Castes: Rights and Duties

To go into the laws of the Tualárach would be many volumes of books. They, like most confederations, lived and breathed law. The most important aspect of law was the concept of "wergild" or that everyone, as well as everything, has a price. Every man was valued momentarily so that if he were killed or damaged, reparations could be made. There were no jails, no prisons, no punishments that are normal to empires. The only punishment was reparation. The worst that could happen to a man would be to find himself sold into slavery because of reparations.

Here is a sketch of the restrictions of each caste and some of the more popular common law.

The Tualárach are divided into four main castes. They are warriors, priests, farmers and slaves. This caste system is very old, dating to the development of agriculture. Prior to this, nomadic peoples had three castes: hunters, shamans and slaves. These ancient systems have influenced both religious thought and cultural ideas such as the three-fold goddess and the four elements/directions. A fifth caste is sometimes added in cultures that support a king caste. Both ancient Indian and Celtic texts draw maps of this four/five system which is called "the Five Parts of Ireland" in Irish texts, yet is also common to the folklore of Wales and Brittany. Rather than discuss each caste separately, I will discuss a selection of social behavior and relate it to the four castes.


Castes

The slave caste includes basically anyone who does not own himself. These people are captives taken in war, those people who have sold themselves or have been sold to pay a debt or those people who were born to captivity and have not been able to afford to buy their way out of it. In ancient confederations people were usually given a way out of slavery, most commonly through the purchase of their wergild, doing some deed to save a master, or out of someone's generosity. Slavery was not institutionalized. It was a common part of society only becoming a true class in the sense that one could never escape one's birth in civilizations that had centralized. Often a slave was purchased at one price yet learned a skill or developed so that his value was higher. Under Tualárach law a slave bought his freedom according to the price his owner originally paid unless the owner could demonstrate funds devoted to the slave's improvement. Of course this loophole led to owners taking great care to try to track funding of the progress of their slaves. It also led to owners pushing for their slaves to improve themselves at the owner's "expense" so that their wergild was high enough so that the owner could profit by it.

The farming caste is a stable caste in that most farmers concern themselves, not with advancement to the nobility, but the acquisition of wealth and security. This is the caste that is taxed. This caste includes farmers, merchants, farming families, soldiers and service oriented people such as innkeepers, brewers, millers and cattle breeders. A slave who purchases his freedom goes into the lowest level of this caste that of freeman. The levels of this caste are highly competitive and have largely to do with the amount of moveable wealth owned and acreage managed.

he warrior caste consists mostly of those born to it. It is usually several generations before a farming family will be accepted as nobility. Members of this caste do not manage land or handle the transaction of any goods. Instead they oversee or rule a set of farmers who pass taxes to them in exchange for defense, settlement of disputes and the management of genealogy and history of the entire nation of people. The basic function of this caste is politics and law. Members of this caste are rulers, warriors, lawyers, historians, translators, heralds, messengers and arbiters. Often the young of this caste will serve in some of the "go-between" functions and the retired warriors will serve as judges and historians.

The priest caste is a misnomer for a large group of artisans, scholars and artists. Although anyone may practice an art, it is only through the recognition of this caste's peer group that the artist is elected into this caste with its privileges. Thus an acrobat or a court fool may remain a slave all his life unless the large body of artists already in practice accepts his skill. Of course abuses run rampant in this caste where jealousy and fame often undermine any real ability. Whole families often run for generations in this caste although always any member must be accepted. The traditional model for this caste is apprentice, journeyman and master, a model that exists into modern times all over the world. Members of this caste have to part of a "school" of practice although many independents exist if they have the patronage of farmers or nobles. Here is a list of some of the schools. Musicians, architects, engineers, doctors, smiths, armorers, falconers, cobblers, weavers, priests, scientists, astronomers, astrologers, diviners, poets, cooks, navigators, guides, shipwrights, woodworkers, stoneworkers, jewelers, painters, and hairdressers, the list is very long. The main consideration is twofold. Is there a body of lore for the apprentice to learn? And does the person have to be supported by others either through patronage or through the use of the products that they create or the services that they provide?

