Re: Bloodline stuff, etc.

From: Donald R. Oddy <>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 19:31:15 GMT

From: Alex Ferguson <>
>Donald R. Oddy:

>> KoS is pretty clear about the different status of different occupations
>> with Thanes, Carls, Half-Carls, Cottars and where applicable Thralls.
>> Although I feel there is a missing group of freemen who have no land
>> and work or assist others, particularly in tribes with no Thralls.
>That role would be filled by cottars, surely. I really must get KoS
>and my keyboard in the same place, but I don't think one status
>equates to just a single occupation. (The reverse may be true,

Carls and Half-Carls are defined in terms of ploughing so are the grain producers. Cottars are mainly dependant on either sheep herds or a vegetable plot for their livelyhood. The sort of jobs I'm thinking of are herding the Carl's cattle, mending fences/walls, milking, weeding, cooking, housekeeping etc. Certainly the Carl, his wife and children will do a lot but I rather think they will need some help. The references to stickpickers indicate that such a separate group does exist.

>If you agree that such changes can occur in _one_ generation,
>then a bloodline, which at a practical minimum will contain four,
>and often IMO (and indeed IMG, I think five is pretty commonplace)
>will contain allsorts, surely. Five generations from sceptre to
>shovel, to coin a phrase.

I presume you're including children to get five generations. Four generations of adults gives you 30 people assuming just two sons from each marriage. Of course the oldest generation is probably dead. While I accept that it is possible to be the forth son of the forth son of the forth son of a Carl and therefore have little more than your clothes I would contend this is rare. If it were common the clan involved would be in serious trouble as it would mean they were breeding more children than the land could support.

>> I don't quite see Orlanthi putting up with micro-managing though.
>Well, obviously good politics would be to couch it as 'micro-suggesting',
>of course.

Even that would have to be very tactfully done. "My family have been growing wheat on this land for six generations and you want me to start growing maize!" being a not untypical response.

>I don't see how it's reasonably, or even geometrically, possible to
>arrange 25 steads on a typical tula such that they're a day's journey
>apart. A quarter-hour walk would be rather more like it, IMO.

That's a mile on a decent road, probably half a mile on a hill track with a wagon or pack mule taking twice as long. It depends on the size of the steads and the layout of the good arable land but that would seem the minimum for steads supporting one or two carls. OK, I was probably overestimating but conversely if there are daily inter-stead transfers of produce why not make a single rather bigger stead.

>> That doesn't mean I've
>> explained it all that well though. I might try and put together
>> a few sample steads and show how they relate to and deal with
>> one another.
>Might not be a bad idea. I suspect a hazard, as I've said, is that
>many of us are extrapolating from what we know about one clan, or
>maybe one tribe, which will show much less than the total variance
>(deviance?) of all Heortling. But rather that than none at all!

I've done some of it now, but it needs some more work before I put it up on the web - it's already a bit large to post to the digest but I'll email you a copy and post a pointer. It certainly won't cover all possibilites - it's more an idea which is economically workable.

>What I meant was, I'm not clear what's formally a matter for the chief,
>off his own bat, and what's formally a matter for the ring. In practice,
>it's doubtless very much the case that a particular ring member's
>word carries 'obvious weight' in some matters, rather than there being
>a formalised 'division of powers' as such.
>The Gaelic procedure sounds more to me like what happens between
>different clans, among the Orlanthi (KoS has a reasonably full
>description, IIRC). Within a single clan, things are IMO supposedly
>less formal, with the decision purely for the chief and ring being
>as formal as it gets, but doubtless much of a tactics of a lawsuit
>carries over. "Men of the Inar's Rock Stead, who are those sages
>with expensive surcoats and 12 pounds of gold apiece doing standing
>next to you at this moot?"

Looking at that bit in KoS, it doesn't seem to distinguish between disputes at between clans or between individuals within a clan apart from who is accepted as the court. It's only at a stead level that it gets informal to the extent of asking a juror to rule. Presumably whether the clan cheif or ring gets to decide depends on who the parties ask - more room for arguments before the case starts.

>Oh, but I'm not saying there's no allocation! I'm sure some 'odal'
>property has been allocated to a particular hearth or stead (or
>bloodline, come to that) for so long (generations, or even centuries),
>that if the chief tried to 'reallocate' it without some huge amount
>of horse-trading, there would be bloody murder to pay (hopefully just
>figuratively, but maybe not...).

Then it is a property right enshrined in custom if not law (precisely where _that_ line is drawn in Heortling society is another issue). I appreciate this is not property in a modern sense but it is enough for an Orlanthi to say "this is ours". It may be a case that these cattle are owned by the clan but a particular person or group has the right to the milk, meat and hides subject to a tithe to the clan chief. That is a property right which could be removed from that person and given to another, e.g. to pay a fine.

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