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Liege

Societal Expectations

Liege to Vassal:
-Self rule

Expectation: To allow a vassal to do with their lands as they will. This means allowing them without interference to determine their own succession, to decide their own laws, to ennoble and denoble family, to deal with their own vassals, to raise their own military forces, to expand their territories. A vassal may wage war if not explicitly forbidden to do so, and even then a liege is obligated to allow a vassal to defend themselves if attacked. This can be questioned politely and courteously, but the decisions are theirs. A domain once granted traditionally remains in a family's hands in perpetuity.

Obligation: A liege doesn't take any explicit vows guaranteeing self-rule to a vassal. When creating a new fief and entrusting it to a vassal, all the vows are vassal to liege, and in fact the grant typically is worded, "<Vassal house> is hereby granted <domain name> in service to <Liege House>", with the explicit wording allowing that it could be revoked without the grave sin of oathbreaking. This is almost never done, but land forfeiture is always technically possible, and if a liege feels they have been wronged by a vassal sufficiently, they could attempt to reclaim their lands. For high crimes, this often means going to the highlord of that region and asking the highlord to pass a writ of attainder over that house, denobling the vassal house in part or in whole and declaring their lands forfeit. The highlord, however, is NOT obligated to pass the lands back to the original liege if they pass a writ of attainder, even if that would be expected, meaning lieges are often very reluctant to seek this, and would rather go to war and hold the vassal's lands by force rather than bring in their own highlord to arbitrate.

In terms of obligations for self-rule and succession, as long as a noble of a line lives, it's expected the next eldest family member can decide succession. However, if there is a dispute and a family member with a claim asks for arbitration from a liege, that effectively passes the decision upwards to avoid civil war in a domain. If an entire line is completely extinguished, the expectation is the direct liege will appoint a new family to hold sway over lands (as was the case with House Aviaron and Acheron, or House Fireviper, as examples). However, again, there are no explicit vows forbidding liege interference, so if a liege does not fear looking utterly tyrannical, they could attempt to impose their will regularly and be loathed for it (Donrai Thrax, for example).

-Fine to say:
--"Vassal, understand though I don't want to meddle in your affairs, but is provoking a fight with Grayson wise?"
--"My liege, while I respectfully understand you have outlawed thralldom on your lands, we'll still permit it on ours."
--"Vassal, I implore you to settle the issue of succession between your squabbling children before you ride into battle. Don't die and drop this into our lap."

-Questionable to say:
--"We are outlawing the color blue and expect all of our vassals to follow suit. Fuck blue."
--"Grayson wine is terrible, we're only importing Lycene wine. All our vassals should only buy from Lenosia."
--"Our liege hates blue, but we love blue. Go blue! We like contradicting and embarrassing our liege in public, woo! Nothing bad will happen!"
--"All right, I know your two houses have been rivals for centuries, but as your liege I'm tired of hearing about this so stop your border skirmishes over the mutually claimed mill."

-Ruinous to say:
--"We hearby think Marquis Upopular should abdicate and be replaced by Lady Reasonable."
--"We are reclaiming the lands held by your family. This will go well and surely not result in a war."
--"Bob died and didn't leave a will. His family hasn't asked my opinion, but I like butting in and feeling important, so as his liege his successor should be Ted, who I like better than his older sister Paula."

-Respect

Expectation: Lieges and vassals typically speak with one another with respect and courtesy. Honor based societies tend to be much, much more polite, as discourtesy is often seen as undermining someone's authority. So criticisms of a liege or vassal tend to be very carefully coached in respectful, polite language that might be critical of someone's actions, but is not critical of them as an individual. That said, just disagreeing with a liege is never seen as treasonous on a vassal's part, nor is a liege being critical of a vassal grounds to talk about trying to find a new liege. The expectation is that a vassal or liege is respectful in public, and disagreements are courteously phrased.

