They say the Duke's head has gotten too big for that coronet. He might be fancying a crown for himself instead.
Overheard in the Drowned Elk, a local tavern.
The city of Northampton is the capitol of the Duchy of Northampton
and one of four major cities in the Kingdom of Brisland
. Of the four, Northampton is the youngest. At the time of the Unification, it was actually the smallest as well. Currently, the city stands with a population of around 15,000 - made up mostly of peasant craftsmen - above average for a city of its stature. While it has surpassed Halsingly in both size and population, it is still smaller than Brisburgh and Riverton. Much of this boom in growth stemmed from Northamton signing the Unification Accords and becoming part of the Kingdom, as workers flooded into the area to exploit the natural resources mined in the nearby Pinecrest Mountains.
As early as a thousand years ago, some of the mountain tribes of the Pinecrest Mountains and forest tribes from modern-day Remaria mixed with the population of the fledgling city. As such, the current population is mostly comprised of descendants of this mixture of cultures and is less homogeneously Rikenian as the rest of the Kingdom. Northampton still has a fair number Rikenian inhabitants, and there is a presence of Bravani and Argastian immigrants - although many of these are itinerant.
As Liam walked through the market square, he noticed several brightly colored wagons that hadn't been there the day before. There were bolts of fabric hanging from them; shimmering in the morning sun in hues of gold, purple, and green. Several men and women were gathered around the wagons hawking the colorful textiles. One of the women met his gaze and gave him a wry smile, beckoning him to come closer. His hand strayed to his purse, instinctively protecting his coin upon drawing the attention of the Bravani.
The administration of the city is headed by Duke Faustus Leopold
himself, and he has final say regarding any legislative or judiciary issues. The city has a Council of Lords made up of appointed magistrates and ranked nobles with interests in the city. They will often devise new legislation or policies and put them up to a vote. Should the Council agree to pass some new law or put a new policy into place, it will then be presented to the Duke for approval. Several past dukes allowed the Council to operate with relative autonomy, but Faustus Leopold has a direct hand on each and every policy that is enacted within the city. When it comes to minor matters of passing judgement on common criminals or arbitrating disagreements between citizens, Faustus relies on his Magistrates to handle things in his stead.
The city of Northampton is surrounded by stout walls built of stone quarried from the nearby Pinecrest Mountains. There are five gates leading into the city, and another leading through interior walls to the ducal keep. All of the walls are twenty feet tall, topped by crenelated battlements, and dotted with guard towers. The gates themselves each consist of a barbican of two small towers, wood gates, and an iron portcullis.
The city guard proper consists of five hundred professional soldiers who act as both a police force and a cadre of professional soldiers. These men might be called upon to defend the city, or in a time of war may be required to answer the call of the King for men-at-arms. In the case of an attack on the city or a call to arms, the city has an armory with enough spears and shields to equip one thousand levy troops. Should every able-bodied man be called to serve in the levy, the city could easily field a force of over five thousand men. There is also the Levy Guard, a supplemental policing force made up of levies from the settlements near the city. While their purpose is more of a peacekeeping one, they represent on average two-hundred and fifty professionally armed and armored fighting men that could aid in the defense of the city.
The primary industries of Northampton are mining and metalworking. The iron deposits of the Pinecrest Mountains are some of the most compact gatherings of the ore in all the eastern realms, and the Duchy is responsible for over three-quarters of all the iron mining for the entire Kingdom of Brisland
. There are also a large number of blacksmiths, weapon smiths, and armorers inside the city walls working to provide for the needs of the entire Kingdom. A large number of other craftsmen ply their trade here, should it be primarily a metal-craft or something related to supporting the population as a whole. As such, Frelde
is considered the patron Divine of the city. While there are some small villages and farmsteads nearby, most of the agricultural produce in the city comes from other settlements in the south of the duchy - most notably from the agricultural trade hub of Halston
The city itself has a well-developed road system of cobbled streets throughout most of the city. Even the marketplace is cobbled, but in some of the poorer parts of town there are still dirt paths between the press of hovels. There is no underground sewer system in the city, but there are systems of gutters alongside most of the roads. Given that the city sits on a slope - rising higher in the north - most refuse dumped into these gutters eventually makes its way out of the city in the south. Because of this, the wealthy of the city mostly live in the northern districts.
Shit rolls downhill.
A common saying in Northampton.
In addition to its impressive stone walls, stone ducal keep, and cobbled roads; many of the buildings in the city are either entirely made of stone or incorporate it. The ready availability of stone from the quarries of the nearby Pinecrest Mountains facilitates this. Although there are plentiful forests nearby for harvesting timber, the lasting quality of the stone generally makes it preferable as a building material. The majority of structures are two-story affairs, consisting of a stone ground level and a wooden second story. While there are parts of the city where almost every building is exclusively made of wood, these are the slums and shanty-towns one would expect to crop up in any major settlement.
The city of Northampton is built in the foothills of the Pinecrest Mountians, and itself is built upon a gradual slope as the ground rises to meet the mountains nearby to the north. The River Brist runs alongside the city, curving around from the north to flank the city on the east. To the west lies a great swath of open forest, and to the south are open plains and farmlands.
Northampton has ample natural resources nearby. Its industry and infrastructure rely almost exclusively upon the Pinecrest Mountains to the north. There are a series of quarries and mines operated by the Duke in the name of the King that supply the city with a surplus of iron, tin, and coal. The River Brist running near the city also provides a source of fish as a foodstuff, although the city still must import most of its food from the surrounding town and villages within the duchy. Finally, there is an ample supply of timber in the large forests to the west.
The Levy Guard
When Duke Faustus Leopold
took over the title of Duke and the administration of the city of Northampton in 830 I.R., he found a set of challenges facing him. Chief among these were production shortfalls, tax collection issues, and the morale of the peasantry. These issues were concerns across the entire duchy, but nowhere were they more present than within the city itself.
As a measures were taken to correct these issues - including the implementation of increased production requirements from the government-operated mines and stricter tax-collection policies - it became obvious that the morale issues among the commoners would be adversely affected. A populace already disenfranchiesed by losing a civil war with the crown less than forty years prior - the The Kingslayer Rebellion
- was now being given more pressure to contribute to the Kingdom.
Seeing no practical way to increase production and tax income without damaging the spirit of the people, Faustus knew he needed to be proactive in dealing with the issue. He could spend the tax money on projects to appease the mob, but this would be counter-productive. Instead he initiated a program of a Levy Guard, men drawn from other settlements in the Duchy of Northampton
to be required to serve four years as guardsmen within the city. Because they were drawn from the outlying settlements, there would be no concerns of them policing their own neighbors and families. The cost of the program also is negligible, as the men levied needed only to be equipped with the most basic arms, fed, and sheltered. They were also given a modest salary - just enough to keep them in enough drink to boost their own morale. The program has continued for twenty years now, and the increased presence of guardsmen has done much to maintain order in the city; even if it has not improved the morale of the people.