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I'm trying to come up with this scenario in a sort of "medieval fantasy" setting.

There are two towns. One, Caertydin is a large city with all the appropriate tropes, while the smaller town, Siege is a sort of satellite town.

The reason Siege exists, is that hundreds (or however long ago it has to be) of years ago, a foreign power from a far away land actually laid siege to Caertydin. But the siege was never officially lifted and it developed into an actual town, so there is a noticeable mix of cultures between the two towns. The people of Siege are mostly made of descendants of the actual soldiers involved in the original siege.

But now, there is no animosity between Siege and Caertydin, it's not even a Cold War: they peacefully co-exist, trade with each other, travel back and forth, etc. and although officially there is a state of war between their countries, it is known as the "Friendly War" (or perhaps jokingly/sarcastically called the "Forgotten War").

For some reason the side that laid the siege is not motivated to officially end hostilities. OTOH, Caertydin's country doesn't interfere with Siege, e.g. doesn't collect taxes from there or doesn't enforce laws there.

It's a bit of a running joke in the towns. (e.g. one might quip, "we're at war!" if asked why they've run out of potatoes, or during some harmless disagreement)

My question is, how can this plausibly happen? How did they get from a state of actual war to this situation, and why does the country that actually contains Caertydin tolerate Siege existing?

Note: whether magic exists or not in this world isn't really relevant - I'd like a non-magical explanation for this.

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    $\begingroup$ are siege considered as part of caertydin kingdom ? or remain independent, or considered as part of this distant foreign kingdom ? also is it landlock,island,coastal,fertile,snowy,desert,lush jungle etc what terrain or land the city and the town is ? $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Feb 21 at 9:55
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    $\begingroup$ i believe others had address how this happen if the land is not suitable for siege or infertile etc but for example if its has abundant resource but unable to breach the city but the land they siege in is fertile or has a lot of natural resource it probably better to build a fort or town there rather than subduing the city, at least as a first base for this foreign kingdom but for some reason unable to realize it till the country lose its animosity. $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Feb 21 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ and just think the siege is akin to carthage with hanibal barca or early mongol where they lack siege engine to breach the city but has enough army or competent leader to outcompete this city force in the field which make them unable to beat this foreign force outside the defense of the city. $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Feb 21 at 10:10
  • $\begingroup$ There are still people referring to USA as “the colonies” and a lot of American seem more fascinated with the Queen than many Brits. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Feb 21 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ A real life example of a war being ended more than 2000 years ago without any official peace treaty until recently: apnews.com/9b6f6f5ba5be2408ff0502c7fb8abd5b $\endgroup$ – vsz Feb 23 at 11:53

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The Kingdom that founded Siege has collapsed so it can't officially declare an armistice. Siege don't want to publicly admit this.

There is no King to declare an end to hostilities anymore. The people of Siege may think of their kingdom how early medieval Europe thought of the Roman empire: not willing to admit it's gone, occasionally getting behind restoration attempts (eg the holy Roman empire).

If the people of Siege declare an end to the war with their own authority, they admit the kingdom they love has failed, and publicly give up hope of ever restoring it. As long as they consider themselves subjects of this old Kingdom, they cannot and will not take on the divine kingly task of deciding when wars end.

It's part of their cultural identity, maybe even their religion, if they consider the monarch to be divinely chosen.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this option, this is similar to the situation that exists in the movie The Terminal I mentioned in my answer. Instead of adding this option to my answer, I'll add a reference in it to this one. $\endgroup$ – Plutian Feb 21 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ Another example is the King of Gondor in the Lord of the rings: the post is kept vacant for centuries in the distant hope of a king returning one day. $\endgroup$ – user72058 Feb 21 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ @user72058 good idea, the declaration of war could include some wording about "only a divinely appointed king can declare this war over" but the divine appointments seem to stopped a while ago and to overrule that clause would surely invite Wrath of some kind. $\endgroup$ – Borgh Feb 24 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ Or they forgot to sign the peace treaty: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – Ckankonmange Feb 24 at 14:43
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This might be possible, but it will take a large amount of time for this situation to develop.

