The First Conclaves

After the upheavals in Akanaar the noble house of Hanneman ran into trouble. Their border holdings were destroyed, their investments ruined - and calamity after calamity befell them. Within five years this once mighty family had lost all of their holdings and titles in Akanaar, and the main line of the family had either died out or been killed in ‘accidents’.

Four minor family lines remained and while none of them had sufficient power or influence to succeed to the Akanaar titles, all four laid claims in the Grafate and the taxes that the Hanneman family had raised against the Burgraf..

Two of the claimants, Romet deHanman and Edvard Munchen both held Burgraf titles on the Orgasrath borders, while a third, Rikard Meerkam, was a Knight-Provost within the Hanneton Order. The fourth, Condol Bergen, held no rank in the Grafate at all.

Each of the four declared themselves ruler of the Orgasrath Borders and started to canvas among the remain Burgraf for support.

On advice from the High Prrovost, Rikard Meerkam was the first to withdraw his claim to rule, and in exchange for a promise of financial aid to achieve promotion, he became a strong advocate of a system of devolved government.

The High Prprovost gathered together support from a number of Burgraf and together they ‘invited’ the competing leaders to a meeting - which became known as the First Conclave

There was a lot of huffing and puffing - armies were assembled and the conclave took place against a backdrop of assembled troops. There was a huge standoff, the claimants each pressing their claims, the Burgraf resisting any compromise, when the High-Provost marched up with the assembled troops of the Hanneton order.

He walked into the to the conclave, and made his proposition.

He pointed out that the Burgraf needed some sort of cooperation or else they would perish - and cited the meeting itself as an example of this. He went on to talk about trade routes between the settlements and how these had been kept open by the old Hanneman family patrols supported by the Hanneton order - and how they needed assistance for each other occasionally.

He pointed out to the claimants that none of them had the strength to impose their rule nor even had the resources to patrol all the trade roads.

And he proposed a compromise solution where each of the strongholds could remain independent, but could still work together to maintain a secure environment that benefited everyone.

He proposed that rather than an absolute rule of the Orgasrath Border, each Graf should rule their own stronghold - but should come together in Conclave to make any joint decision that were required. In recognition of the Hanneman family, those Graf who could trace their lineage back to the original Hanneman family would get a different title (Fregraf) and would have more notes and therefore more influence in the conclave.

He also proposed that the Hanneton Order should continue to provide religious support to the Graffen, and would also recruit men at arms to help with security and defence. For this service, the order should get some of the income raised by the Graffen.

After heavy discussions and a number of changes everyone agreed to the compromise - except Condol Bergen who was the only one left with nothing out of the agreement. However, with the full forces of the Graffen and the Hanneton ranged against him, there was nothing he could do.

The initial Conclave limited membership to the Fregraf and Burgraf - and agreed to pay a small amount to the Hannetons each year to maintain religious shrines and the like.

Over the next few years the system was refined. The Conclave decided that they needed a name for their ‘new nation’ and decided to call them selves Altmark - which means High Borders in one of the older languages. They also decided to give themselves a leader - and implemented the position of Margraf.

Now the Altmark conclave was made up of three ranks - the Margraf (Lord of the March/Borders) the Fregraf (Free Lords) and the Burgraf (Stronghold Lord)

The conclave also realised they really did need to patrol the roads between their holdings and they needed a way to reward people who benefited the Altmark. Therefore they spoke to the Hanneton order again and asked them to take on the wider role of patrolling the trade routes - and for this they would be rewarded with a seat in the conclave and extra income from the Graffen. The High-Provost thus became the Lord High Provost with a seat in conclave.

Later they realised they were stagnating, no new settlements were being built there was no expansion and no new trade opportunities. Individuals who proved themselves consistently in supporting and defending the mark could get elevated to the rank of Lord and could vote in the conclave. To accommodate this voting levels in the conclave were changed to the current levels (Lords get one vote, Burgraf and the Lord High-Provost each get two votes, Fregraf get three votes and the margrave gets four votes)

While it is possible or any individual to be given the title Lord, it soon became clear that the majority of suitable candidates were members of the Hannetons, and Lords who came through this route are generally known as Hanneton Lords.

It is possible to get promotion through the ranks – any individual can be elevated to the rank of Lord by doing good service for The Altmark. The Conclave will check on the service of course, and eventually will vote on the candidates elevation - BUT literally anyone, who can convince half the conclave they have right levels of service can be elevated. However, Lord is a personal, non-hereditary title, which cannot be passed down to the bearer’s heirs.

However, a Lord can build their own stronghold, and if it is seen as suitable, and if the Lord had sufficient strength of arm and personality - he may be promoted to the rank of Burgraf.

Burgraf to Fregraf is also possible, although more difficult. In this case the Burgraf must present evidence to the Conclave that incontrovertibly proves a NEW link back to the Hanneman family. Marriage into one of the existing Fregraf families does not constitute a new link.

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