The Old World: Real World Provinces of the Empire – PRIME
The Empire of The Old World is a wide and varied place…though strikingly familiar.
The Empire is the largest faction of the Old World, with tendrils reaching to every landmass and colonies in almost every major kingdom. Under the tutelage of the various Emperors and the various Elector Counts, the major provinces of the Empire have survived Skaven plagues, Undead hordes, and invasions of Chaos, Orks, and other unsavory characters. In fact, it took the breaking of the world to finally bring the Empire down for good, and even then, some of the greatest heroes endured through the Stormcast Eternals or the Cities of Sigmar.
Basing itself in the real world, the Empire is in name and function a mirror of the Holy Roman Empire, complete with the symbol of the eagle as the iconography. The Germanic naming conventions, the puffy and split-colored military uniforms, and even the style of warfare all harken back to the pre-Napoleonic kingdom of middle Europe. Also, like the Holy Roman Empire, the Empire of the Old World was a democratic Empire with lesser counts serving to maintain each province under the oversight of the Emperor. Some territories have relatively easy matches in the real world, based on their positioning and naming convention, while others are a bit more of a stretch. For detailed information on each territory, be sure to check out Lexicanum at the link at the end of this article, but let’s take a look at the real-world inspiration for each of the Imperial provinces.
Averland – One of the southernmost regions of the Empire, Averland bordered the World’s Edge mountain range and was the closest link the Empire had to Karaz-a-Karak, the most contentious of the Dwarven stronghold. Their symbol was a bright sun on a dark background, and they boasted the most ostentatious heraldry. It makes sense, then, that their location correlates with the Duchy of Bohemia in the modern-day Czech Republic. Averland was also said to have a particularly doughty legion of knights called the Order of the Black Bear, which is apt considering how often Bohemia vied for and nearly won their independence throughout history.
Hochland – A small, central region in the Empire, Hochland is entirely covered in the haunted Drakwald forest, home to Beastmen and Undead monsters alike, and its real-world counterpart Thuringia is a forest land as well. Known as “the green heart of Germany” thanks to the dense forest that covers it, Thuringia was reabsorbed into Germany in the late 1700s, was reorganized and eliminated during World War I, and finally reestablished in 1990. Because of the dense forests, Hochland boasts hunters of exceptional skill and is the namesake of the Hochland Long Rifle used by Imperial Engineers to deliver death from afar. Both the forestry and heavy industry follow the style of the Thuringian economy, which boasts a robust forestry industry even while such needs are on the decline.
Middenland – The home of the ferocious Teutogen tribe before the time of Sigmar, Middenland makes up one of the largest of the regions of the Empire. Its real-world counterpart, the Duchy of Lorraine, or Lotharingia, changed hands many times since its inception, sometimes belonging to France, sometimes to Germany and the Empire, and sometimes being an independent state on its own. The Teutogens themselves seem very similar to ancient Britons, so much so that their king at the time of Sigmar was named Artur, so it makes sense that Lorraine is geographically close to the southern coast of the United Kingdom.
Nordland – The northernmost region of the Empire, Nordland actually extends much further than its borders would suggest and has maintained its place in the Empire even though it is financially and militaristically weaker than its sister kingdoms to the south. It is situated in a geographically similar position to the modern-day Netherlands, which was called Holland at the time of the HRE. Much like the separation of Nordland from the Empire, the Netherlands maintain a language separation from the Holy Roman Empire by speaking primarily Dutch.
Ostermark – The Realm hit hardest by Chaos Incursions in the Empire, Ostermark nonetheless maintains its strength and prosperity, albeit the frequency of attack has also brought with it a nihilistic populace obsessed with death. It is in the same geological region as the collection of tiny Duchies known as the Northern Marches, which also likely suffered the attention of Danish invaders thanks to their proximity.
Ostland – Ostland is the middle northern province of the Empire, featuring large bearded warriors, heavy worship of the other deities of man, and prevalence of drink. It is similar to the real-world Duchy of Saxony, the primary settlement point of the marauding Saxons in the Early Middle Ages. It makes sense that a land of vikings would have the largest warriors and the most diverse theology.
Reikland – The southwestern province of the Empire that was the original home of Sigmar’s tribe, Reikland was the seat of power of the last Emperor, Karl Franz, and an important trade hub thanks to the river Reik that flowed through the kingdom and gave it its name. It has a similar position to the Duchy of Swabia, which also boasts the Rhine river and borders France, or Fantasy Bretonnia. The word Reik might also evoke some nasty images in German history, but thankfully the spelling is different.
Stirland – The land of the Asoborns, people of the warrior queen Freya, Stirland annexed the vampiric province of Sylvania, though it remains an independent state. It makes up the same area as several real-world provinces, including the Marches north of Bohemia and the area of Nordgau.
Talabecland – A contentious people, the Cults of Taal and Ulric in Talabecland were able to break from the Empire for a while while the Cult of Sigmar ruled it from Stirland. It is situated in the same region as the Duchy of Franconia, which became the center of modern-day Germany.
Wissenland – The southernmost region of the Empire, Wissenland was an important hub thanks to its several mountain passes. It fills the same area as the Duchy of Bavaria and the Eastern March, the Carinthian March, and the March of Carniola. Wissenland has forestry to the east, agriculture to the west, and trade throughout, so it is one of the most affluent regions in the Empire.
“Lost” Sylvania – Though once a thriving Empire settlement, Sylvania fell victim to a vampire plague and now sits firmly on the other side of the good/evil line (though hilariously enough Manfred still TECHNICALLY has a seat as an Elector Count). It sits firmly in the March of Zeitz, but let’s be honest…it’s Romania/Transylvania. It’s right there in the name.