Aquilonia, also called the Flower of the West is a land rife with intrigue, murder, horror and the setting for untold campaigns. From the palatial splendour of the capital, Tarantia, to the rural tranquillity of the Tauran and the brooding nobles of Poitain, destined to be ruled over by the mighty Conan himself!
- 1 Overview
- 2 The Proudest Kingdom
- 2.1 Clothing
- 2.2 Honor
- 2.3 Women in Aquilonia
- 2.4 Property
- 2.5 Occupations
- 2.6 Prostitution
- 2.7 Trade
- 2.8 Trade Economy
- 2.9 Social Standing
- 2.10 Social Mobility
- 2.11 The Aquilonian Calendar
- 2.12 MORE EDITS COMING SOON
- 3 A Breed Apart
- 4 Might and Majesty
- 5 Pomp and Pageantry
- 6 Illnesses and Ungents
- 7 Faith and Fervor
- 8 Governance and Law
- 9 Beyond the Gardens
- 10 Ways and Means
- 11 Lords and Masters
- 12 Foes and Fiends
- 13 Serfs and Sell-Swords
- 14 The Judgement Throne
- 15 Danger and Destiny
Aquilonia is the wealthiest and most powerful of the Hyborian kingdoms, peopled with a proud population better off than most in that distant epoch. Its barons and counts maintain ancient feuds from generation to generation and the frontiers fight Picts, Cimmerians, Nemedians, Ophireans and each other. Throughout the chronicles of Conan, Aquilonia plays a dominant role in the history of the Hyborian Age. From stories such as Phoenix on the Sword and The Scarlet Citadel where Conan is King to others like Beyond the Black River and Wolves Beyond the Borders, featuring Aquilonia's struggles with the Picts, all draw their readers into the provinces and streets of Aquilonia and the rule of its barbarian king.
Unlike many of the other nations of the era, Aquilonians is described as being comprised of many different racial types: Gundermen, Poitainians, Bossonians, Taurans and others appear in the various tales of Conan, all of them Aquilonians. What characteristics do these races have in common? What characteristics make these races different? How are these heterogeneous populations controlled by a shingle Aquilonian king? Only one way to find out.
The Proudest Kingdom
- "The Aquilonians were a tall race, averaging five feet, ten and three-fourths inches in height, and were generally inclined to be rangy, though in the last generations the city dwellers inclined toward portliness. They varied in complexion largely according to locality. Thus the people of Gunderland were uniformly tawny-haired and gray-eyed, while the people of Poitain were almost uniformly dark as their neighbors, the Zingarans. All were inclined to be dolichocephalic, except a sprinkling of peasantry along the Bossonian border, whose type had been modified by admixture with the latter race, and here and there in the more primitive parts of the kingdom where remnants of unclassified aboriginal races still existed, absorbed into the surrounding population."
- ―"Notes on Various Peoples of the Hyborian Age", by Robert E. Howard
Aquilonia’s people are varied and interesting in appearance. The original Hyborians were tawny-haired and grey-eyed, though by the time of Conan, intermarriage has diversified their appearance considerably. Overall, Aquilonians have a long head and are a tall, rangy race. The people of southern Aquilonia have mixed with then brown Zingarans until black hair and brown eyes are the dominant type in Poitain, the southernmost province. The people of Gunderland have kept their race pure, leaving them tawny-haired and grey-eyed. Bossonians are of medium height and complexion, with brown or grey eyes and are descended from an aboriginal race, conquered by a tribe of Hyborians early in the first ages of the Hyborian drift. They have medium-size, normal heads. Taurans are of medium height and also tend to have tawny hair. City dwellers tend to be portly in rich Aquilonia and relatively few suffer from hunger.
Most people in Aquilonia wear woollen outer clothing and undergarments made of linen. Most merely wear simple tunics with hose and soft leather boots. The wealthy all across Aquilonia dress well, preferring brighter colours, better materials and longer lengths than styles worn by the peasants. Elaborate silken jupons, close-fitting jackets, with gilt-braided skirts and jagged sleeves are typical outfits worn in the courts of Aquilonia. Hair is usually curled and scented, bound with cloth-of-silver or cloth- of-gold bands. Plumed caps adorn the head of most of the male aristocrats. Most nobles wear a sword, though many of them are merely ceremonial weapons. Aquilonian fashion for men often includes a moustache. Despite these similarities, clothing styles vary from region to region in Aquilonia.
In the Tauran and the central baronies and counties, women wear woollen hose fastened to a belt to cover their legs. A cote, a long-sleeved, low-waisted, long-skirted dress, is added over the hose. A short-sleeved surcoat is worn over the cote and a cloak is fastened over one shoulder. Wealthy women wear a wimple, a scarf worn over the head, and a gorget, a scarf covering the neck. Men in the central regions wear hose and a pleated jacket. The wealthier the family, the more ornate and exotic the designs and material are for these clothes, although the basic designs change little.
In Gunderland and Bossonia, women wear a pelicon, which is a short, sleeveless slip, as an undergarment. A long-sleeved, ankle-length chainse is worn over the pelicon. A shorter-skirted kirtle with long, flaring sleeves is worn over the chainse. A cloak or cape is often worn fastened at the throat. Hair is worn braided, although unmarried women and girls may wear their hair down. Men wear a tunic with a surcoat.
In Poitain, the undergarment for women is a low-necked, long-sleeved chemise. Over the chemise is worn a short- sleeved corset that displays the chemise. A houppelande is worn by wealthier women, a voluminous dress with long, flaring sleeves. Waistlines are worn high in Poitain. In poor weather, a mantle is worn, fastened by a strap across the collarbone. The women also wear elaborate headwear, often tall steeple caps with gauzy veils. Men wear hose and a skirted jacket. The longer the skirt, the wealthier the man.
In the Westermarck, clothing is a difficult problem. With all the hard labor performed by the settlers, clothing brought with them from the east doesn’t last long. Boots last a few weeks, and other clothing ends up in tatters in a far shorter amount of time. Stores and merchants are few and far between, so clothing must be replaced and they must be replaced often. Due to the necessity occasioned by the scarcity of shops, virtually all clothing worn by the Westermarck settlers are homemade. Frontiersmen and women often fashion garments from soft animal-hides: buckskin boots laced halfway to the knee; leathern breeks; deerskin shirts and jackets; fur or straw hats. The buckskin clothing is not without its own problems. The Westermarck is a wet land, filled with rivers, creeks and swamps. Repeated wettings and subsequent dryings eventually will stiffen buckskin to unwieldy shapes, so such clothing needs to be replaced often. Wealthier frontier Aquilonians might trade with the Bossonians for linen or silk cloth from the central provinces and dress in more traditional, Aquilonian fashions, though generally few borderers are concerned about fashion and decoration.
Prostitutes are usually required by the cities to dress in a distinctive fashion, although this varies from region to region – even from city to city. Many Aquilonian cities simply require skimpy, minimal clothing modelled after Eastern fashions. Other require gloves or a cloak of a certain color or a particular type of scarf worn in a certain manner.
Typically, fashion is not a large concern for young Aquilonians. The Hyborian age is not an age where ready-to-wear clothing is available and stylish. It takes years and decades for styles to really change. Peasant styles tend to remain the same for centuries. Also, given the cost of elaborate clothing, most wealthy young women will still only have a few gowns.
Aquilonians in general tend to hold to the civilized code of honor. Some Aquilonians hold to the mercenary or to the chivalrous codes of honor. Few merchants bother with codes of honor for reasons discussed later. Honor for the Aquilonians is a very real concept, built of the character’s reputation, moral identity and self-perception. This sense of honor is the guiding principle of Aquilonian society and is never a matter of mere lip-service. Indeed, honor is an all-important issue. Aquilonians of honor are always alert for insults. Actual or suspected, insults will impugn an Aquilonian’s honor.
An Aquilonian’s honor also extends to his wife, his family and his beloved. Impugned honor will usually result in a duel or other form of violent redress. Among the aristocracy and the knighthood, honor is his measure of standing among his peers, setting him apart from the common man. To those who hold a code of honor, it is as real as a castle, yet vastly more important, for a castle can be rebuilt if destroyed and honor is wounded forever if stained. Honor is so important that, in matters of honor, acts normally criminal are excused. For example, a man is allowed to kill his betrothed or wife if he suspects her of adultery without facing criminal charges because the man’s honor and integrity had been tarnished.
In the case of women, honor often relates to sexuality. Maintenance of virginity and/or exclusive monogamy equate to honor for women. There is more to virginity than sexual inexperience. Virginity and chastity also include married women who remain sexually loyal to their husbands. Indeed, in Aquilonia, virginity is a form of performed, gendered identity. Essentially, for an Aquilonian woman, a modest demeanor is a sign, a proof of virginity. Girls who dress in pretty clothes (ornate above their station) and are free with their wit are often thought unchaste. Essentially, if a virgin learns to have frank discussions with men, she disgraces herself in the eyes of others. True virginity is endangered by verbal intercourse. Unfortunately, since Aquilonian society holds the bulk of its wealth in private, aristocratic hands and passes that wealth from father to son, there is a cultural need for women to retain virginal honour – just to prove paternity when she marries and bears children. Any Aquilonian woman with even a single Corruption point is considered unchaste and lacking virginity, regardless of her sexual experiences or lack of them, if that Corruption is detected. Most Aquilonian scholars locate virginity in the will, not in the body. Female Aquilonian characters may well be advised to take Iron Will as a feat or to take feats that hide Corruption. Most Aquilonians feel that a woman can retain her chastity if her body is violated against her will and lose her chastity if she dresses in a lascivious dress or acts in a sexual manner, even if she does not engage in sexual intercourse. Aquilonian women are taught to avoid certain occasions, letters, sweet talk and fondling in order to overcome sexual drive and to retain honor and chastity. Many women take ranks in Perform (virginity) to always appear proper and virginal.
Aquilonian honor is a throwback to their barbaric, Hyborian heritage. Although civilized now, there is little government or law enforcement can really do to stop the stealing of valuable property and the barbaric method of handling such things is simple: swift and disproportionate revenge. Honor is a method of inspiring fear, which tends to be a better strategy than promoting friendship. Honor is especially important on the fringes of Aquilonia and among aristocrats, all of whom have little recourse to the law. Civilized honor also appears among the Aquilonian criminal element, whom cannot complain to the law if contraband and stolen goods are in turn stolen.
Although Aquilonia is moving toward a culture of law, this is a slow process, requiring people to back down and refuse immediate retaliation, but the change is occurring. Honor and loyalty are still dominant forces, but the increasing power of the merchant class is changing this. As trade and merchants become a dominant force in Aquilonian culture, the concepts of freedom and equality begin to emerge.
Characters from the Bossonian Marches, Gunderland, Poitain and the Westermarck should almost always have codes of honour, save possibly for wealthy merchants, who tend to rely on the law more than they do concepts of immediate vengeance. Characters from central Aquilonia are slowly becoming aware of law and the merchant classes there rarely bother with codes of honour. Knights and the aristocracy will almost always adhere to a code of honour even in the central baronies and counties. Priests of Mitra and many other religions will also have codes of honour.
