The government in Amanne is feudal. Land other than Royal Land (main cities and military bases) is owned by the landed nobility. The Lord of a city is called a Liege. Lieges may select their own successors and officials. In this way each city is its own state, autonomous politically and bound to Ralan only through the Order.
Politics revolves mainly around Houses. These are families permitted to wear a coat of arms, which comes with many privileges. The head of a house is almost always a lord of some sort (the exact title may vary). Lordless houses only exist for short periods of time. A house also need not be strictly blood-bound. Although the easiest (and by far the most common) way to merge houses is through marriage, individuals have joined houses through service alone. A “vassal knight” is a knight who serves under a powerful lord. He is bound to the lord but usually holds land of his own, as a reward for his service. Vassal knights reside within the lord’s keep, and serve as diplomats, military commanders, advisers and in some rare cases, bodyguards (oftentimes they are sworn to protect the lord at all costs). They can be either landed or unlanded.
Amanne is separated into 6 “greatfiefs”, each with the exception of the Reach contains a major city, which is taxed directly by the king (these cities are called burroughs). Each greatfief is also governed by an “archduke” who is appointed by the king as well, although in every case so far, the lord appointed is just the head of the house seated in the major city. The Archduke of Mistwood is selected by a convention in Mistwood, not by the King. Before the Concordat, the Archduke of Mistwood was called a “Grand Prince”. The land is also divided into “wards”, which are protected by lords in the area. The wards are the northlands, the gold coast, the giant’s coast, the dragoncrest and the marshlands. A warden of a ward must protect the borders of the ward. Most Wardens are Earls or Archdukes. The land of Everwinter is property of the King primarily, as he serves as Warden of the Northlands as well.
A recent deviation from this governance is the establishment of the CTR in the Marshlands.
The Manor System
Within a greatfief, land is owned by gentry and nobles of many kinds, as well as some yeomen (although this is only common in korhold). The peasants working on a lord’s land are given rights to their own strips of land which they farm on, and usually a ration of wood from the forest. The land the lord himself personally governs is called a domain. The lord will sometimes have multiples manors across his land, since he can only stay at one, he lets bailiffs live in the other manors when he is not there, and lets them govern for him. A reeve is a village authority who makes sure the serfs/peasants do their jobs. A peasant has to pay most of his income to the lord, but a serf owns more rights, and some can get pretty wealthy. A serf wealthy enough to earn freedom from his lord is called a yeoman. These farmers own their own land, away from a fief and typically farm it themselves.
In the Marshlands, a lower form of house, called a Familia, exists, due to the prevalence of extremely wealthy families with little land.
Although a lord owns his land, he usually pays homage to an overlord. Due to constant warfare between lords, having a powerful overlord can often be worth the extra tax. This can happen is a couple of ways:
- The lord gives land away, but wants to still govern it to an extent
- A powerful lord forces his ruler-ship on a fiefdom, but doesn’t want to displace the current ruler
- A petty noble/yeoman has no army to protect his land with, and seeks help from a powerful lord
The overlord decides what taxes and rules he puts on his subjects. However, the subject lords still pay taxes to the king, and an overlord doesn’t own the land, so he won’t be paying the royal tax for his subjects’ land. This sub-feudal structure can be many-layered, with overlords having overlords.