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Lord Tullus

Could Ilia function economically as a country?

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I don't know if anyone has rocked their brain enough to make a dumb topic like this, but here it is anyway.

I've been fascinated with Ilia as a country for a while now, and have really liked the conditions the mercenaries had to go through. As a concept, it sounds moving: Writing letters to comrades who would keep some treasured belongings or living in bitter conditions that only make you fight harder. Or does it? I've almost completed a full semester of Microeconomics, and I'm still not able to wrap my head around Ilia as a country completely.

Economically, it may not be able to function in the real world. So that got me thinking: "Would it?" Without boring the hell out of those of you who have not taken an economics course or just don't want to deal with complicated jargon, basically I've deduced that in exchange for mercenary work, a trade of common or privately owned resources (and some pay) could be imported from other countries to help prolong the society there. In addition to trade and taxing, Pegasi and the folk that live there could have adapted to the cold; even to endure the harsh blizzards with enough shelter or magical protection. I mean let's face it - after the ending winter, 1000 years allowed them plenty of time to adapt and with a little fire magic, I'm sure that they could survive... right?

If there is anyone who would like to discuss this fake country and how real economics wouldn't work, feel free to add any feedback or knowledge! (Or if you think I'm over-thinking this, tell me that too if you want) We must, as a community, know: Can people economically survive, in a fake, frozen Russia with Flying unicorns?

Edited by Lord Tullus

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Kinda depends on how abundant food is on the rest of the continent. The main problem Ilians have is that they can't grow much in their neck of the woods. Elibe is pretty distinctly feudal, and such societies didn't really tend to have a significant surplus of produce till Turnip Townshend got us going on the agricultural revolution afaik. Short of there being a River Nile equivilant and mild winters in the south (near Nabata maybe?), or relatively advanced agricultural techniques, Ilia seems to be impossible on the basis of there not really being enough food to go around the entire continent.

Maybe Eturia's mages research revitalising the soil or something though I guess.

Edited by Irysa

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Depends. If Ilia actually has spring, summer, and autumn, and the winter maps just happen reflect that particular time of the year Roy and Co are in (which I am assuming as such), then I think Ilians can live off the land to some extent. (Or did the game actually mention about Ilia's winter being perpetual?) Let's not forget that the reputation for Russia's sheer cold does not stop her from having 30+ deg Celcius days during the summer. (This is according to an old Russian friend who live in Melbourne with me years ago - she was from St Petersburg.) And the sheer cold certainly didn't stop real-life Russia from becoming one of the big European empires of the 19th Century, and one of the world's two dominant superpowers of the 20th.

I do wonder what Ilia's political structure is like, though. Or is it just Edessa being to city state and the outlying areas being more or less akin to unclaimed territory run by local warlords? Bern's looks like a centralised state, and Etruria is probably akin to France before the Revolution. Lycia is seems to be a confederate like how Germany was like in the past. Or maybe independent but allied territories like perhaps Australia before the federal government was established in 1901?

Edited by henrymidfields

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Depends. If Ilia actually has spring, summer, and autumn, and the winter maps just happen reflect that particular time of the year Roy and Co are in (which I am assuming as such), then I think Ilians can live off the land to some extent. (Or did the game actually mention about Ilia's winter being perpetual?) Let's not forget that the reputation for Russia's sheer cold does not stop her from having 30+ deg Celcius days during the summer. (This is according to an old Russian friend who live in Melbourne with me years ago - she was from St Petersburg.) And the sheer cold certainly didn't stop real-life Russia from becoming one of the big European empires of the 19th Century, and one of the world's two dominant superpowers of the 20th.

I do wonder what Ilia's political structure is like, though. Or is it just Edessa being to city state and the outlying areas being more or less akin to unclaimed territory run by local warlords? Bern's looks like a centralised state, and Etruria is probably akin to France before the Revolution. Lycia is seems to be a confederate like how Germany was like in the past. Or maybe independent but allied territories like perhaps Australia before the federal government was established in 1901?

