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What did the New Lords do?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:07 am    Post subject: What did the New Lords do? Reply with quote

On another thread I have commented that the New Lords do not seem to do or be what we normally associate with the word "Lord" in our reality. For us, a Lord is someone who exercises power, who rules others, and who possesses certain privileges that go with Lordship.

Re-reading The First Chronicles has strengthened my opinion that the New Lords are not rulers or governors. If anything, they are more akin to a military-religious order in our world.

In Ch. 8 of LFB, Atiaran tells Covenant of the reconstruction of the society of the Land after people returned following the Ritual of Desecration. She describes the Loresraat, "a community of study and learning", saying that "To that place go all who will" and goes on to say that:

"In the Loresraat, those who follow and master both Sword and Staff, who earn a place in the Warward and among the Lorewardens, and who do not turn away to pursue private dreams in isolation, as do the Unfettered - those brave hearts are named Lords, and they join the Council which guides the healing and protection of the Land. From their number, they choose the High Lord, to act for all as the Lore requires:

And one High Lord to wield the Law
To keep all uncorrupt Earth's Power's core.

"In my years at the Loresraat, the High Lord was Variol Tamarantha-mate son of Pentil. But he was old, even for a Lord, and the Lords live longer than other folk-and our Stonedown has had no news of Revelstone or Loresraat for many years. I do not know who leads the Council now."

Without thinking, Covenant said, "Prothall son of Dwillian."

A number of things can be deduced from this, either directly or in conjunction with other parts of the text.

* The function of the Council of Lords is to guide "the healing and protection of the Land" rather than to rule it. This is confirmed in TPTP when Mhoram states that "Despite is abroad in the Land. For that reason we are Lords. The Land would not require us if there were no harm at work against it."

* The Lords evidently don't govern the lives and activities of the Stonedowns and Woodhelvens, That Mithil Stonedown has had no news of Revelstone or Loresraat for many years, and the most knowledgable person in the village doesn't know who the incumbent High Lord is, suggests that no tax collection, law enforcement, census-taking or other function that we associate with a territorial state is undertaken by the Lords. In fact we learn in LFB that the Stonedowns and Woodhelvennin are governed by circles of Elders, who are also responsible for organising the villages' defence in wartime.

* The only entity that corresponds to what would be an enforcement arm of the state in our world is the Warward, which Atiaran tells us is based at Revelstone and which numbers only about 2000 people. We learn, as we read the Chronicles, that the Warward's sole function is to fight defensive wars against Lord Foul and his servants. It is also reasonably clear that the expansion of the Warward in TIW and TPTP is basically a response to the emergency that the Land faces, and we can assume that the figure of 2000 given by Atiaran is what would be the norm in peacetime. This is nowhere near enough to perform a general law enforcement function throughout the Land.

* Anyone in the Land who wants to can study at the Loresraat. There is no draft or recruitment for the Warward. There is no competitive examination to determine entry to study at the Loresraat. Most importantly for the purpose of this thread, the Lords do not become Lords by any of the mechanisms by which people become lords, rulers, POTUSes or Prime Ministers in our world. They are not elected. They don't inherit their position. They don't buy their way to office, They don't seize power by force. They simply happen to be those people of the Land who have freely chosen to study at the Loresraat and who have passed the tests in the Lore of both Sword and Staff.

* The language by which Lords address the ordinary people they encounter is almost always respectful and suggestive of equal status. In Ch.13 "Vespers" of LFB we find Prothall speaking to the people of Revelstone as "we" and "brothers and sisters of the common troth" (and also stating "Service enables service, just as servility perpetuates debasement". Prothall's speech in this chapter is generally that of first among equals in a religious or spiritual community. In TIW we find Mhoram responding to the welcome afforded him by the Elders in Mithil Stonedown like a motel guest chatting with a friendly manager rather than as a member of an elite dealing with commoners.

* While we do see Mhoram issue commands in TPTP, this is in the extremity of war and a siege, and can be assumed to be a function the High Lord takes on in an emergency rather than something normal or permanent.

The role of the New Lords in the First Chronicles can be contrasted with that of the Clave in the Second Chronicles, which definitely does rule, and enforce its rule. I will not risk spoilers by mentioning other examples of the Land being ruled. However I think that what I have written above makes my perspective clear enough. In the First Chronicles, a Lord was a person who combined the functions of priest and elite warrior, who performed those functions in the service of the Land in partnership with the people of the Land, and who did not rule the Land in any sense that we would recognise. As is also clear from a reading of the First Chronicles, the Lords were people of humble and courteous bearing who did not wear crowns or jewels or engage in ostentation of any kind.

The term "military religious order" is perhaps not entirely satisfactory, especially considering what some such outfits have got up to in our history, but it is the best approximation I can come up with for the New Lords.
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