Founded by Emperor Kordillus Drakon, the Orlesian Empire or simply Orlais is one of the most powerful nations in Thedas. Val Royeaux is the capital of Orlais, as well as the Chantry's seat of power and home to the Divine. Amongst its previous rulers were Emperor Reville and Emperor Florian. Orlais conquered Ferelden in 8:44 Blessed, but was expelled before the beginning of the Dragon Age by King Maric Theirin.
Culture and Society Edit
Ambitious and wealthy, Orlais is the most powerful single human nation in Thedas. Under its current ruler, Empress Celene I, Orlais has a large aristocracy famed for its culture and extravagance. Celene shares the expansionist dream of Orlais's founder, Kordilius Drakon, that the nation's borders should stretch to the edges of the continent.
Another characteristic of the noble class is their penchant for high fashion, often copied in other lands such as Nevarra and the Free Marches but always at its most extreme within Orlais. Both men and women wear cosmetics of various kinds, with subtle differences that indicate social standing. In public, they are also prone to wearing very elaborate masks. These are hereditary and identify one's family almost as uniquely as the heraldry on a crest. Servants also wear masks in public that are simpler and not so elaborate as their masters' which indicate the noble household they serve.
Aristocratic society is vicious and marked by fawning envy to the powerful. Bards often entertain nobles in their courts despite their roles as spies, assassins and saboteurs for their employers (usually other nobles). Nobles welcome such entertainers with full knowledge that any could be a bard; the thrill of outwitting a spy is a notion the Orlesian aristocracy can hardly resist.
The capital city is Val Royeaux, which boasts the University of Orlais: a major center of learning that attracts young nobles from all over Thedas with the best education one can buy. The University is a relatively modern institution, whose liberal-minded professors have already clashed with religious conservatives over the content of their classes. This is likely to become a much larger issue in the future.
The Summerday holiday is particularly holy in Orlais. This holiday celebrates the beginning of summer and on this day children who come of age wear white tunics and gowns and join a procession to the local chantry. When they reach it, they are taught the responsibilities of being an adult. It is celebrated at the beginning of Molioris.
In Orlais, land is owned exclusively by the aristocracy. Power rests solely in the Emperor or Empress as in many monarchies in Thedas where power descends from the throne, unlike Ferelden whose power derives from the support of freeholders.
Many Orlesian nobles belong to its renowned knightly order, the Chevaliers. The martial training of the Chevaliers is legendarily harsh, instilling in the knights a fierce discipline and code of honor that takes precedence over the value of their own lives. The penalty for dishonor is death, something that a Chevalier would welcome if he or she has failed their lord. They are honored by many and are considered amongst the best of all soldiers but they also have unlimited rights when it comes to handling the peasantry; a cause of many conflicts.
During the years leading to The Mage-Templar War, many Orlesian nobles began to plot to re-conquer Ferelden. This was against Empress Celene's wishes, who did what she could to hold the peace and bring her nobles under control, but seditious plots were still whispered, increasing tension with many Fereldans.
|“I spent my time cleaning. Like a servant.” — Shale|
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Asunder. Click here to reveal them.
"The game" refers to the perpetual competition for influence and esteem between the Orlesian nobles. Every Orlesian of noble birth is subject to their peers' manipulation, if not as a player, then as a pawn, and the only way out seems to be joining the Chantry (or affiliated organizations, such as the Templar Order and the Circle of Magi). Long before Emperor Kordillus Drakon I first established the Orlesian Empire, the local nobility possessed an intricate system of titles. Concerned with the civil instability caused by their often brutal struggle for nobility ranks, Drakon abolished all titles except Emperor, Lord, and Lady. Far from ending the game, however, he instead shifted its focus to obtaining tokens of prestige, such as patronages and familial ties.
The goals of the game are personal prestige, reputation, and patronage, and its "rules" are as simple as "anything goes". Success is achieved by social one-upmanship, wherein rumors, scandals, insinuation, bribery, and conspiracy are used to advance at the expense of less skillful players. When the bloodless means aren't enough, the nobles employ assassins and it is said that more Orlesian blood was spilled in the game than in any war they have fought. The biggest prize in the game around 9:37 Dragon was the favor of Dowager Lady Mantillon, late Emperor Florian's mistress and the shadow ruler of Orlais who assassinated Florian and enthroned his niece Celene.
Music, masks, cosmetics, and dancing are cornerstones of the Orlesian noble society, so the sprawling masquerade balls naturally become battlefields of the game. Both allies and enemies are traditionally invited to such events, which gave rise to the institute of the bards: traveling musicians also trained in espionage, larceny, and assassination. Matching wits with them is one of the game's major thrills, and the nobles welcome bards with open arms even when suspecting ill will. Control of these auteur agents for hire is an important part of the game.
- Val Royeaux - Capital, location of the first Circle of Magi in White Spire, Grand Cathedral and headquarters for the Seekers of Truth.
- Montsimmard - Headquarters of the Orlesian Grey Wardens and a second Circle of Magi.
- Halamshiral - Former capital of the Dalish Elves
- Jader - Nearest major Orlesian city to Ferelden
- Montfort - Ancestral home of the Montfort noble family.
- Val Chevin
- Val Firmin
- Val Foret
- Andoral's Reach
- The Dales
- The Western Approach with the Adamant fortress
- Deauvin Flats
- Gamordan Peaks
- Lake Celestine
- Nahashin Marshes
- The Abyssal Reach (also called the Abyssal Rift)
- The Arbor Wilds
- The Heartlands
Notable people with Orlesian originsEdit
- Aveline, Knight of Orlais
- Empress Celene I
- Gascard DuPuis
- Jeshavis, first female gjoya, or chieftan, of the unified proto-Orlesian tribe and creator of the Game
- The Baroness
- The Warden-Commander (depending on player's choice; new character)
- Orlais is based on the real-world nation of France (note how its name is similar to Orléans), with which it shares cultural, social, and political aspects.
- Most importantly, the relation between Orlais and Ferelden is modeled on the one between medieval France and England, with the latter being conquered by French Normans just like Orlais occupied Ferelden (but the in-game counterpart was later drawn away from Ferelden).
- The great political prominence of a cultured and self-indulging nobility, the chevaliers (which is French for "knights")
- Orlesian given names resemble French given names and Orlesian characters speak with a French accent.
- It is also interesting to note that Orlesian toponyms include French words, such as the ancient val meaning "valley", mont, meaning "mount", and so on.
- Orlais was once called Arles. The name was changed because Arles is a real town in France.
- Leliana is culturally Orlesian. She was born and raised there but considers herself a Fereldan because her mother came from Denerim. She often remarks of the fashionable shoes of Orlais compared to the rugged boots of Ferelden.
- In the expansion pack Awakening, if the player chooses not to import a previous Warden character, they have the option to play as a new Grey Warden character from Orlais, starting at level 18.
- It was hinted by BioWare Dragon Age team during PAX East 2012 that the next game (after Dragon Age II) will take place in Orlais.
See also Edit
- ↑ Dragon Age: Asunder pg 23
- ↑ As noted in the note "Jeshavis, Mother of Orlais," in Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, volume 1, pg. 63.
- ↑ Gaider, David. "where is Orthland?". BioWare Forums. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
- The Official Mini Guide