Fallen Nobles, Punishments, and Holy Vows...

So, my players meet on Sunday, and the game will change fairly dramatically. We're entering summer, and the main issue facing the covenant is a rebellious vassal of the Duke of Aquitaine declaring allegiance to the new King Louis of France. The reasons for this were complex, but in the end, the vassal jumped the gun when he thought his liege was weak and he was strong and well-funded.

The vassal, however, a vicompte, is the younger brother of one of the player magi.

SO, given that breaking his oath of fealty is a big deal, what punishments might a noble who was capture faced? Execution?

What might he be able to face or bargain for if he surrendered?

Could he in theory join a monastery and retire from noble life, or would this be unheard of?


My historical knowledge is nonexistant, but I'd imagine that a rebellious vassal would be executed for the most part. If he's kept alive, it is at a prison - although the latter can be very comfortable. This is dangerous, as he can still have loyalties and wage rebellion again. Retirement for monasteries is something women do, not men.

However, it sounds much more interesting if his rebellion is viable, and the stories are about the struggle. Trying to evade accusations of interference while aiding his brother.... that sounds like a fun drama.

It is a fun drama. There's a little bit of player tension.

The Jerbiton Muto maga of the covenant is married to a cursed companion who is the lord of a minor castle next to the rebellious vassal. She has gone all Lady Macbeth and is trying to figure out a way to have her husband take over the rebellious vassal's lands.

The player leaving the game after next session is a Flambeau terram-specialist. He gave up life as a noble to pursue magic, but still follows the ideals of chivalry. He wants to somehow get his proud brother out of this mess.

The rebelling brother has been funded by magically created gold from another covenant that wanted to access certain vis sources on his land. They merely stated they wanted their grogs to have free passage, and did not reveal they were wizards, but rather said their gold was from the crusades against the cathars further to the south.

Lady MageBeth has suggested the rebelling brother take up holy vows, and she'll take credit for the negotiations and try to take over the vacant holdings with Henry III's blessing. However, her husband is Tainted by Evil due to some misadventures in the Holy Land while on crusade, and has lots of martial skill, but none of the skills needed to be a Vicompte. She is hoping that she might get King Henry III and unAnointed King Louis of France to meet and parley their current tensions, but Louis will likely not agree to this as he does not have the Divine Authority of a King at present that Henry has.

(The player and I have decided that she will declare her AIM for that in character, but has agreed a more "right" feeling outcome is for them to have the cursed companion lord to take over the lands left by a different worthy lord who WILL be made vicompte; taking over these smaller holdings will make the players lords of Vezay and a few other local areas of note, solve their income problem, and be a more gradual and believable step up).

The Terram Flambeau ideally would save his ancestral lands and his brother, but due to his brother's ill-timed power play, he sees keeping the lands in the family as a very remote thing. He mainly wants to keep his brother alive but has been warned by Quaesitors not to meddle with his family's affairs after helping fend off a siege of his family's castle by Cathar-supporting lords.

So, player's last game, and lots of agendas in the wind. And those are just the player's not to mention the NPCs who are meddling.

Depends on a lot of factors, not the least of which is the personality and power of his leige.

For example, when William Rufus, son of William the Conquerer became king of England many of the Norman barons rebelled, wanting to put his older brother - the new Duke of Normany - on the throne. William Rufus appealed to the most powerful of the rebel barons and convinced many to switch back to his side. He fought and defeated the others. The rebel leaders lost their English holdings and their followers where let off with proverbal slaps on the wrist. A few years later, when William Rufus was more secure on his throne, there was another rebellion. This time, the rebels were either killed or imprisoned, blinded and castrated. I think some among the blinded and castrated where later allowed to live out the end of their lives in monestaries.

So, depending on circumstances, punishments can range from nothing to mutilation and death.

Check this Wikipedia article. While my initial thoughts were like yours (thinking of the English model of feudalism) Wikipedia seems to disagree a bot when it comes to France.


Seems there is some wiggle room here for your players brother.

Execution, exile or imprisonment. Though some sort of lesser "slapdown" isnt impossible either if the offending party grovels enough or maybe had a decent reason for it or the lord wants to avoid causing additional problems etc...

With luck, just about anything including a return to how matters were before, potentially with modifications in either side´s advantage. Without luck, his life if the lord is having a splendid day and feels really happy about seeing the surrender.

Yes he could. Or go on a never ending crusade or pilgrimage.

Sounds like you´ve managed a lovely story. "lady MageBeth"... :mrgreen:

In short though, there´s enough diversity in historical precedent for you to pretty much move the situation along as you please in a case like this.

Keep in mind, a well timed rebellion when your lord is weak can work. If your lord really needs your support, he might forgive you and give you benefits to come back. If he gets his strength back or wins his conflicts without you, then your punishment is likely to be much harsher.

People can have long memories though and past slights might turn future minor indescretions into major punishments as the excuse to harm is presented.