The Greek Realm
— The Ruling Classes
— The Senate
— The Court
— The Nobility
Betrothal and Marriage
— Marriage and Class
— Arranging Betrothals
— The Wedding Ceremony
— Married Life
— Divorce and Widowhood
— Death and Inheritance
Crime and Punishment
— Upper Classes
— Lower Classes
The Greeks are all about order. Whether it's the order of life; the concept of living the best life that you can and then your soul passing to the underworld, the concept of order to the universe and the Gods or the order of their mortal world, it doesn't matter. The Greeks are a rigid and perfectionist race of people who like order, tradition and propriety. As such, their social and legal systems are some of the most stringent in the Aeipathy world.
The biggest discrimination and social culture of the Greeks is that of a class system and the order of hierachy, cause and effect and crime and punishment. The rest of this page breaks down the individual laws and ways of the world, as well as interpretations of them for future potential plots.
The Structure of Power
Law and order are incredibly important to the kingdoms of the Aegean. They believe, whole-heartedly, that a king and queen are God and Goddess on earth, divinely inspired to lead the kingdom in the right direction: towards glory and goodness. To break a law, is to be against that end goal and is therefore a betrayal against the kingdom and the populace as a whole. In reflection of the importance they place on such legalities, the legal system of the Greek kingdoms is a pyramid hierarchy of organised arrangements and connections. The people of the kingdoms generally only interact, on a personal level, with those one step or (on the odd occasion) two steps above or below them. The class system is strong but this is less a discriminatory prejudice and more a belief in the importance of organisation and legal order.
The Ruling Classes
By bloodline. All living royal males initially (current royal line first). Then all living royal females (current royal line first). Always in birth order within immediate family lines. Females do not have to be married to inherit the crown.
Monarchy has absolute power. King and Queen have equal power, regardless of bloodline, but in a stalemate or impasse a King may overrule his Queen, also regardless of bloodline. Senators rule, but do not own, the land and the loyalty of the people who live upon that land. While the monarch has absolute power to make laws and orders, they must have the support of the Senate if they are make large changes happen quickly.
Whether King or Queen, the monarch of a kingdom has ultimate power. Technically, they may stipulate anything they like. Their word is law. In the objective sense (disregarding personal loyalties) the King's word holds more weight than the Queen's if and when a political or legal stalemate is reached, regardless of bloodlines. Along with ultimate power comes zero considerations or responsibilities that a King or Queen may have had prior to them taking the throne. As a monarch, they are separate from House squabbles and politics and must hold himself/herself as the rule of objectivity in the land.
While the monarch of any Aegean kingdom has ultimate power in a technical sense, the Senate also hold a power of sorts. While they cannot oppose or openly go against an order from their King or Queen, a smart Senator can make life every difficult for an unpopular ruler. As overseer of their lands and people, the royals and barons of the kingdom can cause delays, issues and excuses for slow enaction of plans that may be time sensitive. As such, it behoves any Greek ruler to ensure that they have the support of their nobles and never require the power of ultimate authority that they hold by their birth right.
To this effect, it is expected that a King will always preside over the meetings of the Senate and handle the legal legislation, the issues and affairs that need to be settled via those laws and keep the kingdom moving forward in terms of their trade, military and future plans of expansion. The Queen is expected to reside over the Court - an open congregation of all nobles. As the King himself holds no personal lands or loyalties, he must have the agreement of the Royal and Noble House representatives in the Senate if he is to ever pass a law without the use of blunt force or the use of his "ultimate power". To force nobles into decisions is to only stay their hand and slow their feet when it comes to needing men in a war effort or goods to make trading deals. In order to ensure support instead of difficulties from the managers of his lands, a King must have the personal support of the individuals of the nobility themselves. This is where the Court comes in. The Queen holds a weekly session of Court in order to meet the members of the nobility in a less formal manner; in a friendly atmosphere that encourages discussions, trades and agreements of loyalty that can then reflect in the Senate. In this, the gossiping and socialising wives and daughters of the noble families have more legal sway and power than their male counterparts.
The Immediate Royal Family
The Dynasteía from which a monarch rises - the Royal Family - are considered more important than others, simply due to the blood connection they have with the monarch and the fact that they often have his/her trust. If the current monarch is out of favor with his birth House, those relatives would not have such power. This position of prestige has nothing to do with their House and everything to do with the influence they may or may not be able to employ over the current ruler.
The only other element of power that falls to the Royal Family over other Dynasteías of royal blood is if one of the Monarchs (King or Queen) has passed away and another member of the family is handling their responsibilities. A daughter holding the Court or a brother holding Senate, for example, would be considered superior and hold a level of authority based on their position of power within each.
The Royal Dynasteía
The Royal Dynasteías are named such because they all have royal blood. As such, it is important to remember that certain members of the Royal Dynasteías are entitled to sit upon the throne of a kingdom; they simply aren't doing so currently because of the coincidence of gender or birth order throughout the generations. As such, it is simply through good politics, happy trade agreements and the immense power of being a high ranking member of the nobility that ensures the lack of uprising or difficulties between the Crown and the Royal Houses. While the Crown technically holds more power than the Royal Dynasteías and can do whatever it wishes due to the stronger bloodline and birth (this can also be boiled down to an individual basis, working out how "strong" or "diluted" the royal blood within them is and basing their level of deserved respect and prestige upon this spectrum) the King or Queen does not currently hold ownership of his kingdom's lands - the Royal Houses do. And until the King or Queen have a legitimate reason for removing that power or status of nobility, he/she is forced to play nice with the Royal Dynasteías and keep them happy, so as not to cause a coup or civil war through the backing of an alternative royal-blooded noble.
