Magi being nobles?


Now, consider this. A Gentle Gifted Magus of House Flambeau, one of the Milites, and one favouring mundane attacks and chivalry, backed up by magical defenses, could he actually pass as a noble in a small fief in France or England? Born noble, he inherits his lands from his father after completing Hermetic training, and since mundanes are not bothered by his Gift, he decides to be the lord of his lands.

Would the Order accept this at all? Wouldn't he, being loyal to the Order first and his liege second, be considered a great asset to the Order and important contact to the mundanes?

And if not, in what ways could this character actually keep the lands he inherited? Any ways to get this character concept to work? I'm thinking a Magus-Knight and Landed Noble combination.



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I think its disputable and you'd have a range of opinions within the order. The problem here that I see is that 'court wizard' and 'having fealty to one's lord' are not necessarily synonymous. Someone who doesn't like the situation might argue that being in a position where he must obey is the problem whereas others might say that as long as he isn't obeying orders dealing with wizardry might argue that this is sufficient to clear the 'court wizard' bar.

Could go either way although I'd lean toward the 'no problem' camp. For one thing, the whole house of Jerbiton would get behind him. Also, most covenants and magi have entanglements with the mundane power structure to varying degrees. Many might worry about the risk that if a ruling goes against this guy it could start a slippery slope. I don't see many sticking their neck out to get him as long as he goes out of his way to keep his nose clean.

That said though, I do think it is inevitable that it will come up for dispute eventually unless he never makes any enemies in the order and is never interposed between other magi and their goals - which I find extremely unlikely. When it does come up arguments might point out that when he is ordered into combat and he uses his defensive spells, he becomes an unparalleled asset to his lord with many consequences to the political outcome. Similarly, if he uses any magics to secure or enhance his lands militarily, economically, or socially, one could argue that he is effectively interfering with mundanes in a dangerous way since competitors can become jealous or weakened and his lord's effective power can be enhanced or decreased by these actions (depending on the contexts).

So in summary:
Question: Is it a problem or is it not?
Answer: Yes. (plus it's good for stories)

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Hermetic law is all about Hermetic politics :slight_smile: So yes, it could work. But only by basically ignoring what the traditional reading of the Code is.

You can easily imagine a Lothargian Tribunal where this kind of this is very much accepted. If you let the Greater Alps or Thebes be filled with Jerbiton magi, that could work too.

Under standard interpretations, however, as I understand it, the magus gave up the possibility to swear fealty and own land much like a mundane does when he joins the Church to become a nun or monk. The Order, in places where it is very open and interacting with mundanes, is kind of like the Fourth Estate: there are warriors/leaders, priests/moral guides, peasants/workers, and.... wizards/wonder makers. Within this scheme, there is just no real room for a knight land-owner, although there might be one for a magical-knight.

Arguably, magi can be independent land owners, owning lands but swearing fealty to no one. In practice, that's bound to upset some king or encourage some noble to try to conquer the land. So this, too, is problematic. Much better to let nobles play their games of land-ownership - what does a magus need with a land anyway? It's so... mundane. Of course, this does not apply to Magical places - nobles have no place in those land, that's Magic territory and under the Order's protection. And if this upsets some petty king - well, too bad for him, we're not giving up our precious vis sources.


If he has sworn feudal fealty one way or another before joining the order, then the order will simply have to accept that he has more than one oath binding him.

I used this for one of my characters, as swearing an oath(for example as part of taking up rulership (merely legally or for real, perhaps as practise for the future for the heir) of a small part of the family lands) even as a child wasnt unheard of.

My take has, for quite some time, been that the important part of the code in this instance is "and thereby bring ruin upon my sodales" . If the Noble in question s not using his magic in the performance of his obligations to his feudal lord, then he isn't serving as a court wizard and (here's the important part) his comparative puissence won't be such that the rest of Europe comes knocking at the orders doors in a desperate attempt to get their own wizard vassals.

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I would say that as long as a magi has no obligation to use magic due to the fealty then they´re not "court wizards".
Ie i take "court wizard" as meaning "hired to do magic".

It leaves even more options open and adds even more potentially conflicting stand points. :mrgreen:

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I second the other comments: it is kosher as long as they cannot order you top go around casting balls of fire at the opposition, or to create thousands of magical swords for their warriors.

We have just became subjects of a local noble ourselves, so hey :slight_smile:


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I'd bear in mind that if you do this, I think you could do this, but that there could always be pesky troublemakers in the Order who try to start something about it at the next Tribunal... which would lead to some kind of a fight (be it political in nature, or certamen).

In other words, I think there's lots of potential for stories about this... and being politically popular within the order would both be harder to accomplish (because you're doing something that many other magi, at the very least, would look down on) and simultaneously much more important for your character, for when a political ruckus is started by some other magi at Tribunal.

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As SG, my basic yardstick is always this: Does the situation invite powers from the mundane world to view either "magic" or the Order as a threat? Mistakenly or no, if the situation has anything more than a remote chance to appear as a "power move" to those who have the power, and might (again, right or wrong) be tied to the Order, then it's not kosher.

So, a mage as a baron? In theory, fine. A mage as a baron who casts spells? Nope. A mage as a baron who "pretends he has a wizard buddy"? Nope, same problem - it could be mistaken as tied the Order, and, worse, directly invites non-Hermetic sorcerers/etc. A mage as a simple, mundane baron who accidentally gets tied to magic or the Order? Nope! The judgement is not in the intent nor the cause, but in the possible effect.

