Impersonating a Noble Jul 12, 2019 11:11:13 GMT -5
Post by ibusoe on Jul 12, 2019 11:11:13 GMT -5
The historic crime of "Impersonating a Noble," means something specific. It doesn't really relate to someone trying to illicitly gain power over other people. It wasn't something that a commoner was going to do in order to sneak into a party or something - there were better ways to do this, that bore less risk. It was never part of some secret plot by someone to act important or humiliate other people. If you think about that one, an urban peasant would have been bowing all the time, so if you found out at the end of the day that you bowed to someone unnecessarily it wouldn't have bothered you. For a peasant, it's always better to bow and scrape under circumstances where the requirement to do so is unclear.
"Impersonating a Noble," meant you were trying to embezzle money. I spent an evening a few days ago carefully researching the topic and found that there was scant information about it on the internet. I was able to access a few transcripts of medieval trials. Joan of Arc's trial was an interesting read, but there wasn't much in the way of case law available to me for Impersonation.
I point this out because I want to admit that I'm speculating about what I'm about to write, but the primary reason for anyone to impersonate a noble, I'd think, would be financial fraud. Generally, nobles had money and peasants didn't have money. When money was metal coins, it was heavy and not secure and you couldn't transport much of it with you even if you wanted to. If you were a peasant and you ran out of money while you were traveling, you begged for what you needed because you didn't have any credit to borrow upon. If you were a noble, you could get a letter of credit because someone would have heard of you or recognized your ring or your House or something, and they could have sent a bill to your family.
So if you were good at (the crime of) impersonating a noble you could have gotten your hands on a fair amount of cash. The motive would have been financial.
The nobility wouldn't have cared if some peasant put on airs and pretended to be a noble and went out to a little village and lorded over the other peasants. Actual nobles weren't going to go to the expense of sending their guards (e.g. paying mercenaries) to go track the offender down. This would have been the peasants' problem. This sort of 'crime' wouldn't have been prosecuted.
The nobility wouldn't have cared if some peasant dressed up like a noble and wanted to hob nob with higher society. Presumably minor nobles were always doing this to more important nobles anyway. If your ruse would have been exposed, you would probably have been thrashed and kicked out of the party. Another non-prosecution. You can't imagine that this would have happened very often.
I was trying to envision a scenario in which someone would have attempted to influence government policy by pretending to be a noble, but pretending to be a priest would have been nearly as effective and would have carried a much lower criminal penalty.
The conclusion of my speculations is that without a financial motive, there wouldn't have been much of a criminal case against someone.
For one peasant (e.g. non-noble) to bow to another peasant (e.g. non-noble) is NOT impersonating a peasant. Even if it were, the person being bowed to would not be the one to get in trouble. Playing a character that has significant anxiety about having people defer to your character (e.g. especially bowing) is inappropriate for the setting of Armageddon. Medieval society was hierarchical and so peasants were probably often deferring to other peasants if those peasants were smarter or older or had a bit of money, or if they were kulacs.
In Allanak, presumably chieftans, warlords and minor nobles from the outlying villages are probably often attempting to claim Noble blood in the city of Allanak. Presumably the more established Nobles merely ignore them. It wouldn't be worth investigating for the militia, how would men at arms even sort out claims to nobility? You're a noble if the other nobles recognize you as a noble. If you're not embezzling money, it's not illegal.
Players get this one wrong a lot, to a startling degree.