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The Nobility

 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:45 pm    Post subject: The Nobility Reply with quote

The Nobility

The Nobility rule, by hereditary right and military force.
The Feudal system is structured around military service, and the main duty of a lord to his vassals is to provide military protection.
Accordingly, the nobility is strongly dominated by men. Woman can hold noble rank in their own right, but this is less common, and are largely expected to marry to provide a man to actually fight; they are not expected to fight themselves. This bias against female nobles can be an important factor in the politics of Anuire.

However, while woman do not have as prominent a role under the feudal system, exceptional women still reach high ranks in the nobility and can make significant differences in the course of Anuire's political events. They can fight, they can do all the things a PC character wants to do, but the average Anuirean noblewoman will do none of these things, fight, etc.
Female characters will likely encounter some prejudice amongst their male counterparts, however most Anuirean people will deal with powerful women as their power merits, rather than on the basis of sexual prejudice.

Fiefs

The nobility of Anuire get their wealth and power from the land, and engaging in any sort of craft or manual labour draws strong disapproval from their peers. This land is normally held from a higher noble up the chain (ultimately from the Emperor, long ago) or the Dukes now.
Nobles may hold land from more than one lord and can be vassaled.

A vassal is required to provide his leige lord with a certain amount of military service, depending on the amount of land he holds, he might owe a greater or lesser amount of it. They can perform this service with themselves and their own knights and troops or they can simply agree to give their liege gold in lieu of service.

Nobles have responsibilities towards the inhabitants of their fiegs. They are supposed to protect the from attack, which includes both military defense and the enforcement of the law.

While technically it is permissible to rebel against a lord who fails in this respect, such rebellions do not succeed without help from another noble. The nobility simply have too much more military power than the peasantry.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Manors and Castles

The Nobility live in better houses than the peasantry. Many live in manors, which take the form of a large hall with private quarters in a tower at one end. The kitchens are often in a seperate block to reduce the risk of fire, as few manors are built of stone. Almost the whole of life takes place in the main hall. Meals are served there, it usually contains the only fire, and most of the inhabitants of the manor sleep there. The lord and his lady usually have a private chamber in the tower where they sleep, and may also have a private living room, called a solar. The lords daughters, if any, also sleep separately, although his sones may well sleep in the hall with everyone else.

The higher nobility live in Castles. These usually take the form of a wooden tower on top of an artificial hill, or motte. At the base of the motte is a fortified compound, called the bailey, and the walls are usually wooden too. The tower can contain the lords living quarters but often a hall is built in a bailey, and the tower is used purely for defense, as it is often quite small.

The richest of the nobles will have castles with stone fortifications and the main tower of such castles are often very impressive.

Property

Nobles have extensive resources and Anuirean culture requires themto spend them on a spectacular display.
Buildings such as the ones described above are a major expense. A castle may beyond the reach of the minor nobility but most want to build as impressive a manor house as they can manage.
Furnishing the buildinds is less of a concern because fine furniture is rarer, so wooden tables and chairs, chests for valuable property and doors and screens would be the most likely furnishings. The walls may be painted or covered in tapestries (very expensive), but the floor is almost always stewn with rushes.
Texiles: (tapestries for the walls) Fine clothing for the lord and his family, liveries for his followers... These are another major expense for the noble.

Armor and weapons are very costly, making it common for them to be passed on from one generation to the next, a minor lord might well have trouble affording a full suit of armour and a sword.

Followers are the final major expense of the noble. All lords support a household, consisting of their family and a number of servants. The size of the household is one of the major indications of the lords status, so not every followers job might not be that well defined.

Nobles were found of gold and silver plate, since this was a good way of storing excess capital in good years, so that it might be used in bad years. Gold and Silver heirlooms are rare and precious in Anuire.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nobles and Entertainment

The primary entertainment for noble men is killing things, perferably other people, ideally each other.
At times of war, this can get out of hand, however most of the time, lords avoid wanton slaughter.
Tournaments, formalized occasions for nobles to fight each other, are very popular among the nobility, although they can make rulers quite nervous since they are, essentially, large gatherings of excited armed men.
As a substitute for killing people, many nobles turn to hunting, particularly deer and boar. Major lords have parks or forests with areas set aside for their game animals. Peasants have certain rights within those areas but may not harm the lords game. The penalty for doing so is usually death.

Since hunting requires a large area of essentially idle land and a significant number of horses, dogs and followers, it is a very expensive business. This makes it an ideal way for nobles to show off their wealth and status. Many nobles are realistic about their chances of dying in a fair fight, and therefore will avoid tournaments, but game animals have little chance against an armed and mounted human.

Less bloodthirsty entertainments include feasts, often after a hunt to provide an oppourtunity to eat what was caught, music, storytelling... dancing. Travelling bards are often welcome in noble houses, as they provide a break from the monotony of talk to the people who have always lived there.

Male nobles also tended to entertain themselves with many women and often fathered a significant number of bastards.

Noble Women are expected to entertain themselves with needlework and other practical activities, while remaining largely secluded from the rest of the household. Needless to say, some entertain themselves with other members of the household, particularly if the lord is away from a long period of time...


Nobles and Chivalry

Nobles think of themselves as warriors and knights. The ideals of chivalry are important to many of Anuire's noble elite.

chivalry is based on four virtues: Valour, loyalty, piety and love. Valor is physical bravery in combat. Loyaty involves putting the needs of ones lord ahead of the knights own, even in the absense of direct orders. Piety requires the knight to submit to the orders of the Haelynite Faith, while Love demands that the knight have a lady to whom he dedicates his exploits. etc.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:05 am    Post subject: More Reply with quote

The Noble Style

The prime proof of rank and nobility is liberality. People want to be known for their hospitality. The ideal is a substantial house, plenty of servants, a lavish table where anyone is welcome.

As further evidence of liberality, the broken meats (table leavings) are customarily given to the poor at the kitchen door. (Incidentally, this also counts as "good works".)


This has to be tempered by the need to live within one's income and avoid oppressing the tenantry to raise the cash.

Income is usually discussed as rentals, and does not take into account profits from offices, industry, land farmed by the lord himself, profits of court, bribes, douceurs, and sale of offices.

Very few noblemen have an accurate notion of their full income, gross or net. That's what you have servants for.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honor and Dueling

Is nowhere described better than by Lawrence Stone in Crisis of the Aristocracy: (I love this)
Tempers were short and weapons easy to hand. The basic characteristics of the nobility, like those of the poor, were ferocity and childishness and lack of self control.

Calling someone a liar, or otherwise impugning his honor, his courage, or his name is a challenge in itself.

Dueling is considered dimly by the royal court, so you take the fight out of the way, and sometimes out of the country (any war-zone will usually do). Usually this is single combat, unlike the group duels of France, which lead to long-standing feuds.
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