From the late Middle Ages well through the period of the Enlightenment and into the 19th Century, the map of Middle Europe was a crazy quilt of tiny vest-pocket principalities. Once such principality is the fictional country of Ruritania, setting for the Anthony Hope novel, The Prisoner of Zenda.
Ruritania is a tiny, picturesque country located somewhere between Saxony and Bohemia. It's captial, Strelsau, lies on the railway line between Dresden and Prague. It is an absolute monarchy and for centuries was ruled by the Elphberg dynasty.
The popularity of The Prisoner of Zenda has led stories set in similar tiny nations to be called Ruritanian Romances.
Notable Ruritanian Countires
Game and Story Use
- Ruritanian countries make good exotic settings for intrigue and swashbuckling adventure.
- Traditionally the quantity of pomp and ceremony in a Ruritanian state will be far above that which might be expected given its size and importance - and in extreme examples, the state's army will consist of (nearly) as many officers as enlisted men. Many of them generals and all in ridiculously ornate uniforms.
- In an alternate history in which Otto Von Bismarck never had his way, "Germany" in particular will be full of these sort of places into the modern era.