The Flying Dutchman
[01.6] Nobility, Symbols and Ceremonies
The customs governing the nobility of Caelain has several unique elements which are described in this article, pertaining the symbols of office and certain ceremonies pertaining to such office. Generally, Caelish nobility is separated into three classes: Faeral's line, which consists of all Faeralds who are children of the present or a previous Lord or King, the higher nobility (often referred to as simply "nobility"), consisting of the Lords Bannermen and Faeralds who are not children of a High Lord or King, and the gentry, the lower ranks of nobility consisting of those of noble blood below the rank of a Banner House.
The evolution of the Caelish nobility
The first Caelish aristocrats were the chiefs in the island's dominant clan culture, under which the island of Caelain proper was divided into a number of smaller tribes, of which the two largest and most influential were the Caeles and the Vortes. The chiefs of those tribes were also referred to as Lords (such as Lord Uthaer of the Caeles, Faeral's father). Several of the lords of smaller tribes pledged their allegiance to one of the larger tribes, later developing into the institution of the Lords Bannermen.
After Brennan Faerald united the island, the old clan system gradually gave way to a landed aristocracy centered around Brennan's "Lords Bannered Men", men who he, as King, had granted a noble banner and thus elevated to the nobility. Many of the oldest Caelish noble Houses are descended from ancient lines of clan nobility, with the Faeralds of Caerthynas (themselves originating in Faeral, an illegitimate child of Lord Uthaer) being a notable example. Descendence from heroic and legendary figures contributes to a House's stature, with its main line being rendered "the hero's line". This was particularly entrenched in Faeralic succession customs where the phrase "of Faeral's Line" came to denote those of the direct blood royal. In a similar way, the phrase "of Faeral's Line" became an alternative style of the Faerald family name to the more common "of House Faerald" used by those who were of Faeral's Line. Subsequent Faerald Kings created a complex feudal system in which reciprocality of rights between King and Lords was a key feature.
The origins of the gentry are two-fold. First, there is the "old gentry", of descent as old as the oldest Houses of the Lords Bannermen, from chiefs of pledged clans or from heroic figures from the clan era. The "old gentry" typically hold ancestral lands which are claimed to have been their property for generations. Some of the "old gentry", notably in the Land of the Vortes after their last rebellion was put down, have died out, giving rise to a "new gentry" created during the reigns of the Faerald kings who sought to reward excellence by creating new lords. Later Kings and High Lords have elevated more men to the new gentry, sometimes not granting them lands. The gentry are typically landed knights, administrators or merchants.
Symbols of Caelish nobility
The Lord's Coronet
The principal symbol of office for a ruling Caelish nobleman of any rank is a metal coronet, often bearing symbols of his House and sometimes inscribed with the liege lord's pledge on the inside, which he wears at most official occasions and audiences. This coronet has typically been passed on for generations. Despite this, it is part of the formal ceremony of investiture for a Caelish lord that after fealty is pledged, the coronet be placed upon the head of the nobleman by his feudal liege, as a symbol of the mutual trust between liegelord and liegeman that is fundamental to the Caelish system of lordship. The coronet is thereafter worn by the nobleman at all state occasions, and sent to his liegelord after his death to be bestowed upon his successor. It has been common practice for Caelish lords of exceptional character to be buried with their coronets: in practice, all Faerald Lords receive this honour, which is known as "crowned burial", but the honour can also fall to lower-ranked lords. In that case, a new coronet is made.
Even the Faeralds partake of the custom. Although the High Lords are crowned (see "coronation of the High Lord" below) with Brennan's Crown during a formal ceremony at Caerthynas, including elaborate symbolism, Tysilio I the Last, when pledging fealty to King Jondé Fontenot, was insisted that the King present him with a coronet in the Caelish fashion. This practice has continued to date, with Lord Faerald receiving two coronets in addition to his crown: one from the King of Forsilvra and another at the behest of the grand council on behalf of the Province when he is proclaimed to succeed to Caerthynas. A Faerald Lord is usually buried with the King's Coronet, whereas the Council Coronet is returned to the Council to be bestowed upon the next Lord Faerald.
In addition to their coronets of office, several decorative coronets have been commissioned by Caelish noblemen as jewelry. Such decorative coronets have been worn by junior members of noble Houses as well, but are clearly distinguishable from the coronets worn by the ruling lords.
(to be continued)
Forms of address for the Caelish nobility
The title and style of the High Lord of Great-Caelain differ from those of the other Province Lords in that they are accorded, in some way, royal dignity. Formally, the High Lord of Great-Caelain is style "His Grace", and is therefore formally and properly addressed in writing and upon first oral address as "Your Grace", and thereafter as "my lord". However, given the aversion of some of the more recent High Lords (especially Tysilio II) to the use of the proper formal style, "My Gracious Lord" is a more informal accepted form of written address, although not in verbal address.
Coronation of the High Lord
Barring unusual circumstances (such as the only heir in Faeral's line being a woman), there is no interregnum in Caelish Politics. Although the Grand Council proclaims the heir to Caerthynas as High Lord, it is held that customarily, a High Lord of Great-Caelain assumes his title immediately upon the death of his predecessor. The Grand Council is to meet at Caerthynas as soon as possible following the death of a High Lord to pass three customary proclamations: one granting the honour of Crowned Burial to the deceased High Lord, another proclaiming the heir as the new High Lord and yet another to set a date for the coronation of the new High Lord. The text of the Proclamation of Accession is traditionally a variation on the following (as formatted for the accession of High Lord Tysilio II):
On the eve of the Coronation, it is traditional for the High Lord to spend the night in a vigil at the Shrine of the Harp. This custom dates back to the day of King Artur I the Confessor, who first insisted upon a vigil to pray for the Grace of the Gods. The Shrine of the Harp stands upon the very spot where, according to legend, Faeral the Bard-King, legendary ancestor of the Faeralds, found the Harp which proclaimed his Kingship over the Caelish Isles. At the break of dawn, the High Lord is blessed by the Keeper of the Shrine. After being washed and clothed in a pure white tunic to signify the peace of Faeral, and with his head unadorned by his Lord's Coronet, he emerges from the Shrine. At this point, an eagle and a dove are released at the Shrine: it is considered a good omen if they fly towards Caerthynas.
With only a minimal retinue, Lord Faerald arrives in Caerthynas, where he proceeds to the Temple at Caerthynas. There, he is received by Aemrys (a role described as such and typically performed by the most senior of the Chosen), with whom he prays at all Altars in the Temple, receiving a blessing at each. Between the prayers, key moments in the story of Faeral are recited: how he was left in the woods by Lord Gern, how he was found by the hermit Aemrys, how he found the Harp and how he founded Caerthynas. Blessed five times, Lord Faerald is then anointed with five oils in the centre of the Temple by Aemrys. He then changes into a set of clothes in the deep green of House Faerald, often embroidered with a single Harp, and the Lord's Coronet, which he has given into the care of the Temple before his vigil, is placed upon his head. He wears a gold-rimmed green mantle.
So attired, Lord Faerald proceeds to the Harpskeep on foot, accompanied by a section of the nobility.
"Diplomacy is about surviving until the next century. Politics is about surviving until Friday afternoon!"
- Sir Humphrey Appleby
Last edited by Marty; 12-26-2012 at 05:20 PM.
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