kirt writes "The development of government in the Quagflow is described, from the wandering bands of Flan nomads led by Headmen to the present day federation of noble Canton leaders supported by clan and clergy. The historical factors that caused the transformation are detailed, as is the development of the unique titles of nobility used in Perrenland. The loss of the traditional Flan matriarchy and its replacement by male leaders is explained.
A History of Government in Perrenland
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Government in Perrenland
The nomadic Flan hunters who occupied the Quagflow a thousand years ago were strong individualists. They recognized the need for effective leadership but believed that the right to govern came from the consent of the governed. They had no fancy political theories about self-determination, of course, but like primitive people everywhere they simply believed that men and women largely had the right to do as they chose. They accepted three sources of authority besides individual will: clan, clergy, and headmen.
Clans were their extended family, those to whom they were related (by blood, not marriage). Clans in Perrenland originally were matrilineal. That is, one belonged to the clan of one’s mother. Thus a woman’s children belonged to her clan and the children of a man belonged to the clan of his wife. This was seen as natural to the Goddess-centered, Beory-worshipping Flan. The function of clans was largely what we would now call judicial. Clans enforced most norms of behavior, including courtesy and taboo. If one person wronged another, he or she would be brought before the clan elders for judgment and punishment. If people quarreled, the clan elders would negotiate their reconciliation. Clan elders in most cases simply attained their position by being old; the eldest female of any lineage was the elder for all her descendents, and one was typically judged by one’s grandmother or great-aunt. The other power of clans was that of arranging marriages - the elders usually decided who was to marry whom among the young folk. Marriages could be outside or inside the clan, but within-clan marriages occurred no closer than first cousins.
Clergy in Perrenland were originally the priestesses, and in some cases priests, of the Old Faith (of the eight major Flan Powers). The clergy had only as much power over people as the people allowed them - they suggested and guided, but did not command. If one was injured, one went to see a priestess and followed her instructions to be healed. If one wanted to be blessed before battle, one went to a priestess and learned what must be done to purify oneself. If hunting was bad or disease stalked the land, whole groups of Flan followed the instructions of the clergy in performing sacrifices and other rituals. But these were all voluntary acts - no clergy ruled the Flan of the Quagflow. Clergy were generally self-elected: those youths who felt the calling sought initiation by the clergy. The impact of the clergy on the lives of typical Flan was diminished by their lack of regular contact. Most clergy tended specific holy sites, which they rarely left, while most commoners lived in nomadic hunting bands and rarely stayed in the same place for long.
The headman (or Häuptling, in the local Flan) was the leader of the nomadic hunting band - the one who ultimately decided where the group would go, what they would hunt or gather, and how the food would be divided. Häuptling had the most day-to-day political power, and it was they who commanded most of the authority over the Flan. This command was based on consent, however. To remain in a hunting band meant being obliged to follow the orders of the Häuptling - but any family that resented those orders would simply leave to find another band, though usually one where they had relatives and the new Häuptling was of their same clan. Häuptling who lost their capacity to lead or who became tyrannical soon had few families to command. Wise or crafty Häuptling attracted and retained more followers than mediocre leaders. Häuptling were almost always male, which balanced the power of the female clan leaders. Their position was hardly hereditary, as many successful leaders had rather lackluster sons that few families were willing to follow. It was more likely that a Häuptling would be succeeded by the single most capable of his sister’s sons.
In these times the land of the Quagflow was free and open, not owned by anyone. It was roamed by small groups, but generally not controlled. Certain clans laid claim to traditional hunting ranges and wintering grounds, and occasionally fought with other clans over access to them. Yet within a clan, no sense of individual ownership or control existed. At best there was collective ownership of lands used and defended by all clan members.
The Coming of the Oerid
Soon after the Overking of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy established the Viceroyalty of the Ferrond (c. CY 100), his forces marched on the Quagflow. They found little to conquer or even plunder among the nomadic people. With few permanent settlements, the Flan of the region had only what goods they could easily carry between camps. After the Aerdy army had cowed the Flan into submission and obtained a pledge of surrender from the High Priestess of Beory in the High Holy Site of Schwartzenbruin, they built a fort and administrative center. Leaving only a small garrison behind, the Overking now ruled the Quagflow, if mostly in name. In reality, he merely collected tribute from a number of plains-roving bands. So long as the flow of furs and hides from Schwartzenbruin to Dyvers was uninterrupted, the imperial administrators did little to interfere with the traditional Flan way of life.