Heads of Houses
Within the Royal Houses, the Heads of the Houses are like their own monarchs. They have the ultimate power within the family and while they might have to "play nice" with any young brothers or other heirs who might seek the role of Head for themselves - at the end of the day, they are the top position of authority within their House and no-one can argue otherwise. It is utterly impossible for a member of a different House to try to interfere with a House's internal politics and decisions and while the Monarch of a kingdom has ultimate power over the Heads of Houses it would again be incredibly difficult to find a legitimate reason to do this that would not cause the other Houses to become wary of a monarch willing to meddle in the affairs of a family that is not his own.
A Royal House can petition the Crown to allow them more than one Head. This can only happen when a family is very decisively split over several generations and neither wishes to give up the name. This generally works in the sense that - politically - the two are seen as two individual units without connection, despite sharing the same name - but which share the lands that had previously been under one rule. It is then up to the two Heads of Houses how they coexist - whether as partners or entirely separate entities. The House of Antonis, in Athenia, is an example of this, with both Lord Lacides and Lord Alehandros being Heads of House.
The position of leader of a House cannot be held by the King/Queen of a kingdom. Whichever family is currently ruling their kingdom, will have both the monarch and a family leader registered in the Houses Registry.
The Senate is help on a weekly basis in all three Grecian kingdoms. However, major events are not discussed until the sixth Senate meet. Unless a noble has a specific issue to be heard they are unlikely to attend the weekly Senate every time but will always attend if other business brings them to the capitol. All nobles try to attend the six week events.
The Heads of each royal Dynasteía hold a seat and vote in the Senate. The Senate operates as a guiding force, a voice for the collective upper crust of Grecian society. They vote and offer their opinion on certain topics that are brought to their attention. These are brought to the Senate as and when the King or Queen permits. The Senate operates as a means of communication, rather than a means of politics. It is for the heads of Noble and Royal Dynasteía's to voice concerns and for their opinions to be made note of, so that others - most specifically the ruler - can read their standing and perspective and take into consideration all that that implies when making his decisions. Most Greek Senates operate as a means of subtle threats and comments designed to look out for self-interests or as a means of attempting to aid the monarch of the kingdom with helpful information, shared knowledge and general debate. As well as the Heads of the Royal Houses, each provincial baron (the leaders of the noble houses) is also permitted a seat at the table, as well as the Master roles within the kingdom; men who are considered the highest point of authority in their field and who have denied all personal ties to a House or group allegiance; offering themselves as an entirely objective voice on any matters within their field of expertise. The Master positions are listed below:
(To The Crown)
The closest advisor to the monarchy, who has the King and Queen's ears. Assists and advises in state affairs and manages less significant affairs himself. He commands and orchestrates the Senate meets, acting as primary speaker and mediator. The Chief Advisor can sit in as regent during Senate talks, if necessary, but cannot make executive decisions. As such, in this scenario, they normally operate as advisor to a close royal relative of the monarch, instead of as regent themselves, if it can be avoided.
(To The Crown)
Beneath the Chief Advisor operate two other Advisors to the Crown. These men are as trusted in their advice as the Chief Advisor but work in a supportive capacity to the Chief. They are often the men who take over the above role upon their retirement and, during their tenure work as an objective and mediatory voice within the Senate.
Expert in the word of law in the kingdom. Works closely with the Chief Advisor regarding matters in the Senate and oversees the Senate public services sector. He is the expert in the written law and often looked to for his interpretation and confirmation of the legal letter.
Head of the royal treasury and the currency negotiations both within the kingdom and between kingdoms. He has several assistants who are experts in currency conversion and financial reporting, lending information and support to those in the Trade sector of the Senate when they go to negotiate with other kingdoms. Works closely with the Master of Trade.
Monitors the commercial trading of goods and materials both within the kingdom and between kingdoms. He has several assistants who are experts in negotiation and trade agreements who travel between the kingdoms to establish trade deals. Works closely with the Master of Coin.
Head of a network of spies and informants. It is his job to know everything that is happening both in and out of the kingdom and report it directly to the King or an appointed body. This Master's role is incredibly secretive and he holds a unique position of trust within the kingdom.
Monitors the levels of wildlife, reads the storms and waves. Researches patterns in the sea's behaviour so as to decide when would be the most beneficial for war or trade or fishing. Depending on the kingdom, this role can have significant power and importance, based on the value the sea offers to their particular trade and industries.
The master of learning and the head of any and all academic establishments in the kingdom. This role is separate from the Head of Universities and operates above such roles. They are also in charge of recording the history of the kingdom, including the scribe team who record the works/words of the Senate, for future knowledge and posterity.
The highest authority in warfare, tactics and the leading of men. Normally a retired General of the kingdom's military but no longer actively serves. They are an advisory role only and work very closely with the Commander of any City or Royal Guard forces within the kingdom.
