"For Coin and Country."
The bustling commercial hub of Ul'dah sits amid the desolate desert landscape of southern Aldenard. The city is organized strategically around the dome-shaped citadel at its center. Its towering fortifications and protective outer walls are visible for malms in all directions, and serve as a stark deterrent to would-be besiegers.
Visitors from every corner of Eorzea come to Ul'dah to partake of the city's famed recreation, most notably the fighting arenas and gambling halls. Ul'dahn culture is known for its affluence, and the wealth of the nation comes in large part from its abundant mineral resources and prestigious clothcrafting industry.
Historically, it is the sultan who claims sovereignty over Ul'dah, but true power is wielded by the Syndicate, an elite group of six of the most influential and richest members of society. Nald'thal is the patron deity of the city, and two great halls devoted to his two aspects can be found in the eastern and western sections of the city.
Deep in the sunbaked south, surrounded by the shifting sands of an endless desert, she rises.
A solitary rose amidst the dust and rock. A symbol of defiance. Her name: Ul'dah.
Even with the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era, hope springs eternal for the mongers and merchants who vie for lost fortunes in this bustling oasis.
As the Twin Faces of Nald'thal maintain Their vigil over all that has been and shall be, the present proffers a brave soul.
...One whose arrival could mark the beginning of a new era of prosperity for the realm.
May the Traders nuture our fortunes as They kindle the flames which burn within us all.
For by fire are we reborn.
Ul'dah's flag bears upon a field of black a set of golden scales, which weigh the jewel of prosperity on the left and the flame of might on the right. This emblem itself originates in Belah'dia, where the scale weighed power and wisdom. Thus, the twin heirs to that ancient civilization took one sigil apiece: Ul'dah the flame, and Sil'dih the grapes of knowledge.
For Coin and Country
Members of the Ul Dynasty claim sovereignty by right of birth. Their will is carried out by the Divan, a group of eight viziers who oversee matters of law, finance, engineering, the interior, commerce, war, religious affairs, and palace affairs. However, the influence of sultans has been waning for some time, and at present true power is wielded by the Syndicate, a council sat by six of Ul'dah's most elite and influential.
Sultana Nanamo Ul Namo, seventeenth in the line of Ul
As a sultanate, all offices of government serve to make manifest the will and policy of Ul'dah's ruler.
Nald'thal, overseer of the underworld and god of commerce, is the guardian deity of Ul'dah. While many believe that He is possessed of a dual nature, Ul'dahns see Him as twins, and worship Nald and Thal separately. Since times of eld, the Order of Nald'thal has devoted itself to this task, and encourages the devout to donate their coin—for virtue in this life, and happiness in Thal's realm.
With a gateway to the five seas and roads to all corners of the realm, Ul'dah has long flourished as a center of commerce. Today, countless companies and cosortia—both large and small—operate within the city-state.
Beneath the lands of Thanalan run countless veins of quality ore, and, as a result, a bustling jewelry trade has evolved.
In addition to crafting essential fabrics for everyday use, a large and prestigious apparel industry has grown under the auspices of an increasing number of wealthy people. As represented by Sunsilk Tapestries, a number of notable brands have become popular even outside of Ul'dah's borders.
Thanks to the tireless study of ailments at Frondale's Phrontistery, Ul'dah has established itself as a reputable producer of alchemical and traditional cures.
In a city of merchants, everything has a price, and business is placed upon a nigh-hallowed pedestal. Shopkeeps show scant mercy towards their rivals, and anyone who is cheated out off coin is seen not as a victim, but rather as a fool. To other Eorzeans, inhabitants of the city-state may seem as swindlers who worship nothing but profit. Nonetheless, the core Ul'dahn values of hard work and daring have earned many men great fortunes in their lifetime.
Few vegetables grow in the heat of Thanalan, leaving Ul'dahn cuisine to consist largely of meats and insects, heavily seasoned with imported and local spices—though some claim this merely conceals fare that would normally be deemed unfit for consumption. Alcohol, on the other hand, is more highly appraised, and the arts of the Alchemists' Guild have led to distilling techniques leading to liquors of complex and subtle flavor.
The Rise and Fall of Belah'dia
The dawn of the Sixth Astral Era saw a great suffering of magi. They had ruled the realm for an age, yet their arts had wrought great destruction, and many people demanded that magic be forbidden outright. Naturally, all those even remotely proficient in spellcraft faced some form of persecution. Those few who used sorcery to project themselves from the stones of fearful peasantry were often subject to greater retribution. The only path left to the magi was to flee and hide in the remote outskirts of civilization.
Belah'dian civilization flourished in relative peace for two hundred years. Yet all was to change in 964, when the sultan grew deathly ill and was confined to his sickbed. This triggered a fierce struggle between Sasagan and Sasawefu, his two sons, over who would sit the throne as rightful heir. The twins each called upon the soldiers loyal to them, and the nation was soon wracked by war. The sultan's death a year later did nothing to stem the fighting, and in 969 the princes decisively tore Belah'dia in half. Each then built a city anew in Thanalan—Sil'dih under Sasawefu, and Ul'dah under Sasagan.
The Dead Walk
In 1177, a drought came over Thanalan and King Lalawefu succumbed to illness. This misfortune spurred Ul'dah to action, Sil'dih's sibling nation seeking to profit from the confusion. The following year, the city-state marched forth in full force to reclaim their water source. The Sil'dihn elite, however, did not stand idly by. They united their nation in the face of the crisis, and met Ul'dah with their own army. The resulting war was long and bloody. Yet, despite countless summers of campaigns against one another, neither side could claim superiority, and the conflict showed little sign of drawing to an end.
A New Dynasty
The Thorne Dynasty ruled for two hundred summers thereafter, and produced many ardent reformers. In 1270, one moved Ul'dah to almost directly above where her sister city-state had once stood. When undead rose from the ancient sprawling sewers of Sil'dih in 1353, another enlisted the aid of the Amalj'aa—Ul'dah's fierce enemies. Given the beastmen's belief that Thanalan is sacred, they eagerly joined with Ul'dahns to exterminate the impure presence. With this done, the Thorne heirs felt their sworn duty had come to an end, and returned rule to the Ul Dynasty.
The Amalj'aa threat notwithstanding, Ul'dah gained control of Thanalan through the razing of neighboring Sil'dih. It was then that the city-state began to truly establish itself as a mercantile power, hiring sailors and purchasing Lominsan-wrought ships from as early as 1190. Soon, it had opened trade with Radz-at-Han and the rest of the Near East. Behind this was the guiding hand of the Thorne Dynasty, who had restored the Ul'dahn markets and overland trade routes after moving the city. Inheriting their vision for the nation, the second Ul Dynasty worked to better commerce, and under their rule the nation flourished.