Restrictions, Taboos and Wergild

Each caste is ruled by common law. Most of the restrictions are a part of tradition, even among a more fluid and nomadic society like the Tualárach. In the absence of a king deciding the fate of his people, law and tradition take over even in the most anarchic of societies. Historically, the more anarchic a society, the more they rely upon law and tradition to stabilize and normalize the social interaction of its members. However, it is not to say that the centralizing of a society eliminates law and tradition! It usually requires drastic measures on the part of the dictator to eliminate the intermediaries of law and tradition to get his way. The first demand of a coup d'etat is the overthrow of generations of common law and practice. Since this is the domain of the warrior class, most revolutions begin among the noble class with the back up of those who think to benefit whether hungry serf or overtaxed farmer.

The slave caste is most bound by law and least bound by tradition. Among the Tualárach, these are some of the restrictions:

Slaves

  • No slave can own property of any kind. The slave at the grace of his owner owns his personal property. A slave who purchases his freedom must also purchase any of his personal property.
  • No slave can honor family connections without the grace of his owner. In practice, most owners recognize the strength of family bonds and do not seek to strain them.
  • A slave's value is determined at the point of sale. To increase his value he must demonstrate some kind of improvement for the valuation of an outside, impartial party. Thus, a person visiting the owner may make a bid for a slave and adjust that slave's wergild before witnesses present at the bid. However, for the bid to be legal, it must be impartial and not a collusion between the owner and the bidder.
  • A slave cannot take his own life. If a slave does manage to kill himself, the burden of his loss is passed to any of his family member existent. If no such family members exist, the burden of his loss can be even distributed among the other slaves who worked or lived with him at the time of the suicide.
  • A slave is entitled to any and all health care he requires, good food, a place to sleep, and clothing. The adequacy of this provision reflects upon the owner's honor before his peers.
  • No slave may enter into personal relations with another slave without the consent of his owner. No slave shall be forced into personal relations with another slave yet can be coerced into relationships with a freeman by request of the owner. No slave can enter into personal relationships or commercial relationships or learning relationships with any freeman without permission of his owner. A slave may not refuse any commercial or learning relationships requested by his owner but may ask for outside documentation to protect his worth. Thus, a slave who is asked to endanger himself, can ask for outside arbitration before entering into the task. If the arbitrator decides against the slave, he must comply without recourse. If the arbitrator decides for the slave a mark goes against the owner. Each mark is in favor of the slave toward his purchase price. Too many marks and the slave goes free. If the slave calls for arbitration and the arbitrator determines that the charge is malicious or silly on the part of the slave, his buy out price goes up, yet his worth goes down the cost of the arbitration.
  • No slave can give birth or father a freeborn no matter what the parentage of the other parent. A child born into slavery has a purchase price of the lowest slave of the household or half that of the parent, whichever is higher. No owner may add to the value of a slave's purchase until that slave is of maturity at the age of 14. Children under the age of maturity can be traded any number of times but their buy out price remains that of their birth until the age of 14. This law is to prevent the abuse of child selling.
  • A school can purchase a slave. He then must work off his price in goods created or services rendered. At the time of his purchase price being produced for the school, he is considered to be a free man. The price of his services or goods is determined by fair market value and can be contested by the slave for the price of arbitration which he must bear and remit to the school at the date of his freedom.
  • No slave shall be branded or forced into any other permanent mark of slavery. He may be asked to wear his hair in a certain style or to wear certain clothing to mark him as a slave. In the case of a slave escaping bondage, if no party recognizes him or challenges his freedom for a year and a day, he is considered to be free at the negligence of the owner.
  • A slave is free to say anything about his master he desires. He cannot testify in court and his word does not mean anything. He cannot be bound by his word, nor can he be asked to tell the truth. He may act in any way he pleases to anyone. If he displeases any free man, that man can kill him if he offers adequate reparation to the owner. A man cannot take offense at anything said by a slave nor can he act on any information given by a slave. Any man doing so will be held accountable by his actions as if he were acting upon information given to him by a dog or a pig, meaning he can be deemed insane and can be fined by the party suffering from his action. Any damage done to a slave must be evaluated and adequate compensation paid to the owner, including death, whether intentional or accidental.
  • A slave cannot be held accountable for any damage done to any property owned by the owner against his buy out price. The owner may keep an accounting and sue the freed slave for damages yet shall be required to submit an accounting with witnesses. An owner may punish a slave for damaged done to his property (including other slaves) through one of several actions. 1. He may publicly humiliate the slave and ruin his reputation even after he has become free. 2. He may require extra work of the slave as long as it does not ruin the slave's health. 3. He may restrict the slave from normal social intercourse such as confining the slave to his quarters but cannot restrict the slave's food or clothing or put him in danger of health buy forcing him to stay outside, etc. 4. He may advertise widely the slave's inadequacies to prevent the offering of any bids. The slave may contest any of these actions, again if found malicious or whimsical, the slave can be held accountable for the arbitration price.

