The Birth of the Anthropocene Era (1600-2065)
The Third World War and the End of the 21st Century (2066-2092)
The Rise of the Commonwealth (2093-2110)
The Commonwealth Era (2111-2196)
The Orphan's War and the Fall of the Commonwealth (2197-2225)
The Dark Times (2225-2290)
The Glorious Restoration (2290-2490+)
Fossil fuels allowed for a massive explosion of wealth not tied to the land; in essence it was the equivalent of plundering a huge stored treasure trove of energy. With society shifting away from fossil fuels and back to a solar-based civilization, the main determination of wealth is based on how much of the sun's energy can be caught. One can't dig down to find more sun like you can with coal. The only way to expand one's wealth base is through widening one's 'catchment area'. That is, through having more land than one already has.
The Glorious Restoration organised and typified the system of government that many countries now use, particularly that of what had been the West. This system is known by different names, such as 'The Estate System' or 'Soldalism', but in essence it is an aristocratic system where a good deal of the economic and military power is centralized in the hands of a land-owning elite. This section details the four established Estates that operate in a Soldalistic society.
Note: The following applies primarily to the majority of Western states, specifically that of Australia. Other states may operate differently in minor or major ways or may not even use the Estate System.
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Those who Rule.
The First Estate, the Lords are the military and economic elite of the Soldalistic system. The Lords are the landowners, controlling essentially all of the productive land there is to own. They control the production of all growing things such as food, forests, clothing fibers; as well as all energy sources, primarily solar energy but geothermal and tidal as well. This provides them with a great wealth base, which they use to maintain their territories, develop their territories, and of course sustain their military capacity which is used to protect the other Estates. Generally speaking, the Lords provide the other Estates with protection, energy and food; in turn a large amount of the outputs of the other Estates are done to satisfy the needs of the Lords.
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All Lords belong to a Dynastic House. A Dynastic House's members are defined as all the legal descendants of the founding member of the House- and so many of them easily number into the hundreds of members. Of these, only a small fraction actually possess the titles to land, with the rest either waiting to inherit or not in a position to inherit at all. At the head of every House is the Lord Senior, who is (almost always) the oldest direct living descendant of the founder. The Lord Senior typically controls the House's most traditional (and largest) territories and customarily should rely on the respect and loyalty of every other member. Furthermore, a Lord Senior is legally considered to be a Fount of Honour, which means he may officially give Lordly title and land to a lesser such as a Capital or a Worker.
The territory that a Lord directly controls (as opposed to territory that has been tenured out to vassals) is termed as a demesne. The actual physical residence of the Lord and their family is called a Manor. The greater Manors can be small cities in and of themselves, heavily fortified and possessing populations in the thousands.
Every House has several indicators of their status that hold legal weight. The three primary indicators are the House Seal and Signet, the House Colours and the House Chronicle of Deeds and Names.
The House Seal is an emblem unique to the House, often of an animal or object. House Seals are built into House Signets, which are a small collection of rings made for the landholding members of a House. Each ring is unique and contains a highly complex coded computerized mechanism within the Signet, which contains a blueprint of its owner's DNA. This is used for identification: when pressed against a Seal ID Reader, so long as the wielder's DNA matches that of the Signet, it activates and a signal is transmitted, allowing access. This process allows for double-security in that simply stealing a Signet isn't enough, nor can access be achieved by a twin or clone unless they manage to somehow steal the Signet. It also allows for identification if lost. Signet rings are gold for Lords Solar and jade for Lords Verdant.
The most visible indicators are the House Colours, a coat of arms that visually differentiates them from the other Lords. Colours combine the House Seal with one or more colours, typically formed into patterns, and often accompanied by a motto (sometimes in an old language). The Colours and mottoes of greater Houses are often very well known, and grant thematic imagery to their architecture. The House Colours are worn on uniforms and are displayed prominently during Lordly Wars and Remonstrances. The colours of Lords Solar are framed in gold, and Lords Verdant in dark green.
