How is the Kingdom of Wesnoth organised?

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How is the Kingdom of Wesnoth organised?

Post by Tom_Of_Wesnoth » July 19th, 2019, 9:45 pm

The Kingdom of Wesnoth is the centre of the Battle for Wesnoth universe, however we actually don't know all that much about how the Kingdom is organised and ruled. The majority of campaigns take place far from the heart of the Kingdom. The South Guard, Liberty, Eastern Invasion and Descent into Darkness all start in the frontier regions of the Kingdom, while Heir to the Throne takes place mostly outside of the Kingdom itself. This may contribute, in part, to our lack of knowledge about the Kingdom.

The natural assumption, given the broadly north-western European aesthetic used, would be that Wesnoth follows the feudal system - with the King granting hereditary 'fiefs' of land to nobles, in exchange for their taking an oath of allegiance. However, if we look through the Loyalist campaigns to see who is running the cities, we don't really see this.

Maghre from A Tale of Two Brothers is located in a relatively central region of Wesnoth, not far from Blackwater Port or Elensefar. It is described in the campaign's introduction as a 'freehold'. When they come under attack from the undead, they sent messengers to the 'nearest lord' who is 'more than a day's ride away', but said lord doesn't take any interest. Instead, the community is led by Baran, and they turn to Baran's brother Arvith when the town needs protection. This does suggest the existence of a feudal system in the central provinces of Wesnoth, but not a particularly strong one.

Delwyn and Dalben from Liberty are located in Annuvin, a frontier province north of Elensefar. These towns have no noble who rules over them - the closest lord for them is the Lord of Elensefar, which is a city-state that is often united with Wesnoth to some degree. These villages are both led by 'magistrates', who are drawn from the local community. The unit description for the 'Senior Village Elder' suggests that 'provincial officials' are in charge of selecting these magistrates. Therefore, we can probably conclude that Annuvin does not use the feudal system.

Westin from The South Guard is located in Kerlath, a frontier province to the south of Wesnoth. Sir Loris seems to be a military governor of sorts, as leader of the South Guard. There is also a town council, headed by Minister Hylas, though we don't known how this council is chosen. The impression I get here is one of a military authority, appointed by Weldyn, that supersedes the civil authority, who are possibly local in origin - this is mostly speculation, though.

Parthyn from Descent into Darkness is located just south of the Great River, and like Westin, seems to have a military authority that supersedes the civil authority. Malin Keshar is the eldest son of the city's baron, and his sister Dela Keshar is the eldest child of said baron. At the start of the campaign, their father has died, but neither of them seem to have inherited authority. Rather, Drogan, the captain of the guard, seems to be in charge - he sends out a raiding party against Dela's wishes, and he banishes Malin from the town at the end of the first scenario.

Carcyn as seen in Secrets of the Ancients is led by a man identified as Carcyn Fisher the Second. We don't know where his authority over the town comes from, though the name suggests that Carcyn Fisher the First may have been the founder of the city. Secrets of the Ancients is early in the timeline, so this is a distinct possibility.

Blackwater Port from Heir to the Throne is located on the west coast of Wesnoth, not far from the Bay of Pearls where Prince Haldric first landed. Interestingly, it is run by Sir Kaylan, 'one of the mightiest of the horse lords'. This seems a bit of a contradiction, considering we know (from Test of the Clans and from the race description) that the horse lords are from the north-east of Wesnoth.

Elensefar is not a part of the Kingdom of Wesnoth, but is joined to the kingdom by an 'ancient treaty' by the time of Liberty and Heir to the Throne. It is ruled by a Lord. I don't believe it's ever made clear how much of the surrounding area belongs to Elensefar and how much to Wesnoth, or if the Lord of Elensefar has vassals ruling lands outside of the city.

So, what's the conclusion to this ramble?

The Kingdom of Wesnoth appears to me to be divided into three main blocks - the main provinces, the frontiers, and the clan homelands.

The main provinces we probably know the least about the organisation of. We see hints of a feudal system, but nothing entirely conclusive. Of course, there is a major possibility that I'm missing a key piece of evidence here. We are told that 'all men' are conscripted into the military at a young age, and we see a professional officer corps is present. This suggests the military is centrally controlled - whereas in a feudal system, each noble would traditionally raise and lead his own forces.

The frontier provinces seem to me to be a military administration, with a civil administration subordinate to them. This is seen in Descent into Darkness and in The South Guard. Annuvin seems to be an exception, with very little centralised control being projected into the region - though, in all fairness, Wesnoth is in disarray at the time, and the unit descriptions hint at their being provincial governors.

The clan homelands do seem to follow a feudal system of sorts. The race description states that they 'send food and soldiers to the Crown in exchange for protection', but also operate independently and field there own forces. This can be viewed as them being feudal vassals of the King of Wesnoth, or it can be viewed as them being tributary states, independent but subordinate to Wesnoth. This seems to be a militarised society, with a chivalric warrior class in control.

And a side note, of sorts - I wonder how the monarchy justifies its rule? Divine Right doesn't seem to fit into Wesnoth's world, which seems mostly non--religious.
If presented with the opportunity, I would take great pleasure in becoming a world ruler.

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