The African Realm
— The Ruling Classes
— The Council
— The Court
Betrothal and Marriage
— Marriage and Class
— Arranging Betrothals
— The Wedding Ceremony
— Married Life
— Divorce and Widowhood
— Death and Inheritance
While each of the three African kingdoms have different ideals, cultures and ethos, all three share a belief in order and justice; mostly specifically, the distinction of right and wrong. While the different kingdoms might draw that line in different places, all three are firm, decisive and - in the eyes of many foreigners - harsh in their administering of punishment when said line is crossed. To that end, the kingdoms of Africa have firm rules and regulations regarding social structure and order.
On the flipside of this, the African kingdoms live for the moment, believing achievement of a good life (whatever that means to an individual) within said lifetime. This makes them ambitious and has the potential for upsetting the order and standing of important positions in the land. It is important to remember, however, that such actions are never to disrupt the manner in which life and law is conducted - only the choice of those managing it. Any coup or usurpations of order are against the people, never anarchy against the system.
The Structure of Power
The ruling classes of the African kingdoms are different from one another. In Bedoa, the tribal groups of nomadic people operate as small nations within themselves. Each have a "royal" family but with the size of their group there are no nobles. Each tribe's Leier (the eldest male of their "royal" family) is effectively their king, for they are not answerable to any of the other tribes. In Judea, the opposite is true. Each of the Six Cities is "ruled" by an administrative noble family, who then commune to lead the kingdom as a whole as a Council of Elders, without a direct position of power or monarch. While in Bedoa there are no nobles and in Judea there are no royals, Egypt holds both; a singular royal family and a nobility of Noble Houses.
The Ruling Classes
Bedoa - Democratic Monarchy
Egypt - Monarchy
Judea - Constitutional Distribution of Authority
Bedoa - Male heir inheritance, in birth order. Female do not inherit.
Egypt - Male heir inheritance, not necessarily in birth order; Female heir inheritance, not necessarily in birth order. Immediate females inherit before non-immediate males.
Judea - Sons often take over from their father's as political leaders. Not guaranteed or required.
In Egypt, the Pharaoh is lord and master. He is the morning and the evening star. He is God on earth. The Pharaoh can do no wrong and cannot be seen to do wrong. Any act he commits becomes the new precedent for acceptable behaviour. This is true regardless of whether the Pharaoh is of the royal bloodline or not. If a woman received the throne, due to having no male siblings, she becomes Queen of Egypt and her husband becomes Pharaoh. There is no difference in power between a man who inherits being Pharaoh and one who marries in order to become one. Pharaoh is pharaoh, regardless. The Queen of Egypt holds a particular authority and right in terms of the respect she is given but she is still female and considered to be without power when in contrast to her husband or any other important male within the Court or Council. Her abilities are limited in terms of her own right but she is also a prized and incredibly wealthy woman meaning that she has certain means with which to claim control and can do so if she is very clever.
In Bedoa, the "royal" families of each tribe (though they are considered the "leading" families or "first" family, rather than "royal") were originally democratically decided; the leader of the tribe was the strongest warrior, or the wisest of elders or the most cunning tactician - the man with the most trade agreements for food and water. For whatever reason upon each tribe the leader is democratically chosen. After this it is tradition that the eldest son take over from his father upon his death, continuing a monarch of bloodline. However, this inheritance line can be broken. If the eldest son is widely considered unsuitable, a second son can be chosen to inherit. This puts great shame upon the eldest but is seen to be in the best interests of the tribe when done. On top of this, as the "monarchy" of each tribe is not one with a divine right to rule, but one originally, democratically selected. As such, a ruling family/individual can be challenged. A man may challenge a tribe's "Leier" (leader) to a contest of skill or power in order to attain the right to rule. If successful, the appointment of leadership then follows down the victor's bloodline in the same way. In this manner, a Leier of Bedoa is not above their own laws and must be seen to follow the wills and ethos of their people; they are to be role models and act above reproach, else risk challenge to their rule. These such challenges are rare, for to challenge the rule and upset the structure of a tribe must be done with good reason. Otherwise the new Leier will have no respect and power. A Challenge of Leadership must be seen to be for the good of the people - not for personal gain.
