Domain and Regency » Government » Law

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Law are a kind of holding that constitute part of a law domain. They include assets like courthouses, jails, archives, offices, or even a bandit hideout which all recognize the leadership of the domain's ruler. Functioning assets are assumed to be staffed by reasonably loyal and helpful underlings, and run by a specialist. When a law holding is controlled by a regent hostile to the province ruler, that holding represents banditry and direct undermining of the law of the land.

The law holding represents more than simply the accumulation of many manorial courts, but is most easily described as the courts of appeals from the courts of the lords and towns. Higher courts impose decisions, interpretations, and choices of law on lower courts. So control of the courts of appeals and the high court of a province means indirect control on lower courts as well.

There are two sources of law, legislation and custom. Legislation reflects regents using the decree action to make new laws. This may be a direct action by the regent himself, or the final step in accepting proposed legislation by a noble assembly, royal council, or national athing. Custom reflects the time tested and proved habits of the people. It is generally based on avoiding known risks and requiring safe behavior. Sometimes regents seek to make changes to the realm and expose the nation to risk. Of course every action has some risk, but people are generally more comfortable with the risks of maintaining the status quo than they are of doing new things. Legislation always risks a decline in loyalty. The more the regent seeks to change the harder it can be to avoid rebellion.

[top]Control of the Law

If no one holds law holdings, than the manorial lords and their liege lords are ruling on the law themselves as autonomous courts.

If the regent holds the law, then the lower courts of the manors and lords accept rights of appeal to the courts controlled by the regent, and therefore the regent's decisions, interpretations, and choices of law.

Since normally, at least at start, law holdings are not ruled to their limit, some combination of these conditions apply. The regent has courts of appeal and some influence on lower courts, but the lower courts retain some autonomy, usually in matters most important to them.

Another possibility is a friendly, but rival regent holds law holdings. This usually reflect the right of the friendly rival to control all low pertaining to his own holdings. For example a friendly guilder with law holdings might serve as venue for all guild members and perhaps a town as well. This law may support another regent against hostile rivals, but nevertheless rules on different principles than his friend.

Finally, there is the hostile law holder, who seeks to use his rival law holding to disrupt and undermine his rival. Whatever precise form this takes, it feels and looks an awful lot like banditry or other underworld control. The formal arrangements of who reports to and obeys whom is mostly meaningless and an unofficial or informal arrangements are the ones that matter. This may be because of loyalty, fear, or the officials may be bought and paid for, but no matter, they follow the instructions of the rival law holder.

[top]Types of Law

There are three major types of law: civil law, commercial law, and ecclesiastical law.

Civil law may be feudal or reflect some other arrangements, but it is most articulate and best at protecting property and safety of persons, and defines crimes as assaults on either of these. It tends to regulate force.

Commercial law is the rule set that governs trade and commerce. It is most articulate and best at protecting the value of and enforceability of agreements, such as contracts, deeds, and rights of commerce.

Ecclesiastical law is the rule set that is derived from religious teaching and enforced by priests through social means, and by religious courts when temple regents have law holdings. Unlike the other forms of law, which look more or less the same everywhere, religious law can vary considerably depending on the temple which holds the law.

Sera's ecclesiastical law has a considerable overlap with and harmony for commercial law.

Haelyn and Avani each in their own way have a considerable overlap with and harmony for civil law.

Nesirie's ecclesiastical law would be a law of the sea, including such things as defining piracy, answering questions about obligations to men overboard, and in some instances regulating trade at sea, although the answers a court of Nesirie's temples might come to in a law holding about throwing cargo over the side to save the ship might not be the same answers a court of Sera's temples might yield.

See Also: Trevyr/Law Holdings - fan notes on law holdings controlled by someone other than the provincial regent

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