The largest effect of the Aerdy presence on governance among the Flan evolved over time, by establishing a precedent for political leaders above the status of Häuptling. The Aerdy administrators of Schwartzenbruin found it both difficult and tedious to keep track of every tiny hunting band ruled by a headman. They turned to the clan leaders for a more efficient system. Clan leaders who cooperated were given the title of Imperial Accounts Officer and were charged with collecting the required tribute from their clansmen. Of course, if they personally retained some extra furs or hides to compensate for their efforts, the Flan were mostly none the wiser, and the Aerdy did not complain. The Aerdy title of Imperial Accounts Officer, roughly translated into the Flan, became “Plar,” and there was one main Plar for each of the clans of the open plains around Schwartzenbruin. The Plars’ assistants, who traveled among the bands making tallies and actual collections, were styled Szeks. These officials had little formal power over their clansmen, but the Aerdy listened to them. If hunting bands failed to pay their allotted tribute, their Plar could summon Aerdy troops to forcibly collect. However, the Plars were usually able to persuade their clansmen to pay up. Although they worked within the framework of the clan, this was a new development in Flan governance. For the first time, single individuals of high rank had some measure of direct, political control over many otherwise independent hunting groups.
The commercial activities of the Oerdian settlers who came to service the imperial outpost in Schwartzenbruin had a profound impact on the Flan. Merchants and peddlers, blacksmiths and tinsmiths, dyers and leatherworkers, all soon found their skills in demand among the Flan natives. The Oerdian settlement grew, as craftsmen immigrated from Ferrond with plans of serving the Flan community as well as the Imperial outpost.
For a century and a half, little changed politically, until the disruptions caused by the Baklunish-Oerid migrations in the north. The ancestors of the Wolf Nomads raided deep into the Quagflow, and their relatives everywhere attacked the fringes of the Overking’s Empire. The demands of the Overking for tribute increased, to pay the cost of repulsing these incursions. At the same time, the ability of the Flan to pay had diminished, since their people were deployed in war bands or defensive camps, not trapping furs or tanning hides. When group after group failed to meet the Overking’s demand for tribute, he authorized the general use of force as punishment for disobedience. This was intended as solely a demonstration to encourage loyalty, but it engendered a strong reaction in the Flan. When Imperial troops began seizing goods by force, and harming any who resisted, many Plars renounced their offices as Imperial agents, and those who did not were ignored or threatened by their clansmen. Flan warriors began attacking Imperial caravans in defiance and reprisal for the actions taken against them and their kin. The escalation of violence was rapid and soon a general rebellion was underway. After a short but bloody struggle, the small Imperial garrison at Schwartzenbruin was expelled. Some Oeridian civilians were slain in the struggle, but by and large they were allowed to remain unharmed if they swore an oath not to support the Overking. Their services were greatly in demand, and most Flan recognized that this was a political struggle against a distant government, not a race war in their homeland.
Over the next several years the Great Kingdom mounted numerous reprisal strikes from Mitrik and even succeeded in recapturing Schwartzenbruin more than once, but it was never able to hold the city through the winter. Supply problems, Flan attacks, and the artificially harsh blizzards and freezes summoned by Flan clergy always forced the retreat or surrender of previously victorious Aerdy forces. When the Viceroyalty of Ferrond declared his independence from Aerdy (CY 254), the Overking gave up any hope of reclaiming the Quagflow.
Cultural Development - the Oeridian Legacy
A hundred years of isolation passed without outside domination of the Quagflow, although the natives had to fight off the raids and incursions of Wolf Nomads and Baklunish. In that time the Flan were busy experimenting with and adopting lifestyles copied from the resident Oeridians. By now, the Oeridians had their own established communities and could hardly be called settlers. They were most common around Schwartzenbruin, of course, but they had also founded villages throughout the lowlands. There had been a fair bit of marriage between the peoples and a great deal of cultural borrowing on the part of the Flan. New crafts and trades were changing the traditional Quagflow economy. The most important of these innovations were settled agriculture and shaft mining, but cheesemaking and boat-borne driftnets for fishing also had impacts. By the late CY 300s, the Quagflow was a civilized place. Many headmen still ruled nomadic hunting bands, but most people now lived in settled villages, farming in the plains or herding goats in the mountains.
These settled villages demanded a new form of government. For one thing, the villages quickly grew more populous than any single Häuptling could organize. Second, villages required a different style of leadership - political savvy was needed less than careful planning and less courage but more skill at managing resources. Third, the ideas of “property” and “property rights,” adopted from the Oerid, became increasingly important. The nomadic hunters and herders retained only what few goods they could carry with them. Farmers, on the other hand, had scores of tools, buildings, animals, mills, ovens, cookery, and so on. It had become possible for individuals to claim the land that they had cleared and planted. Obviously, some new structure of government was necessary.
In the end, the Flan retained the institution of Häuptling, resulting in multiple Häuptling in each farming village. The Häuptling was responsible for a certain number of families, all pledged to him by oath. Häuptling retained great economic control over their families, in fact even growing in power. They were recognized to own nearly all the private property of the families and allocated it as they saw fit. Individuals retained only what they could easily carry, such as clothes, a few small tools and family heirlooms such as swords and jewelry. Häuptling were considered to own all the animals, buildings, seed, and so forth. As in the hunting past, a Häuptling was obliged to keep his people safe and fed - they collected the results of the labor of their charges and redistributed them. For example, in the spring a Häuptling would give stored seed to each of his families and allow them the use of draft animals. They would plow and plant under his direction. After the fall harvest, they would turn over all of their collected grain. The Häuptling would see that the grain was milled, and then allocate the flour among the families under his control depending on his assessment of their needs. When a family was desirous of butchering a cow, they would seek the Häuptling’s permission. If he granted it, he would stipulate how much of the meat they could retain and how much they had to turn over for redistribution.
