The Society and Customs of the Rulers of the Kingdom of Evendarr
by Severra Winternight year 598
The Kingdom of Evendarr is a feudal society, governed by the oath-sworn nobles who each answer to a liege-lord above him or her. This means that there is a strongly observed hierarchy. Ours is not a system of equality of all people. It is a system of duty to one’s superior in return for protection and support. Often though, High-ranking Nobles throughout the land listen to the commoners, the adventurers, and their nobles about their concerns.
His Majesty, King Mykel Endarr II, owns all the lands and properties within the kingdom of Evendarr. His Majesty chooses people to administer the majority of these holdings in his name. These people are vassals of the King. Each of these people administers the lands as if they were their own. In return, they swear that they will support the King, adhere to the laws of the kingdom, ensure their nobles compliment the Code of Chivalry, provide troops in time of war, collect taxes, and meet any other duties the King, and Crown expects of them.
These vassals are called Princes and Princesses. In turn, each of these people have vassals of their own, called Dukes/Duchesses, Counts/Countesses, and Barons/Baronesses. Again, Oaths of Fealty bind the Prince/Princess with his or her vassals. Counts/Countesses and Barons/Baronesses may assign areas of land to vassals of their own, Lord barons, Lady Baroness, Knights and Lords/Ladies. Every person in the preceding group is collectively known as a “noble.”
Any person who is not a noble is a commoner. The commoners are the fiber of society, performing the day to day work. They are the farmers, craftsmen, healers, soldiers, fisherman, etc.
Somewhere between the nobles and the commoners are Adventurers, perhaps the most common occupation as the monsters and adversaries of the kingdom show themselves each year. Adventurers usually earn respect among the common people because of their heroic deeds and the fact that they usually have a bit of money. Adventurers earn the respect of the nobility of Evendarr for the same reason.
Just because commoners and Adventurers are below the Nobles in the Hierarchy doesn’t mean that they are cattle to be controlled by the nobles. The nobility is so empowered with duty because they love the Land and all her people. Each noble owes certain responsibilities to the commoners upon their lands. In return for part of the profits of the commoners’ labors, the noble who governs the land is expected to protect them from crime, protect them from invasion, and help them when they are in need. The noble is expected to provide leadership, an example of proper behavior, and to improve a lot of his or her commoners over time.
The commoners’ responsibility is to be willing to pay fair taxes, join the militia in time of need, help their Lord administer justice by reporting crimes and providing testimony, defend their Lord or Lady’s name, and address and treat nobles with the respect and the title that they are due. Such respect to the nobility is expected of all people who traverse through Evendarrian lands, be they citizens of this kingdom or visitors.
Matters of Address and Title
In the heart of the kingdom, it is expected that a commoner will bow while in noble presence. Ladies of a court will curtsy and gentlemen will fall at one knee. Ladies who take arms will generally also bow at one knee if their dress is befitting of such a thing. No means of brandished weapon should be displayed at this time. Weapons should be in their sheath and be turned with a point toward the floor. Magical Spell aura should be withdrawn. All vials of poison should be put away. In the strictest of tradition, a person whether Kneeling or bowing should remain in the respectful position until the nobleman acknowledges the commoner and delivers his permission for the commoner to stand, or until the noble departs the immediate area. In some frontier areas, the slightest observance of tradition with a quick curtsy or bow is usually considered to be a sign of great respect in itself.
A simple nod of the head and quick, polite acknowledgment of title is much more common for Squires, Lords, and Knights. Everyone is sure to kneel when the nobles of a high-rank pass.
On the battlefield, matters of Chivalry toward the nobility are rarely observed. Indeed, it is the preference of many noblemen that their vassals do not kneel to them as the enemy is better able to identify our leaders and concentrate their strikes upon them. When fighting a noble enemy, this is rarely a difficulty. When fighting elemental creatures or creatures of the wood, however, it is probably best not to observe chivalric custom on the battlefield.
When a commoner gains an audience with a Duke, Duchess, Prince, Princess, or the King or Queen, the commoner should take extreme care with his manners. This is generally also true of noblemen as well. A commoner should never speak until expressly given permission to do so. At that time, the first words out of the commoner’s mouth to begin every sentence should be the proper form of address, even when answering simple questions such as, “Your Grace, no,” or, “Your Grace, yes.” A nobleman of a low station should ask permission to speak but should be equally as observant of titles of address. A higher noble is granted some larger measure of courtesy but is still expected to use the proper forms of address conversationally. Barons and Knights grant more leniency?s and often engage in free-flowing conversation within their courts and among adventurers.
