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Since one of the PCs in my current group is a Ierendian noble, I'm drafting some information expanding on the Ierendi government as presented in the Gazetteer and the X10 adventure. I'm adding RW inspiration from Italian city-states, especially Venice (for the government) and Florence (for the political factions).

Ierendian Government and Aristocracy

by Giampaolo Agosta

Ierendi Aristocracy

Hereditary titles

Ierendian law recognises a single hereditary title, that of Baron. The title does not include land per se (Ierendi is not a feudal state), but is often associated with a position on the Council of Lords.

A Baron's wife becomes a Baroness (and vice versa), and both use the style Lord or Lady -- e.g. Lord Derwin Eddington (or Baron Eddington). His heir can use the style of Lord or Lady, though he doesn't have the right to seat on the Council.

Younger children of a Baron are styled "Honourable".

In modern times, a Baron who also has a seat on the Tribunal also appends "Tribune of Ierendi" to his name, and can be addressed as such.

E.g., Baron Eddington's full style would be Lord Derwin Eddington III, Baron Eddington, Tribune of Ierendi.

Non-hereditary titles

King and Queen are the highest non-hereditary titles. These titles are temporary, lasting for a term unless the current King or Queen manages to confirm his position in the tournament.

Former Kings or Queens are entitled to a knightly position (see Kia'i).

Children and spouses of Kings and Queens are styled "Honourable".

Kia'i (Guardian) is the most common non-hereditary title, awarded to famous adventurers. It is not permanent -- the Guardian must keep accepting "challenges" for the privilege of retaining his title. The Kia'i title is used for both men and women equally. The style "Sir" or "Dame" is also used by Guardians.

Ranking of noble titles

The nobles are ranked formally in the following order precedence: King and Queen (equally ranked); Tribune; Baron; Guardian. Courtesy titles rank below the actual nobility titles, in the following order: Lord; Honourable.

Ierendi Noble Families

Humans

Most of the noble families of Ierendi are of human stock. These people are only in part descended from the original founders -- relative newcomers include the Thyatian exiles that formed Mad Creeg's entourage and descendants of the great captains of the pirating days of Ierendi.

The following table list the most important human families of Ierendi -- those that have a seat on the Tribunal.

Alexander Thyatis Per fess or and azure, two bendlets countercharged
Karibus Thyatis Vert a baton or
Meikros Thyatis Or a sword sable within a bordure gyronny azure and argent
Seilus Thyatis Argent two bars azure between three lions passant sable
Seleukides Thyatis Per fess gules and or, an elefant sable
Matrongle Glantri/Thyatis Azure a sea lion argent within a bordure ermines
Van Hoorn Glantri Sable, a unicorn rampant gules armed unguled and crined or
Marley Minrothad Per chevron wavy argent and vert, a cinquefoil sable in chief
Teach Minrothad Per quarter, 1 and 4 argent a head bearded sable, 2 and 3 sable a lymphad argent
Eddington Darokin Vert, eight bezants in annulo
Rackham Darokin Sable, two crossed scimitars argent
Rogers Darokin Gules, a bend argent between two moor's heads
Gogunov Traladara Per pale gules and sable, a lion rampant argent

Both the Van Hoorn and Matrongle families have been around since the early days of the Kingdom of Ierendi. The Matrongle family descends more or less directly from Kerhy Matrongle of Glantri (actually, of the Flaem Highlands) and Black Toes, Mad Creeg's son and the second King of Ierendi. Mad Creeg himself was a Hattian and a political opponent of the Thyatian emperor of that time, Lucius IV Monomachos (the Thyatian families that emerged up to this time were all exiled for similar reasons by the Monomachos dynasty).

The Van Hoorn family also descends from one of the leaders of the anti-Thyatian insurrection, Claes Van Hoorn, a Flaem heretic who had joined a Hin pirate crew and had been captured by the Thyatian fleet.

Halflings

Nobles of Halfling descent can generally trace their ancestry to one of the "Four Hin Exiles", Durmast Caulker, Tolman Halffellow, Holvar Longkeel and Archer Shanwood.

"Half-Elven"

There were very few Elves (five, according to the legends) among the original inmates of the Ierendi prison, and most Ierendian with elven blood are likely descended from one of them.

A few noble families (the Alvine, Elfinblood, Gentle and Halfelven) are considered "half-elven" -- in each generation, these families produce one or true offspring that favour heavily their elven ancestry, and most other members of the family have some elven traits (pointed ears, delicate facial features, etc.).

Dwarves

Even though dwarves were present among the first prisoners, there is no great or noble dwarven family. Actually, very few dwarves are found in Ierendi at all, and most of them seem to be recent immigrants.

What happened to the native dwarves is one of the Ierendian mysteries -- all traces of dwarven families stop about two centuries ago.

History

Not all families date back to the same era. Some claim ancient nobility, other arrived only in the last few centuries.

First Prisoners (before 600 AC): Caulker, Halffellow, Longkeel, Meikros, Seleukides, Gentle

Mad Creeg's Old Aristocracy (600-650 AC): Matrongle, Van Hoorn, Karibus, Alexander, Marley, Elfinblood

Age of the Pirate Kings Aristocracy (650-775 AC): Rackham, Eddington, Teach, Seilus, Alvine, Shanwood

New money (775-1000 AC): Gogunov (900 AC, fall of Traladara), Rogers, Halfelven

Factions

Ierendi politics revolves around shifting allegiances between the families that sit on the Tribunal. There are generally two parties (a dominant one and an opposition), but when the current dominant party suffers a major defeat, the new dominant party generally breaks into two different factions, the weaker of which usually tries to get support from the defeated families.

