What was Boletaria like before the events of Demon’s Souls?
As a continuation of the previous blog, I have here an in-depth analysis on the mighty kingdom of Boletaria. In this blog, I will create lore theories about how this small yet diligent land operated before the discovery of the soul arts, which ultimately led to its untimely fall during the second demon scourge. I will also take a look at the real life inspirations behind the armor and weapons to help paint a picture of how this Kingdom compared to real world civilizations. Sadly, I am only using the PS3 version of the game as I do not have a PS5 just yet. If or when I do acquire the new hardware, I can make a follow up article to see how the changes in the remake would affect my theories.
Without further to do, let’s get on with the post. As with my martial arts theories on the iconic bosses of the Fromsoft games, take what I say moving forward with not just a grain of salt, but a whole mountain of it. I am mainly using outside historical sources as the basis for my ideas and not purely game observations. Of course, you can tell me that I am overthinking things, but remember you are talking to the guy who flips around in the woods like Artorias to see if fictional martial arts would actually work in real fights.
The first thing we will take a look at is the Boletarian coat of arms. In game, there are three different interpretations of this; one found on the archstone to the area, one in the Tower Knight boss room, and one on the flags leading up to the Penetrator. Each is slightly different, so my t-shirt designer and I worked together to come up with a unified version. It uses the shield in the Tower Knight boss room as the base, has some of the additional details from the Boletaria archstone, and uses the color patterns found on the banners. I also love the added detail of the 3 mythical swords of the Boletarian royal family, Demonbrandt, Soulbrandt, and the Northern Regalia. Now, I point this out because a coat of arms can tell us about what a civilization values. Each aspect, down to the coloration and the symbols all have their own meanings and significance according to heraldry. Here is a rough breakdown of the meaning behind the Boletarian coat of arms.
Shield background: a nation that fights on the defensive.
Sectioned in quarters: unions between families or nations.
Gold coloring: wisdom, generosity, glory, constancy, and faith.
Blue coloring: loyalty, chastity, truth, strength and faith.
Scale pattern in the top left section: can be reptile scales, which means vigilance against threats or wisdom.
Mascle (Hollowed out diamond) pattern in the top right section: Persuasive, possessing secrets and knowledge not commonly owned by others.
Central Sword: justice and military honor.
Circle: being significant geographically, scientifically, or intellectually.
(As a side note, both the sword and circle also can represent the connection to the Nexus considering it bears a resemblance to the Nexus teleportation devices.)
Doves: loving constancy and peace.
East and South points on the Cross are pattee: military honor.
North and West points on the Cross are moline: societal achievement and progress.
Star: Signifies divinity, but its placement on the underside of the cross could mean of a partial or improper sort, likely represents the Demigod Doran, the first king of Boletaria and technically the first Allant. One thing that’s interesting is the fact that only the Archstone in the Nexus has this detail, but it is absent on all other versions of the coat of arms. Suggesting that the presence of Old King Doran is largely kept a secret to the current denizens of Boletaria.
11 Small Diamonds surrounding the cross: the 11 kings proceeding after Old King Doran.
Bottom Fleur-de-lis: purity and nobility. While in real life, this signifies the French royal family, based on the flags bearing this symbol appearing In the throne room and inner sections of Boletaria, it can signify the Allant royal family. This is also important since it may tie in to the Soldiers lotus, a partially symbolic plant used in first aid by the Boletarian soldiers to stop wounds from bleeding out.
An overarching theme seen here seems to be the high value placed on military might and wisdom. Boletaria most certainly was a nation that was revealed in war, something not too far fetched considering their founder, Old King Doran, the macho Spartan himself, was described as being “the eternal warrior”. Realistically, you can say war was in the nation's blood. However, something commonly described in lore was how small the kingdom of Boletaria was, signifying it had low populations and/or territory. Because Boletaria’s military was not necessarily all that large, the nation had to be crafty and strategic to fend off the attacks from rivaling nations. For one, we can see that the Boletarians built their strongholds on mountains and cliff-sides, making invasion difficult for opposing adversaries.
Boletaria’s architecture also integrated a confusing maze of choke points with a variety of boulder, oil, and flame traps in order to thin out the numbers of potential invaders. While small in number, Boletaria soldiers were well trained and armed and could very easily fend off against larger forces using the before mentioned advantages. One of my favorite traps that they use is the exploding black powder barrels. It is possible that Boletaria was at the advent of developing primitive firearms but stopped due to the discovery of the soul arts which essentially filled the role of powerful armor piercing ranged projectiles. Imagine if Boletaria had not developed the soul arts, King Allant would be running around strapped alongside his buddy Sword Saint Isshin.
Despite the nation’s bloody past, we can see that it is a super power that has anchored itself as the epicenter for trade and commerce by the time we come to visit the lands. Based on the weapons, armor and architecture, Boletaria reminds me of a blend of late medieval and early renaissance Germany, Scotaland, and Scandinavia. Boletaria is described as having different regions suggesting that it is a blending pot of different cultures. Of course, despite how the narration presents Boletaria as some sort of utopia, it was society based on classism, with the low born citizens being treated poorly with the high end nobility hogging most of the wealth and resources.
