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Duchy of Ijzerland
Duchy of Ijzerland
The coat of arms of the Duchy and House Van Der Grudeln

Country

New Tarajan

Capital

Koenigscasteel

Foundation

1527

Ruling House

House Van Der Grudeln

Population

5.600.700

The Duchy of Ijzerland (literally Land of Iron in Tarajani Dutch) is a Heerlijkheden in the Kingdom of New Tarajan, ruled by House Van Der Grudeln. Its capital is Koenigscasteel (and indeed the State is also known as Duchy of Koenigscasteel).

Etimology

The exact origin of the name Ijzerland is unknown: sources of the beginning of the XVII century (soon after the birth of the unified Kingdom) already named the area this way. The first mention is from a brief chronicle, dated about the middle of the XVI century, from an anonymous Ajanic historian who wished to tell the troubles of his own people and their conflict against the Antanaresian invaders. In one of his chapters, the lands around Himeraa (Ajanic name of Koenigscasteel) are labelled as "the lands of iron,[...] for the wealth of their mountains in such a metal, and for the unending strife that fell upon them since the fall of the Glorious Empire...". It's possible that the Antanaresian conquerors took the name from the Ajans, adapting it to their own language, then.

History

After the fall of the Ajanic Empire, Ijzerland was ruled by a number of amirs, all connected in some way or another to the successor of the imperial court in Astana. With the Shahdom of Astana rising back in power, Ijzerland was soon put under direct control of governors appointed from the capital. The arrival of the Antanaresian conquerors, and the continuous factional conflict erupting in Astana created the opportunity for Ijzerland to regain independence, particularly under the leadership of Amir Shayk Sufla, who established himself as ruler of the whole territory, based on Himeraa. In 1523 the first wave of Antanaresian knights attacke Sufla: they were led by Roderick Van Ulsiten, who managed to conquer some of the frontier strongholds. For the successive three years, Antanaresians and Ajans fought over Ijzerland, and in 1527 Van Ulsiten finally defeated Sufla at the gates of Calian, a town not far from Himeraa. He entered the city few days after his victory, and proclaimed himself duke of the newly-conquered land, obtaining the confirmation of the other Antanaresian lords soon after.

House Van Ulsiten ruled Ijzerland for the next two centuries, first as independent rulers then, after 1595, as vassals of the newly-born Kingdom: the Van Ulsiten sided with House Van Vinkel during its struggle against the Landsraad, and it was at the gates of their capital that the decisive battle of the war was fought (see: Battle of Himeraa). As a recognition of their precious services (the Van Ulsiten kept their loyalty to the Royal House even during the strife between the aristocracy and the Crown of the XVII century), Ijzerland obtained many privileges, which enhanced its role inside the Kingdom's economy. However, the Duchy was always under pressure by the neverending threat coming from the east: the Ullai Mountains, indeed, form in this region a much less formidable obstacle for passage, and as such tribal warriors coming from the Planitan lands often tried to sack the countryside.

In 1732, Ulrich IV Van Ulsiten died, prompting a conflict between his heirs. When both his sons managed to be killed by each other's men, the Duchy became vacant, and as such was assigned to the only surviving branch of the glorious House Van Der Grudeln, the most ancient noble house of Tarajan, who kept it until 1914, when the Tarjanai Revolution destroyed the monarchy: the whole family was captured by the communists before they could escape, and they all were brutally killed in Astana the year after (the place has been renamed in their honor in 1946). The only survivor was a child, Heinrich, who had the luck of being in Aloia for his education at the time. Since the heir was of minor age, the Duchy was administered by a royal regent until 1955, when king Conrad III officially bestowed it to Heinrich VII.

Ijzerland countryside

A picture of the typical countryside of the Ijzerland, with the Ullai Mountains on the background.

The Castles

Ijzerland is reknown in New Tarajan and abroad as the Land of the Castles, due to the incredibly high concentration of castles and fortresses in the territory. This was due to the constant state of war between isolated Antanaresian knights and Ajans before 1527 and, after that year, to the need of controlling a territory which was predominantly inhabited by Ajans. Also, the constant threat of Planitan tribal warriors led to the establishment of a number of "safe areas" guarded by strongholds. In the XVIII century, with the end of the most pressing military needs, many of the castles became elegant residences of the local aristocracy.

Nowadays, they are used by the local aristocracy as true centres of cultural and social life of their own territories, and famous tourist attractions as well.

Van Jylhen Castle

Van Jylhen Castle, a wonderful example of Ijzerland military architecture.

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