Factions usually form along the following criteria:

Old Aristocracy vs New money

Landowners vs Sea merchants and privateers

pro-Darokinians (Merchants) vs pro-Five Shires (Privateers)

Which criterion is used at any given time depends on the primary political issues that are discussed at the time, as well as economic and foreign policy factors.

The following table classifies the current Tribunes along the main criteria:

  Old Aristocracy New money
Landowners: Meikros, Seleukides, Karibus (pro-Darokin)  
  Gentle, Halffellow, Matrongle (pro-Shires)  
Merchants: Alexander, Elfinblood, Van Hoorn Eddington, Alvine, Gogunov, Halfelven, Rogers, Seilus
Privateers: Caulker, Longkeel, Marley Shanwood, Rackham, Teach

Heraldry

Family coats of arms are used by all members, which generally add some distinctive element.

Bordures and common charges (mullets, crescents and roundels) are often used to distinguish members of the same family.

The family head always bears the basic arms, with a bordure to identify his title:

King or Queen: a bordure ermine

Baron: a bordure erminois

o Baron Matrongle: a bordure pean

o Baron Meikros: a bordure gyronny azure ermined argent and argent ermined azure

Member of the Council of Citizen: a bordure vair

Ierendian Government

Ierendi is a city-state, formally organised as a diarchy (joint rule of a King and Queen), but is actually run as an oligarchic republic (collective rule of a council of aristocrats).

King, Queen

The Royals of Ierendi hold merely ceremonial titles. Any authority they exert is based on personal influence, charisma and money, not derived from the law.

Laws proposed by the Royals need to be approved by the Tribunal in order to become effective.

The King and Queen also selects the Kia'i, or Guardians of Ierendi.

Ministers

Eight ministers (four Ministers of the King and four Ministers of the Queen) complete the Royal Court.

Ministers are basically agents at the direct service of the King and Queen.

Contrary to ministers of other nations, they have no role in the executive.

Tribunal

The Tribunal, formerly Council of Lords, is composed of 21 members from the most powerful aristocratic families (those mentioned in the Ierendi Noble Families section above). The positions are de facto hereditary.

If a family is not able to fill the Tribunal position, then the Council of Citizen selects a new family to take its place.

The Tribunal holds the executive and judiciary powers, exerting the former through the Council of the Sages and the latter through the Guard.

Moreover, the Tribunal must confirm all laws, which makes it the holder of the true legislative power.

The Tribunal often appoints Colleges, that is smaller groups of Tribunes who are in charge of handling urgent problems, study and draft laws on a given issue, or otherwise act in place of the entire Tribunal with greater speed than allowed to the full assembly.

A College has at least three members, and rarely more than seven.

The Tribunal is presided by the Chancellor of the Tribunal, elected yearly by the Tribunes.

A family that is selected to join the Tribunal receives the Baronial title. Individual Tribunes may not have the Baron title, but in general this only happens when the current Baron is old, and is replaced by his heir on the Tribunal. In most other cases, Tribunes are also Barons. However, the number of Barons is not fixed -- there are more Barons than Tribunes. This is because some families never were on the Tribunal, but were awarded a Baronial title by the Kings (this is formally still the case, but nowadays Baronial titles are only issued by the King and Queen, while the decision is taken by the Tribunal) as well as some Baronial families lost their position on the Tribunal, but not their title.

Council of the Sages

The five Sages enact the decisions of the Tribunal, thus acting as an administrative body.

Each Sage heads a Department (or Magistrate) -- Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Customs and Assessment, Internal Affairs, Military Affairs.

Proveditors are named to oversee the administration of regions (usually one per each lesser island, part of the Department of Internal Affairs) or specific matters within the scope of each Department.

Lesser officers of each Department are called Subproveditors and Deputies.

Within the Department of Military Affairs, these titles are reserve to civil officers, while military officers are part of a different hierarchy, headed by the Admiral of the Fleet.

The Sages are chosen by the Tribunal. They may be Tribunes themselves, but this is not necessary -- they may as well be high-ranking career civil servants. They customarily take part to the meetings of the Tribunal, but have no voting right unless they cumulate both the Sage and Tribune position.

Council of Citizens

The Council of Citizens is formed by the heads of the largest merchant and land-owning families of Ierendi.

About 10% of the families living in the city of Ierendi are represented on the Council, which has about 120 members (plus the Tribunes, who are also members of the Council of Citizens).

The Council elects new members of the Tribunal, though an actual choice is only given when the family of the previous holder cannot provide a candidate.

The Council of Citizens may propose laws, which need to be approved by the Tribunal to become effective.

A favourable vote from the Council of Citizens is also needed to modify laws that deal with the election of King and Queen, as well as the composition of the Tribunal.

The Council of Citizens is presided by one of his members, the Grand Chancellor, who also heads the office (Royal Chancery) that acts as the archives of the Tribunal and the Council of Citizens.

Members of the Council of Citizens use the Honourable style, unless they have a higher title (Baron or, more rarely, Kia'i).

The Grand Chancellor uses the style Lord, regardless of his original rank.

A note on Ierendi law

Note that Ierendi law is generally convoluted and full of contradictions, so the rules given in the write-up should be taken as guidelines -- the write-up represents the average case, but exceptions and special conditions are probably easy enough to find. E.g., rules on underage heirs may be different for male and female heirs, exceptions could exist to the general ranking rules for nobles due to "ex-officio" ranks, like the Grand Chancellor being given a higher precedence than most nobles. Another similar case is the general lack of power of the Council of Citizens -- given the power of the Tribunal, it may seem that the Council of Citizens has no real role. Actually, the Council of Citizens holds a myriad of minor rights besides appointing new Tribune members and the Grand Chancellor. For example, there is no general rule for the appointment of Provisioners -- in some cases, a Provisioner is simply chosen by the Sage heading the appropriate department, but in other case he may be chosen by the Council of Citizens, or even by the Tribunal.