Book: Feudalism for Half-Orcs By Daniveer Gookin
Mr.Moloch last edited by
Feudalism for Half-Orcs
Feudalism is a political, cultural, and economic system based on land ownership. Theoretically and legally, the Crown owns all the land in Cormyr. This land is then allotted, in a process called investment, to several powerful barons in exchange for their military service to the Crown and their cooperation in maintaining the Royal Laws and collecting Royal taxes.
In turn, each baron typically will invest smaller parcels of land to counts, lords, and knights. Cormyr's noble hierarchy is not clearly delineated, and while the King or Queen clearly sits at the top, several barons have lost so much land through the centuries that even some rich merchants maintain greater local authority. Typically, the queen or king sits over the barons, who rule over the counts, who oversee the local lords, all of whom typically command several knights sworn to their service. In practice, the rankings of power of the nobility varies drastically based on court politics, wealth, lineage, marriage alliances, or other factors that only the most skilled courtesan will have learned.
The base of this system of feudal administration is the manorial lords, which has developed in the last three centuries. Each city that serves as a regional hub of royal authority is overseen by a Lord with great independence, even a female manorial lord is referred to as a lord and not a lady in Cormyr. These manorial lords typically answer to the Crown directly and are responsible for ensuring the defense and tax collection of a royal district. Local lords, whether dukes or mere knights, are obligated to advise the manorial lords but can not typically over rule their commands which are backed by royal fiat.
This has caused a great deal of frustration for hereditary dukes, who often feel pressured by mere manorial lords, but when the dukes have lost so much authority or land after several centuries in Cormyr, the Crown required a more modern method of administration. Often the manorial lords oversee publicly a single royally chartered city, but have the authority to command local lords for leagues around their city. When these lords are chosen from the rank of dukes, political intrigue is often mitigated-but in certain situations former adventurers or friends of the royal family win these coveted positions over long-standing nobility. Such an example is the city of Arabel, whose manorial lord is Lord Lady Myrmeen Lahl. Lahl has had a number of conflicts of personality with her advising nobles who often resent her position and prestige based on nothing more than her ability to swing a sword rather than centuries of breeding and rank.
It is for this reason that Cormyr has long relied upon the Purple Dragon Army, constructed upon the advice of the War Wizards to maintain peace in the nation. Indeed, service in the Purple Dragons is so prestigious that even noblemen will enter its ranks, serving as Purple Dragon Knights. With the army at their disposal, the royal family has long been able to suppress many major rebellions and uprisings. For centuries, Cormyr has legally required that large adventuring companies and mercenary bands register with the War Wizards to be monitored. Ostentatiously, this is done to ensure they do not cause civil unrest, but below the surface it is clear this is to ensure they do not turn to the service of noblemen who may start a civil war reaching for greater authority.
Indeed, this is obvious the case when looked at in context. Although, every noble-hereditary or manorial-is required to provide the Crown with a certain number of soldiers in the event of emergencies that the standing army can not handle. Azoun IV, Oghma remember him kindly!, called upon such noble warriors during the Tuigan invasion. However, for centuries nobles have all been under a ban preventing them from hiring more warriors or servants than the Crown feels they require to fulfill their duties. Typically, nobles are limited to 20 to 30 battle-capable warriors although exceptions exist in many royal contracts.
In fact, in the last century, and during the very turbulent eighth century the Crown widely promoted the act of scuttage, which allowed a nobleman to refuse to send soldiers or have them at the ready for his King provided he paid a suitable fee. The Crown benefited from the coin, and the assurance these nobles didn't maintain their own large and experienced military forces (although, scuttage was occasionally used as an excuse to keep soldiers in the field and out of the Crown's control), and the nobles benefited because they did not have to personally take the field of battle or risk the lives of their own soldiers which they held back to defend their lands.
Of course, there are many who long for a return to the days when powerful lords and brightly armored knights stood guard in Cormyr against its enemies, when the Purple Dragons were little more than the king's personal bodyguard. Some of these traditions still remain. Knights granted title in the Realm are still allowed safeguard the nation, occasionally outside the control of the Purple Dragons. These knights can be hedge knights, raised up by the Crown and given duties or tasks or perhaps they were knighted by hereditary lords and tasked with protecting the boundaries of their lands. Of course, only a hereditary lord can typically raise a knight to the peerage and the Crown has given a few manorial lords this power in the contracts that raised them to office. However, once raised these knights are afforded the rights and privileges of a noble under Cormyrian law.
The text that follows delves into noble peerage and court etiquette.