“To blood, house and Ath we toast”
System of rulership and inheritance used by the Ovech People. It is markedly different from european feudalism, and modeled on the systems of Georgia and Armenia.
In short, an Ovech state is broken into ‘Naxrars’ (lit: “Primacies”). Each is a title belonging to a family, not an individual, and the head of the family is titled Nahapet. The land under a given Naxrar follows a feudal-type system. A group of Naxrars can form a Kingdom, but this organization is an elective tribal confederation, not feudal. Finally, all Svalek people trace themselves from 6 great dynasties. The Naxrars who are patriarchs of these dynasties hold significant political power, though exactly who is the main branch, can be disputed.
Types of Nobility
Ownership within a Naxrar is based on family as mentioned: for example if House X has two sub-houses A and B, with the patriarch part of A, then nomatter how powerful B is, they must remain vassals of A. That is, rulership of a house is determined fully by lineage, not by appointment. The exact rules for inheritance vary depending on region. The land they own is hereditary – as it is tied to blood, not title. A cadet house of a Naxrar can be ‘partitioned’ into another Naxrar through approval of the extended family – however their dynasties will remain the same. Similarly, a Naxrar may adopt a family into it.
The second type of nobility are the Azats and Aznauri – knights and minor nobles. Both are allowed land, and swear themselves to Naxrars. However, their titles are not hereditary, so may be traded, sold, or taken. To justify the transition to Naxrar, a minor noble must gain the support of his Naxrar lord, as well as a ‘Blessing of Blood’ by a Keeper. Note that Priests are considered as Azat, and even they keep armed forces – the temple guard (Adhki).
Combined, the Azats and Naxrars form the principal armed forces. Naxrars field levies from their Aznauri, as well as troops from the third type of nobility – the Taip. These are clans similar to Naxrars, but governing tribal areas. Instead of feudal obligation, they can pay tribute, though some powerful ones are independent. Taips are connected by complicated networks of personal obligations and feuds. A Taip is considered a Naxrar if they unify the nearby Taips under them – who then become Aznauri. Taips are only common in the Highlands, Yahara, Uzerach, and northern Serelske. These ancient peoples of the mountains are often kingmakers in practice.
Feudalism Above the Naxrar Level
Positions of power such as Marshal, High Priest, etc. are designated to a family, who then distribute the responsibilities to the clan. Unlike feudalism though, the King/Kral itself is a simple title like the rest – designated to a particular Naxrar. Thus, the royal family stands only barely higher than the other Naxrars, and so the title of Kral itself is not heriditary!
The first Kralate of Svalos (ruled by the Dagevid Srivli dynasty) was established as a tribal confederation, consisting of the following head families and ‘Nahapets’, with their seats and provinces:
- Ziali (House of Sylle) – Ziga – Cziturav, Svalagrelo
- Pzchari (House of Pazcha) – Shalva – Ovtalabeg, Kaxati
- Srivli (House of Sren) – Vruyr – Abshura, Abshuri
- Halraavi (House of Halraav) – Ushisha- Karavko, Zhketa
- Levraani (House of Levraan) – Kakhaber – Vachataq (prev. Sarezg), Qaraxuro
- Czerati (House of Ceratis) – Czerka- Naronar
Over time, these 6 dynasties grew to thousands of members, and split into many Naxrars – currently there are more than 900. The minor tribal aristocracy became Aznauri and Azats. The only populace in Svalos who don’t belong to these dynasties, are the wildmen or foreigners. Royal titles are typically kept within the same dynasty. For example while the Naxrar who is Spahabad may change, it is always given to a member of the Halraav dynasty. See the dynasty pages for lists of Naxrars associated to them. In Svalos the following titles are associated with houses:
- Kral – Sylle
- Sparapet (commander of royal armies) – Halraavi
- Arhaq (master of horses) – Srivli (prev. Ceratis)
- Iztas (master of ceremonies and state steward) – Pzchari
- Badahn (chancellor) – Levraani
- Sahin (court judge and advice-giver) – Srivli
Land itself doesn’t distribute upon death – only the Nahapet changes. Inheritance of specific holdings, wealth, etc. is by designation, but generally is rather even, with the oldest child inheriting the ancestral seat, banner, and title. The collection of items besides title, given to the Eldest, is called “zadamand”. The eldest daughter inherits the ancestral estate (zadoxmand) of her mother. Younger children, or children of concubines, are compensated with money or peripheral holdings typically. Qarach and Highlander law puts a younger son above an older daughter, for the inheritance of the Nahapet, while Lowlander and Naronese law is absolute cognatic.
This works if one son and one daughter are sired. If not, laws exist to hopefully keep the Naxrar in existence. If there is a daughter and no son, she Inherits both zadoxmand and zadamand. Her marriage must be matrilineal if not to a member of the Naxrar – even so, her husband inherits the zadamand, which can pass to his family if no male heir is sired by the couple. Similarly if there is a son and no daughter, zadoxmand is inherited by the son’s wife or daughter.
If there are no children, the Nahapet might re-marry, though with significant cost. His wife can ‘marry’ with a contract (Chaxar) , to another man of the same dynasty, so that their child inherits as Nahapet. If these fail, zadamand and zadoxmand pass to members of the Naxrar (by seniority in Abshuri law, proximity in Naronese law). The title passes to siblings of the Nahapet. If none are eligible (of age and capable), the Naxrar members must choose an heir, but a cadet family could dispute this, and generally this is the only time wars of succession are fought.
Granting land is only allowed between family members – therefore marriage is an easy way to expand house dominions. This also explains why houses are severely endogamic – both male and female out-marriages will result in a loss of land or money. The laws on relative marriages are significantly less restrictive than other realms, although sibling marriage is only practiced if it is absolutely needed.