Farmers

The farming caste is divided into subcastes that are much less well defined. The subcastes are those of churl, or free laborer; jarl or tenant farmer, merchant or innkeeper; earl or independent farmer, merchant or shopkeeper; and squire or landlord farmer, merchant or shopkeeper. Although land ownership is not allowed under Tualálach law, land territories are managed and controlled by families or individuals. All goods produced on the land and all moveable goods are owned. Thus a farmer uses land maybe for generations, yet he can only count his wealth in number of trees, bales of wheat, or head of cattle. If he is displaced, he can only be compensated for the goods under his control or only that which is ready to sell. Thus, he cannot be compensated for grain not ready to harvest or trees not planted or stones not mined, etc. The subcastes are then determined by the amount of control exerted by the farmer. The more he owns, the higher his position.

Here is a list of common laws and traditions that bind farmers, merchants and others of this caste.

  • No farmer can charge any tax or any service fee upon his work. If he sells grain, it must be for market price. Any abuse of price or any surcharge can be challenged in a court of law. A laborer cannot charge a surcharge for labor performed above the contracted price. He must either wait out the duration of that contract or challenge it in a court of law.
  • Any freeman may contract with any other freeman for any goods or services. All contracts can only be enforced if there are witnesses or the contract is made through an arbitrator. Any freeman may terminate any contract by the terms of the contract. If he breaks the terms, reparation is determined in a court of law.
  • Freeman may be taxed by transaction by income or by property only by the noble family to which they look for arbitration, protection and enforcement. If any freeman moves out of the taxing area, he is not subject to any tax by the agency under which he resided in the past. The taxing agency may seek reparations only through the agency under which the freeman now lives. Thus a freeman may elude taxation through moving, but only an increasing cost to himself until he is caught by the taxing agency under which he seeks refuge. At that point he may suffer the valued taxes only plus the costs of collection. No agency may levee penalties upon him or charge him usury for back taxes.
  • A freeman may do whatever damage to himself as he chooses. He may live any manner that he chooses. If he insults any man or injures any man or property he can be sued. The suing party must provide witness to the identity of the criminal and witness to the crime. If he cannot support himself, he must turn to charity or sell himself into slavery. If any party can prove coercion in taking care of another, the freeman demanding such care may be sued by or sold to the injured party.
  • A freeman birthing or fathering a child is responsible for that child until the age of majority or until that child is sold. He must produce the document of sale if required to do so until the child is of the age of majority. If there are no witnesses to the fatherhood of the child or if the mother was not under marital contract at the time of conception, she alone bears the brunt of the responsibility of that child and cannot be coerced into the sale of that child until proved in a court of law as unable to care for it.
  • A freeman buying a person or thing or animal is responsible for the upkeep of those goods. If proven in a court of law to be incapable of the upkeep, a sale can be forced. In cases of extreme negligence, the court shall determine ownership and reparations.
  • A freeman can give testimony and witness before a court of law. His spoken word is not binding as a contract. His spoken word can be challenged by anyone in a court of law except a slave. If he is killed, accidentally or intentionally, his value must be compensated to his dependents. If he has no dependents, his wergild is awarded the nobility under which he resides. At any time in the future this can be challenged in a court of law with expenses expected of the losing party.
  • A freeman must pay his taxes within the dates expected of the ruling party with moveable goods. He cannot pay with expected goods, futures on goods or unmovable goods. Thus he cannot pay his taxes with a house, but he may disassemble that house and pay the taxes with the parts used to build that house. He shall not be levied more than a tithe of his moveable goods for any transaction, income or property tax. He shall not be levied more than a tithe a year, yet can be expected to pay taxes up to that tithing up to six times a year. Thus, he may be expected a tithe of his hogs at hog slaughter, a tithe of his grain at harvest, etc. A laborer may not be charged more than a tithe of his wages due only at the time of compensation. He does not owe taxes until he is compensated. Nobility are permitted to oversee or have agents oversee all transactions between laborers and employers.
  • A transaction fee may be levied for each transaction entered into by freeman. This transaction fee shall not exceed more than a tithe of the purchase price. The noble may ask for compensation in certain goods, yet the freeman shall not be coerced or swindled into giving up those goods against his will. A freeman may sue if he believes taxation to be inappropriate.
  • In times of war or duress a tax surcharge may be levied only up to and not over an additional tithe of the property, income or transaction of the freeman. If such levy is seen to be fatuous, the noble may be sued for the amount of the levy and any compensation for the loss of said levy. For instance if a tax is paid in sheep, compensation may include that sheep and any lambs that would have been produced by those sheep or wool sheered from those sheep, etc. No freeman may challenge a duress tax without the cooperation of at least ten other injured parties.
  • Any freeman unattached to a household can be sued for vagrancy. A freeman must pay rent, pay tax or be in the service of a tax-paying agency or in the service of a patronizing nobility.
    Any freeman unable to pay reparations, taxes or support himself must offer himself for sale or challenge the liabilities in a court of law. If he loses the challenge, the court shall levy charged upon his buy off price for the expense. He can offer any person dependent to him for sale for the debt. He may not offer any person under contract to him such as a laborer, wife, tenant, or debtor. He must provide proof of dependence such as proof of parentage yet not of majority or bill of purchase or proof of taxes paid upon the goods or person offered such as in the case when the persons or goods were inherited or gifted.
  • A noble may not tax gifts, yet may ask for a tithe of inheritance in the case of the death of the original owner. A freeman may not pay tax to more than one agency. If he manages property in two different territories, he pays taxes to the territory in where he has the most property. The paid agency then compensates the minor agency.

