, breaking its monopoly. Outside of the capital, population numbers are low and the land lies fallow. The infrastructure destroyed by the Camoran Usurper has never been repaired, meaning that if Anvil loses its trade, it loses its only livelihood. Tensions with Sutch are high, and Redguards in Anvil feel uneasy and threatened.

Anvil faces another crisis: five years ago, the Count of Anvil, Corvus Umbranox, mysteriously disappeared. The County is now ruled by his wife, Millona Umbranox. By all accounts a strong, intelligent and well-loved ruler, her authority is undermined by the fact that she is not a blood relative of the Umbranox line: she was born Millona Wariel, daughter of an impoverished Colovian lord. Since her marriage with Corvus produced no children, she technically has no claim to the Anvil throne, and it is unclear who would inherit it were she to die. Millona has worked around this by refusing to declare her husband dead, instead believing that he is still alive and will return one day. Not everybody is convinced, and there is a conspiracy afoot which seeks to replace her with a fraudulent "heir of the Shore-Kings".

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