It appears my elevator pitch wasn't the best one. I knew it was pretty weak; things are still in their formative stages at this point. But I don't want it to be misleading.
When I say "historically derived" I do not mean my players have to know much or anything about European history to enjoy, or even participate, in the setting. I don't know that much about Mediterranean history, which is why I had to look to Wikipedia to figure out that the Berbers and the Tuareg are (sort of) the same group of people.
I mean "historical" in the sense of real-world history will be a primary source of inspiration. The two principal literary sources I'm drawing from in this project are quasi-historical fantasy -- one moreso that the other. (Those two sources are getting their own posts soon). There's also other senses that the setting is "historical". One way is that it's human-exclusive. No elves, dwarves, or halflings are in the world, unless I decide to do something weird with faerie. There aren't dragons or beholders or anything. And magic is subtle, rare, and dangerous (what else it is I am not exactly sure). Historical inspiration means I'll take cool things from real-world history and throw them in there as long I can can stretch and make them make sense, even if those things were separated by lots of history in actuality.
So, to the person who doens't know a lot or care about history and wants to know how it will be awesome, I say:
Pirates vs. Vikings
In reality, the Barbary Pirates and the Viking Age activity were separated by about five hundred years. But. . .
I see my world having Spanish-style galleons fending off attacks by Viking Longships while running from Barbary Corsairs. Where the cutlass parries the scimitar only to get smashed by an axe. Oh, and the Corsairs are secretly financed by a Medici-style ruler who is stirring up discontent to discredit the church, who really does have the power to exorcise demons. Which are held in a box in the Spanish Galleon.