Lords and Ladies
The Lords and Ladies of Royal Houses are considered to have more power and be owed more respect than those of Noble Houses simply due to the fact that they might one day be able to rule (due to their bloodline) and a member of a Noble family will never be permitted on the throne as they were not divinely appointed/bred for the position. An unmarried, youngest daughter (the lowest rank of a Royal Dynasteía) would still be considered of more authority (if not more experience/knowledge) than the baron or baroness of a Noble Family.
The Noble Varónos
The Noble Varónos that manage the provinces are not considered to be nobles by birth (even if they were born into a family who had been of noble status for many generations). While the children of the Noble Houses inherit the responsibilities of their parents, exactly as the children of Royal Houses do, the Noble Varónos are seen less as noble courtiers and more as commoners who simply have the best and most exclusive job in the world - working directly for a Royal House. This "job" gives them power, standing, a little wealth and access to the Court and Senate. While the pressures of running a province and holding a barony are harder than one might think, it is important to note here that, when in Court, a nobleman is often considered to have been allowed to be there by their patron Royal House - not because they deserve it via their birth. No matter how long their family's name has been on the kingdom's patent scroll of nobility. While it may seem like the Nobles have no power over the upper classes, this is more or less true asside from the fact that an unhappy baron or baroness with enough intelligence could cause serious issues for their patron should they wish to. Incorrect reports, uneven trades, the destruction of land, the planting of evidence. Noble families have access to many files and documents an average denizen would not and, while the truth would likely come out in the Senate and most potential threats made by a nobleman are pure bluff, they can - at the very least - cause significant issues, which - if cast at the right time - can have catastrophic effects for their Royal patron.
Court is held on a regular basis on a regularity decided by the chief female royal of the kingdom. In Athenia and Colchis, Court is held once every two weeks. In Taengea it is held Weekly.
The easiest way to describe the structure of power in the Greek/Aegean kingdoms is that the higher up the ladder you go, the more power you "technically" have, but the more restrictions that have to be considered when using it. Alienating a Senator, collapsing a trade agreement or simply saying the wrong word at the wrong time, on the part of a King can have monumental results. A single word from a monarch, spoken in the wrong way - but with all that ultimate power behind it - could effect things in ways one cannot always expect and turn the room full of men that a monarch requires the support of into enemies who only serve to make their life difficult. A Senator who is angry at their monarch, might make some muddlement in a letter and send his provincial soldiers to the wrong location. Such an "innocent" mistake, that could lead to a lost battle. A lost battle could lead to a lost war and a king who loses a war due to his "personal issues" with a particular Senator might be considered a traitor to his kingdom, for he lets his personal weaknesses affect the greatness of the kingdom he should be serving... And suddenly the kingdom is under new management. While the above is all technically correct, it is important to point out that the displacement of a monarch (King or Queen) is incredibly rare. This is often due, in part, to any Senate's preference of tradition over a bad monarch (and a Senate vote to usurp a King must be passed with a 90% support), a lack of the right percentage of support (which is an incredibly high number), the fact that a King might simply appoint noble families he knows to be loyal to him in order to avoid such risky votes and all other numbers of contingencies and back-ups that a King or Queen might employ.
This is the purpose of Court, House politics and personal connections. It is important to note that while all of this is the basic structure and layout of the powers of the Court and Senate, people are individuals and can be swayed one way or another. Situations that include coercion, blackmail, love, loyalty, rivalry or simple dislike, can throw all of the above rules out of the window, provided that the creator of the character behaving in a manner that flies in the face of the above social structure, understands that their actions will have consequences; some good, some bad and all depending on the personal ideals and morals of those their actions have affected.
It is appropriate etiquette and practice to show respect to families or members of families that are of higher rank than yours in Court. This can be tricky to engineer at times as many of the noble Houses are intermarried. The general rule is that the closer someone is to having royal blood, or the purer the royal blood they have is, the more respect they are shown.
A general term applied to all those eligible to attend Court. This includes any member of any noble House who are old enough to attend. Men must be twelve to attend Court, women must be fifteen. This is also the age at which the individual officially "comes out" and is eligible for marriage. If a member of a noble House has never attended Court (no matter their age) they are not officially "out" and are unable to be courted (unless through private arrangement with their parents).
The servants that attend to the courtiers. Men will usually have at least one retainer. Women can have up to four or five. Retainers are always the same gender as the courtier they follow. Female retainers are often referred to as "ladies-in-waiting" or "handmaids".
All military leaders from Captain and above are allowed to attend Court.
Leading minds in certain disciplines can be invited to Court by a royal or attend Court as the guest of another courtier. They cannot attend alone or without an invitation.
Sometimes, at the invitation of the royal family, musicians, dancers or entertainers will attend Court for the amusement of the courtiers.
Members of the Court are permitted to bring guests outside of the nobility if they a) alert the royal household that such a guest is attending three or more days before hand, and b) if this person is not a criminal or expected to cause issue within the Court. The Royal household have the authority to deny permission to attend to any guest. However, the gratitude of a supplicated courtier is often more valuable than the refused entry.
While the Senate is where official decisions are made and where the King can actually install changes or make decisions on issues raised to him, it is in the Court where the real power and politics happens. Here is where all of the under-the-table dealings, personal interactions, blackmails, slicked palms and arrangements between the most powerful in the kingdom occur.
