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Last Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Authors: Wolfsire and Anced Math

At last information on the laws of the March. All feedback gratefully recieved.

The Laws and Institutions of Gran March: A Primer

Much as the Kingdom of Keoland was organized under the Founding Charter of the Kingdom in C.Y.342, so the Laws and Institutions of Gran March organized this land since it was written by the original Commandant of the March, Sir ????????????????, when governance of the land was turned over to the Knights of the Watch in C.Y. 301 at the direction of Tavish the Great. It was amended only once, in C.Y. 438 when the excesses of Tavish the III were most apparent. At the conclusion of the Short War the Nobles grew disgruntled with the King's attempts at conquest through his hand picked Commandant. By subtle defiance and quiet anger they forced the weakened King to allow election of the Commandant by the Barons, giving the Gran March its independence.

In the earliest days, when the province was the Gran March of Dorlin, it was apparent that the Knights of the March would soon control a vast region. Their initial rule was marked by campaigns they considered "Just," against the infidels, the Flan and the other scattered peoples who had lived under Vecna's rule. These Knights determined that by virtue of their knighthood alone, they were all the law that justice demanded. Each Knight was unto himself a judge and jury, and they termed themselves Justicars when they took up the role of meting out justice.

However, as we know, those Knights had control of the March taken from them due to their excesses. The King replaced the Knights of the March with the Knights of the Watch, a good and noble order. The Laws and Institutions of Gran March that followed, which are upheld even today in the March, though the government itself has change, were drafted with the Code and Philosophy of the Knights in the forefront. Of all the boons brought to Gran March by the Knights of the Watch, these laws are generally the most respected as they provide for rights of collective self-determination and responsibility for all the classes the March be they knights, nobles, artisans, soldiers, clergy or peasants, free or bonded. For that reason, after almost three hundred years, the original copy of the Laws and Instructions of the Gran March has been preserved as an almost sacred document and is prominently displayed at Gran March Castle in Hookhill.

Law and Order

The national government of the Gran March, headed by the Commandant with a Council of Advisors representing each Institution, does not by itself provide for the full scope of law and order in the March. Rather, the Laws and Institutions of Gran March establishes a system under which Watch, the Nobility, the Guilds, the Army, the Temples, and the Commons are each an Institution with status to develop their own Charters for towns, guilds, temples and schools, which generally govern their own affairs. This includes systems of taxation, legislation, and criminal and civil law enforcement. For example, Hochoch has recently come under a Charter established by the Knights of the Watch. Shiboleth is chartered by the Guilds. Lortenford was originally chartered by the Knights, but they intentionally let their Charter lapse and the town was reorganized under a joint Guild, Temple and Commons Charter.

Charters typically embody the spirit that underlies the Laws and Institutions of Gran March, but they often vary substantially. Temple law under the Cult of Inessa within the Church of Zilchus, as well as many Guild laws, is more heavily bent towards equitable civil justice than any others. Army law, as well as the Temple laws of the Churches of Saint Cuthbert and Heironeous, has a strong emphasis on criminal laws. So also vary the judicial processes, including the number of judges, their qualification, and even whether there are juries and examination of witnesses.

The Army enforces that law on all roads and upon all army personnel. Nobles each rule within their demesne. Each Institution usually enforces its own laws upon its own members, with its own system of penalties and incarceration, but may enforce its laws upon members of other institutions under the right circumstances. For example, a guildmember who steals from a poor box or fails to deliver the contracted amount of sacramental wine could be subject to the laws of either a Guild or Temple Charter, and may appeal to another Institution, depending on his birth status. Overall, the system established by the Laws and the Charters makes for quite a complicated system of jurisdiction that is not easily understood, even by those charged with enforcing it. Much of it is governed by unwritten tradition, which themselves vary. The Army and the Knights almost never relinquish jurisdiction, while many Temples do so as a matter of course. When conflict between Institutions cannot be resolved, courts are provided by the national government for redress and it is said that Chief Magistrate Winters of the Court of the March has never made an incorrect legal decision.

By this Writ, penned in the Three Hundred and First Common Year, and the Authorities given to the Knights of the Watch by Tavish of House Rhola, King upon the throne of the Lion, with the Consent of the Council of Niole Dra, here are set forth...

The Laws and Institutions of Gran March

Article.1 The March Shall be governed by the Commandant. The Commandant shall maintain the March and it's Institutions. The Institutions shall be the Watch, The Nobility, The Guilds, The Army, The Temples, and The Commons. Unto each Institution shall be granted rights to govern their members and within their demesnes. A Council of Advisors shall assist the Commandant in the Governance of the Institutions. These Advisors shall Consist of One Representative from each Institution. Each Institution shall choose its own Representative to the Council of Advisors. The Commons representatives shall choose from among the Mayors of those Townships and Cities Chartered to Petitioners. Should any Institution be unable to decide upon their Advisor the Commandant shall Choose.

Article. 2 Only Petitioners shall have standing to seek Charters of Towns, Guilds, Temples, and Schools, upon the voice or writ of twenty. Only Petitioners may own lands within the March. Exceptions to this may be granted by the Commandant for purposes of Foreign Embassies. Petitioners shall have appeal from the Justice of any Institution to the Institution of their birth and Station. Petitioners are assumed to be all Nobles, the Knights of the Watch, Temples and their Clergy, Chartered Guilds and their members. All Commoners who meet the following requirements are considered Petitioners.