No excuses, no explanations, no buts - it's not about whose fault it is, but whose responsibility - and that lands square on the shoulders of that mage.


Disagree, its not about IF magic happens in connection to a noble, its HOW.

Above, you contradict this by saying that any direct connection equals "bringing ruin".

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Say, is an oath of fealty inherited in any way? What happens if, say, a Magus who is also the son of a baron inherits his father? Could he take the Oath of Fealty and still keep to the Code of Hermes?

Also, what happens if the person whom you have Fealty to die?


An oath of fealty is normally personal, but for an heir to refuse to "uphold the line" from whoever they inherited it, is in severe risk of being considered a traitor and get executed on the spot. They can decline in favour of the next heir, if the liege accepts it but that too may be looked upon with suspicion. And any sort of refusal is likely to result in their instant effectively "demotion" to commoner.
All dependant on when and where and what liege of course.

However, the variant i used for a character was the practise to have an heir take over one of a family´s "lesser" fiefs as part of their training to take over the main lands, and when such happens, as they are effectively a separate nobility it includes an oath of fealty to the liege(possibly someone in between or someone else in the family that is technically the overlord of that part of their lands etc), which can result in an heir already having an "active oath" by a very tender age ( IIRC the youngest i read about was 8 with a direct oath to the king, and one age 5 with an oath to her uncle or something like that ).

As the first oath takes precedence, the order would simply be forced to accept that such a magi has an oath they cant break (unless given permission by the liege) besides the oath to the order.

I think it is also important to bear in mind that what the magi think and what nobles think, about oaths of fealty are possibly going to be very different.

As far as nobles are concerned everybody who lives on the noble's lands owes him an oath of fealty. Unless that person is part of the church hierarchy (and therefore living on church lands); and the nobles are not too happy about that either. Even commoners owe fealty to their local nobles.

As far as nobles are concerned, what is important about common magi, is what they do when they are asked to pay tax, or when the nobles attempt to do something like raise an army, or neighbouring nobles invade.

Likewise, if a magus happens to actually be a noble by birth, he will be immediately embroiled in noble politics. Even if the magus abdicates (and retires to "scholarly life") in favour of some other heir, there will always be a question over who is the legitimate heir. Noble children are murdered to prevent awkward questions over legitimacy being asked. A magus in this position will always be suspected by other nobles of having ties of fealty to other nobles.

For a magus of noble birth, the important question is what the magus does when court intrigues flare up, and sides are drawn in a dispute over legitimacy, lands, etc. "Not taking a side", is taking a side, and the nobles are not going to put much stock in any nonsense that the rules of some obscure association of scholars prevent him from becoming involved.

When someone inherits, he normally has to go to his liege and swear fealty to him, and be confirmed into his holding. Note that medieval fealty include an obligation to take arm and fight on behalf of the liege; yet fighting using magic on behalf on one's liege is clearly a violation of the Code. So if he were ever called, the mage would have to fight with purely mundane means.
It should be possible to hold to both the feudal oath and the hermetic oath, unless circumstances really conspired to put the mage in an impossible situation. By circumstances, read his enemies, of course.

When the liege dies, his heir needs to convoke all his vassals to swear fealty to him. Of course, refusing to swear fealty to the new lord is pretty much a declaration of war.

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If he was ordered to use magic then yes it is, or if his use causes problems for the order then yes it is.
But otherwise? Why?

In both the above and my previous examples that you take exception to, I think the unspoken "publicly" can safely be assumed.

Something that a mage does that no one knows about may certainly be against the Code, but no one knows to care, hence a moot point.

Because if liege A has a vassal using magic on his behalf, then lord B will want one as well, and start pestering the Order. Which is exactly what got court wizardry banned.

No, because the vassal isnt using magic on his behalf, the vassal upholds his duties to the liege in the way of his OWN choice. "court wizardry" means an employee or a vassal with the DUTY to provide magic to the liege.

I agree (I think) with Direwolf75. There is nothing inherently wrong with using magic on mundanes for any reason. Magi are magi afterall. The only problem is if this magic use causes problems for other members of the Order (and these magi (or their proxies) successfully argue this case in Tribunal).

Sure, using magic in mundane affairs might well be more likely to cause problems, than mundane interference. But, unless and until, it does actually cause problems magic use in mundane affairs is entirely permissible.

Also, it is important to note that the part of the Oath that prohibits a magus from interfering in mundane affairs and thereby causing ruin to his sodales does not make any special mention of magic. Interfering with the mundane via entirely mundane means is still a Hermetic crime, if the consequences of the interference are detrimental to other magi.

Yet that's not how some Tribunals see it, or at least not how the ruling have come down.

Some (not all) see it as a case of playing with matches - and everyone is doused in gasoline. By itself, the act does not break the Code, but that doesn't stop the Tribunal from slapping the offender as an example.

You have to remember that The Code is not as clean as it might be once it moves from the written language and actually gets to being applied. Lots of different concerns can arise, and politics, popularity and outright personal petty concerns can play a major part.

(Edit - Ooh - such alliterations of sounds ya's seldom sees!) :unamused: