Bertrand Roux

The Mediocre Prince

His eyes flew open. A woman sat by the bed reading over several documents. Was this his wife?
"What are you doing? Those are not for your eyes." He yelled, his voice cracking and wavering as he tried to sit up. He clawed at the papers and the woman looked at him with a furrowed brow and tears in her eyes. She took a deep breath, but before she could speak the man started sobbing.
"No," he said in a drawn out wail, "No, Not you. I can't forget you too." He spoke in whimpers, hastily belting the words out as if it were hard to speak.
She grabbed his hand, looked to the guard at the far side of the room. The guard left, and Salona looked back to her husband again, barely holding back tears of her own.
"You must calm yourself." She said. She wasn't sure if Bertrand heard or not.
"I'm so tired." He began, looking out the window, "I don't know how much longer I can go on." It suddenly occurred to him that a roar could be heard outside the window.
"What is that noise?" He asked. "Have the people rebelled?" She shook her head.
"No, love, Artio has returned." For the first time in years, she could feel his hand tighten on hers. She wanted to keep silent, to indulge what she missed without interruption, but she spoke anyway.
"Stop." she commanded, "You mustn't exert yourself." The door flew open and two young identical boys rushed in. Their father smiled and wiped away his tears, welcoming their embrace. Another man entered as well and spoke with such a cheerful tone that the room seemed warmer because of it. His words were met with tragedy.
"You're majesty, I have news..."
— The final moments of Bertrand Roux
 


Bertrand Roux (Row) methodically rebuilt Estoya's government to his own experimental system. It took decades of work to complete and stands as his prime achievement. When House Roux took the throne from House Harrow, they found the nation in a troubled state economically and politically. In this time, the loss of his father, sister, and after his coronation, his mother left him alone in troubled times. He realized how vulnerable he was. An assassination would end his family line and spread chaos in Estoya. On top of that, it was no guarantee that the next monarch would be worth the title.

He spent his life with scholars as opposed to warriors, unlike most monarchs that came before. The realities of his time stirred him to take power away from the monarchs and establish a system that divided that power between nobles and kings. This was more than just to limit a monarch's power to protect the people. It was also to ensure the nation could maintain itself should a monarch die without an heir. The new system of government was an experiment that took decades, almost seeing the young king's death before its completion.

Marriage and Legacy

Bertrand financed two expeditions: Expedition Hermes and Expedition Artio both discovered numerous resources outside of the known territory. It was Artio that discovered Waiversea to the south, and established the southern border of Estoya.

After he began his major changes to the government, Bertrand married Lady Salona of House Ferimitus, the last house directly hailing from Ozlith in the nation. The marriage was a formality more than anything else. The two were rarely seen together outside of formal engagements. According to journal entries left behind by his wife, Bertrand lost himself in his work. Despite criticism of her husband, she never once spoke ill of him and did profess to love him on many occasions. Bertrand kept a few journals that mentioned his wife and their relationship. The feeling was mutual. Bertrand would father two sons, twins, who would make their own mark on the history of the nation. His two sons, Thirem and Jessop Roux, ruled side by side, claiming that their father gave them the idea as children.

The Meritocratic Monarchy

Bertrand believed the measure of an individual came not from their birth, but from their actions. His family began as refugees before being uplifted to nobility. He believed that progress defined the success of a nation. He focused his entire model for government on these beliefs.


Places of learning

During his time, Bertrand was among the few who could read and write. Noble families relied on advisers hired to do the task, leading to occasional corruption.
Bertrand established universal education for all, giving scholars an important role in shaping the nation with their knowledge. He established these places of learning and made sure to structure them in such a way that those with strengths in certain areas are always given the means of excelling in those areas, while driving those who have few strengths to try new things until they find something that suits them.
Both peasants and nobles found themselves welcome, and often sat side-by-side as equals. Many noble families took exception to this, others were humbled by it. It was common for a peasant to possess skills and excel in areas that a noble failed in. This was done intentionally to ensure that Bertrand's system would not fail simply due to how the different classes view one another.

The Citizens of Merit

The literacy rate shot up, but not as much as Bertrand hoped. There was a growing minority of individuals who were illiterate by choice. Peasants quit their education and nobles refused due to the fact that they believed themselves to be above it. Peasants had the education, but no way of using it, many of them being more intelligent than those that ruled them. Bertrand established The Citizens of Merit, a group of peasants who excelled to such degrees, that their skills could be considered payment for their debt to society. They owned businesses and by becoming members of an upper class of peasants, they enjoyed benefits others did not. The only true benefit they received was a universal cut to taxes on all except the peasantry below The Citizens of Merit.

The Minor Nobility

Bertrand decided to cut out the idea of a caste or class-based system. At this point Bertram had to find a way to get the nobles on his side which he did through political favors, giving freedom of taxation to the nobility, and enforcing a dual ownership of land between major nobles and minor nobles. After two years, a new branch of government would emerge: consisting of The Major Nobility and Minor Nobility It was surprisingly well received.
     
