"Knowledge Seeks No Man."
A shining seat of knowledge, Sharlayan stands upon an archipelago in the northern seas. A colony of the same name once flourished in the Dravanian hinterlands, and numbered amongst the six city-states of Eorzea prominent in the latter half of the last era. However, its halls stand empty, as the sons and daughters of the nation have been called homewards. Now, Sharlayan watches the turning of the world, but refuses to change the course of its events. 
The nation is made up of three islands: Sharlayan, the largest, the Isle of Haam to the north, and the Isle of Yorn to the south. The Isle of Val once existed east of Sharlayan until it was destroyed early into the Seventh Astral Era.
- Encyclopaedia Eorzea pg. 168
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Organizations
- 4 See Also
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Notes
When Thaliak poured the waters of knowledge into His river, the spiral shell became their keeper—such is the legend wherein the nautilus came to symbolize wisdom. In addition, men have believed that mollusks lived forever from time immemorial. It is to capture the essence of these meanings that Sharlayan's flag bears a green spiral shell emblazoned upon a field of silver.
Knowledge Seeks No Man
When Sharlayan had but few inhabitants, all adults came together in the Ecclesia to speak their mind upon decisions of nation. As their numbers grew, they have come to elect to the Forum those officials who they feel best represent the will of the people. The speaker of the Forum serves as the head of state, but his power is greatly restricted by law.
Sharlayan is led by a government of the people, for the people. There is no one leader.
The highest body in the nation is the Forum, members of this gathering are elected through votes cast by their fellow Sharlayans.
Note: Though its citizens are diverse, Sharlayan does not make population statistics public in the interest of equality.
The people of Sharlayan came together in pursuit of knowledge. The city itself was raised to aid in this endeavor, and in the process Thaliak was named the guardian deity. However, the choice had less to do with pious worship than the creeds of the Sharlayans. Thus, little importance is placed upon religious rites, and many pray to others among the Twelve.
Through long years of studying aether and magic, Sharlayan scholars have mastered the secrets of traversing the Lifestream through aetherytes. Indeed, by building and maintaining Eorzea's Aethernet, they have secured a steady source of foreign currency.
With scholars and Archons penning discourse upon discourse, it is no surprise that the city has a robust publishing industry. These learned treatises are prized by Eorzean academics and artisans, who willingly pay great sums to learn of Sharlayan's latest findings.
Starting with the prestigious Studium, Sharlayan has numerous famed academies that accept students from all nations. In times past, Eorzean pupils eagerly flocked to Sharlayan's settlement in the Dravanian hinterlands from all corners of the realm. There, they studied a multitude of subjects from different fields—though it seems that instructors reserved certain wisdom for those of Sharlayan citizenship alone.
For greater purposes, Sharlayans seek to gather the knowledge of the world, and preserve it in the pages of the Bibliotheca Historica. They covet the unknown and unexplored, and put great value upon education—in part as a gathering of like-minded fellows. They also abhor bloodshed, find war barbaric, and would never dream of allowing their wisdom to be used for martial purposes. As such, they guard closely all knowledge they deem dangerous.
As one might expect, food is oft taken as an object of study, and Sharlayan is rumored to hold countless tomes detailing fare from all over the world. However, the delicacies they create are for strictly academic purposes—and not for anything as base as eating. The everyday fare of the city is good for the body, but otherwise quite bland. Accordingly, many groans can be heard from foreign students come meal time.
A Journey South
Legendary figures known as the Twelve Archons are widely believed to have saved a great many Eorzean lives during the Sixth Umbral Calamity. Nyunkrepf Nyunkrepfsyn, a towering giant of a Roegadyn from beyond the Northern Wastes, was one amongst this band of heroes. He foresaw the coming of the floods through astrology, and, unable to stand idly by, made a great ship of wood, and set out upon a voyage for Eorzea with a crew of volunteer sailors.
Along the way, Nyunkrepf's men rescued many souls set adrift on the seas. Yet, as they drew nearer their goal, they spied a tidal wave bearing down upon them. Knowing his vessel would be torn to splinters by the force of the water, Nyunkrepf made a desperate decision. He cast a powerful and ancient magick over the ship, knowing not where they would arrive. Thus, the crew and many refugees aboard found themselves teleported away from certain death, and perched precariously in Abalathia's Spine.
The Long Descent
Though those aboard Nyunkrepf's ship found momentary succor, they were not alone in the mountains. Many other refugees had fled to Abalathia's Spine with little more than the clothes on their backs, and what little sustenance they brought quickly ran out. As their hunger grew, their civility fell away. They became little better than snarling savages, fighting and killing for what little food the peaks offered.
From within his ship, Nyunkrepf watched with grief as precious lives were snuffed out by the barbarism. Knowing those he had saved would die if they tarried in the region, he and his followers fled as soon as the rains had abated. He led them unto the Dravanian hinterlands, where they built a new ship. Though the seas remained rough and tossed them about, they nevertheless safely reached the isles in the northern seas. Having returned home, Nyunkrepf and the survivors set about building a small settlement. This humble village was to grow into the mighty city of Sharlayan.
A New Center of Knowledge
The Sixth Umbral Era passed, and the Sixth Astral Era dawned. Nyunkrepf's village had already advanced greatly by the start of this glorious new age, and had expanded enough to rightly be called a city. The citizens of the newly-named Sharlayan had pledged themselves to Nyunkrepf's teachings: to forever renounce war and walk in the light of wisdom and reason.
This spirit was evident in the city's governance. Every adult was given a voice in decisions affecting the nation's future through the great gathering known as the Ecclesia. Here, peers would discuss and debate until some consensus emerged—a system that many scholars have since called enlightened. In fact, it was in the Ecclesia that the Sharlayans voted to elect Thaliak as their patron deity.
The city flourished under the motto of "Knowledge Seeks No Man," and a number of academies sprung up, allowing its people to expand their minds through scholarship. Of particular note was the Studium, founded in 432. Instructing pupils in everything from aetherial studies to astromancy, it encouraged them to learn about both the arcane and the occult, and has produced a great many Archons over the ages. The Studium has made numerous discoveries that have helped Eorzea as well, including the lost secrets of travel by aetheryte.
And Then There Were Six
In 1311, the scholars of Sharlayan crossed the seas to the Dravanian hinterlands, and there built an outpost to study the aetherial sea. This became a stop for all academics who ventured to Eorzea to conduct their research, and a hostelry was constructed for long-term tenure upon foreign shores. This small collection of buildings grew more numerous, and in time it became a handsome settlement.
Rumor of this community of learned men spread, and students began to converge upon the place from every corner of Eorzea. They sought the wisdom of scholars, and their number began to swell. In 1361, upon the fiftieth anniversary of the research outpost, the Forum formally proclaimed it a colony. With this, the Sharlayan settlement joined the six city-states of Eorzea.
The Dravanian hinterlands attracted students from all across Eorzea, and grew as a beacon of knowledge and wisdom. Yet this was not to last. In 1557, tidings that Garlemald had captured Ala Mhigo reached the city. To the Sharlayans, the Empire was a threat to their very way of life. They had spent an age stubbornly resisting all war, and the imperial invasion of Ilsabard and Othard was a bane to the values they had held since Nyunkrepf's time. Sharlayan sent ambassadors to Garlemald with entreaties to stop their advance. They even strove mightily to parlay a peace, but all these pleas fell on deaf ears, and the envoys returned home empty-handed.
In the wake of the failed negotiations, Fourchenault Leveilleur and the faction he led within the Forum elected to forsake their colony. Following five years of elaborate and painstaking preparation, the plan to evacuate the settlement's entire population to the northern archipelago of their homeland was put into motion. In 1562, the city of Sharlayan became a maze of empty streets and buildings in the space of a single evening.