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Padraig

Question about manorial staff

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Maybe this should be chalked up to Pendragon being an ever-evolving beast . . . in the Book of the Manor, the steward appears to be a nobleman --- probably an esquire ---who generally "looks after the manor" and appears to be the senior staff member.  In the Book of the Estate, the steward is a mere commoner, specifically overseeing the crops, and standard 10-pound manor doesn't have any nobles other than the knight, lady, and maybe the chaplain.  What gives? 

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You are mixing a steward with a bailiff, I reckon. In a normal knightly manor, it is the wife of the knight who oversees the manor as the whole. If the knight is unmarried, then he typically hires an esquire steward to oversee things for him so that he can focus on fighting and war instead of boring stewardship. Bailiff is out there on the fields yelling at fellow peasants to plow straight damnyoureyes while stewards and ladies are upper management.

So in a typical manor, you generally have either a lady wife OR a steward. Very seldom both.

Edited by Morien

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Upon further reading . . . I guess in the Book of Estates, "steward" is an alternate term for "majordomo," and the presumption is that the Lady of the Manor will handle this role in smaller households, while an esquire is needed by the time you hit 50-pound estates.

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20 minutes ago, Padraig said:

I guess in the Book of Estates, "steward" is an alternate term for "majordomo,"

It isn't. See below.

20 minutes ago, Padraig said:

the presumption is that the Lady of the Manor will handle this role in smaller households,

Yes, both the steward and the majordomo roles are managed by the lady of the manor in smaller households. Or in the absence of the lady (unmarried knight), then the steward is also taking care of the majordomo duties. But they are not synonyms. A majordomo (once the management of the household servants becomes a full time job) would not be doing the steward's duties.

Look, the best modern analogue I can give is that imagine that you are a proprietor of a small bed&breakfast establishment. You greet the guests, you clean, you cook, you provide information on the town and transport, recommend sights and restaurants, and fix/repair any problems. You are a receptionist, house cleaning, cook, consierge/tour guide and handyman all rolled up in one. But you wouldn't say that the term handyman would describe all that you do. Whereas in a hotel, all of these would be different jobs for different people,  probably multiple ones in several shifts. At which point you would start having middle management as well (which majordomos are, in a way).

So in a bigger estate, the chain of command would go that the steward (or the wife) would oversee the whole estate, including outdoors and indoors, with the majordomo as the head of the servant staff. Since the steward/wife no longer has time to oversee all the nitty-gritty details, they would do the big picture: "Sir Such-and-such is arriving with 6 men and his wife tomorrow. They will stay for 3 days. Make sure that the guest room is ready and notify the cook that there will be more mouths to feed." And then the majordomo would ensure that the household would be ready to receive the guests. As well as ensure that the daily routine would still be going, that the lord's fireplace/brazier is lit up in the morning so that the room will not be freezingly cold during winter mornings when his lordship gets up from the bed, etc. Meanwhile, the steward/wife might get to talking with the miller about the fact that the millrace is getting silted up, so some peasants should be detailed to dredge the thing open again... etc.

Edited by Morien

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I dunno . . the Book of Estates says:

Someone must oversee the domestic staff, and he is called the Majordomo. He organizes and oversees all household servants, who are divided by departments. Meals are on time, people sit in the right place, and the tablecloths are clean; all because of him. The entertainment, service, and menu are arranged by him. He hires and fires everyone beneath him. (Historically, this person was  sometimes called Steward or Seneschal, as in Kay the Seneschal.)

There's a chart in the book re: 10-pound estates, indicating that certain staff is supervised by the bailiff . . . which is only defined as a the guy who supervises crop production in any outliers.

 

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Some of this depends on the  size of the estate. For instance at a typical manor the steward is a commoner, or non-knight noble, such as a younger brother. But with the larger estate of a nobleman the steward would be a knight (or better). 

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49 minutes ago, Padraig said:

the Book of Estates says:

I know what it says, I was the one who revised it to bring it into conformity with Book of the Warlord. :)  (Alas, I will admit that there are a couple of little errata points that slipped through the cracks.)

What you need to keep in mind is that the Book of the Estate main text is written with Estates (£30 - £100 or so, averaging around £50) in mind. A humble £10 manor consolidates these various positions under fewer positions. Unfortunately, we were not quite as clear as we could have been as to the chain of command, but it goes like this:

At the very top, is of course the Lord Knight himself. But he seldom concerns himself with the details: it is a well-run household when he doesn't even have to order people around since everyone is already doing what he would have ordered them to do. Besides, he is away on war or at court or on an adventure often enough anyway.

The day-to-day leadership is provided by the Lady Wife, or in her absence, an esquire Steward. (The Knight's still living Lady Mother might also be possible.)

Bailiff takes care of the day-to-day outdoors staff, i.e. bullying the peasants & looking after the production. When the estate grows, more bailiffs are needed to keep the rascals in line, and then you start needing another layer of management to oversee the bailiffs, too. This is where the commoner Stewards come in. Finally, the whole operation grows enough that it is seemly to have another knight paying some attention too, and this person gets the title of a Seneschal. However, it is the commoner Steward and bailiffs who are doing the actual day-to-day work. However, it should be noted and underscored that it is the Lady Wife (or the esquire steward in small manors or the Seneschal in big estates) who is actually making the big picture decisions. With the input from the practical, experienced men of the dirt, one would hope.

