Encyclopedia Realmgardica: Duchess Forte

Duchess Forte

Duchess Forte dressed in armour, holding a sword and the Banner of Colline.

One of the most famous women in the history of Natalis, largely by virtue of being one of the few women in its history to rule in her own right. Helped, of course, by the fact that she ruled with remarkable success.

Forte was named heir to the Dukedom by her father Astolfo. This was an unusual decision for the time, due viewed by Duke Astolfo as a necessary one, arising from her family’s lack of direct male relatives.

Forte’s ascent proved controversial, dividing the Collinian vassals into two camps: Forte’s supporters and those unwilling to serve as a woman’s vassal. All-out civil war was narrowly avoided by the new Duchess’ shrewd navigation of the tenuous political situation.

She won over many of her formerly-rebellious vassals, some of whom became among her most loyal supporters in the years that followed.

The remaining rebels were ultimately driven out of the duchy, though Forte’s reign would be plagued by recurring attempts to have her replaced by a male claimant to the Duchy.

A coin depicting Duchess Forte.
A Collinian coin minted during the reign of Duchess Forte.

While Forte is often depicted wearing armour and bearing a sword, such depictions are largely fanciful and symbolic, artistic licence to lionise and heroise the legacy of the popular Duchess.

While undeniably capable, brave, and wilful, Forte never actively led the armies of Colline into battle, other than briefly supervising her forces’ siege of Apridomum. She did, however, prove adept at the logistics and administration of her armies, laying the groundwork for many strategies which allowed her generals to win many decisive victories.

While she historically played only an indirect role in Colline’s military campaigns, the popular conception of Forte as a valiant heroine has loomed large in the minds of generations of Collinians and is commemorated in the Duchy’s coat of arms:

The emblem of Colline: Forte trampling an enemy knight while holding a scroll reading 'Victoria.'

Duchess Forte is also known a patron of arts and culture, patronising many architects, artists, painters, and dramatists, including the wandering Aurorean prince and part-time bard she took as her husband. She was also famous her for personal piety, making frequent pilgrimages and donations to the temples located in the Sea of Origo.

Though it instituted a golden age of the Duchy of Colline, Forte’s reign came to an abrupt and tragic end as she died from complications of the birth of her only child, Pia, the daughter who succeeded as Duchess.

Though Pia spent her early life being guided by a group of regents, her first act as Duchess in her own right was to rename the capital of the Duchy to ‘Forte’ to commemorate her mother.

However, despite her untimely death, Forte was able to secure Colline’s position in Natalis for generations to come and remains fondly remembered as the light of her people and her city.

Notably, ‘Forte’ remains the most popular name for girls born in the Duchy.

A painting of Duchess Forte.
“Duchess Forte of Colline, Leader and Light of Her People.”