A Short History of Altamira


Rancho Soldano's largest (and really only) city began as little more than a good spot for the local fishing. The islands downriver slowed the Trade River's flow and in some spots created an upriver current. This created a "hole" very close to shore which was a habitat for several deep water fish species. The locals kept very quiet about this fact and thus, for the first century of its habitation, it never boasted more than a hundred residents within a 10 mile radius.

However that all changed in 1171 when the High King of Castille, Ramon III began several commercial ventures in an attempt to stimulate Castille's trade. It was in disastrous shape after his predecessor Enrique II's ("The Mad") numerous, and ill-advised, public tirades about "Vodacce’s Thieves" (the Merchant Princes).

Prior to Ramon, Castille's sole trade port on the Trade River was Barcino. Unfortunately its design as a naval fortress (combined with Enrique's threats to fire upon Vodacce merchants) and location so far downriver from Vodacce impeded more trade than it brought in. Ramon planned to change all that with a trade port on the other end of the River. With amazing foresight, he planned a deep water port so ocean-going vessels had a place to stop upriver (previously they stopped in Paix, taking their business to the Montaigne). Meanwhile, the river-going vessels would no longer need to navigate the more dangerous currents nearer the coast. With its idealized location close to all Castille's neighbors, the deep-water fishing hole in northeastern Rancho Soldano make the perfect spot.

But there was more to it than that. Rancho Soldano was always (and in most ways continues to be) a bit 'backward' in its outlook. Soldano's residents congregate not in large cities like everywhere else in Castille (and Theah for that matter) but rather in small, almost familial, groups. It is quite common for the typical Soldano to know (and be related, even if distantly) every person they've ever met. The Rancho is a healthy mix of grassland, farmland, hills, and wild forest. All in all, while valuable for food, lumber, and other subsistence crops, it's lack of centralized government makes it a low priority for invading armies.

In point of fact, there has only been one major fortification in all the Rancho, Fortaleza de San Fermín, along the Castille/Vodacce boarder. And the ruins which are all that's left could hardly be thought of as strategically noteworthy.

So, with all this in mind, Ramon designed Altamira for trade rather than defense. From its inception it boasted wide roads, plentiful storage, and easy access for ships. Within a very short period of time merchants flooded in to begin trade. It proved so successful that even now, almost 500 years later, Altamira easily maintains its title as one of the leading mercantile hubs of mainland Theah.

Dia de la Paz

The celebration of the Day of Peace takes place throughout Castille and celebrates a battle which took place near the end of the Hieros War (approximately 1018 AUC). It took place at the fortress of San Fermin in the northern foothills of La Cierra de Hierro near the Castille/Vodacce border.

The specifics of the battle are lost to antiquity, but this much is known. The 3rd Prophet's soldiers had laid siege to the fortress and were slowly starving its defenders out. However, while watching from the battlefield, they were moved to pity for their enemies within. Under a flag of truce, they offered to bring food, water, and medical supplies to the beleaguered defenders who were dying inside the walls.

As good as their word, the soldiers delivered enough for all within to partake. Thereupon they saluted their enemies for their valiant efforts and ceased their attack for three days.

The defenders were so moved, they took to an impromptu celebration in the streets. And it was said the music and merriment were so loud and so joyous that the soldiers could not help but partake also. If the stories are to be believed, individuals from both sides made merry on both sides of the battle.

In the end, neither side triumphed. The defenders, in thanks for the merciful gift of food and water to starving people, voluntarily quit the castle. And the attackers, in gratitude for the gifts of music and merriment, never took control of it.

San Fermín stood in place for over 400 more years as the most complete dark ages fortress, until torrential downpours in 1483 caused a mudslide that wiped most of the remaining stone away.

Altamira's Dia de la Paz

While every city in Castille has a Día de La Paz celebration, most Castillian's would agree that no place in celebrates La Día the way Altamira does. This is because events in Altamira’s history mirrored the outcome of the famous Battle of San Fermin 500 years later.

It began in 1551 when a particularly hot summer combined with an extremely low rainfall to create the famine of '51. The people of Altamira did their best to weather the storm, but the lack of goods made trade particularly poor that year. Things were looking particularly bleak when, unbeknownst to Altamira's citizens, a coalition of traders came calling. All up and down The River, towns and villages as far away as the easternmost border of Eisen sent food and goods to ease the suffering of Altamira's citizens. It seemed all felt, to a greater or lesser extent, that they owed their livelihoods to the famous trade city.

So moved were the people that it was decided from that day forth, Día de La Paz would be held and all citizens, no matter their nationality, would be welcome.

Hard Times

Never has Altamira's title, "the most peaceful place in Castille," been put to the test more than during wartime. There have been countless battles and skirmishes between Castille and its neighbors throughout history. But, it seems Altamira was always mercifully spared any such direct confrontations. However, the wars with Eisen and Montaigne during 1666 were especially difficult.

Despite not being of military interest, Altamira was still a storehouse for the goods and foodstuffs so necessary to wage war. As a result, after troops bound for Eisen and Montaigne were shipped out of Barcino, it fell to Altamira to keep them supplied. It was a situation that threatened to disrupt trade in the area (and Altamira's livelihood).


Mercifully the Eisen invasion was a decidedly bloodless conquest. The Eisen were sick of war and fighting, and despite their fearsome reputations as implacable enemies, put up very little resistance to the fresh Castillian soldiers.

There were plans to use Altamira as a staging point for Castille's troops (and a brand new barracks was built in the center of town for just the occasion). However, the Treaty of Weissburg made all the preparations moot. Eisen was devastated but trade went on.


Altamira again found itself at war with its trade neighbors a very short time later when Vatacine zealots (under the direction of the Inquisition) crossed the Trade River at Barcino bound to remove the heretical L'Empereur from power. Fortunately for the city, L'Empereur was not without a sense of irony. Once he'd managed to forestall the Castillian invasion, he returned the favor and headed south using the same route the invaders had. So, while there are foreign invaders commanding Castillian soil, this is seen as a far-away problem in Altamira.


Rumors about how Altamira has stayed away from war and focused on the business of trade, abound. Some say that the Sandovals, as in love with Altamira as everyone else in Castille, simply haven't had the heart to ruin this pristine land. Others suggest that the rulers of Rancho Soldano throughout its history have saved favors then begged, pleaded, argued, and blackmailed whomever they needed to, in order to keep Altamira out of the fighting. Still others, more levelheaded, suggest the almighty Guilder is at the heat of the matter. Ruining Altamira's reputation as a welcoming center of trade would have devastating effects not only on the city but throughout Castille.