For the sake of this answer I will refer to both the town as well as their inhabitants as Caertydin and Siege.

What I think is the most plausible explanation, is that the siege started out as a serious assault, but dragged out too long. Siege didn't cut off supplies to Caertydin fully to begin with, or became less motivated to stop supplies the longer it dragged on. They might have struggled for supplies themselves due to the length of the siege, and were too preoccupied with keeping themselves alive/comfortable to actually attack and waste energy/manpower.

A catalyst for a more friendly relationship between the town could be similar to a WW1 event called the Christmas truce. From then onward, the towns would know from each other that they were "fairly reasonable folk" and "not really worth trying to kill". Slowly this would migrate into a more common happening, as the towns exchange supplies to show their goodwill. They would evolve a "War is only for higher ups, we don't really care about orders anymore" kind of attitude. This might get increasingly more plausible/easier if the siege started as a depriving attempt, without any actual fighting/killing being done on either side.

Effectively the entire town of Siege will have slowly defected, and their commanding officers would have either gone along, or found themselves so severely outnumbered that they couldn't really stop it. The original kingdom Siege originated from will have written it off as a total loss, because the costs and effort to discipline the whole army would be too high. So they issued a command that the Siegers aren't to return home until they complete their mission, which is obviously never going to happen, leaving them in the awkward town of Siege not being able to really go anywhere.

I suggest looking into the Christmas truce for inspiration, but also the movie "The terminal" with Tom Hanks. While a good movie to begin with, it also clearly shows how awkward political situations can develop when something slips through the cracks. With a bit of handwavium and confused bureaucratic politicians, quite a lot is possible. Also see this answer for a more in-depth exploration of the Tom Hanks option.

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    $\begingroup$ Can't edit with just one character, so you need to change it by your self. Christmas truce happened in WW1 not WW2, just look it up in wiki to which you have linked. $\endgroup$ – Guy with jewels' names Feb 21 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Guywithjewels'names woops, thanks for pointing that out! $\endgroup$ – Plutian Feb 21 at 13:33
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Gambling.

The laws of Caertydin prohibit gambling in any form. When the siege wasn't going very well and was entering its second year residents of Caertydin slowly realised they could sneak out at night and go gamble in Siege, as their laws don't prohibit this. The soldiers in Siege let this happen because people from Caertydin aren't very good at poker. They don't get much practice.

This initial connection led to more 'black market' shady type things going on between Caertydin and Siege. The laws in Siege are far more relaxed regarding drinking, prostitution, taxes, etc. This was a good deal for both of them; the soliders got money from the wealthy Caertydinians and the Caertydinians got to have a good & cheap time with their shady soldier buddies.

The rulers of Caertydin never shut this down because they managed to dodge an actual war.

Over time this became a more 'normal' connection. The gates were opened again, regular trade was allowed with Siege, and people just grew accustomed to this new town on their doorstep.

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    $\begingroup$ Good answer, and fairly plausible. The only note I would make is that this wouldn't be too "friendly" of an arrangement. Law abiding citizens of Caertydin, who don't partake in the gambling, would quickly view Sieges entire existence as a perversion and abomination. Their calls to eradicate this town of misfits and reprobates would be constant and unrelenting. $\endgroup$ – Plutian Feb 21 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Plutian that's true, I didn't think of them. Maybe they're so relieved about not fighting this war they let it slide? Doubtful though $\endgroup$ – mattrea6 Feb 21 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ Unlikely indeed. They might have evaded a war, but they are already unlikely to be friendly towards an invading enemy, and this arrangement would only make their attitude worse. If they are stuck up enough to have believed they wouldn't have lost the war anyway, this alternative is unlikely to please them either. $\endgroup$ – Plutian Feb 21 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Plutian there could be other things in Siege that the Puritans want, maybe some foods that are ordinarily under a trade embargo. Maybe they get a better price for certain wares over there. Maybe some Puritans are hypocrites and Siege is full of brothels. The potential for Siege to be a loophole for all kinds of laws and bans could make it popular with almost everyone. $\endgroup$ – user72058 Feb 21 at 11:17
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    $\begingroup$ Oh yeah, there will be a fair number of hypocrites amongst them, but that will just increase their rage. Just like a surprising amount of extreme anti-gay activists were secretly gay themselves. A loophole town is unlikely to be liked. But rare resources, skills, entertainment, technology, or even magic not possessed by the people of Caertydin would allow this to be a more friendly exchange. $\endgroup$ – Plutian Feb 21 at 11:24
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The Land of Abundance

So, the biggest issue with an eternal siege is going to be food, both in the city and for the army. So we take this away. Your city is valuable because it's located in a realm with an endless food supply, which also makes a siege a uselessly terrible strategy for taking the city, leading to the present situation.

