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According to Marley history textbooks, Marley was a powerful nation in ancient times. However, over 1,800 years ago, the dominion of Marley was threatened when Ymir Fritz, a queen of the Fritz family who ruled the "Subjects of Ymir", came in contact with the "source of all organic material" and gained the Power of the Titans. After Ymir's time, her "soul" was split into nine Titans who inherited her power and formed the Eldian Empire. With the power of the Titans, the Eldians waged war against the Marleyans, utterly destroying their nation and obtaining complete rule over the continental mainland. Over the course of 1,700 years, the Eldians would designate all other races of the world as inferior and resort to genocide and rape in order to cleanse the world of other peoples.
Many centuries after Eldia's ascension to power, the 145th King of the Fritz family inherited the power of the Founding Titan, the greatest of all Titans. Rather than maintaining order in Eldia as his forebears had done, the King chose instead to relocate the capital of Eldia to the remote island of Paradis. In the King's absence, the surviving peoples of Marley rose up against their oppressors, starting the Great Titan War. At this time, Marley succeeded in obtaining seven of the nine Titans in Eldia's possession, drastically turning the tide of the war. Over an unspecified amount of time, Marley gradually gained control of the continental mainland that once was ruled by Eldia until only Paradis remained as King Fritz's undisputed territory. At this time, in the year 743, King Fritz used the Founding Titan to guide a massive number of Wall Titans in the raising of three concentric Walls, Maria, Rose, and Sheena, around Eldia's remaining territory. In order to force peace between Eldia and Marley, King Fritz gave the ultimatum that any further act of war against Eldia would be met with the releasing of the countless Titans within the Walls. With this, the Great Titan War ended.
While technological development on Paradis had been stagnant for a century due to King Reiss' isolation policies, the other nations of the world have already progressed far beyond it. By the year 854, Marley and other nations have already developed features of modernity such as photographs, blimps, electricity, steam & diesel-powered transports in civil society.
Although its core strength remains the unique ability to field Titans, Marley's military made general use of armaments that are obsolete in comparison to other countries such as bolt action rifles, automatic weapons, artillery, steam-powered battleships as well as zeppelins. Marley became complacent due to its reliance on the Titans, allowing its military technologies to be outclassed by opposing countries, particularly the Mid-East Allied Forces, who developed technology specifically to neutralize the impact of Titans on the battlefield.
Titan Chemistry Research Society
The Marley government has vast knowledge of the Titans to the extent that they are able to make use of Titan-related technology and possess insight as to the origin of the Titans. For example, the Marley government are known to create Titan serums for use in creating the warriors and as a tool to transform Eldian criminals into Titans on Paradis.
An academic discipline known as "Titan chemistry", headed by Marley's Titan Chemistry Research Society, was founded in dedication to the research of Titan. It is the Society that put forth the theory that all Eldians are connected by unseen "paths" from which the flesh and bones of Titan are sent to them, and that all the paths "coordinate" at the Founding Titan.
Eldians on the Continental Mainland
After the Great Titan War, Eldians stranded on the continental mainland were left at the mercy of an unforgiving Marleyan nation, which was nevertheless aware of the military potential of their genetic trait. To exploit it, the Eldians were segregated from the rest of the population into designated areas such as the Liberio internment zone under the watch of the Public Security Authorities. These ghettos act as a reserve pool for mindless Titan. In wartime, internees were brought out to be turned into Titans and released onto battlefields.
To justify its exploitation, Marley indoctrinated both its citizens and Eldian with revised history which demonized the latter group. As a result, the Marleyan populace saw the Eldians as inferior by blood due to their ancestor Ymir Fritz's deal with the "Earth Devil". On the other hand, average continental Eldians, such as Mr. Yeager and Gabi, became convinced that they were genuinely indebted to their "merciful" Marleyan overlord, and that the only ways to redeem themselves are loyal service to the Marley Motherland and the extermination of "bad" Eldians on Paradis.
Compared to the Marleyan society beyond the fence, life inside the Internment Zones is lackluster but not poverty-ridden even though there is no system of currency within the ghettos. For example, the Yeager family was able to make a living working as doctors, a reputable profession; and the residents were able to put up a feast for their family members returning from war. Nevertheless, they do have to endure abuses from PSA guards from time to time, which are occasionally lethal, as evidenced by the murder of Faye Yeager. Movement in and out of the ghettos are also restricted, with the camp's main gate only open at specified time of the day or during special occasions, such as the gathering to welcome the troops home. One has to produce a permit in order to gain passage.
Not all Eldian suffered that fate, however. A few Eldians were awarded 'honorary Marleyan' title for either demonstrated loyalty to the Marley Motherland or past rebellion against King Fritz's rule. One such example is the Tybur family, who was noted to live in luxury outside of the internment zones and has influence aboard, a result of their neutrality in war and politics. Another example are the Warriors, who were awarded for their military service to Marley.
