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High Fantasy Peasant Republic

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Eansur, Nov 23, 2021.

  1. Eansur

    Eansur Acolyte

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    During the HRE period, Dithmarschen experienced a brief time as a peasant republic without feudal rule. In most High Fantasy the focus remains on great kingdoms and empires, royalty and such.

    But what might a larger peasant's Republic look like in a high fantasy setting and how might they prevent/fight oligarchic accumulation of power within their society and feudal encroachment from without?

    In the novel I'm writing, the protagonist is from a large peasant republic that has long withstood outside powers trying to bring them under feudal rule.

    But I'm curious as to an outside perspective on what that kind of nation might mean for the global worldbuilding and internal society.
     
  2. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

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    Quite interesting the history of the Dithmarschen "republic", EansurEansur . Now, for the first question I'd say that to figure out such kind of republic, I'd start looking at its economy. How they make money/wealth? How it's distributed? I would say that, for such a republic to be possible they would probably have somehow replaced noblemen with an equivalent of a wealthy burguois class (merchants, skilled craftsmen, shipowners, etc). Then, to not only remain independent but grow, they would need to keep a strong or very effective military force, specially when the country remains surrounded by hostile feudal regimes that don't like at all that lowly peasants or wealthy heathens mocks them with their impudent independence.

    The question about avoiding oligarchic tendencies could be expressed in their legislation. Let's say that they recognize a great degree of independence among their cities, and only some basic common laws must be applied by all. This could lead to have some sort of republic council with the most illustrious members of society from each city, but each city itself can rule itself in whichever way they see fit within the loose legal framework of the republic. Now, to avoid excessive concentration of power in few hands, they could have laws that explicitly forbid such thing to happen: essentially they want to banish anything that smells feudal, like control of several lands or serfdom, or excessive accumulation of wealth. To put in more modern terms, it would be the equivalent of forcing industrialists to not to have more than one factory under their control, or more than one mansion, or something like it. By limiting the wealth, you limit the influence one person can have over resources and, therefore, you also restrain their political power and its potential to rot the whole system.

    From the outside, as you can imagine, the feudal territories around it or near enough to feel its influence would very much like to crush it. Such republic it's a direct affront to their way of understanding life and power, so they would consider it a menace that has to be cut down no matter what. Sometimes, they'll try to subjugate it by military might, others by political intrigue, or by a combination of both. Since the republic has to keep or increase its wealth, it would force it to remain open for business with some, if not all, of its neighbours, enemies or not. This is a very nice excuse for intrigues incited by feudal spies trying to change the laws within the republic or inciting revolts that favour noblemen interests (like feudal claims of land due to bloodline rights). This would be a constant threat that could force the republic to have a special police of sorts acting as a counter-espionage force, and not only on the streets but also at the political and business level.

    On the other hand, the feudal territories next or close to the republic probably would face important internal conflicts with their serfs due to the example set by the republic, specially in trying times such as draughts or famines. The serfs would either demand improvements in their situation or try to flee to the republic, something the republic could use in its advantage to sabotage the feudal territories surrounding it. Still, I wouldn't rule out that the republic could have sympathetic feudal neighbours that happen to treat their serfs much better and somehow feel closer to the republic ideas, or just allies for political or business reasons.
     
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  3. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    Perhaps like the ancient Athenians, they use sortition; random selection for their governmental positions. That would allow for basically any sort of person (with the exception of criminals) to be in control and have experts in the various fields be "on tap" rather than "on top". It relies on the wisdom of crowds to best decide what a given situation requires.

    It would also discourage the sort of career politicians that plague our modern world; which to be honest, isn't how the founding fathers imagined it. They had the expectation that a person would hold a political office, and then go back to their civilian job when they were done; not be in that same position for 30+ years.
     
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  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I have...something vaguely similar in my primary world.

    Solaria originally began as several thousand 'Romans' dropped on an island on an alien planet by the ancient aliens, one of the last of many such groups of humans...and others. The alien civilization that brought them there collapses shortly afterwards. For a long while, they were a 'republic' on the Roman model, with elected officials and whatnot. Over time, many of the elected positions became hereditary. Eventually, the Solarian's island became crowded, their neighbors on the mainland became unsettled, so they embarked on a campaign of conquest under an elected dictator. That position became both permanent and hereditary in short order - yet, while seldom used, the electoral process remained.