Note, you can replace the infinite food supply with a trade portal, access to an an underground Dwarven city, or other reasons a siege would never work.

The Impossible War

The foreign power desiring this supply launched a force to besiege Caertydin, with the orders "Conquer this city or do not return." Initially hyped, the foreign army experienced in siege warfare set up camp outside the town. Months passed, and nothing happened, there was no starvation, in fact every night the city would have a massive feast.

The besiegers, realizing the pointlessness of this campaign, slowly gave up. Their desire for victory was replaced by wanting the comforts of city life. Drink and women came from the city, and officers turned a blind eye to it. How were you supposed to keep your men in check when the city you were besieging was having a better time than you? Then came trade of basic goods and services, the free movement of people, ect. Eventually, the two became dependent on one another politically and economically, leading to the present situation.

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Previous King of whatever country had started the Siege was a rush, loud, warmongering, boasting type. Probably had a red beard. He had sworn a Holy Oath that if he can not capture Caertydin, he would step down and relinquish the crown. However, while the army was on the march, the King finally had to pay for all the years of drinking and reveling: he had a heart attack and now is paralyzed. While he is still a King, the actual power now belongs to a Prince.

A Prince does not care about taking Caertydin: it was poorly planned vanity endeavor to begin with. However, if he calls back the army, his political rivals will use the Holy Oath to challenge the legitimacy of his ruling. So, he left a small detachment to "continue" the siege, while the majority of the army returned home. A secret deal (involving a chest of gold) with the government of Caertydin solidified the status quo, but officially the war is in progress.

From time to time soldiers of the Siege capture trophies. Like that time when a general from Caertydin lost his medals in a drinking contest. They send those back home, and Prince uses them as a proof that the war is still going on. In return, soldiers get money. It is still cheaper than to risk a rebellion.

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This kind of thing happens all the time in the real world. Take Paris and London for example.

On the coast of France there is a little island called Britain. The people there have been at odds with the french for centuries. They did wage war at some point, but after the last one it's been centuries of peace.

Fast forward to the 20th century. The french opened a club with all their bro's which they called the EU (some people think it's a union but that is greek for "perfect", huge egos and all). The islanders spent decades trying to join it. They eventually did, but a few decades later they decided to ragequit. France and the rest of the EU just said "ok guys" and let them be. But half of the islanders still keep saying that the french and their continental bro's are bent on taking their freedom and stuff. Business as usual.

Look at the islanders' coat of arms - it says "God and MY rights". And it says so in french, so you know whom the message is targeted at. Talk about passive aggression.

They've been at it for almost a thousand years now, and I bet they'll still be at it for the next thousand.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 just because it’s such an amusing way to describe it. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Feb 21 at 19:59
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Siege reminds me to the situation of Calais (France) during the 15th century.

The city had been conquered to the French in 1347 and until 1558 it served as an enclave in continental Europe for Britain. The city was called a "jewel" because it served as a trading port for wool, cloth, wine, lead and tin. In a way, it made the trading between French and English easier (and it was the source of major trading problems, too).

In fact, most of Calais was in an artificial island and it traded with really close French villages, like your Caertydin.

So, for your example, Siege could be an enclave from a country separated from Caertydin's country by a sea, a great lake or a mountain range. Siege receives goods from its mother country, but it must trade with Caertydin for basic necessities and both cities have a long story of trading between themselves even when their countries are at war (as France and Britain were during the Hundred Years' War). This trading could be even mutually positive for both countries, avoiding an embargo due to war reasons of something useful for both of them.