It's not just the snow that's the problem, the soil itself is reffered to as being too hard and brittle to grow crops in. Although I did go to review some Ilian supports and Zealot and Juno do talk about how they're making progress with managing to make some parts workable for growing crops (can only assume magic). But they still say they can't grow enough to support their population. So there must be significant surplus elsewhere, or else their population will just keep shrinking till it is sustainable.

Russia is an odd example to use because whilst the chernozem in their soil meant they could grow a lot during the right time of year, their agricultural approaches were pretty behind the times well into the 1900s, and during their status as a superpower they were importing an insane amount of food from America. In fact it might be fair to say that the mismanagement of agriculture in Russia has historically been one of its constant major problems.

Edited by Irysa

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It's not just the snow that's the problem, the soil itself is reffered to as being too hard and brittle to grow crops in. Although I did go to review some Ilian supports and Zealot and Juno do talk about how they're making progress with managing to make some parts workable for growing crops (can only assume magic). But they still say they can't grow enough to support their population. So there must be significant surplus elsewhere, or else their population will just keep shrinking till it is sustainable.

I was reading Farina's supports, and in the one with Karla she did mention that the men, rather than do mercenary work, mainly tend vegetable terraces in the mountains. So limited farming is possible, but clearly not enough if all of Ilia is the snowy wasteland we're used to thinking of it as. I will point out that the first map of the Ilia route in FE6 is very green, probably by virtue of being near the coast.

Maybe subsidization at work? Although that raises questions about Ilia politically. Zealot is explicitly stated to become the country's first king, so before that the country wasn't politically unified. Why would more productive regions attach themselves to such cold and poor mountainous regions when prosperous Etruria is right next door? Shared cultural heritage leading to a loose alliance of territories?

It's likely that employers use food shipments as a method of payment for mercenary service. There are also likely a goodly number of nearby Etrurian farmers who grow enough to sell a limited amount via direct payment. The other possibility is simply that Ilia's population is very small compared to everyone else's, which would make sense given how many of the women work as mercenaries and presumably have a heavy casualty rate.

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Why would more productive regions attach themselves to such cold and poor mountainous regions when prosperous Etruria is right next door?

Unless Ilia's strongest fighters happen to come from the cold and mountainous regions...

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In many ways, Ilia is a lot like Switzerland during the Middle Ages, in that they're a country in not particularly hospitable lands famous for their mercenary corps.

Its made more obvious in Jehena which is pretty much Ilia's desert clone but so many mercenaries leaving the country probably indicates to the fact that it doesn't work, and that people just want to leave.

According to various supports, llia's mercenary corps work outside of the country to support the country's economy, but most Ilians return to Ilia between jobs given that unless it's Shanna marrying Roy most of the Ilian party members return to Ilia according to their long epilogues.

Maybe subsidization at work? Although that raises questions about Ilia politically. Zealot is explicitly stated to become the country's first king, so before that the country wasn't politically unified. Why would more productive regions attach themselves to such cold and poor mountainous regions when prosperous Etruria is right next door? Shared cultural heritage leading to a loose alliance of territories?

It's mentioned that Barigan, one of the Eight Heroes, founded Ilia's first mercenary guild, so the most likely answer is shared cultural heritage.

I do wonder what Ilia's political structure is like, though. Or is it just Edessa being to city state and the outlying areas being more or less akin to unclaimed territory run by local warlords? Bern's looks like a centralised state, and Etruria is probably akin to France before the Revolution. Lycia is seems to be a confederate like how Germany was like in the past. Or maybe independent but allied territories like perhaps Australia before the federal government was established in 1901?

The country seems to have some sort of loose political structure based around what's called "the Knights' Union of Ilia" according to Zealot's ending, where he unifies them into the Kingdom of Ilia. I can't remember exactly where, but he's also mentioned explicitly to be lord of Edessa, so presumably the Knights' Union is some sort of loose political alliance of the various lords and mercenary guilds.

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It probably wouldn't work - you're better-versed than me in the specifics - but I can guarantee you the world-builders weren't thinking about it hard enough.

