Thalassocracy
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Basic Information

A Thalassocracy is a maritime nation or empire, one whose land holdings only extend to regions bordering on the sea. (Thalassocracy is to the ocean what tellurocracy is to land masses.)

A thalassocratic government is likely to have a strong navy, which is likely to feature prominently in the nation's foreign policies. Said navy may have a powerful position in the government's bureaucracy. It's likely that the power and reputation of that navy is a key to the success of the thalassocracy.

Most thalassocracies will be exist as a hybrid government with other governmental types. A nation led by a single powerful naval commander might be a thalassocratic dictatorship or thalassocratic monarchy. A merchantile trade empire might be a thalassocratic plutocracy. Warships are cool and all, but they don't necessarily make a government in and of themselves.

A thalassocracy may be a archipelagic state, or a nomadic empire. They may be participants in an age of exploration or a colonial era.

Example historical thalassocracies include:

You could also make an argument that groups of Pirates are essentially Thalassocracies. It kind of depends on how organized they are, and whether or not they own any territory.

Sources

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Game and Story Use

  • Thalassocracies make decent trading empires to justify global markets and widespread currency adoption. "We all use gold pieces, because the traveling merchants use them."
  • Thalassocracies also make great villains. Invasion by "the sea people", high-seas piracy and Viking-style raids can happen without warning and be devastating especially to smaller communities. Anyone who lives on the coast or up a river may live in fear of thalassocracies.
  • The floating pirate city of Armada from China Miellville's novel The Scar probably qualifies.
  • In a pre-modern setting, there may be genuine debate as to where the capital of a thalassocratic state is - if the state is, for example, a trading conglomerate which consists mainly of enclaves in other people's territory it may turn out not to have a genuine capital, making it very hard to counter. Not to mention that attacking one of their bases will often mean violating the territory of a third party. For example, attacking the Hanseatic League outside the Baltic usually meant hitting something like the London Steelyard - which would likely mean conflict with England as well as the Hanse.
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