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King Elections???

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Entrisen, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. Entrisen

    Entrisen Dreamer

    Writing a novel and have quite an interesting world involved that I've created, not sure where it will go, but it's still in early stages.

    My question involves the leader of this certain nation my story takes place. I've always had an idea that they choose their leader through some sort of tournament between 3 candidates. It's a huge event and it's something everyone gets excited for. It's not really an election, but I've always called it the king elections.

    Basically, I can't figure out a way to structure this or flesh it out really, and was wondering if anyone out there can direct me to some reference material I can draw influence from a little bit. I can't find anything like this and I would really appreciate the advice. Have you heard of any stories that have this sort of process for choosing the nations leader? Even if it dates back to the medieval ages id appreciate it! Thank you
  2. Drakevarg

    Drakevarg Troubadour

    I can't speak to any real life nations, but I do know that the kingdoms in the Society for Creative Anachronism determine their monarch through what's called the King's Crown tournament. Not exactly a practical means of running a government but seeing as how the SCA's monarchs aren't much more than mascots it works out.

    My memory is a bit foggy but I think it works out more or less the same way for every level of 'government,' so the barons are determined by right of arms as well. It's just that of course when you're going after the king's crown you'll have much tougher competition.

    Look into ancient meritocracies. I doubt any of them are quite so simple as "prospective candidates duke it out and the winner gets the big chair," but it's probably the closest you'll get in terms of actual historical basis for the notion.
    Entrisen likes this.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I don't think you are going to find much in the way of historical precedent because of kings. Royals are, pretty much by definition, descended either from gods or from ancient heroes. That's what sets a royal apart from a noble. So it's all about descent, not competition.

    The Holy Roman Emperor was elected, by the Seven Electors. But there was no physical combat element (though there was a pretty lively element of bribery!). I can say for certain by the time tournaments had developed, kingship was very much set in its form.

    I'm wracking my brain but cannot come up with anything even close. The kings of the ancient Near East--nothing. Greek kingship, nothing. Roman Republic or Empire, nope. Nothing medieval or early modern. I'm including the pagan Slavs prior to their conversion. Can't speak to Irish kingship. Norse kings fought each other all the time, but that was just plain old warfare among rivals. Maybe the Letts?

    But, honestly, if you just invent a world in which there was a ritualized combat for the kingship, I'd buy it. The losers don't even have to die. Maybe just spin the way that catches your fancy and see if it catches anyone else's. History is overrated. ;-)
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  4. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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  5. AJ Stevens

    AJ Stevens Minstrel

    The battle for the throne in ASoIaF isn't too far removed from this. It's less formal, but it's essentially a bunch of noble houses duking it out for control of the kingdom and the strongest survives - lots of historical examples of that sort of thing. As others have said, I'd have no trouble buying it if it was well put together. In fact, it would be a refreshing take on the ascent to a throne.
    Entrisen likes this.
  6. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

    Lots of questions on the feasibility and scope of this.
    If you're going to have a tournament between 3 - who chooses the 3?
    How far down the list chain of nobles/wanabee kings does the tournament actually really start?
    How many in the first round? 10, 50, 100?
    One from each district (like the Hunger games)?
    Is the selection forced or invited? Are only a subgroup allowed to take part? What is the limiting factor?
    Anybody that want's to try their hand? Are there primaries or a council that vets applications?
    Is it like Masterchef or Bakeoff? are eliminations one by one, or is it a league with winners of heats going forward?
    if so why 3? strange number - not easy to have 1 on 1 combat and a knockout structure with 3 - feels more like something that they'd just get a score for and then pick the best.
    The political and other fighting and manipulation to get into that 3 would be intense - as would the cheating gamesmanship etc that would surround the tournament.
    It's all this that potentially intrigues me - not the combat - that's almost just the boringly predictable bit. ;)
    Entrisen likes this.
  7. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

    Though I wasn't meaning to dis the idea - just wondering how the detail of it would be handled - because that's the stuff that interests me. :)
  8. trentonian7

    trentonian7 Troubadour

    I don't know if it's been done, but it's certainly believable if you do it right. I can see either one of two scenarios; this is a very warlike culture where warrior kings are prized above all others and the king is expected to be a skilled warrior, even if he's only the most skilled of the nobility. The other scenario would place the winner of your tournament as a state figurehead much like another commentator noticed.

    How serious are your competitions? The nobility might put on elaborate staged combat as dictated by tradition, where the winner is predetermined and the competition is symbolic- this could work for a figurehead or a standard king if that's what you're going for. If it's a serious, to the death competition, I can't imagine the winner serving as a mere figurehead though.
    Entrisen likes this.
  9. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

  10. Entrisen

    Entrisen Dreamer

    Some fantastic answers here that have certainly helped get my imagination flowing. It sounds a lot less inciting when I put it down into writing, but in my head it seems really exciting.
    What I basically picture is that my nation, Entrisen, has 3 provinces that elect their champion to compete to be the king. I suppose I do need to flesh out the government a lot more to make more sense of the whole thing though.
    It's definitely not a fight to the death, or even a fight for that matter, although it could be. In my mind it was more like a contest, something along the lines, now that I think about it, like harry potters tri-wizard tournament. Sort of. In terms of seriousness, they take it very serious though it's something everyone from all around comes to see because it is critically important for the future of the country, and also very entertaining. There are tons of festivities to go alongside it, its huge.
    In my mind I picture the king (or whatever the leader will be called, king is just a placeholder for now) to be more than just a figurehead. The tournament is very traditional and takes place every 12 years. To win the tournament gives the king great power and he/she is beloved and respected by all in the nation.
    There are definitely a lot of kinks I need to work out to have it make more sense, and believable. and as to why I've picked the number 3, I've just always pictured the country having 3 provinces and the idea that they each select one candidate to compete always interested me.
    Some really thought provoking answers you've all left me, thank you! I am very glad that I've found this website.
  11. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

    I don't really have a source to help you out, but thinking back on all I've read I remembered a few examples. First, you need to know how the initial three candidates are decided? Are they nobles or can they also be commoners? Are they picked by popularity or prowess? Also, are the elections a straight out sword-fight or some sort of skill challenge regarding battle or a game of wits and politics? I know that in my contemporary vampire series they pick the new monarch by bloodline - so they have to be noble, and then they go through a series of test of mind and spirit and magic so they can prove their worth. On the other hand, in the Nightrunner that I am currently reading one of the nations chooses its Queen from the bloodline of the original first king, but it is of utmost importance for the Queen to be a master on the battle field. So other ideas might be a series of tests of different sorts, or maybe even some chess-type mind games. Or an obstacle course of puzzles of all kinds that they have to pass in order to prove their worth. There are really many way to go about it
  12. Entrisen

    Entrisen Dreamer

    For sure, there are a ton of ways to approach it, it's going to be a lot of fun to put together. Thanks for the info!
  13. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver


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