The Royal Line
Currently, in Greece, the royal lineage is followed down all male members of the royal bloodline and then all of the female members (once the entirety of the males with royal blood has been utilised). The males closest to the current/late ruler will always be passed the crown first, no matter how many female relatives they have to pass to get there. For example, a cousin who is related to the current king through four generations back in their family tree (but through the entirely male line) would only be looked to after the nephew to the current king, even if the nephew was related to the ruler through his female mother. "Closeness" of bloodline, trumps male-dominant family connection. When a royal female takes the crown as Queen, her husband holds a higher title of King. However, the taking of the marital name and the agreements between the husband of the wife during the marriage decide whether or not the husband's House becomes the new royal House of the kingdom. (See below for more on Marriage). Crowns and status of monarch/ruler cannot be passed down without the death of the previous King/Queen. It is not a title that can skip generations or be passed over. Abdication is permitted but rare and, depending on the circumstances could be considered an act resulting from scandal or dishonour.
The Royal Houses
The Head of House title is most often held by the eldest male in a family line. However, this title does not pass immediately with death - instead, it can be passed down or assigned to other members of the family. Or, it can be assigned through a Will or Testament by a previous Head if they do not want it to be given automatically to the eldest male still living. The Head of a Royal House automatically gets his own seat on the Senate as representative of his House, and they have the right to change or appoint anyone they like to the baron/baroness positions in each of their provinces. The baron/baroness of each province (one per province - the baroness only attains it if her husband is dead) holds their own seat on the Senate also as representative of their province. While these noblemen are supposed to speak and vote in the most beneficial way for their own people and lands, they are also aware that it is with the Head of House's permission that they hold the personal power they do. As such, it is a cunning balance on who to appoint as a provincial leader so that they may vote in a way that best suits their patron House. This is why it is often that a Head of House will not also be a baron of a particular province. It is not against any law and is perfectly permitted for a Head of House to also hold a barony but, apart from being an exceptional amount of work to take on both roles at once, it means that the Royal House is sacrificing a seat (and a vote) on the Senate - for one man can not cast two votes - whether he is both Head and baron or not. As such, key baronies within a Royal House's provinces are often ruled by a brother, son or male relative of the Head of House. This is way of ensuring the votes, without them being directly under the Head's name and being lost.
The Noble Houses
Noble Houses are vassals of Royal Houses and only hold their positions through the favour of their patron House. They know this and, as such, must remain in tight communication with their patron House in order to always be aware of how it would be most beneficial for them to speak and vote in the Senate. Nobles are in the tightest spot in politics, as they are responsible for ensuring the growth and flourish of their province, while also maintaining a show of loyalty and support to the House/family that gave them their role. Balanced on a precipice and knowing that their Royal House could strip their title on simply a whim, the Nobles of the kingdoms have become adept at court and trade, in order to try and find some form of leverage that would promote just a little independent power for their family. The title of nobility passes down the male line of a Noble family in the same way it does for the Royal Houses.
Distribution of Lands
The title of Royal House cannot be bestowed upon any family at will. However, it must be bestowed on a House that produces any heir of royal blood. For example, if a member of the royal family was to marry someone who was not of royal descent, his house would not become royal just from including a woman who holds royal blood. If that couple were then to produce a child, the House has suddenly become a Royal House, as that child was born into it, and has royal blood themselves. Noble titles are assigned only by the Royal Houses and by the Crown. But the titles (and the lands they come with) can only be given if the Crown or Royal House owns the land at the time. The Crown would have to, for some reason, have had land returned back to them, under their control, before they could allocate it back out. The monarch and royal family cannot assign lands currently being managed or owned by someone else. They can, however, find other ways (trade, finances, favours) to convince the Royal House who owns the land to do it for them.
At their very base, all lands within a single kingdom are owned by the kingdom itself. No Houses and no individuals specifically own the land. It is owned by the kingdom as an entity. The Kingdom is run and managed by the current monarch. This means that whichever House the current king or queen belongs to is irrelevant. The king operates in the best-served interests of the kingdom itself. This is why the capital provinces (Athenia, Midas, and Vasiliádon) are the provinces of the crown rather than of a single family. All of the lands within a single kingdom have been gifted - by the crown - to the four Royal Houses within that kingdom. This gifting cannot be taken back. The lands are, for all intents and purposes, owned by these four Houses unless otherwise specified. This creates a delicate balance. While the royal monarchy technically "owns" all of the lands because it is only the monarchy that is loyal solely to the kingdom and not to their House, the Royal Houses also "own" the land in that it is entirely under their supervision and jurisdiction as to what to do with it.
Within each area of land owned by the Royal Houses, are the provinces of the kingdom. These are the smaller parcels of land that are governed by a Noble House, usually with a council of advisors from each of the towns or burroughs within the province. It is the Noble House's responsibility to ensure that the lands are well maintained, are flourishing financially and are following the laws of the land set out by their own councils and at every legislative level above them. The Noble Houses do not own their land. They have no rights to the land and they do not possess any of the land, people or businesses within the province. All of this is "owned" by the Royal House to which they are a vassal. And is ultimately (one step higher) the property of the kingdom itself. A Noble House does not maintain their power through ownership of land - for they have none. A Noble House has respect and power because a) they govern the decisions made within the province, which means they are people of import to the native layman who lives there, and b) they are a vassal of a Royal House which means they are permitted at Court and at Senate and have a direct line to those of still greater power and wealth.