All those who serve in the Army and honorably complete their service are considered Petitioners. All Wives of petitioners are considered Petitioners. All Daughters of Petitioners are considered Petitioners. The Penalty of Death is reserved for the Commandant. All others, be they Order, Temple, Lord or Magistrate must bow before this, excepting only the Marshall General of the Army of the March during times of War. All other Judgments shall be reserved for the Order, the Temple, the Lords or the Magistrates. Should any of these determine that Death is a penalty appropriate, this shall be brought before the Commandant. Each Institution shall have the authority and right to administer justice within its demesnes and on those under its authorities. Non Petitioners have only appeal to the appropriate Baron. Petitioners may request the transfer of their Trial to the Institution of their station or birth. The Nobility shall not be tried by the Laws of the Commons.

Article. 3 The Commandant should and shall raise and maintain an Army. This Army shall be under the command of a Marshall General, appointed by the Commandant, selected on merit. The Army shall work in the defense of the March, and the Marshall General at the direction of the Commandant. All males regardless of race, must serve in the Army of the March, beginning at the age of fifteen, or the equivalent, until such time as the Commander determines such service complete. All females have the right to serve in the Army, but have no obligation to serve in the Army. All those who serve in the Army must be prepared to serve again for a period of ten years in the event of war, and until released in the event of invasion.

Excepted from this are those pledged or seeking to pledge to the Knights of the Watch or to a Temple. Those of Noble blood are excepted, so long as they are active in the defense of their demesnes. Other groups may be exempted by treaty or order of the Commandant.

Article. 4 The Watch shall be governed by the Seven and the Twelve within the bounds of the March. The Watch shall govern itself and its members and shall be subject to no other law unless the superior of the offender shall determine that such is appropriate. The Watch shall be required to pay no tax nor tithe. The Watch and its Demesnes are immune the Law of the Temple, The Law Martial, The Lords Law, Guild Law or the Law Common. The Watch may act as Justicar, only at such time as a Magistrate of appropriate jurisdiction is more that three days travel. Within the March, the Knights shall abide at the direction and succor of the Commandant.

The Watch shall abide the laws of the domain in which they dwell or inhabit. Should the Watch violate the Lords Law, Temple Law, Martial Law, Guild Law and the Magistrate protest, they should abide until their superior may be summoned.

Article. 5 All Roads are under the Jurisdiction of the Army. The Army of the March shall maintain, patrol, and enforce justice on all Roadways. The Army must provide a road to all Chartered Townships. The Army shall provide for the Defense of Chartered Townships above that of Non Chartered Townships. The Army Shall Regulate the Militia, its number and size, in each Township.

Article. 6 Each Temple Shall regulate its own affairs, and that of its Clergy. Each Temple shall be responsible to the March for the Conduct of its Clergy. Each Temple may relinquish its members to the jurisdictions of the other institutions. The Commandant may not restrict the operations of a temple, but he may declare them anathema with the unanimous consent of the Council of Advisors.

Article. 7 Each Guild must obtain a Charter, to be approved by its Mayor, its Baron and the Commandant. Each Charter must designate the home of the Guild and each Chapter House. Each Chapter must be approved by the Temple of Zilchus or the Mayor if in a Chartered Township. If a Chapter is not within a Chartered Township, then the Chapter must obtain approval of the Baron. Each Guild must obtain the renewal of their Charter every five years from the Temple of Zilchus. Should a Guild fail to obtain renewal, the Charter shall be reviewed by their Mayor or their Baron as appropriate.

Should the Mayor or the Baron refuse to renew the Guilds status, the renewal shall be reviewed by the Commandant. Should the Commandant refuse to renew the Guilds status, the Guild is dissolved and all of its holdings and chattel shall be given to the poor, the disbursement to be administered by the Church of Pholtus.

Article. 8 The Common Law shall be enforced by the Magistrate of each Charter. All Commons who are Petitioners have standing before any Institution which claims jurisdiction over them. The Commons shall not be tried by the Laws of the Nobility unless they commit offense on the Demesnes of a Noble. Even at such times, if they are a Petitioner, they may appeal to the Commandant. If they are not a Petitioner, they may appeal to the Knights of the Watch.

Article. 9. The Commandant shall rule at the bequest of the Council of Knights and the Peerage of Nobles. The Electors shall cast their Rods at the Feet of the prospective Commandant. One must be present in order that the Rods be Cast at his Feet, excepting only the Duke of Dorlain. The Commandant shall serve at the pleasure of the Knights and Nobles. Either the Council of Knights or the Peerage of Nobles may call for the Rods to be Cast. The Council of Advisors may request of either that the Rods be Cast once per year.

Should the Council of Advisors request the Casting of the Rods for five consecutive years, then the Rods must be Cast. Should the previous Commandant be alive, he shall Cast a Rod for his successor as Commandant. The Rods cannot be Cast without a Crier first being sent to Dorglast Castle, attending first the Barracks in Marlbridge and Blackpike. The Council of Knights shall have eleven Members. The Knights shall determine the first ten Members. The Commandant of the March shall be the eleventh Member. Each Member shall Cast one Rod. If the previous Commandant is deceased, the Knights shall have ten Rods. Should a Council member not be present, his Rod shall not be Cast. The Peerage of Nobles shall consist of the ten Barons and the Duke of Dorlain should he so choose. Each shall Cast a Rod. Should a Baron be dead, his heir shall Cast even should the heir be without Majority. Should a Baron be absent, their Rod shall not be Cast. Should the Duke of Dorlain choose, he may designate another to Cast his Rod.

--- As Received By The Keeper of Records of the Lion Throne, Lord Esteve Weskein

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