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Ever heard of the Canadian- Danish war? There is an island(Hans Island.) both nations have a claim on. But the joke is the island is just a barren surface without any natural resources or population.

Even going as far as the Danish planting their flag with a bottle of Schnapps and the Canadians returning the favor.

So for your story, why did they even attack? If it was a piece of land or something else that is now no longer of concern you can add a friendly tradition of both sides "conquering" it. Like a mine that is now mined out, a forest for lumber that has been burned down, a magical fount of power that no longer exists.

The reason why a town like Siege would be allowed is because it is so small and insignificant that it's not worth fighting a war over.

Also if Siege is a coastal town with a proper harbor it might even be financially beneficial to just let them stay in as trade partners seeing they would be able to house merchants from both nations.

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    $\begingroup$ This. This is the best example and the best answer. $\endgroup$ – Renan Feb 21 at 20:58
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As others have said, there are a number of ways that a region can remain at war when the parent country has moved on. If the attacking country was defeated or merged with another, for example, so can no longer declare truce, and nobody has enough interest in provincial issues to resolve the trifling war.

However, the problem is: how can the besieging city remain economically viable?

A siege requires supplies, either by raiding supplies from the surrounding land, or having good supply lines from the parent country. The former would not result in a happy stalemate, so either the parent country has a rationale to continue supplying them, or they have to be self-supporting without raiding.

How's about this, then:

Caertydyn is a major trading city and the main shipbuilding center of its nation, located a little in-land from the mouth of a river. The city isn't at the mouth of the river because the river delta was a treacherous, swampy morass of ever-shifting sandbanks and unstable footing. The only people who previously lived there were guides and river pilots who charged a fee to ships to help them navigate up through the delta.

Siege was set up to blockade the river and besiege the city. In creating the blockade, they dredged the waterways, cleared the river, sank pilings to set fortifications on and create a military encampment and harbour, and basically settled the river delta.

On cessation of hostilities between Caertydyn and Foreign Power, the army base at Siege was recognized by ForPow to be strategically necessary to maintain to prevent a retaliatory attack. So, they maintained it. To this day, it remains strategically expedient to maintain this military camp here, at the mouth of a major trade river.

Siege now taxes rivercraft entering the delta, but it's no more expensive than the pilots were, plus there's a ton more trade now that the river's properly maintained and with deeper draft. So it's self-supporting financially, is strategically important, and is also where the military corps of engineers is trained in waterway management.

Caertydyn remains very much under a de facto siege: no vessel or supplies can enter or leave it through the river, without the say-so of the military camp at Siege. Siege knows exactly what's entering and leaving the city, so can prevent the construction of warships that might be used to invade the parent kingdom.

However, Caertydyn benefits from the protection against pirates, the impressive waterway engineering that they lack the finances, equipment, materiel, and expertise to reproduce themselves if Siege were leveled as it would be if the military camp was removed. It would take years and heavy, nation-invading levels of investment to rebuild to anything close, and Caertydyn lacks that financial clout just to protect its trade routes.

Economically, it is strongly in Caertydyn's benefit to ensure that it remains in the Foreign Power's benefit to continue to besiege. But their other allies would never be OK with them signing any kind of treaty to permit the foreign power to officially establish a military encampment.

So they engage in saber-rattling any time the idea of raising the blockade is raised; beginning construction of a warship, perhaps, or closing their gates to people from Siege, or whatever... but backing down quickly as soon as it's clear that the siege has regained funding.

So economically and strategically, the two cities are now symbiotic, one providing military and engineering, the other providing commerce and sufficient threat to make the siege necessary.

TL:DR; have siege control the traffic (ie, besiege/blockade), but add value for Caertydyn. Have a military encampment at Siege be strategically useful enough to continue providing that value so that the existence of the military encampment will be tolerated. Have formal recognition of the encampment be politically inappropriate.

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They simply forgot about it. Happens all the time. For example when the United Kingdom declared war on the Russian Empire, legend has it they included the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed in the war declaration but forgot about them in the peace treaty. (The historical facts don't appear to bear this out, unfortunately.)