Land management (at a Noble level) and land ownership (at a Royal level) do not, in any way, equal wealth. All finances and profits that are cultivated from the lands by the Nobles are handed to the Royals, and the Royals hand them on to the Crown and the Royal Treasury. The Noble Houses are then given a living allowance and salary for their work in running their province (in the same way that a labourer is given a wage). The Royal Houses make money by investing their family's personal wealth (inherited dowries and investments from previous generations) into businesses and trade within the boundaries of their land and in inter-provincial and inter-kingdom trading. Any business that they invest in pays the appropriate tax and levies to the Crown, while the Royals who take a cut of their investment must also then pay tax on their profit margin. Ergo, while Noble Houses are entirely reliant on their vassals for their income and their standing, the Royal Houses are not reliant on their standing as nobles. They are often heavily involved in the business of trade and in the processes by which they can make money from money, in order to keep escalating the wealth they pass down through the generations. As Taengea has the longest reigning dynasty of the three kingdoms, it is for this reason that their treasury is one of the richest in the three kingdoms, despite the families of Taengea being diverse in their own levels of wealth.
With regards to shifting or moving the ownership of lands, a province can be "gifted" to a family (Royal or Noble) only by the ruling monarch or the Royal House that owns the land. If any Noble House is discredited, falls out of favour or dies off, for example, the Royal House that owns that province will simply reassign the land to another family. They can also remove the title of barony from any family currently working as a vassal for them, whenever they so choose - for whatever reason they choose - and award the land to someone else. If and when a Royal family falls out of favour and loses a piece of land (or, in fact, needs to sell a piece of land in order to cover debts or because they no longer want it) the land is given or sold back to the crown. The Crown can then do with it as they wish - give it to a different Royal House or keep it under their own House and appoint their own baron/baroness to be in charge of it. Such a removal of lands must be done with good reason or else risking the anger of the Senate - even if it is a monarch's right to do so. A King or Queen seen to remove and assign provinces either to themselves or to those loyal to them will very quickly lose the support of the rest of the Senators and their lives in passing laws or making decisions will become infinitely harder.
Distribution of Titles
Only the immediate royal family can bestow the rank of nobility on someone who has previously not held it. This bestowing can happen at any point and at the royal family's discretion. However, as stated above, the noble title does not necessarily come with lands. The rank would, therefore, be empty. It would give them a vote on the Senate and entrance to the Court but other nobles would see the individual as a "false" noble. One that has zero power and zero influence as they have no lands, wealth, business or people with which to back up their decisions or claims. So, while this is technically allowed, it is rarely done. For what advantage does someone gain from being made the laughing stock of the Court or Senate? On the other side of things, no amount of money can buy you a title. While you can bride, coerce and pay off a member of the immediate family with money (of course) it is through their choice that someone may become a member of the nobility. No title, no lands, can be purchased second-hand; only directly from the crown can they be bestowed. Refusal to accept lands or the abdication of a noble title is incredibly rare and only done under severe circumstances - it is considered dishonorable to the family name.
If a Royal Houses wished to move a barony from one family to another (ergo, changing the barony family) they must seek the authorisation of the crown. Such authorisation is rarely turned down as it is up to the Royal House what they do with their own land but the crown must be informed so that they can make the changes to noble status for the new Noble House.
The Removal of Titles
The removal of a Noble title is simple - the Royal House or the Monarch (should they wish to) simply remove the title, the family lose their home and income and are forced to start again somewhere else with zero access to Court, the Senate or the rights of a nobleman, and the lands are returned to the Royal House they are owned by, ready to be reallocated. The stripping of a Royal title is a little more complicated. While their status of nobility can be removed, they cannot be stripped of their biology as holders of royal blood. This means that they still have claims to the throne and they can still try to exercise those rights.
However, they do lose their lands, their wealth (outside of personal investment), their right to attend Court and will be disgraced in the eyes of their noble connections. The only thing they would retain, through the rights of their bloodline would be the seat on the Senate for their Head of House. However, this seat would have suddenly lost almost all of its power given that the owner of it would suddenly have zero wealth, land or people with which to back up their opinions or statements. For all intents and purposes, they will have no hope of achieving the crown with so limited a base from which to work. The stripping of nobility from a Royal House is rare and would require there to be convincing evidence of treason against the kingdom. Crimes or actions against other Houses would not be enough. In this situation, reparations would be forced to be paid. For a full discredit of the family, something would have to be done against the monarch or the kingdom itself which are seen as one and the same.
Connections and Relations
Marriage is an important element to everyone's life in the Greek kingdoms - not just to the women as in some other cultures. Marriages and unions are, for the upper classes, a way of making business connections and trades. For lower classes they are a means of securing a family and future for your life. Both levels of society would look to marry someone they could love and respect. Below are more details on how marriages and engagements are arranged and carried out.