Nobles

The nobility would seem to be all-powerful, yet while they might be privileged by birth, they are not privileged by law and tradition, but hampered by it. The main reason for this is to prevent any one noble from getting too much power or overstepping the taboos of their caste. The nobility consists not only of nobles, but also of agents who serve the noble class like warriors and lawyers and tax collectors. The people dependent upon the caste and not of it are subject to the taboos of their own caste. The greater the power of the noble, the more taboos he suffers. Here are some of the taboos and laws of this caste.

  • A noble may own person property consisting of a transport, items of personal adornment and use such as combs, goblets, jewelry, clothing, etc., and armament. Slaves, animals, housing, consumables, and money cannot be owned by a noble, yet are his to use or dispose of at will. For instance, he cannot own a slave, but may require the use of a slave from any of his client farmers. Although it may look like the slave or the animals are his by use, they are technically owned by a member of the farming class and must be compensated for in case of loss or damage.
  • A noble may not handle money or participate in monetary transactions. Agents appointed by the noble collect taxes for the family from clients and the noble merely tells the agent what he needs or desires. The lady of a family handles most of this interaction.
  • A noble must collect enough tithes through his agents to compensate and arm his warriors. He must see to it that the warriors are not too many or too greedy for goods and spoils. A noble must oversee the training of these troops and oversee their quarrels and relationships with non-warriors.
  • A noble's word is binding. His word is also truth. If he lies about any matter, no matter how small, he must face the consequences of his lie as if he had told the truth. If he is caught lying, he may be stripped of rank or severely chastised by his peers.
  • A noble's duty is to hear and judge the differences of any members of his family, any members of his clients or any case put before him that concerns his territory. If he judges wrongly or harshly or in any other way to cause unrest among his people, he shall answer for it before his peers.
  • A noble must not be seen in any guise other than his own. He shall not impersonate any other person or act in any way to deceive another as to his identity. He shall suffer the praise or the satire of anyone under him and can only prosecute for defamation of character someone of his own rank.
  • A noble may strike anyone he chooses, but his family shall compensate for death or damage to family or clients.
  • A noble may obtain goods from adjoining territories or foreign territories as spoils of war unless he is caught in the act. If persons of free status can prove that he was responsible for their loss, his family shall compensate the victims. This law is waived over those of foreign status meaning those who do not speak the language of the Tualárach and thus are outside the law. Foreigners who live among the Tualárach or can make their case understood in a Tualárach court of law shall be treated as the lowest born of the farming class unless they be married into the nobility.
  • No noble shall marry below his class. He or she may take to consort anyone of their choice and adopt any person, regardless of station into his or her family. This person assumes privileges of that class if adoption is formal. Consorts are treated as to their original rank.
  • No noble shall enter into contract with anyone not of his rank. With those of his own rank, his word is binding if witnessed by another of his rank. If he is sworn, he is bound by that oath to his death no matter what cost to his person, to his family, or to his clientele.
  • Every noble shall have his fortune cast at birth. He shall abide by the taboos placed on him by this fortune. If he break said taboos, his rank shall be forfeit and he shall be considered fey and those attached to him are relieved of any consequence of his behavior unless they, too, fall under the taboo and its breaking.
