This is a very unique Great Merchant. Here are some things to note about how he works:
- You must be the Suzerain of the city-state you activate him in.
- Once he is activated, the city is considered to permanently be a city belonging to the player who activated Raffles. There is no way to revert it back to being a city-state, as there would be if it was captured normally.
With this in mind, there is a great element of strategy to utilizing Raffles. By the time he arrives, city-states will have their infrastructure built up very strongly (aside from only having one district) and a lot of Population to boot. This, combined with the inherent bonus to Loyalty that Raffles grants the city, can make it great for sniping a cluster of enemy cities with Loyalty if you already have a couple of cities on the other side. He can be used to subsume useless city-states near you into your empire, like Mogadishu and Preslav, or deny strong city-states where you don't have diplomatic foothold from your opponents. The extra Loyalty can also be meaningful in helping your newly acquired city to stand on its own on another continent. Just remember to remove your Diplomat governor from the city afterward - it is not done so automatically.
There are former colonies that despise their colonial past and erase the names of former occupiers. Singapore, while proudly independent, is not one of them. The island city-state is still replete with references to the British East India company Governor-General, Sir Stamford Raffles, credited with founding the city.
Colonial rule at the time wasn’t the more clear-cut military domination that it came to be in the later part of the 19th century. Instead, it involved a great deal of semi-colonial statuses – sultans might be paid off (more or less voluntarily) into becoming quiet puppet states, might be tempted to join a colony voluntarily, or might be the victim of a coup d’etat or military takeover. The British especially often tempted local lords with luxury goods or infrastructure projects, then claimed land when sultans spent more than they could pay.
Raffles was a classic colonial figure – the term “adventurer” comes to mind: both spy and military leader, diplomat and merchant. He began his life aboard ship off of the British colony of Jamaica in 1781. He started his professional career as a clerk for the British East India company, and was posted at a young age to Malaya – a series of sultanates on the peninsula between independent Siam (Thailand) and the islands of Dutch-controlled Indonesia. The British were eager to chip away at Dutch profits in the spice trade, and to secure passage for ships moving from India to China but were wary of provoking a war that might have repercussions back in Europe.
But Napoleon went ahead and did that. When the French occupied Holland, suddenly Dutch holdings in Southeast Asia became fair game, and Raffles seized Java from the Dutch and was named the Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies… until Napoleon was defeated and a new Dutch regime returned.
What Raffles is most famous for, though, is Singapore. The island was perfectly situated – just on the Straits of Malacca, but just out of Dutch control. At the time, the island was not the major city that it is today, but rather a small fishing village, nominally part of the Johor Sultanate. But who really ruled it was in question, especially when the younger son of the sultan seized power when his older brother was away. Raffles arranged for a coup in Johor, and, safely installed on the throne, the new sultan granted the British control over the island in 1819.
The island boomed, bringing in labor from across the British Empire, labor that led to Singapore’s ethnic makeup today (descendants of Chinese merchants, Chinese and South Indian laborers, indigenous Malays). While the Dutch remained a major player in Southeast Asia, Singapore marked the establishment of British power in the region and a vital link in keeping trade between Hong Kong and India under British control. Today, Singapore remains in a sense similar to Raffles’s vision – a multi-ethnic port situated at one of the busiest and most important straits in the world.