Royal Magus

So, in practical terms, a royal heir, even if Gifted, will most likely never be taken as an apprentice. They'll be assassinated quickly due to being unpopular (darned Gift) and trying to take them would probably constitute mundane interference. If they're Gently Gifted, then the assassination problem disappears, but they'd likely never be noticed, and even if they were, the more positive traits that come with people being Gifted (a propensity for intelligence and desire to learn, specifically) would mean plenty of people would become endeared to the future king and would be willing to bring ruin on you and your sodales to get them back.

But let's examine the possibility anyway.

How would mundane society react to the royal heir being stolen away by magi? How would other magi feel about the magus who did this, aside from the fact that they'd almost certainly slap them with mundane interference and try to get them Marched? Would it be considered worthwhile to return the child? And how would both mundane society and the Order magi react if, when the king died, the now-magus decided to come out of hiding to vie for the throne?


Magi have many... subtle... options when it comes to stealing apprentices.

A magus with GG might convince the king that he is the perfect tutor for the young prince, and train the kid right under people's noses. A Holy Gifted magus might even consider this his duty.

Another magus might replace the heir with someone - or something - else that fools people for a while.

Still another might fake the heir's death. A particularly clever way to do this would frame some reasonably likely enemy or patsy for the deed, and 15 years later arrange for the True Heir to be discovered. (Queue the rebellion thread from a few days ago, as the realm descends into civil war.) In doing so, it would be clever to exonerate the obliterated patsy and place the blame on a another, should that be desirable.

Or outright cut a deal with the king, perhaps greased with judicious magics: Your son will be my apprentice and your heir, and the ongoing power of your lineage is assured for the next few generations, especially since you will get a longevity ritual to extend your reign, and your son will reign after you even longer.


The reaction of mundane society and that of other magi... well, it depends on how it is done, what they know and when they know it.



Mind-control the king into packing the kid away to a monastery (thus disqualifying him from the succession) and take him from there. Once the kid is off in a monastery, being Gifted, the king probably doesn't want much to do with him anyway, so this should not be a hard sell.

Aside from the obvious consequences, I would note that a sufficiently-strong magus can take a throne fairly easily; obliterating armies with a single spell is well within Hermetic power. The problem is, if the magus' gift isn't Gentle, holding it will be near-impossible. A king lives or dies by the personal loyalty of his nobles, and a Gifted king can't get that easily if at all; even the peasants will be whispering about the Satanic powers he used to take the throne, calling him a changeling, et cetera. Between constant conspiracies by his nobles and general unrest throughout the land (and you can bet that demons will be fanning those flames with every random bad harvest), the realm is likely to descend into anarchy; if the magus has to crush the lords who rebel against him, then he has nobody to run the kingdom.

It also bears noting that every season a magus spends running a kingdom is a season that he isn't researching, and that a magus-king both has responsibilities to his realm as king and to the Order as a magus. If he's lucky, being a king will provide enough benefits for his covenant that they'll accept mundane lands and income as an acceptable scutage for his covenant duty under ordinary circumstances. So in the best-case scenario, he's a Wealthy king who can spend a season a year being kingly and spends the rest of his time lab-ratting like everyone else (hell, he might even have a nice Magical aura to research in)...but being a king is almost as good as being in Faerie when it comes to attracting adventures. Most years, he'll have to deal with a summer campaign season as well as a winter court - there's a reason that covenants leave this crap to the autocrat, but an absentee king is absolutely asking for trouble. And then, being a magus, he has to deal with Hermetic politicking, which means adventures spent pacifying Quaesitores, providing royal support to his covenant, dealing with Tytali who get the bright idea that they can take his throne now that he's set the precedent, and did I mention pacifying Quaesitores?

