Swynfaredian Matriarchs/Patriarchs Rank/Title in Scarterra | World Anvil

Swynfaredian Matriarchs/Patriarchs

Each of the dragonblood noble families in Swynfaredia has a patriarch or matriarch. The patriarch or matriarch is an informal role with informal duties, but their position is informally powerful. They are the unwritten family leaders of their noble houses, especially in terms of brokering arranged marriages and matrimonial alliances.   A patriarch or matriarch is expected to be able to focus on their family and only their family. There are exceptions, but most patriarchs and matriarchs, especially in larger houses, either do not have a landed title or they have a very modest landed title such as a baronial estate.   A count or a duke has to worry about all the commoners in their realm and they have to deal with vassals and lieges and different webs of feudalism. These webs of feudalism usually stretch across several houses, often linking rival houses in complex ways, hence why few high ranking landed nobles become patriarchs or matriarchs. It is seen as a conflict of interest.


Once a majority of the house accepts an invididual as the Patriarch or Matriarch, then it is so. There is no formal ceremony or set or requirements. It is possible, though rare for two or more elders to act as co-Patriarchs or Matriarchs.   Lots of sorcerers and sorceresses take an active role in matrimonial politics. Those that perform well and consistently in this, have a good chance of becoming the Patriarch or Matriarch when they are old enough. Generally, there is an informal requirement that a Patriarch or Matriarch needs to have at least one grandchild.


The first duty of a patriarch or matriarch is the family leader for approving or disapproving arranged marriages and they have more than the final say. They research the various other families and plan and scheme on potential mariages long in advance.  
Frieze of a Medieval Wedding by Thomas Stothard
  Since Swynfaredian noble marriages and succession rules are both very complicated and very political, this means marriage deals often become enmeshed in economic and miliary deals.   Only sorcerers and sorcresses can inherit land and titles, and the Swynfaredians are not sure why some children of sorcerer/sorcress pairings breed true and others become squibs. There are dozens, if not hundreds of superstitions on what type of romantic pairings are more or less likely to create true born sorcerers. Patriarchs and matriarchs are expected to factor all the superstitions along with politics into their decision making.   Their second duty is acting as a communications officer of sorts. Most of the dragonblood families are geographicaly dispersed so matriarchs/patriarchs have to travel a lot or write a lot of letters, usually both.   Their third duty is shaping house broad policy. Every dragonblood has their own individual ambitions, hopes, and fears but the patriarch or matriarch is there to make sure that the house acts as a cohesive unit...or at least gives the appearance of acting like a cohesive unit. Face is everything, and not all illusions are magical.


Intangible influence and political power.   The older dragonblood houses take the role of Patriarch/Matriarch extremely seriously and put a lot of weight on the words and actions of their directing elder. The newer and weaker houses generally put less weight on the office and a few are secretly contemptuous of it, but they will pretend to take the office seriously when in earshot of conservative members of the older houses.

Grounds for Removal/Dismissal

Since most Patriarchs or Matriarchs are fairly old, they are usually "dismissed" after they shuffle their mortal coil.   If a Patriarch or Matriarch is outshined by a younger more competent power broker, than a Patriarch or Matriarch and be "voted out of office" so to speak.


Early in Swynfaredian history, the inter-House politics were slightly less Byzantine, but more importantly, a much higher percentage of their children were born as true sorcerers with very few squibs.   Almost every dragonblood is at least somewhat interested in matrimonial politics, but a few Swynfaredians were really interested in matrimonial politics. These were the forerunners of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs.   Before the Second Swynfaredian Civil War, sorceresses could not inherit lands and titles, but many still had political ambitions and arranging marriages gave them a form of political power. "Matriarchs" became a nickname for sorceress matrimonial brokers.   After the laws changed and sorceresses were able to hold lands and titles equal to sorcerers, many Matriarchs opted to worry about arranged marriages less and to focus on war and economics more. The presence of Matriarchs faded away.   But as more generations of female sorceresses took on titles, there was a new wrinkle. If a sorcerer with a claim on a hereditary title from one noble family married a sorceress with a claim from another noble family, their children would have claims to both parent's families.   Conversely, both families had claims on the children as well. If a sorcerer or sorceress was a great talent, either in magic or politics then both of the mage's families would say "Yup, that child is one of ours!" If a child was a bumbler, or a squib, or otherwise disappointing both families would say, "Nope, that child is one is yours."   This made matrimonial politics and arranged marriages much much more complicated. This caused a resurgence of the nearly abandoned tradition of Matriarchs. It also became less of a "sorceress only" activity as more sorcerers became more actively involved in this sort of politics leading to the rise of more Patriarchs though there is still roughly a 60/40 split in favor of Matriarchs.

Leadership in Action

  Lady Delyth ap Gorisonad fumed in her chambers, finally alone, she could vent her frustrations. The last banquet she attended every Nine damned Numaness bootlicker was throwing snide comments at her about the collapse of Uwcharedia, the puppet realm set up by the Gorisonads.   She wondered about going to the range to practice invocation just to watch straw mannequins explode, but that would unseemly for a Matriarch of her status. She settled for pacing and scowling for several minutes before she calmed down somewhat.   There was a knock on her door.   "Yes?" she curtly.   "Lord Cariard to see you m'lady."   Delyth rearranged her face into an expressionless mask and smoothed the ruffles in her dress.   Lord Cariard was supposed to look into the Uwcharedian debacle. Maybe now I'll get some answers   "Send him in."   "My lady, thank you for seeing me-"   "Skip the formalities, what did you find? Was it the two homegrown dragonbloods?"   "No, milady, they seemed to have deserted the place and stole men and materials, but they were merely reacting to music, they were not calling the dance. The insurrection seemed to have been led by the Fumayan Keeper, named Kormatin, he is the-."   "I know who he is. He has been catching and releasing some of the dumber would-be spies among the other Houses in their ham-fisted attempts at infiltrating Fumaya. How is he connected to a Border Baronies uprising?"   "Prophet's Pass, the Barony with the high turnover rate seemed to have a vampire acting as puppet master, or puppet mistress I suppose. Kormatin slew the vampire and exposed what the vampire was doing and won the support of Prophet's Pass."   "Why did half a dozen other Barons back up Prophet's Pass in their unprovoked attack?"   "Kormatin spread lies about Swynfaredian hegemony encompassing all the Border Baronies-"   "That tale is hardly new...I didn't realize a Dusk warrior could be that persuasive."   "He gathered a lot of valuables from the fallen vampire and bribed the Border Barons into joining him."   "Clever, rather Mask-like for a Keeper"   The Matriarch turned away from him and stood their silently lost in thought for several moments.   "My lady, House Gorisonad needs to avenge this dishonor and slay the upstart!"   "Will killing the Keeper magically restore Uwcharedia?" she turned on him waspishly.   "No my lady....but it would avenge a slight on our family honor. Several Fang Warriors have volunteered to destroy him."   "No, our Fang Warriors are needed elsewhere. Besides, Kormatin is a seasoned Dusk warrior specialized in combat against hostile mages, that would throwing good resources after bad. A lot of Keepers are surprised and killed by common criminals. Tell Lord Rhydian to make it happen, that sounds like his area of expertise."
Length of Term
usually for life
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Cover image: Swynfaredian Coat of Arms by Me with Worldspinner's Heraldry program


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