The most legally important indicator a House possesses is their Chronicle of Deeds and Names. All Houses, great and small, possess one true Chronicle, and often several copies. The Chronicles detail the history of the House, their titles and possessions, their claims, awards, positions, and most importantly their members. Every member, living or dead, is recorded in the House Chronicle from the time of their birth. So long as a Lord has their name in their House Chronicle they are afforded all the rights and protections of a Lord; should their name be stricken from the records as punishment for a crime, then they are truly Estateless, lower than the low, and they may be slain without it being considered a crime. Such Estateless people must beg clemency from a higher power in order to re-enter society, and even then they may be condemned to exist as a Worker for the rest of their lives.
All Houses fall into one of two divisions: the Houses Solar and the Houses Verdant.
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Lords Solar and Lords Verdant
Every Lordly House is either a House Solar or a House Verdant, and the members of these Houses are known as Lords Solar or Lords Verdant. Although both divisions are Lords, their roles are significantly different.
The Lords Solar derive their power and wealth from energy production. They produce and generate all electric energy on which all of society is based. The overwhelming majority of this power comes from solar energy, but wind and geothermal energy are also used. The territories of Lords Solar thus tend to be concentrated in areas that receive the strongest and most consistent sunlight, such as, for example, deserts, which has led to the curious existence of a breed of aristocrats who are born and raised in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth- the same places that now prove to be such a boon.
The Lords Verdant, by comparison, draw their prosperity from more traditional uses of the land, for the Lords Verdant rule over that which grows. The most obvious form of this is in food cultivation, especially staple crops (corn, wheat, rice, etc), fruits and vegetables, as well as livestock such as cattle or pigs. Fish, seals, whales and other aquatic beasts also fall into this category as well. However, this is hardly the only form of production the Lords Verdant oversee, for they also draw wealth from growing and selling fibers such as wool, cotton, flax or silk; from woodlands for timber and lumber; from liquids such as water, alcohol, milk and natural oils; coffee beans and tea; natural drugs such as opium; and a dozen other different benefits. Unsurprisingly, Lords Verdant are most common in fertile regions with access to water; generally speaking there tend to be more Lords Verdant than Lords Solar, but since each Lord Verdant tends to specialise in a few forms of production over trying to do everything at once, the territories of the Lords Verdant tend to be more fragmented and divided, but also more populated.
Because of this division, a sort of symbiotic relationship has formed. Because Lords Solar tend to live in inhospitable areas, they and their servants, employees and technicians are amongst the largest of markets for food exports. And because everything, even the cultivation and harvesting the Lords Verdant do, relies on electricity, they rely on the energy exports of the Lords Solar. Thus, a system of mutual reliance exists that ideally creates reluctance amongst Lords Solar and Lords Verdant to fight one another.
This symbiosis is not only a natural evolution, but also a legal standard. All Houses are either Solar or Verdant, and whilst they may intermarry, a House may not inherit and keep territories from a House of the opposite kind- a House Solar may not inherit the fertile plains of a Verdant, for example. If a Lord does inherit territory of the wrong type, they are compelled to dispose of it in one of several ways: they may sell it, often to a junior member of the House from which it was inherited; they may petition the Royal Council that the land be converted into land of the right type, but this rarely works and requires the Lord to argue that the land is naturally more suited to the purpose; or finally the Lord may grant the land to one of their relatives, vassals or friends. In turn, that person becomes the founder of a new cadet House of the opposite type. Furthermore, the beneficiary also relinquishes any claim to land they may have inherited from their original House.
