Under The Yoke Devlog 21: Vote for Ælfstan!
Updated: Oct 5, 2022
Welcome Serfs and Villeins to another Under The Yoke Devlog.
This week we’re back to looking at features for Under The Yoke, after our previous post examining the greater scheme of the game.
This is going to be something of a two parter where will look at a staple feature of the English medieval village system, Hallmotes.
What is a Hallmote you may be asking? A Hallmote was a yearly gathering of all members of the village wherein legal challenges were heard and local offices where elected.
Elections in the middle ages? You may be thinking to yourself, why yes! It may surprise you to learn that villagers were actually given a great deal of autonomy in the manorial system, as many Lords would be absent for most of the year many issues were to be managed to the villagers themselves. Though the Lord did have certain offices that represented him, especially in the Hallmote, we’ll have a look at some of those today.
The Steward was the top dog of the village and served as the Lord in his absence, it was their responsibility to care for the manor, to see that taxes in all of their forms were paid and to oversee the Hallmote.
The Reeve was in charge of keeping the peace in the village, though all villagers played a part in policing it was down to the Reeve to co-ordinate these efforts. In fact the term Sheriff is derived from Shire Reeve.
The Beadle was elected to assist the church and partake in various ceremonies, an especially important position in the highly religious medieval times.
The Ale Taster was elected to check ale was of sufficient and not abundant strength whenever ale was brewed on the manor, I can only imagine a highly sought after job.
The Tythingman was the head of a local tythe, responsible for making sure members of his tythe showed up for court. The tythe was a group of 10 families who were held equally responsible for bringing the others to justice and could be fined for failing to do so.
Warden of Autumn was in charge of ensuring plough work was performed and assisted the Steward in organising the ploughing.
In Under The Yoke
It should come as no surprise to those who follow this blog regularly (subscribe using the form below if you want this straight in your inbox every fortnight) that we are modelling these titles exactly, though the method of election is a little less historically authentic.
Essentially the titles are broken down into rungs, Steward at the top, Reeve and Beadle in the middle and the rest at the bottom. In order to gain access to a higher run you must be elected into a lower one in your lifetime (similar to the office system in The Guild games). Technically some of these positions weren’t elected so much as they were appointed but creative license and all that.
Also, technically there were two meetings in a year, one called the Hallmote and the other the Frankenpledge which elected different positions and handled different legal matters but since this frequent interruption could be annoying to the player we decided to merge them into one.
Alright, no we’ve got our divergence from history out of the way, let’s meet back again. All men over the age of 14 can run and vote (sorry ladies and children). The AI will vote depending on how skilled they think a character is compared to other candidates, as well as how much they like them. The heads of the AI families are the most likely to run for office but anyone who desires to can. Players may vote for other characters for a small opinion boost as well.
Now why would anyone want extra work? Well it has some rewards, obviously there’s the respect of your Lord, pay in both cash and items and the ability to help or hinder your fellow villagers, depending on how you want to play it. Though be warned, choosing not to follow through with your duties may land you on the wrong side of the law.
This is a really rich feature and I’m excited to have a little know piece of history in the game for people to experience. Next time we’ll be cracking the other egg of Hallmotes by looking into the complex legal system of the day, it’s less one sided than you might be imagining.
For now you can check out our previous blog posts or sign up for Under The Yoke straight to your inbox using the form below!