According to a story by George Hawthorne in The Guardian of 28 December 1966, the London correspondent of Pravda visited the Mayor of Berwick, Councillor Robert Knox, and the two made a mutual declaration of peace. Knox said "Please tell the Russian people through your newspaper that they can sleep peacefully in their beds.

Also have a look at List of wars extended by diplomatic irregularity

So in your case the Nations behind Caertydin and Siege had a peace treaty saying something like "the united provinces of x declare peace", but since Siege is not in the united provinces it remained at war.

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Caertydin is part of an alliance of city state at war with the foreign power, but are not in the main part of the conflict, so they don't want to fight the foreign power, and the foreign power doesn't want to waste troup on a weaker part of the war, they are needed somewhere else.

The foreign power needs food for it's troup so Caertydin could sell it to him, but Caertydin is still "officially" in the war to support the other state in the alliance (perhaps selling them goods too), and also not looking too much of a traitor to the alliance

Caertydin is playing some kin of shady double game in this bigger war

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Maybe I'm a bit of an opportunist here, but I think the most plausible answer is kind of a mixture of other answers they've given here.

So this happened after a "series of unfortunate events":

  1. The aggresive intentions of the faraway land were real, so the people in the siege were actually trying to make Caertydin surrender.
  2. Caertydin is actually a very resourceful city/land, so despite the siege and the long time with closed doors, they manage to endure under the siege without having to surrender.
  3. Faraway land suddenly suffers its own conflict, call it the death of the king, a coupe d'etat, an invasion from a farther land... thing is, they can no longer support the siege, so they are now on their own.
  4. Resources for Siege are now scarce, and they no longer receive help from faraway land. But they are aware that Faraway land laws are very strict, and surrendering in battle means a destiny worse than death, so they actually prefer to starve to death rather than giving up or even try to return to their homeland.
  5. Thankfully, the time of the Happy Harvest comes to Caertydin, a tradition where they have to share everything mother earth has given to them. So, they open their doors to bring help to the sick and famished people of the siege.
  6. During this situation, the people of the siege says that they have not received any news or instructions from their homeland; they're still under their laws so neither surrendering nor going back without "winning" are valid options for them, yet they are no longer interested in causing harm to Caertydin.
  7. Caertydin accepts to let them live in their own "city" as long as they no longer try to invade Caertydin, at least until they receive further notice or instruction from the situation of their kingdom. This, of course, takes a very long time, and Siege is now a fully functional city of their own...
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Bureaucratic nonsense seems to be the most fitting scenario here, plus it seems to fit with the humorous nature of the concept.

You might find some inspiration in the story of the The Yellow Fleet interesting, a group of ships trapped in the Suez Canal for 8 years because of the Six Day War which formed their own community while waiting it out. (+ this 99 Percent Invisible podcast episode about it)

In another episode of that podcast, they discussed houses in Washington DC which are technically owned by foreign governments and thus not subject to the local laws. Diplomatic houses may wind up abandoned and fall into disrepair, but because of diplomatic relations and bureaucracy there's not much anyone can or will do about them.

Another interesting story this reminds me of is how the British government only recently finally paid off some debts that were hundreds of years old. Despite these debts being so old that the government had undergone massive changes since then, and generations of people have come and gone, the financial system remained intact and the debt continued to get paid.

There are also many instances of strange geographic quirks that came about as a result of diplomatic disputes / relations. Such as Vennbahn on the Germany / Belgium border, or Point Roberts, Washington. Once a country has possession of some territory, there isn't necessarily any reason for them to give it up, despite inconveniences it may cause to locals (e.g. students in Point Roberts cross four borders each day to get to high school and back).

Would need to think more about the bureaucratic situation that could lead to this particular scenario, but presumably would have to have something to do with a government having no real incentive to end the siege and a bureaucratic system that doesn't really have the capacity to do anything about it. Plus the more convoluted the reasoning is, the better. Perhaps a character might not even want to bother explaining it because it's so complicated. Some characters might pride themselves on explaining it properly. Maybe there's a lack of clarity about the reasoning leading to multiple seemingly plausible versions that formed from rumors that generate local arguments and urban legends.