    As the Empire grew, the big noble families claimed the plum territories. Not so desirable regions - ones with not-so-great soil, rebellious locals, or at the edge of nowhere, were settled by former soldiers - who used the old electoral system to select their leaders. They got away with this because the top nobles didn't care.

    Okay, a long span of years passed. The Empire underwent a partial collapse and then got put back together. The hereditary sections went 'full hereditary,' pretty much feudal. The 'elected' provinces, though, kept doing things their way - and prospered big time. To muddy matters more, the rebuilt empire included a massive barbarian contingent that was hereditary at the top, but not so much at the local level, and not real thrilled with the whole serf thing - and it was from this group that the current line of emperors come. So, what there is, is a balancing act.

    The feudal/slave provinces absolutely loath the freewheeling republic/elected provinces. The 'barbarian region' sees the old imperial heartland as decadent. The 'republic' provinces provide absolutely vital technological and intellectual products - that have major not so good implications for the feudal/slave states. For quite a while, many of these products - everything from bicycles to printing presses - were kept confined. Others, like long networks of semaphore towers, became grudgingly accepted. Then the Traag War changed all that.
     
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  5. Puck

    Puck Minstrel

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    Actual Ninja. By that I mean the historic group of people from whom stories of Ninja derive (some historians would argue they were not 'Ninja' but became labelled as Ninja long after their actual demise), strictly speaking we'd be talking about the Iga Republic who widely practised shinobi (the art of spies, assassins and basically what we now call Ninja).

    During the later middle ages Japan was a chaotic and divided place. Iga became effectively independent from its nominal feudal rulers and established a form of republic. During this period, Iga came to be known as a center for ninjutsu, claiming (along with Kōka in what is now Shiga Prefecture) to being one of the birthplaces of the ninja clans.

    The Iga were perhaps not technically a true peasant republic but they answered to no warlord. Instead they were a league of numerous allied, relatively small, ninja groups and families. Each group was ruled by a local Goshi (a kind of low ranking Samurai, like a military village mayor). But they were as close to a peasant republic as you could get in the middle ages. They called themselves the "league of all the commons of Iga" (Iga Sōkoku Ikki). More romantic Japanese folk myth remembers them as Shinobi no Kuni (the land of stealth).

    They survived by playing the warlords off against each other. As long as Japan remained divided and they could trade their services as a spies and assassins to the various warlords they were able to retain their independence.

    They remained independent until 1581, when, after a failed invasion led by his son, the warlord Oda Nobunaga launched a massive invasion of Iga, attacking from six directions with a force of 40,000 to 60,000 men which effectively destroyed the political power of the ninja. Outnumbered more than four to one, the league of all the commons stood no chance.

    You can read about their resistance to the warlords and their final demise in the Tenshō Iga War. Fascinating story. Much more interesting than fictional Ninja.

    There are some incredible stories about the heroism of individual peasant Ninja and their fight to save their republic. One Ninja peasant woman tried to assassinate Oda Nobunaga. She got into his palace with darts concealed in her mouth but was caught and died fighting three Samurai. Of course it is difficult to say if such stories are true or simply folk myths but they are remarkable nonetheless. The real life Hattori Hanzō was an Iga trained Samurai/Ninja.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
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  6. Puck

    Puck Minstrel

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    Whilst a republic like Iga was able to avoid feudal rule, I am not sure it was as able to avoid Oligarchy. The Iga Republic had three powerful families that had the most influence. Rivalry between the three may have prevented any one family from dominating but you could argue that the leaders of these families represented an Oligarchy in fact, if not in name. The most skilled military leaders of these families have subsequently been labelled as the Three Grand Jonin (Jonin being master Ninja). It is unlikely that such formal titles were used at the time however. A Jonin supposedly attained rank by skill alone - however the fact that three families produced these 'Jonin' suggests a certain degree of Oligarchy was established.

    You might argue that even modern democracies like the USA or western European countries are not entirely free of oligarchic tendencies. The only thing that prevents it is a strong legislative/constitutional structure - but that is, in itself, a feature of more modern societies with a large/established middle class.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
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  7. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    Well, to me this sounds like perhaps the Roman Republic might be something for you to look into? The reason as to why I think so is that a republic withstanding feudal rule seems very likely to be pretty militarized as feudal rulers are more likely to subjugate with violence, if we're looking at our own world's feudal socities and how they aquire new territory, than with economic or diplomatic plays etc.

