Jump to content

Law in Fantasy Hero


Chris Goodwin
 Share

Recommended Posts

2 hours ago, assault said:

 

The sneaky part here is "modern democracies or democratic republics". Without a definition this can end up in a Not True Scotsman fallacy.

 

FWIW, San Marino's Constitution dates back to 1600. Yes, obviously it has been modernized, but the core was there. Of course, this is in the printing press and gunpowder era, but it was a republic before this.

 

The Swiss Confederation has been through a bunch of revamps, but it traces back its existence to 1291.

 

Many ancient republics had "democratic" elements, even when they were oligarchies in reality. This includes Rome. By definition these aren't modern - but the founders of the US deliberately studied and partly copied Roman practice.

There was nothing "sneaky" about anything I said.  Sneaky would be equating ancient republics that had "democratic" elements with modern democracy or modern democratic republics.  But this may be getting off the subject.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

There was nothing "sneaky" about anything I said.  Sneaky would be equating ancient republics that had "democratic" elements with modern democracy or modern democratic republics.  But this may be getting off the subject.

 

I apologize for using "sneaky". "Tricky" would have been better.

 

The general point is that modern states often exist in continuity with earlier states, with the evolution between their modern and pre-modern forms being messy.

 

Even an exception like the US is centuries old, and exhibited distinctly pre-modern features at its foundation. In fact, it would be fair to say that the pre-modern features distinctly outweighed the "modern" ones. That is why it would be possible to plug something like an early-US style system into a fantasy world.

 

Oligarchic republic controlled by property owners? Check.

That property including slaves and indentured labourers? Check.'

Free small farmers? Check.

An active frontier, with regular conflicts with the population that lives beyond it? Check.

 

No tricorne hats, white wigs or flintlocks necessary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/28/2019 at 1:51 AM, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

Dude, I have just sat here for two hours, typing, and eventually deleted it all.

 

The answer, I think, it "no; despite thinking I could, I clearly cannot."

 

In the telling, nothing came across as truly unique (though none of it came off as "kingdom" either).  The problem is that what makes a setting truly unique or compelling isn't the overview, as much as it is the details, and those are really hard to "sum up."  

 

Let me try one more time, keeping in mind that this time I'm not even going to bother trying details:

 

Nine Clans of the arid plains is just what it sounds like: it's a collection of 9 nomadic clans that used to fight constantly, and steal and raid from each other all the time-- little more than barbarians.  Eventually a "visionary" leader was born to one of the tribes and he spent his life creating peace between his own and two other clans through trade and, eventually, the sharing of certain secrets of craftsmanship, farming, and even raiding.  He stressed most of all that no one Clan should rule all three Clans, and implemented a system by which the three leaders were always under the protection of a troupe of guards composed of equal number of guards from all Clans but his own.  One guard was changed each day, so as to slow any possible plotting.  One leader made all decisions for Three Clans, and remained "In office" for a single season, then the leader of another Clan took over for a season, etc. To ensure fair treatment of the other Clans, the new leader's first decision is always a ceremony in which he judges the previous leader's decisions and treatment of the Clans other than his own as "worthy of the ruler of Three Clans."  If he judges yes, the old leader is returned to lead his Clan and there is a great celebration, etc.  If he judges "no," there is a public execution and great celebration, etc.  Theoretically, in this way and Clan leader can stop a potential alliance between any other two leaders.

 

Over the course of the next few generations, all nine of the arid plains Clans have been united into what is known as Nine Clans.  Honestly, the larger the alignment became, the easier it was to sway the remaining Clans.  The Clans are still nomadic and responsible for their own, and still travel their traditional Clan routes, though there is much more mingling between the Clans than before, and they still meet for seasonal celebrations and the transition of power.

 

 

There.  That's one, and it went on too long and told too little.

 

One more:

 

Sway (as opposed to rule) by sharing

 

A much more educated people, far smaller in number, and decentralized as student travelers, are defacto "rulers" of  a small forest continent.  Originally arriving here to study, they found native tribes of people similar to themselves and, out of compassion, helped to heal the sick.  They were first revered as god-like beings, which to a being they denied (though it may have stuck with them that they were somehow "better" than the natives, from person to person).  They never settled with the people, and continue to travel as "students of science ("science" in this case being magic, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, all practiced as aspects of botany or meteorology).  They will happily offer advice to natives (when asked, or even volunteer when a clear problem is evident: farming techniques, harvesting of animals, preparations of medicines, or even advanced warnings of great storms), but have never forced it on them.  Over the generations, the native villages noticed that those who accepted the advice of the "wood walkers" tended to fare much better than those who didn't, and eventually the "Storm Seers" became so influential as to be sought out for counsel on all manner of issues, even as villages grew into towns, cities, and eventually small city-states, independent of but peaceful with (on the advice of the Wood Walkers) each other. These mystics (as seen by the natives) do not try or even wish to rule, but they sort of do regardless

 

 

There is a small fortification known as the Peasant's Keep.

 

A castle, ostensibly, is a fortification in which the rulers and their closest confidants live, and in which the peasants and serfs may seek shelter in times of invasion.

 

These castles are "fed" by a feudal system, peasants working farms that ultimately provide food for the nobility and its army.  The larger the nobility and its army, the greater its need for material.  Spread out too far, and even the army is charged with spreading out and making sure that the peasants are performing their due diligence for the nobility  (when they should be drilling, or at least not skipping leg day).

 

When a kingdom gets so large that the peasants realize that during an invasion they have a seventeen mile sprint to the safety of the king's fortifications, problems arise.