Note, presumably there would have to be something inconvenient about the arrangement as well — if it didn't cause any problems in the lives of the locals, and it was just an amusing historical anecdote, it wouldn't be a particularly interesting or relevant to the characters in the present day.

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    $\begingroup$ The bit about multiple urban legends about the origin is good, and unique to this answer; I think that you should rewrite your answer to put that much earlier. It may be that the readers/players/audience never quite learn the real history for sure, and that could keep it interesting! $\endgroup$ – Toby Bartels Feb 23 at 22:01
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The force which originally settled the town of Siege might have been an expeditionary force: Far from home and without a proper support line. A change in geography (volcanic eruption, earthquake, tidal wave, whatever) or a change in political borders made it impossible or extremely expensive for their original motherland to resupply or reinforce them and that's why the expeditionary force originally ended up "deserting" or disbanding and forming the town. Their original country is still somewhat pissed about the state of affairs but since it's politically or practically infeasible to invade Caertydin over the same access that the expeditionary force originally used, their war has moved on to a different theater. Maybe, if Caertydin ships and enemy ships meet at sea, they have standing orders to open fire or something but the point is that while still at war, actually attacking overland is impossible due to geographic or political restrictions.

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    $\begingroup$ While feasible, there is no reason for Caertydin here to not simply "mop up" the town of Siege. They have no incentive to allow its existence, and the invading army will be thoroughly disposed off. $\endgroup$ – Plutian Feb 21 at 9:48
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    $\begingroup$ If the original invading force was large enough, the Caertydinners may never have had the ability to do that. Imagine a force ten-thousand strong, vs a city with a combined defence force numbering in the hundreds. Caertydin can't sally forth and attack the city, they'd be slaughtered. On the other hand, the soldiers need food and shelter, so over time more and more turn to farming, shopkeeping, etc. and before you know it 20 years have passed, most of the soldiers are retired and they've interbred with the locals. Now there's a whole new generation who have no interest in fighting. $\endgroup$ – K. Morgan Feb 21 at 18:12
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This all started as an attempt by the S Empire to take over the C kingdom, using Count S as disposable cat's paw. The S forces started out with a great force under Count S, one of Emperor S's cronies. Unfortunately, the Count failed to cut off Caertydin from C kingdom support (harbor, tunnels under the mountain range), so the siege dragged out... and dragged out, with C kingdom not having the resources or the will to actually counterattack the large forces of Count S, but quite happy to stay behind their walls and counter the attacks that become fewer and fewer.

However, Count S does not want to go back to Empire S and admit his defeat. It seems he made a vow when leaving to come back victorious or dead, or maybe he is still obsessed with the daughter of the Duke of Caertydin (who like her father hates his guts).

The Empire S realizes that all-out war is not a winning proposition (and maybe they weren't really serious about the conquest to begin with, it seems the departure of Count S was a great relief for many persons at the Imperial court), so with no real reinforcements coming from Empire S (except from the revenues of Count S's estates), the situation bogs down. Kingdom C likewise does not wish to sally forth and provoke Empire S into an actual reaction, because if Empire S feels really threatened it does have great levies that would assemble to protect the empire, and even if the Empire is far away, crushing the forces of Count S would probably provoke the Empire to react.

With the death of Count S (some say he survived much too long the broken heart he incurred when his beloved married her childhood sweetheart with a smile on her face), the leaderless army chose not to retreat from the enemy. Since there is formally a war on, retreating would leave a hostile force poised to attack the Empire, and you need funds to go back to S (ships for trade is all very well, but ships to transport an army is another thing, many of those the army came on were destroyed in a daring Caertydin attack with a fireship in the first year of the war). In any case, retreat to where? Count S's nephew and heir really doesn't see the need to pay to recall a hungry army to his already impoverished lands -- an army that has already started trading with the besieged city in order to survive.

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The foreign power lost before the siege could begin.

Allow me to write a little story:

"The war was all but decided. Our forces were on the run or defeated, and Caertydin's troops were on the advance. To win the war in a last ditch effort, we had to employ a daring strategy. We sent the combined defensive forces of our own capital to conquer Caertydin's capital (the capital was later moved) in a quick strike.