    EDITED: To my knowledge no republic or democracy has withstood oligarchic or eve monarchic tendencies to become part of the system. Even while demagoges might be an even more pressing concern in a direct democracy. So I'm afraid I'm not much help there. :(
     
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  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >has long withstood outside powers
    How important is it to the story for them to have "long" withstood? You may be trying to explain something that doesn't need explanation.

    As for precedents, I think first of the Grisons (Graubuenden). You don't really get peasant republics, but you can get leagues of peasant communities that form a pact to which no noble was signatory. League of the Ten Jurisdictions - Wikipedia is an example.

    But for surviving for centuries, to assign a value to "long", I would suggest a combination of geography and poverty. Put the republic in the middle of a desert, or high mountains, and then put that well outside of trade routes and invasion routes. Give the republic few natural resources. Outside powers might still from time to time have tried their hand at conquest, only to find the natives simply took to the hills (or forests or whatever) and waited out the invaders.

    Or, magic wall, of course.
     
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  9. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    A peasant republic doesn't need to change that much from a feudal society. Estates were nothing more than areas of farms, villages, castles, forts, religious places and forests lorded over by an aristocrat.

    Make the Lord (or whatever title the person who owned the estate had) an elected position held by a peasant leader, have land reforms so the peasant families who farmed the land are now the owners and introduce a method of taxation that ensures the burden falls more evenly across the population (such as a tenth or a quarter of all that is produced, made or traded) and you're almost there.

    The elected Lords could elect a President or an equivalent thus creating a Republic.

    The easiest way to prevent an oligarchy would be to restrict the powers of the Lords to those which the peasants bestow upon them. If the Lords screw up, anger the gods and spirits enough that crops fail and people starve or simply annoy the peasants once too often they're kicked out and someone else is elected.

    Oligarchies aren't always political. They could be economic. To curb that you could require, for example, that membership in a magician's guild would be compulsory for all magicians but no guild can have monopolistic control over all magicians in the Republic.

    Now comes the question of how the Republic has kept its foes at bay?

    Geography could play a role. There might only be a few places that an enemy could enter the Republic from so the Republic only needs a small professional army to protect those few areas.

    Another option may be to create a culture among the peasants in which skills like shooting at moving targets with a bow and arrows on horseback, sword fighting, unarmed combat or even using farm tools like pitchforks and shovels as weapons are highly valued. If these peasants have put those skills into practice and routed a few armies in their time that would keep more than a few Kings or Emperors at bay.

    Or maybe the surrounding countries are terrified that if they invade those uppity peasants from the Republic might spread their ideas through the ranks of their own peasants and create all sorts of problems.

    Let your imagination run wild and see what comes up. And learning about how states like San Marino, the Venetian Republic and other republics that have existed throughout history survived would also be useful.
     
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  10. Puck

    Puck Minstrel

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    The Iga Republic existed independent from the rule of feudal lords from around the mid C14th until its demise in 1581. So it lasted a couple of centuries.

    Factors in its survival:

    1) Japan was divided and the different warlords that controlled the regions near to Iga were usually at each other's throats.
    2) Iga provided mercenaries to the various warlords which therefore made them useful. They also supplied spies and assassins (let's call them Ninja - although they probably were not called that at the time).
    3) They played the neighbouring warlords off against each other.
    4) They were effectively ruled by a warrior cast of Goshi - although these individuals would not have been considered true feudal lords by the other Japanese warlords. But they had no warlord or figurehead ruler that another warlord could directly target or overthrow in order to take control of Iga. That alone made them difficult to conquer. They were a league of many small factions, not a single unified polity.
    5) The region of Iga is surrounded by mountains and access to it is poor, with many favourable ambush points. As Oda Nobukatsu found to his cost when he invaded Iga in 1579. His army of 8,000 was ambushed by the League of commons at Nagano pass, suffering heavy casualties and was ultimately forced to retreat in disarray.

    The other point is that they did not survive long once Oda Nobutomo started his campaign to unify Japan under what eventually became the Shogunate. He succeeded in unifying most of central Japan under his rule and one of his generals Toyotomi Hideyoshi completed the job of unifying much of the the rest of Japan. Iga needed a divided Japan, ruled by rival warlords, in order to survive.
     
