Kingship and Wizardry and Papacy

So, my saga is about to hit a major plot bit. [Jason, or any other player: get out.]

Diego I, of Merovingian blood, has slain the un-Anointed King of France with magic. Diego is also a freshly gauntleted wizard.

A cabal of wizards has been grooming him to do so for a good while. They also stole the Holy Oil of Anointing, unbeknownst to Diego, planning to have him Anointed and somehow create a new magical Golden Age, as they imagine things must have been like during the days of Merovech and Clovis, etc, where Sorcerer Kings could be recognized by God - a different compact between magical kings and the Divine. They may be overreaching themselves here.

With no Anointed king, France has grown wilder and more strange. The woods darker and more overgrown. The wild beasts more brazen. Magical Auras have also increased, and some magi are happy about this.

The player characters ,with a little help, have managed to recover the Oil and "King Diego" is un-Anointed.

The Magi are now running to the Vatican, figuring they can drop off the holy Oil and the Pope can figure it out.

Henry of England would love to take over France.
The Holy Roman Emperor would likely either conquer it, or re-establish the line of the previous monarchs by having Prince Louis crowned king. This likely depends on what he thinks will anger the Pope at the time.
Prince Louis is on the run, lest Diego's supporters find him.

Now, I've never had to run the Pope as an NPC before.
Looking through The Church is somewhat helpful, but I'd like some insight.
From History, it seems the Pope is a man, and he is embroiled in politics.
I'm trying to square that concept with the Mythic Pope. The Church is a bureaucracy, but at it's head is God's representative on Earth. He's the Holy of Holies... but in history he's struggling with Frederick II, and embroiled in all manner of mundane intrigue.

Ok, so there's one issue for this upcoming Sunday session.

The other question:

If you swear the Oath of Hermes, then discover you are of a proud and ancient lineage of Frankish Kings, and the current King is unanointed, and Kingship is in your very BLOOD... does the blood of kings give you some sort of out? Can you argue in such a way that a Tribunal would not kill you for slaying a monarch and attempting to seize the throne? As a King, does this obligation trump the Oath? Is there a way to annul it? Would the Order demand something of you? Your Gift? Swearing to no longer practice magic?

Or does a King stand above the purview of the Order of Hermes?

Thoughts? Advice?

I'm considering a certamen for the kingship of France....


Not easy questions for sure!

Whoever or whatever an oath is sworn to, that party can choose to release a person from the oath. Though unlikely to happen.
If it was a matter of two oaths clashing, my answer would simply be that the first one always takes precedence if there is ever an issue. Being of a previously unknown bloodline makes it a bit more problematic, however my thought would be that until actual "use" of the bloodline(ie essentially getting crowned and sworn in as king or ruler of some kind), it is irrelevant to any oaths made as it is only an "oath in potentia" rather than a known or "used" heritage. A known prince is effectively already bound by his heritage wether he has actually sworn fealty or not, an unknown prince is not and any other oath given is valid and can only be reneged by convincing whatever the oath was sworn to(in this case the order) to release him from it.

Convincing the order to release him from the oath, damned hard i would guess. Depending on political status he may have a better chance to ask not to be released from the oath but rather to have it "resting" in regards to his standing as king, essentially this would go the good old route of having multiple legal persons all residing in a single person. The wizard Diego would be bound by the oath, the king Diego would not.

Being holy doesnt mean he can automatically order people around. Essentially, he has great power, but most of the power is better left unused as indirect effects can cause too much chaos. Like, if he were to slam down on Frederick II, he might be at great risk to cause rebellion against the church in his lands, or worse yet even rebellion BY the church on those lands(local loyaly might very well be greater than loyalty to the church), or might simply cause a really bad case of succession problems.
So, you have a really big stick, or perhaps a Damocles sword hanging over people is a better picture, but whenever used, it´s either drastic(chop-chop), or potentially ineffective if you dont do it drastically enough(waving a stick around but not actually doing damage with it, people get used to it).
And since you REALLY do NOT want people getting used to your actions being ineffective, you avoid waving the big stick around unless you must. And lacking many other means of power, diplomacy on the cautious side tends to be the answer.

Hrmmm... awkward...

These are NPC's, right? Because as SG, you should know if they're over-reaching or not...

Heh, hot potato! Grab the nearest named NPC, that'll help.

The magi should not get to meet the Pope. Or, more precisely, the Pope should not deign to meet with these magi.

The Pope only meets with those who he has to (and who have proven themselves by deed), not anyone who wants to do a convenient service for The Church, regardless how big that service. The P would use (not sure if this is the right word) a vicar*, a personal designee who gets the story and then relays that directly to the Pope (in private), and then meets again with the P's response. The big P should remain behind the veil, and not associate Himself with a bunch of alchemists and sorcerers, regardless of their intentions.

(* as in "vicarious")

Not that He wouldn't jump at the offer, but the magi get to wait to meet with a flunky and then wait some more - that may not be as dramatic, but that's how it would work.

There are 2 answers - the theoretical, and the practical.

Theoretically, no, The Oath is (among other things) a forswearing of exactly that type of tie and responsibility. Further, The Order consistently puts itself above and beyond mortal matters - even if the kingdom of France is at stake.