This system is still largely intact in rural and agrarian Perrenland. Visitors from other countries find it amazing that the Perrenland peasantry have ceded so much of their economic autonomy over to the Häuptling, certainly much more than the peasants of Veluna or Furyondy, for example, where each household is largely independent economically. On the other hand, the peasants of most other countries are serfs, bound to the land with no choice of master, whereas Perrenders are nearly universally free men and women. Should a Perrender feel that his family is not being treated fairly under a Häuptling, he has every right to choose another, unlike even free tenant peasantry in other countries who are stuck with their landlord, for good or ill. Perrenders believe that their practices have acted historically to limit corruption and petty tyranny. Most Häuptling strive to give treatment that is both fair and beneficent to their families. Those who do not soon find themselves without families.
Certainly there was ample cause for conflict among the families of these villages, as well as between villages. Usually the source of contention was access to land, water, woodlots, pasturage, and so forth. Sometimes the families of different Häuptling fought over insults or inheritance, illegitimate heirs or failed marriage alliances. Conflicts of these sorts indicated that some authority above the level of headman was needed. Many villages had a council of Häuptling, modeled after the clan councils of elders. Some, however, adopted the Oeridian custom of naming the chief headman of the village as a Socman. The Socman was considered to own all the land of the village, and the Häuptling swore allegiance to him. While the Häuptling controlled small property such as beasts and tools, the Socman administered the land, assigning entire fields and pastures to each Häuptling for redistribution among his families. Usually the Socmen assigned whole sections of fields while the Häuptling then assigned individual furrow rows to each family. In return, the Socmen collected goods from their Häuptling.
In villages of predominantly one clan, the Socman had only economic power, and judicial power was retained by the clan elders, following the traditional Flan model. Many populous villages, however, typically those at the borders between different clan areas, had families and Häuptling of more than one clan. In civil and criminal disputes, clan elders often could not judge cases fairly, because the aggrieved parties were not of the same clan. In these cases the Socman judged cases, and the office of Socman began to carry substantial judicial power as well.
Although the Oeridian title of Socman originally meant a small landowner, the peculiar Flan preference for choosing their own leaders worked over time, to inflate its importance. The most successful and respected Socmen became masters of multiple villages, while mediocre ones found their Häuptling deserting them. On the other hand, the Oeridian tradition of men as masters was undermining the Flan matriarchies. The Socmen had to settle disputes within their village, or between different villages under their control. In time, they came to usurp the judicial authority that the female clan elders had held. Furthermore, many Flan began adopting the Oeridian practice of inheritance through the male line. Socmen and Häuptling with worthy sons sought to pass their titles on to them. Previously, a man’s wealth had passed to his daughters, or if he had none, the daughters of his sisters. But the title of Socman was worth more than family swords and copper torques; it was a source of wealth in itself, and it could only be passed to male children.
As farming spread throughout the Quagflow, a land which had once been fit only for collecting tribute from savages was increasingly viewed as a land of plenty, ripe for conquest and rule. Ultimately, a joint Velunese-Furyondian expedition was sent to gain these lands. Remembering the last days of imperial rule, the Flan fought tenaciously. They were joined by many of their Oeridian neighbors, who considered themselves of the free Quagflow and had no wish to be subjects of Veluna or Furyondy. But the small bands of warriors, each headed at most by a Socman commanding several villages, presented no unified opposition to the invaders. The people of the Quagflow had no heavy cavalry, and no elite units the equal of the Furyondian and Velunese Knights of the Hart. The priestesses of Beory and priests of Pelor fought bravely but were outmatched by the War Priests of Hieroneous and Battle-Legates of Pholtus. Nor could the scattered people of the Quagflow match the number of well-disciplined foot soldiers that had been mustered. The invaders soon controlled the plains around Lake Quag and the more open hill country where their cavalry could easily ride. The mountains were left to the Flan.
Where the Ferrond invaders conquered, they did not ask for tribute. This time, the various nobles and bishops who had led the invasion set up their own petty fiefdoms in the Quagflow. They imported and enforced the feudal system that had developed in the rest of the Oeridian Flanaess, consisting of a land-bound peasantry that owed agricultural service to Lords and Bishops. The “native” Oerids were saddened to lose their freedom, but by and large accepted the conquest and were quickly subdued. The Flan, however, chafed at the foreign rule. After a decade of guerilla resistance a powerful leader emerged. Perren united the Flan under his banner and succeeded in driving out the invaders. This brief period of feudalism under foreign lords ultimately did little to alter the governmental institutions of the Quagflow.