The Lady Wife (or the esquire Steward, or the Lady Mother) oversees the indoor staff herself. In a small manor, this is not especially time consuming. However, as we move to bigger estates, the staff swells and so does the complexity. It becomes a full time job, so a majordomo is appointed to take this task off the Lady Wife, who can then again focus on the big picture rather than commanding each individual maid herself (she can, if she wants to, but that is inefficient). Still, the Majordomo takes his orders from the Lady Wife (or the esquire Steward, or the Seneschal). And of course, the Lord Knight himself. (While historically, Majordomo and Steward and Seneschal have been used interchangeably at times, in KAP we don't do that.)

One source of confusion here is that there are two Stewards here: there are the esquire stewards, who are replacements for the Lady Wife, and occupy that overall leadership role (in smaller estates and more distant outliers). And then there are the commoner stewards, who are more like overseers for the bailiffs. And of course finally the knight Seneschals, who exist even if the Lady Wives do, to take over that workload from the lady. (EDIT: On hindsight, it would have been better to call the commoner stewards 'chief bailiffs' instead, and save the steward term solely for the esquires who are occupying the overall leadership role in the place of the Lady.)

So the command tree goes like this:

Crops/Production: (Knight ->) Lady Wife / esquire Steward or knight Seneschal (-> knight Seneschal -> commoner steward) -> bailiff -> manorial ('outdoor', production) staff & peasants

Servant Staff: (Knight ->) Lady Wife / esquire Steward or knight Seneschal (-> Majordomo ) -> department heads (possibly with Butler as primus inter pares) -> their underlings (household / 'indoors' staff)

(And this is still ignoring the Constable, who would be in charge of the horse herds and stable staff, and possibly in his own turf war with the knight Seneschal.)

Edited by Morien
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10 hours ago, Morien said:

One source of confusion here is that there are two Stewards here: there are the esquire stewards, who are replacements for the Lady Wife, and occupy that overall leadership role (in smaller estates and more distant outliers). And then there are the commoner stewards, who are more like overseers for the bailiffs. And of course finally the knight Seneschals, who exist even if the Lady Wives do, to take over that workload from the lady. (EDIT: On hindsight, it would have been better to call the commoner stewards 'chief bailiffs' instead, and save the steward term solely for the esquires who are occupying the overall leadership role in the place of the Lady.)

If I've understood the logic of the books, the social status isn't a hard line, right? As in, some lady wife replacements could conceivably be commoners, and some overseers of bailiffs could be esquires, as long as a commoner is never placed higher than an esquire in a particular reporting line.

(This struck me also because Book of the Warlord mentions knightly stewards for large outliers or other significant parcels -- Sir Blains, Steward of Levcomagus, is presumably an example of this type. Obviously that's way beyond the manorial scale, though.)

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23 minutes ago, Uqbarian said:

If I've understood the logic of the books, the social status isn't a hard line, right? As in, some lady wife replacements could conceivably be commoners, and some overseers of bailiffs could be esquires, as long as a commoner is never placed higher than an esquire in a particular reporting line.

(This struck me also because Book of the Warlord mentions knightly stewards for large outliers or other significant parcels -- Sir Blains, Steward of Levcomagus, is presumably an example of this type. Obviously that's way beyond the manorial scale, though.)

Pretty much, yes. (Although in our campaign, the Steward of Levcomagus is called the Praetor of Levcomagus and it is an inheritable title rather than just an office.)

My point was more that it would be clearer, job title wise, if Steward = the person in overall charge of the manor, and this person could be the Lady Wife or a hireling (usually esquire, but could be a respected commoner in some cases or even a knight in the case of estate level outliers). And Bailiff = the person in charge of the manorial (outdoors) staff. Chief Bailiff looking after a bunch of bailiffs, and Chief Steward = Seneschal looking after a bunch of stewards and chief bailiffs.

 

Edited by Morien

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3 hours ago, Morien said:

Pretty much, yes. (Although in our campaign, the Steward of Levcomagus is called the Praetor of Levcomagus and it is an inheritable title rather than just an office.)

Thanks.

3 hours ago, Morien said:

My point was more that it would be clearer, job title wise, if Steward = the person in overall charge of the manor, and this person could be the Lady Wife or a hireling (usually esquire, but could be a respected commoner in some cases or even a knight in the case of estate level outliers). And Bailiff = the person in charge of the manorial (outdoors) staff. Chief Bailiff looking after a bunch of bailiffs, and Chief Steward = Seneschal looking after a bunch of stewards and chief bailiffs.

Yep, something like that would be easier to follow.

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6 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

If I've understood the logic of the books, the social status isn't a hard line, right? As in, some lady wife replacements could conceivably be commoners, and some overseers of bailiffs could be esquires, as long as a commoner is never placed higher than an esquire in a particular reporting line.

It depends a lot on how how up the social ladder the land holder is. For  a knight, there is a lot of leeway for all these roles. For a nobleman there is both more income  and m ore status to consider and it becomes less likely that a commoner would fill any of the  positions.

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