Judeans have no Monarch. They have a Council of Elders attended by the head and second/deputy of each noble family (the families that run each of the Six Cities). These families are elected and then generally follow down the family line as sons are trained to take over from father's, making them the best choice to continue their political responsibilities. As such, the second of a Noble House (a Mahnheeg) is, nine times out of ten, the first born son of its Head. These two men attend to the Council once a month where all the men in the room are equals and work to the betterment of Judea (the location of which moves from provincial city to provincial city ensuring that every city hosts the meeting once every six months). There is no monarch or royal family.
The Immediate Royal Family
The Bedoan "first families" and their Leiers (the father or eldest male) are not considered to be of any better authority, superiority or power of anyone else. However, they are accepted as being the family with the most objective wisdom in their leadership, because that is how they are raised and trained. They are sought for their decisions in matters and disagreements and their judgement is trusted in how they leader their people.
The Egyptian royal family is shown great respect as both sons and daughters of a Pharaoh could one day become the rulers of the kingdom. As such, they are shown the greatest respect in the kingdom after the Pharaoh himself. Males are always shown more respect then the women but unmarried women are shown more respect than those who are married. This is solely due to the fact that unmarried daughters of Pharaohs have the potential to be Queen and therefore their husbands to be Pharaoh. The level of attention given to each member of the family is in direct correspondence to how close they are potentially to ruling.
Judeans have no royal family. The highest levels of society are their noble families who run the cities. These families are shown respect for the hard work they complete on behalf of the city, but they do not have any power or authority over the people beyond the administrating of the law.
The Royal Houses
In Bedoa, there is only one "Royal House" per tribe - the "first" or "leading" family of the Leier. For more information on the immediate royal family, see above.
In Egypt, all of the "Houses" are of a noble level aside from the one currently ruling - the Royal House. For more information on the Immediate Royal Family, see above.
There are no royal Houses in Judea.
Heads of Houses
The Heads of the First Families in Bedoa are known as Leiers and they are rulers of the tribe. The Heads of the Judean Noble Families are known as Mahnheegs (the same name as the family as a hole - the Mahnheeg is the father or eldest brother of a Mahnheeg family) and are the administrative leaders of one of the Six Cities. In Egypt, the Heads of the Noble Houses (known as Hei) are military commanders, whose family have been made Noble by impressing the Pharaoh with military victory. This is the only way that a House can become Noble in Egypt and the Heads of the Hei have ultimate power within their family - only the Pharaoh can over-rule them.
The Council in Judea is called together once a month at each provincial city in turn. There is no fixed timing of Bedoan Leier meets and Egypt holds open Council once a week, during which the wives and ladies of the men at the Senate hold Court.
Called the Senate in some realms, the Council is the congregation of men who decide upon the ruling of the kingdom. In Bedoa the Council does not exist - the tribes are small and lead by only their Leiers. Though the Leiers do occasionally meet and discuss with one another, there is no united Bedoa as a nation - the tribes behave as micro-nations and there is no need for an ultimate leader or council. In Egypt the Council is made up of the men of the royal family, the Heads of the Hei, all military Generals and important men of the capitol city of Cairo. These might be merchants or traders or anyone that is seen to have influence. A seat on the Council must be paid for on an annual basis if the individual is not one of the Noble Houses. The Council of Judea is made up of twelve men - the Mahnheeg's of each city province and their seconds. This is the primary and only form of government in Judea.
Lords and Ladies
The Lords and Ladies of the African realms are the: the immediate family members of the first families in Bedoa, the extended family members of any Hei in Egypt and the immediate family members of the Mahnheeg in Judea. They are treated with respect and power but the women are seen as drastically inferior to their male counterparts.
The Noble Hei
In Bedoa there is only one level of upper class society - the Leier and his family, who are considered to be at the same level as royals with no nobles beneath. In Judea there is only one level of upper class society - the Mahnheeg and his family, who are considered to be at the same level as nobles with no royal level above. Egypt is the only African kingdom in which there are two distinctive levels of upper class nobility: the Royal Hei and the Noble Hei.
