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    Canonfire :: View topic - Noble titles in Keoland
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    Noble titles in Keoland
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 16, 2003
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    From: Calgary, AB, Canada

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    Wed Jun 08, 2022 9:56 pm  
    Noble titles in Keoland

    I know that there can be no direct comparison between medieval political structures in the real world and those found in D&D/Greyhawk. Likewise, the various people who have written for the Greyhawk line over the years probably did not have doctorates in medieval history (and for the record, neither do I), and probably had little reason to provide anything beyond a rudimentary sketch of a given realm's political structure and aristocracy.

    Still, I can't help but try to fill in apparent 'grey zones' in canon for my own campaign...

    Quote:
    "Salinmoor was founded more than three centuries ago, prior to the start of the kingdom's imperialist phase, as an adjunct possession of the Rhola of Gradsul." (LGJ #1, p. 16, emphasis added)


    Before Tavish of House Rhola became king in 287 CY, he was Duke of Gradsul (LGJ #1, p. 13). Thus, the lands that would become the Viscounty of Salinmoor, were previously "adjunct possessions" that had belonged to the family of Tavish the First.

    Who ultimately had the authority to create the viscounty and appoint its viscount? Would that have been the King of Keoland, or the Duke of Gradsul (I am assuming that one must cede one's other titles before becoming king)?

    Also consider...

    Quote:
    "The House of Secunforth, which is a distant relation of the Neheli in the north, was appointed to stewardship of the province during the reign of Tavish IV, when Rholan interests in the south fell into decline." (LGJ #1, p. 16)


    Did Tavish IV appoint the Secunforths (who, it is confirmed later in the same paragraph, become the next line of viscounts and not mere stewards)... or did the Duke of Gradsul?

    And who then does the Viscount 'report to'... the Duke of Gradsul? The King in Niole Dra? The Court of the Land?

    And who has the authority to award land and/or title to lesser nobles within the viscounty. The viscount? The Duke of Gradsul? The King?

    Please accept my apologies if this question seems inane and the answer self-evident. I have read much of the excellent lore regarding Salinmoor and Saltmarsh found on this site (none of which answers the question 'definitively'), and have also done a bit of online research on historical medieval practices... but still feel that I am falling short of satisfactory answers (aside from the obvious "you're the DM, you decide").

    Thanks in advance for your contributions.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 11, 2003
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    From: The Nexus

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    Thu Jul 07, 2022 3:51 pm  

    All authority in regards to titles derives from the Crown. The Duke of Gradsul would not have the authority to directly grant a title, but in the early days of the Kingdom when the Neheli's and Rhola's were setting things up, I'm sure agreements were made on who would get what, and what titles they would have.

    The Ducal titles of House Neheli and Rhola dated way back to the early history of the Suel Imperium. Both Houses had, at various points in history, held the Imperial Throne. The survivors of the RoCF weren't going to throw that away just because they had to leave their homeland and resettle in the Sheldomar Valley.

    The other Houses doubtless had titles of their own within the Imperium, but it is unclear if they received at the creation of the Kingdom of Keoland, or kept titles they had previously. When you look at the organization of Keoland's provinces, there's no real or clear understanding for why they are considered Marches vs Counties vs Baronies etc; some of the Marches are not on Keoland's traditional borders.

    That makes me think when the provinces were set up, and Houses Neheli and Rhola made agreements, with the input of the new Court of the Land and their new Keogh Oeridian allies, that the Suel Houses simply kept titles they'd held during the Imperium and attached them to their new domains regardless of size, and the newly installed King Nyhas granted new titles of nobility as part of a complex political process to keep people happy with the new status quo. Granting some of these titles to allies of the Rhola's probably was part of the deal to get them agree to allow the Neheli's first crack at being King.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 16, 2003
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    Tue Jul 19, 2022 4:14 am  

    Thanks for your reply, TS, and my apologies for not noticing it until now.

    You provided an interesting, and, to my mind, reasonable analysis.