Proper titles are always observed in the older parts of the kingdom such as Evendarr, Kitheria, and Rotaria. On the frontier, they are more rare with most Duchies casually observing proper title. The use of proper titles is generally considered to be good courtesy and manners in Evendarr, however, and is a good habit to begin if you are new to the kingdom. Persons of all stations, including nobles, use the following titles when addressing commoners. It is not appropriate to curtsy, kneel or bow to any of the following persons in most cases:
The name of a man without any title at all is preceded by “Goodman,” such as Goodman Serdahnia. A lady would be addressed as Goodwife, Goodlady, Mistress or Ladymiss, such as Ladymiss Raverra. In the case of men and women, it is appropriate to use the person’s first name rather than their family name if the surname is not known, or if you are more familiar with the person being addressed.
Commoners of Note and Adventurers
Men and women who have earned themselves a respectable reputation in their craft or with some other deed are often addressed through the title of their occupation, such as, “Good Barrister Serdahnia.” In the cases of persons who have performed heroic deeds, they may be addressed such as, “Good Casca the Riftsbane.”
Commoners with Military Rank
The military rank of a commoner is always used in place of another common title. Military ranks are usually specific in their form of address, and creativity should not be applied to the address. The military rank generally precedes a person’s surname in formal address, but on the battlefield, the rank precedes the person’s most commonly used name. For instance, Master Sergeant Hassan Deathforge of the Stormguard would be addressed as “Master Sergeant Deathforge” informal circumstances, but as “Master Sergeant Hassan” more commonly.
Commoners of Courtly Station
Nearly every noble court of the realm has commoners who hold respected positions such as Sheriff, Magistrate, Guildmaster, Chamberlain, etc. Although noblemen may often hold these positions, in the case of commoners the honorary title of “Lord” for men and “Lady” for women is often conferred. These titles, while noble in origin, do not confer the status of nobility, only great respect. Informal address, the surname of the person is attached to the title as, “My Lord Magistrate Gunther,” or “My Lady Guildmistress Katherine.” In common conversational address, however, the person’s name is not used at all, only the title, “My Lord Sheriff,” “My Lady Chamberlain.”
Squires and Squire Candidates
Squires are commoners who hold courtly station. Men and woman are addressed formally as, “Good Squire” and then their first name. More conversationally, the word “good” is not applied, and an address as simple as, “Squire Lyria” or “Squire Candidate Frederick” is appropriate.
Titles of Nobility
The following are the titles of nobility. Persons of lower stations should always curtsy or kneel to persons of higher stations. Noblemen do not commonly observe such rites with persons of lower station, though it is sometimes done as a sign of tremendous respect. Except in the most unusual of circumstances, such as the honoring of a hero of tremendous renown, nobles of higher station never curtsy or bow to nobles of lower station informal situations, such as the holding of court. The other exception to this is that a husband and wife will usually curtsy/kneel to each other, regardless of rank, even in the most formal occasions.
Lords and Ladies
Depending on local traditions of Dueling, in some areas of the kingdom, Lords and Ladies are expected to choose champions in honor duels and may, therefore, be of lesser rank to Knights, who are obligated to defend themselves. The title of Lord or Lady is also that given to a person of an honorary station, such as a noble’s husband or wife who did not earn the title personally. In most areas of the kingdom, Lords are of equal ranking with Knights. Persons of this station are to be addressed by the title, “My Lord” for men, and “My Lady,” for women. A nobleman’s preferred name usually follows, and that can be either the person’s first or last name. In formal situations, it will be both. Conversationally, a name is not used, but the nobleman is addressed merely as, “My Lord,” or “My Lady.” The mispronunciations of, “m’lord” and “m’lady” are not to be used with the nobility. They are expressions of respect among commoners.