At the lowest ranks of the Beletarian social class were the humans that became the dreglings. Considering how they are often found near construction sites, scaffolds and hand powered gates and elevators, they likely composed of low class citizens and slaves from conquered lands who did most of the hard labor. They could not afford personal combat gear and had to resort to scavenging from corpses and using cut out wooden planks, barrels, stools, and buckets as substitutes for armor and shields. Rouge dreglings that were disobedient and defiant were branded as traitors to the king.
These unfortunate souls were tortured and executed in brutal manners near the entrance of Boletaria’s palace. While these executions were public spectacles for entertaining crowds, they also served as a reminder to the living to stay in line with the law, unjust as it may be. Dreglings also acted as makeshift front line troops on battlefields, though they were not equipped or capable at actually defeating their opponents. They were more or less used as fodder to hold enemy armies in place while the Boletaria crossbow men and trebuchets open fired on friend and foe alike.
Next were the Boletaria soldiers, These men were the backbone of the army, armed with a variety of helmets and weapons, though they all owned mail armor, with a leather gambeson on top, and metal greaves and gauntlets on their shins and hands respectively. First were the soldiers with halberds that owned German inspired Sallet helmets. Pretty much these guys served as town militia men or constables for upholding law and order.
Next were the archers; armed with light crossbows and adorned with a leather head cap. They most likely were lower middle class citizens who operated as hunters but formed the ranged troops in times of war.
Next were the axe and swordsmen, they wore helmets partially inspired by Scandinavian designs and also owned wooden round shields that were reinforced with metal. It is possible that these soldiers were either hired mercenaries or were from allied nations based on how distinct their helmets and weapons are compared to other troop types.
Last were the spear men who owned a German inspired kettle hat. These soldiers were of a higher middle class and may have included the apprentices or squires to knights.
The Knights were the highest ranks in the Boletarian armies and comprised the nobility. Features of the knights were their full sets of fluted armor over mail all while wielding the best shields, arming swords, spears, and great swords that money could buy. At the low end were the blue eye knights, who most likely consisted of lesser nobles. They served as low ranking captains and were in charge of small battalions of troops.
Next were the red eye knights, individuals who adorned themselves with metallic crests that had no real practical use in battle outside of signifying their high rank. Considering how Old King Doran dons Greco-Roman style armor, it is possible that these crests were inspired by the Age of Antiquity. These soldiers were in charge of larger brigades of soldiers and served directly under the Knights of the Round Table.
The Arthurian inspired Knights of the Round Table were the generals of the army and had distinct power in the nation, they served under King Allant directly and may have had specific duties in the castle, based on the position of their boss battles. Longbow Oolan the Phalanx was in charge of the outer wall, artillery, and other ranged defenses. Alfred the Tower knight monitored the transportation of goods in and out of the capital. Metas, the Lance Knight or the Penetrator, was in charge of elite soldiers in the inner walls. Lastly, the twin fangs Biorr and Vallarfax, may have served as royal bodyguards to the king and the prince based on Biorrs’ dialogue.
However, outside of the established military rolls, there were other individuals who played a huge role in the workings of Boletaria. First we have the fat officials, who before being transformed into demons served as slimy ambassadors and politicians. Due to their strength in wielding their axes (which were more like bardiches) they may actually have been knights who retired from the military services and decided to aid the kingdom through other more nefarious and underhanded means. Considering their large, rotund, swaying bellies, they seem to be getting the Lion’s share of the resources.
The Imperial spies were used to investigate, infiltrate, and sabotage rivaling nations in order to give Boletaria an edge in warfare, basically Allant’s little ninjas. They wore armor called a jack of plate, which were interlacing small iron plates in-between canvas or felt. They are well versed in unarmed and dagger based combat arts but somehow carry German Flemmenschwerts, or flame bladed great swords in their sleeves.
Of course, we cannot forget the attack dogs as well, based on their proximity to the pathways that connect the inner areas of Boletaria and the prisons, they were probably used for detecting contraband materials and for chasing down runaway criminals and prisoners.
The Boletaria castle area did not seem to have a lot of fertile land for growing crops, so imports from nearby settlements were used to sustain the military and the elites. We also know that Boletaria most likely owned vassal nations such as Stonefang, so it is likely that the fat officials, attack dogs, and the spies were used as a means to monitor and keep other nations in check to prevent the military forces from being spread too thin across regions. Boletaria is described as using the soul arts to gain wealth and prosperity, which considering the time period largely meant they likely augmented their troops using magic to steam roll opposition, conquer lands, and gather resources. Alas, we all know what happens next, the kingdom for all that it had built falls into ruin when the Old One awakens in response to Soul arts being rediscovered. It is such a shame really, imagine how all that work done in twelve generations comes crumbling down due to the disgruntled visions of one man playing with things he does not understand. Such is the way of empires I suppose, none are destined to last forever.
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