Marriage and Class
The ranks of the nobility and its structure are listed above. The rank of the person they are marrying will affect whether someone becomes a part of a House or has their new betrothed become a part of their own. A general rule of thumb is that if one of the partners holds a significant rank within their kingdom that they are not going to be abdicating from (such as being the monarch or heir to a monarch) the general rule of thumb is that the husband or wife marrying that person will take their name and adopt to their land and culture. Because to keep the role, the man or women they are marrying must also keep their identity. This is true even if it is the man coming from another land - he would change his name to suit his new fiancée.
Higher Rank Male, Marries Lower Rank Female
Regardless of how low the rank of the female is or how much higher the rank of the male is, the woman will take the man's name, will become a part of his House, will technically no longer be a part of her birth House and will considered as a new member of her husband's House, moving with him into his home and becoming an extension of him and his role within his House and kingdom.
Equal Ranks Marry
If both of those to be betrothed are of equal status - both of Noble Houses, both of Royal Houses (but not immediate royal family) for example - then the same rule as above applies and the woman would lose her rank, status and family in order to become part of his.
Lower Rank Male, Marries Royal House Female
This is where the lines get blurry. In this situation, there are three possible options:
1. The man takes the woman's name and becomes a part of a higher ranking House. He would also inherit the woman's dowry in the form of whatever was left to her and become baron/Lord of any lands she had held in reserve until she was married.
2. The woman takes the man's name and the man's own family (if he is a Noble) shoots up in prestige. If they then produce children, his House would then become a Royal House. This path offers less power and prestige right now, but offers more in the future and allows the man to keep the family name they were born with and are often loyal to.
3. The woman takes the man's name and the man's own family (if he is NOT Noble) becomes a Noble House. If the woman did not have lands including in her inheritance, lands would often be appointed as part of her wedding dowry and the man's nameless family would take a name and a province and become a Noble House. They would also then become a Royal House as and when the couple had children.
Please note that the chances of a Royal House woman marrying someone of no name at all (such as in the third example above) would be incredibly rare. A female of a Royal House has a lot of marital prospects and this would not be a profitable match for her family and is unlikely to be supported or given any kind of dowry at all. A Head of House can also reassign a woman's inheritance and refuse to give it to her should she disgrace the family name by running off with a man who is deemed inappropriate. The way he could do this would be to cast her out from the family name. Someone that is not registered as being part of the family, after all, cannot inherit from that family.
Lower Rank Male, Marries Noble House Female
There are two potential options in this scenario but the second is unlikely to be anyone's first choice:
1. The man takes the woman's name and becomes a part of the noble House. If there are no brothers or male heirs, he becomes the Baron to her Baroness and their children inherit the title of nobility.
2. The woman gives up her own name to have no House affiliation like the man and they live as commoners.
Please note that all marriages within a Noble House must be confirmed and permitted by the House under which they are vassal. If this man/woman to enter into the family is going to become the baron/baroness managing the province, the Royal House is entitled to meet them and decide upon their suitability for the job. If they are not accepted as suitable, then no marriage will be allowed, unless the woman of the Noble House drops her affiliation and rank for her intended.
Upper class unions are made for many reasons - including love - but the general consensus is that any union (be it for a male or female within an upper class family) should benefit the others of their kin. A marriage is a union between entire Houses, not simply between the bride and groom involved. As such there are many people's permission to be sought if a union is to go ahead. Without these consents, no betrothal can be officiated.
For a member of the Upper Classes (i.e. any member of a House in any kingdom) to become engaged to someone (of any background) they must have the permission of:
— The Head of their own House.
— The Head of their intended's House.
— If the bride or groom in question is from a Noble House, they must seek permission from the Head of their Royal House, also.
An engagement can be agreed for several different reasons: dowries (the sum of money presented to the groom's family from the bride's family upon the day of their union), trade agreements, exclusive arrangements, political support, land exchanges and just about any other creative requirements or rules a Head of House wishes to place on the potential arrangement.
For those of the Lower Classes, marriage is something entered into more often because of love but also with an intend to continue businesses or trade. In the same way the upper Houses will arrange unions with trading partners or political allies, the Lower Classes will help to arrange engagements between the children of complimentary trades or those with access to facilities the family business could use. While the engagement is not as huge and ornate an affair as between Houses, nor does the engagement require the permission of the bride's father, it is a recognised understanding that one marries for the benefit of many rather than simply themselves.
While the father of a bride does not have to give his permission for an engagement to be confirmed, permission does have to be sought from:
— The Head of the Noble House that manages the province in which they live.
— The confirmation from a priest in the nearest temple of Hymen, God of Marriage.
— If the couple in question reside in the capital, instead of a Noble House, they must seek permission from the public services office of the Senate.
With the lower classes, these permissions are required and binding but they are also often without issue or argument. They are simply a formality that is required to make a marriage legal but rarely cause issues unless for a particular, personal reason.
A Woman's Control
In terms of the power a woman has over her marriage (be she a member of the upper or lower levels of society), is limited but also powerful. On the technical side of the engagement process, the woman in question has nothing to do with her engagement. Her choice of partner, the arrangements, the dowry and the confirmation of the union is entirely down to those from whom permission must be sought (listed above). However, there are elements of their engagement that a woman can use to their advantage. For example - a public determination that she is barren would render an unwanted engagement void (though would also put a halt to any further engagement offers) or the deliberate act of getting pregnant would facilitate a marriage in a view to avoiding scandal. Also, many engagements are made with the understanding of financial or trade agreements being the benefit to either side. Most often, after the marriage, these arrangements are passed between the families through the daughter who holds a foot in each one. If that woman is dissatisfied and stuck in a marriage that was arranged without her say so, she can make these arrangements and discussions incredibly difficult. This option is limited or open depending on how close the male members of the families are and how easily they could do business without her involvement.
