The Boglands, known more formally as the Lordship of the Boglands, is a large tract of land which covers the Stony Shore and Sea Dragon Point, under the official lordly rule of the House Whitemoore and its cadet houses. The Boglands are, as the name implies, covered in many bogs and cold swamps, though forests of pine are also present throughout the territory. The Boglands is considered to be a part of the North, with the House Whitemoore ultimately under the absolute authority of the Warden of the North. The Boglands border the Wolfswood to the east, the Rlls to the South, the Sunset Sea to the west, and the Bay of Ice to the north.
The Boglands are generally divided into two primary regions which have distinct differences between one another. The northern portion of the territory is known as Sea Dragon Point, a large peninsula that extends northwards and separates the Sunset Sea and the Bay of Ice. The southern portion of the territory is known as the Stony Shore, which juts out into the Sunset Sea in a very flat plain and more inland is the terrain more hilly, but still gentle. These two regions share one similar quality, their dense and extensive bog coverage that makes intensive settlement difficult. Overall, the climate of the region is similar throughout the territory as well, with warm, humid summers and abysmally cold, wet winters. Rainfall is extensive, and cloud cover is a commonly known to last days at a time without the sun ever directly shining upon the land.
The more southern Stony Shore is considered to be a shield, having been the site of ancient glaciers which made their way down from the East-of-Shore hills and towards the Sunset Sea. Although it has a rocky, flat terrain made up of many moorlands and bogs, the Stony Shore is covered is grasses suitable to grazing and its topsoil is dense enough to allow for the farming of crops such as cabbages or potatoes. Fauna in the Stony Shore is minimal due to over hunting by ancient peoples, though restrictions on hunting grounds have saw a recent rebirth of animals endemic to the region, namely the Bog deer, along with rabbits, boars, foxes, and seals near the coast. Fish are abundant close the coast, with the most prominent being cod and pollock. The Stony Shore is further divided into three separate geographic regions: the Stony Shore Proper shield, the East-of-Shore hills, and the North-of-Shore bogs. The shield is largely flat and has a moderate amount of topsoil before it reaches the bedrock. The hills are much more rocky than the shield, and generally speaking, are unsuitable for sedentary agriculture, with their rich mineral deposits being their primary economic value instead. The hills also are home to the River Song, a tributary river of the River Brill, which cuts through the middle of the hills into the Brill about halfway across the entirety of the East-of-Shore region. The River Brill stretches from the Twin Lakes further east, the river as a whole defining the southern and eastern boundaries of the Stony Shore and thus the Boglands. The northern bogs are largely flat and are apart of a wetland system known as the Greatflat Bog, the second largest wetlands in Westeros after the wetlands of the Neck.
The northern Sea Dragon Point is notably less rocky than its southern counterpart, although poor soil conditions, dense bog cover, and a colder climate make agriculture even more restrictive than in the south. Sea Dragon Point is home to many forests of conifer trees and bogs alike, with a colder climate making the spread of animals even sparser. Colonies of seals and clams are abundant along the coast, but regional tradition dictates that only a certain short period of time may be allotted to the hunting of seals due to traditions dating thousands of years about their origin and mystical value. Sea Dragon Point has many of the same animals of the Stony Shore, though the coats of these animals are thicker and diets are more intensive. The region is much more systematic in its geographical layout, and cannot be easily divided into seperate regions due to continuities between the region as a whole.
The climate of the region is typically cold and wet, as summers are short, humid, and warm and winters are long, wet, and freezing cold. Proximity to the sea means that snowfalls is generally moderate when compared to the rest of the North, though it is not uncommon for long periods of freeze to overcome the landscape during winter periods. The Boglands are on average very wet with high amounts of yearly rainfall due to constant cloud cover and mists which can last weeks at a time. Fogs are also extremely common, and can remain heavy and moist for up to three months at a time.
The peoples of the Boglands are nearly entirely derived from the First Men, who migrated to the continent of Westeros across the Arm of Dorne around twelve to ten thousand years ago. After conflicts with the native Children of the Forests, the First Men were allowed to settle, with groups of those peoples settling in what would become the present day Boglands. The ancient fortifications and settlements of the First Men would become some of the contemporary locations in the Boglands today, notably Castle Piel and Castle Sealrest. The ancient customs of the Children of the Forest were over time adopted by the First Men, shaping Boglander culture as it would persist into the present day.
Free Marches of the Boglands
Around eight thousand years ago, the Long Night occurred with the invasion of the Others into the North. The Long Night left the Boglands devastated, and the power of regional communities had been greatly reduced. At the time, the collective villages of the Boglands were unified into a loose confederation of villages under the leadership of the House Fisher from their castle at the present day location of Castle Piel. Following the Long Night, this confederation of villages was all but destroyed, and the House Stark used the opportunity to force the hand of House Fisher into submission under their absolute authority. The short conflict that followed, the First War for the Boglands, saw the destruction of many of these villages and the fleeing of many First Men peoples to safer, more inhabitable places in Westeros. Ultimately, the House Fisher was defeated by the House Stark, and the Free Marches of the Boglands was declared as a vassal of the Kings of Winter. The House Fisher was reduced to rule over only the March of Piel, a mere fraction of their former holdings.