By the year 832, the military value of Eldian was put to question. It was known that mindless Titans are inherently uncontrollable and poses as much a risk to the enemy as to itself. There were opinions for the extermination of all Eldian in Marley. At the time, Kruger noted that once Marley secures the Founding Titan, the debate would end in favor of those opinions and seal the doom of all Eldian.
By the year 854, however, the attitude changed again. The Marley Mid-East War laid bare the fact that Titans are losing to the advancing military technology deployed by Marley's many enemies, but since the nation needs time to close the gap in arms development with the rest of the world, the Eldians are still needed as a stop-gap measure. It not only prompted the Marleyan leadership to renew the operation to seize the Founding Titan, but also started a "symbiosis" relationship between the two ethnic groups where the Marleyan need the Eldian to sustain its military might and the Eldian need Marley to keep a hostile world at bay. After the war, Eldians are not only hated in Marley but also all around the world, due to the usage of Titans by Marley in wars of expansion, much like during the age of the Eldian Empire. The universal hatred escalates to the point that most of the world nations now demand the extermination of all Eldians but the Tybur family.
The Marleyan government determines the ethnicity of its citizens with blood test, and the result of which affects their eligibility to get into privileged professions. To join the Public Security Authorities, for example, one has to prove that they are not of Eldian ancestry by passing the test. Despite that, agents of the Eldia Restorationists were able to get around it by using falsified medical records and having their tests done by doctors sympathetic to their cause.
The Marleyan army possesses a powerful armament of semi-modern weapons. For small-arms weaponry, bolt action rifles and stick grenades are the standard-issued weapons of Marleyan infantrymen. Zeke also carries a sub-machine gun into battle, suggesting that automatic small-arms were used at least by Marley's elite airborne unit. Heavier weapons such as water-cooling machine guns were employed as the primary armament of certain Titans, turning them into mobile weapon platforms. Troop transports were primarily done by steam-powered trains.
The use of Titans is central to the army's doctrine. Beside having the seven Titans as strategical deterrents, Marley also has a long-standing strategy of converting its Eldian population into pure Titans to bolster its military strength. In ancient times, pure Titans were simply set loose before friendly line toward an enemy force en masse, as they are unable to follow complex commands except from the Founding Titan. The tactic remains unchanged in the modern era, except that the Titans are now airdropped by zeppelins.
Other than strategic value, inheritors of the Nine Titans also fulfill the tactical role comparable to tanks on the field. For example, Porco Galliard was tasked to destroy a machine gun nest which was otherwise untouchable by infantry in the battle against Fort Slava. A more literal example is Pieck, who had four machine gun turrets strapped on her back, a configuration that proved highly effective in clearing the Allies' trench system. Otherwise, Marleyan troops practice conventional tactics such as trench warfare, frontal human wave assault, and rudimentary anti-armor technique such as the use of bundle stick grenades.
However, due to their heavy reliance on Titan's power, the Marleyan army neglected in developing and advancing its conventional armament. As a result, its force was gradually outclassed by the Mid-East Allied Forces and the rest of the world, who had to push all their efforts into military development in order to strike a balance with Marley's Titans. The situation was so dire that a general pessimistically stated that, even with the power of the Founding Titan, the army can stand little chance against the advanced aircraft technology developed by its enemies.
Ethnic segregation exists in the army as it does in the civilian society, and is reflected in the soldier's equipment. Eldian soldiers are issued with different headgears, and are required to wear the Eldian armband at all time unless when being allowed to take it off. Nevertheless, the difference in gears may have the purpose of denoting ranks and have nothing to do with segregation. Even though they have shared experience on the battlefield, Marleyan servicemen such as Koslow still hold grugde against their Eldian "comrades".
The army have little regards for proper conducts of war. For example, army Commander Magath intentionally allowed Gabi to attack an enemy bunker in civilian guise, even though he was aware of that it violates international laws.
The Marleyan navy fought in the sea-fighting phase of the four-years long Marley Mid-East War, which was the longest phase of the war.
The navy was mentioned to be outdated and underdeveloped, which led to devastating outcome against the state-of-the-art naval warships deployed by the Allies. During the war, it only managed to control the sea at the cost of half of its fleet after four years of fighting. The failure of the navy was attributed by Magath as one of the causes leading to Marley's Pyrrhic "victory".
At some point during the war, the navy sent 32 ships including a number of destroyers to the coast of Paradis in the course of three years. The purpose was to survey the area for the eventual invasion of the island. All ships were lost to an unknown force.
Relations between the army and the navy are poor. For example, Udo scolding it for being a "cesspool of incompetence"; when Magath blamed it for damaging Marley's reputation as the victor of war in a post-battle meeting with the general, a naval officer frustratingly defended his service branch.
Although it is unclear whether or not the Marleyan military possesses an independent air branch, air power had seen use in the Marley Mid-East War and the operation against Paradis.
Marley uses zeppelins to parachute Titans into battle and to bombard an area with pure Titans.
