|Toralin: Social Customs
|Toralin Social Customs
In all civilized lands within Toralin, there are four basic conventions of good conduct that the people observe. These conventions may as well be law in the older parts of the country, for the reputation of whole families depends on their strict observance of these things in many cases. For example, in the barony of Vaushon, travelers may come from many other lands which do not hold these concepts as dear as the Tor'alin, whose strict adherence to these precepts is a foregone conclusion.
The Laws of Hospitality
If you invite a person into your home or holdings and they accept your hospitality, they will be treated as a guest, and the members of the household will do their best to protect the guests from any harm. Conversely, the guest has a responsibility not to abuse the goodwill of the host. In all parts of Toralin, the nobility, in particular, are bound by this ancient tradition. Many a feud and even some wars have begun when a nobleman offered another hospitality, and the guest came to harm in the host's lands.
The Laws of Loyalty
In older areas of the country, it is generally accepted that a person's word is good. Because of this, if a person swears loyalty to another and that oath is accepted, even if they have been enemies, the past will be forgotten. The person swearing the oath of loyalty will be expected to support and protect their liege, and likewise, the liege is expected to offer the same favor to the vassal. On the frontier of civilization, the courtesy of trust is not so easily delivered, and individuals are not always taken merely at their word. The history of Telluria, in particular, is dotted with betrayals of tricksters and liars, and memories of this makes the Law of Oathkeeping often difficult to observe. An old tradition of Toralin that is seldom observed in urban areas, is the branding of oathbreakers. Persons who broke their word were once branded with an O on their forehead or right hand, and set free to eke out an existence marked by shame and betrayal. In more recent times, oathbreakers face any range of punishments from the loss of reputation to death.
The Laws of Kinship
People in the outreaches of the country tend to be very loyal to family members. It is generally felt that you should trust your family over an outsider. In many parts of Toralin, it is accepted that even the nobility will act for their families before the people of their lands. Some noble oaths specifically cite loyalty to the Land above kin, however.
The Laws of Personal Honor
Most Tor'ali have a very strong sense of personal honor, at least in the sense of defending it against statements and acts of others. In most parts of the country, slights to honor are settled through the ancient practice of dueling. In lands as fraught with peril as the borderlands, however, the regard for life and safety is much stronger than in the heart of the country. Tor'ali who live in or near the frontier are reluctant to shed blood for the sake of honor alone and tend to shy away from honor duels. As such, duels are rare and the strict customs of dueling observed in older areas of the country are little known or cared for here. Duels are illegal in Toralin unless witnessed by a noble sponsor. Sometimes disputes of honor are settled instead through public debate... of course, most such disputes are also begun by public accusation as well.
Crime and Punishment
Acts considered criminal in Toralin are the usual: necromancy, theft, murder, treason and such. In older times, the outreaches of the country commonly held very simple laws, and the punishments were swift and brutal. The borderlands sometimes have the most complicated sets of laws in the country. In keeping with the unusually high regard for life found within the borderlands, punishments are seldom delivered publicly as a lesson to others. Punishments are most often delivered away from the public eye and civilized areas.
In the period since the Kernin invasion, none of the local nobility have been stripped of title, so there is not yet local tradition of process in that area. In other areas of the country, it is conventional to lose title and station for breaches of chivalry, and grievous crimes in addition to the more mundane punishments.
In older parts of the country, if a commoner accuses a noble - a very dangerous event - the commoner must find another noble of equal or higher rank than the accused who believes the veracity of the claim and will sponsor the cause to the liegelord of the accused. If a commoner cannot find a sponsor, he or she will often be killed or banished. Accused nobles are judged by the ruler of the city-state, barony or fiefdom, although their decision may be appealed to the Court of Chivalry if either accuser or accused believe the decision unjust. The liegelord of the accused nobleman is the judge on the noble's own lands, unless his or her liege intervenes. This is very rare as no liege wishes to diminish his or her vassal in the eyes of the commoners. The accused noble is summoned to appear before their liege, as there is no need to have a gentleperson apprehended by troops. In very few, very extreme cases, the accused may be incarcerated before trial.
