High King's Flame
Queen Victoria took the throne in 1628, upon the murder of her father, and has a reasonably firm grasp on the country, though it is difficult to dominate the Motenlar nobility. She has the fear, if not the love of the peasantry, and finds her greatest opposition among the middle class merchants. Her consort, Prince William does not seek power beyond his place and she has three healthy children (Princesses Regan (1626), Daphne (1628) and Prince Victor (1631).
Parliament, the legislative body, sits at the summoning of the Queen, and more often than not it is in recess. Her Majesty puts together the laws she desires passed, treaties approved, taxes collected and convenes Parliament who rubber stamp them. Occasionally the nobles balk at one or more proposals, but usually only in times of strife. They spend most of their time trying to get their proposals onto Her Majesty’s docket. The House is divided into Lords and Commons, but all appointments are made by the Queen. Technically there are elections, but all candidates must be approved by the Queen and few elections are ever contested. The Commons is comprised largely of the merchant class (certainly not the peasants or tradesmen) and are obsessively concerned with economic affairs.
The Church, led by Cardinal John Blesser, is embattled in Motenlard. There are a large number of small sects who disapprove of the way the Church is run, claiming it should remove itself from politics altogether and return to the life of the spirit. Failing that, it should leave each man to find his faith without tithes and rules and opulence. Rumor has it that the Queen is much of the latter sentiment, and she certainly has failed to assist the Cardinal in putting down the challenges. So tenuous is his position, that even though the most famous protester, Alice Hamilton Smythe, was arrested and convicted of heresy, the Queen pardoned her and pointedly suggested that the Cardinal not appeal her ruling to Carcandol.
The common folk seem to prefer the older ways, though they would be happy to be rid of the tithes. They are accustomed to their festivals, processions and rituals. The monied classes resent the tithes, find churchmen to be licentious and grasping, and blatantly want to fill the political and economic arena that they demand the Church vacate. All in all, things are tense and have been for several years.
Factions abound in Motenlard, as elsewhere, but many more in Motenlard are overt. It is acceptable in this society to disagree with the Queen and argue against her proposals, yet still be approved to sit in Parliament. Talking in Motenlard is not considered treasonous, and as long as opposition remains in Parliament and not on the streets, Queen Victoria is tolerant. Consistent and venomous opposition in the House, or work done to undermine her rule or foment rebellion will, of course, result in treason charges.
The Banberry Faction supports the forging of closer ties with Augsburg and Daggerard, an eventual war with Fragolard and a house-cleaning of the church. Led by the charismatic Earl Percy of Banberry and his brother the Viscount Charles, they are one of the more powerful groups.
The Greenwood Faction supports isolation from other nations and concentration on forging Motenlard into an economic giant. Support comes from many in the House of Commons and the gentry class, and not so much from the Lords. Led by Abigail Fulcher, it also attacks the clergy as a leech on Motenlard’s vitality. Greenwood has caused some headaches but until they gain significant support in the Lords, they are not strong enough to effect change.
The Old Guard supports a “return” to Motenlar glory through the imposition and enforcement of hereditary rules similar to Fragolard. This group would strip the gentry of many of their rights, prop up the Church (with some housecleaning but no major doctrinal changes) and try to stratify society somewhat more. They are powerless in Commons, naturally (as they would abolish it), but have a lot of support among conservative nobles, especially in the country.
The Hamilton Faction supports the dismantling of the Motenlar Church. Its views on foreign policy are derived from its religious convictions, i.e. Fragolard and Domengard are decadent while Daggerard and Augsburg are all right and Ottinard and Haargensbarg are barbarous. They contentedly attack the Church in all matters and while some members also belong to other factions, when they start pressuring on an issue they are incredibly strong. Led intellectually by the dissenter Alice Hamilton Smythe and politically by Arthur Williamson.
The Wedbury Faction supports the formulation of an economic alliance with Fragolard and Domengard, the two other richest nations. They want to then take control of the Empire by monetary clout rather than military conquest. They don’t care much about religious differences or the violent past histories between the three countries, but are always pushing for spending in technology and infrastructure (roads), and clearing new lands. Lead in the Lords by Sir Peter Wentworth, in the Commons by David Gilmore, they are named for a town where they initially hammered out their philosophy.
The Army Faction support more wars and military glory. Not always content with the pace of Motenlard’s diplomacy, these Lords and generals constantly argue for settling disputes by the blade. Motenlard has a strong standing army and when levied, Motenlar troops are among the best; they promote officers from their ranks and because many Motenlars are allowed to own and train with weapons they are generally more skilled (some say more courageous too) when it comes to war.
The Airenn are a faction that support independence, or at least equliaty for a region of Motenlard, which lies on the Eastern edge (the coast of Airenn). Defeated by Motenlard in a series of wars and rebellions (1017, 1097, 1218, 1501, 1628), the Airenn nobles have no lands or political power. Many who were involved in the 1628 uprising were either executed or stripped of their titles, but in the region, the people refuse to acknowledge the disgrace. Many of the faction’s leaders are imprisoned or in exile, and some still hide in the countryside. They make common cause with Fragolard, Haargensbarg, and any one else who opposes Motenlard. They are weak politically and economically, but have the support of the people in the region, which makes it a dangerous place for Motenlars.
Society is divided into three groups in Motenlard: the nobility, the gentry and the peasantry. Gentry are urban-dwelling, better educated, and monied. They are made o merchants, businessmen, traders, clerks, etc. who ape the manners and affectations of the nobility, though often not the opulence. Most are common-born though it is fairly common for them to purchase a noble title or marry into nobility.