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 Order of Noble rank

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PostSubject: Order of Noble rank   Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:14 pm

Chybisa's Order of Precedence

Many Fantasy Role Players cut their teeth on AD&D. Unfortunately, as a result of that experience many of those same players carry with them the idea of medieval or feudal society as some extremely regimented military society, with Earls barking out orders to Barons who lord it over knights, who in turn strut about demanding obedience from every passing commoner. Well, it just isn't that way, at least not in my version of Chybisa.

But titles, and the noble rank that go with them, do place people at certain levels within a society. People who are "higher up" expect to be treated with deference and courtesy by those that are a bit further down, and they generally know who those people are. Similarly, folks that are further down are very aware of their position on the social ladder -- they know who expects deference from them, and from whom they can expect it in turn. And all expect a certain degree of respect for the position they have achieved.

How do you use this in role-playing? Andy Staples was kind enough to provide me with this inspirational little tidbit drawn from the history of England:

There's a lot of roleplaying potential in insisting on precedence. As an example from real-world history, let me cite the case of Bishop Roger of Salisbury in 1139. Roger was the chief justiciar of England, and extremely wealthy. But he was appointed by the old king, Henry I, and his power and influence was a worry for the new king, Stephen, who was facing a serious revolt from Henry's old faithful followers.

Stephen felt he needed to curb the bishop's power, and he did it by manipulating precedence. His right-hand man, Waleran, count of Meulan, hatched a plot to besmirch Roger.

On June 24, 1139, the king called a Great Council at Oxford. Bishop Roger (who may have been summoned late) arrived to find his lodgings occupied by Alan, count of Brittany, a confidante of Count Waleran. Bishop Roger, citing precedence, insisted Count Alan and his men move elsewhere. They refused, swords were drawn, a knight was killed, and Count Alan's men were driven out of the lodgings.

It gave Stephen his chance: he arrested Bishop Roger for breach of the king's peace. They also arrested Bishop Roger's son, also called Roger, who was the Chancellor of England, and his nephews, Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, and Nigel, Bishop of Ely (who was also the Chancellor of the Exchequer) -- these relatives, all appointed by the old king, Henry, give some idea of Roger's power and influence, and why Stephen was nervous of him.

This whole arrest sequence, which had very important ramifications for the rest of Stephen's reign, came about because of precedence, and Bishop Roger's insistence upon it. Stephen's supporters manipulated him into a position where the king could take action.

So, at the risk of perpetuating the idea that feudal society was terribly "rank conscious" and regimented, I've prepared this list as a guide to the social strata of Chybisa's noble class. This list does not indicate the order of succession to the throne, nor does it imply that people near the top of the list can "order about" those near the bottom of the list. It does indicate one's place in a stratified society.

Note that some of the entries are titles (e.g. Baron), and some are positions (e.g. Lord Privy Seal). Positions are not inheritable and do not confer nobility on their holders -- they are normally held by individuals who are noble by circumstances of their birth.

For the moment, this is a list of positions and titles only; once I've worked them out, I'll provide a list with the names of the individual personages.

The Royalty

The King
Crown Prince*
Sons of the King
Daughters of the King*
Grandchildren of the King
Brothers of the King
Nephews of the King
Uncles of the King

The Greater Nobility

Lirrath (Primate) of Larani's Church
Mepeleh (Primate) of Peoni's Church**
Lord Chancellor of Chybisa
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Lord Privy Seal
Serekela (Archbishop) of Larani's Church
Lord Chamberlain
Marshal of the Royal Guard
Barons*** and Baronesses (in their own right), in their order
Baronesses (wives of Barons****), in the order of their husbands
Eldest sons of Barons*
Rekela (Bishop) of Larani's Church
Sulaplyn (Bishop) of Peoni's Church

The Lesser Nobility

Captains of the High Guard, in order of their appointment
Privy Councillors, in order of their appointment
Treasurer of the Exchequer
Lord Advocate
Lord Master Herald
Inquisitor General
Collector General
Seneschal of the Chamber
Keeper of the Rolls
Younger sons of Barons
Daughters of Barons*
Knights of the Manors, in their order
Ladies of the Manors, in the order of their husbands
Royal Constable
Serolan (Abbot/High Priest) of Larani's Church
Pelnala (Abbot/High Priest) of Peoni's Church
Knight Commanders of the High Guard, in order of their appointment
Master of the High Guard's Squires
Knights of the High Guard, in order of their appointment
Knights Bachelor
Eldest sons of children of Barons
Eldest sons of Knights of the Manors
Eldest sons of Knights of the Guard
Eldest sons of Knights Bachelor
Younger sons and daughters of children of Barons
Younger sons and daughters of Knights of the Manors
Younger sons and daughters of Knights
Other Ladies and Gentlemen entitled to armorial bearings

* Under the Chybisan variation of the coparcener system, daughters are co-equal heirs-apparent to the title in those cases where the current holder of the title has no surviving sons or grandsons. On the death of the title-holder, one of the co-heirs is selected to inherit the title. Until then, for matters of precedence, each of the daughters ranks as though she were the eldest son. Otherwise, daughters are ranked just below younger sons.

** Though nearly all Peonian clerics are commoners by birth, polite society still grants that church's leaders the social deference and privilege of nobility. Most Peonians are uncomfortable with this treatment and tend to avoid circumstances that will invoke it.

*** The term baron is used here in the Chybisan sense, referring to the heads of the great clans who hold large tracts of land (tens of thousands of acres) directly from the king as tenants-in-chief. In some cases, the holdings of these baronies are the lands of the Pharic kingdoms that existed in the Ulmerien Valley prior to the foundation of Chybisa, leading some barons to claim precedence above their peers based on this ancient status. Such claims, however, are improper and precedence among peers is based on the date the title was conferred on the clan presently holding the estate.

**** Under the Chybisan variation of the coparcener system, some women inherit the title of Baroness from their deceased father or mother; these women are "Baronesses in their own right" and are ranked as peers of the Barons. Other women gain the courtesy title of Baroness through marriage to a Baron and are ranked slightly beneath them. A man who marries a Baroness, however, does not gain the courtesy title of Baron and retains only his previous title and status.
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