Ishgard is constantly at war with sentient dragons of neighboring Dravania, and much of their military is made up of Dragoons. Among other reasons, this is why they are reluctant to join the Eorzean Alliance against the Garlean Empire, as they lack the unoccupied manpower. They are also the leading provider of Eorzea's Chocobos, and refused to deliver any to the other city-states due to the chocobo blight that lasted from the game's launch until patch 1.19.
Ishgard will be accessible in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, the first expansion of the game.
It all began a millennium past, when our forebears resided in the southern plains in humble circumstances. The Fury, impressed by the spirit of our ancestors, decided it was meet that She make them Her own. So did She appear before Haldrath's sire, a man of courage and integrity named Thordan, and bade him lead Her people to the Promised Land─to what would become the great nation of Ishgard.
- —Ser Alberic Bale, on the founding of the Holy See
In the central region of Abalathia's Spine, that great mountain range that spans Aldenard from east to west, can be found the forbidding highlands of Coerthas and the Holy See of Ishgard. The Archbishop of the Ishgardian Orthodox Church, while leading his people in the teachings of Halone, the Fury, rules also as the nation's sovereign.
Ishgard's formidable army of knights wages constant battle against its mortal enemies, the dragons, in the millenia long Dragonsong War. Faced with ever more aggressive attacks from its serpentine foes, as well as an unprecedented spell of bitter cold following the Calamity, the theocracy's days are dark indeed. Nevertheless, the city-state proper is warded with a layer of wards known as Daniffen's Collar to prevent direct assault from their draconic adversaries.
Matters have grown so grave as to prompt the archbishop and his advisers to consider throwing open the heretofore sealed gates of Ishgard and calling for outside aid. The city-state's only known access point is a bridge called the Steps of Faith, blocked off by the Gate of Judgement. As of yet, adventurers are still forbidden from entering the city walls, though local garrisons at the Observatorium, Camp Dragonhead, and Whitebrim Front maintain services for travelers and may seek their aid.
The city itself is divided into two known districts: the Foundation at the bottom, and The Pillars above. The Foundation appears to be home to lower class citizens, and exhibits scarring from war with visible damage to the stone structure. The Pillars is comparatively cleaner, with open-air plazas.
Ishgard is a strict theocracy led by a fearsome archbishop. The Orthodox Church employs inquisitors to root out heresy among its populace (often with fatal results for the accused regardless of guilt or innocence). The church has a knightly order, the Temple Knights, led by Lord Commander Aymeric.
Most of the power in Ishgard is concentrated in the nobility, who are reluctant to trust outsiders, or even the other city-states of the Eorzean Alliance. It has been suggested that within the city-state, the commonfolk are often viewed as little better than disposable servants by the nobles and the church. The nobility is divided into four "High Houses", each composed of lords and a knightly order, and their nation's flag depicts the symbol of each house:
- Rose: House of Haillenarte
- Bell: House of Durendaire
- Unicorn: House of Fortemps
- Tower/Rook: House of Dzemael
- Main article: Ishgard/Legacy
Ishgard was inaccessible in version 1.x, and they declined to play a role in the restoration of the Eorzean Alliance against the threat posed by Nael van Darnus and Project Meteor.
A Realm Reborn (2.0)EditAlthough a number of Ishgardian settlements are available for visiting in Coerthas in ARR, and you can even get close enough to the city to look at it from a distance, the Ishgardians are a somewhat paranoid people and do not allow "foreigners" into the city proper as of the launch of ARR. Mr. Yoshida and other developers have indicated that players will be able to earn the right to enter the city at a later date. The later version updates have been progressively building up to this.
Although Ishgard's role in the Main Scenario has been relatively minimal, mainly limited to indirect support during the search for Cid's airship and declining to join in Operation Archon, the final Main Scenario quests in Patch 2.3 seem to be building up to a more direct role of the Holy See. The very last cutscene shows the Archbishop on his throne, and for a brief moment Lahabrea and Elidibus are seen flanking him, suggesting the Ascians have been manipulating the theocracy.
The Main Scenario quests in Patch 2.4 have a more direct involvement, due to the heretics attempting to summon their Saint Shiva as a Primal. In addition, Ser Aymeric has stated that the astrologers of Ishgard believe the wyrmking Midgardsormr may soon be resurrected.
Patch 2.5 has indicated that the Dravanian Horde is preparing for a large-scale assault against the Holy See. Developer quotes have indicated that players will be playing a role in the defense of Ishgard during the final weeks before Heavensward. In Patch 2.55, Ishgard is forced to rely on adventurers to defend the Steps of Faith against Nidhogg's champion, Vishap.
Ishgard is set to be the focus of the upcoming expansion pack, which will involve the crusade against the Dravanian Horde. Players will have to do every A Realm Reborn Main Scenario quest (up to "Before the Dawn") before they will be permitted entry.
Gard comes from Kashubian meaning "city".
- Ishgard's flag was one of very few allusions to horses in the original game, in this case a Unicorn.
- The flag also has Eorzean text on it, reading "Of the Sky, From the Sky, For the Sky".