A New Nation - Perrenland
A formidable warrior himself, Perren developed tactics for the people of the Quagflow that allowed them to match the soldiers of the Ferrond. On the one hand, hardy warriors rode as light cavalry, making daring and devastating guerrilla strikes against supply, support and command targets. On the other hand, hundreds of commoners with little individual fighting ability were trained into disciplined units of longspearmen, capable of ordering themselves in defensive formations that could resist even the charges of heavy cavalry. The rugged Flan mountaineers supplied crack crossbowmen to support the formations of spearmen. Some historians claim that Perren received assistance in reconaissance and magical support from elven sympathizers from the Velverdyva, or even former elven Knights of the Hart, but this has never been established authoritatively.
After his brilliant military victory, Perren proved equally adept at establishing a stable political structure. His first act was to appoint one of his generals from each clan to a position of high authority, calling them Hetmen (which means high general in Quagflow Flan). Taking advantage of the universal loss of land the clans had suffered under the occupation, Perren established firm boundaries for each clan, dividing up the land into the eight principal cantons that remain to this day. Some minor clans in the mountains of the southern Quagflow also received tiny cantons of a few villages each. Although the regions of influence of the various clans greatly predated Perren, he formalized them and resolved disputed territories when he created the cantons. Perren styled himself “Voorman”, or “first among men,” an honorific used occasionally by important Flan leaders.
For sub-divisions of land within the cantons, Perren appointed Socmen at the suggestion of his Hetmen. For the Oerid, Perren revived the titles of Plar (Canton ruler) and Szek (lesser noble) to invest those who had fought under him. This process of awarding titles to those who had fought with him, in particular the naming of canton leaders as the most prominent general within a clan, further weakened the Flan tradition of clan rule by women. Although women remained important priestesses and had undisputed authority in arraigning marriages, their positions of authority in the clan were greatly weakened.
It should be noted that while each canton was created as the stronghold of a particular clan, significant migration between them has occurred. Since Perrenders are free to choose their own leaders, many bands have settled in cantons where the leader is of a different clan than their own.
Perren also formalized the obligation of military service. All able-bodied common men from the lowlands, as well as all women who were barren, were required to train in the longspear units he pioneered. They received formal military training for a set period upon initiation, and after that they were required to train occasionally but regularly in militia companies. Perren realized that for his small nation to defend itself against future incursions from populous Furyondy and Veluna, it could not rely on an army of professional soldiers like those nations. Rather it must have citizen-soldiers, so that in time of need all able-bodied people could rise to Perrenland’s defense. Mountain troops were required to train with the crossbow. Nobles, professional soldiers and others who could afford it trained as light cavalry. Although the long spears have evolved into pike formations, and now medium and even heavy cavalry is fielded, Perren’s formula for the military is largely intact in modern Perrenland.
After eight years of stable and prosperous rule, Perren desired a process for choosing a successor. He wanted a unified country, and did not believe he could leave the people to follow the leader of their choice, each to his own, in the Flan tradition. Nor did he believe that they would willingly follow a leader simply because he was a son of Perren. Instead, Perren announced that each of the canton leaders would vote for one of their own number, and the winner would have to be acknowledged the national leader by the others, whether they agreed or not. In the first election, Perren won unanimously, and served for another eight years.
In his second term Perren had to replace some of the Canton ruling Hetmen. For those with heirs, he recognized the heirs as Hetmen, instituting the tradition that canton rulership is hereditary, through the male line. However, for those cantons with Hetmen who died or retired without heirs, he permitted the dominant clan of the canton to choose the next canton ruler. These rulers he also called Voormanns, to distinguish them from the Hetmen who had actually served under him and their heirs. Since there can be confusion between the Voormanns, or canton rulers, and the Voorman, head of the nation, these positions are sometimes called Hintervoormanns and Übervoorman, respectively, though Perren himself did not use such terms. He preferred “Voorman of (relevant) Canton” and “Voorman of All Perrenland” as distinguishing titles.
The Modern System of Noble Titles in Perrenland, from Greatest to Least, is Thus:
Übervoorman: The elected ruler of all Perrenland
Hetman: The ruler of a Canton. Hetmen are also the leaders of their Clan and can demonstrate direct descent from the original eight Hetmen named by Perren.
Voormann: The ruler of a Canton. Voormanns are not Clan leaders and do not necessarily have direct descent from the Eight Hetmen. If a Voormann becomes Clan leader and can prove descent, his title changes to Hetman.
Plar: Ruler of a Canton. Typically not a Clan leader and usually of either Oeridian or mixed descent.
Socman: A noble holding land in part of a Canton and owing service to a Canton ruler - typically of Flan descent.
Szek: A noble holding land in part of a Canton and owing service to a Canton ruler - typically of Oeridian or mixed descent.
Häuptling: The least nobles, responsible for several families. They owe service to dependent nobles. The formal title of Häuptling is used by those of Flan descent. If of Oeridian or mixed descent, or in urban areas, the title of Headman is used.
