In the upper reaches of the Tafelland Valley, the Barony of Hohensten managed to weather the storm of the collapse of the Kingdom of Reinhart in 398S.E., and its people have continued to eke out a living in the fertile valley, with the looming peaks of the Felsspitze Mountains looming over them on either side. Not all is peaceful in Hohensten, however, as the Barony’s integrity is continually threatened by the micro-nations to the north-east and south-west, ever eager to take advantage of a weakened or ailing neighbour. The mountains flanking the Tafelland Valley likewise pose a threat, as they are home to tribes of Goblins, Lupines and Orcs, alongside many other unspeakable monstrosities, all of which view those living on the fertile valley floor below as being ripe for plunder.
For the Baron and people of Hohensten living in one of the many units that makes up The Mountain Principalities is hard and dangerous.
The Barony is ruled by the Baronial House of Hohensten, much in the same way that a monarch would rule a monarchy. The Baron has the final decision on all matters that concern the governance of Hohensten, though in reality the Baron does not make decisions alone. The Barons of Hohensten retain a Privy Council made up of elected representatives from the Mercantile, Agricultural, Professional and Labouring communities across the Barony, along with another member of the Baronial house appointed by the Baron, normally the heir apparent.
Each of the members of the Privy Council are elected by their respective representative groups in a hustings that takes place in the Baronial seat of Kleinhaupt, every 4 years. Any citizen of the Barony is entitled to stand for election within their representative group, or attend the hustings to vote, but in reality candidates and electorate tend to be drawn from Kleinhaupt, or the countryside immediately surrounding the town. This means that the Baron and their family are able to exert quite a large amount of control on the outcome of proceedings.
The fertile valley floor of the Tafelland provides the Barony of Hohensten with an ample area of land for use in agricultural production, both arable and pastoral. Large herds of dairy cattle, along with sheep and goats are reared across the Barony, which has given rise to a large dairy production industry, with cheese produced in the barony being exported across the area of the Mountain Principalities, and occasionally further afield. In addition, the arable farms of the Barony produce a reasonably large crop, on average, of cabbages, apples, potatoes and other root vegetables, though this is generally not quite enough to make the Barony self-sustaining in terms of agriculture. Crops such as wheat and barley tend to be in short supply, and have to be imported. The meadows of heather that cling to the lower slopes of the flanking mountain are a good environment for the local varieties of hardy mountain bees, which has given rise to a strong apicultural industry in Hohensten. The shortage of grains, and the comparative glut of honey means that mead is much more heavily produced than beer, and is itself an export from Hohensten.
Beyond agriculture, the Barony has large tracts of forest that are managed and felled for their timber, mostly for internal use. There are also two known metal deposits that are currently being mined on an industrial scale, one of iron in the northern mountains, and one of copper in the southern.
Demography and Population
The majority population of the Barony are made up of Humans, Halflings and Dwarves, most of the latter made up of Dvärg
. Representatives from other sapient species are present, though in much smaller numbers, and they tend to be concentrated within specific settlements.
The majority of the Barony’s populace live a peasant lifestyle, working in the fields, pastures, lumber camps and mines of the Barony, and as a result earn barely enough to get by day-to-day. There is a reasonably sizeable groups of merchants and craftsmen that occupy the middle level of Hohensten society, but around 55% of the Barony’s wealth is concentrated amongst the Baron, their immediate family and a handful of trusted advisors and courtiers, who have been given responsibilities within the Barony.
Hohensten, maintains a small standing army, or no more than 4,000 full-time soldiers, almost all of whom are garrisoned within the towns, villages and border castles of the Barony. This force is designed to be primarily a defensive force, and has not been involved in a conflict outside of the Barony’s borders since the before the collapse of the Kingdom of Reinhart. In addition, all baronial subjects over the age of 16 have to swear an oath to defend Hohensten when called upon, which is now an integral part of a child’s coming of age ceremony. This oath applies to both male and female subjects of the Baron, in theory allowing for the mobilisation of the entire adult population of the Barony able to bear arms, though this has never been resorted to.