Caledonian Nobility

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While the Principality of Caledon is a constitutional monarchy, its traditional nobility carries on. It has adapted greatly in recent centuries to the ideas of high technology and liberal democracy - and yet in many ways it remains the engine and conduit of Caledonian social vitality, as well as commercial networking.

Levels of Nobility[edit]

The various ranks of the Caledonian landed gentry are a strict - but breathing - hierarchy.

Note that lower levels of the hierearchy are affiliated with, and owe "fealty" to, higher levels (i.e., Barons will owe fealty to Earls, who owe it in turn to Viscounts, and so on). "Fealty" in modern times is more a traditional and social custom than in ancient times, when it conferred monetary tribute and the obligation to raise troops to serve the higher-level noble's military ambitions.

Also note that many noble families trace their lineages - and fealties - centuries into the past. But new titles in the gentry are granted on occasion by the Monarchy, for great commercial or military accomplishment. Lands for these additions are either acquired from new territories, from branches of the nobility that have died out, or - most rarely - from gentry that have been rebuked by the throne for high crimes.

The levels are ranked as follows:

  • Duke/Dutchess
  • Marquess
  • Viscount
  • Earl
  • Baron

Note that knights - see below - will affiliate with a higher-level noble as part of their peerage.

Nobles will frequently associate themselves with - and pay for the maintenance of - units of the Caledonian army.

All nobles of the rank of Baron or higher are considered members of the House of Lords - and in past centuries that could in fact lead to thousands of nobles packed into the Chamber of Lords, voting on abstruse legislative matters. But for the past 228 years, the Principality's nobility elects from their number 203 Lords to one-year voting terms - which involves spending full time at the Parliament in Caledon. Being elected is both a burden and a great honor; freqently noble houses will campaign to send junior members of their lines to terms in the Parliament - partly out of civic duty, partly because it's a superb networking opportunity.

Nobles are either born into a noble family, or are inducted into the nobility by dint of great achievement. Once a family has been granted a peerage, all descendants inherit the title.

Clan/Noble Relationships[edit]

The levels of the nobility are organized into a loose but structured hierarchy that ties many noble and "common" clans together in a dense network of loyalty, as well as institutional, traditional and financial ties.

Example: Clan Monteith of Kilbride[edit]

To pick a fairly typical example, we'll examine the hierarchy of Clan Monteith of Kilbride, a large, modestly-influential noble house based in a semirural district of the Rob Roy system.

  • The house is led by Robert Monteith, 35th Duke of Kilbride.
    • To Monteith of Kilbride are affiliated three Marquesses - Hackett of Lossiemouth, Stephens of Rockport, and Jones of Aberculver.
      • To each Marquesses are affilated 2-4 Viscounts.
        • To each Viscount are affilated 2-5 Earls
          • To each Earl is affiliated 3-6 Barons

To each of the levels of the house are affiliated 2-4 "commoner" clans. These clans have long traditions of service - first to the Prince, then to Clan Monteith of Kilbride, and then to their own affiliated noble.

For example, to James Bruce, Earl of Bucklough, are affilated

  • Baron MacGillivray of Stoughton,
  • Baroness Heath of Stornoway
  • Baron Heath of Bartelstone
  • The following "commoner" clans:
    • McTavish - several families who work farms in the area
    • Stevenson - several families with a history of entrepreneurship in the retail and technical trades

The loyalty goes both ways; commoners in clans affilated with one of the branches of the Monteith clan get preference for loans from the credit pool, admission to clan schools, and acceptance in the Monteith Fusiliers.

The house of Monteith of Kilbride controls:

  • The Monteith Fusiliers - an Infantry regiment traditionally affiliated with the family
  • Bank Monteith - a clan credit pool that has grown over time into a significant commercial banking enterprise on Rob Roy, specializing in lending to builders of mercantile trade vessels.
  • The Kilbride School - a minor university based on Rob Roy.

Orders of Knighthood[edit]

Knighthood is the most common noble honorific. It confers no land grant in and of itself - some land may be conferred at the discretion of any noble to which a knight is affiliated, although that is no obligation, and is rather rare in modern times. Also, knighthood is not hereditary; generally, each generation must earn knighthood (with a few exceptions noted below).

However, being knighted confers entry into the highest reaches of Caledonian society; each order of nobility is a "club" in the literal and figurative sense, conveying access to political, business and social connections that are the lifeblood of prosperity in the Principality.