The Coming of the Witch Queen
A generation after Perren’s death the new nation of Perrenland fell to another invasion. In c. CY 485 the Witch-Queen Iggwilv, with her humanoid armies and foul enchantments, took the nation from the south. Once again, the Flan priests proved to be the centers of opposition to the invading power, both during the conquest and after. Iggwilv was ruthless in the extermination of the Flan faith. All remaining priests were hunted down and killed, often by summoned demons. The sacred sites were desecrated or destroyed. This destruction of the clergy further weakened the role of women in Perrenland’s politics. In contrast, Iggwilv allowed male noblemen to retain their power, after they had been charmed into her service.
Although Iggwilv was overthrown a decade later, her depredations on the priests left little intact Flan religion in the Quagflow. A system of ancestor worship focused on Perren and his eight principle generals developed to replace it. The governmental structure created by Perren was largely restored after the overthrow of Iggwilv.
Ancestor Worship and Clan Structure in Perrenland Today
In modern Perrenland, the new ancestor-worshipping clergy have come to support the old Clan system. The living male who is closest in descent to each of the eight Hetmen of Perren serves as Clan leader and is revered by the clergy. Clan elders can still be female, but most are now male, particularly in the urban and predominantly Oeridian parts of Perrenland.
The original, ancestral Hetman is honored at public worship ceremonies within his Canton, which are attended by all citizens, regardless of their descent. Those who are actually of his Clan also honor him privately, regardless of where they live.
Beneath the ancestral Hetmen are the “ancestors,” the spirits of those from whom one is directly descended. Emphasis is now placed on the male line, so one typically honors one’s father, father’s father, etc. However, if one’s lineage contains people of importance or renown, any path of relation may be used. For example, if one’s mother’s grandfather was a Voormann while one’s father’s family was not particularly distinguished, the connection to the Voormann will be stressed and worship of these ancestors will be performed. Most people can trace their descent back to one of the original Hetmen, and many can do so back to Perren himself. Because of the importance placed on descent from these heroes, any connections necessary are used, including relation through marriage, adoption or illegitimate children. Thus, the ultimate ancestors are Perren and the Hetmen, and private family worship merges with public political ceremony.
Priests, and occasionally priestesses, serve as living links to the ancestors, for it is to the ancestors that they pray and from whom they receive their powers. Because of this, the clergy in general only minister to people of their own clan. There would have to be a specific compelling reason why a priest of one clan would cure or bless a warrior of a different clan, for example, and the priest would expect a much greater than usual compensation for doing so.
Government in Perrenland Today - Rural Areas
Free commoners are bound by oaths of service to higher men. They promise to serve a headman or Häuptling, by fighting for him or by making food or craft items. In return, the Häuptling makes sure that his people are fed, protected and treated justly. There is still little private property in rural Perrenland. Most houses, tools, animals, wagons and so on are owned by the Häuptling, who distribute them among their people, according to their needs. This actual ownership would hardly be noticed on a daily basis, for the people have what they need, and they use it as if it were their own. Only important events such as deaths and marriages generally warrant redistribution of anything other than food. For example, when the Häuptling acquires a new wagon, he take an old wagon from a farm family that had used it for years and replace it with the new wagon. He might then entrust the old one to a newly married man. Or a family might raise a pig for several seasons, until their Häuptling orders them to slaughter it for use in the funerary feast of the father of another family.
The Häuptling swear oaths to the lesser nobles, the Socmen and Szeks. The Socmen and Szeks administer the land and allow different Häuptling to use it for farming, grazing or houses. The Socmen and Szeks are the primary judicial authorities, and hear all criminal cases in their districts (or appoint magistrates to do so). In many places, clan elders still dispense civil justice, but if not, or if the parties in a case are of different clans, the Socmen and Szeks judge civil cases as well. The Socmen and Szeks are also military leaders and oversee the training of the civilian militia. They demand a few men from the Häuptling for service in the small professional military.
The Socmen and Szeks swear allegiance to the greater nobles - the Plars, Voormanns, and Hetmen who rule the Cantons. The canton rulers are the principle legislative powers in Perrenland. Lesser nobles enforce the laws of their ruler, but they do not make law themselves. Each canton is a separate, independent realm, and the laws often vary greatly from one to the other. Canton rulers are the only nobles empowered to collect taxes in cash - all other nobles may only require taxes in goods or services. One effect of this is that only canton rulers can tax foreigners in their cantons, such as traveling merchants, whether they be from other cantons or from outside of Perrenland. Canton rulers are also the only ones allowed to mint coins though not all of them do. At any given time there are typically four or five different canton currencies in use in Perrenland. Canton rulers are responsible for the maintenance of roads, fortresses, harbors and other infrastructure of national interest. The ruler of each canton, be he a Plar, Voormann, or Hetman, is also an Elector, and votes to choose the Übervoorman every eight years.
