The Ties that Bind
On Good Governance
The Feudal System
Essentially every kingdom is run on a basis of holding land in exchanges for services or labour. This mainly involved the peasantry working the fields for the knights who then offered them protection. The land of course is bequeathed to them by their liege lord, who also has their oaths of fealty. This is how it works in theory. The larger cities did create an issue for this system though, as many peasants are moving from the farm life in towards the cities, which while nominally under the charge of a noble, has no land for them to work and thus they exist in a sort of bubble where the owe no one person their serfdom. It is from this unallied group that the first merchants sprang.
The college of mages, and the church does also added this little bubble group with their own members operating outside of this system. Due to the fact that the college and the church operate across borders, the clergy and mages have their own hierarchy entirely and if they serve then they have either been placed there by their superiors, or they have voluntarily gone over. These conditions don’t necessarily make them beholden to the lord they serve.
It must be noted though that unlike the caste system that the imperials use, upward progression is possible in this system. A man at arms for example, could, with an awe inspiring feat could see his family upgraded to a knightly status of sorts. In some cases there have been records of particularly wealthy merchants that have bought themselves, or their relatives, promotions or even knighthoods.
Imperial Caste System
The imperial caste system revolves around the idea that the gods have placed each person into their ideal role in life when they are born. To attempt to change what is essentially fate is seen as both impious, and utterly unnatural. What this means though is that unlike their western neighbours, operating within the imperial caste system means that there are no groups outside of it. All are members of one caste, or if they are a recently conquered people find themselves being sorted into one.
Each caste was ranked on a scale of how blessed they were by the gods. From highest to lowest the castes are ranked as: Royalty, Warriors or Sages, Artisans, Merchants, Peasants. Nominally all are under the protection of the first two castes, but peasant levies and militia are not unknown to be utilised to locally maintain order.
However should you be in this caste system, there are quite a few restrictions placed within your life. Your caste essentially determined where you would be living, and who you were allowed to interact with. It also determined who you would marry. Inter-caste marriages are almost unheard of. Those who have tried have all failed to break their socio-cultural bonds. Upward progression through the castes are not allowed.