The independence of the other Marches of the Boglands was limited, as they were still sworn by oath to uphold the direct wishes of House Stark in their territories. As a result of much scrutiny, several of these Marches rebelled against Stark rule, and summarily, the leaders of the revolts were executed while the majority of the citizens had to be appeased. In an effort to stop constant revolt by subjects in the Boglands, the Starks agreed to allow the Fishers autonomy over the entire region, and the ability of each March to rule themselves was gradually increased under Fisher administration and control. The Fishers remained in power while the Marches remained free, an arrangement which greatly benefitted the malleable and relaxed policies of the Marches themselves.
As the Boglands were apart of the North when the Andals invaded Westeros, the Boglands were some of the few territories of the region to not have been subjected to direct Andal conquest. As a result of years of migration, however, Andal culture slowly made its way into the culture of the Boglands. Over time, the two cultures had mixed to where customs of the Boglands became unique from the rest of the North, and as a result of years of intermarriage, many began to be able to claim Andal blood as well as First Men blood, though First Men blood still dominates Boglander society to this day.
For thousands of years there was peace in the Boglands. As the society flourished from its tranquil state, Ironborn raiders became more interested in taking the territories for themselves. Around seven hundred years before the conquest, Ironborn raiders invaded and conquered a large part of the territory for themselves, completely annihilating House Fisher and driving away many people from the Boglands. As a result, for a period of nearly four hundred years, the Boglands would constantly fall between control of the Ironborn or control of the Starks, with neither side seemingly never able to completely drive out the other. However, three hundred and ten years before the War of Conquest, the skillful Hugh the Liberator was able to, in the name of House Stark, completely push back the Ironborn and drive them out of the Boglands through his careful leadership.
The economy of the Boglands is largely based around agriculture, herding, fishing, and mining. The Boglands are considered to be a prosperous and quaint region without much strife ever striking the lands due to human interaction, and only particularly harsh winters or sustained droughts ever really having any major effect on the economy as a whole. Overall economic prosperity tends to remain within the Boglands themselves, and the wealth of the House Whitemoore is largely attributed through micromanagement and spending measures aimed at increasing the economic potential of the territory. Through the centralised Bank of Pielstown the House has kept a tight grip on economic control, and generally insured that no taxation is too heavy nor is any one individual not paying their fair share of tax. The economy is run largely through central administration of estates and their products, with sales to the public made by allowance of the lordship through the portion of these profits then returning to the lordship for allowance of lordly lands in their production. As such, the management of individual economic practices is lowered, but the use of the land by an individual is what is metered and returned by their profit.
Agriculture, herding, and fishing provide a great amount of wealth to the region through the abundance of food resources that can be collected through central management of their products. The three food collection industries provide a great deal of excess through the collectivisation of their produce and distribution by way of the Boggy Road network that connects principle towns with the outlying villages. Subsistence farming still makes up a great deal of the regional economy, with the vast majority of Boglander farmers producing only enough food for themselves and to give to the lordship. The lordship then uses the vast over abundance of food to provide for those who cannot otherwise acquire food on their own, all the while selling the rest for a large profit. Herding further stimulates this profit, as leather and wool then are made important features of the Boglander economy. The Boglands are known for their extremely high quality leather and wool goods, with many wealthy merchants throughout the Seven Kingdoms seeking out the famous wool and leather wares of the region. Fishing also provides for a large part of the domestic food supply of the country, allowing for more less quickly perishable foodstuffs to be sold while maintaining a sizable domestic food supply.
Mining further contributes to the economy through the wealth of iron, copper, salt, and coal that is present within the Boglands. Iron, copper, and coal are abundant in the hills of East-of-Shore, while salt comes primarily from the Sea Dragon Point. This great wealth of mineral resources is highly profitable for the lordship, with copper and salt profits making up nearly half of the revenue of the lordship alone. Most of the iron and coal is used domestically, as there is only a large enough supply to maintain the needs of the regional populace.
The ways of the Boglander people value the worth of individuals as opposed to the communal views of the peasantry. Instead of each person being a member of society, each person is respected as their own person wholly. A prevalent thought in the society of the region is that the lord is as much as subject to his people, as the people are subjects to their lord. This view of a shared relationship between the lord and the subject means that each individual is not only a member of society, but an individual in more than just name. This view of society as a collective of individuals who make the basis of the lord's power possible is considered to be foreign to many other regions of Westeros, and is largely thought to derive from thousands of years of a loose collective of peoples rather than rule by a single lordship.