Because most men are free, they do not have to serve a Häuptling they do not like. A free man may at any time renounce his oath and leave the service of a Häuptling. If a leader is bad, his men will simply leave him for another leader. It is rare for this to happen, however. Since the Häuptling owns almost all property, and the Socman or Szek holds the land, a commoner who renounces his oath leaves with his family, his clothes, and little else. A rural family cannot live like this for long; they must find a new Häuptling. They lack the tools to farm or hunt and even pots to cook in. Other Häuptling are reluctant to accept the oath of a new commoner unless they are related, because the Häuptling must supply the family with all the goods it needs to begin life anew. Therefore, the majority of men who forswear their allegiance to their Häuptling have already made arrangements to be accepted by a Häuptling closely related to their wife.
Oaths of service are sworn every year at midwinter (during Needfest), as a pledge for the coming year. A man who refuses to renew his oath to his Häuptling at midwinter may choose another Häuptling at that time. Midwinter is the time of least economic activity, when both commoner and Headman have completed their side of the pledge and the economic slate is clean. This is known as “forswearing without prejudice.” It is the right of free men and is not considered dishonorable or disloyal.
If a man decides to break with his Häuptling before the year has ended, it is called “forswearing with prejudice.” This is a more serious matter, since the Häuptling usually feel cheated in such cases. For example, a Häuptling feeds the family of a commoner through the winter and spring, and loans him seed or beasts to plant. If the commoner forswears his oath before the fall, the Häuptling receives nothing in return unless he can find someone to tend to and then harvest the commoner’s fields. Someone who “forswears with prejudice” may not legally swear service to or receive assistance from another Häuptling until the next midwinter. He and his family are on their own. If the commoner is regarded as culpable, he becomes an outcast or outlaw and typically does not last long before succumbing to starvation or crime. For example, no one would help a commoner who forswore his oath to avoid the military service ordered by his Häuptling.
On the other hand, there is much sympathy for commoners who were forced to forswear because of an untenable Häuptling. If, for example, a commoner forswore when he discovered his Häuptling making inappropriate advances on his daughter, the commoner would likely receive enough clandestine aid from friends and family to survive until the next midwinter.
Nowadays, the existence of cities has weakened the dangers of forswearing. Many men who forswear with prejudice move to Schwartzenbruin, Traft, or Krestible, where they can find jobs paying in cash and apartments to rent.
A typical rural Perrenland community has between ten and sixty families under one to six Häuptling, with each Häuptling in charge of ten or twenty families. The Häuptling is usually related to most of his families as grandfather or granduncle. All of the Häuptling of a village are beholden to the same Socman or Szek. The village itself is administered by the council of Häuptling, at least when their Socman or Szek holds more than one village. The council decides when to begin planting, where to build walls, how to make streets, who will officer the militia, etc.
When a Häuptling dies, his body is placed on a bier outside. His spirit roams the land for one month, protecting the people. At the end of the month, the body is interred and the spirit passes to the afterworld. During the month of mourning, the Häuptling’s heir protects the commoners formerly of his father although no formal oath is made. After the internment, the commoners may swear service to the heir, or may pledge to a new Häuptling. Although the former is more usual, there is no stigma associated with the second and such a choice is considered forswearing without prejudice. Choosing a new Häuptling will involve a change in house, livestock, etc., but typically families remain in the same village so the disruptions are relatively minor.
Nobles in Perrenland have the same right to choose their own leader as commoners do, at least in theory. In practice, it is very rarely done. Even at the death of one’s liege it is assumed that lesser nobles will swear allegiance to his chosen heir. Imagine the situation in which a Socman died and half the Häuptling in one of his villages pledged to his heir while half chose another Socman. Either two Socmen would have to split the village (an administrative impossibility), or hundreds of people would be homeless, landless, and forced to move like refugees to the lands of their new Socman while half the homes of the old village were empty and the fields went untended.
In cases of grave and widespread reluctance to support a designated heir, a special council may be held. Only if the lesser nobles can decide on another ruler, if they are unanimous in their support of the new lord, and if the man is approved by whichever greater noble was above the former lord, may a designated heir be refused and a new one appointed.
Government in Perrenland Today - Urban Areas
The situation is different in Schwartzenbruin, as well as the growing townships of Traft and Krestible. Schwartzenbruin has always been a city, and has always been apart from the rest of Perrenland society. Schwartzenbruin is a true city, with several thousand inhabitants crowded into apartments. Few people work the land - most people have a craft or trade and are paid in cash. They buy their food from independent vendors, rent their apartments and pay for the raw materials of their trade. Economic transactions in the city are much more complicated than a Häuptling could administer for several families. City dwellers maintain economically independent households. They are only beholden to their Headman in reporting for military service, and rarely see him. (Urban dwellers use the word Headman in Common, even if they are of Flan descent. “Häuptling” is seen as a term for country folk.) The Headman records births, marriages and deaths, accuses those who harm his men and their families, and defends them in court against the accusations of others. He oversees their inheritances and assures that they complete their military service. Many Headmen, but not all, sell insurance to their families, collecting a percentage of their wages in cash and providing lump payments in cases of death, illness or injury. Some offer assistance in finding apartments and negotiating contracts or other business deals. Thus the urban Headman-family relationship is mostly a business affair and has little to do with family honor or obligation. The successful urban Headman is literate and often trained in accounting or law.