 

One such kingdom once existed, and it's furthest-flung reaches were so far flung that the nobility dispatched to keep it governed ordered the construction of a walled fortification at this location, as it was ridiculous to think anyone could make it to the castle.  In this fortification, the army dispatched to enforce the king's law could drill and barrack, and the local nobility tasked with running the poor in this area could live in relative comfort.  The spoils of the poor could be stored here until proper transfer was arranged, and peasants could more readily reach the safety of these walls than those of the great castle beyond the hills.

 

The military quickly realized that this fortification would well-serve a warlord and his men, and upon the completion of the fortification the put on a great feast, at which they slaughtered the various dukes and governors and lay claim to the small castle and the peasants beyond.  Things were never great for peasants, but after two separate battles between the renegade mercenaries and the distant king, things were downright _bad_ for the peasants.  A daring raid had resulted in the food stores of the king's castle being poisoned  (largely though magic), and the king's men became desperate, laying absolute siege to the small keep to gain access to the stores within.  During the battle, the storehouses were burned.  No one had anything worth fighting for, and those were weren't dead or poor simply _left_.  The king's influence dropped considerably, back to a supportable level enjoyed by his ancestors.

 

The peasants slowly repaired the smaller castle, expanding and reinforcing it as time went on, and using it largely as a store house for their harvests.  They take turns training as an army, but today exist largely on trade with caravans and the king up on the hill.   To date, Peasant's Keep has never been taken: the owners fight with a ferocity not seen in any paid mercenary, and they have learned a great deal about repelling invasion (step one being "invade no one else.")

 

 

Meh.

 

Still not working.

 

 

In short:  the king and feudal system doesn't work unless you're willing to let it.   A world filled with kingdoms is a world filled with cowards.  I have no doubts about the reality of a world full of cowards; I really don't.  However, I adventure so that I may _leave_ it once in a while.

 

 

Duke

 

 

Did I just read aright.

You're enraged at the people of of the Middle Ages, because they were all cowards? 

I've heard everything now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/27/2019 at 1:10 PM, assault said:

 

I apologize for using "sneaky". "Tricky" would have been better.

 

The general point is that modern states often exist in continuity with earlier states, with the evolution between their modern and pre-modern forms being messy.

 

Even an exception like the US is centuries old, and exhibited distinctly pre-modern features at its foundation. In fact, it would be fair to say that the pre-modern features distinctly outweighed the "modern" ones. That is why it would be possible to plug something like an early-US style system into a fantasy world.

 

Oligarchic republic controlled by property owners? Check.

That property including slaves and indentured labourers? Check.'

Free small farmers? Check.

An active frontier, with regular conflicts with the population that lives beyond it? Check.

 

No tricorne hats, white wigs or flintlocks necessary.

OK, maybe I'm missing your point.  Or maybe you're missing mine. Or both.  Or perhaps I wasn't clear in my earlier post.  My point is this:  modern style democracies, or democratic republics, or whatever you choose to call these modern-day forms of government, seem to me to be very out-of-place in most fantasy settings.  There are societal ideas and structures and technologies and values that go hand-in-hand with governmental forms, and if the societal ideas and structures and technologies and values don't match the forms of government, the world seems unrealistic and is hard to relate to and it makes the willful suspension of disbelief difficult.  The fantasy world becomes less immersive.

 

If the majority of the people in the world are illiterate peasant farmers, and there's no printing press, and no education system, and no religion or other source of values that places justice and freedom as supreme values, then it makes no sense for there to be a government that outlaws slavery and guarantees freedom of speech and the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers, and so forth.

 

On the other hand, you could have a modern-style fantasy, like Harry Potter, in which there's a big government bureaucracy, complete with a fair amount of corruption and incompetence.

 

The government has to match the nature of life in the society and the setting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, jury trials go as far back as Classical Athens. Quite a few pre-industrial regimes abolished slavery at least in part and for a time, including Athens under Solon, the Qin and Xin dynasties of China, Ashoka of the Maurya Empire of India, early Christian Ireland, Norman England, and the Holy Roman Empire. Of course our Western concepts of democracy and republicanism took inspiration from Greece and Rome, although decisions there were made by bodies of "citizens" which excluded many people. The thing of Viking and Medieval Scandinavia was an assembly of all freemen who voted to select chiefs, enact laws, and hold trials. It won't take much research to find more examples.

 

Naturally, none of those lines up with our modern concepts of liberty, equality under the law, and human rights. In execution they also tended to be more local than across an entire nation, or were often transitory between periods of more autocratic rule. But recognizable antecedents existed very long before industrialization and widespread literacy, and those forms would not be out of place in a pre-industrial fantasy world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And how many of those societies did not have a hereditary monarch and something akin to a feudalistic class of nobles?  I'm certainly not an expert on all history everywhere, but as I understand it, Classical Athens had a hereditary king.  The dynasties of China had - well, as soon as you say the word "dynasty", you've got a hereditary king.  And of course, you use the word "empire" to describe many of these, which means an emperor.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but emperors are not elected.  Norman England had a king and lesser nobles.  The Holy Roman Empire had a king and lesser nobles.  The Vikings had a king - though I guess he would have been called a "jarl".

 

Like I said in my first post on this thread:  not all hereditary monarchies are the same.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's rare that all of these "progressive" ideas occur in the same society at the same time. My point is that they do occur.

 

And Athens did have a king during its early history, and a landed noble class. But by the Classical period the king had been abolished, and their governance was by assembly of voting citizens regardless of "noble" or "common" status, which appointed officials to various posts. That system persisted for centuries, with brief interregnums by tyrants or oligarchies, until restricted by the conquering Macedonians, and effectively abolished under the Roman Empire. But other contemporary city-states of Greece also established democratic regimes similar to Athens; we just don't have as many historical details for them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...