Fainish Peerage
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Heraldry of Fainish nobility

Fainish peerage is the privileged order of Ilefain.

The first nobles of the land (predating Ilefain proper) were the families of the first warlords of the Age of Kings and those who served them.

The children of a Fainish nobleman are considered untitled nobles.

History


Ancien Régime

The term Ancien Régime refers to nobility before the founding of Ilefain as a kingdom. During the Four Brothers Era the current peerage system was not in use, and a more primitive form was prevalent:

  • The Great Houses: Few and far in-between. Ancient lineage and a history of maintaining power as a House are what make the Great Houses.
  • The Minor Houses: Serve under the great houses. They are the most common of all the noble houses. Most command a small fortification, a few leagues worth of domain and the smallfolk who work them, and spend their time trying to war with or marry into their neighboring Houses.
  • Landed Knight Households: The households of successful or wealthy knights who have been granted land by the House they serve. They are often given a fortification or estate to manage and defend, though they are still within the service of their patron House. Such households are denied "pit and gallows," and may not use the title "Lord" for their heads of household; their heads of household are instead called "Master." A Knightly Household in service to the Crown or the Warden of one of the directions is accorded slightly higher Status, and referred to as a "masterly house."

Noble marques


Despite common perceptions, the nobility in Ilefain was never an entirely closed class. Titles of nobility were generally hereditary, but many were awarded by the Fainish monarchy and regency for loyal service and many opportunities, both legal and illegal, were available for wealthy individuals to eventually gain titles of nobility for themselves or their descendants.

Many titles of nobility were usurped by non-nobles by purchasing fiefs and by "living nobly", i.e. by avoiding commercial and manual activity and by finding some way to be exempted from the official taille lists. In this way, the family would slowly come to be seen as noble.

The king or regent could grant titles of nobility to individuals by lettres patentes and convert their lands into noble fiefs or, for non-nobles possessing noble fiefs, to grant them possession of the noble titles. The king could also confer on noble fiefs special privileges, such as peerage for certain duchies. In general, these lettres needed to be officially sponsored by at least two other noble houses.

Different "marques" are given to houses to denote the way they came into nobility. These Marques are never changed and can be a source of shame and ridicule even to high powered families. A house with a poor-reputed marque will always have that stigma no matter how powerful they become.

Old Blood and New Blood houses

There are two major divisions of Fainish nobility, Old Blood and New Blood. This division came with the Orcwars which caused many societal upheavals.

When Old Blood houses began to loose their heirs due to the fighting the Orcwars, the New Blood houses rose to fill their vacancies. New Blood houses now fill many prominant positions. Those who rose to these new heights have reletively newfound political power, but the Peerage still affords most respect and deference to the Old Blood families.

Most Old Blood houses have a prefix to their name (such as d', du', or dela'), but not always. Just as some New Blood families have adopted this suffix to give their houses more gravitas.

Types of noble marques

Fainish nobility is generally divided into the following classes:

  • Nobility of the Sword: The original Old Blood houses from the Age of Kings. Many have gone extinct, but those who remain are afforded much respect no matter their political position.
  • Nobility of the Robe: Houses awarded peerage due to their founder holding certain high offices for the royal court.
  • Nobility of the Letter: House made noble by royal decree complete with proper sponsorship.
  • Nobility of the Bell: A house made noble by being a mayor or alderman or dean of guilds in notable towns and cities.
  • Nobility of the Robin: A house made noble by holding military offices, magistrates or men of law, generally after two or three generations.

Titles


There were two kinds of titles used by Fainish nobles: some were personal ranks and others were linked to the fiefs owned, called fiefs de dignité.

Titles:

  • Duc: possessor of a duchy (duché) and recognized as duke by the king.
  • Comte: possessor of a county (comté) or merely assumed by ambitious families.
  • Baron: possessor of a barony (baronnie).
  • Baronette: possessor of a baronetcy.
  • Seigneur ('lord'): possessor of a lordship.

Special titles

  • Marquis: possessor of a marquessate (marquisat) along the Savage Coast. Usually possessing the political power equal to that of a count, the House of a marquis is expected to be competent in military matters are they are to protect the "civilized" portions of Ilefain from barbarians. Marquis houses are usually looked down on by other, more "sophisticated" peers.
  • Vicomte: possessor of a viscounty (vicomté). Often a position awarded when the House is placed in charge of a barony, but the king wants them to receive a higher status.

Aristocratic Codes


The idea of what it meant to be noble went through a radical transformation from the 16th to the 17th centuries. Through contact with the Italian Renaissance and their concept of the perfect courtier (Baldassare Castiglione), the rude warrior class was remodeled into what the 17th century would come to call l'honnête homme ('the honest or upright man'), among whose chief virtues were eloquent speech, skill at dance, refinement of manners, appreciation of the arts, intellectual curiosity, wit, a spiritual or platonic attitude in love, and the ability to write poetry. Most notable of noble values are the aristocratic obsession with "glory" (la gloire) and majesty (la grandeur) and the spectacle of power, prestige, and luxury.[8] For example, Pierre Corneille's noble heroes have been criticised by modern readers who have seen their actions as vainglorious, criminal, or hubristic; aristocratic spectators of the period would have seen many of these same actions as representative of their noble station[verification needed].

The château of Versailles, court ballets, noble portraits, triumphal arches were all representations of glory and prestige. The notion of glory (military, artistic, etc.) was seen in the context of the Roman Imperial model; it was not seen as vain or boastful, but as a moral imperative to the aristocratic classes. Nobles were required to be "generous" and "magnanimous", to perform great deeds disinterestedly (i.e. because their status demanded it – whence the expression noblesse oblige – and without expecting financial or political gain), and to master their own emotions, especially fear, jealousy, and the desire for vengeance. One's status in the world demanded appropriate externalisation (or "conspicuous consumption"). Nobles indebted themselves to build prestigious urban mansions (hôtels particuliers) and to buy clothes, paintings, silverware, dishes, and other furnishings befitting their rank. They were also required to show liberality by hosting sumptuous parties and by funding the arts.[9]

Conversely, social parvenus who took on the external trappings of the noble classes (such as the wearing of a sword) were severely criticised, sometimes by legal action; laws on sumptuous clothing worn by bourgeois existed since the Middle Ages.

The traditional aristocratic values began to be criticised in the mid 17th century: Blaise Pascal, for example, offered a ferocious analysis of the spectacle of power and François de la Rochefoucauld posited that no human act — however generous it pretended to be — could be considered disinterested.

By relocating the Fainish royal court to Versailles in the 1680s, Louis XIV further modified the role of the nobles. Versailles became a gilded cage: to leave spelled disaster for a noble, for all official charges and appointments were made there. Provincial nobles who refused to join the Versailles system were locked out of important positions in the military or state offices, and lacking royal subsides (and unable to keep up a noble lifestyle on seigneural taxes), these rural nobles (hobereaux) often went into debt. A strict etiquette was imposed: a word or glance from the king could make or destroy a career. At the same time, the relocation of the court to Versailles was also a brilliant political move by Louis. By distracting the nobles with court life and the daily intrigue that came with it, he neutralized a powerful threat to his authority and removed the largest obstacle to his ambition to centralize power in Ilefain.

Fainish Noble Families


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