The Duchy has long been a political and economic cross-roads, serving as the avenue through which Southern culture and goods flow into the North, and vice-versa. It’s population is mostly human; Moerdan’s and Southerners. It does a reasonable dwarven population, but Elves and Gnomes are less populous in this region than further north.
The Duchy is at present an independent state, though one that is wracked with political intrigue. The present Duke walks a fine line, with loyalties and agreements with many states, yet allegiance to none. It is well known his court is divisive; with some claiming the Duchy should declare loyalty to this or that Southern State, others advocating for a closer relationship with Telva, and others for some other political arrangement. Since the Duke commands the loyalty of the nobility, and of scores of his own knights, the issue at court remains that for now, but with the Duke having so many children(Twenty from Four Wives…) talk of succession is often also talk of treason.
Cultural the Duchy is a hodge-podge. It has a variety of faiths, each striving from supremacy, and again, none having clear support of the Duke. It’s various peoples and culture intermingle, thus that while the Southern Trade Tongue is perhaps the most common language, it is seldom anyone’s native tongue. All and all the Duchy is proud of it’s polyglot nature, and yet all know that it is surrounded by powerful neighbours.
The Duchy of Roan, like most of the Northern States, was formed in the collapse of the Great Southern Empire. Unlike Telva and Jessit however, it actually predates, to some extent, that collapse.
The Duchy was a political unit in the Empire, and as the empire retreated before a combination of local insurrection, Dwarven and ‘Barbarian’ invasion, and drought, much wealth and physical muscle left the north. Not all of it escaped to the supposed tranquillity of the south. Several brigades of the Imperial Army stopped for some time in the Duchy, maintaining de facto imperial control. Long after Telva was emerging as a dominant power from the various northern fiefdoms, Roan was circulating the Coins of the Empire.
Events in the south led to a collapse of the central authority and instead of a single Empire, Roan was faced with five different Emperors all claiming legitimacy. The Year of Five Emperors spelled the end of the Southern Empire even in the South, and Roan found itself attached to first one, than another of the ‘Empires’ that followed.
Still, the focus on ‘home’ by the Southern states, and it’s military might, enabled Roan a measure of autonomy. A Series of skilled and wise dukes recognized that even in periods of instability trade was pivotal, and positioned the Duchy as a central trade route. It’s combination of military might and economy value, plus skilled political negotiations made it a valuable ally.
Several times over the course of History, Roan has ascended to vassalage towards another state. Though at present no-one commands it’s loyalty. No one state has been willing to attempt to reduce the Duchy’s autonomy.