Gods... I feel like a child in a giant's castle!
Ishgard is at war with the dragons of neighboring Dravania, and much of their military is made up of Dragoons. They are reluctant to join the Eorzean Alliance against the Garlean Empire, as they lack the unoccupied manpower. They are 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 later becomes 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, Thordan VII, 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 the line of Thordan I, its current leader being Archbishop Thordan VII and his Heavens Ward. 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. Almost universally staunch traditionalists, they are reluctant to trust outsiders, or even the other city-states of the Eorzean Alliance. Within the city-state, the "lowborn" commonfolk are often viewed as little better than disposable servants by the "highborn" nobles and the church. The nobility is divided into four "High Houses", each descended from four of the Twelve Knights of legend. Each high house, led by a Count, is composed of lords and a knightly order, and the city-state's flag depicts the symbol of each house:
- House Fortemps: Founded by Flavien de Fortemps and symbolized by a unicorn. Currently led by Count Edmont de Fortemps.
- House Dzemael: Founded by Sylvetrel de Dzemael and symbolized by a tower/rook.
- House Haillenarte: Symbolized by a rose. Currently led by Count Baurendouin de Haillenarte.
- House Durendaire: Symbolized by a bell.
- Main article: Ishgard/Legacy
Long ago, a group of Elezen came to settle in Coerthas and found themselves in conflict with the dragons of Dravania until tales of Saint Shiva sacrificing herself to Hraesvelgr out of love inspired peace between the two races. But it only lasted two hundred years as the Ascians revealed to the Elezen king Thordan I that the dragons' power come from their eyes. With that knowledge, Thordan betrayed the dragon Ratatoskr and killed her before he and his men ate the flesh of her eyes for power. Then, claiming his people have been chosen by Halone, the Fury, Thordan urged the proto-Ishgardians to claim the Promised Land upon the Abalathia's Spine on which Ishgard would be founded by first making a great bridge across the Sea of Clouds.
But the Elezen were attacked by a vengeful Nidhogg and Thordan fearlessly engaged the colossal wyrm in battle that lasted seven days and cost him the lives of half of his twelve knights before he was pushed into the chasm by his men who was enthralled by the wyrmking. But Thordan's son Haldrath took his father's spear and avenged him by taking Nidhogg's eyes, forcing the dragon to retreat. Though he believed Nidhogg would not be long for this world, a guilt-ridden Haldrath saw himself unworthy of the throne and left Ishgard's care to his father's remaining knights: The founders of the High Houses who would fabricate the events to conceal their horrific deed and make it appear that the dragons attacked them unprovoked. Furthermore, they fathered the population with the descendants divided into the High Born who make the High Houses and the Low Born with both unaware of their common ancestory due to the Ishgard Orthodoxy Church which became Ishgard's ruling government.
After forcing Hraesvelgr to give him one of his eyes, Nidhogg rallied the Dravanian Horde to enact his revenge through the Dragonsong War. While everyone believed that Nidhogg wanted to simply slaughter everyone in Ishgard, his revenge was also by exposing those descended from the founders to dragon blood, causing Ratatoskr's influence to take hold and turn willing Ishgardians like Guillaime and the heretics into dragon-like beasts to serve in his army.
As shown in Final Fantasy XIV and A Realm Reborn, a somewhat paranoid people and do not allow "foreigners" into their city, the Ishgardians declined to play a role in the restoration of the Eorzean Alliance against the threat posed by Nael van Darnus and Project Meteor. This barring of "foreigners" continued after the Seventh Umbral Era came to pass as Ishgard, despite indirectly aiding in the search for Cid's airship, decline to join in Operation Archon. Furthermore, Thordan is seen with Lahabrea and Elidibus are seen flanking him, suggesting the Ascians have been manipulating the theocracy.
Eventually, the Ishgardians become more involved in Eorzean matters due to the heretics under Ysayle attempting to summon their patron Saint Shiva as a Primal. In addition, Ser Aymeric has stated that the astrologers of Ishgard believe the wyrmking Midgardsormr would soon be resurrected. When this comes to pass, Nidhogg awakens and renews the Dragonsong War with Dravanian Horde preparing for a large-scale assault against the Holy See. During the events of Before the Fall, knowing they would need Ishgard to stand against the Garlean Empire, the Eorzea Alliance send a small group of Eorzeans to aid the Ishgardians by defending the Steps of Faith against Nidhogg's champion Vishap.
After the Ul'dahn Revolution occurred, the events of Heavensward have the Warrior of Light, Alphinaud Leveilleur, and Tataru departing to Ishgard. But the two falsely accused of heresy by the Heavens' Ward with the Adventure forced to prove their innocence via a trial by combat. Thordan apologizes to The Adventurer for the false conviction, and then boldly mentions that he has been contacted by the Ascians and has agreed to work with them. He claims this to be a ruse, intending simply to learn what the Ascians are planning. But the two eventually learn the true cause of the Dragonsong War and find themselves dealing with both Nidhogg and Thordan after he betrayed the Ascians with the intention to usher in a new age of peace as a god-king. But after Thordan falls in battle, Aymeric becomes the new ruler of Ishgard as he promises Midgardsormr to end the war between their kinds while joining the Eorzean Alliance.
