Social Structure:

The Kingdom of Altoria is currently made up of many Counties that owe allegiance to King and therefore to Church and Council when they are Regent. The Counts are heirs of the ancient kings, or have had lands granted to them by previous kings. The title of Count and Countess are hereditary and go with large land holdings. The children of the Count and Countess are referred to as Prince or Princess.

The current counties of Altoria are County Astarn, County Faltorn, County Arlen, County Alderwood, County Greys, County Kelly, County Laurel, County Halm, County Arcare, and County Sandral. The newest addition is County Azthar. This is the first newly formed county in over one hundred years. Long live Count Azthar.

The Counties have the right to collect taxes from all those living on their lands. The common people pay their taxes to the Count's chosen agent or face expulsion from his land. The Counts have total discretion in setting their taxes. Some are generous to the commoners, some are not. Listen for the gossip, you'll soon learn who's who.

The Counts must answer to King or Regent and through them to the Church of Toran. They are allowed to do as they please for the most part. Each County is represented by an elected representative in the High Council. The Counts have the right to decide who is eligible to vote within their Counties. The High Council tends to matters of law within the Kingdom. The Count himself is usually the 'elected' representative. What a surprise.

If an anointed King were to try to take away an hereditary holding of a previous King's descendants and pass it over to his own, this would make him extremely unpopular with the nobility. The religious leaders would undoubtedly try to find a way to deny the current King this right. The Counts of Altoria are very powerful, they are unwilling to give up their hereditary rights. Many feel unsure of the implications of the new king coming into power. There is talk in the High Council of passing laws to insure the holdings of the Counts regardless of who is chosen by Toran to be King. These ideas are controversial at best, and considered blasphemous by many religious leaders.

The Toran priests do have the right to take away titles, lands, and positions if it is decided that Toran, through them, has decreed it to be done. The priests, the lawmakers, and the elected representatives of the Counties who sit on the High Council debate these cases.

Most laws are consistent throughout the Kingdom. The Lawmakers are appointed by the heads of the Universities. These lawmakers are arbitrators of all disputes and are responsible for passing sentence on convicted criminals. Only the King or Regent can grant pardon or overturn the decision of the Lawmakers.

The Lawmakers cannot act individually. There must be a consensus of a minimum of three (in the lower courts) to a maximum of twelve (in the higher courts) to convict. All defendants have a lawyer appointed to oversee their case and to argue in court for their defense. All defendants have the option of hiring their own lawyer if they do not want to be represented by the court lawyer.

According to Altorian law, if you are accused and arrested, you will be sent to jail. Your accuser must only convince the local authority, the sheriff or constable, of your guilt. You stay in jail until you go to trial. You can pay for a nice, comfy cell or go to the common jail. Even in common jail, you will be expected to pay for your food and anything else you may require. You will be responsible for paying your jail debt even if you are found innocent. Often, if you are falsely accused, your accuser will be required to pay the jail debt. While in jail, you can have whatever comforts you can afford or whatever someone else wants to provide for you. You are under no legal obligation to repay anyone who provides for your accommodations while awaiting trial. There is no bail allowed before sentencing. Court is held once each week.

If you are convicted for any crime punishable by imprisonment, bail can be paid to secure your release. The prisoner has the right to refuse any bailpayer. If the prisoner agrees to have his bailfee paid, he then owes the person who paid the bailfee proper recompense in money, work, goods, or services. If he does not pay his bailer within the agreed time limit, he is considered under warrant and can be incarcerated for double the time of his or her original sentence.

Obviously, this let the very rich off; their family or friends just bail them out. If you can pay your bail, you serve no time. Wealthy Altorians, or people with moneyed connections don't worry much about the laws of the land. Prison is for those without resources.

If you don't have friends or family willing to pay your bail, you can probably get out; but you'll owe someone. Once you have paid off your bailer, you receive a receipt of bail. Once you have your receipt of bail, you have paid your debt to society. Presentation of your receipt of bail to the court, means that the bailer cannot issue a warrant for you. If you don't pay off your bailfee, you'll end up back in jail for a much longer time. A bailer who doesn't treat a bailee fairly could also face prosecution in the courts.

Bailbondsmen, moneylenders who specialize in loaning money to people who need to get someone out of jail, expect to be reimbursed quickly. They will often sell bailbonds to people looking for workers. You would then be obligated to work off the bailfee as arranged by the bailbondsman.

