Housecarl

"As Housecarl, what will my duties be?"
"Your loyalties are to me specifically. Your charges will be me, my family, my property. You represent me and my interests, in effect, when not at my or my family's side, you are my direct voice. This is not a position to take on lightly."

Housecarls are the personally appointed bodyguard, officer-at-arms, and advisor, to nobility. This is the highest rank of knights in Theydim, and hold a unique position in society based on "their" noble's rank and status.

Duties of a Housecarl

Often, Housecarls came from non-noble backgrounds, granting the noble with an advisor in possession of another perspective. In council sessions, the Housecarl is granted the same courtesies as the other councilling nobles, regardless of their original class status.

In social events, the Housecarl was treated with the same deference as their noble's rank though had the expectation of being "on duty" instead of being expected to participate in the dances or boisterous activities.

All Housecarls are paid, and twice a year are traditionally gifted with some form of extra compensation for their family due to the time away from home often being a strain. A common early gift includes ways of either helping the Housecarl build their own home, or some kind of gift to assist in the home, such as a valuable stud bull or a plot of land that is not only gifted but also a gift the noble cannot rescind by law ishould the Housecarl not be in agreement. The full value of these gifts is dependent on the noble's status.

Housecarls of an Arle*

Before the Thydian Unification Wars, Arles were the highest authority of their lands, and their Housecarls were both the leader of their standing armies and the Arle's bodyguard.

These military duties often overlap with the duties of the Captain of the Guard, Theydim who is tasked with protecting the cities and can be called upon to be military leaders. Different Captains of the Guard and Housecarls resolve the conflicts between their respective duties in a variety of manners, though poor relations between the Captain of the Guard and the Housecarls tended to cause friction in the cities themselves for the more common people.

The Housecarl of an Arle is tasked with protecting their Arle and the Arle's family, property, interests. They typically wear a ring or necklace marking them as the highest ranked agent of their Arle short of the immediate family.

The Housecarl is not the only bodyguard for the Arle with their added responsibilities, but they are also the ones who are responsible for the other bodyguards.

Housecarls of a Duke*

While a Duke is not an Arle, the Housecarl's duties are only slightly reduced. The Housecarl is not expected to be tasked with directly commanding military units, but is more likely to stay in closer proximity to their Duke and to travel with them. Typically, the Duke's Housecarl and the Captain of the Guard are less likely to have overlapping duties due to the Housecarl being more likely to travel with the Duke as they tour the dukedom.

The Housecarl is seen as the highest ranked agent acting on behalf of the Duke, but generally wear a necklace of their status.

Housecarls of a Baron* or Lord

Barons*, Lords*, or Manor Lords* typically do not have a Housecarl, and instead have hired bodyguards or a hired man-at-arms. Most who do have a Housecarl came from old families of far more recently diminished powers, and typically their Housecarls do not recommend a successor.

Type
Nobility, Honorific / Ceremonial
Form of Address
"Housecarl"**
Source of Authority
The noble who appointed the Housecarl.
Length of Term
-Voluntary Relinquishment
-For the Noble or Housecarl's Life
Rarely -Dismissal by Appointer
Current Holders
Reports directly to
Related Locations
Related Organizations

Social Status

A Housecarl is often either a landed person, or one who is on their way to being landed, meaning they are outside of the serf-based system of society and wealth. They will also be exposed to noble social circles and other Housecarls, leading towards their children or family having better prospects for their future employment or marriages.

Several Barrons, Lords, and Manor Lords can trace their noble lines back to at least one Housecarl, and there are Dukes and Arles who can also count Housecarls among their ancestors - though normally not from a Housecarl marrying a Duke or Arle.

Appointment

Housecarls are appointed by merit - either being recommended by a retiring Housecarl, on a selected list of recommendations by a deceased Housecarl, or being asked to take the position by the noble directly. Prospective successors are given tests and trials to showcase their abilities and how they will perform their duties until the noble selects one, or finds someone impressive who was not recommended as the case may be.

The Housecarl may also create a list of recommended prospective Housecarls for the heir and children of their noble.

The position is set to be by merit alone because the job has pressuring duties, responsibilities, and those who appoint a Housecarl generally feel the need to know the person who will be their voice, their hand, their eyes, their ears when they're not around.

"A spy can be bought. A Housecarl cannot."
— Proverb

Oathsworn

Some Housecarls make a formal oath, others make a declaration of loyalty, the methodology changes from noble to noble, but the Housecarl is sworn to uphold their duties by the time they initially accept the appointment.

Declination

While rare, the choice to accept the position is in the hands of the prospective Housecarl, and declining the appointment has happened. Thydian Law prohibits a noble family from asking the individual to be their housecarl after three offers and three declinations. Stories have been told of the "Greedy Noble" who begged a strong warrior to be their Housecarl until the badgered fighter finally agreed, however, the Housecarl was begrudging in their duties and grew lax until a cowardly assassin stole into the mansion one night and killed the entire household - the warrior included.

"Do not trust the unwilling guard or Housecarl."
— Proverb

Retirement

Just as accepting the position is in the hands of the Housecarl, so too is their retirement. Before retiring, the Housecarl is expected to present their noble with a list of recommended other Housecarls and to stay on to train their successor. If no list is presented, then the Housecarl has agreed to stay on with the position until their or their noble's death, but will not train a successor. The latter is more common with families where economic and political standing has been falling.

Tradition holds for a Housecarl to hold their position for at least ten years before retiring, and upon retirement, the Housecarl makes an oath by the Merry One to neither speak an untruth of their noble's actions while they were in the noble's service, nor of the secrets they had been entrusted with while in service.

   
*Lyraine is not currently invested in constructing a language enough to create titles that are clearly gender-neutral, so these are the ones she uses regardless of the title-holder's gender. For example, Her Highness, Her Grace, Lady Valeska is the daughter of Arle Nunciel, but she also holds the ceremonial title "Duke of Felkhath Duchy."
**Housecarl is honestly also a placeholder term until Lyraine decides to conlang.

Comments

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26 Jul, 2021 06:45

Interesting title! As always, all the placeholder names! :)   My only suggestion would be to leverage the sidebar a bit more, as the article now is listing a bit.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
26 Jul, 2021 17:44

Yeah, looking at the article now, I need to fill out the sidebar with stuff like related readings. Always have placeholder names. Those IRL titles work well to represent the equivalent ranks they are, I just have to sit down and decide how to build up a gender-neutral variant for the setting because I wound up building a culture where one's skills are more valued than one's gender but the IRL titles I use have gendered aspects to them. XD   I'm also having fun because one of my players has this title for their character, and basically the motive for "adventuring" is "My Arle has an interest in what's going on. And that interest is mostly her, Valeska, his daughter and keeping her not-dead."

Lyraine, Consumer of Lore, She/Her, primary project: Corive
4 Aug, 2021 23:07

Ah brings me back to Skyrim and Lydia xp "I am sworn to carry your burdens". The story of the greedy noble was especially intersting here.   The only thing to change would be as discussed in the other comment. To remove sidebar or add some other stuff there. But that will probably be for after the SC final stream :p

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
5 Aug, 2021 00:07

Yup. I plan on having links to the ranks and people who have the title.   And then what's left, I will put in the footer

Lyraine, Consumer of Lore, She/Her, primary project: Corive