Solsthriem borders the icy reaches, and in some ways sits apart from the rest of the world. The only real threat to them is the Wilders, as they are situated far enough away that other lands don’t really bother with them.
Two hundred years ago, the southern half of Solsthriem was part of Thatela, and the northernmost part of was a land of outlaws and hill folks that had been driven out of the more civilized lands to eek out a living on their own. They often turned to banditry. During the War of Two Kings, King Deniel and his men fled into the hills. Duke Gautier convinced a group of bandits to act as spies and scouts, and after their actions turned the tide in Deniel’s favor, King Deniel offered to pardon any and all of those living in the hills that joined his forces. The resulting force of skirmishers and guerillas drove King Alessio back into what is now Thatela.
Deniel knew that he could defend the land he held, but continuing to try to take Thatela from his twin would ultimately end in Deniel’s defeat. Rather than throw his people away, he chose to forge the lands he held into the nation that is Solsthriem.
Culturally, Thatela and Solsthriem remain quite similar. Every couple generations, Thatela tries to make a play to recover it’s ‘lost province’ and the two nations war for a couple years. There are quite a few villages along the border that aren’t entirely sure which country they are actually in.
Solsthriem is not as wealthy as Thatela, and thus does lag behind a little in terms of advances. They have a spire and magi, though it is but a shadow of those in other nations. That doesn’t stop Solsthriem’s people from being patriots. The people of Solsthriem still cling to the ideals espoused by King Deniel. Chivalry, generosity, and honor are points of pride with them, and they can be quite prickly when either are offended. Knights are expected be exemplars of such ideals, and take oaths to express them. Some honor those oaths better than others.
Tournaments are a big to-do in Solsthriem, and it is possible for even a poor farmer’s son to participate and win a knighthood. Many younger sons and lesser lords beggar themselves trying to win in tournaments, but those that do win are lauded as champions and heroes.
It is a very patriarchal society. A woman does not inherit unless all her male relatives are dead. The daughters of noble houses have little say in who they get to marry, and their hands are bartered to secure alliances. Women are expected to be virtuous and chaste, with the men expected in return to uphold the ideals of chivalry and defend said women. A ‘disgraced’ woman is considered unmarriageable by the upper castes, and such women are all but exiled from their families. The man that ‘disgraced’ her may escape unscathed, or may find himself at the mercy of her menfolk. In the best case, he may simply be made to make an honest woman of her. Or he’s just hunted down and killed. While it isn’t unheard of for young women to learn to fence as a sport, women do not fight and cannot become knights.
When it comes to sex, they can be rather puritanical. There are fairly strict nudity taboos, and public displays of affection are frowned upon. Both men and women’s garments are very modest, and showing too much skin is considered scandalous. Sex is not a topic of conversation for polite company. Brothels exist, and everyone carefully pretends they do not.
They inherited their religious practices from Thatela, worshiping the three gods. However, religion isn’t quite as important in Solsthriem as it is in Thatela, and most Solsthriem practice their religion only casually.