Guide to the Reign
A Link In The Chain
As one of the focuses of Our reign, We are placing a heavy emphasis on the practice of fealty within the Kingdom. Fealty is a agreement entered into by two people, a liege and his/her vassal, with terms that are agreed upon by both parties. Their relationship is one of mutual responsibility, and must not be undertaken lightly. The presumption of honor is paramount, with either side answering one to the other. Fealty is a practical process that holds a King accountable to His vassals as much as they are accountable to the Crown.
A vassal is someone who has sworn a direct oath of fealty. For this reign, We have further defined the role of a vassal and the specific benefits they have been given. In a feudal structure it is impractical for the Crown to swear an oath directly to every subject. The terms of the agreement could never be properly or completely honored by the Crown with so many direct vassals. Hence the concept of "subfeudation", which is a very modern sounding term for a very period idea.
The Crown will exchange fealty oaths with those of its subjects that must swear an oath in return; the Territorial Princes and Princess', the Kingdom Champions, the Kingdom Officers, the Knights, Landed Barons and Baronesses, Royal Patrons, and the Royal retinue.
There are those who have the right to swear fealty to the Crown. Royal Peers, Masters at Arms, Companions of the Order of the Pelican and Companions of the Order of the Laurel. Court Barons and Baronesses and any other individual who believes that they have a reason, may ask the Crown to swear directly. Any of those of Our subjects that wish to petition the Crown for the right to swear fealty directly to the Crown will be heard.
As has been done during other reigns, all other subjects of the Crown will be invited to show their allegiance by making a pledge of support to Their Majesties. However, these people are by no means without a voice in the Kingdom, simply because they have not sworn directly to the King and Queen. By placing your support behind someone else, you strengthen their voice. In consequence, your liege must address your concerns or risk losing you as a vassal. This process works through each level of subfeudation up to and including the Crown. This structure more realistically replicates the hierarchy within feudal society, for our Current Middle Ages.
Royalty in period would have had a series of nobles and advisors close to them, and these would have helped the Monarch define policy and make decisions. This idea of a gathering of minds is still carried on the meetings of the Noble Estate. These nobles would have been Dukes and Barons, and so on, who would have knights and minor nobles in fealty to them, and who in turn had people in fealty to them and so on. This is the chain that is formed when people link up in a feudal bond.
An example of this chain; a subject could be linked through their Knight, if they are a squire or man-at-arms to a squire, if they are in a teaching fealty with a Companion of the Pelican or Laurel, if they reside in a Barony, they could be linked in fealty through the Coronet. All of these examples have the chain ending with the Crown. Shires have more and more been represented by their Royal Patrons who would carry the fealty to the Crown. Anyone may approach a Crown vassal, possibly even on a temporary basis, in order to form the link in the chain.
Each fealty relationship is individual and can be as formal as the two parties desire. This structure will be very important as We have plans to bring this idea into play on the warfields of An Tir.
Direct Crown vassals also have certain rights and privileges that reflect their specific status and responsibilities:
The idea of the fealty bracelet was originally to serve as a tangible reminder to the wearer of their 'burden' of fealty, similar to the knight's chain. This will be worn by all Crown vassals and will serve to identify them in their especial estate with the Crown. Just as the Sovereign wears the crown to remind Them of their responsibilities, so shall the loyal servants of the King and Queen have a piece of regalia to show their commitment to all.
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