Twilight Realms Law
The majority of the laws of the Realms is based on the Law of Belkazar or commonly referred to as The Kingdom. With the separation of the lands from being duchies under the rule of the Emperor some standard laws have changed. Not in the idea of right and wrong, but in how justice is served.
Nython has a stipulation in their laws of Clan Law. Where many of the surrounding lands have opted for a nobility stance, Nython still uses the clan structure. The Clan heads word is law. Clan heads are arbitrators in all things from theft to poor clan behavior. The largest deeds they have the right over is a marriage between anyone and to dispel someone from the clan for a breaking the faith with the clan membership.
The leader of the clan does attempt to be fair in all proceedings, being closely related or allied with the head of your clan is important.
Clans rule most of the time succession. It is a patriarchal society, so it will fall to the eldest son in most cases. There have been times when a daughter or someone outside the immediate family would be chosen by the Elder Council. The Council is made up of members of the clan known for their wisdom, not for wealth.
Bissel practices, much to its detriment, the Law of Revenge. It can also be called Vendetta. This idea sprang from a weak central government, the throne being left empty for generations. The families, now nobles decided issues amongst themselves, to the point of small wars fought.
Wereguild is based on the amount of coin a person could make over a lifetime. Meaning a noble’s life is worth more than a farmer. The amount paid is negotiable and times have occurred where I craftsmen’s family has been paid more than a knight’s.
The issue with Revenge Law is that it causes long-standing feuds between families. Often over the most trivial of matters. Power real or imagined is the currency. The wronged are often not served by justice since the perpetrator may intimidate the offended family into silence with a simple threat of more harm.
Plus, feuds could go on for generations (Think Hatfield and the McCoy’s if you do not understand this reference, refer to Bing.)
Feudal Law extends throughout Silverton, Semptius, and Istika. It is both a top down system and in some ways fair. The nobility is tasked with giving out justice, the lower rungs of the social order, made to be kept in order by the law. Nobles are considered superior; the laws protect their rights over most others. It doesn’t matter if a person is Mage, Merchant, or Craftsmen, Feudal Law protects the Nobility first.
There have been some changes, the minor nobility has been able to push laws through, The Thing, the legislative house made up of nobles from Silverton. Istika and Semptius keep a close eye on laws of the lands of its neighbors. One never knows when a good or bad idea might come to light.
Obligations of Nobility When a person accepts a Letter of Nobility and a fiefdom, this person becomes the vassal or liegeman of their liege or lord. Simpler terms, if you accept land, you owe the person that granted or gave you that land service. Part of that service is administrating justice on the land given to you. The reminder needs to be there are usually people living on the land; they have been there longer than you, and things have a natural way of taking place.
Justice High or low justice is in the prevue of the Lord. High Justice is the death sentence for the crime and needs to be arbitrated by a Duke or higher. Death is not takin lightly for crimes. Those dealing with murder, treason, and horse theft are the ones kicked upstairs to the Duke or higher. If the accused is also of the nobility, it can be judged by a Duke, usually though the ruler of the land i.e. King, Queen etc. is the one to hear the charges and make the decision.
Low Justice is anything else. This type can be dealt with on a local basis, even a traveling Itinerant Knight or Bishop can deal out findings and decisions. Some countries, Semptius, have a traveling court system with a charter from the Queen to deal with Low and High Justice.
Defense Is the responsibility of the local lord. The lord is tasked with protecting the citizens of his fief, providing a local police force, and in times of trouble or war, he is to provide the pre-approved number of soldiers to fight away from the fiefdom. The amount and type of soldiers is stated within the charter. These can run from a local militia to a specific number of knights or anything in between. Money can be given in lieu of service for the hiring of mercenaries. The normal time for service to the King is 60 days, states of emergency can be invoked to be for the duration of the emergency.
Merchet is a marriage tax placed on anyone within the fiefdom that is getting wed. This is in addition to the right to grant and forbid the marriage in the first place. Often this tax is overlooked at the serf level, the tax is given to the local religious organization or to assist with paying for the wedding. The Bride’s family would pay this. The tax is usually 5% of the holding’s annual income. In some cases, it can be as high as 10%. This is done by the Bride’s family to show respect, or it is levied by the Liege to keep a troublesome liegeman under control.
Aids are levied when the son or daughter of the feudal lord want to marry. An Aid is raised to fund the marriage. It can also be called to fund a ransom demand. The King can call for one to raise a castle, a war, or to pay off large loans. Lesser lords do not do this as it will call into question the wealth of the fief.
Heriot is a death tax. Minor nobility and serfs the best animal on the estate/farm or the cash equivalent. Large estates, nobles are assessed at the current net revenue of the lands. This tax payment can be spread over years, not to be exceed 10.
Wards A ward is a minor or a widow who needs assistance in running the estate. A minor reaches their majority at the age of 14. A widow is considered no longer one when she remarries. It is often the practice for a liege to overwork an estate to the point of bankruptcy. It is considered bad form to require a Heriot.
The Feudal Landscape. The makeup of feudal lands.
Slaves. There are no slaves within the Twilight Realms except in Nython. Slaves have no legal rights. Silverton does not recognize slavery, any Nython slave brought to within its territories is considered free by the Silverton authorities. This was one of the causes of the Late War. (Also known as the Slave War)
Serfs. Serfs are tied to the land. They are not slaves as they do have some rights. Serfs make up 70% of the land in places like Bissel, 50% in Silverton, and over 90% in Nython. There are no serfs in Ceylon, for the most part Ceylon does not meet the majority of the classifications in this treatise.
