The Gold Coast has undergone some radical changes since Varen Aquilarios led his rebellion against the Longhouse Emperor Leovic in 2E 576. First, the region's inhabitants banded together to build Varen's Wall, as discussed in greater detail in my treatise of the same name. The protective boundary basically separated the Gold Coast from the Colovian Highlands and served to keep the area safe from Imperial retaliation and other external threats. Second, the region took advantage of the rebellion to declare its independence from Cyrodiil. These two events established the Gold Coast as an isolated haven from the troubles that plague the rest of the continent—but not without setting up challenges of a different sort.
In 2E 577, just as the last stones were being placed to complete Varen's Wall and the Imperial Navy was away dealing with the rebellion taking place to the north and east, a fleet of merchant warships and pirate vessels sailed into Anvil harbor. A white flag adorned with a red saber flew over each ship. Led by Fortunata ap Dugal, a shipping magnate in the Gold Coast Trading Company, the fleet took control of the docks and disembarked a company of sailors and pirate warriors that quickly overpowered the remaining troops loyal to the Imperial Prefect. In less than a day, Fortunata had taken control of Anvil, named herself Provincial Governor, and declared that the Gold Coast was now a free and independent state—from the Abecean Sea to Varen's Wall.
The self-proclaimed Provincial Governor, better known as the Pirate Queen to friends and enemies alike, used her connections as a high-ranking merchant lord of the Gold Coast Trading Company to build her base of power. She promised the pirates a safe haven and a share of the wealth pouring through the region in exchange for their backing and support. The pirates, along with the merchant marines that had always been more loyal to Fortunata than to the company that employed them, gave the Pirate Queen the weapons she needed to take and maintain control of Anvil and the surrounding countryside.
In many ways, the truth is almost more unbelievable than the risque and outlandish adventure tales now appearing as broadsheets on the streets of Anvil. These bawdy stories follow the exploits of the barely fictitious Pirate Empress Thusa ap Lagud, and they've become quite popular. The actual Pirate Queen tolerates the tales, if not actively encouraging their publication on a regular basis.
Now the blood-red sabers on fields of white fly above Castle Anvil and the Anvil Lighthouse, and the Pirate Queen has turned Anvil into a "Free City." No military vessels from any alliance are allowed to approach the Anvil Docks. Instead, merchant ships from across Tamriel fill the wharfs, happy to buy and sell cargo at bargain prices. Even the once-proud and influential Gold Coast Trading Company has acquiesced to the Pirate Queen's demands, deciding that profit is more important than arguing over respectability and who's in charge. In effect, the company does what the Pirate Queen tells it to.
It doesn't take a prophet to predict that the Pirate Queen has her sights set on Anvil's neighbor to the northeast, Kvatch. She said as much in her much-publicized declaration of independence. With more and more pirates and buccaneers rallying to her flag every day, and with gold flowing from frightened nobles as protection money disguised as taxes, it's clear to see that Fortunata will soon have the resources to deal with Count Carolus and even Primate Artorius. It's just a matter of time. And the Pirate Queen has demonstrated over and over again that she can be very patient when it comes to letting her plans develop.
By all accounts, Fortunata rules Anvil with an iron fist. The Red Sails pirates serve as her private army, raiding, rampaging, and performing the duties of enforcers whenever and wherever she directs them. She may be a cruel and merciless dictator, but she keeps the region under control and prevents anarchy from running rampant. Can we really expect more than that from our rulers?