The majority of the population of Aukaria is divided up into "noble houses". There are several thousand such houses that vary in size.
Each noble house has a rank. The ranking consists of five tiers. The first tier houses are the most powerful while the fifth tier houses are the weakest. A first tier house is "higher" in the pecking order than a third tier house. Being a higher tier house carries with it a great deal of social blessings and government support. In business contracts, a higher tier house always has the upper hand when dealing with a lower tier house. The higher a house's standing, the better seating it's representative has in the Senate.
Most social life is centered around the noble houses. Each noble house is a physical estate and a collection of people. The size of a noble house varies greatly depending upon its tier. When speaking about a house, it is understood that the population of the house includes all people and possessions - houses, businesses, orchards, vineyards etc. The population includes the central family, extended family members, servants, slaves, etc.) House dwellings vary with the size, strength and wealth of the House. First tier houses are often sprawling mansions or country estates that may include vineyards and private hunting reserves. They may occupy many hundreds of acres with multiple buildings in a complex. Or they may dominate a small town. Fifth tier houses often are confined to a single stone and timber house with little external property and very little land.
Each House has certain "offices" or "positions" which are part of the standard staff.
Every noble house has a copy of the Vejad Plenarum hanging in a place of honor, typically above the mantle. Many Aukarians have the text of the Plenarum committed to memory and can recite it flawlessly.
About 90% of the population are independent citizens (not a member of any noble house). This portion of the nation represents the lower class, the common peasantry upon which the wealthy houses stand. Among the "houseless" common population, about 25% are beggars, thieves, criminals, underworld powers and vagrants.
Being a member of a noble house afford some legal protections, financial benefits, social status and other benefits. At the same time, being a member of a house involves certain responsibilities. The shame of any member reflects upon the entire household. Likewise, serious crimes and such can demote a house to a lower tier.
The status of one's house is an important social consideration and is flaunted when appropriate. It is every Aukarian's desire to be a member of a strong and influential house. Members of a house are expected to raise their social and political position through great deeds: glory in battle, excellence in craftsmanship, honorable actions, personal fame and acquisition of wealth.
Each Aukarian House has a House Sigil. It is a very formal kind of heraldry. A whole field of study is devoted to Aukarian Heraldry. It is so complex and intricate that it takes a lifetime to master. Heralds are masters of Aukarain heraldry. A herald can tell the basic tenets and beliefs of a House just by reviewing its sigil. Some heralds have all House sigils memorized.
When two houses unite (through marriage or some other business transaction) they may physically merge and become a single house. In this case, their sigils are also merged and a new house (and new sigil) is born. Marriage is usually little more than a business arrangement between two houses.
It is tradition to hang the symbol of an enemy upside down. Houses that oppose each other will often display the heraldry of their enemies upside down in a public chamber for guests to see. This is a huge insult and used sparingly. It is an open invitation to warfare between houses.
For those people who are a member of an Aukarian house, everything is done for the glory of the house. Most members do whatever they can to aid and strengthen their house. This single concept can be used to understand a great deal of Aukarian behavior.
Sometimes individual members of a house may attempt to do something without the noble's permission. This is sometimes a risky gamble, but when it pays off, it can pay off big. Sometimes low ranking houses will try things that are a bit riskier in an attempt to improve their standing. Things that a high ranking house would never attempt.
Many citizens in Aukaria are members of noble houses in good standing. But this is not true for everyone. About 25% of the population is "houseless". Drifters, bandits, thieves, mercenaries, pirates, some common laborers... usually the lower classes have many houseless among them. In the higher ranks, most everyone belongs to a house. The noble houses stand on a vast population of commoners.
A letter of introduction is a common means of establishing relations between two individuals or houses in Aukaria. Usually, a third mediator (person or house) introduces one to another. Typically, with a formal letter of introduction, the bearer of such a letter is welcomed as a guest.
It is custom to bring a gift the first time you visit an Aukarian noble house. The value of the gift reflects your own financial status. Subsequent visits or business with the house does not need a gift. Just the first time.
When you are the guest of an Aukarian house, the Aukarian host is expected to make the guests feel welcome. This is a point of honor for most houses that their guests are treated like royalty, no matter who they are. The guests, in turn, are expected to accept this treatment. Refusing a host's hospitality, whether it be a bath, a culinary treat or whatever, is considered rude.
Visitors to a House are expected to surrender their weapons at the door. Each weapon is wrapped in a silk cloth. This is a sign of respect to the owner of the weapon. In addition, each guest is given a pair of slippers and robe to wear in place of their dusty cloaks and muddy boots. This is a sign of respect to the owner of the house. Upon leaving the house, the clothing and weapons are returned.
Each noble house in Aukaria is taxed once each year. A great show is made of paying this tax. The more the house can give, the greater its status. The taxes are collected by the council and used as necessary. There is often a fierce competition between the first tier houses to offer up the most exorbitant taxes as a show of their wealth. For many houses, the Annual Tax is the highlight of the year and their best opportunity to shine.
This website was last updated January 6, 2018. Copyright 1990-2018 David M. Roomes.