Practically, however, it's a crapshot. This, perhaps above most all other scenarios presented on these boards, cries out for politics and favoritism and subjective bias, and it's anyone's guess how it will play out. On one hand, a mage-king would be diametrically opposed to the premise upon which The Order has lasted, and would be 99.99% guaranteed to draw some serious mundane ire and retaliation. Otoh, as you say - it's a great thing!

Perhaps - perhaps - if he forswore all magic, he could be allowed to quit The Order - but I can't see it happening without a LOT of backroom politics and deals and BIG pieces of the pie promised around. (And it would almost have to be at a Grand Tribunal - again, awkward.) More likely, fear of reaction against The Order (or fear of a sorcerer king, or jealousy of those who got bigger pieces of pie) would invite his death at the hands of some sodalis, officially or un-.

As a point of law, I have to disagree with you here. No where in the Oath do I see any language stating that the magus foreswears his ties and responsibilities. The Peripheral Code disallows a magus from swearing fealty to mundane lord, but the Oath itself says nothing about severing ties with world.

I think, to an extent, Commanding Aura covers this. It represents the Pope's divine authority. He also, most likely, has access to Divine Methods and Powers, especially Understanding which gives him insight into God's Will. At the same time, he is a man with free will and so the freedom to sin. He can easily be corrupt and venal or just simply worldily and disconnected from his Divine role.

It's up to you as storyguide to decide. Is your Pope a wise and holy man, struggling to represent God's Will in a sinful world? Or is he a canny, mundane politician enjoying the power and priviledge of the highest office in Christendom? Or somewhere in between? In his struggles and intrigues is he seeking to advance his own interests or God's Will?

What is God's Will in this matter?

Perhaps it's my modern, American upbringing, but I don't think royal blood puts you above the obligations of your Oath. Rather, it engrains obligation into your blood. The King is not above his oaths. The King is his oaths. At the same time, he has an obligation to his people, to the land and to God.

Consider, as king, he does not violate his Oath, because the Oaths says nothing about the severing his ties to the world. As king, he does not (necessarily) owe fealty to a mudane leige and so does not violate the Peripheral Code ruling forbidding magi to swear fealty. As king, he does not necessarily bring "ruin upon his solades" but acting in mortal affairs. On the contrary, as a wise wizard-king he is in a position to bring honor and glory to his solades. Walking the line between his obligations as king and his Oath as a magus of Hermes would be balancing act I wouldn't wish on anyones nightmares, but it isn't fundamentally incompatable... or at least such is the case that could be made.

OTOH, the relationship between the Order and the Wizard-King would be a tricky one. Just as an example, the enemies of the Order and the enemies of the King (per the code) and so the enemies of France... but the enemies of France are not the enemies of the Order.

Hrmmm - you're right. I thought there was something more expressly prohibiting this - but no. (I'm on a bad roll here!)

The 4th paragraph re "not endanger the Order" seems most relevant, and also 2nd from last, on "enemies of the Order". Between those two, I'm not sure how any mage could, in all faith, take the throne of a mundane temporal power and not be breaking either their oath to the Order or to their new kingdom.

As I understand it, the universal paradigm of King as Chosen by God is starting to fail around this time (helped in no small part by such overtly temporal acts by the Catholic church as the Albigensian Crusade et al). While cynicism re mortal foibles were long present in the culture, they were starting to become more and more common, and more commonly expressed. The Magna Carta shows up, and some other elements that start to undermine the idea of Divine Right, or at least the infallibility of it.

Which is to say - I don't think it's just being "American", it's also a historical general shift toward the modern paradigm.

Ultimately, beyond the prohibition of Court Wizards, the canonical background for Ars Magica does not deal in depth with the Order's relationship with the mundane institutions of Mythic Europe. It's something left to each individual saga to define on their own. I think that Vrylakos' storyline is exploring this theme wonderfully and I'm looking forward to hearing more about how it develops.

Divine right of kings is an idea that seems to wax and wane over the years.

The last Merovingian king, Childeric III, was essentially a puppet in the hands of his mayor of the palace, Pepin the Short (Charlemagne's father). In 752 Pepin wrote to Pope Zachary and famously asked "In regard to the kings of the Franks who no longer possess the royal power: is this state of things proper?". Zachary, understanding how the winds were blowing in Frankland, agreed that no, this wasn't proper and it was more fitting for Pepin to depose Childeric and take the throne for himself. Which of course he did.

How much if at all this relates to the scenario being discussed I don't know, but it's interesting to keep in mind regarding the relationship between the Merovingians, the Carolingians, the Pope, and Divine Right.

The responses thus far have been excellent. The manner in which Childeric III was raised to power aids Diego's case for his consideration.

A lot of food for thought. Diego's court is the true problem. He is truly of royal blood, but has been used as a tool by his parens. IF the players note this, and Diego becomes more sympathetic in the eyes of the magi, then who becomes King of France becomes a lot more fuzzy, and will make for an interesting conversation amongs the magi in Rome.

And if things go a certain way, the Throne of France might come down to a certamen match or a disputatio, with a player magus championing Louis IX as King of France against Diego.