Tales from the Inner Sea
The Republic of Padiha
Padiha is a citystate occupying the Walarian Pensinsula. A republic since the days of the Armavine Civil War, it took the notion of the Quoria and formed a government that is elected by the (wealthy and noble) people rather than a hereditary family, however some might suggest it is now a money ruled plutocracy.
Padiha is home to a great many Merchant Houses who have blurred the lines between lowly commerce and nobility to the extent that there is no difference in the Republic between the two. All of these have a hand in the guiding of the nations path and progress, with the Padihan Senate being the governing body. The elected leader is the Primasentra, currently Dezzario of House Valtizzia who heads the Senate and leads the many debates that take place deciding domestic and foreign policy. Primasentra Dezzario is a charismatic and cultured individual who heads one of the most powerful banking and merchant houses in the Inner Sea let alone Padiha. Under his elegant and insightful guidance he has expanded Padihan influence and made a lot of people (not least he and his own house) wealthy. As a result he is keenly admired and respected by many, including the heads of state of a number of other realms and kingdoms. He does have a large minority of dissenting voices within the Senate and the Citystate who prefer the solid, safe and more traditional markets and policies of the past, but his view of money as the levers of power and influence in the modern world slowly gains more and more adherents with each passing year. He has been in office now for 8 years and seems pretty much untouchable behind the Silver Desk.
The Padihan Senate is comprised of many Merchants of the Senate, a plutocratic title for a plutocratic society. Though there are many merchants within Padiha, only those titled Merchants of the Senate are eligible to hold office, vote and run for the Primasentra role. Requirements for the Senate are stringent, with a candidate having at the very least 20,000 Lara in property, whether land, dwellings and/or shipping. One must also have a Padihan father (or one who was born in Padiha) and finally one must be sponsored by 4 existing Merchants of the Senate. Even then, with so low a qualifier, a person has a varying number of votes, normally breaking down as 1 vote for every 50,000 (or fraction thereof) lara’s worth of the above criteria. There are almost 1000 Senators with varying blocs of votes, political movements and factions at work. The largest amount of votes held by one individual is unsurprisingly the current Primasentra Dezzario, known to have 100 votes at the last 4 yearly auditing. Few have even half that amount. The Senatorial Offices, such as Glassworks, Public Health, Measures and Civic Amenities (amongst others) are voted on every 2 years, but the 3 Military Senatorial Offices of Army, Navy and Law Enforcement are always selected by the Primasentra (too important to be at the whims of partisan Merchants is the view). The supreme office is held for 5 yearly terms with no limit on the amount of terms a person can hold.
Padiha had always been a useful city itself when within the Empire, being especially noted for its vineyards and orchards. Padihan wine and cider is a popular export to the world, as is their marble and glass which is more than able to rival the quality if not the quantity of Imperial glass production. The other main trade items Padiha offers are less tangible though some say more profitable. They are heavily linked via trade agreements with almost every nation in the Inner Seas and this ubiquity has allowed Padiha to remain free despite having an army best described as meagre. The Padihan Banking Houses are strong entities that use money as a means of controlling their nations destiny, doing busines with Voya to the west and the Armavine Empire to the east. Being a buffer state between the two is more desirable than being the conquered subject of either. Padihans trade freely with both of their neighbours, with Imperial trade being important to many people in the state.