In the borderlands, however, the gentility and kindness of the nobles makes this tradition seem strange to the local people. Entirely unlike other areas of the country, the common people in the region are generally allowed to speak freely their opinions on any subject, including the performance of the nobility. As such, it is not uncommon for an angry commoner to deliver criticism or accusation of a noble in public, without noble sponsor and generally without fear. Although the nobility maintain that they do not allow the freedom of speech, these outbursts from the commoners are usually tolerated and punished only with a stern verbal reprimand if at all. Such outbursts generally do much to diminish the level of respect an individual earns for himself.
If a commoner accuses a commoner, the accuser contacts the local magistrate and his deputies will collect the accused, and then the accuser and accused along with relevant witnesses are brought before the magistrate, or a nobleman in the case of truly grievous crimes.
If a noble accuses a commoner, several things can happen depending on the crime, the noble in question, and the status of the accused. Due to the many dangers found in the frontier, many traditions of courtliness are not observed in matters of punishment. All nobles of Toralin seem to have jurisdiction throughout the country, but it is still expected that deference will be granted to the direct liege of the land where the crime takes place.
Clothing and Fashion
Tor'ali mainly dress in colored cloth, such as linen and wool. Commoners dress in shirt or long tunic, surcoat, tight fitting pantaloons or skirts, cap, and pointed shoes. Those who are knights, warriors or armsmen commonly wear a tabard to display their heraldic colors. Since trade provides access to almost any material, rich citizens are often seen wearing exotic furs and fabrics such as silk and velvet. They wear much the same basic clothes as commonners, but of more expensive quality and fabric, and they are usually richly embellished. To further distinguish themselves, men wear attires such as fur brimmed mantles, robes, hats and extravagant codpieces.
Wealthy women wear long gowns and robes, trimmed with fur, and big hats, or crespines – a hairnet, or mesh of cloth, under which their plaited hair is kept. City folk commonly keep their hair neat, and the women often plait it. Men tend to have shoulder length of short hair, and they shave or keep neatly trimmed beards. Precious metals, gems and other things considered valuable are often worn as a sign of fortune. Small details of glasswork are sometimes worn in the hair, on the clothes, or used as rings and earrings.
The common people of Tor'ali often seek potential partners at social events, such as taverns feasts, weekend fairs and jousting tournaments. The procedures surrounding their engagements and weddings are usually informal, and do not require the parental consent to the same degree as among the nobles. The nobles and ambitious burghers usually find the advantages of political weddings too sweet to be easily dismissed. Alliances can be solidified, status increased and finances secured. Such weddings are usually surrounded with much pomp and splendor, as the families seize the moment to display their success and riches in order to impress rival families.
Tor'ali seal their engagements with an exchange of rings. The wedding ceremony takes place in a temple and is officiated by a priest (either Solnor/Bralvanyr or Tevesh/Maevas), whom reminds the couple of the sincerity of their pledges. With the gods as witnesses, they vow to honor and love each other in both good and bad times. The ceremony is finalized with another exchanging of rings. Poor people usually re-use their engagement rings, while nobles and burghers often acquire new, luxurious rings for the occasion. After the ceremony the bystanders throw raisins at the newly weds, and escort them to the celebrations. At the feast the couple receives gifts from the guests, usually in the form of money.
Children are important to the family, as they will carry on the lineage and care for their parents in elder days. The young are taught to respect their elders and work hard to make them proud. Those who can afford it place their children in schooling, earning them an academic education and a more choices in career. In poorer circles it’s more common to enter into apprenticeship to learn an occupation, often with a parent or relative as mentor.
Tor'ali bury their dead in cemeteries, and the spot is marked by a tombstone. The design of the tombstone, may vary from a grand monument to a simple tablet or rock, all depending upon the vanity and wealth of the deceased and her family.
Slavery is technically illegal in Toralin, although enforcement varies from locale to locale. Although ownership carries a heavy social stigma, the practice still continues surreptitiously throughout the country.