The Royal Hei (as detailed above) are the Noble Hei who are currently ruling. This "current" rule could, just as a note, have continued for hundreds of years, but they were once a Noble family. They do not have the divine right to rule until they become leaders of the kingdom - the people see this as the Gods deciding their Pharaoh through fate and that, once in place, a family has the divine right of kings. After the Royal Hei are the Noble Hei. Each of these families were created through military victory or conquest. A man works his way up through the ranks in the army based on meritocracy. If he is incredibly successful as a soldier, he will reach the role of general. When a general of an army succeeds in a great victory their family are given a noble position and the name of Hei, if the Pharaoh does so agree to grant it. With each following success the men of that family achieve on the battlefield the family might be given something new - a province to invest in, an exclusive trading arrangement. The family can request their reward if the Pharaoh offers them the opportunity, or they simply take what they are given. In this way, Noble families differ greatly in the wealth, power and influence they hold.
A daughter of the Royal Hei can only ever marry a man of her own family or a Noble Hei (in which the man will give up his noble name, becoming a member of the Royal Hei and, potentially Pharaoh). If a blood-Pharaoh (one who was given the title from his birth not his marriage) dies without any issue or a coup occurs in the kingdom and a new Noble Hei take over it is known as a new Dynasty and the Royal Hei is changed to the conqueror's name.
There is no Court held in Bedoa or Judea.
In Egypt, the "Court simply alludes to those who are able to attend festivals and feasts help by the Royal Hei. There is no formal "Court" or regularly scheduled meetings - simply engagements and celebrations that only those of Royal and Noble Hei are permitted to attend. It is this permission, dictated by birth or marriage into the Heis, that grants someone the title of Courtier. The only form of "scheduling" that these Courtiers have is that often the women of the men who attend the Senate each week will congregate themselves whilst their men discuss. This group changes every week based on which nobleman are attending the Senate that week.
A general term for anyone born or married into the Royal or a Noble Hei, in Egypt.
Only Egyptian Courtiers have Retainers - Bedoan royals and Judean nobles would have slaves and servants, but no-one of a distinct role or power as a retainer or lady in waiting (term for retainers of women). While it is more common for retainers of Egyptian courtiers to be the same gender as their master/mistress, they can, in fact, be of both genders. The only stipulation is that male retainers of married women must be eunuchs.
In Egypt, military leaders and noble courtiers are one in the same (in that the Generals of the army are the heads of the Noble Hei) however Deputy Generals are also permitted to attend these kinds of festivals. This is the only rank of military leader who are allowed to attend without blood and marital connection to a Hei.
Scholars or professionals in certain industries or crafts could be invited to Courtly events but only at the request of the Pharaoh or royal family. Noble Hei's were not permitted to extend such invitations.
Entertainers are an absolute must at all Courtly events. Dancers, musicians, animal charmers, fire breathers... all sorts of entertainment was expected at this events, at all times and in every corner. The feasts and festivals held by the Royal Hei are a feast of the eyes.
No additional Guests are permitted at these such events.
Connections and Relations
In line with the African ideals of progressing within your own lifetime (as opposed to long term plans for your children or grandchildren) marriage is a useful tool of politics and wealth. In addition to this, the general ethos in Africa of a woman's inferiority to the stronger sex helps in smoothing the paths to beneficial marriages for the men of this realm.
Marriage and Class
As the social structures of each kingdom are so different, the below information on marriage is split between kingdoms. Each have their own traditions and processes in the conduction of a betrothal and marriage.
Regardless of the union and class of those marrying, a woman will always move to live with and travel with her husband. There are no surnames in the Bedoan tribes besides the name of the tribe itself, therefore there is no name change required - they are simply known to be the wife of their husband based on which tent they sleep in. The first son of a Leier and his wife will sleep in the main tent with the son's parents until his father voluntarily retires or dies. Other sons of the Leier are kicked from their parent's tent as all others are, at the age of 16 and their wife will come to live with them there. Daughter of the Leier stay within their parents' tent until marriage at which point they move into their husband's tent.
Commoner Marries a Woman of the Royal Hei (Egypt)
This is strictly forbidden and would never happen under any circumstances.