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Russia is an odd example to use because whilst the chernozem in their soil meant they could grow a lot during the right time of year, their agricultural approaches were pretty behind the times well into the 1900s, and during their status as a superpower they were importing an insane amount of food from America. In fact it might be fair to say that the mismanagement of agriculture in Russia has historically been one of its constant major problems.

Wait, so they were importing food from their biggest enemies during the Cold War? I'm actually having a hard time believeing this. Or was that part of the Marshall Plan after Russia got hammered hard by Nazi Germany, and the US kept exporting just so that the Russians won't get desparate and start World War III in the form of invading Western Europe/East Asia? (Like one of the more valid reasons for Nohr in Fates to invade Hoshido.)

Edited by henrymidfields

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Nah it mostly started under Khrushchev in 1961. The tl;dr is that Lysenko was an idiot that spouted psuedoscience that Stalin liked and his agricultural policies caused serious damage to Russia's farming capabilities, although generally it was the rural areas that suffered from starvation and rationing as the Soviet Government wasn't fairly distributing food. It got to the point where the Soviets decided to import grain in order to not suffer constant shortfalls. If you want some quick examples of stuff, google things like The Great Grain Robbery or United States Grain Embargo against Soviet Union. There's plenty more out there though.

Edited by Irysa

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Don't forget that Krushchev's agricultural reforms were disastrous, and that his push to export produce ended up creating internal shortages, which had to be compensated for by import (or simply by leaving people to die, like in China).

It doesn't matter though, Russian land is decently fertile. And humans only settle in fertile land to begin with. As far as I know, there've only been settlements in infertile regions if they served as major trade nodes, or if there are valuable goods to be found. Ilia as I understand from Fe6 would be like Lapland or the northern territories of Canada. There should not be settlements.

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The idea that the country is poor and barren and that people turn to mercenary work to survive is believable, for the setting. Where it gets wierd and you have to start wondering "...how does this work???" is with the gender roles. You have this middle age level civilization where every neighbor country follows the "men are leaders and warriors; a women's place is beneath her husband") model. Then u have this 1 country where all the fighting is done by women on flying horses, while the men stay at home to tend the fields. how does that work???

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I like where your going with this. It is true Illia may not be able to function in real world. But, also remember they are next to both Sacae and Etruria. Trading with those countries would keep it stable to a point. But, because of little trade food goes up in prices. Adding to that theres barely any work in Illia and people beed to become mercenaries to make money for their families. I did Macroeconomics.

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Mountains = iron is not a reliable statement at all.

I'd say it depends on the type of mountains.

The idea that the country is poor and barren and that people turn to mercenary work to survive is believable, for the setting. Where it gets wierd and you have to start wondering "...how does this work???" is with the gender roles. You have this middle age level civilization where every neighbor country follows the "men are leaders and warriors; a women's place is beneath her husband") model. Then u have this 1 country where all the fighting is done by women on flying horses, while the men stay at home to tend the fields. how does that work???

Well, those same flying horses are stated to only really allow female riders (although apparently they're fine with male passengers), and if the Illians do find use for them then it explains the shift in demographics. Not that male soldiers or mercenaries don't exist (like Zealot, Treck, and Noah in Binding Blade. In fact, Zealot is apparently the overall leader of both), or women in non-combat roles, but depending on pegasi populations and how many of them are used for battle purposes, then it makes sense if the country encourages more women to become soldiers or mercenaries.

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"Zealot is explicitly stated to become the country's first king, so before that the country wasn't politically unified."

...not necessarily...there's another way to interpret this statement...

Because of the power of the pegasus knights and their value to the Ilian economy, Ilia has always been a land where women held power. Thus it would have always been ruled by QUEENS.

Zealot being the first king could be a reference not to the fact that this was the first time Ilia was politically unified under a monarchy, but rather, that this was the first time the Ilian throne was occupied by a man.

That's always how I've thought of it. Ilia is ruled by a Queen, and maybe a handful of nobles in the queen's services. But its a weak central government that holds power over a handful of population centers and production sites deemed important to the crown's interests; caring nothing for the well-being of Ilia's greater population and feeling no particular need to exercise power over the hinterlands of Ilian territory.