Also, it does bear note that once this genie is out of the bottle, certain species of Jerbiton (and those of similar inclinations) are going to get ideas. Thebans might want to restore the Empire, Levantines might accelerate the Crusades to carve out their own kingdoms, the Holy Roman Empire is approaching anarchy in this time period (especially when the Emperor and Pope start going at it), Iberia is a free-for-all...if one magus can take a throne and make his claim stick, it'll set a precedent that'll lead to magi attempting to seize thrones all over Mythic Europe. How will the Church react? How will the Dominion react, for that matter? The kings that the magi toppled were appointed to rule by divine right, and God can hardly ignore it if magi are suddenly unleashing their power to upend the entire social order. will magi react to each other when their domains start coming into conflict? IMS, part of the reasoning behind the rule against mundane interference (and part of the reason why House Tytalus wants this part of the Code burned to the ground) is because Trianoma wanted to prevent turf wars between empire-building magi.

There's a magus in the Normandy book who makes it his business to steal Gifted heirs, for their protection.

Important factors to vary this:

Is the prince the eldest son? If he was fifth or so in line that's a very different thing than first. It's entirely possible for a third or later son to wind up King - see John of England, sixth of seven princes. (The basic assumption is that he's the heir, and that it's clear.)

What sort of Gift? If standard, the kid is creepy, but so were a lot of princes. Loyalty usually won out, although the fortunes of the kingdom might shift quite a bit. If Blatant, the removal of the Prince Royal may be seen as best, and even get practical aid from the King or his officers/court. If Gentle, well, that's no different from any prince, and saints above look at the manifest power of his royal blood!

Which kingdom? The prince of France is rather a different matter than prince of a German kingdom, one of the Iberian crowns, or an Irish king's son.

Abduct the young prince by cutting a deal with his younger brother. Problem solved- if it is discovered the younger brother takes the blame and the next one down the line gets the throne, if not you have a king who owes you one and either way you still have an apprentice.

I think Ramidel's points are spot on. It would most likely lead to huge breaches of the code with Mundanes seeking damages from the Order of Hermes or outright attacking them. Traditionalist Quaesitors would freak out and probably generate a second Schism war.

I agree that Ramidel's points are solid, though they veer somewhat off-topic. The OP wasn't referring to some upstart magus obliterating an army and climbing over the bodies to sit on a throne God doesn't want him on, he was referring to a magus whose claim to the throne, as eldest living son of the soon-to-be-dead or recently-deceased king, was entirely legitimate, and who would likely go about it in a... Less conquest-y fashion. Heck, God might well be on his side, though the Church might not be.

I do question why most magi would want to be king. You need free seasons to do any kind of labwork; even a Wealthy king wouldn't be able to completely ignore the throne for months on end to do their magical thing.

As Akriloth points out, we're somewhat off topic now. So. Back to the point:

For sake of argument, lets assume the heir has the Gentle Gift.

1.) A royal heir disappearing one night will likely have some kind of mundane political repercussions for the king. Each powergroup in the kingdom will blame whomever is politically expedient to do so. It could easily cause unrest, and potentially, lead to some kind of rebellion.

2.) Alternatively, it could be swept under the rug - "the heir died last night, the king will be in mourning for two weeks" and Life Moves On.

3.) So when the King-Magus comes back out of the blue to claim his birthright, he will have to prove who he is. That could be very easy to very hard depending on if the Magus was able to maintain some kind of contact with servants, friends from his past. Even if he does prove it, nobles who have something to gain will claim that they have an illegitimate Pretender on the throne. He will have to have a very good story where he's been for 15 years. And lets remember that wizardry, sorcerery etc generally had a poor reputation back then. Announcing he is a wizard publicly likely wouldn't go over well and cause even more problems for the Order.

So. When it comes to the Order... Well,

1.) Does the whole OoH know that this guy was formerly crown heir to a kingdom, or just his master?

2.) Does he confide in some Quaesitors about the legality of being a king ahead of time? Often times those who consult the authorities about their actions ahead of time will receive far less flak than those who just flagrantly cause problems without thought.

3.) Which tribunal? As noted in the books, some are far more lax than others about the definition of "Mundane Interference". In fact, it may actually be the Master who gets in trouble for taking such an apprentice in the first place.

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Contrariwise, there's the old adage that "it's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission." If the magus (particularly somewhere like Normandy) can take the throne before any blowback hits the rest of the Order, I think it's much more likely that the Order will ratify a fait accompli than it would be for a Quaesitor to pre-emptively approve taking the throne.

