1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Lords and Ladies, but no royals or other such titles?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Wreybies, Dec 12, 2013.

    My WIP takes place in a world away from Earth, but that does hold a shared history with Earth. There will be a commonality of language and sociolinguistic heritage. The words of Old Earth are still with them, to include even remnant words referring to high technological, though that technology may no longer be present, or exists but in profoundly different ways. This heritage is only ever hinted at (through remnant words) and becomes central only towards the latter half of the story.

    There are families of power, but these families answer to more of a post Edwardian, industrialist, capitalist, monied kind of power and they style themselves 'lord' and 'lady'. Those who hold these titles in the present timeline of the story are the children of the first to ever style themselves with such titles in this setting, in this world. Is it plausible that a society on the brink of industrializing (think somewhere between the Age of Discovery and the Industrial Revolution) would accept and defer to such a strata of society without there having been a prior (or present) age of monarchic rule with all the trappings and derivative titles and powers flowing away from the king's castle and down into the local land gentry?
     
  2. Nathan James
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    Nathan James New Member

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    Wreybies, I think it is implausible that they would defer entirely to a monarchic, oligarchic rule if there is not the societal structure there to reinforced it. However, it is not entirely impossible that they would defer partially - that is, you would have to show signs of unrest, perhaps kept in check with a military, either state- or lord-owned. Think of the 'emerging middle class' during the industrial revolution, the merchants who made enough money to economically transcend their class, but not socially. I'm not sure if this is the sort of thing you want in your story, though, so my definitive answer is this: without knowing more about what societal structures are in place, I find it unlikely that the citizens of such rulers would be totally submissive without a monarchic history similar to Britain's.
     
  3. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Wreybies If you think of this in terms of organised crime gangs or Mafia families then you won't be too far off the mark. These gangs would have defined territories, engage in occasional conflict with each other and leadership may be passed down from father to son. Tax is a protection racket. Loyalty is encouraged and rewarded and the system is maintained by those who are loyal to the their gang leaders. This sounds totally plausible to me (and disturbingly familiar).
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    And this, Aled, is rather more descriptive of the situation. I've purposefully made the current cast only a generation or two off from the first to style themselves with titles, but didn't think of making the first a rougher set, perhaps a very much rougher set, than their now more gentrified offspring. Wheels are spinning, Aled. Gears are turning. ;)
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think you have to remember that the notion of nobility linked with feudalism, and therefore preceded the notion of monarchy, in which nobility was expanded to embrace emerging nationalism. The period to which you refer was the immediate descendant of the rise of major nations - the driving out of the Moors and unification of Spain, the consolidation of the French monarchy, the subjugation of Britain by England. So, I'm not sure how you separate our centuries-old notion of nobility from all of that. Also, the notion of nobility had, until that time, been tied to holdings of land (natural in an agrarian economy), whereas the Industrial Revolution changed the rules. If land was no longer the major determinant of wealth, it stands to reason it was no longer the major determinant of power. Or "nobility".

    Hope this helps. My apologies if it doesn't.
     
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  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It helps greatly, Ed. :) In my setting, the "Lady" is daughter to the first "Lord" in their little plot of the world. The money that gives them power is from the shipyards he created (or inherited and grew, not sure yet), thus this family is the havingest of the haves and by a wide margin. The words "lord" and "lady", the actual vocabulary, would be with these people before the re-advent of the concept because these are descendants of settlers from Earth. I'm warming to Aled's idea of a more cosa nostra genesis of the strata. This gives the idea a plausible root that answers to what you mentioned that feudalism created kings, not the other way around. From the ground up, so to speak. ;) I think I can fill in the space between money and land with the former buying up large portions of the latter through simple purchase, usurpation, marrying in etc. as the family came to power.
     
