Just picked up Lords of Men. Overall, my complements to the authors and to Atlas for another good sourcebook.
I do have some questions...
Chapter II talks about the mesnie as a standard part of a noble household. Chapter III talks about the number of knights 'average' nobles of various titles can expect to call upon. Is that number the size of the noble's mesnie? In the case of greater nobles (great barons, counts, dukes, etc) does the number in Ch 3 include their land holding vassels? Is there a difference between a great nobles land holding vassel knights and his mesnie? (In short, I'm trying to work out a household for some English barons and I'm not sure how many knights should be in their mesnies.)
On another point, I've seen a couple of references to the Knight Banneret social status... Is there a Knight Banneret Social Status Virtue or is it just a reference to the 'descriptive' status of Knight Banneret. (I suspect this is a case of two meanings of 'social status' one a rules term and the other a 'real life' term.)
No, the mesnie are knights who live and travel with the lord. There are some fringe exceptions for kings and other very high nobles, but basically the mesnie are daily household knights. Most wealthy lords have fewer than ten of these, because they are expensive and practical mostly for political and travel purposes.
Yes, but the numbers are often minima, not averages.
The mesnie live with the lord. Some may also hold land and be vassals for that land. The captain of the mesnie (the carisimus) particularly so.
If you mean a greater baron with no great title (baron is not a title in England), then if they are wealthy, they might have up to 10 guys in their mesnie. If they are average, a half dozen, if they are poor, just a couple. The mesnie are his bodyguards and daily companions.
It's a descriptive status. See page 31 for details.
Would it be reasonable to say that a player character with the Landed Noble and Wealthy virtues might have 2 knights in his mesnie, and be able to call on the service of 5 additional knights plus squires and peasent levies?
I'd go with 3 or 4 knights (other than thimself), an equal number of squires as sergants, and 50 peasants in levy (doubled if fighting in self defense on his own land), as his total. He can put whatever proportion of that into his mesnie that he likes, but if his holdings aren't in a concntrated block, then he shouldn't have all his knights in his mesnie on pay fiefs (where he just gives them wages instead of them holding land).
He has three free seasons a year, and a surplus above the costs of his knights of 20L. If he has 4 knights, his lands have good features like being well assarted, populous, good access ot markets or something. If he has only 3 knights, his surplus cash comes mostly from the empty knight-fee. This is more a flavour of game consideration that anythin else.
It seems to me that on page 84 in the section about Improvement something is missing. The second column of text ends in what seems to be the middle of a sentence, talking about Assarting. The third column begins at the start of a new paragraph, talking about conquest. It "feels" to me like there is some text missing. Has anyone else noticed this?
Hermetic scholars know that the weather in Mythic Europe is notably drier in the 13th Century than it was in preceding years. This has made farmable a great deal of land that was previously marginal. Coupled with the population boom being experienced in Europe, one of the simplest ways of expanding a fief is assarting: carving new cropland or meadow from fertile wasteland. This process has been occurring for much of the last century, so marginal land is becoming increasingly scarce.
A single strong laborer with proper tools clears one acre of lightly wooded land per month, if he does no other work. This means that villeins who are assarting land work much slower than an acre a month, because their other duties take precedence. Many lords use only local labor, or hire a small team of famuli who assist with the clearing and then are kept on to work the lord's increased demesne, so that assarting is a gradual but continual process that takes years to have a marked effect.
There are many ways of assarting land magically. Changing the topography or soil type to allow large field farming where it was previously impossible, altering water flows for irrigation, and removing trees or reducing them to ash are all simple and popular strategies.A covenant that secretly clears itself land using magic alarms nearby lords. The sudden appearance of cropland in an area that was previously waste indicates to neighboring nobles that the new lord of has hired an enormous workforce. This, it is assumed, will cause predictable problems when it is dispersed.
Which then led into the Swift Assarting plot hook. There's some overlap: I can see why the blue paragraph of what's above should go.
So that might be an erratum, or it might just be that it was cut because it's not really as interestign as somethign else that needed space. Regardless, yes, there should be a separate heading for Conquest.