Among the Hyborian kingdoms, Nemedia was second only to Aquilonia, and its people chafed that they were always in the shadow of that rival nation. Despite ancient enmity and sporadic wars, the two nations remained locked in a diplomatic and military stalemate during the time of Conan. Nemedian civilization was of great antiquity and sophistication. Nemedia was well situated geographically to fend off invasion, making its territory secure. Possibly the first advanced Hyborian nation, Nemedia nurtured a tradition of intellectual inquisitiveness and scholarship unusual in the mostly pre-literate world of the Hyborian Age. The greatest historians and philosophers of the Western half of Hyboria hailed from Nemedia. The liberal atmosphere engendered by academic inquiry also accounted for Nemedia’s tolerance of a broad range of religious sects outside the state-endorsed worship of Mitra.
All citizens had to pledge allegiance to the Nemedian king and were subject equally to the country’s code of laws. These laws were administered by Inquisitorial Councils and Courts of Justice, which, to their credit, exonerated the innocent as often as they convicted the guilty, another rarity in the Hyborian Age. Debtors were dealt with harshly, branded on the shoulders and sold as slaves. But slaves were well protected by law. The capital of Nemedia was Belverus, a beautiful city surrounded by rich croplands and orchards.
Nemedia had long been Aquilonia’s primary rival. Many of Nemedia’s political and diplomatic efforts were directed toward demonstrating that Nemedia was more powerful than Aquilonia. However, despite Nemedia’s cultural depth and intellectual freedom, the land simply did not have the raw materials and natural resources which Aquilonia had access to in its lands. This continued rivalry had left the two kingdoms stalemated in an uneasy cold war.
Nemedia maintained its feudal hierarchy more strictly than in the other Hyborian nations. All Nemedian citizens had a place in the feudal hierarchy; they had to swear allegiance to their lord, and they held specific obligations and rights under Nemedia’s detailed feudal code. Fiefs and noble offices were passed from father to eldest son, on the basis of blood ties alone. Should no son be available to take the Nemedian throne, complex rules of consanguinity were then invoked to determine the proper heir, according to the tradition of primogeniture. The King of Nemedia during Conan’s youth was named Nimed. That monarch was eventually murdered and succeeded by his brother Tarascus, who then warred with King Conan of Aquilonia. Few kings of the Hyborian Age died in their beds with their crowns still firmly attached to their heads, and those of even a nation as advanced as Nemedia were no exception.
Noble birth was also a prerequisite for many positions of state. Only those with noble lineage were permitted to hold high ranks in the Nemedian army, to serve on the Courts of Justice, or to head an Inquisitional Council. Only in the field of scholarship were bloodlines ignored, although a noble’s sponsorship was required to get any scholarly grant from the Dragon Throne of Nemedia.
Nemedia was a society of inquisitiveness and scholarly learning. The greatest scholars of the West were employed by the Nemedian Dragon Throne to produce theological, scientific and historical works. Slavery in Nemedia, on the other hand, was more liberal than in most Hyborian nations. The law protected slaves from excessive cruelty by their masters, and permitted the children of a slave and a free person to remain free. Slaves, even debt-slaves, might be released by their masters, although many would refuse such an offer. In Nemedia, like much of the rest of the ancient world, many would rather be well-fed slaves than starving freemen.
Nemedia was also the most liberal of the Hyborian kingdoms when it came to religion. In addition to the worship of the chief Hyborian god Mitra, which was nominally the state religion, Nemedia supported agnostic philosophical orders such as the Skeptics, as well as temples to the Shemitish deities and the mysterious cult of Ibis, the Stygian god of knowledge and archenemy of Set. This religious diversity was one of the sources of animosity between Aquilonia and Nemedia. The Temple of Mitra in Aquilonia had near-total control of the religious life of Aquilonia’s citizens, and over the centuries the Aquilonian branch of the Mitraic faith pressured Aquilonia’s kings to sue with the Dragon Throne for similar concessions in Nemedia.
Names: Nemedians tend to have Greek/Italian names, though some are more Germanic. King Numa gave his name to the city of Numalia. Examples: (male) Alcemides, Altaro, Amalric, Arideus, Arus, Astreas, Aztias, Bragoras, Brocas, Demetrio, Dionus, Enaro, Kalanthes, Kallian, Nimed, Numa, Orastes, Petanius, Posthumo, Promero, Publico, Tarascus, Taurus; (female) Diana, Octavia, Zenobia.