On the succession front, I would suspect that becoming a member of the Order of Hermes is functionally like joining the Church; you legally abdicate all titles not given to you by your new organization. The Oath requires it, for one thing.

Only if the title requires an oath of fealty.

I have begun wondering about a couple of things- if a magus somehow loses his gift would they be able to "retire" from the order to take a position which required an oath of fealty? What about a redcap?

A magus who might be king could still violate the Oath by interfering with mundanes and thereby bringing ruin upon his sodales. Granted, he has a case that abdicating might bring upon his sodales, and everyone else has a claim that his actions are bringing ruin upon them (such as he's ordering his vassals to secure vis sources for his own use) is a violation of the Code.

Magi don't swear fealty, not because the Oath makes it explicit (although the Peripheral Code in tribunals, or a Grand Tribunal meeting might), but because doing so makes it that much harder to deal with accusations of interfering and thereby bringing ruin...

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The Oath of Fealty is the problem in and of itself. But it's going to be pretty hard to be a reigning monarch with 'interfering with the mundanes' - which the clause forbidding Oaths of Fealty.

...And thereby bringing ruins upon my sodales. So, yeah, that is a valid point that he's not interfering with mundanes, he's ruling, but his ruling is bringing ruin upon his sodales, no? But what is the standard of interfering? Is the standard relative the the mundane world, or is it relative to the concerns of magi? And no Tribunal has ever convicted an innocent magus, now, has it?

My campaign has an interesting variation on this which is: what are the consequences if a maga marries a ranking Lord? Both of them are PCs. The Lord's not a King (at least, not yet), but he falls within the Great Lord virtue. Their children are his heirs, which ties her squarely into the success of the lineage. Should the campaign continue and she sups her Longevity Potion she may be Queen Mother for generations (if she doesn't fake her death to the mundane public.)

Due to the need to keep up research, being the junior partner in a Royal marriage is far preferable for the mage. However, this does skirt dangerously close to the prohibition against being a Court Magician - on the one hand, the Order can hardly interfere with a sacrament, but on the other hand if the Queen or Prince Consort uses his or her powers in direct support of the monarch, is that not a clear violation? If other Kings/Lords start demanding such things of the Order and promise retribution for failing to deliver, that falls squarely within "bringing ruin upon Sodales."

We haven't gotten to anything like the latter yet, but the maga has been clearly warned that she's to be careful.

I'm suddenly reminded of the Helen Mirrin film of the Tempest, in which Prospero was not the Duke of Milan, but his wife, and her experimentation into magic had her exiled.

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According to Lords of Men (and I'm taking this statement out of context, interpret it how you will), the Order of Hermes is not seen as a legitimate font of justice, so I'm not sure that the Oath of Hermes is respected by mundane law.

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I take Ramidel's point that the authority of the Order of Hermes does not extend outside covenant walls, but mundane nobility might still consider becoming a wizard an effective abdication, even if there is no legal protection for those who do so.

The Church is a mundane authority, and I am pretty sure all coronations in Latin Christendom that do not require oaths to a higher secular authority still have to swear fealty to the Church.

Any king of England, France, Germany, etc. who would pull a "Napoleon" and crown himself independent from the Church's authority would, in my opinion, be essentially opening himself or herself up to excommunication and a crusade.

Which leads me into Jachra's example, and a question. Does medieval Christian marriage bind the wife to an oath of fealty to her husband such that the marriage of a maga of the order to a Lord would violate the Oath of Hermes?

That's an interesting question. I've never seen the text of a Medieval marriage oath (assuming any standardization existed at all.) Obviously, the overwhelming majority of women were (tragically) beholden to their husbands, but there were also numerous examples of women who demonstrated incredible legal and personal independence, so I'm inclined to believe a powerful woman can negotiate the terms of her marriage.

(The following is a fifteenth-century set of vows from York. I am amused by the remarkable similarity to modern times.)

Nobody swears fealty to the church. Respecting the church's authority does not require an oath of fealty, and indeed Fredrick II went to war with the Pope. He did get excommunicated (3 times, only reversed after the first) but it was not a violation of an oath of fealty. If you are in papal lands you might swear fealty to the Pope, but not the church. Fealty is for secular authorities, and the church is not considered a secular authority.