From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
|The Duchy of Quirm|
|Population||fairly large for its|
|Size||small but undefined: Raising Steam offers a more complete picture.|
|Type of government||independent Duchy; Raising Steam offers a more complete picture; a constitutional nobility supported by a National Assembly, efficiency unknown but thought ineffectual.|
|Notable Citizens||the Da Quirms, the Rodleys, Leonard of Quirm, Lady Roberta, Madame Deux-Epées, the Marquis|
|Imports||retirees from Ankh|
|Exports||fancy foods, wine, art, education, dodgy seafood produce|
|Books||many set in Ankh-Morpork; Snuff and Raising Steam are partially set in Quirm.|
The Duchy of Quirm lies along the coast of the Rim Ocean, about twenty leagues turnwise from Ankh-Morpork. Its current ruler is Lord Rodley, His Grace, the Duke of Quirm, the son of Brenda Rodley, Her Grace the Dowager Duchess. Quirm is famous for its explorers and inventors, the da Quirms, including Ponce da Quirm and Leonard da Quirm, infamous for Norris, the Eyeball-Eating Maniac of Quirm and B.S. Johnson's typically unfortunate Collapsed Tower of Quirm. It is known as the place with a floral clock, and no excitement. It is also known in The Big Wahoonie that Quirm has better food, wine, weather, air and water and the burghers of Ankh hope to retire there, but really! the place is full of foreigners! While it is regarded as a sleepy, slightly boring place, Quirm supplies Ankh-Morpork with a great many artists, artisans, chefs, and cultural movers and shakers; something must be going on there. The primary defining feature of the disc-famous Quirmian cooking is by the inclusion of the mystical and near mythical 'avec', which is known the multiverse over as the sure sign of the best food.
Quirm has an army: its so far only named unit is the Duke of Quirm's Middleweight Infantry Regiment. This has the added distinction of having been the young Fred Colon's first taste of Army service, presumably in the days where Fred was a middleweight and working up to his next posting. Quirm probably had more military and political power at some point in history, as influence of the Quirmian language is found far across the continent in Genua.
Quirm is also the location of the Quirm College for Young Ladies, and as such one of the minor settings in Soul Music. The college has been popular with the upper class for many years; many of Lady Sybil's friends are Old Girls there, as is Miss Perspicacia Tick, and Susan Sto Helit.
C.V. Cheesewaller is a well-known local Wizard and the original proprietor of the talking raven known as Quoth. The city had a mayor though it is unclear if he retained his job after the events of Soul Music.
La Sorbumme is a district in the old town of the city of Quirm, and is the seat of the Quirmian tradition of foolery and clowning, which while it has a longer history than in Ankh-Morpork was subsumed into the Fools' Guild several hundred years ago. Today, the Ankh-Morpork Guild uses its extensive holdings at La Sorbumme both as a summer school and as a retirement home for geriatric clowns. The good folk of Quirm are presumably delighted at the wealth of entertainment talent available to them not just every summer but year-round. They are enjoined to be careful where they place their feet in and around the Collapsed Tower, as the litter of banana skins and spilt custard can make movement hazardous. Quirm has no bar on street theatre as is to be found in Ankh-Morpork. You have been warned.
Due to a miscommunication in the twilight years of the Ankh-Morpork monarchy, Quirm's branch of the Royal Post Office once employed trained ostriches as delivery staff. It is unclear if this practice has resumed as part of the Post's current revival.
In the book Snuff, a minor sub-plot deals with a policing exchange between Ankh-Morpork and Quirm, in which we learn of La Gendarmerie de Quirm for the first time as an extremely Sûreté- like police force with a suspiciously French take on policing. but will it have its Clouseau? A central character in the Quirmian police is Captain Emile.
From Snuff, we can infer that the border region between Ankh-Morpork and Quirm proper is a largely Morporkian-speaking area, known colloquially as The Shires. This region may overlap Quirmian territory for quite some way.
We also learn in Snuff that Quirm has a fully-fledged City Zoo, which makes it one step ahead of Ankh-Morpork in this respect. Sam Vimes takes Young Sam there to see the elephants and gain raw material for his new, engrossing, albeit inexpensive, hobby.
The City of Quirm also hosts a thriving branch of the Alchemists' Guild where the Alchemists have the rare common sense to employ at least one golem as a lab assistant to deal with all the toxic and dangerous stuff. It apparently has arsenic plated to its fingers due to stirring vats of molten material with its arms.
The political and physical geography of Quirm appears to be most completely realised in Raising Steam. The map of the railway network on pp 8-9 lays out the Duchy most clearly and reveals it to be a fairly large state sandwiched between Ankh-Morpork to the Rimwards and Pseudopolis to the Hubwards. The River Quire cuts the state in two as it meanders towards the Shires and the Carrack Mountains. An area nearby to the Circle sea coast, identified as "The Neverglades", appears to be the maquis country described in the text. A substantial loop of the railway runs through here. Interestingly, we are informed that one other local peculiarity that absolutely meant the railway had to be re-routed in Quirm was a whole area completely inhabited by Zombies. No other information is given. But on Roundworld, Zombies are strongly associated with areas once colonised by the French: Haiti and Louisiana in the Carribean. Is there a tale to be told here?
The political complexion of Quirm is one of a constitutional nobility with the Rodley dynasty at the top and lesser nobles beneath - the Marquis of the Maquis country is one such who has the authority and influence to deal with Moist von Lipwig. There is apparently also a National Assembly to which Deputées are either elected, or more likely, appointed.
We also learn that the semi-affectionate Ankh-Morporkian word for Quirmian natives is 'lobsters. This may have to do with Quirm being the originating point for most of the big city's seafood - another pressing reason for the railway to go there, so as to bring in food that isn't capable of scuttling in on its own legs, or else has not been contaminated by running it by road for three days and trying to keep it fresh by storing it in up to three icehouses en route. This proves the people doing road transportation are "trying", they really are, but they haven't yet understood one of the primal rules about seafood: do not re-freeze previously thawed out produce. And certainly do not freeze it, then run it by road for a day, refreeze it again, and then allow it to thaw out on a second day on the road. It is very possible that Sir Harry King's painful and debilitating bout of food poisoning from some seriously elderly haddock was the spur to getting the whole railway business funded in the first place...
Quirm in the Bradshaw Guide
As you might expect from a railway traveller's companion, Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook offers the so-far fullest and most comprehensive guide to the Duchy and City of Quirm. Chapters 2 and 3 (pp 35-78) deal with the rail journey to and through Quirm and the Neverglades.
" It is also known in The Big Wahoonie that Quirm has better food, wine, weather, air and water and the burghers of Ankh hope to retire there, but really! the place is full of foreigners!"
This mirrors the way lots and lots of affluent Brits have semi-retired to nice parts of France, like Provence, and love everything about France except the natives and the language. Think of the classic work "A Year in Provence" by a typical rather smug Brit who did this, extolling the cheapness of land and housing, the more affordable standard of living, while deploring the surliness of the natives, and you have the character type off pat.
Quirm may be the "France" of the Discworld, but it would not have had much of the same sort of history of our France: squeezed out of Imperial contention and pretension at a much earlier stage by mighty neighbour Ankh-Morpork, the Quirmian language might well be that of diplomacy and catering, but not as important a world language as its counterpart on Roundworld.
But it can be seen as generating equally proud and culturally aware people, who play their country up for all they possibly can.
The Neverglades also evoke the Accadian settlements in North America and the Cajun people of Lousiana and the Bayou. Another of those North-America-like places Terry maintains the Disc will never have?