Saturday, September 1, 2012

Historical Themes of the Flanaess

There are several "themes" that run throughout European history. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire arguably created the concept of Europe itself. The multi-century struggle between England and France, which began as early as the Norman Conquest in 1066 and continued through the fall of Napoleon in 1815. The rise of Christianity under the Catholic church, and its eventual disintegration after the Protestant revolution. The struggle between Christianity and Islam.

I would argue that the World of Greyhawk has similar broad themes in its history. The waves of migrations of Suel and Oeridians after the Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colorless Fire and the resultant absorption of the Flan peoples. The rise and fall of the Great Kingdom, which at one point encompassed half the continent, but is now a mere fraction of its former glory (albeit still remaining one of the most powerful nations in the Flanaess as of CY 576). The domination of the North first by the arch-witch Iggwilv and then by her son, the cambion Iuz. The continued marginalization of the humanoid populations.

To give you a sense of what I'm talking about, check out this animation I made (using files originally created by Photobucket user kwintpendick). Focus on the march of the large red area westward, and then its inevitable retreat back to the east. It's also wonderful to see the mutability of national borders expressed so visually; it shows that the upheavals between CY 576 and 591 aren't an anomaly, but the norm.

This sort of "large sweep of history" should, by definition, encompass at least several centuries. That's why I don't count what are, essentially, local or short-term events such as the rise of the Scarlet Brotherhood, the overrunning of the western Sheldomar Valley by giants, etc.

When one looks at history in terms of huge, sweeping arcs, it can add a sense of grandeur and retrospective purpose to the grand sweep of history that mere lists of kings and lists of battles cannot.