Aristocrats of Aerdy

As noted, not all princes are landholders, but almost all major landholders are princes (with some “secondary aristocracy”; see below).

No man can hold a land grant without the permission of the overking, and this prevents any freeman-peasant from becoming a landed aristocrat. Technically, as in so many other lands in the Flanaess, the overking grants landholdings to princes. Historically this amounted simply to the overking acknowledging land ownership by houses, and accepting the responsibility of mediating disputes about such ownership.

Since Aerdy is a huge land, the princes then appointed landholding liegemen, sometimes lesser princes. Such liegemen either leased land from princes, bought it (very unusual, but the House of Darmen made important gains this way), or were even more rarely given a land grant by a grateful prince in return for an important service. Almost always, whatever the arrangement, the liegeman had permanent obligations to the prince – payment of taxes, and making some or all of his soldiery available in times of need, were the usual burdens.

These liegemen form the bulk of the “secondary aristocracy” of Aerdy; the Dukes, Barons, Counts, and so on. Some are genuinely powerful in their own right, with sizable estates and large castles. Others are petty despots who paid a goodly sum to a prince to grant them such a title. Only the overking, or a prince who is head of a royal house, can grant such titles; poor princes are often willing to sell a title.

The House of Darmen has a strong representation in this secondary aristocracy, often through the women of the house who marry outside of royalty and whose husbands then buy or acquire a barony or duchy. The important point here is that these secondary titles mean relatively little. A baron in Furyondy is a powerful man with a sizeable army and much land; in Aerdy, he may have but a few acres and a couple of dozen mercenary thugs at his back. So, just as with princes, other aristocrats come in all shapes and sizes.

Orders of knighthood are less important in Aerdy than in lands such as Furyondy and the Theocracy of the Pale. Questing knights bravely battling dangers and perils are uncommon in a land without mountains or hills, largely civilized, and mostly comprised of great swathes of arable land. Dragon-killing isn’t easy when the dragons just aren’t there to be killed. Likewise, moralistic knights, such as the Templars of the Theocracy, are thin on the ground in a nation which has slowly slid into degeneracy for many generations.

The few orders of knighthood which exist are special, limited in number, and without much influence. The Knights Majestic of the Companion Guard are impressive servants of Ivid, to be sure, but beyond Rauxes they are of little note. Likewise, many local rulers have knights in their service, but these are “household knights.” There is nothing to compare with the Knights of the Hart in Furyondy, Veluna, and farther abroad to the far west, for example. Finally, one might note that in a land where to be a baron or count may mean little or nothing, even some princes are paupers. The title of knight is hardly an ambition many cherish in their hearts.

The Former Great Kingdom of Aerdy

Aristocrats of Aerdy

Greyhawk Samaryllis Samaryllis