Clan bonds are also noticeably weaker in the cities. People pay little heed to the relatively few clan elders that exist, since justice is handled by municipal courts and marriages are generally arranged by the parents or in some cases even by the couples themselves. The clan-based priests of ancestor worship are rare in the cities. Instead, Oeridian churches and a few recently re-imported Flan ones tend to city folk without regard to their descent.
Rather than a council of Headmen, Schwartzenbruin is administered by a professional City Council. There are Headmen on the Council, but also guild, military, and religious representatives. The Council is headed by a Mayor, who is appointed by the current Übervoorman.
Powers of the Übervoorman
As national rulers go, the Übervoorman is relatively weak. Certainly his powers are less than typical of the kings of the Flanaess, for he has almost no influence in the cantons. Rather each canton ruler is the head of his own canton and is substantially independent. The Übervoorman does not have courts in the cantons and cannot make laws that affect them. His powers are limited to demanding men and taxes for the national military, of which he is the Commander in Chief.
On the other hand, the Übervoorman is the undisputed leader in regions outside of the cantons. Traditionally, this has been Schwartzenbruin, which is a free city under his control. In recent years, there has been much exploration and development in the Sepia Uplands. These are claimed by Perrenland, but are outside the existing cantons and as such are under the Übervoorman’s direct control. He administers them through the military and through a growing civilian bureaucracy.
The Merchant Class - A Growing Power
Tradesmen and merchants are a more recent development in Perrenland than in many nations of the Flanaess. For most of their history, they were treated as specialty servants of the Häuptling. Like other commoners, they did not own their own goods but instead traded them at the behest of the Häuptling. They did not become wealthy, but successful ones made profits for their masters.
The development of urban centers led to the evolution of free craftsmen and merchants. This has created a new class in Perrenland’s society - one that is growing and expanding its rights and privileges. Schwartzenbruin, Traft, and Krestible all have tradesmen’s guilds and have several wealthy merchants as well. The guilds regulate prices, work hours, holidays and other things common to guilds across the Flanaess. While this may seem mundane, one must remember that traditionally the only law that has existed in Perrenland is Canton Law. Perrenland lacks the traditions found in most other countries of Ecclesiastic Law, Royal Law, etc. Thus while Guild Law is limited to trading affairs and only affects Guild Members, it is important symbolically in that it is the first law made in Perrenland that does not come from Noble writs. Even the municipal law of the cities is taken directly from the canton head, or, in the case of Schwartzenbruin, the Übervoorman. The possibility of an urban law controlled by commoners would be a sea change in Perrendish history.
Finally, the merchants are an important spur for change. They constantly argue for greater nationalization in Perrenland, which would result in greater power for the Übervoorman. They talk endlessly about the benefits to the wealth and security of the country that would come if the Übervoorman could institute uniform taxes on merchants in all the cantons, instead of the current hodgepodge, or could oversee roads, bridges, and docks, etc. This idea of greater power to the Übervoorman and less independence for the canton rulers is strongly against Perrender tradition but is nonetheless becoming increasingly popular. The merchants, who may be the most eloquent and persistent spokesmen, are preaching a view that even some nobles find persuasive. The next generation of leaders in Perrenland will certainly grapple with this issue.
Readers interested in my version of Perrenland may find these other articles on Canonfire! helpful:
The Religious History of Perrenland
Voices of the Dead: Part V. The Cult of Perren
Brief History of the Knights of the Hart, Part 3 - Witch Queen, Demon Lord
1. My conception of the Flan “Circle” of eight major powers comes from the work of Gary Holian.
2. The word “Häuptling” means Headman in modern German. Its use in the context of Greyhawk is my invention.
3. WoG p. 22
4. “The writ of the Overking of Imperial Aerdi eventually extended...as far as Perrenland.” WoG p. 10
5. Gary Gygax uses “Plar” as a noble title equivalent to Count (WoG p. 79). So far as I can tell, he invented this term. While he does not indicate Plar is specifically in use in Perrenland, it is used in neighboring Veluna (WoG p. 41).
6. Gary Gygax uses “Szek” as a noble title equivalent to Baron (WoG p. 79). So far as I can tell, he invented this term. He does not specifically indicate it as being used in Perrtenland.
7. “Mixed Oerid-Baklunish nomad bands gradually moved into and laid claim to the steppe lands beyond the Yatil range...Border skirmishing with the southern nations was inevitable as these wild horsemen pushed into the Flanaess.” WoG p. 10
8. WoG p. 22 (date given in O.R.)
9. “Perranders [sic]...achieved success, establishing independent status...in a series of minor but bloody wars”. WoG p. 10
10. Gary Gygax uses the term “Soc-men” to mean non-noble “large land owners” (WoG p. 80). Historically, “soc-men” or “sokemen” were rent-paying free peasantry who did not own the land they worked. Thus they were free, but certainly of low class.
