Nobles are those who have legal rights conferred to them by a title and their immediate family members (children and spouse). Titles originate only by the hand of the king or queen of Lithmore, but once held, are much like property, passed down from generation to generation. Titles, however, can be removed by the king or queen as well as granted, though this is rarely done. Since the Decree of Sodality, the first born child, male or female, inherits all family holds, land, and wealth. Though this has caused no few suspicious deaths, it has ensured that families no longer lose their wealth over generations through the simple process of splitting it amongst their children. More recently, the Law of Bloodless Inheritance allowed the owner of a title to will it to whomever they choose, including non-family relationships.
Nobles may be rich or poor, but statistically, they tend to be amongst the wealthier of the population. Unfortunately, poor heirs frequently squander the wealth, leaving noble titles often nothing more than an empty promise of power. Thus, many nobles see gentry as a threat and generally dislike them, for often gentry is more powerful than they, especially whenever finances take apart in determining status. The True Aristocracy, however, has both money and titles, and thus competition to become this elite of elites frequently requires alliances with the gentry, thus creating the only reasonable path (as the granting of titles is rare to say the least) for gentry to achieve the ultimate benefits in society, those reserved for nobles.
There are certain rules of courtesy when interacting with nobles that are commonly known throughout the realm. Here is a short ‘Points of Conduct’ list to provide guidelines to what the average noble might find rude.
- Never wear a cloak or another garment to the extent that it hides one’s identity
- Never whisper in front of a noble.
- When in Lithmore, speak the King’s language or the native tongue of the noble in question, no other. Nobles should understand all speech in their presence.
- When one wishes to leave a noble’s presence, one should ask for leave under the following conditions:
- When in direct communication with the noble.
- When you and the noble are the only two people present, whether or not communicating with them.
Note: If given an order or request requiring one to leave, it is courteous (and often simply intelligent) to ask if the noble requires anything else before doing so, but one does not need to ask to be excused as the implication resides in the order.
- When wearing a weapon with a cloak or other possibly concealing garment, one should push the garment aside to indicate that their weapon is secure and their dominant hand away from it. (Ex: tossing one’s cloak over their right shoulder. Note that a movement to draw the weapon would give the noble, or the noble’s guards, the chance to react properly.)
- An inferior, be it noble or otherwise, shall always walk on the left of their superior. Therefore all retainers of a noble will walk on the noble’s left, as well as nobles of lesser station. Likewise, all retainers of a noble shall stand at least three feet behind the noble to the noble’s right or left during audience or casual meetings both.
- If seated when a duke or the King enters a room, one should stand when they enter and only seat themselves when indicated to do so by the duke or Queen, one of their retainers, or after they seat themselves.
- When traveling with a noble, the noble should be allowed to mount first. If one noble travels with another, the superior noble is to be allowed to mount first. This holds true for dismounting as well.
- If one speaks to a noble, or enters a noble’s presence (or a noble superior to one’s self) while mounted, one must take steps to ensure equal footing. That is, one must dismount if the noble is not mounted.
Note: This is just a short list of things that would be ‘commonly known’ it is not intended to be all encompassing. Each noble may have their own personal preferences as well. Act accordingly.
1) Nobles may not be arrested on secular charges except at the request of the ruling monarch, or upon the orders of a member of the Royal Family.
2) Nobles may only be convicted of heresy or magery by the Grand Inquisitor, though investigations may be carried out by an official Inquisitors under the direction of this office.
3) Nobles are immune to the penalty of death, except in cases of treason. Exile is the common punishment for capital crimes.
4) Nobles may only be convicted of treason and other capital crimes by a jury of their peers or the signature of the King or Queen.
5) Nobles may enter any dwelling or facility upon their lands at any time, and may invade the property of any non-titled individual as they wish.
6) Nobles may commandeer the services of guardsmen and other Crown officials for their own purposes. [Please be aware that higher nobles may choose to condemn the action depending on the circumstance.]
Lists all the proper titles for different people on the mud.
Monarch – Your Royal Majesty
Crown Heir – Your Royal Highness
Royal Consort – Your Majesty
Prince/Princess – Your Highness
Duke/Duchess – Your Grace
Ducal Heir – Your Lordship/Ladyship
Count(ess) – My Lord/Lady
Marquis – My Lord/Lady
Baron(ess) – My Lord/Lady
Courtier – My Lord/Lady
Justiciar – My Lord Justiciar
Earl Marshall – My Lord Earl Marshall
Chancellor – My Lord Chancellor
Knight – Sir/Dame
Guild Leader – Master/Mistress
Cardinal – Your Holiness
Archbishop – Your Eminence
Bishop – Your Grace
Priest – Father/Mother
Grand Inquisitor – Your Holy Honour
Inquisitor – Inquisitor
It should be noted that the Chancellor referred to, above, is the title of Chancellor of the Exchequer, a Great Lord. It should not be confused with the Reeve position of Chancellor. Also, in general, calling someone Lord or Lady is often the height of politeness if you wish to honor them, regardless of their genuine class or title, unless (of course) their natural title exceeds that of a count(ess). Also, though Counts, Marquis and so on are referred to as ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’, in their absence, it is permissible to call them ‘his Lordship’ or ‘her Ladyship’.
DECREE OF SODALITY
The Decree of Sodality established by King Bran in 275 SC, gave firstborn daughters as well as sons the right to inherit their family’s wealth and all titles. Though the new laws raised a peasant rebellion, supported by no few nobles and entirely eschewed by Vavard for a full three years, after the revolts were quashed, the mandate became commonly practiced.
Previously, family wealth and titles could be dispersed amongst those the head of the family felt were most worthy, so long as they were male. Though seen as fair, this was problematic for the realm as large families could easily lose their strength by dispersing their wealth among too many children – or the opposite, would begin family squabbles by attempting to protect their family’s power by installing it only in one or two offspring.
King Bran felt, from experience with his beloved wife, that women were frequently better at domestic affairs than men, and ultimately decided to end all of the troubles himself with this decree. Luckily for him, the children of Knights of the Chalice (now the Knights Lithmorran) cannot inherit their parent’s titles, and so the core of his army remained loyal. Combined with mercenaries purchased with the ample Lithmorran treasury, Bran’s army was quite powerful, and more than enough to quash the expected revolts.
Vavard, of course, always looking for an excuse to secede from Lithmore’s rule, immediately declared the new law only applied to Lithmorran nobles and not Vavardi merchant princes who had no nobility through kingly writ. This mistake was quickly rectified once King Bran settled the dispute at home by the installment of Duke Sivernus dul Acris by decree. Sivernus, Bran’s well-born and shrewd Vavardi steward, was ennobled due to his loyalty as much as his connections within the Great Merchant Families of Vavard.
This decree was briefly nullified by King Iain II in the year 303 SC only to be reinstated by Queen Richael shortly after her victory in the civil war.
Other rules involved in this matter, such as that no one may hold more that a single title and that titled nobility require the monarch’s permission to marry, were never a point of contention.
In the years after the civil war between Richael ab Harmon and the regency of her brother, Pieter, there was considerable disquiet amongst the nobility of the lands of Lithmore’s five duchies. A large part of the cause for this was the loss of lives amongst their numbers. Many titled nobles were left either entirely heirless, or worse, without a standing lord at all. Several conflicts were started in the wake of the war, with those families that prospered attempting to use the chaos to claim more land from their devastated neighbors.
To correct this situation, Her Majesty Richael ab Harmon appeared before the full session of Lithmore’s court in the year 311 to make a historical declaration alongside the assembled Great Council. It was declared that a change had been made in the laws of inheritance throughout the kingdom, allowing a titled noble to will their land and title to someone other than a blooded heir. This new law became enshrined within the Kingdom’s law as ‘the Law of Bloodless Inheritance.’
In specific, it held that a titled member of the nobility may will their title and holdings to those that do not carry their blood, if provided with Royal writ and the will legally lodged with the Reeves. To qualify, the proposed heirant must have noble blood within two generations of any noble title. Also, the title and attached holdings must be transferred in full, and thus may not be split between various heirs.
Additionally, if a noble line should die out without a surviving heir, it becomes the duty of the Crown to see that that title is given to a deserving member of the nobility that would otherwise not have inherited a title. Lastly, if a new line of nobility is established within the realm through inheritance or award of lands, they must take for themselves a new family name and surrender all rights or claim to any other titles of nobility.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
Precedence is a nebulous concept regarding how Lithmorrans look at their world with regards to who, generally, is the social equal of whom and so on. On the abstract level, most Lithmorrans would agree about the following structure of precedence, but individual views tend to vary wildly based on one’s own position in society and immediate loyalties. To add to the complexity, precedence is situational as well – for example a priest will generally be listened to regarding religious matters even if the Justiciar were to give a sermon.
In general, however, most Lithmorrans would agree that the following general order of precedence holds true of individual power:
1 Ruling Monarch, Patriarch/Matriarch
2 Heir Apparent, Retired Monarch, Duke/Duchess
3 Prince/Princess, Royal Consort, Cardinal
1 Great Lord, Count, Grand Inquisitor
2 Marquis, Baron, Archbishop, Proconsul
3 Bishop, Grand Magnate, Poet Laudate, Poet Knight, Grand Master, Vicar General
1 Templar, Court Bard, Inquisitor, Magistrate, Magnate, Untitled Noble
2 Gentry, Knight, Priest, Professor, Master Craftsman, Bard
3 Freemen (commoners)
4 Peasants (serfs), Indentured Servants, Slaves
* Hillmen and Charali may not be nobles unless they are of mixed blood. Additionally, being a Hillman, Daravi or Charali reduces one’s social status by at least a rank, if not more.
Regardless of the above, precedence remains a subjective matter. Personal charisma and business acumen, or a lack thereof, can override the perceived social power of any given individual.