The conference of knighthood is always an indication that the person earned the title personally, and it is not an honorary title. Knights are commonly addressed by title and first name, but sometimes the preferred name is used. Men are addressed as “Sir” and ladies are addressed as “Dame.” In formal situations, the full title of knighthood, such as Knight Protector, Knight Champion, etc. is used. Formally, a man would be addressed as, “Good Sir Knight Captain Red,” or “Good Dame Knight Protector Amaris.” Less formally, “Sir Red,” or “Dame Amaris” is appropriate. All knights are appropriately addressed in all situations as, “Good Sir Knight,” and “Good Dame Knight.” It is rarely appropriate to address a knight as, “My Lord,” or “My Lady,” as the Knight’s address is preferred. In all areas of the kingdom, Knights are obligated to defend themselves in honor combat, rather than choose champions.
Barons and Baronesses
Barons and Baronesses may choose to be addressed by either their first or last name. Use of the last name is more formal, however, and should always be used when in doubt. Barons and Baronesses who gained their title through marriage should be addressed by their family name, indicating that is the source of the title. The titles of “His Excellency” and “Her Excellency” are used for Barons, Viscounts, and Counts. In formal situations, the titles of Excellency and Baron are both used, such as, “Her Excellency Baroness Rosalind Frederick” and “His Excellency Baron Beowulf Durendal.” Conversationally, these gentlepersons should always be addressed as, “Your Excellency,” or “My Lord Baron,” or “My Lady Baroness.” For the members of their personal households, “My Lord” and “My Lady” may be used, but only in private conversation. Nobles of higher station and other Barons and Viscounts will not use the term, “Your Excellency” when addressing one of lower or equal station, but will address the person as, “My Lord Baron,” or “My Lady Baroness.” In all parts of Evendarr, Barons have the option to take the name of their land as their own. It is always appropriate to address a noble as such, regardless of how they name themselves. When the name of the Land is used, the personal pronouns are dropped. “Baroness Marentha,” “Baron Konrad,” and “Baron Nariketh” are appropriate in all situations.
Viscount and Viscountess
These titles are most often honorary titles. Though they do confer the respect and courtesy due to one of higher nobility, these persons usually rule over little more than one estate, and not a large area such as a barony, etc. A Baron/ess and a Viscount/ess are of equal social standing, though the heroic deeds that earned the Viscountcy may convey a higher station personally. The last name of a Viscount is the most common address, but there is no set rule as to which name should be used. As with Barons, someone who has gained their Viscount/ess title though marriage should generally be addressed by the last name to note the origin of the title. The titles of “His Excellency” and “Her Excellency” are used for Barons, Viscounts, and Counts. In formal situations, the titles of Excellency and Viscount are both used, such as, “His Excellency Viscount Arcevol.” Conversationally, these gentlepersons should always be addressed as, “Your Excellency.” For the members of their personal households, “My Lord” and “My Lady” may be used, but only in private conversation. Nobles of higher station and other Viscounts and Barons will not use the term, “Your Excellency” when addressing one of lower or equal station, but will address the person simply as, “Viscount,” or “Viscountess.”
Count and Countess
Counts and Countesses may choose to be addressed by either their first or last name. Use of the last name is more formal, however, and should always be used when in doubt. Counts and Countesses who gained their title through marriage should be addressed by their family name, indicating that is the source of the title. The titles of “His Excellency” and “Her Excellency” are used for Barons, Viscounts, and Counts. In formal situations, the titles of Excellency and Count are both used, such as, “His Excellency Count Roderick Daleron.” Conversationally, these gentleperson’s should always be addressed as, “Your Excellency,” or “My Lord Count,” or “My Lady Countess.” For the members of their personal households, “My Lord” and “My Lady” may be used, but only in private conversation. Nobles of higher station and other Counts will not use the term, “Your Excellency” when addressing one of lower or equal station, but will address the person as, “My Lord Count,” or “My Lady Countess.”
Duke and Duchess
Dukes and Duchesses may choose to be addressed by either their first or last name. Use of the last name is more formal, however, and should always be used when in doubt. Dukes and Duchesses who gained their title through marriage should be addressed by their family name, indicating that is the source of the title. The titles of “His Grace” and “Her Grace” are used for Dukes. In formal situations, the titles of Grace and Duke are both used, such as, “His Grace Duke Morten Sarten.” Conversationally, these gentlepersons should always be addressed as, “Your Grace,” or “My liege.” The terms, “My Lord Duke” and “My Lady Duchess” are not appropriate in any situation and are simply not used. For the members of their personal households, “My Lord” and “My Lady” may be used, but only in private conversation, and even then, “My liege” is truly more appropriate. Nobles of higher station and other Dukes will commonly use the term, “Your Grace” when addressing one of lower or equal station.