Allegiance is vital in Aquilonia. The entire society hangs upon it. The economics of Aquilonia depends on the concept of Allegiance. The social orders rely upon its members swearing allegiances. Allegiance is a pledge, a promise and oath, taken faithfully and with full realization that it may mean giving up everything, including but not limited to time, property, even lives in support of one thing. Feudal lords pledge allegiance to the lord of their manor and their allegiance changes according to whom wears the crown. Characters also pledge allegiances to loves, wives, families, comrades, cities and gods. An allegiance to family can be complicated in its own right because, to an Aquilonian, family extends out farther than just parents, children and siblings. Family can mean any kin whatsoever.
Allegiance is usually a reciprocal tie between individuals and between families. Allegiances involve obligations on both sides and are regarded as being as binding as formal law. In some cases an allegiance is considered more binding than formal law. Written contracts count for nothing in Aquilonia. Most of the nation is illiterate, so only an oath taken before peers is worth anything. These oaths are taken more seriously than any public law. This sometimes creates problems in society in the form of escalating violent vendettas as people avenge each other and counter-avenge in never-ending cycles of blood and war.
Allegiance ties in with honour as well. Honorable Aquilonians almost always have one or more allegiances; indeed, Aquilonians define themselves by lines of allegiance. Usually their immediate feudal lord is their primary allegiance. Of course, many nobles are pledged to more than one lord. Common allegiances include family, household, neighborhood, feudal lords, province and/or nation.
A character may have up to three allegiances, listed in order from most important to least important. These allegiances are indications of what the character values in life and may encompass people, organizations or ideals. A character may have no allegiances, being either a free spirit or a lone wolf, or may change allegiances as he goes through life. Also, just because the character fits into a certain category of people does not mean the character has to have that category as an allegiance. Characters with no allegiances are often not trusted in Aquilonia nor are they protected by anyone save themselves.
Ceremonies of allegiance often runs thus: Those who had previously been enfeoffed by a former lord travel to the new lord, taking with them their fiefs and offices which belonged rightfully to them. The new lord will ask each if he is willing to become completely his man and the man must reply that he is willing. The new vassal clasps his hands and the new lord surrounds those hands with his own. Thus bound, the new vassal makes an oath to be faithful to the new lord and to observe his homage to him completely, in good faith and without deceit.
- "By Mitra, I will to (insert name of person or institution) be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns, according to the laws of Mitra and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to him and chose his will."
- ―A typical oath of allegiance
If a vassal must offer allegiance to several lords, which was often the case in Aquilonia, that vassal must specify the order in which he owes loyalty to them.
- "‘I, Gulielmus, count of Degher, do come before all of those present to state that I have given in fee to Onfridus and his heirs the manor which is called Ascelmcourt; and whatever the same Onfridus shall be able to acquire in the same manor I have given to him and his heirs in addition of that fief I have granted, moreover, I promise to Onfridus that I shall in no free manor of mine retain any men who are of this gift. The same Onfridus, on account of this gift, is my liege man, saving his allegiance to Count Trocero and to Baron Garhelm and to Conan, King of Aquilonia."
- ―An example of such an oath
Women in Aquilonia
In Aquilonia, women, whether noble or peasant, hold a difficult position in society. Often assigned such tasks as cooking, baking bread, sewing, weaving, and spinning, Aquilonian women are also expected to use weapons to defend their homes and families. Aquilonian women, although few ever become masters, do learn to use weapons to defend their homes and castles. As with any Hyborian, most Aquilonian women are proficient with the greatsword. Regardless of the normal position society attempted to pigeon-hole women into, some Aquilonian women hold occupations typically reserved for men. Women outnumber the men in Aquilonia, so it is not unheard of to encounter well-respected female blacksmiths, merchants, apothecaries, midwives, field hands, writers, musicians, dancers and painters. Many learn a trade from a father or husband and simply carry on the male’s work when he dies. Women tend to have an easier time in rural settings. Urban Aquilonian women tend to be more pigeonholed, as many guilds will not admit women save via their husbands. As a result, establishing oneself as a single woman in a field is difficult and many young women moving to the cities and failing to find domestic situations often turn to prostitution.
Peasant girls work with their mothers when they were about eight years of age, doing such tasks as sewing, cleaning and tending livestock. During harvest time the peasant girls would join their brothers or husbands in the fields. Girls of the merchant or craftsmen classes are often apprenticed out when they are eight. Usually these girls are apprenticed to another woman but it was not uncommon to apprentice a girl to a man. These girls learn their master or mistress’s trade until they earn the right to perform on their own or find a husband. Girls of the noble classes are often fostered out to other wealthy homes and estates to learn sewing, embroidery, manners, music and other leisure skills. Regardless of class, all of these activities revolved around one single goal – marriage.
Women are under the control of their fathers until they marry. Although peasants have more free choice in marriages because their dowries are either small or non-existent, aristocratic women are subject to arranged marriages. Their lands and potential children are too important to noble families to be given away indiscriminately. Unfortunately, because there are more women than men in Aquilonia, many noble women find themselves marrying beneath their station. However, unlike women in many of the Hyborian age nations, the aristocratic women of Aquilonia are more than just appendages, more than just objects of exchange or necessary only for reproduction. Landholding women, which includes countesses down to the wives of Poitainian knights, have a surprising number of rights and can exercise power rather liberally. A common marital gift to noble women is feudal property and these women can control and oversee their own property. Wealthy women can inherit property and become fully vested feudal lords. They can settle disputes over vassals, castles and other property. Women can even field armies, leading them into battle.
Peasant women have no voice in Aquilonian politics but the aristocratic women can and do involve themselves in politics – even on an international level. One reason for this lies in the feudal system itself. When a woman marries, the lands that come with the bride are valued commodities. Thus, daughters tend to represent a potential loss of feudal lands, while sons represent the potential gain of land. While this was minimal or nothing in the case of a poor family, in an aristocratic family, this could be considerable, so in this way the noble lady becomes a political tool. Even though the woman could hold property, receive inheritances, engage in commerce and attend court, she is always under a man’s guardianship, be it her father, her husband or another male relative. Still, intelligent women realize that if they marry young, weak, ignorant, absent or uxorious men, they could take control of all the property, as well as the politics that accompany the property.
Women of Aquilonia, except in the rarest of cases, take a code of honor, usually the civilized code. Almost all women also hold allegiances. These allegiances are usually to their fathers before marriage and to their husbands after marriage, as well as to any other feudal lords of importance. Most women want an Honest, Talented or Marriageable Reputation. Any woman with a sizeable dowry gains an enhancement to Reputation if unmarried.
Love and Marriage
Marriage is an event in Aquilonia, one which occupies a lot of people’s attention. Young girls in Aquilonia are brought up to expect to be married. Only noble girls of means and wealth could afford to remain single, usually by devoting themselves to Mitra. Since women outnumber men in Aquilonia, women often must marry men of lower status than themselves and if they could not find a husband, they learned an occupation in order to support themselves. The need to marry well has promoted an industry of marriage- brokers and match-makers throughout Aquilonia. Many women maintain consanguinity charts showing their marriageability by displaying their kinship ties.
Romance: Romantic love plays very little role in Aquilonian marriages – marriages are far too political and economic to leave such things to mere attraction and choice. Indeed, some Aquilonian philosophers argue that it is impossible for a husband and wife to love each other because everything is shared between them, allowing for no jealousy; and without jealousy, there cannot be love. Aquilonian troubadours avow true love can have no connection with the practicality of marriage. However, many peasant marriages in Aquilonia do seem to evidence a certain amount of attraction and romance in the couple’s choice of spouse. King Conan, in marrying Zenobia, a Nemedian slave-girl without a dowry, in return for her help in freeing him, angered many noble families. Even as king, Conan showed his barbaric heritage by flouting Aquilonian tradition and expectations.
Pre-Marriage: Marriages, except among the poor, are almost always arranged by parents to ensure the prosperity of their children. Marriage begins with a betrothal ceremony almost as formal as the wedding itself and just as legally binding. The betrothal is so formal that many couples begin marital relations at this time. The betrothal could happen at any time past the age of seven and marriages were encouraged after the age of twelve for girls, fourteen for boys. After this, a wedding notice is placed on the door of the local temple or other central place to ensure there are no grounds for prohibiting the marriage. If any come forward with a valid ground, then the wedding would be prohibited. Valid reasons include consanguinity (too closely related), if the boy or girl had taken a religious vow, if the boy or girl took an oath of celibacy, baseborn ancestry, rape, adultery or incest.
The Dowry and Dower: The family of the bride is responsible for providing a dowry, which is usually a portion of land, a fief or a manor (or more).
Peasant dowries can also include money or livestock if land is not available. The truly poor marry without dowries and often managed to marry for love. A groom is also expected to provide a dower, which often consisted of land as well. Marriage serves as a form of wealth redistribution in Aquilonia, which in turn puts more pressure on wealthy girls to marry well than peasant girls. Having a large dowry or dower can affect one’s Reputation.
The Wedding Day: A girl wears her best clothes (not necessarily white) on her wedding day and, if the wedding is to be blessed by clergy, leads a procession to wherever the marriage ceremony is to take place. Often wedding ceremonies are performed on the steps of the local temple to Mitra. Weddings do not have to be performed by clergy in Aquilonia as the priest is merely there to bless the couple. Private celebrations, marked with a ring, an oath and an exchange of dowry and dower, are common and legal. The only thing needed to create a marriage is for both partners to give consent to being spouses toward each other. Witnesses and clergy are not necessary. A wedding feast takes place after the ceremony, complete with food, wine and entertainment. This feast lasts hours, days or weeks, depending on the wealth of the families involved. After this the bride is taken into the groom’s home.
Post-Marriage: After marriage, women are expected to manage the households. For peasant women, this means a life of drudgery as they join in all the labours of their husbands, feed and clothe the family, care for children and, time or need permitting, carry on a side industry. Merchant class women are expected to do the housework in addition to the above, although they rarely need to engage in a side occupation. Noble women command an army of servants as they manage the household and are required to run the estates of their husbands when the husbands are away. Some noble women managed as many as ninety manors or industries, looking after breweries, bakeries, dairies and other stores of wealth and industry.
Martial Obligations: Just as the feudal system is set up as a network of reciprocal obligations, so to is marriage. Sex on demand, called the marital debt, is an obligation either party might claim. Thus each has an equal right to demand payment of the marital debt and each has an equal obligation to comply. Further, just as each spouse is entitled to sexual service on demand, each is also empowered to demand sexual fidelity from the other. Cessation of marital relations does not break the bond of marriage, however, as marriage is a contractual union not a sexual union. Although the married couple are equal in bed, outside of the bedroom, men are the acknowledged masters. Aquilonian women of all classes are expected to be subservient to their husband and husbands have a legal right to beat their wives so long the husbands stop short of death. Divorce could be obtained on grounds of adultery, desertion or even the discovery of baseborn ancestry.
Land and property are sources of wealth and social prestige. The feudal lords of Aquilonia are key players in politics and economy because they own land. These lords often seek to increase their holdings and their power. In Aquilonia, property acquisition is accomplished through the relationship between the lord and vassal over a benefice such as land, mills, ovens, tanneries, mines, quarries, rivers, forests and rights, or any combination. This can include ownership or simply be a bestowment of administration. Essentially a knight or noble pledges military service and council to a feudal lord in exchange for a benefice. The lord gains a fighting force without having to personally support it and the vassal knight or noble gains property. Some lords accept coin or another benefice in exchange for their benefice. Loyalties and politics eventually become complicated and confused, with nobles who are pledged to more than one lord, which leads to occasional conflicts of interest. These nobles may become lords themselves, parceling out smaller tracts of land to lesser knights and nobles.
