OpenGeofiction

Mysterious monarchy

Posted by Rasmus Rasmusson on 25 February 2018 in English (English).

As some of you may know, my country Řots in the southern part of Archanta (Astrasia) is a split society: the normal people live their own normal modern every day lives, whereas the country’s royal family and the (higher) nobility follow the more than 1200 year old Codex (a fixed set of protocols) which essentially keeps them in medieval times and in recent centuries has estranged them from the rest of the country. At first the people lived by their conservative rule, but when Řots lost a large part of their territory due to the arrival of colonial powers in the 17th century (e.g. Florescentians, Ingrish in what are now the South Astrasian Federation and Karvaland), some educated inhabitants of Řots saw that the country couldn’t develop they way they thought it should, and when it turned out to be impossible to convince the nobility to abandon or even modify the Codex, people started to just ignore the Codex, which proved to be okay for the royal family and the rest of the nobility. Since that moment, the royal household has remained located near the original ‘Royal Capital of Řots’, the city of Kotōlets, whereas the modern government operates from Nekkar. Nowadays only the prime minister has a more intimate knowledge of the King, his family, and their daily actions, but he or she knows only what the King wants him to know - which is not very much indeed, as not even the prime minister knows e.g. who is currently next in line to succeed the King when he dies.

Today I posted a news article here about the announcement that the incumbent King of Řots (Verteř V Storm) is planning to attend a session of parliament on 15 March. This is the first time in almost 90 years that a head of state of Řots will be attending a parliament session (which he is constitutionally allowed to do). The man is in his late 80s though (precise details about his age are unknown) and of fragile health, has never seen a car or other modern technology, so the country’s government has announced drastic measures to make this visit happen. The event will be recorded on camera, although these cameras will be camouflaged as to not upset His Majesty by things he doesn’t know exist.

This will probably be the biggest event in Řots in at least the last 50 years. Many have never seen so much as a picture of their monarchs in their lifetime (the current king ascended the throne only two years ago after his older brother died sine prole), and the government is probably underestimating the amount of nationals (including staunch republicans) that will come to the capital (Nekkar) to catch a glimpse of their King, so the country is set for a week of madness.

The parliament visit is however just a ruse; there is another reason for the King’s visit to Nekkar. Today I finally got around to defining the Royal Family and the reason for this visit. However, I’m inclined not to post anything about this (at least not for the time being), in order to keep the mystery that surrounds this family. Should I anyway?

Comment from The_Cute_Chick on 25 February 2018 at 08:16

It is not confusing if the king and his family have closed off connections to the outer world for more than a few centuries.

I am just wondering how easy it is to overthrow the upper class and royal family if they only have the primitive technology… how ironic that the supposedly richer people of society have a worse quality of life than of the average person. If a battle against the royal family starts, it will be cannons and swords versus missiles and guns. XD

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 25 February 2018 at 10:14

The_Cute_Chick mentions something that I haven’t sufficiently elaborated yet: how do the royals and the other members of the higher mobility live? Actually I don’t think that many of them are rich anymore at all, but they have been brainwashed by the Codex in such a thorough manner from the day they were born that many of them can’t bring themselves to do anything about it. Many castles and estates that are still used by the nobility will be in dire need of maintenance and I can imagine that outsiders who enter these places may encounter unpleasant situations and even potential health hazards.

Some nastier cases (families that aren’t close to the royal family) could be: without the lack of servants (if the nobility doesn’t have money, servants won’t stay; they weren’t raised by the Codex so they still have minds of their own) those castles may not be very clean anymore, clothes may be so old that moths have partially eaten them, and I imagine families sitting around an empty table at dinner time, after which they escape by e.g. eating apples from their gardens, after which the head of the family has to punish them for breaking the order of the Codex. Some families may have died out years or decades ago without anybody noticing.

In the circles around the royal family the situation is better though: the reigning monarch and his household receive funding by the state (you may very well ask why, since they aren’t doing anything useful for the state, but it was decided like this almost two hundred years ago) so they are able to pay servants, so the royal palace and estate will be in better shape than the castles described above.