The Altorian court system is considered extremely corrupt by most. It is supported by the wealthy and influential for obvious reasons. Indentured servitude is the plight of many who face conviction in Altorian courts.

The High Council is a stabilizing group that evolved out of necessity to keep the country from falling apart during the time of transition from one King to the next. As there had been no recognized king of Altoria for many years, the High Council has become entrenched in the politics of the kingdom. It is made up of one landholder, elected by those eligible to vote, from each county. Those eligible to vote are; any landowner, property owner, or duly appointed representative of the crown, the scepter or the church. The most commonly elected representative is the Count or his heir. In addition to the elected representatives, there are an equal number of lawmakers selected by the universities, and an equal number of priests. The priests who sit on the council are appointed by the High Priest of Toran. The lawmakers are scholars from the universities sanctioned by the crown. The heads of the universities, chosen by the High priest of Toran, appoint the lawmakers who sit on council. The church has a great influence on council decisions.

A King, especially a King who is popular with the people, can also have a great deal of influence over the Church and the Court. As the chosen of Toran, his word is law - he cannot be wrong - Toran speaks through him. The Altorian citizens feel that they were long overdue to have a King to rule in place of the council. They are hopeful that King Wesley will take the current laws under consideration and perhaps make some changes.

Altorian Kings are usually not anxious to anger the Priests or Head Masters of the Universities, as each or both can make his rule very difficult, if not dangerous, if they chose. Kings must choose their friends and advisors with care. A wise King does not care to anger his adversaries regardless of his rights as King.

According to the sixth law of Toran, no family, not even that of the King, is to be held higher than any other. In fact, families that have royalty in their lineage have become wealthy and highly respected. These families have traditionally became landowners, were granted Counties to rule, and have positions of authority. The Counts are jealous of their status and use their wealth and power to retain the privileges they have always enjoyed. The nobility of Altoria see their privileges as rights granted by Toran. As they see it, if Toran didn't want them to have these rights, he would compel the King to change things. Most agree they might question a King who disagreed with the current system of government. The nobility of Altoria likes things just the way they are.

The priest class also has much power and accepts the wielding of this power as their god-given right. No one in power in Altoria has much desire for change. There are priests of Toran who see inequities in the current system and pray fervently that the new King will make what they see as needed changes. There are currently many factions within the clergy; some were considered heretics by the High Priest. Most clerics who do not support the official policies of the Church are sent to outlying settlements where they can do little harm. Many of the priests of Toran fear that their people will turn to other gods if the new King does not make life better for the commoners.

Most Counts have loyal armies who answer only to them. At no time in recent history had the priests of Toran tried to take away titles or lands from the reigning Counts. The current Regent had asked that these laws be clarified. Some say he had his eye on certain holdings. Many fear the outcome of these hearings. The recent rulings on the Alderwood and Arlen Counties has made many members of the nobility anxious. There seems to be a lot of recruiting for the armies of the Counts going on.

The priests and Council are very powerful. There have been instances where people who have criticized the King or the Church have been tried for heresy against the Church or treason against the Kingdom. There is still some political unrest in the kingdom. Sides are being taken, and lines drawn. Be wary to whom you speak your mind. The Council, the Church and the King have many ears.

Each city or outpost with any importance (economical or strategical) has a High Sheriff appointed by the King. He is in direct contact with the King through the Crown Beadles, who report to the Court Chamberlain and the Church Seneschal offices in Paramount City. The High Sheriff answers directly to the King. The local Count often has a say in who is appointed High Sheriff within his County.

Each Count is responsible for maintaining and protecting those portions of the King's Highways that pass through his domain. For this purpose, they are required to maintain standing troops. These troops are answerable to their Count and to the King's High Sheriff. In law, they are also answerable to the High Priest of Toran, but in fact, they are usually loyal to their Count above all. That is where they get paid. The Counts collect taxes from the people of their county. They can set taxes as they will, this is their right. They also have the right to collect tolls on the roads of their county, not including the King's Road. Tolls on the King's road go directly to the King or Regent.

The King maintains a large army, which by law, cannot be outnumbered by any other army in the Kingdom. Therefore, if a Count wishes to enlarge his army by a number that would give him more troops than the King's Army, he must increase, at his own expense, the King's Army so that it will outnumber his own. Most Counts have adopted this rule for the landed nobles under their jurisdiction also.

Altorians are able to read and write. Each child born to Altorian parents must be sent, at the age of seven years, to common school. There they are taught their letters and numbers sufficient to pass the abecedary test required of all students.

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