Aquilonian lords create vassals, splitting up his own lands, in order to make the holdings he maintains direct control over more secure. The Aquilonian lord who creates a vassal gains military might without spending a single silver coin and gains noble men who are indebted to him and willing to vouch for him whenever the need might arise. Further, by giving land to vassals, the lord creates a social connection to the vassal’s family and relatives that may be exploitable. Also, a lord’s social standing is dependent upon how many vassals and sub-vassals he has. Another advantage to creating a vassal is one of management. The lord gains a competent man who will pay attention to the small, yet important, local issues of the benefice; it is easier to deal with a vassal than with an entire manor or vast eminent domain.
If someone wants land but is not interested in beholding himself to the aristocracy, they can align themselves with land-holding institutions outside the feudal lords and nobles. Guilds and temples own land and can bestow that land in a similar manner as a feudal lord. These groups may have obligations to other sources of secular power, but this rarely transfers to the characters.
Slavery is rare in Aquilonia, but it does exist in the form of household slaves and personal attendants. Using slaves for labour on the land is a Zingaran practise, not an Aquilonian one. In Gunderland and most portions of the Westermarck, slaves are not typically kept at all, for even the mere idea of slavery is either distasteful or impractical in those regions. Under the feudal system, slaves are deemed unnecessary by most Aquilonians, although a few who travel abroad bring slaves back. Rarely, an Aquilonian lord will conquer a neighbouring lord’s lands and enslave some of the conquered people. Slaves have no rights and no property. Slaves are entirely at the mercy of their masters, who have the power of life and death over the slaves. Tales of Shemite slavers and the fate of those enslaved during night raids are told to children at night to frighten them. Parents might threaten to sell their children to Zingaran plantation-owners if they fail to behave.
In The Phoenix on the Sword, Thoth-Amon, the greatest sorcerer in the world, lived as a slave in Aquilonia. The cult of Asura in Aquilonia keeps slaves; one of them routinely pilots their boats of the dead down the Khorotas river. Although there are few active slave markets in Aquilonia as there is in Zamora or Turan, no one in Aquilonia particularly cares if the existing slaves are freed or not. Owning a slave does not enhance or reduce an Aquilonian’s Reputation score. It is a non-issue in Aquilonia. Slaves are mostly likely to be owned in the cities, where serf labour is not common. Note that Aquilonia strictly forbids forcing slaves to fight each other or animals for entertainment or business.
|Barber||Basket Maker||Beggar||Bell Maker||Bell-Ringer||Blacksmith|
|Book seller||Bookbinder||Bowyer/Fletcher||Brewer||Brothel Keeper||Buckle Maker|
|New Clothier||Used Clothier||Cobbler||Cooper||Copyist||Craft Merchant|
|Cutler||Dairy Seller||Diplomat||Distiller||Domestic Servant||Draper|
|Dye Makers||Dyer||Engineer||Engraver||Fishmonger||Flow seller|
|Fuller||Furnitire Maker||Furrier||Gardener||Girdler||Glass Maker|
|Glove Maker||Goldsmith||Governess||Grain Marchant||Grocer||Guard|
|Guide/Tout||Haberdasher||Harness Maker||Hay Merchant||Historian||Illuminator|
|Leatherworker||Limner||Lock Smith||Lotus Merchant||Mason||Marcer|
|Offical||Painter||Paper Maker||Pastry Maker||Pawnbroker||Perfumer|
|Potter||Prostitute||Purse Maker||Ratcatcher||Road Mender||Rope Maker|
|Rug Maker||Saddler||Satirist||Scabbard Maker||Scholar||Sculptor|
|Servants||Silversmith||Skinner||Soap Maker||Soothsayer||Spice Merchant|
|Warehouser||Weaponsmith||Weaver||Wheelwright||Wood Carver||Wool Gatherer|
The people of Aquilonia generally assume everyone should be employed by the age of fourteen or fifteen. Some occupations require skill at some craft. For example, people may craft their own goods and sell them themselves from storefronts built in front of their own homes or in moveable carts or by hawking their goods in the streets. Some occupations merely require a reputation. For example, anyone who could attract students could set himself up as a teacher. Regardless of what it is a person does to earn a living, people are expected to earn one.
Women in Aquilonia also practice trades and many work more than one trade at a time. Many midwives also are weavers, for example. In the Westermarck, laundresses often double as prostitutes. Knowing a profession or craft practicable at home adds to a woman’s value in the marriage market because any extra money brought in by the wife into the home only helps the household. Many of the cottage industries ran by the women of Aquilonia angers the local guilds and occasionally contribute to their exclusion from certain guilds.
People in these professions or crafts can be of any class, though most are Commoners. Each takes ranks in the appropriate Craft or Profession skill and the best craftsmen also take Skill Focus feats in their craft or profession. Diplomacy, Bluff and Sense Motive are also important skills for people making a living in Aquilonian cities.
As Aquilonia’s specialization of industry become more and more prominent, the city’s bakers, cobblers, stone masons and carpenters associated with one another and banded together for protection and mutual trade protection. As these associations, or guilds, grew larger and more important in Aquilonia, the guild leaders petitioned the King of that era for more rights and these rights were granted to them in order to protect Aquilonia against outsiders so long as the craftsmen upheld some measure of civic service and duty.
The guilds protect themselves against outsiders by barring or restricting trade, forcing merchants and traders in foreign goods of a type made by a local guild to pay a stipend or tariff for the right to sell the goods in that particular Aquilonian city. The tariff is then split between all the relevant craftsmen in the guild with a portion given to the feudal lord for the right to charge the tariff. The only exception to this is on annual fairs or on established market days, when anyone can buy and sell to the public. Women generally join guilds when their fathers or husbands join. They become independent guild members at the death of the applicable male.
Guilds often use secret signs to communicate basic information to other members, as well as mysterious gestures to identify fellow guild members and their ranks. Many guilds incorporate religious and philosophical concepts and traditions into their meetings, making them mystery cults of a sort. During festivals the guilds often put on trademark plays to emphasize their preferred themes and religious stories. For example, the Goldsmiths, every year, may put on a complex play illustrating the creation of gold myths present in the religious traditions of Mitra.
The craftsmen usually live in neighborhoods of similar skilled craftsmen, although this may vary somewhat depending on the size of the city. Often the master craftsmen of a particular craft all belong to the same family. They share apprentices between them, working together to regulate competition and promote prosperity for the entire family and, by extension, the prosperity of Aquilonia as a whole.
Apprentices: Throughout Aquilonia, the basic economic assumption is that everyone is employed by the time they are fourteen or fifteen, an expert in their craft. Becoming an expert is difficult, as is entering any select inner circle of a group or cult. A craftsman begins his life as an apprentice to a master, a young youth or girl of about seven or eight years old who works in exchange for food, clothing, shelter and an education. It is illegal in most of Aquilonia to apprentice anyone older than twelve who had been working in agriculture prior to age twelve to prevent mass migrations to the cities. Usually the parents of a youth pay the master a fee to entice him to take on the child as an apprentice. An apprentice is not paid money in any circumstance and this position lasts for about five to nine years. During his apprenticeship he is not permitted to marry, as the master would then be required to feed and house additional people without due compensation. Some girls negotiate the ability to marry provided some sort of forfeit payment is made to their master or mistress. Also, trips to taverns, brothels and inns are often regulated or banned as well. Most apprentices live in the attic of the master’s house, furthest away from the valuable tools and raw materials of the shop located on the ground floor. Apprenticeship is not without its dangers, especially for girls. Female apprentices are easy prey for the sexual advances of their masters and they might even be sold into prostitution by their mistresses.
Journeymen: Once the master has given his approval of the apprentice’s overall work and skill level, the apprentice leaves the home of his master and goes out into the world as a hired hand, carrying a letter of recommendation from his apprentice master. He is called a journeyman because he journeys from town to town, working for master after master to learn different techniques. A journeyman is allowed to work for any master he wants and is paid with wages for his labours. He also collects letters of recommendations from all the masters he has worked with. Only a journeyman or master may use his Profession skill or Craft skill to earn an income. He works six day weeks from sun-up to sun-down. Most journeyman live on the third floor of a master’s house. This stage of his career as a craftsman lasts around seven years. In order to rise above the status of journeyman to master, the journeyman must choose a specific town to settle in, then he has to produce a masterpiece. This masterpiece must be created on his own time with his own materials and tools, both of which are difficult to procure on their modest wages. This is further made more difficult to accomplish as most journeymen work for various masters six or more days per week from sunrise to nightfall and most Aquilonian cities forbid craftsmen to work after nightfall because unattended artificial light is a fire hazard. In addition to the need to craft an unqualified masterpiece to rise to the rank of master, the journeyman must also prove he has accumulated wealth and reputation. Once a journeyman has produced his masterpiece and has proved his social worth, he is granted the rank of master and accorded the privileges of that class.
Masters: A master is a full citizen of a town. As such, he is also expected to be a respectable member of that town, which usually implied that he be a family man. This often means he has to find a wife, which is enough of a hurdle sometimes to keep some men as an eternal journeyman, forever working for other masters. Masters are allowed to establish their own workshops, hire journeymen and train apprentices. Masters usually build three story homes. Their workshop is on the ground floor. The master and his family live on the second floor. Journeymen live on the third floor. Apprentices are often given a bed in the attic. Masters are also given a say in rules, regulations and other matters pertaining to the guild. Most guilds have a restriction on how many masters can operate in the city, so some journeymen are denied the position for economic reasons until an opening is present.
Along with the social and economic benefits associated with the rank of master, there come responsibilities. Craftsmen must perform public duties, such as patrolling their district, donate time, work and effort for the King and his projects, donate time and work to the Temples as needed and provide dowries for poorer craftsmen’s daughters. The masters look after sick and elderly guildsmen if necessary, investigate sabotage, provide for the families of dead craftsmen in perpetuity (or until the family leaves Aquilonia or otherwise becomes capable of providing for themselves) as well as two other important duties: the protection of the secrets of their craft and the assurance of their craft guild’s quality in the city.
The guild masters are charged with protecting the secrets of their craft. Aquilonian apprentices and journeymen are rarely allowed to leave their city to maintain the valuable secrets of their craft. In the same manner that Akbitana protects its trademark industries, the craft guilds of Aquilonia virtually chains its craftsmen to their cities. If a journeyman flees Aquilonia, the craft masters are expected to expend due effort in hunting down and slaying the fugitive craftsman. They record the individual marks of all craftsmen working in the city. The mark of a master must accompany the mark of a journeyman to prove the quality of the workmanship.
Guild masters also make sure their craft is represented fairly and with due quality. Craftsmen who produce inferior products or are found to cheat the public are punished. Fines, reduction in status and expulsion are all common punishments for defrauding the people of Aquilonia. Jobs in Aquilonia need to be done right the first time, and the master craftsmen ensure this happens by overseeing the training and practise of all craftsmen in the city.
