Jump to content

KAP Romans: city or countryside, and other things

Recommended Posts

I thought it was a better idea to pull this discussion into its own thread. Originally talked here:

The Romans (actually representing Romanized Britons) are another oddity trying to marry the (Post-)Roman Britain with the Norman England that the rest of the society is based on (see BotW and BoU). Historically, by mid-5th century the old Roman towns were largely abandoned ruins, even Londinium. By the time we get to Norman England, the character of the towns is quite different.

In short, while you had villas and such during Roman times, the local town or city was still the center of administration and politics. The rich man might live in his own villa and gain his income from the lands surrounding it, but the business, the justice and the public discourse were still handled in the city. The villa and the city were interlinked. The rich man was participating in the local elections and likely holding offices in the city, and acted as a benefactor to the public buildings in the city: renovating them, supporting their functions or even building new ones.

By contrast, during the medieval times, the towns are no longer in the same 'chain-of-command'. The landed knight is connected to his liege, who is living in his castle. The justice is handled in manorial and hundred courts, or kicked up to county courts and finally to the royal justice, if need be. None of this is connected with the local town, which became self-governing (admittedly, not straight from the Norman Conquest). Sure, the local town is a major market, its craftsmen producing items and needing food and materials. But its offices would be filled primarily by commoner townsfolks, merchants and master artisans. Occasionally knights were elected as well, especially in London, which makes sense as it was the largest and most important city in the kingdom. But they didn't need to be local knights nor had they any feudal relationship with the city.

In BoU, the 8 cities (civitates) of Logres are explicitly said to have charters and governed by "a town council of senators, led by a mayor". A royal sheriff is appointed by the King.

In BoK&L, the Romans are explicitly Urban, living in the city, and their society is explained as: "Urban society has a city council that rules by long-established tradition, based on Roman principles (though often without having retained Roman identification). The rich run things, and the commoners work. The plutocracy coordinates the many various power groups of the city; these leaders are the burghers of the city, the wealthy owners of land and businesses. The council oversees the interests of the guilds, markets, and trading companies (as sources of income), and, of course, defense." (There are actually different levels of Urban in BoK&L, with some Cymric towns getting an Urban designation as well, but I'll continue with the general one now.)

Importantly, BoK&L also establishes these 'classes':

"Equites: An Equites is a Roman nobleman who has taken up the profession of knightly arms. The “liege lord” is really the family itself. The old aristocratic families have a duty to defend the realm and to provide military leadership. Thus, from among them come the proud equites (knights) of a family."

"Equites of Aristocrat Family: The aristocrats of the city are the wealthy urban elite. They are the plutocrats, the owners of industry, keepers of trade, and leaders of the city council."

"Freeholding Equites: All cities own the lands surrounding them, and those lands are owned by the “lieges,” who are the aristocratic families. So the “liege lord” is really the family, once again. The “freeholders” owe their allegiance only to themselves and the city, without a formal feudal- type of oath." (emphasis mine)

I strongly dissent here that the "liege lord" is your family if you are equites. Instead, it should be your city, as indicated by the Roman Passions: "Loyalty (city) 1d6+10". (I ignore Loyalty Emperor in British context. It has been 75 years, three generations, by 485 since the Roman Emperor said to look after your own defenses, nor would the Kings of Logres allowed a major part of the economy of their kingdom to be beholden to a foreign emperor. It could still be valid for some parts of the continent, since we know that technically, the Western Roman Empire still exists or is resurrected in KAP universe for Arthur to have a war with.)

In 4th Edition, we see London listed as one of the homelands, with the following summary (emphasis mine): "London, Culture/Religion: Roman/Christian, Ruler: City Council, Vassal of: Pendragon, Army: 70 knights, 1000 soldiers"


So based on all of the above, here are my conclusions (i.e. how I intend to GM this, YPWV):

The Roman knights (equites) from the City homelands can be divided into two subcategories: urban and manorial (or freeholding, as BoK&L states). The urban equites get their wealth mainly from commerce & industry (workshops) and live in the city itself. The manorial/freeholding equites live in the villas surrounding the cities, much like their Cymric cousins do. Both types of equites participate in the city life and contribute to the city council, although perhaps not every eques has a seat in the council (indeed, I could easily see a tradition of the older knight relinquishing his military role to his adult son, but retain the council seat until death, since his experience and auctoritas would be more important in a council setting than on the battlefield). The elected mayor (I'd prefer a more Roman title here like praetor) acts as the executive. The oaths of allegiance (homage) are sworn to the city itself, not a particular personage, but it is the city council who rules and the mayor who executes those orders.

(Yes, this does mean that there are these odd pools of Roman antiquity in our otherwise Norman England society, but when one is given a Frankenstein's Monster, it is time to hook up some electrodes and run up the lighting rod!)

Edited by Morien
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, Morien said:

In BoK&L, the Romans are explicitly Urban, living in the city,

That';s mostly true. There are a few places, such as Dorset, where Country Romans exist, but they are the minority. I tend to view that as the effect of the breaking down of the old ROman city based administration and the beginning of the feudal system. But overall I agree with you.


In my pre-Aurelius campaign I have a few ROman villas stilla round which will mostly evolve into "manors" over time. Grateley is one such place, with the town about a half mile north of the old Roman villa. The PK who holds the villa has already started the process by having his older, retired character living at the villa (which is just a compound, as the fields have been left untended for too long), and his son living at the manor house in the village. 

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...