All orders offer various types of heraldry; in modern times, this involves a ribbon or pendant worn with formal or military attire. Some orders confer some material benefit - usually access to the order's club and apartments (at the order's headquarters); more rarely, this means a small grant of land. Knights are also entitled to be called "Sir" (or "Lady"), and to append their rank and order to their name (Example; Lieutenant Sir Roger Kheung, MSC)

The orders of knighthood in the Principality are, in descending order of precedence:

Order Of The Lairds Of The Realm[edit]

This order, the senior order in the system, has two branches - the Members (MLR), comprising all of the Dukes and Marquesses in the Principality, and the Lairds(LLR), those appointed to the order. Appointees - there are a few dozen currently alive - are senior military and government figures who've rendered conspicuous service.

  • Heraldry - a red pendant ribbon with a medal struck from the metal from an enemy starship captured in action centuries ago (a stock of which metal is kept at the order's headquarters for future medals)
  • Headquarters - The order's headquarters is a formal Ducal palace near the Sovereign's Palace, on the Capital Esplanade

The Distinguished Order Of the Knight's Cross[edit]

This order is bestowed upon citizens who exhibit great bravery in combat or other military service. It is the main conduit into the nobility for junior officers and even enlisted soldiers, sailors and Marines. There are thousands of Members, about 2,000 "Knights", and 200 Commanders (including all members of the nobility) in the order.

  • Heraldry - Red ribbon with the order's crest superimposed
  • Headquarters - The OSC has a manor (donated by a former member) on the Mannoch River, near the Caledon Army's headquarters.
  • Ranks and Suffixes - "Member" (MKC, which includes nearly every member of the landed nobility), Knight (KC, given purely for merit), then "Commander" (CKC)

Order Of The Lodestone[edit]

An honor for members of the Royal Caledonian Expeditionary Service.

  • Heraldry - Light Blue ribbon with the order's shield embroidered
  • Headquarters - The OTL has small complex of buildings in Selkirk, including a few apartments rented to members on a first-come first served basis.
  • Ranks and Suffixes - "Scout" (SOTL), then "Commander" (COTL)

The Royal Order Of Sages And Scholars[edit]

Granted for academic, scholarly or philosophical achievements, the OSS has no official headquarters facility; it is administered by the Department of Peerage at the Royal University of Caledon.

  • Heraldry - A black pendant with thin red stripes and a medal struck with the order's device.
  • Ranks and Suffixes - "Bachelor" (BSS), then "Master" (MSS) - about 12,000 and 500 of each exist, currently. The order is led by a group of 30 "Doctors" (DSS), who are also Viscounts from various families - and whose titles are the only ones handed down hereditarily.

Honourable Order of the Exchequer[edit]

The lowest of the orders. Bestowed for achievement in business and commerce.

  • Heraldry - Navy blue ribbon.
  • Ranks and Suffixed - "Retainer" (ROE), then "Lord" (LOE).
  • Headquarters - The order owns a fairly enormous manor in the rural suburbs of the capitol city, with fairly opulent quarters for visiting guests. It also owns a hotel near the Royal Palace, and others in other key cities in the Principality.

Private Armies ("Retainers")[edit]

In antiquity, nobles raised military forces to contribute to their feudal superiors' military ventures.

While for the most part this tradition is carried forth by the tradition among the nobility of raising and paying for the maintenance of units of the Caledonian Army, it's also normal for nobles of various ranks to retain groups of armed guards. Over most of the past 500 years, these guards' roles have primarily involved personal security.

But in recent years, as feuds between branches of the nobility (culminating in the Dynastic Crisis of 1024) escalated, these guard groups have grown into private armies, manned by a mixture of veterans of Caledonian Army regiments affiliated with the nobles' family, and "mercenaries", ranging from men from other regiments to off-system and sometimes even non-Caledonian hirelings.

The sizes of these units vary widely: a baron on a fairly tranquil planet like Rutherglen might have 3-4 bodyguards; it's not unusual for a Duke on a feud-riven world like Roy Roy to employ a battalion or brigade-sized force which, when augmented with forces from the Duke's affiliated Marquesses, Viscounts and lower nobles, to be able to muster close to a division of private troops.

Level of Peerage Low-Conflict World High-Conflict World
Duke/Dutchess Group of 20-30 men Battalion of 500-600, occasionally Brigade of 1,200-2,000
Marquess 12-20 men Battalion of 400-500
Viscount 8-10 men Company of 150-200
Earl 5-6 men Company of 100-150
Baron 3-4 men Platoon of 30-40

These private armies frequently hire expertise from player characters.

This article was copied or excerpted from the following copyrighted sources and used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author.