The military such as it is features 2000 full time medium soldiers largely based at the land borders with Voya hiding behind a stout series of fortifications, and a standing rolling civic militia of 2500 who act as informal law enforcement and reinforcements to the army. In times of trouble the whole militia can be raised to 10000. Padiha also makes use of mercenaries from all over the Inner Sea to back up their martial strength, and it is not unusual to see Altai horse warriors and Shen barbarians amongst many others walking the streets and roads of the citystate. The Merchant Houses also employ mercenary guards as well, and since government is intertwined with commerce, these mercenaries can theoretically be drawn on to bolster the military in times of need. Naval defence is the responsibility of all Merchant Houses and they donate some of their fleets to defence as and when needed, resulting in a good sized but occasionally random navy. Of note there is a certain stigma within Padiha for someone serving within the Army, though less so the Watch and the Navy. The Army is normally seen as a refuge for slow sons and occasionally wayward daughters who don’t have the wit or ambition to make it as merchants and tradesfolk and who like associating with the mercenaries so often hired within the Citystate. This is a somewhat unfair appraisal, even more galling given that serving for a time in the Civic Militia Reserve is seen as doing ones civic duty and is held as admirable. So it goes within Padihan society.
The population of the Republic is about 400,000, with 33,000 in the city proper and lesser cities, towns and villages dotting the plains and farmland of the peninsula. The comparative lack of population (though it is on the increase) compared to other realms coupled with the rich farmlands and hundreds of years of Armavine agricultural knowledge means a sizeable food and produce excess is produced and used for trade and the great municipal granaries and food stores. In recent years (within the last 10 in particular) there has been a slow but steady influx of immigrants to the peninsula, over half of them Merolindens who have fled or been driven out of Voya due to seizing of land and assets coupled with extremely high taxation levied by the Stromovarii. The remaining immigrants are from other cities and lands within the Inner Sea, often the mercenaries and their families who help defend the state, so within the peninsula there are now enclaves and sections of society with a cosmopolitan air. Most indigenous Padihans regard this as a good thing, though there are concerns amongst the older families and more reactionary elements of the Senate that this may have to be stopped or limited soon to protect Padiha from foreign and damaging elements.
Padiha the city itself is quite sprawling and always being added to as the population is always growing, so much so that there are no city walls other than the ones raised by individual private citizens and merchants. It is expected that within the next 10 years Padiha as a city will have increased in terms of population by half again. It is centred on a hill with the Senate Buildings situated on the top of the hill and private dwellings of the rich further down. The harbour is well protected by sea walls and nearby cliffs, and a natural harbour. The part of the city that surrounds the hill has many docks, canals and river inlets due to the city being constructed upon and next to the mouth of the Sibine River which runs from the hills in central Padiha to the city itself. It is here that many of the common folk make their home along with many of the amenities and entertainments popular to the masses, such as the local Hippodrome and the Colissea and numerous cauponae, inns, theatres and brothels. Some of the markets take place on boats, barges and rafts and an urban Padiha is much more likely to have a small skiff or rowboat than a donkey or horse.
Padihan culture is very similar to Armavine so that Imperials feel almost at home, with chariot races and colissea proving as popular as ever (despite being of smaller size than those in the cities of the Empire and other realms), but Padiha has always been a centre of art and it is better known for the skills of its stonecrafters and glassmakers. Due to the comparative abundance of glass Padiha has always been seen as the centre for mosaic, with Padihan mosaicists being much sought after by the wealthy and artistic.
In matters of religion and magic, Sensu and Nerukata are of course popular as are most gods, but Bumi-Bijiran is especially important to the common folks as the vineyards and orchards of the famous alcoholic beverages provide so much to trade and everyday life. Sorcery is tolerated much like it is in the Armavine Empire and in some ways welcomed, as it could be a tool and weapon in defending against the sorcery hating Voyans.
Padiha unsurprisingly regards Voya as a dangerous neighbour, and goes to great lengths to pose no military threat to Voya and also make sure it is in nobodys best interests for Padiha to fall under Voyan control by using the Banks as a form of hostage for many foreign merchants, nobles and even some Heads of State have money kept within the vaults of Padihas banking establishments. Relations with the Armavines are cordial and it is likely that relationship may be what saves Padiha from the conquerors boot, though a fine line must be walked as few Padihans relish the idea of being an Imperial Province again. If war ever broke out between Voya and the Empire, every Padihan knows that it is their land that will form one of the battlefields.