    So assuming there are landed nobles within the Viscounty of Salinmoor -- which was established long after the kingdom of Keoland was founded -- and those landed nobles hold lesser titles, like minor baron or baronet... you think those titles would have been granted by the Crown?

    In Gary Gygax's Living Fantasy (2003), Gygax wrote:

    Quote:
    Noble vassals of the crown need vassals of their own to manage lands and provide warriors for their military obligations, so in turn the nobles grant fiefs for service and taxes paid to them by their vassals. (p. 44)


    While the above quote does not necessarily refer to the way things work in Keoland, it does suggest that heads of provinces (whether dukes, barons, counts, or viscounts) could have the authority to appoint vassals of their own within their designated territories, and to award fiefs to those vassals. But I may have been misinterpreting Gygax and other sources by thinking that a noble (duke, viscount), when appointing a vassal or granting a fief, simultaneously bestowed a title when making the vassalage/fiefdom.

    If I understand correctly, noble title does not automatically come with vassalage and/or a fief. The crown would award the title separately, if at all. In which case, the Viscount of Salinmoor could name a vassal and grant them a parcel of land within the viscounty, but it would be up to the crown to grant the recipients the title of "baronet" or "minor baron." If the crown awarded them no title, land-holding vassals of the duke or viscount would simply go by the honorific "sir or lady so & so."

    Does that seem right, or am I still in the weeds? I guess practices may also have varied by country (IRL as well as in game), which is only adding to my confusion.


    Last edited by TwiceBorn on Tue Jul 19, 2022 4:23 am; edited 3 times in total
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Tue Jul 19, 2022 4:15 am  

    Apologies for the double post.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Jul 22, 2022 6:05 pm  

    Those with noble titles would not be able to grant land. Only the Crown can do that. Nor would they be able to grant titles. Again, only the crown.

    They could give authority to manage the land. Essentially, they would enter into what would be a very complicated contractual arrangement. The lord would essentially establish a form of tenancy. The lord could take someone as a vassal, but the vassal would have obligations in return to that lord, and his heir would not automatically inherit the land. Usually a fee had to be paid.

    There were a lot of variations on this. Some forms of this involved commoners who would work the land as tenant farmers or even as serfs. Others involved larger estates.

    What we tend to think of as feudalism wasn't consistent everywhere in Europe and could get pretty complicated. It generally described laws and customs around land for service by the upper classes, because in many parts of Europe peasants could not actually own land. But it gets complicated because in some places freeholders who were commoners did exist, especially in England after the Norman Invasion.

    When it comes to Keoland, there were people living there before the 12 Houses arrived via Slerotin's Tunnel. There were a number of Suel Firstcomer Houses. Generally they were typically vile in Suel Imperial fasion. The 12 Houses varied on this but the Neheli's and Rhola's as a rule embodied the nobler aspects of Suel society. They drove those Firstcomers out who would not submit to the Neheli or Rhola ways of doing things.

    The Neheli's, however, were pressed by Vecna's Empire, and also a tribe of Oeridians migrating in from the north (the Keogh after whom Keoland is named). The Flan tribes in the Sheldomar were forced into Geoff and Sterich for the most part. Eventually the 12 Houses agreed on a unified government with the Keogh, to avoid another war. House Neheli became the first royal family with the understanding the crown would alternate between the Neheli's and the Rholas (which didn't quite happen).

    Most of Keoland at that time was fairly empty and open for the taking. The Firstcomers had been forced out or submitted. The Keogh allied with the 12 Houses and settled mostly in what is now Linth.

    The early Kings of Keoland would have consolidated their power. They did this by largely placing the Keogh in Linth and a few other areas where Keogh tribal chiefs were granted titles and became part of the social order. The other Houses weren't always amenable to what the Neheli's (or Rhola's) wanted so controlling the land would have been key to maintaining their power. Without land there is no agriculture or commerce.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 16, 2003
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    From: Calgary, AB, Canada

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    Tue Jul 26, 2022 12:03 am  

    I appreciate your very thoughtful reply, TS, and will be incorporating your insights into my campaign. Cheers!
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