Social Structure of Bereg

The upper classes of Bereg can be roughly visualized as a pyramid that looks thusly:

Table of Contents

King and Queen

Form of address: my king/queen, my liege, sire/mother

The reigning monarch of Bereg are called a king or a queen. The position is passed through absolute primogeniture – the eldest child of the previous monarch inherits.

The source of a monarch’s authority (and the biggest legitimizing mechanism for the entire social structure) is the so-called Fate’s Decree – the idea that things are the way they are because Fate willed it that way and so it’s only natural.

The power of the monarchs has been growing more and more centralized over the centuries. However, by 1680s Asunder the boyars and the princes still wield enough influence that the monarchy can’t be called absolute.


Form of address: bann/bana

The boyars are aristocratic families who own their lands rather than hold them as fief from an overlord.   What ties them to the monarch (and the rest of the realm) is a personal oath of allegiance, which must be renewed whenever the head of the house or the monarch changes. Because of this, the boyars enjoy many freedoms and privileges—among them the freedom to practice battle magic as they see fit.

There are eight boyar families in Bereg, all named after a bird: Swan, Eagle, Raven, Crane, Hawk, Dove, Owl, and Nightingale. The first of these – the Swan sigil – is actually the royal family, but, since the Bereghin monarchs started out as the first among equals, they are a sort of honorary boyars. The monarchs also intermarry with the boyars a lot, as a tactic to ensure their loyalty.

The boyars are also unique in that, unlike the royal family and the rest of Bereg, their succession is determined by the ancient rota system, where it’s not the child that inherits, but the most senior living blood relative. Yes, things get awkwardly complicated. That’s why the monarchs switched to the absolute primogeniture a couple of centuries ago.


Forms of address: sire/mother, prince/princess (sometimes also my prince/my princess)

The Bereghin princes come in two flavours:

  1. princes of blood, aka the blood relatives of the reigning monarch;
  2. princes of the realm—hereditary rulers of large Bereghin provinces. The difference between them and the boyars is that the princes hold their principalities as fiefs, and the monarch, in theory, is allowed to take those lands back, whereas the boyars own theirs.

As of 1681, there are six principalities of the latter type (Istan’, Isnev, Kema, Oren, Tregorie, and Zarunie), and one prince of blood, who, for dynastic reasons, also happens to be a prince of the realm.


Form of address: bann/bana

The Bereghin nobility has its roots as “people of service” – administrators, advisors and soldiers who served one of the major landowners and were rewarded with land. The overwhelming majority of them still holds their lands as fiefs from either the boyars, the princes, or the crown directly.

The nobles of Bereg are all legally equal, and take pride in it, though in practice their status does vary somewhat depending on wealth and on how much land they have. These last two are not directly related – many nobles make a decent living as administrators, courtiers, judges, and so on. It is also the nobles that constitute most of the officer corps in the Bereghin army.

Boyar Children

Form of address: bann/bana

The boyar children are Bereghin sorcerers licensed to practice battle magic. As the name suggests, this task was originally limited to the boyar offspring. However, in the recent centuries, Bereg has been extremely short of battle mages, for two reasons:

  1. Killing/violence is culturally perceived as rather abhorrent throughout Halqueme, and turning the naturally life-affirming force of magic towards war has been historically perceived as… well, obscene. The Boyars, while acknowledging the power of battle magic and refusing to cede their monopoly on it, were never very keen to actually practice it.
  2. Magicians, no matter what specialty, train from as early an age as possible in order to achieve full potential. Once trained, they must not have children, because the mageborn tend to turn out… wrong. Which means that the boyars who practice battle magic can’t continue the dynasty. Since boyar families have 2-3 children on average, they are often very reluctant to lose the spare heir.

Historically, Bereg tended to have one or two practising battle mages at any given time, and it was enough, because that’s how it was for everybody. However, eventually Halcia had a revolution, opened up battle magic to commoners, and started fielding dozens of battle mages per battle.

Therefore, a compromise was reached in Bereg: any noble who willing to practice battle magic can be symbolically accepted into a boyar family and receive the status of a “boyar child” without legally being a boyar in any other sense. That way, while the Bereghins still favour flintlocks over magic and Bereghin battle mages are still rare, they’re not as vanishingly rare as they used to be.


Form of address: bann/bana

The Bereghin sorcerers are magicians who practice magic other than battle magic. These are the healers, the artificers, the seers, the alchemists, and so on. They are a social class separate from everybody else, including their birth families (at least, in theory), and they are roughly equal to the nobles in standing.   While some sorcerers do come from noble background, the majority of them are children of well-to-do commoners, such as merchants or artisans.

Sorcerers generally begin training between ages of 10 to 12 and most of them begin independent practice in their late teens, though some focus on academic research instead and continue studying well into their twenties.

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