In my world there's this city that is primarily based upon sub-Saharan African Islamic architecture and culture, but it's on the coast connecting the rest of the world to the continent. It's the center for trade and is in a somewhat defensible position. Due to this it has traded hands over a lot over a long time.

(The following dates are only meant to convey the frequency of conquest, since this isn't Earth:)

  • 1000 Taken over by a Roman-ish empire.

  • 1040 taken back by traditional sub-Saharan African Islamic empire

  • 1080 Taken by same Roman-ish empire

  • 1150 rebellion from Roman-ish empire and is now independent with a monarchy

  • 1200 retaken by African Islamic empire

16 years later the city is now under the threat of being retaken again by the same old Roman-ish empire (now with a matriarchal monarchy instead of a senate). How would the people feel about being conquered again and how would the culture in the city be different from everywhere else?

  • $\begingroup$ If a city/location is being taken over every 100 years; there would probably be lots of civil unrest within and around the city. Depending on who conquers, and when, some empires wipe out the original inhabitants, make the villagers slaves, etc... in order to lower the chances of rebellion and/or war from the captured citizens. $\endgroup$
    – Traveler
    Jul 23, 2020 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ The city officials would relize that sieging is bad for business so they would have little to no walls to not destroy the city and would just deal with it. As you showed on time line: lords and empires come and go. The city stays. $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2020 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ Relevant $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2020 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ Traders, who will be taxed (or sacked...or executed) for each conqueror's tribute, will look for a safer place to do their business and accumulate wealth. The City may remain the break-bulk point (caravan to boat), but if the wealthy merchant princes can mesh their caravan and boat operations, place a local agent in charge of transshipment operations, and bypass the local market/taxes/ruler, they will certainly try. The result will be a much poorer city, less attractive to the next invader. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jul 23, 2020 at 17:37

3 Answers 3


Given the amount of trade involved, the culture probably is a mix of both sides, and would have been even without the conquests. Much depends on how much the "Islamic" side imposes restrictions (the Romans were pretty cool about most stuff).

As for the conquest, that would depend on the amount of damage they expect. If the soldiers traditionally pillage the city, the inhabitants will dread it. If it's settled by the armies clashing outside the city and no one thinks the worse of you for opening the gates to the victor -- that would depend on the changes of law you expect, which would chiefly be in area of taxes and regulations on trade.

  • $\begingroup$ And all it takes is for someone to rape and pillage once for it to continue for generations in a chain of reprisals every time the city is taken. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Jul 23, 2020 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand, that would severely cut down on its utility for trade. Much depends on the intent of the attackers and their control of the army $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Jul 24, 2020 at 1:56

There are two questions here. I'll tackle the culture question first. In parts of the world that have been under the influence of different cultures, you tend to see a blending. Language, food, art, clothing, etc would pick up influences from the different ruling powers. As a trade center, it would also have influences from its trading partners.

Now for the question about how the people would feel about facing capture. Bad. They would feel bad. If the years in your world are the same length as earth years, your people have been through some tough times. Someone who is in her seventies will remember two different conquerings. This frequent warfare would likely have a bigger cultural impact than the different ruling cultures. The fact that losing wars appears to be a fact of life could stifle economic and scientific development and make people really unhappy.


I'll second the other answers about the culture. It will be a mix.

I also would like to address "the conquest" part. It was very common for some cities in ancient and medieval times to change hands and/or be sacked multiple times in a century (see Ephesus) for example. What's remarkable is that those cities didn't do much worse (in terms of economy and population) than their "peaceful" peers - providing there was no outright massacre or enslavement.

A sack of a city, while a very traumatic event for its inhabitants, is getting healed relatively quickly. Even better if a city, through political maneuvering and paying tribute, can avoid being sacked altogether. Generally, a life in old times has no security guarantee. If there is no impeding invasion, inhabitants of a city wouldn't think about going to other city just to give them more security.


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