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Thoughts on the unification of the Savage Baronies

by Bruce Heard

Yes, there are risks involved in uniting the Ispan baronies, but on the other hand look at RW-Spain. The modern nation is a conglomeration of several earlier kingdoms, blending Celtic, Roman, Moor, and Wisigothic cultural roots, in addition to Christian, Muslim, and other religious philosophies. No doubt, keeping an Ispan nation together would remain a challenge to any ruler (rivalries among the nobles I think would be the biggest stability problem, more so than the people). But that's good news -- it keeps everybody on its toes, from a game point of view. The bottom line is that the task of uniting the Ispan kingdoms is made easier because: 1.) they all speak the same language (except for Texeiras and Vilaverde); 2.) no dialects have appeared locally; 3.) no religious issues have opposed the baronies; 4.) major threat lies nearby in the nation of Hule.

All things considered, this is no different a problem than with most large nations in the Known World. Think all the provinces of Thyatis are happy to be part of the empire? Think the rulers of these provinces wouldn't jump at the occasion to break loose? The same could apply to Darokin, Glantri, Heldannic Territories, etc. The problem is about as bad for the Ispan Baronies, but not this much more.

I think the one with the greatest potential to pull the pieces together is Dona Esperanza, the Baroness of Gargona. It is not so much because of her political or military might (the latter seems laughable) but because she is the least threatening potential head of state, seen from inside and outside Gargona. Her ruling methods are very mild and enlightened, and thus may seem more acceptable to non-Gargonans as a result. Gargona also rises above all others as a cultural center for all Ispan peoples. Many Gargonan scholars also work as trusty advisers for other barons, and therefore remain in a position to assist in the process of unification. Family ties with Esperanza's House of de Sotto y Rivera are very strong outside Gargona, having forged lasting links with Narvaez, a powerful Baronies whose strength lies in faith and church, and Saragon whose derives its might from magical know-how. There is a definite risk in the Gargona-Narvaez foundation as long as Narvaez remains a brutal, repressive, and rather backward state. Finally, the capital of Gargona is named Ciudad Real -- or Royal City -- and it lies in the middle of the Ispan lands. It seems well suited for becoming the siege of a legitimate Kingdom of Ispan. Whether Esperanza could be strong enough in the long run to keep the pieces of the fledgling kingdom together is a different story however.

Should the baronies manage to unite, one question comes up regarding the formation of the Royal Domain. The queen would naturally cumulate more than one title (Baroness of Gargona for now anyway, Queen of Ispan naturally, plus some possible religious title as spiritual defender of the main Ispan faith, etc).

It would be logical to assume all these titles have some land coming with them, even if very small. The most important is the royal title. I would think that the royal capital of Ciudad Real would have to be part of the royal domain. Each barony would have too cede a part of its land to form the royal domain, as a token of their allegiance to the crown. These pieces of land don't have to be adjacent to each other, but it would be desirable if a few could be combined, especially in the vicinity of the capital city. No doubt that ceding Ciudad Real to the crown would be like ripping the heart out of Gargona, but on the other hand, the Baroness and her descendents do get the crown.

For example, Narvaez would have to cede its possession west of the Rio Guadiana (up to Paz del Sol). Saragon would have to cede its lands east of Rio Maldito and Torre de Manzanas. Gargona would *lose* Ciudad Real (at least the north bank of the city) and part of the territories north of the river. Almarron would cede control of the Castillo de Tordegena and surrounding vicinity. Guadalante would offer the region comprising Dos Cabezas Hacienda. Torreon would deliver the lands south of Rio Frio and west of Rio Guadiana, including the two fortresses.

Texeiras and Vilaverde present a difficulty in that they speak a different language and would want to negotiate allegiance to the crown in exchange for greater internal autonomy. If so, they would probably cede some or all forested domains north of Porto Punhal and north of Porto Preto. That's tricky because they NEED the timber to build their ships, which gives the crown a serious measure of control over these two baronies. Next thing you know, both baronial provinces will seek new colonies to secure the precious timber.

Finally Cimarron would remain independent, being the most foreign of the Ispan lands (too many gringos there). This could lead to a clash sometime later between them and the Ispan Kingdom. more thing. As an alternative to ceding forested domains to the crown, Vilaverde and Texeiras might instead cede a colony and/or a large sum of gold and a number of ships which would help bankroll the fledgling kingdom and bolster its ability to respond directly to various foreign threats.

by Kenneth Baggaley

I agree about the initial ceding of the one city. But there are other alternatives to "crown lands", especially as one moves away from Medieval and into Renaissance/Baroque thinking.

First, there can be the attachment of revenues. Land is largely a revenue producing item by the Renaissance. Real power is in wealth. Kings often "farmed out" the royal lands to managers for a flat fee, then let the managers recoup their investment + profit over time. Such licenses could be for life, but weren't always.

