Postfest V, Part II: The Royal Progress
Date: Tue, August 09, 2005
Topic: Peoples & Culture
Guess who's coming to dinner? The King! And he may be staying awhile after. A few days? A few weeks? A few months? Better have plenty of fine wine, fine victuals and plenty of entertainment laid on. And of course, you get to pick up the tab! Lucky you. Must have done something special to deserve such royal treatment. Heh.
The Royal Progress
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung; aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Date: Varies (Usually in the late spring or early summer months)
Location: Flanaess wide
The Royal Progress is the name given to the annual visitation of the nobles of the realm by the king, queen or other sovereign. The Royal Progress will begin in the capital and over the course of a month’s time the sovereign will visit a succession of nobles before returning to the capital. Of course, the sovereign will be accompanied by his usual retainers, many members of court and an armed escort fully commensurate with the prestige of the royal personage. While it is technically an honor to play host to the sovereign, the host noble must shoulder the expense of housing, feeding and entertaining the royal personage and their entire entourage for the length of their stay. It is entirely possible to go nearly bankrupt playing host or hostess. The king will be fully aware of this.
The Royal Progress allows a sovereign to inspect his vassals lands accompanied by a fully armed and armored host under the guise of a social visit. It is not possible to refuse to play host to the sovereign or to limit their stay. This makes matters difficult for a noble if they have anything to hide or conceal. More critically, the Royal Progress costs the host precious resources and cash reserves that might have been put to other uses. The sovereign will carefully calculate who he or she will visit and for how long. If the intent is simply to pay honor or respect to the host noble, the visit will be short. If the intent is to remind a host noble who holds the greater power, the visit will be longer. If the intent is to punish a noble who is out of favor, a visit may drag on for weeks, even months, beyond the normal duration of the Progress. The Royal Progress is both something to be sought and something to be feared, a double edged blade.
In any given year, the Royal Progress will not visit more than a small fraction of the nobility of the land. It is not uncommon for a queen to take the king’s place in the Royal Progress. Less frequently, a prince or princess of the blood royal may make the Progress. However, in such cases, the prince or princess is almost always the heir to the crown.
The host is expected to provide the visiting royal personage with the finest accommodations available, even if that means surrendering their own quarters. Anything less is the gravest insult. The host must also provide the finest food and drink available at every meal. If the visiting royal is displeased with the food or drink, they may loudly complain without any loss of their prestige. More than one complaint during a visit will mean grave trouble for the host. Entertaining the sovereign is also the duty of the host. Holding a hunt is expected. Hosting a tourney in the honor of the sovereign, with a valuable prize for the winner, is expected. So to, every night must see a feast with dancing, music and bardic or theatrical performances. It is very expensive to play host one’s supreme and sovereign lord.
In larger kingdoms, great nobles may also hold a Progress. It will not be styled “royal” in such cases but a Ducal or County Progress. None other than the blood royal, dukes or counts may hold a progress by tradition. The greatest of these progresses have been held in the former Great Kingdom, where the Overking, the Duke of the North Province and the Duke of South Province each held annual, months long progresses. At times, these progresses were held simultaneously, approximately social armies on the move, virtually indistinguishable from an army in terms of the sheer logistics. In 506 CY, the three worthies of the Great Kingdom actually met together during their respective progresses in what has come to be known as The Meeting of the Cloth of Gold, a reference to the wealth and power on display. This term is now more generally applied to any meeting between sovereigns or palatinate nobility during the course of a Royal Progress.
The only semi-regular Meeting of the Cloth of Gold occurs when the Royal Progresses of the King of Nyrond, the sovereign of the Duchy of Urnst and the sovereign of the County of Urnst all coincide and meet. Such occurs perhaps once every four years. The location varies between the three states to avoid unnecessarily burdening any one of the three nations. At such times, there is no greater assemblage of nobility in the Flanaess, as dignitaries from across the Flanaess flock to such a grand display. It is rumored that, four years hence, the sovereigns of Nyrond, the Duchy and County of Urnst, will meet upon the Cloth of Gold with the King of Furyondy, who will conduct the first seaborne Royal Progress to join the assembled host. This rumor is taken quite seriously in Ahlissa and is even said to have caused comment in Niole Dra. The prospect of either of the sovereigns of the latter two states attending is nearly unthinkable, but not impossible.