Commoner Marries a Man of the Royal Hei (Egypt)
This is entirely permitted - a man has the right to choose any woman as his wife, even if he's a royal. In this case, the woman would take her husband's Hei name and immediately be raised to royal status. Please note that this sort of union is entirely allowed but very, very rare. It would require great sacrifice on the part of the royal male as such a union would give him nothing, offer him no further wealth, power or influence and (because of this) may even dent his reputation as one who thinks with his heart instead of his head - not a good mark of character for a potential Pharaoh.
Noble Hei Man Marries a Woman of the Royal Hei (Egypt)
This is the greatest match a man of Egypt can hope for - especially if the woman in question has no brothers and might one day be Queen, making him Pharaoh. For this match the man must impress the woman's father enough that he will permit the match. This is often done through military prowess, speaking up in the Council and making a name for oneself, being everything a man "should" be, and a great deal of loyalty and sucking up to the Pharaoh. Many men would resort to bribery, paying dozens of caravans and carts of gold for the hand of one woman. Men would war wages or offer up entire areas of land or riches for the safe of marrying a daughter of a Pharaoh. This sort of woman's hand is not something easily attained - noble or not. If achieved, the man takes the name of the Royal Hei and gives up his family name. He does not move his own family name to that of the Royal Family. There is one exception to this rule. If the woman he marries if not of the royal bloodline (she married into it) and is now a widow and Queen of Egypt, the man who marries her would be considered the new Pharaoh and the name of the Royal Hei would change to their name. This is a rare situation and why the Royal Hei changes very rarely. The only other time the Royal Hei changes its name is when no heirs or continuation of the current House's line are available and new family take over entirely. In both of these cases a new Dynasty begins.
Noble Hei Woman Marries a Man of the Royal Hei (Egypt)
This is entirely down to the choice of the man and, if decided by him, the woman changes her name to reflect her husbands and becomes part of the Royal Hei.
Noble Hei Man Marries Noble Hei Woman (Egypt)
In this instance, no matter the powers or influence each Hei possess, the woman would take the name of the man and join his family.
In Judea, the rules of marriage are simple and do not change in terms of class. When a woman marries she changes her name for FirstName of Mother'sFirstName or FirstName of Husband'sFirstName. If a woman has a man's name at the end of her own then she is married. They also wear wedding bands as we do in modern times.
Engagements and arrangements are entirely made between the father of the bride and the husband in question. Entirely arranged marriages (in which the women had no say or knowledge) were entirely common but love matches were permitted if they were seen to be beneficial. If not permitted, however, they would not happen. Women did not have the power nor control to decide their own husbands.
A Woman's Control
In Africa women have no choice at all with regards to their unions. They are their father's property until such a time where they are given to their husband. All arrangements are made without their knowledge or consent and women are never consulted on the choice of husband, nor are they permitted to meet them before their wedding alone. This is how all women are raised to expect their marriages to be, meaning that few fight such a practice; the women are as familiar with it as the men are. This being said, many men will seek the align themselves with women they particularly like. So, while a union can be arranged with the female involved entirely in the dark this is, to a certain extent, unlikely. Women were not idiots and able to see when a man might favour them, meaning that they would have the opportunity to attempt to turn them off should they wish to.
The Wedding Ceremony
In Bedoa, a marriage ceremony is begun by attending to an oasis or water source of some kind on the day of the wedding, at dawn. Here the intended bride and groom were submerged (or covered, depending on the water available) in the fresh water as a sign of renewal and new life. It is also believed that this tradition encourages fertility in the union. The rest of the day is then spent with the woman celebrating, singing and chanting with the other women of the tribe whilst the men go on a hunt (usually for rabbit) across the sands. Usually, the men stop to smoke and socialise before returning to the tribe to feast, celebrate and dance. Throughout the entire day of celebrating, the bride will stay seated before her father's tent. When he is ready, the husband will leave the festivities and move into his tent (hawe). He must do this before dusk. After dark, when the woman decides she is ready to attend to her husband's hawe for the first time, cheers and encouragement go up around the tribespeople and a decorative mandala is held over the bride's head by four chosen, married women of the tribe. They walk with her, with the piece pulled taut and held several inches above her head, from the door of her father's tent to that of her husbands, where she enters alone, joining her new husband. If her husband is already married, his current wife(ves) stand at the entrance of his tent and kiss the palms and forehead of their new sister wife before she enters. The rest of the tribes people (including the wives) return to celebrating loudly and until dawn.