11. “Attempts at expansion into Perrenland by Furyondy...were vigorously resisted by the inhabitants.” WoG. P. 30
12. “These attempts, as well as nomadic incursions into the area, brought the various clans together in a loose association under the banner of the strongest of their number, Perren, c. 400 CY.” WoG p. 30. Both the LGG and the LG Perrenland Triad History downplay the role of Perren as a leader in an actual violent revolt against Furyondy.
13. The word “hetman” actually means “general” in Cossack. Gygax uses it as a title equivalent to Duke (WoG p.79) and specifically mentions it as being in use in Perrenland (WoG p. 30).
14. “Clan holds were marked into cantonments,” WoG p. 30. I believe that the LGG is the first source to specify the number of cantons as eight, and to name them. I have not seen the relevant section in TAB, however.
15. This is from my campaign. Since it pre-dates the LGG, I actually use eleven cantons, though coincidentally only eight of them are large or important.
16. Gygax uses the word Voorman (plural Voormanns) as a title equivalent to Duke (WoG p. 79) and specifically mentions it as being in use in Perrenland (WoG p. 30). Literally, “vor-mann” would mean “before man” or “in front of man” in modern German, but as far as I can tell the use of the word as a noble title is Gygax’s invention.
17. The composition of a Perrender mercenary company is given as 30% pike, 20% pole arm, 30% crossbow, 10% infantry and 10% cavalry. WoG p. 31. By the name “Cantons”, Gygax conjured up a Swiss model for Perrenland. Renaissance Switzerland was renowned for her companies of pikemen, and Swiss hero William Tell for his skill with the crossbow.
18. “Clan holds were marked into cantonments, and the leaders (hetmen, voormanns, or whatever) elected an executive head, like unto a king with limited powers to rule for an eight year period, with counsel from the assembled clan leaders.” WoG p. 30.
My campaign assumes that the Voorman of Perrenland is elected from among those who are already Canton leaders, and that such an individual leaves his Canton with a seneschal for eight years before returning to rule. This limits the ambitions of the Voorman, for each one who might seek greater powers for the office is aware that he will likely be under another Voorman in a few years. In contrast, the LG Perrenland Triad proposes that any clan-sponsored free citizen can “run” for the office of Voorman (LG Perrenland Triad website, Politics page).
19. Both WoG and FtA are silent on the question of canton ruler succession. LGG says that “cantons have varying internal governments; family heads elect town and city mayors, but clan leader positions are hereditary”. According to the LG Perrenland Triad (“The Cantons” page on website), five cantons have elected leaders and only one specifies a hereditary leader. However, if we take the titles of Voorstadmann and Voorstammann (see below) to imply hereditary clan leadership, then the Triad is positing four cantons with elected rulers, three with hereditary rulers, and the Quagfludt Canton has both a heredity clan leader for the Vosser Clan and an elected leader for the “lowland riffraff”.
20. The term “Hintervoorman” is used by the LGG Perrenland Triad for four of the five elected canton rulers (the fifth is styled Hetmann). “Hinter” is modern German for “behind” or “after”, so Lesser Voormann is implied, from a literal translation of “behind-in front-man”.
Those cantons without Hintervoormanns are given Voorstadmann and Voorstammann by the Triad. One meaning of the root “stamm” in modern German is “clan,” so the Triad seems to be implying that these titles mean Clan Leader, literally “in front-clan-man”. One canton has a “Pfalzgraf” for its hereditary ruler, which is German for “Duke Palantine”.
The term Übervoorman is my own, and means Overlord, or literally “above-in front-man” in modern German.
21. WoG p. 30 gives “Voorman of All Perrenland” as the title of Perrenland’s ruler.
22. “In 480 CY, Iggwilv sent her humanoid and barbaric human minions out to conquer and loot surrounding territories. Perrenland was enslaved from 481 to 491 CY.” Return of the Eight, p. 55.
23. Although I prefer the idea of independent cantons, each with a single ruler making law by writ, the LGG seems to envision a national assembly of clan leaders making law for the whole nation. “...parliamentary republic; Cantonal Council (collective feudal clan leaders) handle legislative matters”.
24. The LGG says that the Cantonal Council elects the Voormann, but does not specify exactly who is on that council. “Cantonal Council (collective feudal clan leaders) handle legislative matters and elect executive leader (voormann) for eight-year term.” The LG Perrenland Triad claims that it is the Canton Leaders plus the mayors of major cities, “The voting process is performed only by a handful of key representatives, namely each of the eight clan leaders, as well as the mayors of the cities of Schwartzenbruin, Traft and Krestible. These worthies, as well as the various candidates, gather in Schwartzenbruin for a special election council. The candidates are allowed to each represent themselves in an effort to persuade the council of their worth. Following these representations the councillors [sic] are cloistered and the actual voting takes place.” (LG Perrenland Website - Politics page). At the same time, (LG Perrenland Website - History page), the Triad says, “Under this system the clans elected local Canton leaders and these leaders in turn met in a body under a popularly elected Voorhman [sic] based in Schwarzenbruin, the largest town of the region.” This might imply that the Voorman of all Perrenland is elected by a vote of all citizens."