gvdammerung writes "What a mess! The traditional welter of noble titles in Furyondy is an affront to heralds everywhere. A historical accident created a peerage where differences in title meant virtually nothing. With the Furyondian Civil War that has seen been King Belvor succeeded by King Artur, Furyondian noble titles have finally been reorganized to make feudal sense. A baron now makes way for a count, who make way for a duke. Its about time! Hark now to the Rolls of Prescedence!
Noble Rank in Furyondy
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
The nobility of Furyondy traces its origins to the Viceroyalty of Ferrond. An amalgam of the feudal and the colonial, the Viceroyalty had a two tiered system of titles.
First in order of precedence was the Viceroy, appointed by the Overking of the Great Kingdom in Rauxes. While the Viceroyalty eventually grew into a hereditary title, it never lost its character as an administrative post. The Viceroy of Ferrond ranked in the Rolls of Precedence of the Great Kingdom just under a baron and this only because the Viceroy was the Overking’s chief servant in the West. Practically, as the Viceroy ruled from Dyvers and rarely visited the Great Kingdom, this slight was insignificant.
All local rulers answerable to the Viceroy in Ferrond were styled Thanes. Both a feudal and an administrative title, the Thane was less than a true noble but greater than a mere civil servant. The Thane owed typical feudal obligations to the Viceroy but did not enjoy full recognition as a feudal noble, being subject to recall to Dyvers at the Viceroy’s whim. Among the Thanes, precedence was determined by the size of an individuals land holdings for which they were responsible.
Over time, the Overking, with or without the Viceroy’s consent, would grant noble titles and lands within the Viceroyalty to Thanes or nobles from the Great Kingdom, who might or might not ever take up actual possession themselves. By the time of Furyondian independence, there were, thus, a welter of noble titles within the Viceroyalty with no order of precedence other than that of the Great Kindgom, to which allegiance was no longer paid.
With the founding of the Kingdom of Furyondy, every Thane and noble sought to establish his or her independence and preeminence within the new order. Thanes, fearful that true nobles would seek to absorb their lands, assumed titles they believed suited their holdings. The King of Furyondy was forced to accept the resulting hodge-podge of titles or risk civil war within the newly declared kingdom.
In Furyondy proper, the Seven Families were those nobles or former Thanes who successful pressed their claims to precedence. The result was an absurd system where a baron was a title of equal dignity with that of a duke or count or viscount. Every title was declared of equal quality and equivalent in the Rolls of Precedence within Furyondy. In essence, a noble title was meaningless beyond indicating rule of a large area of the country. In consequence, the crown of Furyondy was perennially weak as the Seven Families asserted a defacto palatinate status within a loose union that was Furyondy.
Luck and skillful kings avoided the worst excesses of a broken system, until a determined Iuz presented himself at the nation’s borders with vast armies in tow. The squabbling, assertive nobles denied King Belvor the support he needed. Furyondy suffered defeat at Iuz’ hands as a direct consequence. This fact was not lost on Belvor or other thoughtful nobles within Furyondy. When Belvor precipitated the Furyondian Civil War to tame the nobles, it was not without cause, or support.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, King Artur has overseen a long overdue reoganization of the feudal titles of Furyondy. The Five Families, last survivors of the original Seven Families, are now all elevated to Dukedoms, if they were not already so styled. Each Duchy is fully tributory to the Crown although with resort to the Knightly Conclave, whose role is now expanded. The Rolls of Precedence at last make some sense as Furyondy leaves the last of its colonial past behind. Those noble titles recognized in Furyondy follow.
The King - The King of Furyondy is the principle noble of the realm and, along with the Queen, Dauphin, and the Princes and Princesses of the Blood, is the only noble who may be styled royalty. All other nobles are ultimately answerable to the King. Only the Dukes may appeal to the Knightly Conclave, whose decision is final, a request of the King for levies or monies. The King within the County of Crystalreach and the Barony of Willip may create all subsidiary titles. The King is addressed as Your Majesty.
The Queen - The Queen of Furyondy is usually the consort of the King. A Queen may, however, rule in her own right if born the first child of the King. Furyondy follows strict primogeniture in matters of succession. A Queen of Furyondy may also rule as Regent for the Dauphin if he or she is underage at the time of the King’s death. The Queen is addressed as Your Majesty.
The Dauphin - The Dauphin is the designated crown heir of the Kingdom of Furyondy. A Dauphin becomes crown heir only upon investiture as Baron of Willip upon attaining their majority. The Dauphin enjoys all the rights and privileges attendant upon the Barony. The Dauphin is addressed as Your Royal Highness.
Princes and Princesses of the Blood - Royal heirs other than the Dauphin are styled Prince or Princess. The title is purely honorary and no feudal obligations or privileges attach to the title. Landless, Princes or Princess are often advantageously married off to the greater or lesser nobility. To avoid this, it is not uncommon for Princes or Princesses to strike out on their own as adventurers to build their own lives according to their own dictates. Princes and Princesses are addressed as Your Royal Highness.
Dukes - There are only five Dukedoms - Reach, March, Kalinstren, Gold Country and Littleberg. These are the last survivals of the Seven Families of Furyondy. Each Duke or Duchess is sovereign within their lands, answerable only to the King. A Duke or Duchess holds the unique right to contest the King’s call for troops or taxes in the Knightly Conclave. Dukes and Duchesses may create all subsidiary titles within their lands. Dukes and Duchess are addressed as Your Noble Grace.
Counts - Counts, except for the Count of Crystalreach which is a direct tributary title of the King, are the chief nobles of the Dukedoms. They may create all subsidiary titles within their lands. They are addressed as Your Grace.
Barons - Barons, except for the Baron of Willip which is a direct tributary title of the King or a title vested in the Dauphin, are created subsidiary to any greater noble. They are the least of the Greater Nobles and may only create Lords and Knights. A Baron is addressed as Your Excellency.
Viscounts - A Viscount may only be created by a Duke or a Count. A Viscounty is often created for the heir of a Duke or Count, or as a favor to a loyal Baron. A Viscount may only create Knights, practically limiting their estates. A Viscount is addressed as Your Excellency.
Lords - Lords may be created by all superior nobility, except a Viscount. A Lordship is the fundamental organizational unit of the feudal system in Furyondy. A Lord is a superior Knight, who often is owed fealty by some number of other knights but may not create knights of his or her own. A Lord is addressed as Your Lordship.
Knight - A knight is the most basic unit of the feudal system in Furyondy and the lowest of the noble ranks. A knight holds fee directly from the noble who created him, although he or she may be landless. A knight’s fee may be transferred between superior nobles with no right to object. Practically, this is limited by the desire of greater noble lords not to see their holdings ripped apart by an uncontrolled subinfeudation. A knight’s greatest right is to sit in the Knightly Conclave, that advises the King and passes on any Ducal challenge to a call from the King for levies or taxes. A knight is addressed as Sir.
Thane - Although an ancient and obsolete title, not recognized in the Furyondy Rolls of Precedence, some nobles will still style themselves Thanes if they are descended from a particularly illustrious ancestor who was one of the Thanes of the Viceroyalty of Ferrond. There is no proper form of address for a Thane; it was customary to address a Thane as My Thane.