Traditional marriage ceremonies are not held for the Egyptians, and a 'marriage' is usually considered to be done upon the woman entering the house of the man with the goods that had been previously agreed upon by the two families. There would be marriage discussions in which goods of high quality would be discussed as the 'bride price', and the groom's family would prepare reciprocal gifts in return. The bride would usually bring gifts that would contribute to the preparation of a home (furnitire, boxes, makeup tools, perfume bottles and textiles), while the groom would return with gifts of golden accessories. The discussions would also cover the pre-nuptial agreement and a marriage settlement which would be signed in front of witnesses, and agree on a date for the bride to enter the house of the groom. Upon entry, the bride is then considered married. Any material possessions brought by the bride to her marriage remains hers to do as she pleased. Women were given a surprising amount of freedom in marriage despite the rampant cases of infidelity.
Judean marriages are separated into two celebrations done at separate times, with an interval in between. The betrothal (known as the erusin) would come first. The woman would be legally married, although she would remain in her father's house. The ceremony would consist of a blessing over wine, and prayers would be recited by the groom for the bride. The groom would then give the bride a gift or object of high value - usually a solid gold ring or of similar value - and the couple can now be considered husband and wife after the betrothal. The wedding (known as the nissin) would then take place a few days after the erusin, in which a colorful procession would start from the groom's home to the bride's, where the groom would pick up the bride, and then return to the groom's home together. A ceremonial feast would be held the next day.
A woman is considered entirely subservient to her husband. A man has the knowledge, the education, the training and the expertise to make decisions regarding the family and their economy while women were unable to compete. Their area of expertise was the home and child-rearing which, specifically in Egypt, is seen as less important than other tasks. In Judea and Bedoa, these genders norms are just as strong but they have greater respect for the significance of such domestic tasks.
While Egypt are solely monogamous and have strong ideas on adultery (aka neither gender is permitted to carry out such an act but both tend to look the other way if that's the arrangement), Bedoa and Judea both accept the practice of polygamy. Judeans are permitted to take on a second wife. This must be with the consent of their current wife and a Judean man may only have two wives at a time. The wives are both an addition to their husband and are never amorous with one another. Any children had from the coupling are looked after by the women as a collective, rather than one wife only caring for her own children. Some marriages lay out the arrangement that one wive is the childbearer and another the domestic worker. In Bedoa, a man can have as many wives as he wishes and does not require the permission of his current spouses. It is considered bad form and the height of arrogance to have more than one more wife than the Leier. Aka, to have a wife when the Leier is unmarried is permitted, to have two wives when the Leier only has one is permitted, to have three when the Leier still only has one, is seen as showing off. Again, sometimes the duties of a wife were divided between the women, sometimes shared. In Judea all wives are equal beneath their husband but in Bedoa, one of the wives will be appointed as First Wife. This is always the first woman they marry unless the first has died, in which case a new "First" is appointed from those they are already wed to; which one is entirely up to the husband.
Divorce and Widowhood
There is no such thing as divorce in any of the three African kingdoms in any context. A woman may marry a year after her husband's death (to avoid illegitimacies) and a man may marry the minute is wife passes away. When a partner is lost in some way or presumed dead, a man must wait two years to prove that he is a widower and a woman must wait four years. Neither party receive any form of inheritance from their spousal families and the woman in question either return to their birth families or, if said families are unwilling to take them in (common when it's harder to marry off a widow who has already used up her dowry, and the family cannot afford the burden), are often left destitute.
Death and Inheritance
The death of parents results in nothing being handed down the children unless a legal document or verbal arrangement has been made for what is to happen upon their deaths. Egyptians and Judeans will write out physical wills, while the Bedoans will make verbal agreements and handshake vows regarding what will happen to their young should they perish. In Egypt and Judea, whatever is written in their will and testament is law, regardless of how unorthodox it may be. In Bedoa, when a child is born and taken in by the tribe, it is expected that the tribe will support and look after then, regardless of the position held by their late parents or the gender of the child.