In my current saga, a (companion) PC is being designed the wife of a Landed Noble. Currently, her husband is held for ransom in a faraway land; a situation that will probably last several years at least. She'll get involved with the PC magi by allowing them to settle on her husband's lands in exchange for some of the ransom's money and (unofficially) for some help in retaining hold of her power in the face of corrupt seneschals, aggressive neighbours etc.
My troupe and I are trying to decide this: which Virtue more accurately describes her Social Status, Landed Noble or Temporal Influence (or something else)? Note that this goes somewhat beyond purely abstraction of ArM5 rules; part of the question is also how much "official power" she has to e.g. make land concessions to the magi. A few things that may, or may not, have influence on the answer:
She has no offspring.
It's not that the husband is "missing in action". Everyone knows he's alive, moderately well, and held for ransom.
The fief is in Saxony.
She was not a noble before marrying -- just the daughter of a very wealthy merchant (with whom her husband was in deep debt).
To my understanding she has the temporal power of a landed noble. I would opt for Temporal Influence plus being a Gentlewoman (not born noble but now being part of a noble family.) Perhaps she is wealthy, too -- though according to your description she is not nearly as wealthy and powerful as a Wealthy Landed Noble.
Landed Noble is a social title, Temporal Influence decides if a character has direct power or not.
A landed noble has the indirect power of their fief and connections, but someone with temporal influence goes beyond that.
Temporal influence is also NOT a social status.
An easy example of adding TI to LN might reflect that the noble family is so well respected ( or perhaps feared ) that everyone nearby(at least) will listen the character even when they normally would not.
The TI could also perhaps mean that the noble has an additional charter from higher nobility that lets him muster and command all militia in the area(even outside his own fiefs control).
#4 can cause problems for her. If however her husband has formally given her the formal/normal powers of a wife while absent, then that is only a problem in as far as opponents can push it(ie not legally, but a matter of "in the eyes of the beholder").
I don´t know specifics for Saxony so i can´t say for certain, but legally she probably has very nearly the power of her husband when present(unless he has specifically designated someone else as being in charge while he´s away). Problem is that there´s a lot of nonlegal parts involved, especially with things like a hostile seneschal.
Most likely i think i would say that she probably has as much power as she can scheme into convincing the "administration" of the fief into agreeing with. Legally she probably has more power, but the subordinates would have a fair amount of say in the decisions even if it was her husband making them, and unless she is already well respected by the "minions", they will resist or even just ignore something she orders that they do not agree with.
Also, she can almost certainly not push the legal side, because that would be admitting that she cannot rule, which would by default probably cause the superior noble she went to, to put an administrator of his(or her) choice in charge instead.
IIRC, Saxony could be quite nasty with the intrigue and politics historically.
She is the wife of a landed noble, in his absence, unless he has specifically limited her control or status, she is "him" during his absence and as such retains the same status. If she is a resourceful woman and her opposition isn´t smart enough, she can probably rule in her husbands name, with the same power.
If she is under any kind of limitations, or the opposition to her rule is too strong, use the Gentlewoman status instead. This would effectively mean that she is partially or in theory in charge, but can only push through any decisions of her own by great effort.
Temporal influence only applies if either her background or the status of her husband gives her something more than just being a "landed noble".
For example, her birth family is wealthy, does that wealth include a measure of indirect power in the area? Does her father or any siblings or other relatives control important political or authoritarian posts in towns or churches nearby?
Could she easily procure a great amount of money from her birth family if she needed to pull leverage by bribes, patronage or purchases?
Does her family hold important rights or charters is in the area?
If the answer to one or more of those questions is yes, then the TI -MAY- be suitable.
If she has enough power to determine it, and her husbands position includes the right to give out trade or craft rights, or the right to command several other landed nobles nearby(if this, then it can include a stipulation that they can be commandeered for X number of days per year that they have to pay for themselves and do whatever they´re told, even if it means dancing the swan lake opera(ie such a right goes beyond that of just defense or a royal mustering of forces)), then that would certainly justify the Temporal Influence virtue.
Alas... you are right! Somehow none of our troupe had ever realized that in 10+ years of play...
Then, I'd say that the combination of Gentlewoman + Temporal Influence is probably the best combination to describe her.
A couple of other virtues which can fine tune the character:
[b]Protection /b. It can reflect the benevolent interest her wealthy father is having for his favorite daughter. But because she is not a male heir or for other political reason, he cannot simply pay the ransom for his son-in-law.
Social contacts might reflect somebody with connection, but officially without real power. So this person knows and has access to certain persons, but she still needs to negociate for favor and support. It is not a given, contrary to Temporal Influence, which reflect a more direct ability to take action.
Then, they are the flaws, as important as the virtue to define the kind of power she is holding:
Close family ties (minor, story): her husband was the eldest son so all his relative are looking for him when they are in trouble, and to her now that he is gone. Alternatively, it was an arranged wedding, and her own family is looking for help in the family business now that she has some political power.
Difficult Underling (major, story): it will definitely reflect authority issue. Said underlings does not recognize her as their true leader thus she has to spent a considerable amount of time to make sure that her orders are followed.
Enemies (major, story): Obviously with her husband away, a neighbour believes it is the right time to make a move and seize new lands as it is well known that a woman is clueless in the art of craft and it will be a walk in the park to get those lands.
Feud (major, story): same as above, except that it is something lasting since decades.
Favors (major, story): to secure a power and stop being challenged by her underlings, the lady made a deal with some powerful NPC (religious leader, powerful lord, crimelord or supernatural entity - maybe reenacting an age-old ritual). She has to pay the price. It might not be suitable from start, but it can be an evolution after several sessions of gamings.
Judged unfairly (minor, personality): this could explain some of her trouble. Despite her obvious skills and expertise, nobody listen to a woman in a leading position.
Mentor (minor, story): she manages to keep her role as lady of the land, but only thanks to the advice of a mentor. Which request small favor from time to time.
Note that most of the flaws I selected are story flaws, your lady should only take one - but it can easily evolved as she is sorting one problem to be faced with another one.