Customs and Laws
These are the customs and laws of Britain.
Customs of Britain
All land belongs to to the king, and all rights derive from the king. You do not own your land, but you own all granted benefits from the land. As long as a knight serves his obligation to his lord, his benefits cannot legally be taken away. Knightly obligations and land grants can only be changed if both knight and lord agree.
Oaths are the most sacred form of a promise. Breaking an oath is considered one of the worst things you can do.
Homage and Fealty
Every knight who is sworn to a lord has undergone the ritual of commendation, which includes swearing homage and fealty. Swearing homage to a lord is a permanent oath to become their vassal – in return they will grant you land. This is only ever done once. Swearing fealty is the solemn oath of faithfulness – to never attack a lord. You can swear fealty to as many lords as you wish.
There are three social classes – the common class, the noble class, and the clerical class. Each class has their own responsibilities. One should never expect to raise or lower below the class they are born in.
- Common Class – Commoners and farmers.
- Noble Class – Nobility, leaders and warriors.
- Clerical Class – The church. Replenished with commoners and nobility.
It’s a medieval society – men come first, always.
Laws of Britain
You may never attack your host or a guest in your house, even if you are bitter enemies. If your host comes under attack, you are expected to defend them with your life.
Whether you get along with them or not, family can always be counted on in times of need. To kill a family member is a grave sin. The definition of “family” can include clan (common ancestor), lineage (extended family), or kindred (family by marriage).
Never break oaths of any kind.
Knights must always obey by the Code of Honor, and must never commit what is considered a dishonorable act (such as killing women).
Fidelity and Divorce
Women are always expected to faithful to their man (though this is not required of men). Divorce is only an acceptable option if the woman has been unfaithful or if you find out you are more closely related that initially suspected.
Illegitimacy and Inheritance
The eldest son inherits the father’s title and lands. Bastards may be adopted and legitimized only if there are no legitimate heirs. Sons also inherit their father’s coat of arms, but must differentiate it from their father’s arms until full inheritance upon their father’s death.
There are four types of justice:
- Low Justice – Laws applying to nobles and their retainers
- High Justice – Laws applying to high nobility and kings
- The King’s Justice – Laws applying to everyone
- Church Justice – Laws applying to church clergymen only
Knights are the “Low Justice” law and are able to punish criminals as they see fit. Appeals can be made to higher courts. Knights who break the law may request a trial by combat.
Noble Prisoners and Punishment
Knights can surrender to lords and be held captive for extended periods of time. Knights are punished in three ways:
- Banishment – The knight must depart his lord’s holdings for one year
- Outlawry – The knight is permanently banished from his lord’s holdings
- Degradation – The knight is publicly humiliated and stripped of all titles and lands, and cannot be bestowed knighthood again.
Church law applies to British Christianity. Landholding and ecclesiastical law on behalf of the church operates as if the church is the vassal of a greater lord.