Obligation: Vassals can't question a leader's fitness to rule publically, or imply they have no honor. Those two are the important 'can't do's, because no one is under any obligation to follow a dishonorable leader, and implying that they are no longer willing to follow someone into battle implies they are breaking their own solemn oaths of fealty. These are very dangerous, very serious. "Marquis Bob is a liar, and isn't cut out to be a Marquis" isn't dramatically different from saying, "Any vassal can ignore Marquis Bob, support his younger brother Ted to overthrow him, or abandon him on the field of battle and let him die". For this reason, most vassals in public would tend to skirt around this, if someone has serious questions about their fitness to rule, "In the quest for the Pendant of Truth, I think perhaps we should have Ted come instead of Bob because... Ted's integrity is so great. And Bob is probably really busy dealing with that rebellion." while privately making their concerns known. Anything more overt can be taken as a direct challenge from a vassal trying to see if their liege is too weak to respond, and could potentially be replaced. From liege to vassal, there's very few hard obligations save that questioning someone's honor is typically seen as beyond the pale, and would usually be taken as an explicit notice that they are thinking of attainting them or replacing the leader quite possibly through force. Bear in mind however that any startement like this always will have one side asking the other to clarify it, and walk it back. The "Are you calling me a liar?" type line is one that lets everyone know this is very serious, and the appropriate answer is, "No, my apologies" unless someone is ready to go to war. Asking for clarification is seen as a hard requirement before action is taken. Publicly and clearly stating that someone has no honor, and is unfit for a leader, or is an oathbreaker is roughly as serious as declaring that someone is guilty of a capital offense- it is vastly more serious than a slight that can be settled with a duel by champions, as someone could never keep their place in society if they were the loser in that confrontation much like if they lost a trial by combat for a capital offense.

-Fine to say:
--"In the future, I would humbly ask to allow me to contribute to our battle plans, as I believe the losses were costly and could have been avoided."
--"I believe my liege's son could benefit from protocol lessons from a Whisper, before he gets us into an avoidable war."
--"Respectfully, I think that plan is terrible, and cannot advocate its adoption."
--"With respect, I am uncertain that is true, and my liege might be mistaken."

-Questionable to Say:
--"I strongly counsel you to get your family members under control before they cause an incident. Maybe some time as a commoner could do them good. Fresh perspective!"
--"Not sure Lord Frumpingham was completely honest when he said he never received the messengers, but sure whatever."
--"That drunken brawl was disgraceful for nobles to be involved with. It was beneath them."
--"That decision was terrible and moronic."

-Ruinous to say:
--"She is a liar and an oathbreaker."
--"She is unfit to lead the great house. I will not follow her."
--"He has no honor."
--"He does not really believe in the Faith of the Pantheon, and his vows mean nothing to him."
--"That facial expression looked dubious and was disrespectful. Therefore you are a traitor."
--"In private I heard those two people made a joke about the liege. They are traitors and must die."

-Taxes

Expectation: During peacetime, a domain should never pay less than 1/13th of their gross income to their liege (roughly 7 percent), though lieges will sometimes generously permit a vassal to pay 1/20th, or even waive taxes all together as a show of favor. Higher than 13 percent taxes is considered punitive and a sign that a liege is intentionally punishing a domain if it is in peacetime. Facing an existential threat like invasion, a liege could raise it as high as 50 percent, though more than that could see a vassal petition the highlord of that region or the Faith as someone being unreasonable and abusing their vow of fealty. The expectation is lieges will not raise to higher than 13% unless they wish to show disapproval towards an insubordinate vassal, or there is a powerful reason to force them to do so.

Obligation: Not paying taxes at all is a violation of a vassal's oaths. This could result in them being declared an oathbreaker, and forever shaming them, or even having them outlawed, thrown out of the Compact, and being declared Abandoned. Raising taxes is a punitive measure of lieges, though the precedent set by a previous Dominus of the Faith holds that taxes cannot be set higher than 30 percent during peacetime, or 50 percent during war time if (and this is important) those percentages are shown as ruinous to the vassal that cripples their ability to sustain themselves and forcing them to face impending bankruptcy. Therefore, a wealthy vassal has little to no protection if they are quarrel with a liege until it would become ruinous, save for hoping for widespread social condemnation.

-Fine to say:
--"Taxes are raised to thirteen percent."
--"Due to insubordinate behavior, taxes are raised to 20 percent until they apologize."

-Questionable to say:
--"Due to insubordinate behavior, taxes are raised to 50 percent until they apologize."
--"While we continue pay, we'll petition our highlord to intervene against these unreasonable taxes."

-Ruinous to say:
--"We refuse to pay these taxes."
--"Not a coin will pass through vassal hands that we will not possess."