Despite the fact that the royal family of Řots isn’t very accessible to the public, it has mostly a symbolic function as the family that unites the country with the Four Gods (the formal way to address the King or Queen is “His/Her Most Serene and August Majesty [name], Lord/Lady and King/Queen of the Lands of Řots and Emissary of the Four Gods” (“Azāts Pereebredāgēp ken Perdēre [name], Řosu Prusu Tsārřōn/Tsārřevat ken Urat/Urga ken Nola Nu Tsōřts”). Their inaccessibility only adds to the mystery. They don’t bother the rest of the country or their people, and they are certainly not a threat to them. I guess that if Řots decided to proclaim the republic, they just have to send a note to the King that state funding will stop and that the prime minister won’t come to visit anymore, and that will be it. A large majority of the people doesn’t want to abolish the monarchy though.

This tough story may need to be thought through more thoroughly though, so I will get back on this :)

((Sidenote : Interesting (and somewhat annoying) that with some people upon the mere mention of ‘king’ or ‘royal’ words like ‘overthrow’ or even ‘guillotine’ are never far away and seem to be the only logical course of events in the future; even some hardcore pacifists who are normally against capital punishment suddenly let go all their principles and favour the beheading of kings. This is not an accusation btw, merely an observation.

In the constitutional monarchies on earth, royals are not dictators or oppressors however; in Sweden they even have no political power at all, they are just a symbolical figurehead like elected ceremonial presidents (cf. Germany or Italy) but with more history and connection to the entire country and its people and culture than only to the 56% or so who voted for them. The real political power is invested in parliament and the government who are democratically elected on a regular basis. In a way, you could say that by describing the royal family and its role in the constitution and other laws approved by parliament, instead of one person an entire family has been democratically elected as the head of state, an election that is reconfirmed with each modification of the constitution or other laws that are passed regarding the royal family.

Whether it is morally okay to have an individual inherit a country’s top job from birth without them having much say in it is a different story, but they are of course financially well compensated for that. Does that make it okay? Maybe; maybe not. But in European monarchies it seems to work so far and if these countries decide tomorrow that they would prefer having an elected president instead of a royal family, this can be done by changing the constitution instead of sending angry mobs with pitch forks and torches through the gates of the palace. In that case of course it would be fair to announce it to the royals reasonably in advance, so that they can prepare to find other jobs.))

Comment from The_Cute_Chick on 25 February 2018 at 12:18

So the royals and nobles living their lives based on the Codex are all heavily dependent on the public’s opinion of whether their control and status are justifiable to them or not. The very few (if not only) monarchies where you might be better off as a middle class or lower class citizen than the upper class, nobles and royals.

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 25 February 2018 at 12:33

I’m not sure if they are dependent on the public’s opinion or not. They just are. They don’t wield any serious political power (the only thing they can demand is that political power is done according to royal protocol, but that will probably only slow it down, not change it) so if the public decides that Řots is better off as a republic, nothing much really changes for the nobility: they are still the owners of their estates so they can be as public or as isolated if they want to and live out their lives according to the Codex if they need to - although a republican government may require them to start paying tax, and then many nobles will have a serious problem. But in the current situation I don’t think that the Řots nobility can be considered part of the upper class of society, as they aren’t really part of society anyway.

If anything, I think that human rights organisations might actually reprimand the civil government of Řots for letting the nobility live in such inhumane conditions (if such organisations knew what is going on, which they don’t) :)

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 25 February 2018 at 13:04

The royal castle (as many other castles and palaces) is located somewhere in a large estate surrounded by woods; cars don’t get on the estate, and if e.g. the prime minister visits, he will have to leave his car at the gate and will be continue by carriage.

But why do you insist that the people and the nobility are interesting in fighting each other? Apart from some personal guard, the nobility doesn’t have an army of its own, so if there is an issue, it’s probably the normal police who can deal with it - they won’t though, because they are never called for cases involving nobility as the nobility don’t usually interact with non-nobility (there are a few exceptions of members who have managed to escape the Codex’s influence though; I wrote about the Duchess Maro Tōr already here and here) and if a member of a noble family manages to act sufficiently enough to e.g. commit murder (for instance to influence the line of succession), either nobody will hear about it or the crime will be dealt with by the King.

(These questions are really useful btw! Keep them coming :) )

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 25 February 2018 at 13:07

Although cars can be kept away, they may have had some WTF-Erlebnises every time an aircraft flies over; some of them may have died of a heart attack. Sadly that cannot be avoided… :)

Comment from superleaf1995 on 25 February 2018 at 13:31

@Rasmus Rasmusson Best idea ever!.

