The Alkmaar Maritime Republic
Alkmar is a city state, the first Maritime Republic. The name and language are inspired by Dutch, and the city itself is inspired in many ways by the Maritime Republic of Genua.
Details about the City
History of Alkmaar
Up until 60 years ago, Alkmaar was part of the Crimson Empire. At that time, thanks to the decaying and loss of cohesion of the Empire, it managed to secede (probably working behind the scenes to exacerbate the situation with unofficial blockades or even high profile murders).
The independence of Alkmaar came gradually, but the Independence movement had been there for a while: revolts against the Imperial authorities were a recurring event in more than one social layer of the city.
Secession has been pushed by the newly rich mercantile families and the city administrators in the first place, and even some nobles saw an opportunity in a modern mercantile state.
How Alkmaar got the money and power
Around 70 years ago, Alkmaar became the monopolist on the commerce routes coming and going to the south-west across the Sea, transporting spices and rare goods to and from the Qush Empire, whose capital is known as The City of Ivory and Gold, the Jewel of the South: Nabwa the Beautiful. To secure these routes Alkmaar has defeated the Sorover clans in several sea battles and seized control of the Seas.
Rumors about secret routes and secret ports somewhere else, from whence some of the most exotic goods seem to come.
The Alkmaarian Independence Movement
The secession was a long and complex process and involved people from all social extractions in Alkmaar. In particular, two historical figures are considered the “parents” of independent Alkmaar: Harmann von Rosendal and Joanna Voermann.
The first was a scholar, born in a minor noble family and part of the clandestine independence movements since his youth. He was often a guest of Alkmaar’s prisons and was active in the city’s politics. He reunited the representatives of the independentists in all the social strata in the “Black Flags” secret society.
To him can be ascribed the merit of the commercial deals with the Qush Empire and the treaty with the dwarven colony that bought in Alkmaar’s coffers enough money to organize the revolt. In the first years of independence he was the mind behind Alkmaar’s involvement with its ships and supply routes for the First Holy March to Xolal promoted by the Church of the Holy Harmony and in which most of Lesterra’s kingdoms sent knights nad soldiers.
Joanna Voermann was the wife of a ship’s Captain, Gunther Voermann, the commander of a small independentist fleet that participated in the first big naval battle between the revolutionaries and the Empire loyalists. Gunther fell in battle and Joanna, who used to travel with him as First Mate, took command and guided the retaliation raid. The military action was so swift and perfectly executed that the other Navy commanders recognized and respected her as Captain, accepting her as one of them. This historic event opened to women the nautical career, both in the military and the mercantile Navy. To this day, the Female Navy of Alkmaar is informally known as Joanna’s Gown.
That was when Rosendal decided to elevate her to a symbol of the Independence movement and appoints her as the de facto commander in chief of the military operations. Joanna takes part in the land operations too and soon being part of the Voermann Brigade becomes a prized honor for many voluntary soldiers and many enlist specifically to be part of the brigade. The brigade’s characteristic red shirt becomes iconic of the revolution.
Joanna Voermann is considered a popular hero of Alkmaar to this day; there are roads, squares and other public places named after her. In the port area there’s even an inn, founded by one of the youngest of the Redshirts, named “Joanna’s Thigh”, a reference to a wound Cpt Voermann sustained to her leg during one of the last land battles, when she led the assault despite the pain and bleeding).
The square in front of the Doge’s palace is named instead after Harmann von Rosendal instead: here is where the popular assemblies take place in Alkmaar.
The birth of Alkmaar’s economic power
To fuel a revolt and to keep the hard earned independence you need both good commercial relationships with other nations and important local investments. You need a bank. This is where the dwarves come in: in the years prior to the revolt, Harmann von Rosendal managed to bring a delegation of dwarves to Alkmaar and they brought with them a lot of precious metals and stones, and finely crafted weapons, too. Also, the dwarves helped the economy even simply with their craft skills reputation. Alkmaar is in fact the only non-dwarven city that has a dwarven Fortress. The dwarves provided a service that no other major city had (creating a bank with a strong initial capital) and strongly boosted the local economy. Once independent, Alkmaar gave the Dwarves’ representative the title of Master of Coin and a seat among the electors of the Doge.
This title has been lost to human bankers in recent years: it is earned by repesenting the majority of the bank power (and treasury) in the city, and many years of coordinated effort among the human bankers have dropped the dwarves below the 50% share. Alkmaar is far from free from anti-semihuman prejudice in fact, despite the dwarves’ role in its independence, and three generations of unfair favoring of the human bankers from a lot of the biggest merchant houses have finally taken its toll: the dwarves no longer control the Society of Treasure and Change… that is, until they manage to earn back the majority, or the cohesion among the human bankers breaks.
Foreign neighborhoods in Alkmaar
The dwarven Fortress is just one among the many foreign neighborhoods in the city. Not less than 20 states and kingdoms big and small have settlers in Alkmaar. Sometimes they only amount to a few houses, but in some cases they accreted to comprise a full block.
The Church and Magi Council in Alkmaar
The highest religious figures in the Church were expelled when Alkmaar achieved independence from the Crimson Empire because of the deep interweaving of the church structure with the Imperial political power. While the expulsion was a serious offense, it was not a particularly boody affair and proceeded mostly without bloodshed, apart for an incident that has become historical (and highly symbolic of the fact that Alkmaar was not joking around): the Primate of Alkmaar (the single highest religious figure) was thrown down the city’s iconic Lighthouse Fortress.
The innkeepers were quick to apply their cynical and wry humor to this event, to the point that to this day near the base of the Lighthouse there is a public house named “At the Lighthouse Jump”.
The practice of the Imperial religion wasn’t banned, but the church was excluded from the political process.
During the same “cleansing” operation, the Magi were banned from political life too, refusing the classic Imperial structure where the secular ruler always has religion and magic at their left and right. The immediate reaction from the Council was of forbidding access to the College to Alkmaar’s wizards as a punishment. After long mediation between the Council and Alkmaar’s new government, a settlement was signed less than 10 years ago that accepted back the Alkmaarite Scola (self organized by the remaining local patriotic magi) in the wider Council structure, albeit with checks and limitations.