  • No noble shall aggress against another noble. No noble shall hold hostage any other noble without permission from a court of law. No noble shall seek to expand her territory outside of a court of law. No noble shall set himself or herself up as ruler of more than one territory. No noble shall control lands that are not reached by horse or boat within two days.
  • No noble shall begrudge any member of the poet class for satire. If he feels the satire damaging to his reputation, he may address a court of law for slander against his honor.
  • No noble may refuse to offer hospitality to anyone. Any person under the rules of hospitality is under temporary sanctuary. Hospitality is extended for one month and a day. For a stay of longer duration, the guest enters into the laws and rules of clientele. A client is treated according to caste distinctions.
  • No nobleman may pass personal goods to any members other than the children of his sister at the time of his death. He may gift to anyone at any time any property in his control whether personal or an expected use or tithe from a client. If he then expects such tithe, the client may redress a court of law for double taxation and the noble may be penalized.
    No noble may hold a person of lower rank accountable for aggressions against his person. He may strip the lower person of goods or rank for offenses against his honor when witnessed. Redresses may be heard by a court of law. If the action was malicious, the offending noble may be stripped of rank. If the redress was malicious or in revenge, the noble may be compensated further for offenses against his honor.
  • Members of the noble caste are the only persons permitted to carry swords. A farmer is permitted a knife of not more than the length of his hand and fingers, a slave half that length. Members of the noble caste are the only persons permitted the use of metal armor. Farmers are permitted leather and canvas, slaves none. Members of the noble castes are the only persons permitted the use of sight hounds and hawks for hunting purposes. Members of the farming caste may hunt with bloodhounds, bird dogs and may not engage in falconry. Members of the noble caste are the only persons permitted the use of the horse for riding and the use of the chariot. Members of the farming caste are permitted wagon and coach drawn only by oxen or ass. Farmers may only ride donkeys. Slaves must travel on foot or in the company of their masters. Members of the noble caste are the only persons permitted to hunt wolf, bear, elk, boar and aurochs. Members of the noble caste are the only persons permitted to hunt swan and raptors. Farmers may hunt all other fowl, fallow deer, roe deer, and small game. Slave are only permitted to fish.

Priests

This caste is very different from the others. Firstly, the members of it are not born to it, but reborn to it. This is a caste of calling and members of it come from all other walks of life. Members of this caste exist in all other castes and try to act within the boundaries put upon them by those castes. For instance, the great scientist, Archimedes, was a Greek slave and bound by many of the rules of that caste under the Romans. The similarity of members of this caste are that they are bound by the rules and taboos of the profession to which they are called. Doctors can first do no harm. Priests must give themselves to god before any earthly master. Artists are bound by the calling of their art before loyalty to their families, etc. Many professions are bound up with secret societies whose taboos on their members are more strict than those of any caste.

Although the priest caste is the only caste comprised of chosen people, some rules apply to them. Usually a school of study is attached to one of the other three castes, or has castes within the occupation. For a list, see below. Here are the rules that apply to all members of this caste.