Princes and Princesses
Princes and Princesses are almost always addressed by their last name, such as “Prince Tegg.” Princes and Princesses who gained their title through marriage are sometimes addressed less formally through a use of their first name, however, in the case of “Princess Eleanor.” The titles of “His Highness” and “Her Highness” are used for Princes and Princesses. All situations involving Princes and Princesses are formal, and the titles of Highness and Prince are both used at all times, such as, “Her Highness Princess Lillian Rotari.” In the audience, Princes and Princesses are always addressed as, “Your Highness.” The terms, “My Lord Prince” and “My Lady Princess” are not appropriate in any situation and are simply not used. For the members of their personal households, “My Lord, “My Lady,” and “My liege” may be used, but only in private conversation, and even then, “Your Highness” is truly more appropriate. His Majesty the King may use whatever form of address he chooses with any noble of the kingdom. The other Princes of the realm will commonly use the term, “Your Highness” when addressing one of equal station.
Kings and Queens
Because the throne of Evendarr is largely a hereditary seat, His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen are almost always addressed by their first name, such as “His Majesty King Mykel” and “Her Majesty Queen Katherine.” The titles of “His Majesty” and “Her Majesty” are used for Kings and Queens. All situations involving His Majesty are formal, and the titles of Majesty and King are both used at all times, as above. In an audience, the King and Queen are always addressed as, “Your Majesty.” The terms, “My Lord King” and “My Lady Queen” are not appropriate in any situation and are simply not used. For the members of their personal households, “My liege,” is common, and “My Lady,” for the Queen and “Sire” for the King may be used, but only in private conversation, and even then, “Your Majesty” is truly more appropriate. His Majesty the King may use whatever form of address he chooses with any noble of the kingdom, and never bows to any of them. Even the husband or wife of the reigning monarch will address the ruling noble as “Your Majesty.”
Collectively the above Nobles comprise the governing body of the Kingdom of Evendarr. Commoners and adventurers are encouraged to approach Squires and Knights with questions and requests. Often the Liege-lord of the land will hold court where nobles, adventurers, and commoners can bring forth issues to be resolved.
In all civilized lands within the Kingdom of Evendarr, there are four basic conventions of good conduct that the people observe. These conventions may as well be law in the older parts of the Kingdom, for the reputation of whole families depends on their strict observance of these things in many cases. Be forewarned that in some frontier lands, travelers come from many other lands which do not hold these concepts as dear as Evendarrians.
The Laws of Hospitality
If you invite a person into your home or holdings and they accept your hospitality, they will be treated as a guest, and the members of the household will do their best to protect the guests from any harm. Conversely, the guest has a responsibility not to abuse the goodwill of the host. In all parts of Evendarr, the nobility, in particular, are bound by this ancient tradition. Many a feud and even some wars have begun when a nobleman offered another hospitality, and the guest came to harm in the host’s lands.
The Laws of Loyalty
In the older areas of the kingdom, and in many of the new, it is generally accepted that a person’s word is good. Because of this, if a person swears loyalty to another and that oath is accepted, even if they have been enemies, the past will be forgotten. The person swearing the oath of loyalty will be expected to support and protect their liege, and likewise, the liege is expected to offer the same favor to the vassal. On the frontier of civilization, the courtesy of trust is not so easily delivered, and individuals are not always taken merely at their word. The history of Tyrangel, in particular, is dotted with betrayals of tricksters and liars, and memories of this make the Law of Oathkeeping often difficult to observe. An older tradition of Evendarr that is seldom observed, is the branding of oath-breakers. Persons who broke their word were once branded with an O on their face, and set free to eke out an existence marked by shame and betrayal. In more recent times, oathbreakers face any range of punishments from the loss of reputation to death.
The Laws of Kinship
People in the outreaches of the kingdom tend to be very loyal to family members. It is generally felt that you should trust your family over an outsider. In many parts of Evendarr, it is accepted that even the nobility will act for their families before the people of their lands. Some noble oaths specifically cite loyalty to the Land above kin, however.