  7. Morbius
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    Morbius Member

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    To my understanding, the monarch (King, Queen, and their children are princes and princesses) was ruler by what was called "Divine Right" (The will of Gold, for truly, if the Almighty did not wish the reigning king to rule, such a person could not have arisen to such a position in defiance of the Almighty's will). In medieval times, to defy the King was akin to defying the will of the supreme being himself (and the root from which such phrases as "King's word is Law" came from. Also, the soldiers of the crown were, in essence, following the orders of God's chosen regent for this realm, which means that killing, burning and conquering in the name of the King was godly work, but doing it on your own made you a common bandit).

    Below the royal class, was the nobility, where you found all your Lords, Counts, Barons, etc. In medieval culture, they held power of their estates, serfs and countryside, but were obligated to both rule their lands in the name of the King (meaning the monarch could fire/replace them at any time if they displeased him) and stand ready to provide a levy of men at arms for the King's army in times of war.

    These practices haven't really endured into the 21st century, but in modern times (at least in the USA in the early 20th century) there are still those who are referred to as "Oil Barons" or "Rail Road Barons" and the like, who are not really so much the historic nobles, but the wealthy elite, who have secured their place in society by virtue of their wealth, political influence and the "Old Money" network.

    So, yes, it is definitely plausible to have self styled "Lords", without the trappings of Monarchy.
     
  8. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    It's quite plausible, so long as two things happen. First, the families themselves must take this very seriously. Throughout history there have been loads of different ways that prominent families have sought to set themselves above the rest of society, through rivalry or inter-cooperation or any number of other strategies. Calling themselves Lords of a family (more appropriately a "house" or some other antiquated but lofty word) is just one such way. Second, these families must have the juice to make it believable. If it's just the guys who run the local fishing boats, then they'll get laughed at if they call themselves lords of anything. But if they own all the factories and, through them, control all the jobs and money in the town, then yes they can call themselves anything they damn well please.
     
  9. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Extremely dominant industrialists whose operations form the main or even sole employment and producer of wealth in a town or city could easily declare themselves to be Lords and Ladies, especially if their wealth is completely family owned and inheritable. This would be even more the case if the economy comprises a group of interlinked monopolies.

    Make it so that jobs are only passed on to family members/relatives (birth or marriage) and you have the basis of a feudal society.
     
  10. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Will there be an effective democratic and judicial system running alongside the lords, (in which case the monarchic system would be superficial)? Or will political and judicial power reside with the lords? To my understanding, the 'divine right of kings' was no more than a propaganda tool for persuading people to be loyal. Kings generally did not rise to power but inherited it and where there was a change in authority, this was the result of armed conflict.
     
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  11. Morbius
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    Morbius Member

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    Obviously "Divine Right" was a propaganda tool to press the masses into loyal service.

    If you trace the lineage of all kings and nobles back to their earliest points, they all started with someone taking that position at the point of a sword. The thrones were inherited down through the generations of any given dynasty, with the Royal family ruling by "divine right" until such point in history where someone else took the throne at the point of a sword. Then, this NEW dynasty became Kings by "divine right" because "obviously they could not have defeated the previous monarch unless the Almighty had so willed it".

    Technically, the claim of "Divine Right" is basically a justification for what in reality is "Might makes Right".
     
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  12. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Divine right is a Western concept. In ancient China, for instance, the Emperor's "rights" were balanced by his duties, which was to act as the "father" to the nation. If he fails to feed, protect and nurture the nation he or his descendants will eventually be viewed as negligent and having lost the "mandate of heaven" and thus can be legitimately overthrown, even by a peasant, which is what happened during the founding of the Han and Ming dynasties.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It would reside, in large part, with the infrastructure of the lords and ladies. In this case, a Lady. The town in which they live is in many (but not all) ways what was once called a company town in the U.S. Not quite so monopolistic as the real thing was, but Lady Petla's shipyard is the vast bulk of the town's income and employment. The other side of the economic coin in the town is her brother Carl's fishing fleet. Together they control the economic infrastructure of the town. Again, the kind of power they possess is very much an industrialist/merchant kind of power.
     

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