  • No member may own property other than personal possession such as combs, clothing, shoes, eating utensils, etc. These items are for his use only. Thus, a person may own as many a two cups, yet more is considered to be chattel and not for personal use.
  • No member may arm himself, yet may carry an eating knife and a staff for self-defense. No member of this caste may hunt, grow food, make house, or otherwise support himself except under dire conditions where no patron exists, i.e. war, famine, etc. This law is waived when certain professions are concerned, i.e. growing herbs and doctors or growing herbs and dyers or raising stock and breeders.
  • Unless proscribed, master members of any profession are of the rank of nobles, journeymen are of the rank of freemen, and apprentices of the rank of slaves and are bound by laws governing these castes.
  • No member of this caste may operate outside the bounds of his profession unless sponsored by a patron and under his direct order. The patron may be asked to respond to the professional master in a court of law to answer for infractions against any rules of that profession.

The following is a list of professions and caste divisions within them.

  • Musicians: drummers, flutists, and singers are of low rank, masters sometimes being of the lowest class of farmers. Harpists are of high rank. Bards are ranked according to their passing of professional tests.
  • Medical people: nurses are of low rank. Herbalists and independent practitioners are of freeman rank. Bone setters, surgeons and dentists are of freeman rank. Masters of schools and archivists are of noble rank.
  • Priests: attendants and orderlies are of low rank. Diviners and astrologers are of freeborn rank. Astronomers, calendar keepers, masters of shrines, and soothsayers, prophets, and oracles are of noble rank.
  • Ship builders, Carpenters: sawyers and coppicers are of low rank. Turners, joiners, coopers, wheelwrights, wicker workers, and lumber managers are of freeborn rank. Designers, yard managers, pilots, architects, and master wood workers are of noble rank.
  • Lawyers, genealogists, and historians are of the noble caste, not of this caste, and governed accordingly.
  • Clothiers: field workers are of low rank. Shearers, Dyers, Spinners, Weavers, Cobblers, Tanners, Leatherworkers, Sewers, Canvass and Rope makers are of the freeman class. Designers, and Masters who oversee groups or schools are of noble rank.
  • Miners and Stoneworkers: miners are of low rank. Overseers, smelters, smiths, dressers and transport engineers are of freeborn rank. Design engineers, armorers and chemists are of noble rank.
  • Animal Breeders: grooms, dog boys, beaters, herders and mews boys are of low rank. Breeders, branders, fence makers, mews overseers and dog trainers are of freeman status. Falconers, chariot drivers, horse trainers and veterinarians are of noble rank.
  • Poets: performers are of low rank. Bards are ranked according to test. Master bards, scholars, writers and translators are of noble rank.
  • Ceramists and Metal Workers: clay diggers and miners are of low status. Potters, glass blowers, jewelers, glaziers, ivory carvers, and all other artisans are of freeborn status. Designers and masters are of noble rank.

Professions with laws unique to their castes are few. Mostly they are of a religious nature, such as taboos among those of the noble class according to their horoscopes. Certain shrines have taboos associated with them, such as the eating of certain foods, the observation of certain ceremonies, etc. Some laws are to be honored by the entire profession. These are listed below.

  • No profession may refuse an artifact to or a project by a patron if he bears the brunt of the cost. Yet any one member may refuse the work if the members of his profession agree.
  • No profession may establish precedence over another. If one master is higher ranked (higher wergild in a court of law) than the other, the master only may accept precedence, not others of the profession who may be in his entourage.
  • Any fights between members of different professions must be settled in a court of law. Fights between members of a profession can be settled internally.
  • Only a master or a person of noble rank within a profession may serve as arbitrator for disputes and fights between members of that profession. Thus a journeyman or a freeborn member cannot settle disputes.
  • It is the duty and the task of the bards and poets to record and remember the craft secrets of any particular profession. A master may not withhold information about his profession from the profession's bard. He may put the bard under guise to refuse transmission of this information if it shall harm his patron or bring dishonor to his status as a master. No journeyman or freeborn may refuse information about his profession to his master. No slave may refuse information to a journeyman, freeborn or master.
  • Only the products of any particular profession may be owned. Knowledge must be passed to bards and cannot be owned although the restriction of that information may be requested by the profession, the bards or the nobles but is subject to a court of law if it interfere with the development of professional knowledge or arbitration or the security of a territory against foreign invasion.


© 2012, A.R. Stone



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