...But let not mediocrity guide our path. To be average is to be stagnate. To be average is a denial of reality. Progress is a road forged by those who are far more then their peers. To move forward, we must find these giants, and place in their hands the tools needed to build this road. Stand on their shoulders with me, and let us try something new.
— Bertrand Roux while addressing the Nobility
I didn't grow up in a time of war or rebellion. I fear it makes for quite the mediocre prince...
— Bertrand Roux while addressing the Nobility
Children

The Mediocre Prince


Bertrand's early life was uneventful despite the troubled times.The boy often said that he never wanted this power. This is considered his primary motivation for shifting the responsibilities of the monarch onto others.

He was often referred to as The Mediocre Prince, a term of his own creation to describe his early years. Bertrand was widely regarded as a charismatic individual. He worked well under pressure, he was adaptable, and capable of seeing the brighter side of any situation.

A Line of Sickly Kings


Every member of House Roux will die young. The family suffers from a curse. Bertrand began suffering from the illness at the age of twenty-two, late compared to other's of his bloodline.

He suffered a rapid deterioration of the body.

The curse left him unable to walk, use his hands, and at the age of twenty-eight, his heart and mind began to suffer. The queen filled his shoes as best as she could. He couldn't engage in any physically strenuous activities, often ruling the nation and watching his children grow from his bed.

The final two years of his life were spent in isolation. He believed the people would take exception to a sickly king. He died hearing the news of Expedition Artio's success on the 101st of dusk, 1670.

Economic crisis

Due to the surge of skilled laborers, many failed to realize how dependent they were on the lowest class to do their jobs. Harvests became smaller due to the fact that many peasants were no longer farmers. There was another problem in the later half of the decade. Many of the individuals who were now Minor Nobles, while educated, were inexperienced and inconsistent in the quality of their work. This led to two additions in Bertrand's fledgling government.

 

Standards

Bertrand established positions of office referred to as Standards. These men and women determine the standard all others in their field must meet.

House standard:

Every House keeps several standards. The House Standard in any field is an individual responsible for establishing the standard of their field within the borders of the house they serve. The House Standard of smithing, establishes the standard blacksmiths must meet. These standards broke down into more focused categories, such as weaponsmithing, over time.

Royal standard

Royal standards are individuals who determine the quality of all work in their field on a national level. The Royal Standard determines the minimum standard and is considered the best in their field.

Unrest became prevalent throughout the nation due to the fact that many individuals who spent so much time learning their field we're now unable to practice their skills because they didn't meet the standard. Many peasants lost their status as Minor Nobles, and the motivation to become one dropped. Enter the The Judges of Law and Merit.

Law and Merit

The standards served their purpose, but there was no way to ensure progress due to the possibility of a standard refusing an applicant that had a higher skill than their own. The standards were not capable of making judgments in an unbiased way. This along with the unrest led to a third form of government.

The standards would determine the standard of quality, but The Judges of Law and Merit would be the ones to make the final decision as to whether or not an applicant would meet or exceed it. The Judges of Merit would also be responsible for replacing Standards based on the qualifications given to them by Royal Standards. It ensured that Standards sought to grow in skill and quality, in fear of being replaced. It established the method with which merit is measured in the nation. It provided a solution to the question of what defines merit and the unrest began to dwindle.

The Judges of Law were different. Since the beginning of the nation the nobles had to maintain their own protection through the use of its own guard and militia, and in doing so, left many throughout the nation unprotected. The goal of The Judges of Law was to establish a firm grip on law & order.

Current state

Four years before Bertrand's death, the nation finally had consistent and stable growth for the first time since its Inception. This is widely considered the most important accomplishment of Bertrand Roux. Without this consistent growth the nation would never be able to afford the Expeditions it became famous for.
It would never become a military and economic powerhouse either. Over the years, checks and balances were established, new responsibilities given, new methods of procedure and legislation were passed, all fine tuning his system into what it is today.


Cover image: by Craig Mullins

Comments

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3 Oct, 2019 17:01

Oh... fucking hells... What an emotive, effective opening. You convey the horror of a man loosing himself so well there. It creates an immediate attachment and an understanding of some of his struggles on an emotional level. Despite being a man in a line cursed, he really made a positive, admirable change. I think it says a lot about him that the title, which at first sounds very derogatory, was of his own making. I really enjoyed that.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
3 Oct, 2019 18:30

Well thanks so much! I appreciate the kind words more than I can say. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your kicking ass man. Good luck, and keep being awesome.

14 Oct, 2019 18:18

Damn this was a powerful and informative piece! You did a fantastic job with the introduction story as well as describing how this king brought about what sounded to be change from feudalism to some sort of republic/aristocratic government type.   What sort of research did you have to do for this piece?   Great job on this piece, and thank you for submitting to the Premier Politicians Challenge.


Check out my worldbuilding in the Ethnis Universe!
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
14 Oct, 2019 20:24

To be perfectly honest, the only true research was how governments are put together. A little bit of historical changes of government as well, which are rarely this... Smooth.       The meritocratic monarchy is something i just dreamed up. I'm sure I'm not the first, but I've never seen a meritocracy done, so I wanted to give it a shot in a literal fashion by creating a goverment that cares more about your merits than anything else.     As always barron thank you so much for the kind words. Great work. I'd have alot of trouble reading that many in a short time.

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