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  11. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Maester

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    That, and term limits. If no one's allowed to be a lord for longer than, say, two seven year terms (or four year terms, or what have you), no one has that power permanently.

    Bet the guilds would become rivals in that case. It could be a benign, friendly rivalry - they sling insults at each other but not really anything else - or it could be outright warfare, or anything in between. Could make for an interesting story right there.

    Oh, noes, can't have that! :LOL:

    Yes, that would keep them out alright!
     
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  12. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    OK, leaving aside the question of whether you call it a republic or a kingdom.

    Sweden was like this for several centuries. Although it had a King, that person was elected by the various clans which consisted of free men (and women) who each had an equal say in how their clan was run. You became a free man (woman) by birth or by serving as a thrall for a given period of time. Quite a few well known people in the period were descended from thralls. (Note that thralls were usually people captured during wars or raids, especially to the east.)

    The reason the clans had a King was that someone needed to coordinate things for the benefit of all the clans, and that person needed to have the support of the majority of the clans. The Kings powers were in practice limited by the need to gain the support of the clans for major decisions - this kept the kingdom fairly stable, but also meant that it could take some time to make big decisions. It made for a decentralised form of government, where laws were regional. Its worth noting that the laws didn't differ that much from region to region. Given the size of Sweden this decentralisation was almost inevitable, there was no way the King could exercise close control of the whole country.

    The system worked as long as neighbouring kingdoms (and merchants, like the Hansa) were to busy elsewhere to interfere. The system fell apart when the Danes, with some encouragement from the Hansa, decided to support one of the clans with the aim of taking control. The Danes were after territory and power, and the Hansa were after trade privileges. The result was a unified KIngdom of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (Finland was part of Sweden). After a couple of centuries Danish repression led to Gustav Vasa's revolt and his subsequent foundation of the Kingdom of Sweden in its more modern form.
     
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  13. Eansur

    Eansur Acolyte

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    These are all amazing suggestions, some of which mirror my own brainstorming.

    I like the idea of decentralized power among each of the settlements within the country with only a few centralized elements so as to keep any one person from acquiring too much power. A term limit for positions of leadership and perhaps a ban on other family members from holding the same position for a term of x amount of years. That way a wealthy merchant couldn't buy the mayorship of a large city and then help his son/daughter/other relative win the mayorship after him.

    In my initial brainstorming, the land is actually pretty good where they live, but to their east is the sea and a long coastline, to their east a large mountain range that extends across part of their northern or southern borders leaving only limited areas to defend. In the eastern mountains there is a dwarven hold they trade with for valuable metals and ores while across the mountain through the only known path is a kingdom of orcs that are basically their primary ally. The reasoning being that the orcish kingdom is more a confederation of clans with a single elected ruler than any true feudal realm and the orcs are quite frankly more interested in fighting the one common evil all the world agrees on than anything else.

    They farm a fair bit along the rivers that come down from springs in the mountains to the sea and herd livestock or cut timbers in the forests. The western regions quarry stone or cut trees from the base of the mountain while the further eastward you go gives more traditional farming and artisan crafts. The far eastern regions trade by ship overseas with the trading cities in the eastern archipelagoes or elsewhere.

    So they trade most often woodworking, quarried stone of various kinds, woolen products and other small artisanal goods. But most trade is done between the component settlements with outside trade done mostly in the northern settlements or at the port towns.

    They hold to an intensive militia system with semi-regular training and drilling in arms done at the behest and organization of local communities. A lot of internal investment by the community is generally done to ensure there's something of a uniform standard of arms and armor along with local leadership and training.

    That, most often, are done by the order of knights made in emulation of their orcish neighbors. They form an inter-regional group that serve as intermediaries and pseudo-officers to help organize and train the local militias. That's their primary duty and in war they serve as the elite cavalry and organizers of the military effort to defend the land. Though foreign wars are uncommon these days as their more feudal neighbors to the north and south band together against them whenever they try to push outward. Though they also send out members as knights-errant to aid the common folk of other lands. They also by doing this form good relations with people who can pass word along to any threats or may in the future form their own resistance and opposition to feudal overreach.

    Though it often has to be done in secret because if they're found out and caught they're often executed by the local rulers.
     
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  14. LAG

    LAG Troubadour

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    The factors I'd say would be relevant are resource distribution, land ownership laws, and trade regulations.
    If you have an area that produces more food per annum, at a surplus, then this will have to be distributed to the more arid/mono-culture biomes, especially in times of famine and drought. The same goes for fish from the sea, and timber and salt and livestock etc.
    How effective is this distribution network? How is it controlled, if at all? Does it operate in a free market system, or is there governance as to the amount of resources used when and where?

    Is there a limit as to what acreage of land an individual/clan/co-op can own? Also, are there limits on the amount of wealth which aforesaid groups can earn/save/posses/invest?

    These are the just the questions that pop into my mind imagining this, you don't have to answer them XD
     
  15. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Archmage

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    I'm wondering about two things: How long is long, and when exactly is something a peasant republic?

    Depending a bit on how you define an empire and who you ask, but the average age of an Empire is only something like 250 - 350 years (which makes the roman empire with its 1480 years very much the outlier). The reason I ask is that if long means 50 - 100 or so years then you don't need much reason other than "the people around them were busy with other stuff". If you go beyond 250 years then you've got a lot more explaining to do.

    And I very much wonder what a peasant republic is, or more precisely, where is the different between a peasant republic and just a regular republic? Are only peasants allowed to live in a peasant republic and does it turn into a regular republic if a middleclass develops? The Roman Republic lasted 478 years, though they were ruled by a ruling class. But they do show how a republic can last while everyone around them is some kind of monarchy. Just be more ruthless than everyone else around you.

    In the end, there is nothing special about a republic compared to a monarchy. There's always someone in charge, and that someone will have more or less power depending on the local customs and circumstances. And even in a republic, it's usually the wealthy and powerful who determine what happens, simply because they have the time and influence to make stuff happens, while a simple peasant is too busy surviving to have time for politics. The title of the guy at the top changes, but in the end someone (or someones) runs the show. And how you survive as a republic is no different from how you survive as a monarchy. You're either stronger than your neighbors, you've got powerful friends, your neighbors are otherwise occupied or you're too difficult and not worth the effort to invade.

    The main thing a republic needs is people believing in the idea of a republic, especially in the early days. The US stayed a republic because George Washington believed in the idea of the republic and stepped down after his term was over. Some of his comtemporaries wondered if he would do so and he had the support to simply become the king of the US (similar to how Putin is now king of Russia in all but name). But he voluntarilly stepped down and the republic became a thing.

    Same in ancient Rome with Cincinatus. Right after rome became a republic this guy was given absolute power to deal with invasions twice. Both times he could have wielded that power to become king of rome. Both times people thought he would do so. And both times he didn't and gave it up voluntarilly. Again, this made the idea of the republic a real thing.

    That's pretty much all you need for a republic to become a thing, people believing in it. After that it's simply another country and it follows the same rules in interacting with other countries as kingdoms do. Again, Rome is an example here. When people stopped believing in the republic being a thing and instead grabbed ever more power it stopped being a republic and became an empire.
     
  16. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    Explaining what a republic is doesn't require much explanation. It's any system of governance in which the ruler doesn't inherit the job on the basis of who their Mummy or Daddy is. A republic doesn't need to be democratic. Indeed, many republics around the world are despotic dictatorships, military governments, theocratic (usually Islamic) states and one party regimes.

    The more difficult question is defining what a peasant actually is. The definition of a peasant may originally mean that the person is a non-property owning farmer or farm labourer but land and other reforms may result in the redefinition of a peasant as a person who is of humble (i.e. non-aristocratic) origins. That could result in a merchant, a ship captain, a property-owning farmer or a member of a guild being defined as a peasant for the purposes of the peasant republic.

    It's important that there is a clear understanding of what a peasant is and exactly what type of republic is being set up. Without that, offering advice as to how a peasant republic could operate would be very difficult.
     
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  17. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I'm not sure a clear definition of terms is needed. Rather, for any advice to be helpful, the OP needs to say what *they* mean by republic and what *they* envision by the word peasant. As Miles Lacey points out, the term has been used to cover everything from serf to free farmer.

    Same goes for republic, by which the Romans meant one thing ... oh heck, they managed to spin the term to suit their interests even back then, and it's been well-spun in succeeding centuries. I mean, there wasn't an empire either. Just ask Augustus--he restored the Republic! <g>

    So, back to you, EansurEansur. When you say republic, what are you picturing? And when you say peasant, same question. AFAIK, historically there was no association of peasants that called itself a republic, nor a republic that consisted solely of peasants. Later historians may have used the phrase, but we historians get up to all sorts of such mischief.
     