A Lord who fails to comply with this directive faced the harshest penalties the law has to offer. They are Delegitimized, and are legally stripped of their titles and positions. The House to which they belong must formally erase the offender from their Chronicle; failure to comply means that the entire House is erased from the realm's Grand Chronicle, essentially delegitimizing the entire House. An illegitimate House has absolutely no legal protection, and any contracts, vows or deals made to them may be ignored without punishment; most dangerously however, every single member of that House, as well as any servants or Vassals who still maintain loyalty to them, may be captured, tortured, killed or otherwise harmed freely, and their lands may be seized and incorporated into the territories of other Houses.
Marriage and Inheritance
Intermarriage is widespread amongst the Lordly Houses, for obvious reasons. Marriage creates alliances, forms ties that bring two families together, allows them to pool their resources… And of course, can sometimes lead to boons of inheritance for one family or another. Unsurprisingly, various laws, rules, customs and rights can make marriage a complex, confusing and even dangerous process.
Marriage proposals between Houses are formalised, official acts, treated much more like an agreement or contract between two companies than a declaration of love. Indeed, the majority of marriage proposals are drafted, agreed upon and formalised with the two participants having met no more than a handful of times. In fact, it is not uncommon for two children to be betrothed to each other a decade or more before either of them become legal adults. Marriage proposals are a compact of cooperation first and foremost, a transaction second, and a path to happiness maybe a distant third.
Proposing a marriage is simple. A member of one House approaches a member of another House and broaches the idea that they or a relative should marry someone from the other House. The member need not be (and rarely is) the person actually being put forward; many negotiations are done by the Lord Seniors, but sometimes it is merely the parents of the potential betrothed who negotiate- after all, some Houses are huge and the Lord Senior cannot be expected to care about the fortunes of some unimportant grand-nephew-cousin 85th in line to inherit. Either way, if the other party is found to be receptive, then proper negotiations begin- the most exciting and treacherous part of the marriage proposal. Indeed, it is common for proposals to be offered, then for the parties to barter for more suitable or prestigious matches than the one originally requested; in some cases, neither of the original potential betrothed are actually betrothed, with the honour instead going to a sibling or other relative.
The most important element of a marriage proposal by far is the question of Primacy- that is, which member of the marriage union is considered to be the legal superior. A spouse with Primacy is legally enabled to make decisions for their spouse and children, exert final control over their household - including finances and employment- and furthermore, all children of the union belong to the House of the parent with Primacy. Thus, Primacy is essential if an heir is to continue the family lineage. Primacy negotiations can be bitter, brutal and cutthroat; the great houses often use every tool, bribe and threat to ensure primacy for especially prestigious and useful pairings. However, it would not be fair for merely one House to gain and the other to lose; Houses whose betrothed gain Primacy are expected to pay various prices for the privilege: primarily, a large transaction will be paid as a 'spousal price' to the secondary House. The House with Primacy is also expected to pay a smaller dowry to the couple directly to allow them to establish their separate household. These payments can be made through money, through goods or equipment (a common practice amongst Great Houses is to grant their candidate a dowry consisting of a Cataphract) or even, occasionally, through land. The 'proper' amount for these transactions varies considerably, but tends to be based on the comparative wealth of the two Houses involved. Great Houses typically pay more, as one would expect, and they pay much more when dealing with other Great Houses; but such are the wealth of Great Houses that even a 'moderate' sum to them would be a huge boon for a lesser House. Some small Houses manage to supplement their income nicely through focusing on breeding desirable children in order to fetch a high price from a Great House.
Inheritance is an important element of a Lord's life, considering that it involves the transfer of one's possessions to one of their relatives on death. The rules, customs and laws regarding inheritance for the Lords are extremely important to understand, since clever use of them can provide untold rewards, and ignorance can destroy entire Houses.
Lordly inheritance adheres to a legal framework known as Primogeniture. In this system, when a Lord dies, their possessions, titles etc. are all passed on to their eldest living child. It does not matter if this child is male or female, or belongs to a different House. For example, a man- for this example, named John- with six children- named, from oldest to youngest, Mark, Lucy, Alex, Rose, Will and Tyler- will give all of his possessions to his eldest child- Mark-, his heir, on death. If Mark is already dead, then the possessions pass onto the second eldest- Lucy-, and so on.
