Raven Armory, the Social Contract, and Royal Messages

Tammy: I was pretty sure about the master and the people working under him using his brand, and Raven is a long-enduring family forge and armor-forging business in Corus, but Raven Armory is also my salute to my absolute favorite smithy in the world, located in England, swords going for fifteen hundred pounds (2500-3000 dollars, depending on the exchange rate) and up. Just to hold one of their blades in your hand is to swoon. I saw their work at the New York Knife Show years ago, and I have never been the same.

Tammy: But guys in palaces have been known to get run through with swords and other pointy things.

Locke and Thomas Paine haven’t come along yet, but when it comes to his people, Jonathan understands the social contract very well. He and Thayet rule with the consent, and the taxes, of the governed. To get anything done, he must have some kind of consensus with his nobles and his merchants.

Folks, monarchs aren’t all-powerful. If they are wealthy enough, if they are canny and/or brutal enough, if those who enforce their will are invested enough, they can live absolutely, but their heirs inherit the mess. If they aren’t, their people turn on them, those who enforce their will leading the way. Jonathan and Thayet are doing a lot fast, but they have to follow the law even while they work to dismantle parts of it. And in and around all this is the added threat of magic. It keeps everyone on their toes.

Elizabeth I of England did so well that James I did okay–but look what happened to Charles I. Louis XIV of France was one of the great absolute monarchs. Louis XV skated along on the remains of grandpa’s state–and Louis XVI reaped the whirlwind. Japan’s emperors got to thinking they ruled the country, and Japan’s shoguns–the generals-in-chief–locked them up and paid them tiny allowances for more than 500 years.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. (The Russians are a whole `nother kettle of snakes.) In Protector I’m trying to show a king and queen scrambling to repair the damage of the Old King, who nearly ruined the treasury with his wars, and the don’t-upset-anyone attitude of King Roald. You may not like Jon as a person (and as a man of a feudal time, he doesn’t even know from sexism when he says “my dear”), but he is fast becoming a great king, as Thayet is becoming a great queen.

“Kel forgot to ask Raoul why their majesties attended the trial.”

Tammy: Because they wanted to make the very official point that their eyes were on this particular case; that a legal matter between two squires had drawn their attention; that they were most displeased with the squire who had offended and those who supported him, and they wanted that message sent. By Jon meeting with Kel privately afterward he also sent the unmistakable message that the Crown’s favor was with Kel, in case anyone was feeling stupid.

Turomot was cranky because he thought they were saying they did not trust him to uphold the law, until he realized that they were there for the plaintiff and defendant.

SOURCE: [MR:S:6; MR:S:9.1, 9.2]