So the Baronies could each be required to RENDER (call it the Renderio?) the INCOME from a parcel of land, rather than formally cede the land to the crown. The difference is one of control. Ceding means full control, including occupation by officers of the crown. Rendering means a cash transaction, and the land is still yours. If you think about it, a renderio is actually easier on the crown. Take your forrest example. The wood and lumber industry still lies in Tex-Vil hands, but a stipend in cash is paid for the right. Tex-Vil keep the wood (and real control in a rebellion), and the crown gets the gold (also useful in a rebellion, and easier to defend than far-flung non-contiguous crown lands).

Second, the control of administration will produce income. Specifically, the right to taxation on product (a salt tax, for instance), or a sales tax ( 3% on every transaction) is a great income producer. The King's ministers will also control revenue from court decisions (England's notorious Star Chamber), coinage, wardships (attaching the revenue of young heirs "for their protection" until maturity), and grants of privaledge (here's a charter for ten year's colonizing in Wallawalla... that'll be 20,000 in gold, please, and then we'll renegotiate the renewal) . Administrative control also means (ugh!) the sale of offices, always a lucrative card in the royal hand.

Finally, the king/queen could ask or soley retain the right to call assemblies (parliaments, estates, or better, Cortes like in Spain) in each major city. This right is the right to ask cities for loans (juros in Spain), or "subsidies". Juros are bonds, floated mostly to rich merchants, backed by the crown. Sometimes, they paid no principal, but just a perpetual low rate of interest. They were the forerunners of the retirement annuity, and much sought after!

Subsidies are my favorite. These are voted grants of income, measured as a percentage of a city's annual wealth, that go to the royal coffers in times of economic need. For example, the queen calls a Cortes in Navarez. The annual income is 300,000 gold. She asks, in the interest of shrine building, for two subsidies. Each subsidy is worth 1/10, so she's asking for 60,000. The Cortes votes for 1 subsidy of 30,000. It then asks for concessions, such as no more subsidy requests for five years. It might be militant and ask for more, like the expulsion of a minister, extra laws against tortle emigration, or a campaign against Nimmur. Whatever; the queen has a choice - take the one and run, or negotiate for the two and lose some issues. Her diplomatic talents come to the fore, and prior decisions come back to help (or haunt) you. This is great campaign stuff, and a good model for the actions of the English Civil War and French Revolution. It gives the PCs chances to become Ministers and rise and fall and rise again (or lose their heads, or flee abroad), WITHOUT having to become a King of something. And it's actually how the RW nation-state got started!

So don't think just in terms of "crown lands". Yes, a capital and surroundings are needed. The rest can be cash and carry as noted above.

If you want, I have some basic rules for solo Subsidy voting. I'll put them on line if your interested.

Other funding ideas:

Don't forget the Asiento, a loan for expected income - sort of an advance on tax revenues. Spain used it in expectation of bullion from the gold fleets from America.

Which brings us to the next item, colonies. All new colonies are property of the crown, whether licenced originally by charter or not. Colonial income pads the royal coffers.

A noble who rebels could have land taken from him and placed under royal control. This would not be so much "crown lands" as lands under crown control until the Submissivo, or official act of contrition, alliegence and penalty (perhaps the rebel's son submits, performs fealty, and is penalized 33% of revenue for five years).

Finally, their might be special one-time taxes for special needs. These would be EXTREMELY rare, like once per reign if that. Things like a tax on clergy (called a gift or Donativo), or a special levy for a war on Hule (call it a cruzado, or crusade).

A few points about these funding ideas. One, none of them are written in stone. The Baronies could have some, none or all of them - none are inevitable. Two, some of these must be granted ANEW for each new soveriegn. When Charles I came to the throne, Parliament made him sweat and make concessions for his right to "tonnage and poundage" (shipping/port duties). If every new soveriegn must negotiate, this keeps the royal power in check, something the Baronies would probably like. They would still be holding some of the cards. Three, the lack of royal lands and the "clean slate" new regime approach ties into the Baronial need for independence within a monarchy, and makes the selection of the next ruler less "inevitable" than if they grew up in the royal purple. I think the kingship might not be hereditary in this case. Perhaps a selection by the nobles, like the Diet of Poland, or the Electors of the Holy Roman Empire (or Glantri?).

Like I said, this scenario offers a unique edge to the already unique flavor of the Savage Coast, and should enhance rather than dillute the RPG aspect.

by James Mishler

Of course, Texeiras and Vilaverde could form their OWN Kingdom (Texeverde?), and the relationship between the Kingdom of Ispaña and Texeverde would be like that between RW Spain and Portugal... very similar cultures competing for the same resources in the same manner... (I used the Feminine "Ispaña" rather than the Masculine "Ispan" as the Royal Domain of "Gargoña" is in the Feminine; at least, I think that's how it works in Ispan)...

And then, after unification of the Kingdom of Ispaña, there would be a Cruzada or Conquista to the west, in the Gosluk, Kuttai and Dankut Territories, either causing trouble with or in cooperation with Robrenn and Eusdria... (El Cid, anyone?)...