This law seems simple enough at first, but there are hidden complications, especially when it comes to establishing the 'line of succession' (the order in which one's descendents inherit). For example, the principle of primogeniture is also applied to one's children when calculating the line of succession. What this means whilst the eldest child is the heir in the line of succession, all the titles and claims of that child pass onto their descendants -first- before they pass onto the child's siblings. Using the example from above, if John died, but Mark was also dead, then the possessions would pass to John's eldest living child, Lucy… unless the Mark had a living child of his own, in which case Mark's child would inherit instead before Lucy. This also means that, if through some stroke of misfortune, all of John's children and their children were dead when John died, his inheritance would be traced through his eldest sibling's descendants first, then through his second eldest's, so on and so forth.
The strength of the primogeniture system is that it tends to solidify a House's control over resources, land and titles. If John marries his first two children off into marriages where they retain primacy, and they then begin having children, then John will feel far more secure in marrying Alex, Rose, Will and Tyler into subordinate marriages in exchange for generous spousal prices, or sending them to Universities to cultivate ties with the Erudites. After all, before the marriages, Alex was third in line to inherit; but if Mark and Lucy both have three children each, then Alex will suddenly be ninth in line to inherit; the chance of him inheriting is miniscule.
The weaknesses of the primogeniture system, however, is that its strict rules mean that it can be difficult to prevent someone utterly incapable from inheriting. For example, if John dies, he may have six healthy, adult children who can take his place; but if Mark is already dead, instead of the power going to the experienced Lucy, it could end up in the hands of an unprepared youth, or even a small child. Furthermore, the tracing of inheritance through the lineage of the oldest child means that most of a Lord's children are 'spares' who will never inherit. Thus, that Lord tends to pour their time and energy into their heir, whilst his other children are relatively neglected. This can breed jealousy, bitterness and anger in larger families, leading even to feuds, plots and schisms. Thus, a Lord may be encouraged to have many children in order to secure his bloodline, but conversely the more children he has, the more chances there are of his heir's siblings making things harder for the heir in the long run. Keeping one's non-heir children happy can be highly difficult; many Lords try to make their children feel loved, and indeed many do love their children, but few of them back it up with anything so close to equal spread of resources- especially if those resources involve rare or expensive devices, such as Cataphracts. More powerful lords can enfeoff (grant them lesser titles and lands) their 'spares', but there's rarely enough to satisfy everyone, and in the end, the heir will almost certainly end up with the titles that make them superior to their siblings.
Finally, there is the fact that this system means that unexpected inheritances are rare, they can and do happen. If Mark, Lucy and all of their children suddenly die in a single accident, that means that Alex is the new heir, even though he's already the subordinate in a marriage to another House! There are few ways out of this- divorce is a matter for the Royal Council when it comes to Lords, and if Alex has children, then it doesn't matter- his eldest will inherit, and John's lands and titles will pass out of his House. What this means is that some Lords are cautious and will wait to marry their younger children off until their heir has produced children, which can have the unintended consequence of infuriating a younger child as their life is put on hold for something that they have no control over. The most dangerous outcome of all this, however, is the fact that in the end, such occurrences- where all of the primactic children and their children die, leaving a subordinate child to inherit- are naturally rare… Yet some may desire them, leading to plots and schemes to bring the outcome about deliberately. Thus, whilst the younger children may bemoan their secondary status, the life of a prominent heir and their children is a necessarily paranoid one, with a deficit on trust and a surplus of possible threats.
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At the heart of every Lord's life, whether the mightiest of Lord Seniors to the humblest of Bannerets, is the concept of Lordly Honour. Simply put, it is a code by which all Lords are expected to live by and against which their actions are judged.
Grievances, Remonstrances and Reconciliations
It is inevitable that, between the plotting, the conspiracy, the