Comment from The_Cute_Chick on 25 February 2018 at 14:27

@Rasmus Rasmusson,

There should be an airspace around the estate so the aeroplanes know to fly around and help reduce the chance of the nobilities and royals having heart attacks. So, unless the people intentionally fly drones overhead to see the primitive era in the estate, the Codex nobilities and royalties should not see anything that they should not see. Thus the sight of aeroplanes can be avoided and rather the sight of drones would more likely be the cause of heart attacks. ;)

Comment from The_Cute_Chick on 25 February 2018 at 14:30

@Everyone,

By the way, try saying @Rasmus Rasmusson’s unintentional tongue twister rapidly and correctly: “This tough tale may need to be thought through more thoroughly though.” The sentence is also alliteration with no words repeated!

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 25 February 2018 at 14:38

There would be a lot of forbidden airspace then as castles and estates can be found throughout the country. But I guess the prime minister at the time the first aircraft came to Řots may have informed the King about it, in order to soften the blow. Due to his interaction with prime ministers, the King probably has more knowledge about the outside world than the rest of the nobility.

The use of drones by unauthorised individuals is forbidden in Řots btw, for privacy reasons and to prevent dangerous situations near airports etc.

And my tongue twisters are never unintentional ;D

Comment from Rustem Pasha on 25 February 2018 at 22:25

I have read some articles about Rots and I never saw the answer so if you want question there is one I want to ask, How Rots monarchy lost its power? I mean in middle ages and earlier they held much power and it is rather unbelievable that they lost it in 17th century. Goverment that is frozen in time has still plenty much means of opressing their citizens - army, censorship and even religion. For example Ottomans who were pretty backward among european countries banned some technic novelties (like printing press was banned until 1840s or so) which allowed them to have absolute power until 1909. The same thing can be observed in Saudi Arabia and North Korea in present times. Why Rots is different and nobility lost its class war with lower classes?

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 25 February 2018 at 23:08

The main short story about this is listed here.

It is also important to know that there was never a real war between classes in Řots that involved the nobility; especially the lower classes really had nothing to do with the fact that the nobility was ignored at one point. It was the non-noble higher classes (intellectuals, some army officers, local administrators etc who did not live by the Codex) who started to oppose the Codex, and this initial opposition was generally crushed by the nobles. Only when people started to just ignore the Codex, the nobility didn’t feel threatened in their way of life anymore - which had become a more important issue for many nobles than deviating from it in order to maintain power - this turned into some kind of “silent revolution” during which power was gradually transferred from the nobility to non-noble civilians - who were however still members of higher classes, and this would cause new class problems later on.

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 25 February 2018 at 23:12

Also: many members of the nobility remain convinced that power is still theirs and the fact that they aren’t battling insurrections by peasants contributes to this delusion.

Comment from Yuanls on 26 February 2018 at 00:16

Assassin 1: You ready?

Assassin 2 (loads gun): I’m ready

Assassin 1: Woah you can’t do that! Remember the codex?

Assassin 2 (Puts gun away and unpacks dagger)

Assassin 1: Better

I really like it. Your idea with Řots’ monarchy is very original and unique and I support that. In order to make this idea fully realistic, it’ll have to be quite watertight though. The population in general might be quite happy with the way things are, but what if fringe organisation tried to kill the royal family? Do they live in an undisclosed location or some place really remote? How would they protected?

Comment from ruadh on 26 February 2018 at 01:01

Rots political system sounds unique and it’s very imaginative.

Its interesting that you mention how some people that normally are pacifist start talking about guillotines at the mention of royalty. Generally Kings and Queens don’t give up their power without a fight so the guillotines have been necessary in the past. Why would they give up the incredible benefits of divine right? I can’t think of any royalty that wasn’t forced in one way or another to give up their power. If your royal families were somehow coerced into their isolation it would be much more believable.

Then there’s the power, influence and wealth, which are nothing without others to witness it and weld it over. A King with no subjects isn’t a King, he’s just another plebe. Similarly, you can have all the money in the world but if nobody knows then what’s the point? So I don’t see how royalty could isolate itself from its people in the way suggested without breaking the basic rules of human nature. The link to divinity might give you a way though, if they saw themselves as preserving a religious ideal, like hermits, isolation could be a kind of religious discipline for them..