Serfs are Freeholders hit upon hard times, they arranged with the liege/noble of their area, could not get themselves out of debt and find themselves firmly tied to the land due to the debt. Leaving the land is considered running out on a debt and the noble lord has rights to gain his investment back or the life of the serf. It is also a way for a serf in Nython to be sold into slavery to pay the aforementioned debt.
Freeholders. Freeholders have the right to move about the country and are not tied to the land directly. They hold land with no serf obligation. They farm the land, give a percentage of the crop as rent, this is known as “Farming the Land”. The difference between a Serf and a Freeholder, is their legal status. They can come and go as they please, it would be to their detriment to ignore the will of the legal lord of that land, but besides the rent they owe no legal service. Freeholders may also appeal the lord’s justice. There is no right of inheritance, in some ways a Serf has security over a Freeholder.
Yeoman are Freeholders that hold land and might also be of the beginning of the Middle Class. Crafters, Guildmembers, and Guild Masters are all considered being in the Yeoman class. Silverton has the largest percentage of Yeoman, Nython the least. Bissel has more than Nython, but not by much. Semptius and Istika are close in numbers.
Yeoman own the land they work, usually in the range of 50-120 acres of land. They might have some Freeholders and Serfs working the land along with their own paid people. Yeoman, Crafters, Guildmembers are expected to supply men or gold for the defense of the Kingdom. They will be requested for troops for warfare outside of the Kingdom.
As mentioned briefly before there are no Slaves, Serfs, or Freemen in the elven lands of Ceylon. Elves have their own style of justice that will be found in the appendices.
The Free States of Goldia and Greyton even thought they are within the borders of Old Nython, they see themselves as allies of Silverton and Free City States. Goldia has an impressive water and flying navy. Their citizens are all considered being Yeoman. Goldia is ruled by Morgana and a Council. Greyton calls itself a Republic and can in the times of emergency appoint or elect a Dictator for a specific length of time.
Royal Justice This is the will of the King, or Queen. The preservation of local customs is important to the rulers, uniform law though has emerged. These, the “Common Law” is a body of legal traditions that is shared by most of the Twilight Realms.
Lands are often broken up into geographical areas as follows: Kingdom, Duchy, County, Dale, Free Charter, Borough, and Steading.
The royal court system is open to any free member of the society. The Royal Court system follows a separate, but equal legal system. The Royal Courts are run by the Sherriff and are supported by a Bailiff. There is normally one Sherriff per county, and one Bailiff per Borough, with ten Boroughs making up a county.
If a crime occurs and the local ruler, i.e. Duke does not want to hear the case it then goes to the Royal Court System. Most often, these are cases of High Justice. A Felony, or a Crime Against the King’s Peace. Often the question is asked “Does anyone know of a felony or a felon living with the community, A jury is picked, sworn and a court is convened.
The Sherriff hears the case, acting as a judge for the case, the Bailiff carries out the sentence rendered by the court.
There can also be a Royal Writ, which demands that a case be heard by the Sherriff.
Appeals are also handled at this level. An appeal also moves up the ladder all the way to the King himself. A decision made in the Borough may be appealed in a Free Charter, never the other way around.
Forest Law Is the law of the Elven Nation and will not be covered in this document.
Town Law Most if not all towns are broken up into either an area of population as in a county seat or a Duchy’s castle. Many towns with the Restoration have applied and have been granted Free Charters. The two larges are Goldia and Greyton. A Free Charter is completely outside the law of the Feudal system.
Those on the ruling council of the Free Charters are either termed Councilmember or Aldermen. A group of at least 3 Councilmembers or Alderman are needed to make/grant a decision. Most of the Free Charters are populated with freemen.
Temple Inquest There is very little difference between a Royal Court and a Temple Court proceeding. The difference is that the Temple Courts deal with religious doctrine while the Royal Court deals with Common Law.
There can be an overlap when it comes to taxes, theft, and murder on church lands of if the accused or the victim is a clergy member.
A common test of purity as an example is a Trial by Water. The person accused is dropped into consecrated water, the person sinks? That person is innocent and rescued before death. A floating person is considered guilty, and the penalty for the crime is applied. Most often in a case dealing with Trial by Water, the penalty will be death by hanging for a freeman, death by headsman axe for a noble.
Itinerant or traveling bishops uphold the law. Arch-Bishops are the church members most often appealed too. The leader of a church has the highest authority and is often equal to a Duke.
Trials by Inquest
Trial by Oath. Any Freemen can request this at the Steading level of Justice. Often though this is done at the Borough level. Often someone at the Borough level is involved in the dispute. This can be over taxes or animal theft.
Trial by The Sword; This is Trial by Combat, usually reserved for the nobility. A Merchant can hire someone with noble papers to argue the case, fight, for them.
In all nations except Nython torture is not an accepted practice.
All nations accept the ban of Outlaw. Papers are published quarterly and shared within the Twilight Realms and a bounty if often posted for each offender. There are some Outlaw Courts, the Slave Council of Nython for example that dispense justice, of a sort that is not accepted in other countries. No one except Nython recognizes the Slave Courts and count them on par with the Temple Courts.