The people of the Boglands are a mix of First Men and Andal blood, though the blood the First Men is much stronger in the locals than in other peoples of the Seven Kingdoms. Many cultural traditions of the First Men still make their way into Boglander culture in the contemporary period, with a large amount of people still respecting ancient traditions practised by their ancestors. The local culture of the Boglanders places a great amount of respect in the nature of their environment, and through nearly thousands of years belief a strong respect of the environment has become a major part of Boglander culture. It is for this reason that many oppose clearing the bogs for their peat, and instead, prefer instead to utilise much more skill-based and tedious practices to avoid causing damage to their environment. Boglander culture also sees a great need for nature to permeate throughout even the most desolate of urban environments, and as such, many towns are spread by vast open spaces filled by trees, grasses, and ponds. Hunting is considered to be taboo to many Boglander people after the near extinction of several kinds of animals, and as such, hunting is only allowed on specific seasons where the populations are already large, whereas most hides, leathers, and meats come from domesticated and human-raised animals.
The Boglanders celebrate many different festivals on many different occasions, with the most prominent festivals being related to the growth of a person as their life goes on. The most prominent festivals of the person include one's first, fifteenth, and fiftieth namedays, the celebration of their marriage, and a celebration held after their death in honor of their remembrance. There are also several communal holidays held annually, including the nameday of the lord, the celebration of a new lord, the Festival of the Spring, the Festival of the Moon, and the Festival of the Midsummer. These celebrations come largely from First Men tradition, though Andal influence on the actual practices undertaken during these festivities, which includes the end of animal sacrifices and the end of two wedded persons drinking a small portion of each others blood at their wedding.
The arts of the people of the Boglands consists mainly of the Boglander tradition of bards and their importance in carrying on the ancient customs of the past. Before the use of written symbols to keep information, songs would be passed from bard to bard to tell stories of great heroes, kings, and bandits throughout the history of the Boglands before the introduction of the House Whitemoore and modernised record-keeping. This tradition has carried on into the present day through the classification of practices undertaken by bards, and the systematic rebirth of their practice through more contemporary influences. Music, song, and dance remain large factors of Boglander society, and continue to make up a large part of Boglander society. Instruments of the Boglander bard are the lute, the flute, the drum, and the lyre. Plays based around these long bard songs have also become popular, with many festivals of Boglander tradition holding a play which relates to the reason for the celebration of said holiday. Visual art in the Boglands is more limited, though calligraphy, vexillology, tapestry, and heraldry being the most important forms of visual art in the region.
The diet of the people reflects their geographic nature, and changes based upon proximity to the coast and distance to the more northern portions of the territory. In the north and along the coast, food consists of cod, pollock, clam, lobster, crab, cabbages, potatoes, and carrots, while pork and mutton are also occasionally eaten. There is a distinct lack of grain in the regional diet of northern and coastal peoples, but this is due to the unsuitable nature of their environments to grow rye for bread. More southern and inland diets have much less of a reliance on foods of the sea, with meats consisting heavily of pork, mutton, and beef, and vegetables of radishes, lettuce, rye bread, potatoes, carrots, peas, and pumpkins. Regional drink consists of ale and milk, with water also being drunken in the southern portions of the Boglands because of its abundance of freshwater, especially near the River Song and River Brill.
Boglander dress is similar to styles of dress throughout the rest of the north, though fur is more rarely used and wool preferred as a liner instead. Winter dress is heavy and very covering due to the harsh, cold, and wet winters that the people experience. Boglander boots are made of sheepskin or cattle leather, and are thickly lined with wool then fastened by buckles made of copper. Boglanders wear a tight-fitting pair of tightly woven wool-lined leather leggings known as Wetpants which allow for wading through waters which may rise up to the groin area. A patterned wool shirt known as a Crosserplaid is worn underneath a thickly wool-lined waist-low leather coat, all of which is usually covered by a sometimes hooded, thick fleece cloak that is lined with fur as a sign of wealth and fastened by a copper chain across the upper chest. Summer clothes are much lighter, and reveal much more skin than in winter. Wood-sole, cloth or leather shoes known as Tommics are worn, and short, middle or upper thigh pants made of leather or dyed wool cloth are worn as well. More modest people not accustomed to the Boglander culture of revealing much of one's skin choose to wear a longer variant of these short pants that usually go down past the knee. A lighter variant of the crosserplaid then covers the chest, with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow, with the more modest preferring to keep the sleeves all the way down. On hotter days, many men will not wear shirts, and women will let down their shirts to a very low level. Boglander dress is considered to be grossly indecent to non-locals, and as such, many Boglanders who travel throughout Westeros only wear the traditional Boglander dress when they are in the region, preferring the more modest fashions of the rest of the Seven Kingdoms when travelling abroad.