Leaving the mercenary guilds as the primary givers of social order and protection-of-law across the neglected countryside, where no Queen could ever be bothered to establish governorships or station knights and watchmen.

Edited by Shoblongoo

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In terms of having a workable economy, here is how it would have to work.

Ilia itself lacks the agricultural resources to sustain its own population. To remedy this, it must engage in trade with its neighbors. We may presume that the plains of Sacae are plentiful in grain and grazing animals. We may further presume that any agricultural surplus from Etruria, Lycia, and Bern would be available in international commerce.

To trade with its neighbors, however, Ilia itself must have something that it can offer as an exchange of value. Some highly sought-after good or service.

While the games tell us that Ilia is a generally poor country and has a severe scarcity of farmland, it is never explicitly stated that the land produces nothing of value.

They have a northern coastline; that's a source Sea salts. Maybe whale oil. (a vibrant fishing industry could partially make up for the lack of usable farmland)

Ore from the mountains has been mentioned as a possible commodity. However, we see in FE6 that the Western Isles are most heavily valued by Etruria as a source of mining wealth. Indicating that this is already an occupied niche in the Elibean economy, with high barriers to entry for poorer countries, and Ilia probably isn't generating a great deal of trade with mineral wealth.

Much of Ilia should be covered in evergreen forests. Fur pelts and timber could be viable commodities.

Now the only thing explicitly mentioned as an external source of revenue is mercenary work. A service; not a good. Ilia is a service-based economy. But that's not to say they don't also trade goods to get goods. Only that revenue from the mercenary services they provide is the greater source of wealth, and whatever resources Ilia is getting from trading its own goods is quantitatively inferior to what they are purchasing with the revenue from mercenary contracts.

...We may further presume that because Ilia is so dependent on trade to feed its people, there is a great deal of merchant activity between Ilia and its southern neighbors.

...We may further presume that this merchant activity would be a target for bandits.

...We may further presume that the need to protect merchants from bandits would generate more mercenary work, which would in turn generate more revenue, which would in turn generate more merchant activity, which would in turn generate more mercenary work... (it becomes a self-sustaining cycle)

So there is a workable foundation for an economy there. It's nasty, brutish, and dependent on constant warfare + the need of wealthier nations to pad their ranks with foreign soldiers.

But its not the most ridiculous thing in Fire Emblem.

Edited by Shoblongoo

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"Zealot is explicitly stated to become the country's first king, so before that the country wasn't politically unified."

...not necessarily...there's another way to interpret this statement...

Because of the power of the pegasus knights and their value to the Ilian economy, Ilia has always been a land where women held power. Thus it would have always been ruled by QUEENS.

Zealot being the first king could be a reference not to the fact that this was the first time Ilia was politically unified under a monarchy, but rather, that this was the first time the Ilian throne was occupied by a man.

That's always how I've thought of it. Ilia is ruled by a Queen, and maybe a handful of nobles in the queen's services. But its a weak central government that holds power over a handful of population centers and production sites deemed important to the crown's interests; caring nothing for the well-being of Ilia's greater population and feeling no particular need to exercise power over the hinterlands of Ilian territory.

Leaving the mercenary guilds as the primary givers of social order and protection-of-law across the neglected countryside, where no Queen could ever be bothered to establish governorships or station knights and watchmen.

I would disagree on Illia having Queens, or any sort of royalty before Zealot and his wife. A detail like that would've bound to be mentioned at some point, but it wasn't. In fact, the only authority positions mentioned at all is the Leader of the Mercenary Knights (in-game currently held by Zealot), and the Flightleader, who is, well, the leader of all the Pegasus Knight squads (of which Yuno is a retired one, and Sigune holds the position during the game's events).

Edited by Acacia Sgt

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What gets me is how FE6 seems to imply the men's mercenary forces are inferior to the women's - I can dig the pegasus thing personally (though back in the day I once had a special snowflake male pegasus knight OC, hue), but Barigan founded Ilia, Barigan founded the merc guilds, and Barigan... was a dude. So, lolwat there.

