Wednesday, April 13, 2011

G is for Great Landowners

When I created Greatholm, I used a lot of different sources.  I used a bit of Medieval Demographics Made Easy, by S. John Ross.  The work that I made the most extensive use of, though, was A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe by Expeditious Retreat Press.  One of the things that it discusses is a breakdown of the land of a particular kingdom and who owns the land.  They introduce the concept of Great Landowning Families.  There are four Great Landowners in Greatholm:  The Royal Family, The Church of the All-Father, and the two Dukes of the Realm, the Dudleys (The Duke of Avonlea and his family) and the Stanleys (Aberfirth).

The House of Neville, the current royal house, controls the vast majority of the land in Greatholm, about 11.8 million of the 13.8 million acres of land on the island.  However, they only have 31 manors concentrated mostly in Astleyham.

While the Church of the All-Father has two rather large segments of alloidal land (The Westleigh Diocese and the Starfall Protectorate), most of their more than 600,000 acres is spread throughout the realm as individual churches, abbeys, monasteries, priories, and other church facilities.  Church land is not royal land (as much as anyone can have their own land in Greatholm), being exempt from taxes.  About a third of their 82 manors are within Westleigh and Starfall, the rest being scattered across the island in the form of different abbeys, monasteries, and priories.

The House of Dudley maintains all of their 150,000+ acres within the Duchy of Avonlea.  Within this fertile land are 47 manors.  The Dudleys are closely allied to the Nevilles via marriage.

The House of Stanley, on the other hand, regularly feud with the other great landowning families from their vast (almost half a million acre) holdings in the west of Greatholm.  Most of the feuds are political, not military, although there have been random conflicts between the different nobles of the "Wild West." The land is very rough, so even though they cover considerable acreage, they only have 57 manors.