|'If glory comes after death,|
then I'm in no hurry'
With only the Trans-Carpathians as a firm border, the Vulgars have found themselves subjects of various of Mittelheim's nations over the last thousand years. Most recently, Vulgaria has chafed as the eastern half of the somewhat nebulous Barony of Herzo-Carpathia for whose rulers the Voivode has traditionally provided a cavalry force and bulwark against the ravening, slobbering, gibbering, wibbling hordes of the Sanjak of Zenta. The traditional seat of the Voivodes of Vulgaria is the forbidding fortress of Schloss Feratu which clings perilously to a spur of the Trans-Carpathians overlooking the nation's largest town of Ürbanspraul. There have historically been short periods of Vulgarian independence but these have tended to be of relatively short duration and have ended in internecine strife, usually involving claims about goats, suet puddings or somebody's grandmother.
Traditionally, the Voidodes of Vulgaria have been drawn from the family of Feratu-Osterburg. The coat of arms of the Voivodate combines the double headed eagle of the house of Feratu with the white cross emblem of the Osterbergs. The addition of the dragon and red cross motif represents the original Voivode's membership of the Sacred Order of the Dragon, a noble society of Christian heroes created by the Holy Roman Emperor as a bastion against the Turks. It is whispered, however, that this membership actually was a bureaucratic error since the Voivode had really tried to join the Order of the Dagon, a rather different organisation which featured more in the way of tentacles and slaughtered virgins than than the Order of the Dragon and which also had a much more interesting Christmas party.
The last wholly native Voivode of Vulgaria died, along with most of his family, some fifty years ago of a nasty tummy upset whilst dining with the then Baron of Herzo-Carpathia, and Count of Roldova, Alexandru I. The Vulgarians foolishly had believed an explanation from a local French Huguenot that the fact that the Baron was known as 'Alexandru the Poisoner' was probably simply a corruption, no doubt begun by the silly eeenglish, of the French word 'poissonnier'. Quite why Alexandru would have liked to sell fish was probably one of the early questions that the Vulgarians should have asked themselves; probably accompanied soon after by the question of why the Baron kept breaking out into insane giggles every time the Vulgarians said 'Yum, yum - this food is delicious'; and then not long after by asking also whether Alexandru's comment that 'he was trying to lose a pound or two after Christmas' seemed really to be such a plausible explanation for his failure to eat or drink anything during the banquets. Of the remaining Vulgarian members of the House of Feratu-Österburg, two died soon afterward in bizarre gardening mishaps, one being impaled by a wheelbarrow, and the other shooting himself through his ears with a leek.
Given the nature of the local weather and the skill levels of the Vulgarian peasantry, the Voivodate's most prolific output is mud. Occasional sunny days, and the efforts of Huguenot emigres, also manage to produce some grain and a curious and powerful local spirit called Pish. But the real wealth in Vulgaria comes from artisan production of codpieces. Though long out of fashion in the civilised countries of western Europe, there is still quite a market amongst the savages of Kurland for these dangerous sartorial embellishments. The town of Clunj is justly famous throughout Herzo-Carpathia, and for several hundred yards beyond, for the quality and innovation that goes into its codsmanship. In Clunj can be found the creators of such monsters as the Imperial Purple, the Swiss Musical Codpiece, the Visored Helmet, and the High Executioner.
Levels of contentment amongst the Vulgarian peasantry have never been terribly high. The Vulgarian language, a dialect of Transylvanian, has 22 words to describe various stages of black depression; 14 different words for mud; 17 words describing different possible ways of being bitten by a suspected member of the unliving; and 34 different words to describe the feeling of being invaded by foreigners, having one's village burnt, and then discovering, just after you've put it on, that a dog has done its business in your shoe. But there is only one Vulgarian word for happiness; though this is the same word also used to describe the feeling that happens when someone else puts on one of your shoes and then finds out that a dog has done its business in it. In recent years, however, Vulgarian unhappiness has reached a nadir. In dark corners, when none can hear them, peasants whisper such things as 'Who put the candle out?'; and then 'Why am I whispering? There's no one around that can hear me'. Then, generally, their wives will say 'Don't think I can't see and hear you in that dark corner: get outside, you lazy good-for-nothing: mud doesn't just make itself'. And then, the peasant might say 'Actually, I think that it probably does'. But then, sometimes, peasants might also go on to talk of the golden years of the Feratu-Osterburgs; an independent Vulgaria, where there was mud for all and as much Pish as one could wish to drink. But this is just wishful thinking - for surely, all of the Feratu-Osterburg's are dead, aren't they?