Anyway, as others have said, Ilia may heavily rely on mercs for its economy but that's not all it would have - it has farms (fickle as they can be), it has a coastline so fishing is likely a big deal, it has mountains so mining supports it in some capacity, if just to sustain itself. The comparisons to medieval switzerland and its mercenaries is quite apt honestly.

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Ilia has much more going for it than Thracia, realistically. Ilia has a lot of conifers, meaning a lumber industry, especially with Sacae being full of hunters, but sorely lacking the wood to make bows and arrows. And whatever money Ilian mercenaries make go into buying food. Thracia has rocky mountains that yield precious little ore, and their nearest neighbors are an even poorer island and probably the most elitist country on the entire continent, which happens to also hate them so much that no amount of gold would be worth giving them food. Ilia very well could've become like Thracia, were it not for the fact Bern already fills the aggressive niche in Elibe.

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What light was shed on Ilia's relations with other countries in either FE6 or 7, if any? That would make or break its realistic functionality as a country.

Sorry if it was mentioned in the thread already

Edited by disjunct.ion

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On 12/9/2016 at 3:12 AM, disjunct.ion said:

What light was shed on Ilia's relations with other countries in either FE6 or 7, if any? That would make or break its realistic functionality as a country.

Sorry if it was mentioned in the thread already

I have recently replayed the GBA games, and refreshed my recollection on this subject.

Ilian Mercenaries appear recurrently in the service of Lycia and Etruria throughout both FE6 and FE7. Bern: not-so-much. 

Bern presumably is not keen on using foreign mercenaries, as it has its own first-class military and an abundance of battle-ready soldiers. They specifically have no need of pegasus knights, what with their giant fuck-off airforce of wyvern riders.

In the FE7 period, however, the Black Fang forces based in Bern (and which are explicitly stated to operate in opposition to the corrupt nobles of the Bernese government) have pegasus knights among their ranks. So at least during the Black Fang period, there was work for Illian mercenaries in Bern.

Lycia and Etruria remain a steady source of employment at all times.

Something that really stands out about Illian mercenaries and that appears to be a commonly known fact in Elibe is: Illian mercenaries have a reputation for never, ever betraying their employer. 

-This comes up when Farina is making the case to Hector that shes worth her asking price in FE7


-This comes up again when the Ilians hired to fight for the Lycian Alliance in FE6 refuse to break their contract, even after Bern is looking like its about to perform a full rout on the Ostian front and Hector has been slain and their service to his lordship has arguably ended. (they say their client is Lycia, not Hector, and they keep fighting)  

-This comes up again when Tate switches sides on the Wester Isles (she justifies herself as not betraying her employer because General Klien turned against Etruria's occupying forces and her client isn't Etruria; its general Klien)


..this professional reputation is what makes Ilians so highly sought-after as mercenaries...

Vs taking on...sayyyyy...a mercenary wyvern rider...or a lone swordsman from Sacae...

The presumption might be that the rider turned mercenary because he was deemed unfit for military service in Bern. Or that the swordsman is a known criminal who had to flee the justice of his clan. That these are morally suspect fellow. That if you're hiring such mercenaries, you're rolling the dice on whether they fight for you or just stab you in the back + run off with your gold.

...but with an Ilian...you know what you're getting. You're getting service. You're getting loyalty. You're getting the professional reputation of the guilds.

It being the case that mercenaries by their nature are of fleeting loyalty--always looking for the net highest bidder--a well-earned reputation for trustworthiness would be a most precious commodity in the soldier-for-hire-trade. Something that would demand instant recognition, respect, and interest from prospective employers.

And something that, if Ilian mercenaries have worked as exceptionally hard to cultivate and protect as the games suggest, would viably give them a very marketable niche on a continent with a sizable market for soldiers-for-hire. 


 

Edited by Shoblongoo

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Is it ever actually stated that all of the pegasus riders you face are Ilian mercenaries?  If not, is it possible that Ilia may trade in pegasi?

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