- Main article: Warriors
Before the year 830, Marley possessed seven Titans which assured its position as a world power. However, advancements in technology have started to undermine the military importance of Titans. Recognizing this fact, the Marleyan government planned to conquer Eldia in order to exploit its rich fossil fuel resources in order to improve their conventional military. The plan was hindered by King Fritz's threat of unleashing the Wall Titans upon the world in case of a Marleyan invasion.
In order to counter King Fritz's ultimatum, the Marleyan government decided to grant the power of the seven Titans in their nations possession to a selection of Eldian children. The families of those chosen children were promised to be made into honorary Marleyans with all freedoms that come with the distinction. These children were trained into expandable soldiers in warfare while also serving as candidates to inherit the powers of the Titans.
Over a dozen years later, in the year 845, Marley sent out four of their warriors, Bertolt Hoover, Reiner Braun, Annie Leonhart, and Marcel Galliard from Liberio. These warriors were given the task of breaching the gates of the Walls in order to wipe out the Eldian race and take the Coordinate, or Founding Titan, from the royal family. They succeeded in breaching Wall Maria, though their efforts in breaching Wall Rose were halted upon learning that Eren Yeager possessed the power of the Titans, leading them to suspect that he held the Coordinate they sought. Since that revelation, the goal of the surviving warriors has been to capture Eren Yeager in order to obtain the Coordinate. However, after their failure at the battle of Shiganshina District, the Paradis Island Operation has since been postponed due to the loss of the Colossus and Female Titans.
In the year 854, a warrior cadet unit consisting of Gabi, Falco, Colt, and some 800 other cadets was sent to capture Fort Slava under the command of Commander Magath during the Marley Mid-East War.The same battle also saw Reiner and Zeke being deployed on the field alongside a barrage of mindless Titan. Reiner was severely damaged when he shielded Zeke from a direct hit of a naval artillery shell.
Their warriors are now faced the threat of being outclassed by advanced technology in weaponry used by others nations against them.
The Public Security Authorities is a Marleyan internal military force. Its primary purpose is to control Eldian minority within the Marleyan mainland. The PSA repression against Eldian drove Grisha Yeager into becoming an Eldian Restorationist and directly led to the creation of several named Titans which ravaged the Walled society in Paradis, setting in motion the manga's story.
Politics and Diplomacy
After gaining the power of seven Titans, Marley has since abode by a colonization policy in all conflicts with enemy nations. While the nation's territory before or immediately following the Great Titan War is unknown, by the year 854 the nation of Marley had conquered at least two entire continents, including territory on a third continent across the western ocean.
At some point between the year 833 and 845, Marley conquered an unnamed country with the use of all Warriors. Their performance were tested and proven in that battle.
Marley has historically had a poor relationship with the Mid-East Allied Forces. By the year 850, after it had become known that Marley lost two Titans in its operation against Paradis, the Allies finally declared war against Marley. Over twenty years ago, the Eldia Restorationists had considered using the Founding Titan to gain support and defection from this enemy nation, though their efforts failed.
- Marley resembles Nazi Germany in both its general aesthetics and politics but its technological development is slightly less advanced, being at around early 20th century level.
- It also resembles Empire of Japan.
- Marley's policy of segregating Eldian into ghetto parallels Nazi anti-Jewish policy. Similarly, many named Marleyans and Eldians have Germanic names.
- The history of Marleyans and Eldians is also comparable with that of the Rwandan populations of Hutu and Tutsi. By 1700, the Rwandan populace coalesced into around eight kingdoms, of which the Tutsi Kingdom of Rwanda became dominant and oppressed the Hutu, fueling a hard relationship between the two races that lasted for centuries. In 1994, during the Rwandan Civil War, the then Hutu majority government perpetrated a genocide against the Tutsi which resulted in the extermination of around 70% of the Tutsi population over the course of a hundred days.
- Rwanda was also a German territory from 1884 until World War I.
- Since Isayama is Japanese, the Marleyan government's exploitation of ancient grudges for expansionist purposes might have been inspired by the anti-Japanese sentiment in China, where the memory of the Second Sino-Japanese War is kept alive by the government for nationalistic purposes. The landmass size difference between Marley and Paradis also reminds one of China and Japan.
- The memory alterations to people on Paradis to make them forget the past might have been inspired by the Japanese government's own attempts to downplay and deny Imperial Japan's war crimes.
- If turned upside-down and mirrored, the territory of Marley matches the real-world regions of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Brazil.
- If the sizes of the continents shown in the Attack on Titan world are relatively equal in size to the real world, Marley's total territory would rival that of the British Empire.
- Marley's placement in an alternate Africa also coincides with the Rwanda parallelism, as Rwanda is a country within the mainland of Africa some distance northwest of Madagascar. When turned upside-down and mirrored, Rwanda is at the southwest, and it is said that Titans primarily target the southern regions of the Walls.
- The Marleyan army's equipment seems like a mix of WW1 German and British gears. For example, Marleyan servicemen wear a headgear that shaped like Stahlhelm while Eldian soldiers wear what appear to be Pith helmet. Futhermore, the Marleyan service rifle heavily resembles a Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle.