Feudalism in Eygrima
Before Aketan rule, Eygrima was ruled by Reeves. Each Reeve ruled over a swath of land, and the commoners paid him in crops and resources in exchange for his protection. The most prevalent unit of land measuring was the hide (roughly 120 acres), which represented the amount of land necessary to sustain a single household.
The lands of a Reeve were all owned by him. His agents worked out the administrative aspects of his territory in exchange for tax exemption, gifts of wealth and an increased social status. The heads of the tribes were appointed as military leaders.
The Reevage system was highly centralised. All power coursed through the Reeve’s agents to him. This led to issues, as known in the case of the Mann Reevedom, where tracts of land were granted to an assemblage of agents who would rule jointly underneath the Reeve in order to avoid over-extension. This is one of the earliest examples of feudalism in Eygrima.
During the rule of the Aketan Hegemony, the Reevage system fell out of use. The advanced infrastructure of the invaders allowed the northerners to repurpose and adopt far more successful systems, supported also by the Aketans’ wealth and resources. In place of the Reeves were now the Cnehts, puppet rulers under the control of the Anax. The Cnehts imposed Aketan law and were forced to offer tribute each year in exchange for being allowed to rule. Newly formed legeons under Aketan control kept the order. Despite being tributaries of the Hegemony, the Cnehts were considered independent.
After the Rebellion
After the successful rebellion of Ryard and his crowning as High King, Eygrima was introduced to feudalism. Without the vast resources at the Hegemony’s disposal to help them sustain the infrastructure, Eygrima shattered into a collection of city-states, duchies and stem kingdoms. Ryard crowned several kings that would be his vassals, to which he would grant lands that resulted from his rebellion in exchange for loyalty and military aid.
The kings of the realm then granted the land they received to their own vassals, called barons. In honor of the Cnehts, the military servants of the barons called themselves knights. The title has since changed to King, although several successor kingdoms proceed differently.
A vassal lord must conform to certain obligations that define his vassalage: besides swearing fealty to someone higher in rank (although not necessary; the scattering of independent duchies attests that), a vassal is also sworn to protect his vassals, in turn. The lord can, and is expected to, grant immunities, such as the privilege of collecting taxes and tolls and even the minting of localised money.
There are several military duties: besides providing levies for the lord (each peasant family must provide an able man to perform military duty in times of war) and sustaining knights for warfare, the lord also has the obligation of conducting work on roads and bridges in order to develop the realm. Noble families are sometimes required to provide squires for the ruler’s court, where they are be trained for knighthood or used as de facto hostages. Several more advanced realms further complicate the issue, such as the duty of castle-guard, an arrangement in which a baron has to provide a certain amount of knights to protect the royal household or key locations.