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 26 February 2018 at 12:09

@YuanIs : As mentioned, they have their own guards, and some castles are just too remote and really hard to get in if the gate isn’t open. The royal palace is less remote, but better guarded. This doesn’t mean though that there have been no incidents at all, but that is something I could/should elaborate in more detail at some point.

@ruadh : Guillotines were necessary in the past because in 1789 it was out of the question that royals would step aside to have the country ruled by cake eating peasants. In the past, royals didn’t have an education because their families were wealthy and (almost) everyone would marry into one of the other families so everyone would be settled until the end of their lives. In nowaday constitutional monarchies, members of the royal family study and have working experience (which is more ‘crown related’ the earlier in line of succession you get). If the people decide that they don’t want a monarchy anymore, the modern royals will have alternative career options; the Bourbons in 1789 had not.

The monarchy in Řots is much more a fixed institution than elsewhere. Its members have been brainwashed by the Codex and most of them may very well think that their loyal subjects all live like that, or at least appreciate the fact that they are ruled so well because of it. Many nobles are annoyed that they cannot go outside as they would like to, but living by the Codex just costs too much time to do anything spontaneous. Some of the nobles don’t even know that they live in isolation (they just think that the people keep their distance - as they should!) and spend assigned parts of the day giving orders and making policies that are never carried out (it is probably quite sad to watch that, if you got the chance). Other parts of the day are dedicated to elaborate religious rituals.

There is an important religious link: the King is the Protector of the Religion of the Four Gods and the Korās and Āmās (pope- or bishop-like figures) will emphasise the country’s connection with the King and the God that they represent: he is the most important link between the four Gods and one of the very few Řots who worship all four Gods at once (most keep it to two max). The people of Řots don’t consider the King a God himself, but he is some kind of an Emissary of the Four Gods and therefore has an important role in the state religion. The fact that he is rarely seen in public adds to the mystery.

The Codex wasn’t always so restrictive btw; over the centuries protocols and rituals were however added one after another, and at one point the thing had taken over their entire planning without them noticing. Those who managed to break away from it showed various variants of withdrawal symptoms.

Comment from ruadh on 26 February 2018 at 14:17

I suppose my point is that no elite ever gives up power voluntarily. The peasants are always going to be a dangerous mob in the eyes of the rulers. The closest example I think of where an elite stepped aside might be the Soviet leadership in the 80s who, unlike the Chinese Communist Party during Tiananmen Square, decided against the brutal massacre of a popular uprising and gave up control.. but even then there were so many factors combining to force them out.

You mention the codex has brainwashed these people and they give orders that people pretend to carry out so I guess in that scenario it could work. I really like the concept and the religious elements are good in justifying why these people have been kept around. Looking forward to reading more about it! Is the King going to announce the end of the codex when he addresses parliament I wonder..

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 26 February 2018 at 15:02

That’s a second mystery: the King hasn’t requested time to speak in parliament himself, and the subjects that are scheduled aren’t very important (items about housing, traffic rules, pensions, or something like that), which increases speculations that he has another item on his agenda that nobody knows about and that he uses the visit to justify his presence in Nekkar.

Comment from superleaf1995 on 26 February 2018 at 20:28

Very good system of monarchy in Rots.

Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 26 February 2018 at 20:46

The situation of the monarchy in Řots seems to be an elaborate deception by the government and/or people of Řots. So my question first would be why: why does the government want the monarchy/aristocracy to think that things haven’t changed for hundreds of years? If you can answer this, my second question would be : how does the government/people see this as ethical? Are human rights applicable in Řots and, if they are, is the aristocracy discriminated against? Does the aristocracy have different rights to the people? If they have, how is this justified? Ignoring the codex, what is the basis of law in Řots?

In the real world monarchies have - at least historically - tried to hold on to power. That’s been logical, since the alternative is often violent. Because monarchies are hierarchical power structures usually the top of the pyramid has the advantage, in terms of influence and knowledge, as well as wealth, military control and the other more ostensible trappings of power. Perhaps the answer to how the aristocracy of Řots became estranged from knowledge of what’s going on in the rest of the country is the core question. You might expect that any moderately intelligent aristo would work things out for themselves and either rebel, defect or submit to legal or democratic process?

I do see parallels with various self-deluding sects, religions or extreme groups around the world - and that could apply to the aristocracy themselves, of course.

