Laws Of Limerance
A commentary on the Laws of Limerance, or the so-called Rules of Fidelity, by Scholar Tobias the Dubious.
All of our ancient laws are tied in some way to Limerance, as the god of fidelity demands that we keep good faith in all of our dealings, and merely living within the Compact's protection indicates we have agreed to honor our obligations. The Abandoned are oft called 'the unsworn', even though it's not as if any nameless urchin in the Lower Boroughs has ever sworn any vows, but that they live under the crown's protection is reason enough to see them as vassals.
"1. The oaths between liege and vassal are sacred. This is the fidelity between Limerance and Gloria." It is simply put, but the long version is more worth noting. A lord guarantees protection and justice, and is to never demand a vassal perform any action that would stain their own honor. In return, a vassal must promise their loyalty and is obligated to perform any action, and is only free to break service at the lord's leave. That last part is seldom enforced, since in practice anyone breaking their fealty to become crownsworn is in effect asking their lord if they can serve their liege in turn, and what lord but a rebellious one would ever say no? It shows a dangerous lack of faith in the crown and Compact, and traditionally is never denied. Entering the service of another peer is, however, a different story.
"2. Marriage may never be forced. It is the ultimate show of fidelity between two lovers, and honoring their commitment. This is the fidelity between lovers and Limerance." It's a simple statement but with complicated nuances. There is, in effect, what we call 'high marriages' and 'low marriages'. A low marriage between the commons is as simple as agreeing that they are wed, and that's that- their understanding of the marriage, whether they permit lovers outside the bonds or no, is completely up to the agreement of the wedded couple, and they may break the bonds at any time. After all, it is their agreement on the marriage that represents the bond, and if they are in disagreement, it can be dissolved. High marriages, those between nobles, is more complicated. In that, it's no longer seen as the fidelity between two individuals, but between two noble houses, representing the bond of their families. While the law is firm that one cannot be compelled to marry without their agreement, this ignores the fact that any son or daughter of a lord refusing to wed where and when they are told will quickly find themselves removed from the family and living as a commoner, and more than one second or third child has found themselves living the life of a sellsword or the like because they refused a match. Similarly, a high marriage is not so easily dissolved, as it requires the concurrence of the lords of the houses, and that of the Faith of the Pantheon.
"3. While within a demesne, one must obey all laws set by the demesne's lord. This is the fidelity between Limerance and Gild." The Compact, as such, has no unified code of laws. Arx is the demesne of the crown, and the Sovereign of the Compact is free to enforce whatever laws it desires within its confines as carried out by the Inquisition and Iron Guard, but lords still rule by fiat within their own domains. While technically any liege has authority to intervene and countermand the authority of a vassal, this is seldom if ever done- a harsh lord may decide that hanging is appropriate for theft, while others decide simple beating and restitution is appropriate, and it's not as if the family of a hanged thief complaining to a higher liege will return him to life, so little ever comes of such. Our King Alaric IV has a soft heart, and leans towards the gentler and fairer touches within Arx, much to the dismay of flinty eyed houses such as Thrax- (though that is more perception than fact, as the magistrates of Thrax and its domains are a woman's occupation, and they tend to be more pragmatic than brutal).
"4. Magic and dealing with those beyond the Mirror brought the Reckoning. It must never again be permitted. This is the fidelity between men and the gods." While none save the most superstitious believe in magic or demons or the like, this still is sound. There's the madmen shav who perform unholy blood sacrifices to dark gods, and that sort of Faith is destructive to civilization, and is understood it must be blotted out wherever it is found. Even though the idea that it grants those who perform it some sort of power is nonsense, it's a dangerous idea, and the occasional lunatic that murders others for 'magic' must be made an example of.