As the worldwide anime phenomenon of Attack on Titan approaches its conclusion this Fall, both long-time fans and newcomers are eager to delve into the historical background of this dystopian world infested with Titans, characterized by bloodshed and deep-seated animosity. When Eren made the pivotal decision to venture beyond The Wall, little did the audience anticipate the harrowing history that awaited him, forever altering the fate of the entire continent. The events depicted in Attack on Titan were set in motion long before the fall of Wall Maria, originating from a centuries-long war between the two most dominant nations.
Marley and Eldia emerge as the central players in the multitude of conflicts and atrocities that plague the continent. The power dynamics between these factions first began to shift with Ymir's fateful encounter with a mysterious tree, ultimately transforming her into the first Titan. Determining which side is morally righteous becomes an intricate task, as both factions, when bestowed with power, instinctively resort to conquest. The Marley-Eldia conflict is a complex and protracted struggle, intertwined with the ambitions of various key characters who prioritize personal agendas, often at the expense of countless lives.
History of Marley
In Attack on Titan's fantasy world, Marley is a powerful nation enjoying unchallenged supremacy until Eldia gains the power of the Titans. The famous tyrant King Fritz sees the chaotic potential in Ymir's Founding Titan and immediately marries her to secure his ultimate weapon against the Marleyans. It's safe to conclude that the hatred between the two nations is simply the culmination of a power struggle and not because of a specific event. When King Fritz attained Ymir, he must have had the simplest ambition of overturning the closest, strongest nation, which happened to be Marley. It all started 2,000 years ago with Ymir's capture when Marley started to experience Eldia's suppression beyond the point that they had no choice but to surrender.
The Marleys' countless attempts to overthrow the cruel King Fritz did nothing but increase his tyranny over the nation. They even tried to assassinate the King but failed, and Ymir died instead. Even though that was a fatal blow to the Marleyans, it was also a blessing in disguise because even if King Fritz sat on the throne, with Ymir gone, there was bound to be some infighting. They had this idea because when Ymir died, her powers were distributed into nine Eldian families in the form of the Nine. Though Marley couldn't have predicted what was to come, they must have some sort of hope that one day the power of the Titans would be Eldia's demise. Fortunately for them, it did happen.
Eldia's Supremacy After Ymir
In an era preceding Marley's retaliatory efforts, Eldia reigned supreme, dominating all lands under its control. Ymir, an instrumental figure, submitted the world at the feet of King Fritz, and even after her demise, Eldia's reign persisted. During what is now known as the "Dark Age," Eldia triumphed over neighboring nations, exerting unchallenged authority over the continental mainland. Approximately 1,200 years prior to the main events of the series, Eldia unleashed its might, swiftly reducing the Marleyan city of Lago to ruins within a single day. The merciless campaign continued, leaving thousands dead in its wake, forever remembered as The Devastation of Monte and The Ravaging of Valle. These cataclysmic events proved to be a turning point, as Eldia found itself devoid of new conquests, ultimately paving the path for its downfall.
In the aftermath of their vast dominion, the Eldian Empire plunged into a brutal civil war. The nine noble families, who held the inherited power of the Nine Titans, succumbed to infighting, consumed by a vicious battle for supremacy and consumed by mutual animosity. It was during this turmoil that Marley seized the opportunity they had patiently awaited for centuries. The internecine conflict inflicted immeasurable bloodshed upon the land, providing Marley with an opening to reclaim territories and fortify their own dominion. The precise timeline of these events remains elusive, yet Marley's strategic maneuvering gradually led them to pilfer Titans from the Eldians, heralding a new era characterized by warfare and unspeakable monstrosities.
Marley Fights Back
Marley took advantage of the Great Titan War that took place between the nine Eldian families. History portrays an entity named Helo, who is considered Marley's savior and the one responsible for turning the Eldian families against each other. The tide turned, and Marley started to gain victories until they finally stole seven out of nine Titans, with the War Hammer Titan being the first. How did they achieve this seemingly impossible feat? Historical accounts suggest that the Tybur family was the first to betray their King and side with Marley. However, things couldn't have been further from the truth.
The "Karl Fritz-Tybur" Conspiracy
Marley steadily gained control over the region, pushing Eldia into a fire of civil war. Surprisingly, there was no Marleyan hero who achieved this feat; rather, the poison was administered by someone a bit closer to home. It's later revealed that King Karl Fritz and the Tybur family planned Eldia's demise. Karl Fritz grew tired of the injustice and cruelty of the Eldians, and to redeem his ancestors' legacy, he decided to give the enemy a fictitious hero while he orchestrated the infighting. Karl believed that Eldia's ferocities were beyond atonement and thus renounced the war once and for all. He retreated from all the politics, took the remaining Eldians, and exiled himself to a remote location called Paradis Island.
To ensure that the Eldians didn't start another cycle of bloodshed, he enforced the ideology that any Eldian who would follow him to Paradis would confine themselves within the gigantic walls. They would forever denounce their intention of ever fighting back, and even his successors would never go out looking for war. He also warned the rest of the world to leave Paradis Island alone or else he'll unleash The Rumbling.
Those unfortunate Eldians who couldn't cross to the island were subjugated and promised mercy in exchange for using the Titans to do Marley's bidding. Things could've stayed the way King Karl wanted if it were not for Marley's military ambitions, which led to a significant decrease in their resources. It's later revealed through Grisha Jaeger that Paradis Island happens to be sitting on a huge reserve of natural resources. Desperate to level the scales with the growing military technology, Marley launched its infamous Paradis Island Operation in the year 845.
The Fight For Paradis Island
Marley came to a realization that the rapid global technological advancements in weapon development were closing the gap with the Titans' power and could potentially surpass them. Compounding this issue was the fact that Marley lacked the Founding Titan, making them perpetually vulnerable. Consequently, Marley directed its focus towards Paradis Island, aiming their arsenal and deploying four of the seven Titans for a decisive operation. However, this endeavor turned into a catastrophic failure on all fronts, as they were unable to conquer the remaining Eldians or obtain the Founding Titan. Recognizing that brute force was not the solution, Marley resorted to a new plan: infiltrating and undermining the Eldians from within, leading to the establishment of the Warrior Unit.
Comprised of highly skilled Marleyan soldiers who are actually Eldians, the Warrior Unit pledged their allegiance to Marley in exchange for a better life. In the timeline of Attack on Titan, it becomes evident that Marley's downfall was set in motion after their initial failed attempt to annihilate Paradis. This failure resulted in Eren gaining control of the Founding Titan, and subsequently initiating The Rumbling. Both Eren Yeager and his father have personally experienced the cruelty of Marley's interventions. Following the fall of Eldia, Marley subjected the remaining Eldians to oppressive treatment, relegating them to second-class citizenship. The Eldians were banished to Paradis Island and injected with Titan Serum, transforming them into mindless Titans as depicted at the beginning of the series. Grisha was intended for the same fate but managed to survive.
The unforgivable cycle of bloodshed between Eldia and Marley provides a profound understanding of Eren's present actions. While he marches towards the imminent end of the world, his motives cannot be completely dismissed as those of a mere tyrant. His thirst for revenge and his cold demeanor stem from a deep-rooted ancestral rivalry, a conflict that each central character yearns to bring to an end. Zeke attempts to achieve this by ensuring the Eldians never procreate, while Eren aims to eradicate anyone who poses a threat to his fellow Eldians. The audience eagerly anticipates witnessing the culmination of this violent and power-driven saga, hoping for a mind-bending conclusion that transcends expectations.