A Brotherhood Reborn
Peerage in Ravanaster
The political structure of Ravanaster is very similar to medieval European feudalism, but there are several key differences.
At the top of the hierarchy is the King. The title of King is a hereditary title, passed down to the first-born son. The King is the most powerful person in all Ravanaster and has access to an immense treasury. He has a huge variety of advisors at his disposal. In recent years, King Gabranth has become a recluse, withdrawing from the public eye and delegating even power to the Judges and the Dukes. King Gabranth has no known heirs.
The title of Queen is more complicated, as it is divided into three different meanings. Queens Regnant are queens who are equivalent in rank to Kings. Queens Regnant are quite rare in Ravanaster, with only two in the 3,500 year history of the Kingdom. Queen Regents rule in the place of a child monarch until they come of age. They are temporary rulers and lack most of the powers afforded to Queens Regnant. Queen Consorts are the wives of Kings and lack many of the powers of other queens.
The first-born children of a King are known as princes and princesses, though the titles a few of the more independent duchies (Ravinia, Everas, and Rozenheim) still use the titles for their unmarried heirs.
Outside of the immediate royal family, the next in line are Dukes and Duchesses. Five of the eight current ducal families are distantly (or otherwise) related to the King. Thousands of years ago, as the Eight Kingdoms were conquered and the continent Unified under a single banner, the original kings were replaced with relatives of William Gabranth the III, King of Arcadia in a large-scale act of nepotism.
Dukes are high-ranking, landed nobility who possess a large amount of political clout and influence. In the Kingdom of Arcadia, Dukes are able to exercise sovereignty in how they chose to rule their land, provided they pay their tithes to the King and renew their vows of fiefdom. Dukes are able to confer titles, knight warriors, effect laws, collect taxes and revenue, raise and maintain an army, hear grievances, and more. As Gabranth grows more reclusive, the duchies of Ravanaster are saddled with more responsibility—and more restrictions. The King’s Hand, Judge Decro, seems to bring word of more restrictive sedition laws every day.
Currently there are eight duchies within Arcadia, not including the now-independent Frostfall.
Each duchy is split up into several smaller regions known as Baronies. There are usually three to five barons per duchy, though it largely depends on size, population, and historical precedent. These Barons have significantly less power than Dukes and are usually directly involved with the collection of taxes and the enforcement of laws. They share many of the same privileges and responsibilities of Dukes, but lack many of their superior’s executive powers. Barons lack the power to confer titles, make laws, or maintain a standing army, though they can train and maintain a peasant militia. Barons are responsible for the day-to-day protection of the peasants on their land. Barons report to the Duke on a regular basis, usually weekly or monthly, and work with the Dukes to enforce laws, raise revenue, and plan events (tournaments, festivals, balls, etc.)
Below the Barons are the Counts. Counts oversee small swatches of land that usually contain a handful of small villages. These counties usually only encompass a few hundred square miles. Counts are the lowest-level of hereditary nobility. Recently, there has been a movement towards the consolidation of counties, meaning many long-standing Counts have lost their lands (though not necessarily their titles).
Knights are a non-hereditary class of nobility. Knights are usually land-owners, though peasants are not permitted to live on their land. Knights often pledge fiefdom to a Baron or a Duke, swearing their loyalty and offering up protection in exchange for land. True knights in Ravanaster are somewhat rare nowadays, as the advent of a professional standing-army negates much of the need for them. Rather than making up the bulk of a noble’s protection force—as was once common—trusted Knights are invited into a noble’s retinue, protecting them during travel or large events, as well as wearing the family’s coat of arms on his tabard and performing heroic deeds in their name.
Most cities employ a form of mayoral government. Mayors are appointed by the Barons and report directly to them. Barons are not nobility, nor is their title hereditary. Some cities utilize a city-council style of government instead, but these cities are the exception, not the rule.
Some larger cities operate independent of their Barons, instead reporting to the Duke. Like incorporated cities, leadership in these independent cities are generally appointed, though in some cases (like in Atlis and Algassi) they are elected by eligible landowners. In these larger cities, mayors and councilmen are on the same level of peerage as Barons.