The Wedding Ceremony
When an engagement has been made, the process of marriage happens as quickly or slowly as it takes to prepare a ceremony that is considered appropriate in size and grandeur for the family; commoner families can marry within a few days, while on the other end of the spectrum, royal marriages take months of preparation. Arrangements and agreements are made between the families and, until the wedding day, the bride and groom are kept away from time spent solely with each other.
In terms of the wedding itself, for five days prior to the wedding day, the bride stays with her birth family, surrounded by her female relatives in which she is heralded and has every whim catered to as a goodbye from her family. On the wedding day, the bride wakes up in her family's home and the groom and his father attend the house. The two families share traditional snacks of fruits and nuts and dowries and agreements are exchanged. The wedding couple then attend the nearest temple of Hymen, or a Temple of the Gods and ceremoniously bathe. Once clean and dressed in flowing white chitons without decoration, they are then blessed as married by the priests of the temple. If noble, the bride and groom are both encloaked in the groom's House colours and then escorted to the groom's family home. Here they are given a sumptuous feast as a newly married couple and then, at sundown, sent on to the groom's personal home where they are to then conduct their life together as a married couple.
Within a household, the roles and responsibilities are split very clearly in regards to the strengths of either gender. The man of the house facilitates the finances and any physical requirements (such as manual labour, repairs, the handling of business with other men) and is required to be able to "perform" his husbandly duties on a regular enough basis that the chances of offspring are good. A woman is required and expected to handle the domestic chores of the household, any politics with the neighbours or other families and the education of the children. She is also expected to be willing to accept her "wifely" duties whenever her husband seeks it from her. Generally, marriages are seen as a team effort, with the husband and wife offering two sides of a coin; a balance of internal and external that creates a family unit that will grow and thrive. One is not more important than the other. They simply have a different role and area of expertise and authority.
Divorce and Widowhood
The only grounds available for a "divorce" as such (though this word is not used during this time - it would simply be the end/eradication of a marriage as if it never happened) is if the wife turns out to be barren. This is, obviously, hard to prove and would require arrangements with physicians, family historians and a number of other professionals. The higher up the class system you go, the more proof a man would have to provide before being able to refuse a woman of good breeding without dishonouring both her and himself. If such an event does occur and barrenness is proven, the wife is returned to her birth family without ceremony or consequence and the dowry for her hand must be returned.
Death of a spouse triggers different legal processes depending on which has been lost. If a wife passes away, the husband is entitled to nothing. He still receives his own earnings from his family and he does not have to repay the dowry given to him as the part of the union. If the husband of a family unit passes away, the wife is given an inheritance settlement from the late husband's family and is then expected to leave her husband's home. Depending on the settlement given (a sum that is decided upon their original marriage) she may choose to live alone or to return to her birth family. An alternative option is that the late-husband's family choose to support the wife instead of paying her an inheritance settlement. This is more often the case if the couple have produced children - especially male heirs. If a partner is lost or leaves and is never heard from again (such as being lost at sea) a man can be considered widowed within two years, a woman is not a widow until after four years. Any contention that the spouse is still alive - by a witness or any form of communication, begins the time all over again.
Death and Inheritance
For lower classes, death and inheritance are simple. A child (of either gender) will inherit everything once owned by their parents - from their finances, home and business affairs, to their debts and grievances. This most often falls on the eldest born child but others will be approached regarding the same matters via their association. If all children are underage at the time of their parents' death they will either be forced to offer up their inheritance to a family member who can manage it for them or, if the inheritance is a negative one (such as debts) they will often be sold into slavery to pay for them.
A male is considered of adult age at the age of 12, but rarely will a father encourage his son to take on responsibilities before the age of 14. It is the age of 12 that the law stipulates a man to be of age for things such as deciding upon when inheritance is passed down. Lands and titles pass to the eldest born male child. If there is no male child, the daughter will inherit and, upon her marriage, the land will become a part of her husband's estate. If there are no children upon the death of a land-owner, the land can be claimed by a sibling. If it is not claimed, the land returns to the crown, to be distributed as the monarch sees fit. Any male landowner under the age of twelve or any unmarried female landowner will have a regent advisor appointed to them. This is usually their closest, male blood relative.
All female inheritance in the Noble and Royal Houses is kept to one side and managed by a steward (who has no access to utilise the wealth as it is not theirs) until the day she marries. All of her investments, businesses and titles will then pass to her husband. The only areas in which a woman may hold wealth or status of her own is by investing her own money in some manner. A woman of the Houses is always given some form of "allowance" or "living expense" by the male who looks after them (a father, older brother or uncle most usually). This expense they can use however they like and while most will use it to clothe themselves in appropriate gowns it can also be invested, provided that the business being invested in does not mind their patron being a woman (often a hurdle for many). Any profits made of these investments must be paid tax on, but the rest goes into a woman's own pocket.