The bet almost worked, since Caertydin did not expect such a foolish action. Our forces got through the enemy lines (who did not expect to see another army) and reached Caertydin almost unharmed.

Nevertheless, the unavoidable happened and a messenger reached us shortly before the siege was launched. The war was lost (possibly the foreign capital had been razed to the ground, which would explain why the army could not return).

Our commander managed to negotiate a peace with the defenders (with most of our weapons surrendered), on the condition that the entire army would be pardoned. They accepted (initially under strict guard), as the army was never involved in atrocities and was partly made up of civilians. Due to the lack of housing in the surrounding area, we expanded our army camp into a provisional satellite town, which grew in size over the years."

Now this scenario would mean that the war officially ended, but the constant presence of what was originally a siege army would lead to the very same situation as described in your question. You could also combine this with the answer by user72058, or by saying that the army never officially disbanded.

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Concerns:

  • Initial demographic would be highly unbalanced, mainly young men. Fortunately there should be enough artisans and engineers able to help with building and providing the basic tools, cloths, etc. for the future town.
  • A strong enough reason for stopping the actual hostilities and at the same time not moving back to their home country.
  • A strong enough reason for the attached country not to remove the “occupants”.
  • A proper reason to build the initial fortification on enemy territory

Proposal:

Caertydin is part of a kingdom that has extremely fertile soil and its main resource is food. The other country/kingdom is coming from an arid area (possible mountains) with low food production however a high quantity of mineral resources.

Due to some commercial divergences the conflict starts. The attacking Kingdom is planning a full invasion, therefore the future city Siege will be the bridge head of such invasion (just a basic wood fortification able to house a full garrison and store supplies for the campaign. During the placement of such construction minor skirmishes happens between the Caertydin militia and the occupation forces however with almost no casualties for both parties (this would make the war to be acknowledged but will not build grudges between the combatants).

While preparing the campaign, due to the diminishing access to food, a civil war between the king and part of the nobility. Due to the fact that both parts are in dire need of food none of them will order the retreat of the force near Caertydin however both parties are expecting supplies.

Without the kingdom military support Siege is trying an assault towards the city of Caertydin, however once near the gates of the city he “sieges” the gates with carts full of Iron, tools, construction material and such in order to trade them for food (the commander of Siege doesn’t want any involvement in the internal conflict and at the same time has no other means to acquire the needed resources). Such offer would be accepted in the end by the city of Caertydin (an actual conflict would put the city in a really bad spot even if the food supply should be enough for an prolonged Siege the fact that the surrounding fields will not be worked will lead to potential famine in the following year/years).

The civil war main confrontation is focusing around the border area next to Siege, making the inhabitants of the villages around the area to migrate towards Siege. This will ensure gender diversity and coverage of skills for the newly formed town. This status quo extends for a few years increasing the importance of Siege and Caertydin in the commercial exchange between the 2 belligerents, replacing the government based trade agreements with a free market.

Despite the fact that the civil war ended and that the commercial relations are flourishing, the two kingdoms don’t want to reach an armistice mainly because both parties will suffer huge image issues:

  • The defending kingdom is afraid that without Siege the relations with the neighbors kingdom will deteriorate and accepting Siege as part of the other country will be looked upon as a defeat.
  • The attacking kingdom is afraid that without Siege the food inflow will start to diminish and giving Siege to back to the defending country could show weakness; both scenarios making another internal conflict possible.
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There are many possible reasons for this and there are several historical cases where a war didn't officially end for some time even after the actual figting stopped. For example the US never signed the treatiy of Versailles so they technicly were still at war with Germany after WW1 but for more historical cases see History SE. Reasons for such a situation might be:

  • The attaking armie might have taken a false identity (e.g. claimed to be the army of a made up powerfull kingdom). The army is defeated but the powerfull city/kongdom/empire they claimed belonging to does not exist or is far away and not interested in this land. In that case Caertydin is at ware with Utopia that does not exist and thus can't negotiate for peace or is far away and has never heard of Caertydin and thus has no interest in negotiating for peace.
  • If the home of the atacking power is "far away" (whatever that means in your setting), they might lose intereist in the war, not even sending someone to sign the peace treaty or at least they are not willing to accept the terms offered to them
  • There are special custums for peace negotiations and for whatever reasons, they are not met (e.g. in ancient Greece the war between two cities was officially over when the losing side returned to the battlefield asking for their men's corpses to be returned. If they wouldn't do that, there would technicly still be war even after all fighters went home)
  • Either side might not be willing to agree to peace without reparations but the other side is not willing to meet the demands. In the end, the attacking party doesn't want to spent more money on the war so they just go home and play the waiting game
  • Losing a war might be out of the question for political reasons. The ruler(s) don't want to lose face so when they realize that they can't win, they keep the war going but stop putting an efford into it. They might be trying to negotiate a "mutual peace" but again the defenders might not be willing to agree to it
  • The war was declared between two entities that don't both exist any more. Maybe an early kingdom has declared war on a city and tasked one or several of their semi autonomous cities to take care of the actual fighting before breaking apart. The attackers didn't go to war in their own name so they can't negotiate peace on their own
  • Either side loses their leader and noone can negotiate for peace. Maybe a king falls and his vasalls regain de facto independance but they are still loyal to the now empty throne. As a result, the siege is continued in the name of the king/throne but since he is dead, the attackes delay all war efforts untill the next king decides to either continue or end the war (and obviousely there is no successor in your scenario)
  • If the siege was part of a war between alliance, the alliances might have made peace (or collapsed) but not every participant has signed the peace treaty/treaties or mad a peace treaty with every part of the enemy alliance
  • There are sevaral alliances and/ or loyalties involved (and changing) that have contradicting implications. Imagine a (former) colony A of major power B is part of an alliance that declares war on the target but then B declares friendship or pledges to protect the target. In that case A might be forced to stay at war because of their alliance but A would no longer attack the target.
  • The defending power was so successfull that they cut the enemie's supplies and laied siege to the attacking siege camp, maybe even get to win the war but for any of the reasons above, they don't end the war. When enemy soldiers are trapped in foreign land and are not allowed to return home but the war ends (de factoo), the winners won't kill them but might allow them to settle/stay there instead and slowly give them more and more freedom untill it's a new city rather than a prison camp. Fast forward three generations and - under ideal circumstances - the war is little more than old men's memento and jung folk's joke

In any case there might or might not be a truce/armistice. That would hugely effect the relations and the character of the "friendly war". If an entity can't officially negotiate for peace but negotiates a permanent truce, it might feal like a "friendly war" quite soon but when either side is not willing or able to negotiate at all, tensions would be much higher. Depending on wether or not there is a truce/amristece, there might be groups that want to revoke the truce/amirtice or staight out launch an attack against the "friendly enemy" or force the opposite side to finally negotiate.

However in most of these szenarios there is little reason for the attackes to stay. Either they were that close in the first place and after losing the war they became dependant, they got the right to stay at Siege as part of the armistice, they are unable to retreat and given the freedom to settle rather than being captured or the war was long but not bloody so that they actually build a life there. If the defending city lost many men (ideally to other foes or illness), they might even need the repelled attackers to stay to keep the economy and population up.

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The country that sent the force got itself in serious financial trouble, the troops didn't get paid. They weren't happy about the situation but the king told them that if they quit fighting because of this they were traitors to be executed on sight.

The troops had nowhere to go so they sent a messenger over telling Caertydin what had happened, they would defend themselves if attacked but otherwise simply intended to settle and take no offensive actions whatever their king said.

For Caertydin to attack would cost a lot of lives (remember, this is a superior force to them) for no realistic gain, as the presence of Siege is not a problem for them. Over time relations became friendly, the idiot king (or even his successors) won't accept the defeat and pretends the war is still going on. (And it might even be elsewhere.)

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A peace treaty through royal marriage, with the siege contingent being left in place - with the terms of the peace treaty being such that the siege will not be officially lifted until the first direct male descendent of the marriage assumes the throne.

No male descendents from the lineage have yet survived until the age of majority, and female descendents have been acting as regents until such time a male hier can fulfill the specifications of the treaty terms.

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