Merchants of Aerdy

Merchants have played a vital role in the development of Aerdy. Dominated by the House of Darmen and those it appoints to guilds and societies, merchants have been the bankrollers for many a prince’s ambitions. Because of the odd system of inheritance of money, many a ruling prince has had to borrow large sums to finance the support and expansion of his estates. Imperial edicts on what interest merchant-moneylenders can charge on borrowing has to be carefully balanced; the withdrawal of Darmen’s goodwill would have a stultifying effect on Aerdy.

The famous charisma and charm of the House of Darmen has headed off resentment among noble borrowers, though, and the scions of this house have been prepared, at times, to write off some debits to keep things sweet with princes who they might want to call in favors from at a later time.

An example of how merchants have played a powerful role in Aerdy’s growth is the Windmarch, the great series of trade fairs which travel through Aerdy west to east from Planting right through to Patchwall. The name comes from the old belief that the roads and paths used by anyone traveling from one fair to the next followed the prevailing wind, which usually comes from the west from late spring into late summer. These fairs stimulate trade and barter and generate income and wealth for many – from tolls on major roads, tavern taxes, hostelry bills, etc.

Merchants also have funded much of the growth of cities, paying for bridges, docks and wharves, and improvements which make trade easier. As a result, merchants who are not princes still hold exalted positions in Aerdy society. For example, wealthy merchants are the only men other than princes allowed to walk the central Great Way in Rauxes. Certain clothes, such as silks and guild regalia, only can be worn by merchants or guildmasters. For anyone else to wear them is a crime which is heavily punished.

However, Aerdy merchants are famously amoral. They have little in the way of principles, and they are perfectly prepared to rob a vendor or customer blind if they think they can get away with it.

This is less true when they deal with people they know. However, merchants gain kudos by fleecing some first-time or ignorant buyer of his hard-earned gold, and there is little principle to be found among these folk. Importantly, women play as active a role in trade as men, which is somewhat unusual in Aerdy life.

Lastly, there is a powerful class of “landed merchants.” These are men who have bought, or taken a very long lease upon, sizable landholdings and who in return become almost merchants in the service of their patron prince in exchange for the prince paying for the militia, men-at-arms, and the like who protect the merchant’sland holdings.

In all respects, merchants have a social standing which skilled workers and artisans do not have. This is partly historical, because of the role of Zilchus’s priesthood in the expansion of Aerdy, and partly a rub-off from royalty, since the House of Darmen has so many merchants among its number. Indeed, in addition to the “landed merchant” one might take note of the “merchant princes” which this house contains within its ranks.

The Former Great Kingdom of Aerdy

Merchants of Aerdy

Greyhawk Samaryllis Samaryllis