Which brings us to today's post! This is the latest installment in my "Questions to Ask When..." blog series, and you can check out my previous posts on religions, magic, and cities, if you so please.
Today the theme of my questions revolves around developing a particular country's history, from the beginning to its current year. While they apply more to fantasy works, don't shy away completely! My aim is to give you questions to guide you or inspire you throughout the phase of your world-building, no matter what genre you write in.
Now, onto the questions!
1) What was the first people group to claim the land? Why did they migrate to the area; for new farming ground, exploration, resources, etc.? Are they still in control?
In my WIP, Splintered Crown, a group of several hundred slaves fled from the country that had kept them captive, into the land now known as Cynnica. They climbed over a range of mountains into what was deemed "unreachable" land, desperation for freedom driving their steps, and then they forged a country from the soil they stepped on.
2) What is the country's geography like? Has this limited communication with other people groups, or encouraged trade and exchange of ideas? Has this led to the primary culture staying the same or adapting?
3) What was the first settlement? Is that the current capital, or does it no longer exist?
4) What kinds of governments have reigned over the land; monarchies, democracies, republics, etc.? Is is the same or different from the current one? If different, what led to this shift? Was there dissatisfaction within the people, or another cause?
5) What are its founding principles or values? Were these grounded in religious theology, or something else?
6) Who are the legends that exist in the land's history? Are they famous warriors, kings and queens, criminals, etc.? Were they once living figures, or is it all fiction?
The largest legend in Cynnica is King Nikias and Queen Zenias, of whom were the leaders of the fleeing group of slaves. They became the first king and queen, and though much of their legend is true, there is a lot of speculation about whether or not Zenais was a slave at all.
7) How many wars has this land been engaged in? Were they the instigators of these wars, or were they defending themselves from other powers? What were the outcome of these wars; did they win, lose, or declare a truce?
8) Have there been any civil wars? Who was the winner, and how has this affected the people on both sides?
9) Has the land's borders ever shifted? Is this a result of conflict, conquest, or both?
10) What was considered the country's "peak" period? Is it called this because of an economic boom, visionary leader, great architectural feats, military conquests, or something else?
11) Has the country been welcoming to foreigners, do they bar them from entering, or do they isolate them within their communities? How has this affected their economy, exposure to cultures, and religious beliefs?
12) How is history passed on; is it written down in documents, or is it passed on orally? What are the problems with passing on their history this way?
13) Are there any other countries that have been long time enemies or allies with this one? What is the reason for this relationship?
Cynnica's relationship with the Mistan Empire, where their ancestors were held captive, is also fraught with tension. This is because the Mistan Empire still uses slave labour, and for Cynnicans this is deplorable. Some tense trade negotiations have been made, but inhabitants of both countries are constantly in fear of being in a war with each other.
14) What are children taught about the country's history? Are they taught everything, an altered version, or only its glorious moments? How does this affect the child's perspective of their country?
15) What is the age of this country? Is it divided into eras; if so, what are they?
16) Are there any ruins? Were they destroyed, or abandoned, and why?
17) Has the country been hit by any epidemics or plagues? How much life was lost as a result?
18) Are there any festivals that celebrate its history, or victorious moments? Are there are times of silences or periods of remembrance to honour less victorious times?
19) Do any statues or memorials exist to honour historical figures or those killed in particular battles? How are these viewed by the community; are they cared for with respect, or neglected?
Within Cynnica's capital palace's gardens, a maze of yellow roses with a memorial in its center, honours those who lost their lives in the recent civil war. Once a year, on the day the war was won, citizens make the trip through the maze to lay a rose down beside the memorial.
20) If you could pinpoint one particular event that shaped the country the most, what would it be, and why?
And that wraps up this post! I really hope that these questions can be of help to you in your world-building process!
Are you a big fan of history, or do you shy away from it? What's one key event of your world's history? Did any real world historical moment inspire it?
Best of luck with your writing, and have a great day! <3