- "A nice little town to sit and think for a while"
- ―Miguel Inge about his stay there
A small trade post sitting on The Gulf Belt, the barony is struggling to make the transition to ranching town.
|La Baronia de Mar|
|Location:||The Papal States, Tamaulipas, Mexico|
Founded over the remains of a marina in 2136, La Baronia de Mar started life as a fishing village. Created by three scavengers who had traveled from Tampico together, it originally was nothing more than two large shacks. They managed to repair a trawler during the next few years, and would go out fishing with it.
By 2157 their settlement had grown to a small village, boasting an inn and cantina as well as better housing. Things would remain relatively quiet besides the odd pirate attack until 2185, with the arrival of the Valdez family. Fleeing an losing range war in the Cattle Country, they arrived in town with a few hands and about two-dozen longhorns.
Within thirty years they would control of the town, largely by economic means. Their control would be legitimized in 2213 with Groucho, the patriarch of the Valdez' swearing the town's allegiance to the Pope. Now a Baron of The Papal States, Groucho appointed the town preacher as his cardinal and began to oversee his new fief.
After delivering a speech to appease the townspeople, he began to develop the town's economy. To that end he paid for the construction of a tannery, able to produce three times as much leather as before. The profit and demand for the leather also caused several others to invest in cattle, and by 2227 the town was now geared towards production.
Groucho would encourage these changes until his death in 2240, and would be replaced by his son Xaiver. The second son, Xavier was the only survivor of a Typhus epidemic that had killed everyone in his family, excluding his father. Sent to Soto La Marina at a early age, he studied many subjects but showed a fascination with Theology.
After he took the oath of fealty and returned, the differences between father and son were quickly noticed. Xavier attended every Mass where Groucho attended only on major holidays, he gave alms regularly and he also distributed beef around Christmas. He did share his father's desire for expanded trade however, subsidizing the creation of several farms and the construction of a workshop to make handles out of horn.
He would put a portion of the profits into the church, with it's expansion finished in 2250. This prosperity would be repeatedly checked however, starting in 2254. An organized crew of pirates began to target the town, striking and retreating by the time a militia could be mustered. How they knew when to strike would remain a mystery for months, until the case was cracked by a young drifter. Shortly thereafter, The Saltlands wars would begin and Xavier would give generously to support the cause, spending most of the family's fortune. He would die in 2270, leaving his son Jonathon a much depleted treasury.
Johnathon was a man much like his grandfather, and had spent much of his free time in Soto La Marina consorting with merchants and burghers, and trying to understand the fickle woman that is commerce. To that end, he invested every last peso he had into the construction of a dairy, and the processing of milk into cheese. it would prove to be a wise investment, as the yogurt and cheese proved popular with both the merchants of the region and the traders on the Gulf.
They would again be troubled by bandits however, starting in 2272, when several caravans reported being attacked on their way into town. The on-and-off skirmishes between the Comancheros and Johnathon's mercenaries would last two years, until the mercs dealt a decisive defeat to the bandits, and killed most of them. Since then, things have remained mostly quiet in the barony, much to its ruler's enjoyment. Trouble is bad for trade after all.
The Valdez family has maintained hands-on rule over the barony since they came to power in the early 2200s. The current Baron, Jonathon, is said to be more like his grandfather than father, focused more on diversifying his holdings and breaking the town's reliance on the Gulf. He also personally oversees all disputes, acting as judge in criminal matters.
Enforcement of his laws are handled chiefly by the barony millitia, though none of the Barons have been above hiring mercenaries when necessary.
The paisanos of the barony have been noted by more than one trader to be much friendlier than those of other places. The reasons for this are twofold; on one hand the people know that they need merchants to continue to come and trade, or else they would lack even basic materials, such as ammo and nails, needed to survive. The other factor is a decree issued by Groucho shortly after he took office stating that anyone caught "messing" with the traders would be put to death. When not bending over backwards for outsiders, most people are content to sit in the shade and play dominoes or a bit of music.
At the core, the barony is dependent on the Gulf and its Rafters for survival. Despite maintaining its own slaughterhouse and grazing land, the materials and tools needed to treat and preserve the meat has to be imported. This in turn puts a higher premium on these items than on the leather or other worked goods that the townspeople produce. There is also a small but prosperous hospitality industry in the town, with three hotels catering to travelers of varying classes.