Merchants early in Aquilonia’s history had difficulties because of feudal obligations. Difficulties in procuring the right to leave a manor or fief was but one of the hurdles faced by early merchants. This resulted in foreign merchants dominating the marketplace. Obviously, a career in trade was hampered by feudal obligations, so many merchants sought to become free. This, however, had its own problems. The price of freedom from a feudal lord was that the merchants and their property were no longer protected by the feudal lords. Without that protection, merchants risked more than they could reasonably recover in profit. Thus the merchants found they needed to band together to achieve the protection they had lost in the gaining of their freedom. Seeing the accomplishments of the craft guilds, the merchants used the same model, creating their own guilds for the same privileges of protection and support. However, these guilds have their own price, for they can set prices, arrange trade and regulate working hours. In much of Aquilonia, a work day is up to 16 hours in the summer and 12 hours in the winter; essentially guild members worked during all available daylight hours. High-ranking members of guilds usually wear medallions on silver chains.
Benefits to Guild Members: The merchant guild establishes rights and norms to ensure guild members, called burghers in Gunderland, the Westermarck and the Bossonian Marches, enjoy an income, an income the feudal lords had taxed heavily prior to the establishment of the guilds. Rules and regulations for merchants are determined by the guilds and the merchant guilds have the power to impose sanctions on members who violated those rules. The advantages of the merchant guilds are similar to those of the craft guilds. Merchant guilds are noted for their charity toward disadvantaged members, providing aid to members who fall into poverty, taking care of funeral expenses of dead members and looking after a dead member’s family.
Benefits to Feudal Lords: Feudal lords found many advantages to granting rights to cities to form guilds. Guilds proved structure and self-regulation for the cities, allowing the cities to almost run themselves without siphoning too much direct power from the control of the feudal lord. The guilds levy dues from its members and used them to pay the feudal lords in lump sum payments. Fief-holders have found that tax collection is easier from central guilds as opposed to sending collectors and agents out to each and every merchant in the city. Guilds also sponsor community events and often form private theatre troops to demonstrate their wealth and influence. Many guilds are also charged with public defense, members taking turns to man the walls of the smaller cities and towns.
Rights of the Guilds: The merchant guild has the power to exclude and discriminate against foreign merchants. Foreign merchants are forced to unload their wares in Aquilonia’s warehouses where members of the merchant guild have the right to purchase the goods at privileged prices. Foreign merchants are also required to pay special tolls, fees and taxes that the merchant guild members are exempt from paying. The merchant guild also sets up a system of brokering, wherein foreign merchants are forbidden to deal directly to the customers but have to employ local brokers chosen by the merchant guild. The guild also has the right to limit its membership based on any number of qualifications. Women are often excluded from guilds that require long-distance travel. This is largely to protect the women. Women on long trade journeys face abduction, rape or murder from bandits who are likely to leave a male merchant alone. Aquilonia’s feudal lords have given the merchant guilds the power to punish those who break the laws of the guilds. The guilds have the power to assess a fine or fee against all traders who are not members of the appropriate guild. Those who cheat the public unduly are also punished by the guild. Fines and confiscations are common sanctions. Other punishments include imprisonment, flogging, shaving or any number of tortures. The merchant guilds usually have their own appointed magistrates who arbitrate disputes among the merchants of a given guild. The guild checks weights and measures and often fixes prices on certain goods and services. The guilds have a familial aspect as well, although not as strongly pronounced as the craft guilds. The eldest sons of a guild member is admitted into the guild as a matter of law. Younger sons of guild members are required to pay a small fee to join.
Guild Structure: Aquilonia’s various merchant guilds are run by one or two aldermen who answer to the manorial lord. Different guilds in Aquilonia have different means of choosing their aldermen. Some are merely appointed by the feudal lord while others assume the position by popularity or even heredity. The aldermen are in turn aided by two to four wardens. Beneath the wardens sat a council of a dozen to two dozen of the more prominent merchants of that guild. The aldermen, wardens and the council preside over guild meetings, religious rituals, funds and estates.
Other guilds: Craft and merchant guilds are so successful in Aquilonia in promoting their members’ well-being that many guilds are being established for nearly every conceivable trade. Tutors, philosophers, ratcatchers, road menders, domestic servants, bell ringers, thieves, beggars and even prostitutes are beginning to form guilds in the largest Aquilonian cities, jealously defending their members against freelance competition.
Aquilonia has institutionalized prostitution as a form of rape control. Men and women marry young in rural Aquilonia, but men tend to marry later in the cities and towns, often as late as 24 years old. Women are also valuable as potential sources of property and social climbing – but only if the women are unspoiled. The aldermen or feudal lords of the cities recognize the need to protect their wives and daughters from the lusts of young men. Thus, the leaders of the cities provide for regulated and organized prostitution, setting aside specific parts of towns for this trade. Many Aquilonian towns and cities label these parts of town with street names bearing the word ‘rose’ in them. Certain types of buildings, taverns or bath houses are licensed as brothels and certain kinds of women are allowed to become prostitutes. Thus, an individual is more likely to encounter a prostitute in the cities and larger towns than in a rural village.
Although some women engage in private prostitution, most of Aquilonia’s urban prostitutes are officially licensed. The women allowed to become prostitutes must be single or widowed and they must be ‘foreign.’ The women do not have to actually be from another country but they must at least be from another city or region. Prostitution, after all, is to protect local women from rape and other forms of dishonorable behavior. Young women are often brought in for this purpose. In Aquilonia, Brythunian and Zamorian women are especially popular as prostitutes. The Brythunian women are prized for their blonde hair and overall beauty and the Zamorian women are sought out because of their special (and often eager) skills as prostitutes.
Aquilonian prostitutes are beautiful as a general rule. If men are not attracted to the prostitute, then the men might turn their attentions to local women, defeating the purpose of the institution. Also, in Mitran philosophy, it is less of a dishonor to fornicate with a beautiful woman than with less attractive women. The logic runs that the prettier the woman is, the more she arouses a man, thus it is the beautiful woman’s fault the man is driven to fornication out of wedlock, so there is no dishonor for the man, as he cannot help himself. Further, houses of prostitution are seen as training grounds for young men, helping them to develop the skills necessary to properly provide Aquilonia with children after they marry.
Prostitutes are usually required by the cities to dress in a distinctive fashion in order to set them apart from local, decent women. The particular dress code varies from province to province – even from city to city. Many Aquilonian cities simply require skimpy, minimal clothing modelled after Eastern fashions. Other require gloves or a cloak of a certain colour or a particular type of scarf worn in a certain manner. Anyone who finds a prostitute dressed otherwise has the right to strip the girl on the spot.
Many cities require a certain percentage of earnings and several set up laws restricting the number of customers a prostitute might have in one day or prohibiting the beatings of whores by brothel owners. Some brothels cater only to the nobility, others only to guild members. Others accept all comers.
Aquilonia has a system of concubinage wherein formal contracts, usually involving oaths of sexual fidelity, support, etc., are drawn up between partners not married to each other. Often a wealthy landowner, not desiring his wife, but not wanting to risk the disease element involved in prostitution, uses this system to satisfy his lusts. This system is also a way for poorer families to make beneficial social connections, not to mention a manner of supporting unmarried daughters. Prior to Conan’s taking Zenobia as his queen, King Conan kept a seraglio of concubines. Before he left Aquilonia to fetch Zenobia from Nemedia, he discretely disbanded his houris and found husbands for many of them. There is no limit to the number of concubines a person might have, save unless one of the contracts specifies a limit.
Most Aquilonian trade is relatively local. As farms and manors expand, more and more villages find they have a relative advantage in the production of a few goods and trading for other goods. So most Aquilonian merchants and peddlers travel from village to village selling goods. In the large towns and cities, trade is dominated by the craft and merchant guilds. The guildsmen tend to band together for mutual trade protection. The guildsmen work together to bar or restrict trade in whatever merchandise is protected by the guild, forcing merchants and traders in foreign goods to pay a stipend or fee for the right to sell the goods in the city. The tariff is then split between all the relevant merchants with a portion given to the feudal lord or to the city for the right to charge the tariff.
Aquilonia is the wealthiest nation of the Hyborian age but it is not a trading giant. The greatest commercial kingdoms of the era are Zingara, Argos, Koth and Shem. However, as most of the trade during this epoch is conducted via overland routes, Aquilonia is well situated to take advantage of the trade of other nations. The Road of Kings, for example, runs right through Aquilonia, as do other overland routes.
The Road of Kings passes through Tarantia from Belverus in Nemedia. It then moves southward along the Khorotas River toward Messantia in Argos. From Tarantia to Poitain, most of the commercial trade travels the Khorotas until the unnavigable southern portions are reached. Once the Khorotas moves east to skirt the Poitainian Mountains, traders move along an old road toward Messantia. Trade traffic also moves along the Tybor river, although the Alimane is largely too shallow in too many places for it to move much cargo in boats. As Aquilonia grows wealthier, demand for foreign trade items will increase. As demand increases, merchants become more familiar with the complex issues involved, such as contracts, accounting and foreign diplomacy.
Some items available in Aquilonia from foreign lands include sugar, spices, wine and olive oil. Aquilonia trades coal, timber, wood, iron and copper for these items. Any foreign or exotic good is likely to be plagued by fluctuating prices, unlike goods such as bread and ale, whose prices tend to be fairly stable.
Bandits and robbers are a danger to Aquilonian trade and traders as they are in most nations of this age. In chapter 11 of The Hour of the Dragon, Poitainian robbers slew the thief who stole the Heart of Ahriman. The chief of the robbers sold it to the Kothic merchant Zorathus. Bandits are raiders who ambush unwary travelers, extolling money and/or goods to maintain their free and violent lives.
In Aquilonia there simply is no set price for any good or service. Every transaction is between a seller and a buyer so prices vary from transaction to transaction. Further, goods tend to be individualised and unique in Aquilonia. Perhaps this broadsword has an engraving of a ram on its blade and perhaps that one has a gold pommel. No two items are alike, so it is unlikely prices will be alike. Price is determined by demand. Sellers do not put price tags on items. If a person wants it, that person will pay what is necessary to get it.
Buying and selling in Aquilonia is usually a function of Diplomacy and Sense Motive, although Intimidation or Profession (merchant) can be used as a substitution for those skills. Most merchants in Aquilonia maximize all four of these skills to be sure they are on top of their game, buying for the lowest prices and selling for the highest prices.
Selling loot in Aquilonia can be difficult if one does not have any contacts. People cannot just haul in a bunch of loot to the bazaar and set up shop. The local merchants will get angry as will many of the craftsmen who make items similar to what is being sold. Aquilonian armourers, for example, will not take kindly to someone selling foreign armor in the bazaars where the guild armors are sold. If a merchant or craftsman is not a member of the appropriate guild, the person is simply not allowed to sell within the city except on designated festival or open-market days, which are usually held but once per year. People are not permitted to openly practice a craft unless they are a member of the associated guild.
There are four distinct social orders in Aquilonia, each with its own unspoken rules and hidden habits. These four orders are the laborers, the townsmen, the aristocracy and the clergy. These orders are social and political in nature, not economic, for status and position are not determined by money. Feudalism is a political structure, not an economic structure. The unnamed rules of these social orders affect everyone in one manner or another. Social status is not a ladder to be climbed up and down. The typical method of looking at feudal societies is pyramidal, with a king on top, royalty beneath him, nobility beneath them, followed by merchants and serfs. This is not a correct view. Social order is more like a web than a ladder or a pyramid–and it is always in motion, much as a web is moved by the winds or by a black spider spinning new threads and moving or breaking old ones.