Though Aymeric believed it would be best he lead Ishgard rather than have a successor to Thordan be elected, his attempt to reveal the truth of the Dragonsong War made him a marked man by those who refuse to accept it. Aymeric attempts to ease the peoples' worry by forging a truce with Vidofnir and her kin. But one group, the True Brotherhood of the Faith, believed Aymeric to be guilty of patricide and treason to the point of making an attempt on his life and then burning Ishgard. When both attempts fail, the Brotherhood take the refugees they gave sanctuary in the Vault hostage to force Aymeric to step down and be trialed. But Aymeric leads a rescue party to save the hostages, with one of them saved by Vidofnir at the last second. Though Vidofnir accepts the offer of peace, she also warns the Ishgardians to be on their guard as Nidhogg and his brood are about to make their move.
Steps of FaithEdit
The sole bridge leading into the city-state. Only those permitted through the Gates of Judgment can cross this bridge to the Arc of the Worthy at the entrance of the city proper.
Lower level of the city, home to commoners and industry. Unlike the Pillars above, the Foundation has suffered noticeable damage from the Defense of Ishgard.
Saint Reinette ForumEdit
This plaza is located in the west section of the zone. It bears a statue of Saint Reinette, a dragoon who once took up the Gae Bolg to avenge her beloved, later pursuing a pious path as a priestess devoted to aiding the poor and downtrodden. The nearby Arc of the Humble was constructed as a monument to her sacrifices.
Within the plaza, the Temple Knights have set up a stall where adventurers seeking work may pursue Temple Leves.
A workshop owned by House Haillenarte, which developers and constructs machines to aid in the Dragonsong War, including airships. This naturally has led to collaboration with Garlond Ironworks, particularly for magitek applications.
A nearby airship dock can be used to travel to Falcon's Nest in the Coerthas Western Highlands.
The Holy StablesEdit
The official stables of the Holy See.
Saint Valeroyant ForumEdit
This plaza is located in the northeastern section of the zone. Named for Saint Valeroyant, an Azure Dragoon who fended off Nidhogg in ages past, the statue bearing his likeness was defaced during the wyvern raid.
The Forgotten KnightEdit
A prominent tavern run by Gibrillont. Inn services are available. Clan Centurio also operates from this establishment.
Congregation of Our Knights Most HeavenlyEdit
The headquarters of the Temple Knights, and main office of Ser Aymeric. The order of dragoons are also quartered here.
The Lightfeather Proving GroundsEdit
A typical low-born neighbourhood located in Foundation, the Brume is essentially a collection of dwellings made from the debris resulting from previous attacks from the Dravanian horde. Living conditions are poor and residents appear to lack access to basic necessities. Its proximity to the Steps of Faith condemn the area to the threat of future Dravanian attacks.
A high-born district of the Holy See.
The manors of Ishgard's four founding Houses, various religious sites, as well as the seat of the Archbishop of the Ishgardian Orthodox Church are located here.
The market district located in the Pillars run by Elaisse, along with several NPC merchants selling assorted goods.
Market Boards and retainer Summoning Bells are available for players here.
The Astrologian guild is located here.
The Final VigilEdit
The largest plaza in the Holy See, it is named and stylized after the symbol of Halone.
Saint Reymanaud CathedralEdit
Named for the first archbishop of the Ishgard Orthodox Church, this church is dedicated to Halone, the Fury.
The Saint Endalim Scholasticate is also located within the facility, which maintains the scriptures of the Holy See and educates prospective members of the clergy.
The Supreme Sacred Tribunal of Halonic Inquisitory DoctrineEdit
The main offices of Ishgard's inquisition.
Trials for those accused of heresy are held here.
- Main article: The Vault
This immense cathedral at the heart of the city is the seat of the Archbishop.
It serves as both the headquarters of the Ishgard Orthodox Church, and effectively the seat of government for the Holy See. The clergy is often referred to as "Vault priests" or "The Vault" for this this reason.
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The main theme of Ishgard is called "Solid", and plays during the day in the Foundation. Three other arrangements of it play in Ishgard, one at night in the Foundation, and two more in the Pillars, one each for day and night. The main melody of the piece is also interwoven throughout several other tracks in Heavensward, including the final boss theme, "Heroes".
Gard is Norwegian for "enclosure". It is also Kashubian for "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".
- Though Ishgard becomes playable since 3.0, players will have to do every A Realm Reborn Main Scenario quest (up to "Before the Dawn") before they will be permitted entry.
- Ishgard is the only city-state to have a dungeon located within the city proper.