However, its harder to understand why the people of Řots let the situation go on like this. If the monarchy has no real power, why would anyone bother with them? In an ostensibly democratic country, would people really avoid the highway on the day that the king comes to town? Surely it would be impossible to cloak the views from the hilltops, the powerline crossings, the aircraft and the noise of traffic in the distance - pretty soon an aristo out of their stately home would work things out - and take this to the king? For the monarch’s visit, will everyone’s phone be confiscated? What if some random flies a drone over the monarchical procession? Mental denial by the monarchy could possibly explain it, but wouldn’t (some of) the people object to a government policy that supported this?

So, I get the connection between the codex and brainwashing - which could be a parallel with some extremist states - but why would the people of a democratic country, which ‘the rest’ of Řots seems to be, want this to happen?

Comment from Rasmus Rasmusson on 26 February 2018 at 23:55

@Ūdilugbulgidħū : Both first questions can probably be answered in one go: neither the government nor the people actively want the nobility to be isolated, but many see it as a form of (partly religious) self-sacrifice that is somehow for the Greater Good (choir: “the Greater Good”) of the country, and the clergy will be the first to affirm this. In the perception of the people, the nobility has chosen to keep following the Codex, so suffering as they may be from an outside perspective, it is not active discrimination. Of course there are people who find this situation ridiculous and want to put an end to it, but they are a minority (and nobody knows for certain what is going on behind the walls of the castles).

Law in Řots is something I have only briefly thought about yet. Seeing as many of Řots’s neighbours seem to have been colonised by peoples from overseas, the original basis of law in Řots (as an indigenous people in South Archanta) may have been different from theirs, and as the main languages of some of Řots’s neighbours are earthly languages (English, French, Portuguese…), their legal systems may be more earthly as well (t.b.c. by their owners). The main issue is that the Codex is a basis of law of its own intended for use between and among the nobility. The original laws that applied to the people were influenced by the Codex, so when the people started to ignore the Codex, not all of those laws were abolished, but rather gradually altered to better answer to the needs of society (as mentioned somewhere above: initially only the non-noble upper class benefited from this). I feel I must emphasise ‘gradually’, as it was not one violent breach but the two societies slowly grew apart over the last two centuries: the nobility grew more dependent on the Codex, whereas the rest of the people adapted their laws more freely if so required. It is evident that Řots took over some foreign elements over the years that seem democratic in nature, but the country may be democratic in a different way (to be elaborated, but I do not intend Řots to be an avarage Western European country).

The ignoring comes from both sides btw. Whereas the people ignore the Codex (which seems to be the most harmless element of Řots society, as it allows the great majority of the people to not be oppressed), the nobility ignores everything that doesn’t fit into the Codex. They may encounter cars, powerlines, see aircraft fly over their estates, but they will choose to ignore it because it doesn’t fit into their daily living patterns. Most of the nobility (as mentioned, there are exceptions, some of them important) has unlearned to take initiative; all they can do is follow the Codex all day long, every single day of their lives. Fact is that Řots only needs the King (and by extend the royal family), but the rest of the higher nobility is completely useless in the current state of affairs.

Phones won’t be confiscated during the King’s visit; the single opportunity in everyone’s lifetime to get an actual picture of the King! Everyone will come to Nekkar just for this!

And as mentioned in one of the previous answers: drones are forbidden for private use in Řots.

Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 27 February 2018 at 00:53

These are all issues we have if we want to think about ‘unconventional’ countries. So, I can understand there being some sort of devotion to a religious or cultural tradition on behalf of both the aristocrats and the rest of the people. In isolation, that works very well, love it.

The challenge is to make the ‘modern’ ‘real world’ elements fit in as well. Some random thoughts: how/when, for example, was the Řotsnan alphabet introduced - and what was used before, if anything? How was modern infrastructure introduced, industry, economics, western sports? These seem to be - at least partially - in conflict with traditions of the codex? (but I’m not sure how relevant that is) How do you explain that conflict gradually resolved - and some sort of tension must obviously still exist? How did immigration - or emigration - affect the attitudes and perceptions of the people? How strong is a law that aims prevent the use of drones by some people (but authorises others)?

In the real world, the development of western thought, social structures/traditions and technology are interwoven, and when these have come into contact with other societies I can hardly think of an example where there hasn’t been - or still is - conflict. Řotsnan law and democracy is clearly going to be a bit different…


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