Upon the death of a baroness, no changes are made to inheritance of title and the province does not have a baroness in situ. The next wife the baron takes will take up the title. Upon the death of a baron his male issue will take the title of baron and the wife of the late baron/mother of the current baron will retain her title of baroness until her son is married. At which point his wife takes the title. If a baron dies and has no male issue, his wife remains as baroness and a steward is appointed by the Royal House to which they are a vassal. The baroness has some level of power but all final decisions must be run through the steward and the steward takes the baroness's place in the Senate as women are not permitted to attend. This same set up is arranged if a widowed baron dies without a male heir. If they have a daughter who is of age, that female child takes the title of baroness and is appointed a steward. The baron title will be reappointed when she produces a male heir.
It is important to remember that a Royal House can rescind a Noble title at any time, for whatever reason - including a lack of male heir/baron. However, arrangements such as the above are often made because Royal Houses do not look at their provinces with the eye of "who is going to monitor this land for the next few years until there is an heir?", it is looked at with the eye of "which family do we want running this land for the next several decades?" A loyal Noble House and the relationship cultivated with one over time is a hard thing to replace, meaning that Royal Houses are more likely to work around any issues or problems, with a long-term view of the future, than they are to reassign land on a frequent basis.
Illegitimate children are worth nothing and inherit nothing. They are recorded in the birthing records to be the child of a particular person but not the child of that House or noble family. This can only be changed if the current leader of the noble family (usually the eldest male) sees fit to legitimise the bastard by bestowing them land and money. Illegitimate children, legitimised or otherwise, do not immediately inherit anything upon the death of their family members unless the deceased's will specifies them as a beneficiary.
To steal is the biggest sin in the Grecian kingdoms. To steal food is to steal nourishment from someone else, to kill someone is to steal their very life, to insult someone is to steal their honour etc. The significance of the "theft" is determined by the sanctity of what they have taken, the rank of the person they took it from, and the impact this has on the kingdom as a whole. Punishments for breaking the above laws can range from time in the stocks in a public place, to private or public flogging, to imprisonment, to being sent to the arena, to being executed outright.
Accusing a King
The Monarch is beholden to no-one except the kingdom itself, which means it is very difficult to prove a King to be guilty of a crime. With no allegiance to House or person and already holding the greatest position of authority in the kingdom, it is near impossible for a trial to suppose motivation. It is also not possible to steal something that one already owns - and the King owns all that of which he surveys. The only time a King can be committed of treason, or indeed any crime at all, is when he acts on behalf of personal gain, in a manner that is detrimental to the Kingdom he rules. In this, he is accused of being a traitor to his crown and a Senate can call for a vote for no-confidence in their monarch, leading to the removal of his title (along, most often, with his head). If this was to ever occur, the crown would follow normal inheritance laws as if the previous king had died naturally. As the accusation would be personal against the previous monarch, the new ruler - no matter the familial connection - is not tarnished by association. The King is not part of a particular House and, as such, his crimes cannot be shared by a House.
Members of the immediate ruling family of other kingdoms have diplomatic immunity when travelling to others. This is only the case within the Greek Realm due to their peace treaty agreements. Ergo, a member of the Colchian immediate royal family can commit any crime in Taengea or Athenia and be unable to be prosecuted for it - and vice versa between all three kingdoms.
Politics between Houses are often handled in the Court or the Senate. If issues or crimes arise between two Houses and it cannot be settled between them, the matter is brought to the Senate where they can request an impartial verdict from the monarch.
Crimes Against Different Classes
Crimes against members of the lower classes or upper classes, are investigated and processed in exactly the same way. The Greek people believe strongly in duty, valour, honour and integrity. As such, they will never fail to investigate a crime simply because it has been enacted upon a lower class citizen; process and order will be followed and maintained.
However, the punishments issued for crimes are decided upon based on the damage the crime has done to those affected and the significance of the victim and the accused. As such, punishments rendered upon the upper classes will be less harsh than those on lower civilians, or be of a different nature instead of severity (i.e. a hefty fine instead of imprisonment). All crimes are investigated the same way but punishments are decided on a one-on-one case basis. Ergo, they can be wide and varied depending on the situation and the people involved.
Punishments and Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction wise, the guards or military that handle the law within each kingdom only have authority within their particular kingdom. Criminals who travel between kingdoms are safe from the pursuit of authorities, unless the authorities of other kingdoms get in touch and work together with others. This is often the case in Greece due to their peace treaty.
Punishments for crimes are decided on a case-by-case basis. They can include anything from monetary fines, time in the stocks, imprisonment, being sold into slavery or execution. The Greeks do not remove limbs or body parts as punishments.
In Greece, the forces in charge of investigating the crimes are also in charge of sentencing. All sentences must be formalised through the public services sector of the Senate but generally this is only to provide a means of supervising the system; unless an appeal or argument is made, the militia is fully in charge. In Athenia this is the Athenian Guard, in Taengea and in Colchis it's a branch of the main military forces.
When crimes involve citizens at a higher level they can appeal to the rank above them to change or appeal a decision involving a family member: Varónos families can appeal to their Dynasteía and Dynasteía's can appeal to the Monarch, on behalf of a family member that has been accused and sentenced of a crime. It is up to those they appeal to whether or not they step in.