The Laws of Personal Honor
Most Evendarrians have a very strong sense of personal honor, at least in the sense of defending it against statements and acts of others. In Some parts of the kingdom, slights to honor are settled through the ancient practice of Dueling, while other parts of the kingdom prefer to settle disputes through public debate. The regard for life and safety is much stronger than it ever has been, with many Evendarrians reluctant to shed blood for the sake of honor alone. As such, duels to the resurrection are becoming rarer. In most parts of the Kingdom, Duels to the resurrection are illegal unless witnessed by a noble sponsor.
Crime and Punishment
Acts considered Criminal in Evendarr are the usual: Necromancy, Theft, Murder, Treason and such. In older times, the outreaches of the kingdom commonly held very simple laws, and the punishments were swift and brutal. Recently, as the kingdom has expanded its borders tremendously within the past ten years, the borderlands sometimes have the most complicated sets of laws in the kingdom. The inner Duchies like Tyrangel, in particular, is not as complex as many lands’, but the punishments are varied and creative. In keeping with the unusually high regard for life found in Evendarr punishments are seldom delivered publicly as a lesson to others. Punishments are most often delivered away from the public eye and civilized areas. In most areas of the kingdom, it is conventional to lose title and station for breaches of chivalry or the law in addition to the more mundane punishments.
King Mykel II has a group of Royal Knights who travel the Kingdom ensuring that the nobles of Evendarr are not oppressing the people. The group is known as the Kings Orchestra, with each Instrument being a group of six specially trained Knights. It is their responsibility to collect information concerning accusations and allegations against both nobles and commoners and report that information to the respective lieges. They are approached by commoners, adventurers, and Nobles to investigate accusations.
Accused nobles are judged by their liege, although their decision may be appealed to the Court of Chivalry if either the accuser or accused believe the decision unjust. The liege-lord of the accused nobleman is the judge on the noble’s own lands unless his or her liege intervenes. This is very rare as no liege wishes to diminish his or her vassal in the eyes of the commoners. The accused noble is summoned to appear before their liege as there is no need to have a gentleperson apprehended by troops. In very rare, very extreme cases, the accused may be incarcerated before trial.
In Evendarr, however, the gentility and kindness of the nobles seem strange to the local people. Entirely unlike other areas of the kingdom, the common people of Evendarr are generally allowed to speak freely their opinions on any subject, including the performance of the nobility. As such, it is not uncommon for an angry commoner to deliver criticism or accusation of a noble in public, without a noble sponsor and generally without fear. Although the nobility of Evendarr maintain that they do not allow the freedom of speech, these outbursts from the commoners are usually tolerated and punished only with a stern verbal reprimand if at all. Please take note, however, that such outbursts generally do much to diminish the level of respect an individual earns for himself.
Commoner vs. Noble
In older parts of the kingdom, if a commoner accuses a noble – a very dangerous event – the commoner must find another noble of equal or higher rank than the accused who believes the veracity of the claim and will sponsor the cause to the liege-lord of the accused. If a commoner cannot find a sponsor, then the charges may never be brought forth. In the newer parts of the kingdom and since the return of King Mykel II in the late 590?s, it has become obligatory for Knights to investigate any accusation against another noble that is not higher in rank and provide an explanation to the inquirer. Accusations are now to be investigated regardless if brought forth by a noble or a commoner. This recent demand by King Mykel II has caused many an investigation and several nobles who were found guilty of oppressing the common folk has resigned. In cases of accusations against higher-ranking nobles, the Noble being accused should be approached directly, or a Royal Knight contacted to perform a proper investigation.
Commoner VS Commoner
If a commoner accuses a commoner, the accuser contacts the local Magistrate. The Sheriff and his deputies will collect the accused, and then the accuser and accused along with relevant witnesses are brought before the Magistrate or a nobleman in the case of truly grievous crimes.
Nobleman VS Commoner
If a noble accuses a commoner, several things can happen depending on the crime, the noble in question, and the status of the accused. Due to the many dangers found in the frontier, many traditions of courtliness are not observed in matters of punishment. All nobles of a Duchy have jurisdiction throughout the county, but it is still expected that deference will be granted to the direct liege of the land where the crime takes place.