Valdorian Age - Rising Power on the Frontier
Society in Valdoria varies greatly from place to place, depending on the natural resources of the area as well as the climate. But one thing characterizes all of Valdorian society: every inhabitant of Valdoria is free. Though the nobles rule the land, they rule at the discretion of the freemen who inhabit their land.
Any noble who pushes his people too far will find himself thrown down – and his fellow nobles, even those who have sworn him their loyalty, are more likely to support the freemen than the noble himself. The cultural mores of Valdoria are clean and go without question: a freeman’s property is his own; a noble must make his subjects understand why he needs taxes, a freeman has a grave duty to obey his ruler, but a higher duty to his family; and no Valdorian must disrespect his fellow’s freedom.
From lowest to highest, the noble titles of Valdoria are: Knight, Baron, Count, Duke, and Emperor. A knight owes fealty to either a baron, count, or duke (and in the unique situation of knights who belong to the Imperial Guard, the emperor); but barons, counts, and dukes only swear fealty to the emperor. The title indicates the size of the noble’s province, not to whom he owes fealty. All rulers are men, and the titles are hereditary, passing from father to son. A freeman might be raised to a knight, usually for valor in battle, and before the end of the Tour, his descendants might rise through the hierarchy based on their own valor in battle. Since the Tour has ended, no new provinces have come into the Empire and no knights have risen to baron, count, or duke. Armies consist of the sons of the nobility (who make up the cavalry) and volunteers from the freemen (who make up the infantry and are usually spear men). There has never been cause to raise a levy in Valdoria, for each freeman is more than willing to do his duty for his nation.
Valdorian freemen wear tunics that reach the knees and a wide belt around their waists. Those in colder climes like the Heartland wear breeches under the tunics and don cloaks of fur. Nobles have the right to wear a cloak of royal blue, and denote their province with a golden medallion that shows the symbol of their province stitched to the center of their belts (knights wearing the symbol of their lord). The more finely crafted the medallion, the higher the noble’s status in his province. This is usually the only jewelry or finery Valdorian men or women wear, though a family might have an heirloom or the like that a family member wears to honor an ancestor. A province’s seat of government is the ruler’s castle, an impressive stonework that stands atop a mound or hill.
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