  18. Eansur

    Eansur Acolyte

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    These are all fair questions and I think, part of a mistake in how I phrased the topic on my part. When I was starting the topic, I was inspired by Dithsmarchen as I listed. As a semi-regular EUIV player I'm so used to thinking of Dithsmarchen as a Peasant Republic because that's what the government type is listed as. A fairly minor quibble but one that would slightly misrepresent or confuse the intent.

    So, to elaborate on definitions. In my head, when I say Republic I'm picturing something along the general lines of a government that represents the broader interests of a nation/country as a whole instead of the particular personal interests of whoever is leading the nation. I picture a sort of government formed around the desire to cast off any form of rule not beholden to the people ruled.

    In the worldbuilding I'm bouncing around, this nation came about as a result of severe misrule by the prior nobility until a massive rebellion eventually overthrew them and cast out all aristocratic governance. Communication being what it is in even high fantasy, this would in my head be something akin to medieval communes with an overarching elected and appointed government to handle the big problems and decisions beyond the scope of local communes.

    And if I were to define peasant for the sake of this country. Someone outside the landed gentry who derives authority based on their blood and birth. The farmers working their fields for sustenance, loggers and miners, shepherds and sailors. The artisan crafters in the cities or smaller towns and villages. Merchants, sailors. The common people who share at least some degree of hardship with each other.

    It's not the perfect definition, but I think it might be a workable one.
     
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  19. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >a government that represents the broader interests of a nation/country as a whole instead
    I think I get what you're driving at. A government existed previously that was cruel and exploitative, and this one supplants it. I'm going to proceed from historical examples because that's what I know; you should ring whatever changes you want.

    A monarch always had the interests of the nation at heart, or at least that was the mythology, subscribed to not only by the monarch but also by the common folk. The monarch (king, duke, whatever) was the father of a family. A father can behave in an arbitrary, even cruel way, and still have the interests of the family as a whole in mind. Where the common folk get angry is when the monarch is surrounded by evil counsellors, or has himself become evil and traitorous. Or keeps losing wars. <g> I can't think of a single example where the complain was that the monarch was not beholden to the ruled. That's a modern mythology.

    So, there were certainly massive rebellions. Very few ended with a wholesale banishing of the aristocracy. Usually it was getting rid of the "bad" nobles and replacing them with "good" ones.

    Even where there were leagues--e.g., the Swabian League--these tended to be cities (because they could command sufficient manpower and money) who allied to fight against unruly nobles but *not* against the king, who would have brought peace if only he could, or so the claim went. The Graubunden are a good example of the league being large villages and small towns--a goodly helping of peasants--to once again defy one faction of nobility but without aiming to abolish aristocracy altogether.

    But you asked how would it work. The examples all run to more or less the same type: a formal document with signatories (so you need organized communities with representatives, not signatures of individual peasants). The document not only declares rights and grievances, it also lays out some sort of council or moot, regularly scheduled, where those communities simply keep in touch and reiterated the terms of the agreement. It also says what is to happen if the league is invaded or threatened, usually along the lines of if one is attacked all must defend.

    Beyond that, everyone goes home and tends to their own business. There was rarely any sort of universally binding legislation--not least because it was almost impossible to enforce. The Hanseatic League had a common court where complaints could be lodged. That would make sense for your peasant republic as well. But there's no need for a full-on legislature, nor a system of law courts or such. That gets taken care of by the (largely absent) imperial or royal authority, which is conveniently distant and impotent.

    And beyond all that: what does your story need? How much of the politics actually drives the plot?
     
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  20. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    Except that it isn't quite that simple. The idea of a democracy as we understand it now is very modern. Ancient Greece did not work like that, nor did early medieval Sweden. Only certain people were allowed to vote. In a society of the sort you seem to picture there is no real concept of the common people as a single group, that too is a modern idea. Merchants would certainly not see themselves as the equal of a logger or simple farm labourer, they'd see themselves as better. The same would be true of a craftsman like a blacksmith ot silvermsith when comparing themselves with an unskilled labourer. The tensions between these groups can prevent a republic from being established or functioning over longer period.
     
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