90% of the population of Aquilonia are the people who labor for a living. These people work the land for food, drink and clothing. They work not only to survive but to support those who do not labor, such as the clergy and the aristocracy. Indeed, having a job at all disqualified one from the nobility, for nobles do not labor. Cities and towns rely heavily on the laboring order, as do travelling mercenaries and standing armies. Wealthy Aquilonia is an agrarian society and those who do not farm must rely upon those who do for survival. Laborers may be found in all provinces of Aquilonia. Thus a labourer may be a Bossonian, Gunderman, Tauran, Poitainian or Westermarcker, as well as a generic Aquilonian from the central provinces. Almost all laborers are illiterate. Laborers are comprised of peasants, serfs, yeomen and cottagers.
A peasant is a free man who lives in a village or more rural setting and owns his own land or, at most, owes rent on his land. Most peasants are farmers, although some are more specialized, such as village blacksmiths, coopers or millers. Peasants only owe a lord labour obligations during harvest time. Peasants do not need to pay the various fees and fines imposed by the feudal lord, although they do pay taxes. Most peasants swear fealty to the lord of the land in order to obtain the lord’s protection, but they also obligate themselves to pay all the various fees and fines like a serf. Peasants often managed to attain a modest amount of wealth. In any one given village there will be some peasants who are better off and more powerful than others. The wealthier and more powerful peasants usually have better homes and better harvests. The more powerful families often have members who serve as aldermen, or elders. Often these elders have no formal identity bestowed upon them, so membership is cliquish. Certain families, it seems, are considered to have ‘always’ been among the elders. Many of the well-to-do can lend money, seed or livestock to the poorer members of the village. Well-off families collect on defaulted loans by repossessing property and extend its own holdings.
Peasants who own land in the fields but live within a lord’s demesne are often employed permanently as manorial laborers. They serve the lord’s lands and protect his interests, thereby increasing their lord’s industries and profits. These permanent laborers are paid with any combination of grain, money, labor obligation relief or given peasants to help them with their own lands. These peasants take Profession skills to reflect the amount of income they earn and to reflect the jobs they do on the manor grounds. These are Profession (ploughman), Profession (carter), Profession (shepherd), Profession (dairymaid), Profession (cowman), Profession (overseer) or Profession (household servant). Ploughmen plough up most of a lord’s fields as serfs with labor obligations harrow and weed. Carters carry grain and goods to and from market and do any other deliveries as needed. Carters are usually paid very well to keep them honest and are especially important to lords with multiple manors. Shepherds tend to the lord’s sheep. Dairymaids milk the lord’s cows, goats and sheep, make butter and cheese, tend to poultry, collect eggs and make mid-day meals for the other manorial laborers. Cowmen receive the least amount of pay among the permanent laborers for they do odd jobs around the manor. Overseers manage peasant labor and prevent theft, especially among a lord’s groves, orchards, vineyards or cash crops. Household servants are peasants without farmland. They usually receive room and board as partial pay, although some manors pay in grain or money exclusively. Household servants include chambermaids, cleaners, marshals, grooms, messengers, pages, washwomen, slaughterers, poulters, cooks, butlers, pantlers, brewers, bakers, cupbearers, fruiters and their helpers. Only the largest of manors would employ all of the above types of household servants.
About half the peasants in Aquilonia own ten or fewer acres of land, which is at the subsistence level for a typical family. A third of the peasants own 12 to 16 acres (a half- virgate). About 12% of the peasants are so poor they own no land save for their home and the soil immediately surrounding the one roomed daub-and-wattle home. These are the poorest peasants. The remainder are the wealthiest peasants who own more land than they can work and hire the poorest peasants to work their land. Rarely is the land owned by peasants neatly divided up into contiguous plots. A single peasant may own a strip in this field and a strip of land in another field and so forth, and all the strips and plots of land are mingled with those of other peasants as well as with those still owned by the feudal lord and worked by the serfs.
The homes of the peasants are usually one roomed timber- framed houses. Depending on wealth, some peasants have a second room. The walls are made of woven twigs packed with mud, then covered in lime wash. The roofs are thatched and the floors are tamped-down mud or clay, often with straw on top. An open hearth in the center is where the food is prepared. Often, the only furniture is a table, a chest and a bench or two. The small homes are also homes for the family’s chickens, pigs and sheep if a separate barn cannot be afforded. The animals are kept in a fenced-off section of the home. Peasants usually sleep on straw pallets. Privacy does not exist and comfort is not a priority. Peasants eat breads, cheese, eggs, porridge, soup and vegetable stews. Most households brew their own ale for drinking.
Peasants may be of any class except noble or those classes prohibited by their race. Most peasants are of the commoner class. Commoner peasants from the central provinces, Poitain or the Westermarck tend to be more capable than peasants from the other regions of Aquilonia because any class is a favoured class for characters from those regions, including commoner. Borderer, soldier and thief are the next most common classes for a peasant to take. Peasants who learn how to read may take the scholar class. Peasants may also be of the bandit class.
A serf is a man who lives in a village or more rural setting but, unlike the peasant, has had his freedom restricted by a feudal lord, owing labour duties.
Most serfs are farmers but, like peasants, may also be craftsmen. A serf is not a slave because no one owns him. He is, however, tied to a plot of land owned by someone else. Serfs cannot leave the land he is tied to without his feudal lord’s permission. In addition to working their own lands, they are required to labor on the lord’s estates as well, giving up also a portion of their own personal harvest to the feudal lord. They may be asked to perform other labor services as well, such as repairing a road or building a bridge. Serfs are otherwise free. They may accumulate personal wealth, for the social constraint is not an economic constraint. Serfs may raise whatever they see fit on their land and could sell any surplus at the local market. A serf may also bequeath an inheritance to his heirs. Also, the tie to the feudal lord goes both ways. The feudal lord is not only obligated to protect the serf, the feudal lord cannot dispossess the serf without due cause.
A serf, once again, is not a slave. The distinction is important. The serf can buy, sell and inherit land and livestock. A slave, by contrast, owns nothing; everything he has, including himself, belongs to his owner. The feudal lord of a serf cannot deny that serf certain rights, including the right to self-defence if the lord attempts to kill the serf or withhold the necessities of life from the serf or his family. The owner of a slave owns the power of life and death and can kill the slave at any time for any reason. A lord cannot work a serf on holy days or demand immoral actions of the serf. The slave owner can work a slave whenever and however he likes and can demand anything of the serf. Other liberties also belong to the serf that do not belong to slaves. A serf can buy and sell anything other than produce his lord has declared a monopoly on. He can marry other tenants of the lord’s lands and give dowers and dowries (for his daughters) without the lord’s permission, although he does have to pay a tax on the right to marry freely. The serf’s unfree status is more of a social stigma than an economic one, although the serf is subject to the fines and fees the lord enacts on the manor and they owe a substantial amount of labor obligations; the larger the land he lives on, the more his obligation is, usually about five days per year per acre. If a serf sells land, even to a free man, the labor obligation is sold with it. The labor obligation is tied to the land not to the person. Serfs who accumulate some wealth may pay off their labor obligation to their lord in coin, who, in turn, uses that money to purchase hired labor from wanderers, yeomen, cottagers or peasants.
Serf homes are indistinguishable from a peasant home. One or two roomed timber-framed wattle- and-daub houses with thatched roofs and clay floors is the norm. The home usually has a fenced off area for chickens, pigs and sheep, as well as an open hearth in the center for heating and cooking. The home usually has a table, a chest and a few benches. Straw mats serve as beds. Privacy and comfort are not priorities for serfs, for they have neither.
Serfs can be of any class except noble unless prohibited by racial restrictions, however almost all serfs are commoners. Borderers, infantry soldiers and thieves all make good serfs. Characters of the noble class may not be serfs. Nobles are, by default, members of the aristocracy. In addition to the noble class, Games Masters should consider barbarian, nomad and pirate classes to be forbidden to Aquilonian serfs. Barbarians are hardly willing to be beholden to a lord to the degree a serf is. The agrarian culture of Aquilonia does not support a nomadic lifestyle portrayed by that class. Since Aquilonia is landlocked, pirate serfs are unlikely.
Serf characters, regardless of class, should always take a Profession or Craft skill. The most common profession is Profession (farmer), although most professions and crafts are open to them.
Yeomen are freeholders who own no land or owe a feudal duty. Many of these people live in a village but are not of the village, considered outsiders or dependents instead of full members of the community. They are the first to be rejected our hounded out of a village during ill times. Peasants who lose their lands or come to the village landless are yeomen. Many make their way as hired hands, moving from one village to another. Journeymen are in this category. Some yeomen hire are employed permanently as manorial laborers. They serve the lord’s lands and protect his interests, thereby increasing their lord’s industries and profits. These permanent laborers are paid with any combination of grain, money, labor obligation relief or given peasants to help them with their own lands. These peasants take Profession skills to reflect the amount of income they earn and to reflect the jobs they do on the manor grounds. These are Profession (ploughman), Profession (carter), Profession (shepherd), Profession (dairymaid), Profession (cowman), Profession (overseer) or Profession (household servant) (see the entry under Peasants for descriptions of these professions). Most of the people in this category are extremely poor and rarely are far from another run of bad luck and/or starvation. Shepherds and woodcutters (adults who do such work for a living for a wealthy landowner, not children tending their parents’ flocks or a peasant who goes into the woods for firewood) fit into this category, but they are literally on the fringes of village society, considered too close to the wild to be comfortably safe or entirely sane.
Yeomen can be of any class except noble unless prohibited by racial restrictions. Barbarians, borderers, mercenary soldiers and thieves all make good yeomen, as does the standard commoner class. Barbarians and borderers are good classes for yeoman shepherds and woodcutters. The agrarian culture of Aquilonia does not support a nomadic lifestyle portrayed by that class. Since Aquilonia is landlocked, pirates are a subject for tales in the evening, not a useful life’s calling for an Aquilonian yeoman.
Cottagers are persons who own no land but at least own or rent a residence. They are usually employees of wealthier peasants who have more land than they can work by themselves. They may also be permanent employees of feudal lords. Essentially, a cottager is someone who accepts a building to live in, even if it is little more than a shed, and moves in with his family. He works on the land owned by the wealthier peasant or the feudal lord in return for being allowed to live in a residence. Cottagers live on the fringes of society and are often looked down upon by peasants and even serfs.
Cottagers can be of any class except noble unless prohibited by racial restrictions. Most are of the commoner class. Retired soldiers make up the next largest grouping of cottagers. Few borderers, scholars or thieves have the patience or desire to live as a cottager. Nobles are, by default, members of the aristocracy. Barbarians are not terribly likely to squat in a house on an estate and then start working for the fief-holder. The agrarian culture of Aquilonia does not support a nomadic lifestyle portrayed by that class. Since Aquilonia is landlocked, pirate cottagers are about as likely as Barachan nomads.
Free Townsfolk (Burghers)
Free townsfolk are often considered part of the labour classification by the aristocracy but really do not belong there because they do not labour for the aristocracy or the clergy. They labour for themselves. Town life is distinct from country life, despite their interdependency on each other. This entry concerns those who are actual citizens of a town or city, which comprise anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of any given town. The citizens are skilled tradesmen and merchants. They are the economic lifeblood of an urban center. This group is becoming increasingly significant in Aquilonia and many fear they may come to dominate the other orders. Townsfolk, also known as burghers, are the people who dwell in the large towns and cities as the social elite. They do not labour on the land as peasants and serfs do, but they are also not noblemen. The urban dwellers lurk in an awkward position in Aquilonian society and many of the older members of the aristocracy do not know what to do with them. The nobility of Aquilonia tend to simply ignore them.
