Primarily, Blackmarsh is broken into five distinct regions each which have historical value and a history of independence to them. The largest holding, the Dawn, is the proper seat of the House of Albrecht. The Dread is the second largest holding and has been recently given to the House of Caernough, though historically it belonged to the House of Creed. Blackwood, once an equal to the Dawn in size, was greatly reduced in size and importance and belongs to the House of Pendleton. The Grave, the youngest of the provinces, is maintained by the House of Graves, and the Grasp is the smallest region and is presently stewarded by Lord Viktor Romel at the behest of Queen Madelynne I.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Equality in Blackmarsh
- 4 Economic Policy
- 5 Religious Significance
- 6 Heir Presumptive
As its name would imply, Blackmarsh consists mostly of marshland. Of the major regions, only Blackwood and the Grasp are particularly filled with trees. Due to an anomaly within the ley-lines surrounding the region it has for many centuries been afflicted with a mist known as the Miasma, which occupies all regions save for Dawnhaven and a few other small areas. The Miasma has gained some religious following.
Daylight is rare within Blackmarsh, reaching only the Dawn and at times, Blackwood. Most days are given a penumbral cast and are separated from night by only a few degrees. Because of this, the Dawn is the most agrarian region.
Blackmarsh is located between what is colloquially referred to are the Western Plaguelands and Eastern Plaguelands, southwest of Quel'thalas and northwest of River's Eye. The Dawn and Grave's mountain ranges form natural barriers. The major river within the region is the Ebontide, which runs along the Grasp, Dread, and Dawn.
Not much is known of prehistoric Blackmarsh, though it was certainly ruled by trolls for some time. As humans began to expand into troll territories, the House of Grimm became the vanguard against the the Brokentusk Tribe in Blackmarsh. An Amani tribes, the Brokentusk (now extinct), managed to defeat nearly all invaders until Vagnar Grimm invaded with the assistance of a mysterious mage named Nil. Together, they defeated the trolls though a great event occurred at the end of this that reshaped Blackmarsh and turned it from the troll haven that it was, into the grim and dreary location it has become to this day.
House of Grimm
The House of Grimm is the only household to have officially ruled every province within Blackmarsh. Working as a confederation more than a centralized household, once they pushed the trolls from Blackmarsh their first order was to subjugate those that had begun to filter into the region. Known as the Grimm Era, this brutal time was one of harsh warlords and harsher realities. It was also that which spawned tales such as the Battlemaidens of Blackmarsh and other heroic depictions of those that fought against the Grimms. But for all of the tales of heroism, the Grimms were not to be displaced for centuries.
Eventually, the Grimms began to fall into internal warfare. As a result, distinct households such as Albrecht, Pendleton, Creed, Willow, and Vine began to appear. With assistance from the House of Menethil within Lordaeron, they began to work together to challenge the Grimms until eventually a political map similar to the extant one appeared, save the Grave was known as the Grim.
For nearly a century this was maintained until eventually the Battle of Grimstone placed Lord Wargraf Grimm against Otto of the Albrecht. After a brief siege, Wargraf was defeated by Otto in single combat. This feat would eventually place the Albrecht name at the forefront of Blackmarsh politics.
Following the fall of the Grim, Blackmarsh entered a period of shared powers. Although the Albrecht name was unofficially recognized as the foremost household, each region had a degree of autonomy. This period is often referred to by those that feel the Albrecht dominance over Blackmarsh is unnatural. Those that favor it however, point out that it was because of this unfocused approach to governance that allowed the House of Menethil to invade.
War of the Talons
Although the wars between Menethil and Blackmarsh were numerous, they are often referred to as a single, continuous entity known as the War of the Talons. In these battles, the forces of the House of Menethil sought to subdue the warlike people of the north. Without a central command system, each region was forced to coordinate as best they could against a well-oiled and practiced war machine. To their credit, the people of Blackmarsh managed to successful repel invasions for nearly a century, but with each loss the Menethil forces became not only wiser but more practiced in Blackmarsh warfare.
During this time, it was the Houses of Pendleton and Albrecht which stood among their peers. With the might of Blackwood and the Dawn, the Blackmarsh commanders contended with some of Lordaeron's finest, such as Armund Galawain and Cedric Graves. Using their alliances with various elven houses and other external forces, the House of Albrecht raised an army large enough to challenge the Menethils directly on two occassions.
But defeat was inevitable as population, money, and military tradition favored the House of Menethil. Eventually the disorganized nature of Blackmarsh allowed for deals to be made and victories to be stolen. At the Battle of Bleeding Oak, Helmuth Albrecht was defeated. Blackmarsh's independence was lost and the region became a province of Lordaeron.
Viscounty of Blackmarsh
The First Viscount
Helmuth Albrecht, the former commander of the anti-Lordaeronian forces, became the first Viscount of Blackmarsh. Rivaled only by Holden Pendleton in terms of respect commanded by the province, he was a natural choice and to ensure that he remained loyal the King of Lordaeron saw fit to marry his youngest daughter Morgana to him. Morgana's claim to the throne was nearly non-existent and her power useless, but the symbolic gesture was appreciated and offered legitimacy to the steward on behalf of the king.
