The Iansislean Shield, also known as the ‘Great Shield’ or simply ‘the Shield,’ is a geographical and ethnic region on the northwest of the continent of Tilsitia.
Northwest Tilsitia is characterized by being largely inhospitable to large-scale agriculture: the northern land of Noropia is largely too cold and too heavily forested; great mountain ranges, such as those separating the Shield from Noropia or Tharia from Dianatran, abound; and the great desert that covers the central region of the continent is located primarily in the northwestern quadrant.
However, on the Shield itself (as well as nearby Sentry Island) it is almost impossible to avoid growing something. The prevailing winds (from the west and southwest) pick up moisture and the sharp change in elevation from Troobodia Bay to the Shield forces the air masses to rise, resulting in heavy perception over the entire area. In addition, the ground is relatively flat with rich soil, especially in the southern regions and the river basins of the Daldon and Mans.
Agriculture was still a relatively late comer to the Shield for the simple reason that the ideal growing conditions meant that great forests, including trees such as the Shieldian Oak, covered the land. Not until the arrival of the Sentrians in AD 550 did any large scale agricultural activity start to take place. The Shield quickly experienced a population boom and by AD 1091 had kicked the Sentrians out. For some time afterwards, the Shield remained a disunited body, joined by linguistic and ethnic bonds, but divided by politics.
In 1697, the King of Shadoran united the Seven Kingdoms and ended the Wars of the Shield. He proclaimed himself to be High King Ian I of the Grand Empire of the Shield and made backwards Dûn Ádien into an imperial seat.
Very first on the Grand Empire’s agenda was to create a sense of unity among a people whom chance had divided for more than six hundred years. In the years of Ian’s reign, the first academic notions of a ‘Shieldian nation’ began to circulate, as did a new word for the Grand Empire: Iansisle. Eventually, ‘Iansisle’ (which derived from a derogatory name for Dûn Ádien) would come to describe all of the High King’s multinational subjects, while ‘Shieldian’ returned as a term for those from the Shield.