Burghers tend to resolve their issues around the elements of work, achievement and material wealth. This is at variance with most of Aquilonia, who resolve their issues around honor. For townsfolk, work is done for the acquisition of wealth and position, not out of feudal obligation or honor. Townsfolk value freedom, not honor. Possessions are objects purchased with money, such as knick-knacks, mass- produced art objects, homes, clothing, drugs and similar items. The townsfolk tend to rationalize poor decisions instead of taking responsibility for them, although that is not a universal trait by any means. Most townsfolk do not bother with codes of honor. Instead, they prefer codified law and law enforcement.
Free townsfolk must be citizens, which is usually inherited, although citizenship could be granted in recognition for service to the city. Throughout most of Aquilonia, citizenship and guild membership amounts to nearly the same thing and guild membership is often a requirement for citizenship. Certain professions are usually not allowed citizenship, despite the necessities of their functions. These often include hangmen, gravediggers and prostitutes. Also, clergy were usually forbidden citizenship as were nobility, although there are a few Aquilonian cities that require the nobles to be citizens as a means to control them. Once per year, the town’s citizens must swear an oath of loyalty to the city, gathering in one of the city plazas to give the oath in public. Citizens see themselves as caretakers of a city’s prestige and reputation.
Citizenship offered both obligations and privileges. Citizens are required to serve in fire brigades and street patrols, manning the walls in times of war as militia. Citizens also had to pay taxes but they are free of the arbitrary taxation which serfs were subject. However, citizens are legally protected and can only be tried in town courts. Personal freedom is another privilege, considered an essential element of town life. Townspeople had to be free from obligations such as bind a peasant or serf. Merchants, for example, are free to move from place to place, which a serf could not do. Wealthy townsfolk usually have servants and a few even have actual slaves.
How was this freedom obtained? The cities and towns themselves bought the freedom of its citizens. Cities who deign to be free of feudal obligation pay their lord for a charter of liberties. This payment is usually in the form of a yearly gift, often on the order of tens of thousands of silver coins or its equivalent. This charter usually stipulates that everyone living in the town would be free if they lived there for more than a year. Other elements of a charter of liberties might include landholding by lease and rent as opposed to feudal tenure; freedom to wage war against neighboring cities; own land surrounding the city; limitations on what a feudal lord will levy in regards to taxation, resulting in limited freedom from taxation; freedom from the lord’s courts, giving town courts jurisdiction; and the right to form their own government. A lord can revoke charters or refuse to create a charter. If a charter is revoked, the city reverts to the feudal lord and he then controls the city and all of its holdings and inhabitants. All feudal obligations, restrictions and justice also revert to the lord. Strong and large cities may fight to remain free, but smaller towns have difficulty sustaining a revolt against a strong feudal lord, especially one with many vassals who may collectively send waves of soldiers to secure the town. Occasionally strong feudal lords declare cities or town within the demesne of other lords as free cities, providing them with charters. This will hamper a lesser lord’s ambitions by lowering his income, reducing his vassalage and by forcing him to deal with a potentially rebellious city or town determined to keep its new freedom.
The daily life of a free townsman is shaped by the guilds.
The guilds set the working day for its members. For most guild members the day begins at dawn and ends at dusk. Labour after dusk is forbidden in Aquilonian cities and towns because work by candlelight is both risky in terms of fire hazards and in terms of quality. The homes of the townsfolk are usually wooden and the upper floors jut out over the street. Most sleep on straw cots. Wealthier townsfolk build their houses in the cities out of stone, sleeping on wooden beds and have glass in their windows.
Free townsfolk tend to focus on Profession, Perform and Craft skills, especially those belonging to the guilds. The cities have gardens, herds of livestock and even farms within their walls, so townsfolk often have skills relating to these things, yet they still see themselves as distinct from country folk.
This social order has an amazing amount of material security and political power; their time is usually spent in efforts to keep their station and improve it. Financial connections, social connections and political connections are the three most important elements involved in decision making. Who they know is far more important than what they know or what they can do as an individual. Everyone known is considered to be one or more of the above types of connections, otherwise the person is not worth knowing or even noticing. These connections establish safety and growth, both of which are important to the noble. Planning is strategic, extending out months or even years. Possessions tend to revolve around unique artefacts, legacies, estates, pedigrees and bloodlines. In this class, people do not introduce themselves. People are introduced by others with their name, then a small statement of who they are. For example, in The Hour of the Dragon, Orastes introduces himself and his companions to Xaltotun by saying, ‘I am Orastes, once a priest of Mitra. This man is Amalric, baron of Tor, in Nemedia; this other is Tarascus, younger brother of the king of Nemedia; and this tall man is Valerius, rightful heir of the throne of Aquilonia.’ This type of introduction serves the purpose of not only identifying the noble but illustrating his connection at the same time. If an introduction is merely, ‘This is (name), a very dear and close personal friend,’ or something similar, then the unspoken understanding is that the person has no connections of worth.
The aristocracy contains a large and fluid social range.At the top were the royalty, which included the king and his family. Beneath the royalty are the upper nobility. Most of the upper nobility bear titles such as count or baron, but having such a title does not automatically place a character in the upper nobility. The ranks of the aristocracy are extremely fluid because the fortunes of war and marriage brought families up and cast them down quickly. Essentially, the only difference between upper nobility and lesser nobility was a matter of diplomacy and power. Those who enjoy the favor of the king, have a noble title, own a sizeable amount of land and are the big- shots of the time are upper nobility.
Lesser nobility includes the rest of the aristocracy. Much of the lesser nobility bear ‘sir’ or ‘lady’ as their only title. New nobility also falls into this category, for a noble only recently made noble via marriage or reward can never have the standing of a family that has been noble for generations upon generations. Owning land is important to the nobility. Although landless nobles exist, they can never be independent and they always owe their standing to some position held at court, being a noble only at the whim of the king or other feudal lord. The lowest station of the lesser nobility is the gentry. Members of the gentry are knights who hold land and exercise feudal rights. There are some knights (bachelor knights and unfree knights) who do not meet those qualifications. These bachelor knights are the least appropriate sort for marriage among the nobility as they have no land and only have a social position via their knighthood.
Oddly enough, wealth is not a real prerequisite for the aristocracy. Peasants, yeomen, townsfolk and clergy might all accumulate wealth, but that did not gain them entrance into the aristocratic circles. No one in Aquilonia would consider a wealthy person noble. Few nobles actually know the extent of their wealth or lack of it. They usually knew what estates they held and how many vassals they have, but few could tell a person if those manors ran at a profit or a loss. At best, a noble might know how much tangible coins and jewelry they have in their direct possession or in their treasure box at home. Wealth only really came into play if the noble operates at a loss for too long (usually two or three generations) and he loses his landed properties due to debt, his jewels and coins spent. The noble family may find themselves living on a scrap of land and performing the labor of the land alongside his peasant neighbors. They may find themselves only able to marry commoners–and within a few generations the family’s noble status becomes a memory only. To avoid this, many lesser noble families find that becoming a hired sword, a mercenary knight, is the best way to preserve family fortunes and honor.
All noblemen are expected to be knights and no one could be a knight unless he is also a noble. Of course, a knight is a mounted warrior. Early in Aquilonian history, anyone who fought on horseback was a knight, even if he was a peasant or other commoner. As time went on, knights became more specialized, becoming a mounted warrior who wore armor, wielded a lance in addition to a sword, mace or ax, and who specialized in the massed cavalry charge. Active knights seek glory through combat, prestige won through war. Glory to an Aquilonian is a public testimony of martial prowess. Winning or losing a battle is a separate issue from winning glory. So long as an individual knight had an opportunity for winning glory, the knight was satisfied, regardless of the win or loss of the battle. Plunder is also part of glory. Carrying off piles of loot is glorious, showing the depths of an enemy’s defeat and allowing the knight to distribute gifts to his followers and friends.
The younger sons of the nobility have little wealth and virtually no share in his family’s estates. Options tend to be limited for the younger sons. Some enter into the clergy to support themselves. Others become ‘hearth sons,’ a directionless member of an older sibling’s household who swears an oath never to marry. Others take up arms and become professional men-at-arms, hungering for the glories of the battlefield and travelling from tournament to tournament or hiring on with various nobles willing to pay for his services. The pinnacle of service would be to earn the right to serve in the royal household as a Black Dragon. Eventually some of these professional knights could raise their own companies of knights wearing the coat of arms of the one raising the retinue.
Nobles tend to rise with the sun to eat a small breakfast, then to see to manorial business. Breakfast usually consists of bread and wine. Religious nobles hear a ceremony in his chapel at dawn, otherwise the noble consults with his counsellors, judges cases or deals with other business. Once the morning is consumed, the big meal of the day, dinner, is served. After dinner, the rest of the day is spent in recreation most of the time. Entertainment often followed dinner, especially if the noble has guests. Entertainment may include jugglers, acrobats, troubadours, gambling or games. If the weather is good, the rest of the day is spent hunting. Hunting for Aquilonian nobles is usually done from horseback and in groups. A rehearsal for war, nobles get physical exercise, practise riding, weapon practise and exercise in teamwork over various types of terrain. The hunt also took care of aristocratic obligations of protection of his subjects. Wolves, wild dogs and wild cats are among the targets of a hunt because they threaten livestock and people. Of course, deer and wild boar are the prised targets because of the tasty meat and the challenge. Some nobles keep kennels with hunting dogs, allowing some hunting of small game such as rabbits. A few nobles practice hawking or falconry, especially the ladies. A noble’s day usually ended at sundown, as did most everyone else’s, although occasionally late-night revels lit by candles, torches and fireplaces are engaged in.
The aristocracy build their manor houses out of stone with an enclosed courtyard. Often the manor houses include a gatehouse and a moat. The aristocracy prefer highly flavored and spiced meals colored with saffron or blood. Pepper, mustard and garlic are the most common spices to be found on a lord’s table. Vegetables are frowned upon as the food of commoners. In Poitain and Attalus, raw fruit is frowned upon as medically unsound. Subtleties of sugar, jelly and paste sculpted into the forms of animals, saints or heroes made their way to meals as desserts.
Outcasts and Bandits
There exist on the outskirts of Aquilonian society those elements who have either been cast out or those who have withdrawn voluntarily beyond societal borders. Among the outcasts are the itinerant poor, such as the wandering beggars or those who suffer from physical or mental handicaps. Unable (or unwilling) to labour, fight or pray, these persons are fair game for any sort of indignity or outrage because no one protects them. During times of famine or plague, their numbers swell, though at most times they are encountered as individuals or small groups or families. Occasionally a villager may give them a bit of food and a place to sleep, depending on the villager’s moral sensibilities and sense of security. Foreigners and outlaws also fall into this unprotected category. Outlaws may be captured or killed by anyone. They are without lords and have no protectors. Thus outlaws tend to avoid villages, towns and cities, save to loot them. Even foreigners must be careful. They too have no protectors save their own sword arms.