The Grave was created at this point as well, taking land previously held by the Grasp, the Grim, and Blackwood. It was a military outpost in many ways to allow the forces of Lordaeron to keep their eye on Blackmarsh. Cedric Graves, once a knight, was made a lord to make him the equal of those he watched over.
During his reign Helmuth did little beyond attempt to unify his people will middling success. Many resented the Menethil line and blamed him for their defeat. This would lead to the first of Blackmarsh's civil wars - the only until the Dread Rebellion to nearly topple the region.
The Second Viscount
Helmuth's son, Dedrick, became the Second Viscount of Blackmarsh and the first to have to defend his land from an insurrection. The Blackwood Uprising was a costly engagement that nearly replaced the Albrechts with Pendletons; however, Sir Ulric the Falconheart turned the tides of battle. It was here that the Falconheart title was created and also here where the need for a strong central government was realized. Following the defeat of their adversaries, the House of Albrecht reduced the strength of their rivals dramatically.
He is credited with ending Blackmarsh's isolationist policy, though few saw reason to venture into the brooding province.
The Third Viscount
Dedrick's attempts to stabilize the region were heartfelt, but short-lived. Wilhelm proved to be an incompentent and slovenly ruler, whose greed quickly lost many of the gains his father made. He was the first to introduce the concept of the Light to the people of Blackmarsh though and made attempts to correct the trade imbalance between Blackmarsh and neighboring provinces.
He is credited with the construction of Dawnhaven, the castle surrounding ancestral Blackwatch Keep.
His aggressive stance on religion and attempt to centralize authority led to the Spring Campaign, a costly war that would haunt the region for years to come.
The Fourth Viscount
Considered the greatest of the viscounts, Hadrian's career began with a humiliating defeat. The Spring Campaign left Blackmarsh weakened and with a young and inexperienced leader. It was then that Margrave Auric Falomyr baited Hadrian into war, known as Hardian's War that cost Blackmarsh two Falconhearts, several heroes, and the life of Agnes Albrecht. Defeated soundly, the Blackmarsh forces returned home in disgrace.
But Hadrian had not given up on redeeming his name and province and so for years he worked to strengthen Blackmarsh economically, militarily, and culturally. When he was prepared to seek vengeance he used his adversary's tactic and baited him into invading Blackmarsh. The resulting War of the Ebontide left the House of Falomyr shattered and placed Blackmarsh back into the realm of respectable provinces.
Hadrian went on to take part in two more wars, both ending victoriously, and finished his father's pursuit of driving out paganism from the region. His legacy is one of redemption.
The Fifth Viscount
Magnus Albrecht became the only viscount to also hold the title of Falconheart. Popular among the commonfolk, his reign is marked with little advancement and a great deal of importance on military exploits. He did not rule for very long and was killed during the Second War. His daughter became the first and only female viscount of Blackmarsh.
The Sixth Viscountess
Madelynne Albrecht, daughter of Magnus, is the only woman to serve as viscountess. After the regency period of her uncles Jothaem and Eugine, she came into power and quickly sought to unify those beneath her. Known for her merciless rulings, she left Blackmarsh for a time to seek further education in Lordaeron where she sent back word of her findings. These reforms continued to modernize Blackmarsh in many ways, though she forbade the peasantry from learning many aspects of education.
It was during her reign that the Scourge invaded Lordaeron. Although the Grasp and Grave were hit heavily, Blackmarsh managed to stave off its enemies and fortify itself after seeking refuge behind century old battlements. The usage of necromancy by many regional lords also assisted in staving off the enemy.
Madelynne eventually abandoned her role as viscountess in favor of taking the title of queen. Using the tenuous blood connection between herself and the Menethils, she gambled for and won the support of many lords and ladies.
The Seventh Viscount
Jothaem Albrecht, the second son of Hadrian, replaced his niece. He served loyally but could not contend with the rising tide of banditry and in-fighting. He became ill shortly after his wife conceived his son and died, leaving the infant Helmuth II Albrecht to serve as viscount.
The office was shortly thereafter abolished as Blackmarsh was retitled a grand duchy.
Equality in Blackmarsh
Read more at Women of Blackmarsh
Blackmarsh is a classist society, in which a person's station at birth generally determines their prospects for advancement. Although Queen Madelynne has been known to create titles as rewards for her allies, in general there is little upward mobility outside of the military and even that is fairly limited.
Women are roughly equivalent to men in all matters legal, though the oft decried Etiquette rules maintain some of the old, antiquated views that hold women to a higher moral standing than men.
For the majority of its existence, Blackmarsh has been without a unified economic policy. Each region denoted its own practices as part of the traditional, confederated state of the province; however, with the conclusion of the Dread Rebellion and Dove Uprising, the reduction of the power of the nobility allowed royal authority to establish a standard of protectivism to ensure that Blackmarsh (and Lordaeron as a whole) supported its burgeoning economy.
- All tariffs between provinces of Lordaeron have been suspended.
- All external goods are taxed 5% unless they are sold within Blackmarsh.
- No trade relations with external powers may be created without royal consent.