Ern Great Lords
There are a total of six Great Lords on Ern. These Lords rule over a particular region of the island, regions that do not have equitable borders. That is, some Great Lords, like Barin Levington, have a larger territory than others. Nor are the borders for these territories necessarily intuitive— the borders are drawn and/or redrawn however the Sovereign decided. For more on the individual regions, go to the bottom of this page.
For those of you who know a fair amount about medieval history, think of Great Lords as Ern’s answer to the Middle Ages’ Bannal Lordships. As will be explained later, this means Great Lords own and govern the land in their territory.
Currently, all Great Lords are also Lords, meaning they have dual responsibilities. As Great Lords, they govern over their region, as something of a King’s Deputy. They are the region’s judge and jury, holding final authority on all violations of the King’s Law. In practice, most Great Lords delegate this authority to Lords and Minor Lords except for the most intense and severe crimes. Rape and murder, for instance, would attract a Great Lords’ attention, but common theft would not.
In addition to being legal authority in their region, Great Lords are supposed to hold public court at least once per month. This court is supposed to be well publicized and advertised, but some Great Lords take it more seriously than others. During the sessions, all are technically invited and any grievance is technically listened to. Most Great Lords, however, have and continue to skimp on this responsibility, either delegating it to an adviser of their own or simply not holding it at all.
The chief and last of a Great Lord’s responsibilities is collecting taxes. This does not mean Great Lords collect taxes from all residents of their region. Lords and Minor Lords collect taxes from Commoners. They in turn pay taxes to the Great Lord, who completes the cycle by paying the Sovereign. In custom it is considered impolite to send non-noble representatives to collect money from Lords or Minor Lords, so most Great Lords perform this function on their own. (There is also monetary incentive to do so. If someone else performs the duty, there is no guarantee all payment finds its way home. Perhaps more significantly, the Great Lord can accept bribes with plausible deniability if they collect payment on their own.) Some Great Lords, such as Drake Montrage, send one of their children or perhaps their wife as emissary. This decision has potential to insult some, but it is not nearly as uncouth as sending a non-relative would be.
Of course, because Lords and Minor Lords are monetarily accountable to Great Lords, the two lower levels of Lords are tend to be subordinate to the Great Lord. Within their region, Great Lords speak with the King’s voice—their word is law. Practically this means it’s possible for a Great Lord to betray the King and mount a rebellion. The sovereign is protected from this possibility by a few factors. The first is force (see below). The second is that Great Lords have historically been very loyal to the Sovereign—that is why they are named to their position in the first place. The third is that Great Lords are given a far reduced taxation rate than any other Lord, which thereby means they have incentive to remain faithful. The fourth is that the Sovereign has at least two hundred fifty troops from the National Army stationed in every Great Lord’s court. This contingent is ostensibly there to provide the Great Lord some added protection, but it also provides the King with a large group of spies who report to them on the Great Lord’s activities at least twice every month.
Besides the two hundred fifty plus troops from the National Army, Great Lords have little to no militia of their own. Some, like Barin Levington, hire a small force of sell swords to protect them or help them enforce tax codes, but they do not have a local militia to call on unless they are also a Lord. Why is this? Because the Lord interacts with the commoners. Great Lords interact with other members of the nobility.
That said, all Lords and Minor Lords are subordinate to the Great Lord. If a Great Lord calls on their subordinates, ordering them to gather their militias, the Lords would theoretically be forced to do so. Such a move, of course, would be very suspicious and would doubtlessly reach the Sovereign. Once the Sovereign learned of it, they would surely deploy however much of the 21,000 National Army they needed to so as to ensure the Great Lord executed no offensive action against the crown or another Great Lord. Perhaps for this reason alone, only one rebellion has ever been mounted by a Great Lord.
Access to the Crown
Great Lords have unfettered access to meet with the Sovereign as well as his Small Council. As long as they are willing to travel to the King’s court, any Great Lord has even been able to dine privately with the King. This practice continued under Hunter. Indeed it escalated, for Hunter was capable of teleporting. There were nights he reportedly met with all six of his Great Lords.
As there is no Sovereign at the moment, Great Lords take on an added significance. The strong ones (Levington) essentially become Kings of their own separate kingdom. There is no powerful monarch or even a unified Army to check a Great Lord’s ambition. Hunter has only been dead some five or six weeks game time, so too little time has passed for the shake up at the time to really have major effect at this level. And now a civil war has begun and is likely to become quite deadly, so it remains to be seen what impact Hunter’s death has.
Each of the six major territories are described in some detail below.
Great Lords are referred to as “Sire”, one step down from the Sovereign, who is known as “My Liege.” There has never been a female Great Lord before, but if there is one in the future, she would also be known as Sire.