There is little social mobility in Aquilonia save via marriage. No matter how well one behaves, no matter how much one accomplishes, no matter how much wealth one accumulates, one cannot be elevated in status because of those things. Misbehavior short of criminal also does not decrease one’s social standing. Downward movement is certainly easier than upward movement. For example, if a noble takes a job, he is disqualified to be noble, for the aristocracy does not labor for a living. Also, criminal action could cause one to be outcast from society, leaving a character without legal protection.
Some occupations, though, are more prestigious than others, and a limited sort of upward mobility can be gained by apprenticing a son or daughter into a profession more respected than one’s own. The only sure way to move upward in Aquilonian society is via marriage, to be granted noble status for extraordinary service to a feudal lord or, as in the case of Conan the Cimmerian, to take one’s place in society with one’s own bare hands and on one’s own terms.
The Aquilonian Calendar
The moon takes slightly over 29.53 days to orbit around the planet and return to the same phase, a period known to the Aquilonians. The Aquilonians also know how to measure the seasons and the solar year. The Aquilonians are aware that the solar year is eleven days longer than twelve lunar cycles. The Aquilonians also observe the stars and have a zodiac of their own. All of these factors have gone into the creation of the Aquilonian calendar.
In ancient times, just after the fall of Acheron and the founding of Aquilonia, the Hyborians had a nineteen year cycle in their calendar beginning with the Year of the Lion and ending with the Year of the Dog. The cycle ran thus: lion; dragon; snake; turtle; wildcat; wolf; eagle; hawk; bear; otter; alligator; mongoose; panther; rat; horse; lotus; gazelle; falcon; and dog. Most of these years had twelve months of 29 or 30 days, but would be eleven days short of a full solar year. To correct the resulting drift of seasons, seven of the years in the cycle included an intercalary month. The years with thirteen months were: snake; wolf; hawk, alligator; rat; gazelle; and dog. These thirteen month years fixed the errors caused by the difference in lunar and solar cycles to keep the seasons approximately on the same days. Months of 30 days were called full and 29 day months were called hollow. The full months were deemed auspicious and lucky and the hollow months were considered months of ill-repute and were unlucky.
As the centuries wore on, differing perspectives on calendars were proposed and, with occasional shifts in power, instituted. Thirteen month years fell into disfavour due to superstitions about the number thirteen. Also, even numbers are considered foul in some of the backwoods provinces of Aquilonia, so the calendar eventually shifted to months of 29 or 31 days. 29 day months are still known as hollow months and 31 day months are known as full months. Two additional years were added to the cycle, the Year of the Elephant and the Year of the Tiger, because of royal edicts based on nicknames of an Poitainian usurper and an Attalusian hero. The Year of the Snake was renamed the Year of the Cobra.
The current Aquilonian calendar has a 21 year cycle with twelve months in each year. The twelve months are based on the Aquilonian ‘circle of animals’, known to us today as the zodiac, the constellations that the sun passes through in each season. The night sky is seen as an enormous, revolving bubble surrounding the planet, taking a year to make a complete circle. The path of the sun, the ecliptic, also contains the path of the five known planets. The twelve Aquilonian months are: Lacerta; Baquil; Aquila; Caris; Balluan; Messor; Valica; Crinso; Horuma; Kapray; Palagus; and Kiphias.
Month: This is the name the Aquilonians have given to this month.
Constellation: This is the group of stars the sun passes through during this month. Early Hyborians assigned names to various stellar patterns according to the pictures suggested by the patterns.
Season: This column indicates whether the month is in the spring, summer, autumn or winter.
Element: The Aquilonians have assigned a fundamental substance to each of the constellations in the ‘circle of animals.’ Fire signs are lively and enthusiastic; earth signs are practical and steady; air signs are communicative and cerebral; and water signs are emotional and artistic.
Quality: This indicates the type of ‘energy’ the months fall under. A cardinal sign is innovative, vigorous and initiating. A fixed sign is said to be unrelenting, indomitable and creative. A mutable sign is supposedly versatile, adaptable and accommodating.
Duality: A masculine month is said to be indicative of action, energy and outward strength of arms. A feminine month is said to be a sign of receptivity, charisma, and inner strength of will.
Ruler: This is the planet or luminary that is said to have dominion over the month. The planets of Uranus, Neptune and Yag have not been discovered yet by the Hyborians.
Days: If a month is full, it has 31 days. If a month is hollow, it has 29 days.
The Labor Calender
To add a bit of verisimilitude to your Aquilonian campaign, you can add laborer activities going on around the activities of the Player Characters. To understand the activities of the laboring order, a description of Aquilonian farming techniques needs to be shared. Early in Aquilonia’s history, when the Hyborian barbarians began to settle down and create the foundations of civilization, the technique used for preparing farmland was the ‘slash and burn’ technique. Although Aquilonia was built upon the ruins of Acheron, much of the land was still wild and overgrown. A Hyborian family or group of families moved into an area and just set fire to the forest and burned out a clearing. These people then planted and farmed for several years, planting the same crops in the same land year after year and finally leaving for newer pastures when the soil became exhausted of nutrients. This system eventually gave way to the two-field system of farming, wherein one part of the land was cultivated and the other part lay fallow for a year. This quickly evolved into the current Aquilonian practise of three-field farming. Aquilonia has rich soil and abundant rainfall and could withstand more planting than many kingdoms of the age. Aquilonians plant one type of crop on a third of the land, plant another type of crop on another third (usually a crop with a different harvest date) and let the final third lay fallow. The increase in productivity was substantial. Aquilonians also know fertilized land can be farmed more intensively than underutilized land, but the only type of fertilizer known is manure and there is not enough of it, so the use of manure is usually restricted to gardens and for the portions of the fields allotted to the feudal lord.
|Month||Field 1||Field 2||Field 3||Livestock||Other Concerns|
|Lacerta (spring)||Sow spring crops (barley, oats, peas, beans and vetch)||Plough (currently fallow)||Winter wheat growing from last years' Valcia planting|
|Baquil||Harrow||Milk cows, shear sheep||Sow gardens, find wild swarms|
|Aquila (summer)||Weed and fertilize||Plough-mixing manure||Begin harvesting small portions of winter wheat||Shearing sheep, milk sheep, pasture livestock||Haying|
|Caris||Weed and fertilize||Final plough||Harvest flax and hemp|
|Balluan||Harvest remaining winter wheat||Meadow livestock||Harvest orchards, harvest cotton|
|Messor (autumn)||Harvest barley and oats, then peas, beans and vetch||Thresh, winnow, dry and sote||Collect honey and wax, vat grapes, harvest orchards, accounting|
|Valica||Thresh, winnow, dry, and store||Plant winter wheat. Field becomes 'field 3' next Lacerta.||Wheat stubble mixed winter fodder||Pannage, sell livestock, stop milking cows||Barrel wine, harvest olive grove|
|Krinisa||Field lies fallow. Field becomes 'field 2' next Lacerta.||Slaughter, sell livestock||Press and jar olive oil, collect firewood, gather weeds and bracken|
|Horuma (winter)||Repair and rebuild|
|Kapray||Repair and rebuild|
|Palagus||Prune and stake vines|
|Kiphias (spring)||Prepare field for spring crops. Field becomes 'Field 1' next Lacerta||Livestock birthing||Sow cotton|
Accounting: Accounting is done on the manor from the end of harvest to the end of harvest of the following year. Rent, taxes, and outstanding fines are also collected right after harvest, usually by the reeve or bailiff. The bulk of a lord’s income from taxes, rent, and selling the surplus from his fields comes at harvest time. Income from forest, mines, fees, fines, justice (after autumn/winter), and industry are spread throughout the year.
Barrel wine: After the grape juice ferments, it stands for a month before being barreled. Most wine does not ferment very long, yielding a sweeter less alcoholic wine than modern wine, though some manors specialize in making more alcoholic, higher quality wine.
Collect firewood: Wood is only for the lord and those living on the manor. The lord may sell firewood, but peasants often make do with dried peat, dead wood, or stolen wood.
Collect honey and wax: One swarm can make up to three gallons of honey, with 10% of the honey in the comb. Some beekeepers are very destructive in collecting honey and wax, destroying the hive and killing the swarm in the collection process. Larger manors have beekeepers that manage to preserve the hive after harvesting the honey and wax. These manors usually have buildings to keep the hive through the winter.
Find wild warms: In Baquil, peasants hunt for wild bee swarms and transplant them to the manor.
Harrow: Peasants break up the soil and cover the seedlings. Mallets are used on some of the bigger clods.
Harvest: Harvest occurs at different times of the year, depending on the crop. The earliest harvest is flax and hemp, along with the garden vegetables in late Caris. Cotton and certain fruit trees are harvested in Balluan. Though the bulk of winter wheat is harvested in Balluan, some of it is cut early in Aquila to tide hungry peasants. Spring crops are harvested in Messor along with grapes, and the remaining fruit trees. Olive harvest is in Valica.
Haying: Any meadow or plains area is designated for haying in Aquila. Often mixed with the wheat stubble and straw, hay makes up the bulk of winter feed for the livestock. Most, if not all, of the hay goes to the lord, but some villages have common greens, where the hay is divided among the villagers. Haying involves cutting, binding and drying of the grass.
Gather reeds and bracken: Reeds are gathered, dried and bound to make thatch, while bracken is dried for winter bedding for livestock in the barn.
Livestock birthing: Kiphias is the month for baby sheep, cows, goats, oxen, and horses, as well as hatching eggs for geese and chickens.
Meadow livestock: The livestock graze on the stubble of the meadow one month after haying. Fences or hedges keep the livestock in the meadow and out of the fields.
Milk cows: Cows are not milked all year. Milking begins in Baquil and ends in late Messor after harvest. The milk usually goes to making cheese and butter by the dairymaid.
Milk sheep: Although they do not generate as much milk as their bovine counterparts, sheep’s milk also turns into cheese. Sheep are not milked as long as cows.
Pannage: Pigs are driven into the forest to forage and fatten for sale or slaughter. The lord’s swine forage for free, but peasants have to pay between 2 -10 sp, depending on the size of the pig and the peasant’s ability to negotiate prices.
Pasture livestock: The lord’s livestock, and sometimes the peasants’, are taken to the fallow field for grazing, as well as fertilizing the fields. The animals are fenced in so they do not wander into the other fields.
Plough: The fallow field gets ploughed 2-3 times a year. The lord’s strips are fertilized with manure. Ploughing also prepares the fields for the seed on the winter wheat field and the spring crop field. A heavy plough is used.
Press and jar olive oil: The peasants press the olives, either by hand or by a mill. The olives produce 60% of their mass in oil. Olives may be preserved in vinegar or eaten fresh from the harvest.
Prune and stake vines: Pruning produces larger better quality grapes, while staking keeps them off the ground, reducing the chance of rotten grapes.
Repair and rebuild: In the winter, villagers mend tools, hedges, and fences, clear ditches, and repair their houses and the lord’s buildings.
Sell livestock: Most livestock that cannot be supported through the winter are sold at market in Valica and Krinisa.
Sheering sheep: Depending on the climate and when it warms up, sheep are sheered in Baquil or Aquila. The castrated males are reputed to have the softer, finer fleece.
Slaughter: Some livestock, particularly old or unproductive animals, are slaughtered for a harvest feast. Salting, smoking, and drying also preserve slaughtered animals for the long winter. A large percentage of slaughtered animals are pigs.
