Monday, April 12, 2010

Musings on Knights

Tim of Gothridge Manor asked a question about Knights

Rob, very good blog. This should be one of your handouts. I got a question. Say a knight from one lord smacks around a few serfs in another lord's territory, what would happen? Some scenarios:

1. If the knight felt slighted by the peasants and killed one or two.

2. Maybe they were workers under strict orders and could not accomidate the knight.

3. The knight attacked the village, the villagers defended themselves and the knight runs off and calls upon the lord for justice.
The answer for the Majestic Wilderlands is that it depends on the culture. In Western European History, a knight smacking around another knight's serfs at the best would be treated as a property dispute with an attitude as if you deliberatly banged up another person's car. At the worst the other knight genuinely like these peasants and takes it as a person insult resulting in a feud.

This attitude is born of the fact that the warrior elite of much of Western Europe was born of conquest. Germanic warriors carving up the territory of Rome like so many biker gangs with horse and swords. Despite the Germans wanting the benefits of Roman civilizations they did not admire the Romans themselves.

In general the two things throughout history that leads to widespread tyranny and abuse are conquest of one population by another, and oriental style despotism where one man has absolute power over all.

In the Majestic Wilderlands this situation exists among the Tharian Horselords who conquered the western half of the Dragon Empire. There they made the native Elessarians into serfs. In contrast among the Ghinorians and the Elessarians the Knight are more like police. Still prone to abuse but not absolute arbeiters of life and death as the Tharian Horselords are to their peasantry. In short the Ghinorians and Elessarian do not fear own knights as a default. While the Elessarian peasantry under Tharian rule do.

Before the death of the Emperor the situation in Viridistan was similar to those of the worse of the oriental despotisms of history. The Emperor's word was law, and thus of his representative down to the least knights. Watching over them all was a separate hierarchy of Imperial Cultists who reported to the emperor but did not rule themselves. And watching everybody where the Black Adders the secret police.

In situation 1 to 3 the Tharian Knight only consideration would be who the peasant's lord was. If situation #3 is occuring then the Knight would feel that the peasant liege was too weak. In any case the dispute would have to resolved by the highest lord the two knights had in common. If not, as it is the case where two clans adjoin each other, then the ultimate recourse is war.

Likely if the two knight are of equal reputation then the matter will be resolved by a feud. If the offending knight doesn't want to participate in a duel then he would pay a fine to the knight he offended. A lot depends on the personal dynamics between the two knights.

The Ghinorian and Elessarian Knight will have to have cause before striking against anybody. Otherwise they risk losing title and position. Present day, 4436 BCCC, Ghinorian Society favors the Ghinorian Knight a lot. The collapse of the empire and the money economy has left most Ghinorian Realms dominated by the warrior elite. The situation is similar to a company appointed sheriff in a company town.

The Elessarians Knight in contrast will scrutiny by the Trehaen. Even with the turmoils after the fall of the Dragon Empire the Trehaen are still the ultimate judges and lawgivers of Elessarian society.

I hope you find some useful items to apply to your own setting.

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