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Witches are are powerful individuals with a knowledge of magic, and are respected and feared throughout the empire, which is divided up into to many competing states. However, magic is slow and requires many steps which require a great deal of length. Witches are also small in number. This makes them a potential target for assasdination, and requires them to have bodyguards to protect them. Due to their value to the empire, witch society exists as a semi-independent entity that conducts it's own affairs and takes remains separate from the various governments of the countries.

I've built witch society to mirror the religious city state of Rome, a long ago autonomous region in a kingdom known as the Holy Roman empire. This empire was made up of a confederation of countires, similiar to the EU of today, with the Pope of Rome at the "head" of its faith.The problem is that Rome kept getting invaded by everybody. You don't like something the head honcho said or did, or he refuses to crown you king or grant you a divorce from your wife, invasion. Rome has been seized and occupied by enemies so many times that it is hard to come up with an exact number.

Clearly being at the head of the mainstream religion wasn't enough for leaders to respect it's autonomy. I need a way for witch society to remain protected from the ongoing wars that occurs between nations. However, putting the state in some isolated mountaintop or desolate wasteland doesn't work, as they cannot retain the influence they have in the political games and lose their value. I need a (non-magical) way to accomplish both goals.

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    $\begingroup$ (1) Rome was not a part of the Holy Roman Empire. (Well, it was, formally and shortly, in the 10th century.) (The HRE has no relationship whatsoever with the Roman Empire.) (2) Rome was sort-of (that is, not really) a "religious city state" only for a short time, and that was in the modern age. (3) The actual Holy Roman Empire consisted for almost fully autonomous member states for almost all its thousand year history. (4) Pick for example Hamburg. It was an autonomous city-state in the HRE for seven centuries, and it still is an autonoumous city state in the Federal Republic of Germany. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 14 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ "Rome was never truly autonomous because it kept getting invaded by everybody": that's extremely incorrect. The Papal States were a major regional power for a very long time. The history of Rome spans more than two and a half millennia. That's ten times as long as the history of, for example, Washington, D.C., the capital of the U.S.A. In its short history, Washington, D.C., was invanded (and burned) once, and another time seriously threatened with invasion; one could fairly say that given its much longer history Rome is allowed to have experienced 10 successful invasions and 10 sieges... $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 14 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ The title of your question is illogical. A semi independent region is not independent, therefore it cannot remain independent. A fief, or vassal state, or other dependent but rather autonomous region, can remain in that condition for centuries, since many did and still do. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Sep 14 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex P 1) Dowager Empress Irene deposed her son, Emperor Constantine VI, in 797, and ruled the Roman Empire, though a female ruler was considered unnatural. Charlemagne, King of the Franks and the Lombards, was crowned emperor in 800, since the imperial position was considered vacant. Irene was deposed in 802, and Nikephoros I became Emperor in the east. And it might be fair to judge that Nikephoros I might have had 90 percent and Charlemagne 10 percent of the right to be considered the successor of Constantine VI and of Augustus. Continued. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Sep 14 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ @M.A.Golding: There is nothing I can say. You believe that Charlemagne ruled the HRE, and that his coronation as emperor had something to do with political events in Constantinople... All right. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 14 at 16:49
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If by non-magical you mean that the thread of "we'll turn your palaces to dust if you lay a finger on us" type mutually assured destruction isn't sufficient, you could take from Switzerland.

They managed to remain pretty neutral throughout a lot of wars, they have avoided countless invasions and enjoy a number of accords with European countries even though they're not part of the EU but they're doing just fine.

If your country is feared for its power (maybe even for superstitious reasons like "it's bad luck to attack them" or "the gods are on their side" or any glorified "the country was built on an indian burial ground" type thing), but is also recognised as a centre for culture, with science, art and a lot of commerce going on, people aren't gonna want to ruin that. They'll send their scholars to study there, they'll have a bunch of bankers trade, maybe they can even use the country to store their riches and all decide not to attack the witches cause otherwise it's global war cause everyone has gold there, but the country might also be in a slightly more difficult place to invade. Switzerland is surrounded by mountains and it has probably helped it maintain its independence.

TL;DR If the access is difficult and there will be dire consequences for invading like retaliation from witches and other countries, then people probably just won't bother. As long as they see the place as friendly, and a cultural centre would achieve that.

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