Sow garden: Most peasants’ gardens are behind their houses, while the lord may have a larger garden worked by the peasants or his permanent staff. Crops like flax or hemp are grown for spinning, weaving, or making rope. Vegetables and herbs also grow in the garden.
Thresh, winnow, dry, and store: Threshing and winnowing separate the individual grains from the ear, making chaff and straw to mix with the fodder. This involves a leather thong, a flail, a hand staff and beater, but it’s not as kinky as it sounds. However, it does require an immense amount of pure physical labor. The grain is thrown on a winnowing sheet, allowing the wind or a winnowing fan to blow chaff and straw off the grain. Sieved and stored, grain lasts much longer than flour and is the preferred method of keeping grain. Peas and beans are thoroughly dried and stored.
Vat grapes: After the grapes are harvested, they are crushed by stomping or by a mill. Yeast and other ingredients are added to the grape juice, while the solid bits are used for fertilizer in the lord’s garden.
Weed and fertilize: Because of the timing, the spring crop is especially vulnerable to weeds. The lord’s land is weeded and fertilized regularly. The peasants do the weeding, while the trusted manorial staff handles the manure to prevent theft.
MORE EDITS COMING SOON
A Breed Apart
- "Aquilonians: This was a more or less pure-blooded race, though modified by contact with the Zingarans in the south and, much less extensively, with the Bossonians of the west and north. Aquilonia, as the westernmost of the Hyborian kingdoms, retained frontier traditions equalled only by the more ancient kingdom of Hyperborea and the Border Kingdom. Its most important provinces were Poitain in the south, Gunderland in the north, and Attalus in the southeast."
- ―"Notes on the Various Peoples of the Hyborian Age" by Robert E. Howard
Attalus is one of the most important baronies of south-eastern Aquilonia, according to Robert E. Howard. It is Aquilonia’s most culturally and commercially advanced barony, although little else is known about this rich province. The barony of Attalus is located in the southeast of Aquilonia. In ‘Phoenix on the Sword’, its baron was a fat noble named Dion who claimed royal blood from Numedides’ dynasty. Baron Dion was killed by Thoth-Amon. In The Hour of the Dragon, Pallentides, the commander of the Black Dragons, holds a castle in Attalus.
Honor and Allegiance
Might and Majesty
Pomp and Pageantry
Illnesses and Ungents
Faith and Fervor
Governance and Law
Beyond the Gardens
Ways and Means
Lords and Masters
Foes and Fiends
Serfs and Sell-Swords
The Judgement Throne
Danger and Destiny
Aquilonia is known for its fertile cropland and many forests. Multiple rivers that run directly through it make it a perfect land for civilization, and the kingdom was powerful throughout the ages. Aquilonia is a western kingdom that is bordered by Zingara to the southwest, the Pictish Wilderness to the west, Cimmeria to the north, Border Kingdom to the northeast, Nemedia to the east, Ophir and Argos to the south.
The province of Bossonian Marches lies between Black River and Thunder River, and is covered by thick vegetation. This highly sought after land is constantly at stake between Aquilonia and the wild tribes of the Pictish Wilderness. For a brief time, Aquilonia pushed past the Thunder River and annexed the land beyond, calling it Conajohora, and installing Fort Tuscela to protect its interests. However, a loose alliance of Picts led by Zogar Sog managed to fight the Aquilonians back to the river.
Westermarck, made up of the provinces Oriskonie, Conawaga, and Schohira, is to the east of the Thunder River. This land is home to many frontier settlements and is the destination of many adventurers looking for an exciting journey into the western lands. Tullian's Creek forms the boundary between Schohira and the Pictish lands.
Poitain, which lies to the south, is a rich province known for its fierce loyalty and military strength. Poitain is dotted with rich meadowlands, rolling plains, rose gardens, and orange groves.
Gunderland, to the north, is a hilly region known for its wild inhabitants, and is separated from the rest of Aquilonia by woodlands that teem with wildlife.
Tauran lies to the west of the Shirki River, and is a land of open groves and pastures whose people dwell in thatched cottages and hunt wildlife.
To the west, the Black River and the Thunder River run parallel and seperate Aquilonia from the wildlands of the Pictish Wilderness. The Bossonian Marches lie directly east of these rivers. The Shirki River runs from the northeast, in a southwest direction, until it meets with the Thunder River in the southwest region of Aquilonia. The Khorotas River lies east of the Shirki River, and runs relatively parallel to it. Tarantia, the capital of Aquilonia, lies on the Khorotas River. The Red River and Tybor River mark the southeast border, seperating Aquilonia from Ophir.
There are few mountains in Aquilonia. Mt. Golamira being the notable exception, which lies in the Border Range, which seperates Aquilonia from Nemedia. The Rabirian Mountains seperate Aquilonia from Zingara.
Shamar sits on the Tybor River, the site of an ancient village that predates the sinking of Atlantis. As the walled city grew, it attracted the attention of Ophir and Nemedia, among others, until finally growing strong enough to repel most attacks. It is traditionally ruled by a duke.
History and politics
Aquilonia is a monarchy, with the different provinces offering fealty to the king. Nine hundred years before the reign of Conan the country was ruled by Epeus the Sword-wielder. Vilerus held the throne prior to the ascension of his nephew Numedides, the last ruler before Conan. Numedides ultimately became a tyrant controlled by the sorcerer Thulandra Thuu. Little is known about this king and his rule, but Conan ultimately decided to overthrow him, and with the help of some allies (Count Trocero, Prospero, Dexitheus, and Publius), he marched on Tarantia and eventually killed King Numedides.
Conan's reign was rife with trouble, and his rule was challenged twice. The first by a set of five rebels who despised Conan as a lowly barbarian. Ironically, it was Thoth-Amon, Conan's old nemesis, who helps him destroy this plot. A few years later, another attempt was made by a group of quartet of schemers who had summoned Xaltotun, an ancient sorcerer of Acheron. This time, the schemers actually managed to dethrone Conan, if only for a short while. Conan regained his crown when he defeated Xaltotun with the help of the very same jewel that was used to summon him.
Aquilonia has a long history of border raids and wars with the neighbouring Nemedia. Although Aquilonia is larger, richer, and militarily more powerful, they have never been able to conquer Nemedia completely. There have even been times when Nemedia was greater than Aquilonia.
Aquilonia was the strongest and greediest of the Hyborian Kingdoms and wished to extend to an empire. Her kings made war on their neighbors. Tributaries were Koth, Corinthia and eastern Shemitish tribes, and were forced to lend aid in wars. Zingara, Argos and Ophir (and perhaps Zamora) were annexed outright, with the western cities of Shem, and were treated like conuqered provinces. Zingarans, barbaric Picts and Shemites fought as mercenaries in the Aquilonian splendid armies. The conquests were pushed to Nilus and they slaughtered a Stygian army. The Stygian king sent tribute to divert invasion.
At different times, the Cimmerians made their way to Aquilonia in plundering forays. One of Aquilonia's few defeats was when an army was sent into Cimmeria only to be routed, and an army that was almost completely destroyed in Asgard. The Aquilonian kings toyed with the idea of putting Picts and Cimmerians against each other and let both barbarian peoples destroy each other.
The Aquilonians also met invaders from Hyrkania, and defeated the on the plains of Brythunia. Aquilonia reconquered Zamora (which was briefly taken by the Hyrkanians) and quartered soldiers there not only to protect the ravaged country, but also to keep the people subjugated. Aquilonia repelled 3 more invasions upon the Zamorian borders, and the Lands of Shem, although the Turanian armies grew larger.
With Brythunia reduced to small wars, Aquilonia felt ready to march against Nemedia. However the campaign coincided with the Pictish invasion; Bossonian conscripts quit Aquilonian troops and the campaign in order to fight in the Bossonian Marches. As a result, Aquilonia was defeated by the desperate Nemedians. For this humiliating defeat, the Aquilonians retributed the Bossonians by staging a war conclave. Then, their mercenaries turned against their unsuspecting and unarmed allies and left the marches as a ruined a devastated land.
But this proved to be a short-sighted whim, as the Bossonians always were a bulwark against the barbarians. Nothing was left to stop the second attempt by the Picts. While Aquilonia was warring again with Nemedia, a massive, coordinated invasion found no opposition and swarmed into Aquilonia. Zingara found the opportunity to throw off Aquilonia's yoke, followed by Corinthia and the Shemites. Regiments of mercenaries and vassals mutinied and deserted, looting as they returned to their countries. In the midst of the chaos even the Cimmerians came, looting cities and devastating the country before returning to their hills.
Aquilonian troops were recalled from all parts of the empire, like Zamora, which incited the Hyrkanians from Turan to return. Without allies they were unable to hold off the barbarians, the mutineers and the inexhaustible supply of the swarming hordes from the wilderness, that was nothing less than an onrush of the whole Pictish nation. The Aquilonian empire fell in fire and blood and the overran country was now occupied by the Picts.
Soon they became the masters of Aquilonia and started erasing the former inhabitants from the map. Only Gunderland survived the fall and maintained its independence as a separate kingdom in the hills.
Driven before the onrushing tides of the Nordic drift, the Cimmerians surged destroyed Gunderland, and marched across ancient Aquilonia, through the Pictish hosts. Aquilonia remained under the hold of the Picts until their demise in the next cataclysm.
Stories set in Aquilonia
- Conan the Liberator
- Beyond the Black River
- Wolves Beyond the Border
- The Hour of the Dragon
- The Phoenix on the Sword
Characters from Aquilonia
- King Numedides - A king of Aquilonia.
- Amalric - Comrade of Conan, whose father was a rival of Count Terentius, a favorite of King Vilerus. Amalric's family was exiled from Aquilonia, but with the ascension of Numedides exiles were forgiven and recalled, and Amalric returned home.
- Valeria - A swordswoman and pirate.
- Epimetrius the Sage - A somewhat ambiguous character arguably identical with the shaman who used the heart of Ahriman against Xaltotun of Acheron, hence founder of Aquilonia, as well as the Mitra-cult. He is said to have lived three ordinary lifetimes and now sits sleeping in Mount Golamira. Both things resemble legends about Epimenides, a religious reformer in ancient Greece, worshpper of Apollo (Hyperborea). On the other hand, Epimetheus is the name of a brother and negative parallel to Prometheus. It was Epimetheus who opened the box of Pandora. He summons Conan (or his spirit) in his sleep in "The Phoenix on the Sword". Persian Mithra was something of an appeaser vis a vis Ahriman, Lord of Darkness, as opposed to Ahura (Indian Asura) Mazda.Note that the symbol of the Ancient royal house toppled by Conan was the golden Serpent. In Wolves Beyond the Border it is revealed that the Golden Lion was the standard of Conan's old regiment.
- Trocero - count of Poitain and right hand man to king Conan in matters of statescraft and politics. He serves as regent of the realm when king Conan is not present. Before becoming the probably decisive backer of Conan the rebel Trocero himself did direct war against king Numedides and once beleaguerd Tarantia. He is therefore highly controversial in the main region of the realm.
- Prospero - the right hand man of king Conan in matters of war and military. He is probably a poitainian baron and direct feudal liege to count Trocero.
- Ascalante - lord of Thune and highly positioned under king Numedides. He may well have been the strongman behind this incompetent tyrant. In Howard there is no Thulandra Tuu or the like. Ascalante survives the fall of Numedides. In The Phoenix on the sword he masterminds a dangerous plot against king Conan .
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