-Levying Troops

Expectation: If banners are called, a vassal should support the war effort with as much force as they can while still providing for their own domain's defense. They should respond as quickly as practical to do so, while seeing to the training and preparation of their forces. This, in terms of expectation, allows a wide degree of interpretation on when and with how much forces they are to respond with, but responding with anything that looks half-hearted tends to make a vassal look weak and unreliable. The expectation for lieges is that they will only call banners in case of truly dire threats, such as imminent war with another great house, or invasion from a major threat. Once called, it is expected that a liege will only keep the forces in the field until the threat is dealt with, and that bannermen would stay for the duration. Traditionally, lieges offer troops the option of leaving after thirteen months in the field, but it is also traditional to refuse the offer if it would put the liege at risk of defeat. Bannermen bring their own commanders to lead their own force, but are still under the overall command of their liege and their appointed general. Refusing to come because they disagree with the appointment of the general would be considered oathbreaking and grounds for the house being attainted and cast from the Compact.

Obligation: Any less than thirteen percent of available forces would be considered oathbreaking, and refusing to answer a call is oathbreaking unless the domain is currently in battle, such as under siege when forces are physically incapable of disengaging. Past that, even fighting their own war does not free them from their obligations, such as a prolonged border skirmish, and they would still need to commit at least thirteen percent of their forces to their bannerlord for no less than 169 days. It is not considered oathbreaking to leave after 169 days, but it draws grave societal disapproval to abandon a lord or to only commit minimal forces to their cause. Similarly, a liege is allowed to call banners for any reason, but trivial reasons would result in societal disapproval.

-Fine to say:
--"We are calling our banners due to an imminent threat."
--"Due to being under threat from a shav invasion ourselves, we regret to send only half our available forces."

-Questionable to say:
--"We are calling our banners to intimidate another great house."
--"Though we are under no specific threat, we are only sending a third of our forces."

-Ruinous to say:
--"Due to a squabble with our liege, we aren't coming."

-Diplomacy and Information

Expectation: The respect for self-rule and independence goes both ways, with lieges not trying to micromanage vassals, and vassals not questioning the decisions of leaders. It is, however, considered polite for lieges to give vassals notice and to possibly consult with them before committing their fealty chain towards an action that could involve them. For example, before declaring war or taking an action that will call banners, or picking a personal fight with an adversary that would then create a trade embargo upon the entire fealty line, or embarking on an endeavor that would necessitate massive taxes. Similarly, vassals should not question the wisdom of their lieges in public, but bring their concerns up privately out of respect.

Obligation: Lieges do not need to inform their vassals of anything, and there is no requirement to do so, it is merely considered polite. Similarly, a vassal needn't tell a liege anything that they are doing at all, but if it could impact a liege's decisions, it would also be considered polite. Withholding information cannot be considered treasonous or oathbreaking or anything like that, unless the information is so dangerous that silence would be considered tacit approval of the threat- knowledge of an impending assassination attempt would be a rare example of something that must be informed, while vague rumors of a supernatural threat or a shav army would not.

-Fine to say:
--"House Rivalus has been quarreling with us for some time, and we are considering ending the feud with a marriage pact. You've been critical of it publically and we'd politely ask you to stop."
--"We meant no offense by not informing you of our plans, we simply had been preoccupied of late."
--"This is an internal matter, while we can understand your curiosity, we would prefer to handle it on our own."

-Questionable to say:
--"We wrote a white journal critical of the decision of our liege that seemed unwise."
--"We're calling our banners and going to war over a slight, and the opinion of our vassals does not matter."

-Ruinous to say:
--"We demand our vassal/liege tell us everything."
--"Due to our vassal not giving us a messenger about this vague, unconfirmed threat, we are declaring them traitors."

-Promotion and changing fealty

Expectation: Domains growing, waxing and waning in power is a slow process but it does happen. If a domain grows strong enough, expands over enough lands and starts to reflect a higher rank, they can expect to seek promotion. It is expected that the vassal seeking promotion would have the consent and agreement of their liege, their liege's liege (who they would typically change and swear to) the highlord, and Faith of the Pantheon to make certain there are no vows prohibiting this, and then the Assembly of Peers. Typically, these are most formalities if the relationships here are strong, and the domain is clearly powerful enough to merit it, but they do have a vow to serve their liege. They must be released from that to be promoted, with the consent of their liege, or the Faith declaring that they are not under obligation to keep it, such as if the liege has acted in bad faith.

Obligation: Houses cannot simply switch from liege to liege without their consent. Without it, they could be considered oathbreakers and would be cast out of the Compact. On the other hand, during the Crownbreaker Wars when the Faith is split and there's conflicting opinions on who is honorable and whether vows have merit, that's ample grounds for civil war. But under normal circumstances, a vassal can't just decide they are sick of their leader and switch to another fealty chain. Even with the consent of the Faith and their highlord, that's dangerous, because there is no vow that requires their liege to not attack them, so disloyal vassals can be crushed by their lieges.