Following the dissolution of the Sirius Empire, the Kingdom of France found itself lacking a centralized legal code that could be applied across the country. Thankfully, King Philip II “the Just” saw this as an issue of great importance and called for a meeting of the highest nobles in the land, called a Parliament, and worked together with them to establish a Legal Code for the entire country, based on old Imperial Laws. It goes as follows:

We, the High Lords and Noblemen and Noblewomen of the French Parliament, do hereby congregate on this, the day of the 3rd of September 1181, with the explicit purpose to write the French Legal Code upon which all crime and punishment shall be handled across the Kingdom and its territories.

The King’s Power

The Parliament and the French Legal Code recognize the legitimacy and authority of the King of France, over the Kingdom of France. He is thereby, endowed, by God, and by the Parliament, the right to govern the Kingdom, represent it in foreign courts, to grant or revoke land, to choose the Archbishop of Rosewood, and exact supreme judicial power in every and any trial within his land.

When war is declared, all of the Parliament’s privileges are revoked, and the King of France will assume absolute authority over all of the Kingdom, and all its inner workings.

The Parliament’s Power

Through the Royal Crown of France and the Glory of God, the French Parliament is given the authority to limit the King’s power during times of peace. As such, the Parliament is given the right to:

  • Vote whether or not to declare war
  • Regulate taxation within the Kingdom at large; this leaves the King’s direct demesne free from Parliamentary oversight
  • Approve a Royal Heir for their coronation
  • Vote to resolve legal feuds between the Lords of France

The City’s Power

Besides usual holdings of homesteads, hamlets, villages, and towns, the French Parliament and the Royal Crown recognize the existence of so-called “Free Cities” within the Kingdom of France. They also recognize their unique position and need for local autonomy, as such, the French Legal Code grants City’s the legal right to adopt both elective and hereditary succession. Additionally, all Free Cities with an Elective form of succession are placed under direct vassalage to the King of France and are given his protection. How Cities organize their Elective Colleges is the freedom of the City and its people.

For a settlement to be considered a City, it must have the following:

  • A Cathedral
  • Walls
  • A Marketplace
  • Two or more Holdings within it
  • A stable water supply
  • A connection to the Highroad

The Aristocracy’s Power

The French Parliament and the Royal Crown recognize any man or woman whose father, mother, or agnatic grandparent was of High Birth, to be Highborn, and therefore, part of the French Aristocracy. As such, any person of the French Aristocracy is given legal sanctuary in every secular court within the Kingdom of France. While there as a guest, no harm can come to them.

French Court Customs

When greeting a Nobleman, and you are of lower rank, it is custom to bow low to them. The higher the divide between social rank, the lower the bow needs to be proper. A bow is with right hand on bowel, left hand extended, right foot back, left foot forward, head facing the floor. If you are of equal rank, a small bow will suffice, with right hand over heart, and head lowered slightly. If you are of higher rank, then a simple nod of the head will do when greeting a lesser. If you are a low-ranking woman, a curtsey is a must, where the dress is lifted above the ground, while the legs are crossed and slightly bent, and the head is lowered towards the ground. If you are of equal rank, and a woman, the same applies. If you are a higher ranking woman, then a simple nod of the head will do.

When greeting a Noblewoman, and you are of lower rank, it is custom to bow low to them. The higher the divide between social rank, the lower the bow needs to be proper. A bow is with right hand on bowel, left hand extended, right foot back, left foot forward, head facing the floor. If you are of equal rank, then a kiss on the back of their hand will do. If you are of higher rank, a kiss on the back of the hand will do, as well. If you are a low-ranking woman, a curtsey is a must, where the dress is lifted above the ground, while the legs are crossed and slightly bent, and the head is lowered towards the ground. If you are of equal rank, and a woman, the same applies. If you are a higher ranking woman, then a simple nod of the head will do.

When greeting your direct Liege Lord or Lady, and you mean to show respect, you should bow deeply, or if you are employed under their service, kneel before them on one knee. When greeting a Prince or Princess, the same etiquette follows as when greeting a higher-ranking nobleman or noblewoman. When greeting the King or the Queen, one must kneel on one knee before them, unless they are a Noblewoman in courtly dress, then they can curtsey.

When greeting a Nobleman or Noblewoman, the proper address of My Lord, or My Lady, must be used. When addressing a vassal Knight, then the title of Sir or Dame may be used. When addressing a King’s children, then you must use my Prince or my Princess. When addressing the King or Queen, one must use your Grace, your Majesty, or your Excellency. Note that those lowborn might sometimes use shortened versions of these addresses, and they are completely acceptable by etiquette.

The French Parliament recognizes every Noble House and Family’s right to have their own banner with their own colors and sigils, as well as their court and motto.

Vassalage is protected by the French Parliament through Law. Any man or woman, who is a vassal to a Lord or Lady, must answer their summons to war, must provide meaningful counsel when asked, must represent their liege well. A vassal swears an oath to their liege and their liege alone. Known as the vassal’s oath, it grants only their liege overlordship over them.

I, (name and house name or title), son/daughter of (father’s name), swear before Christ almighty that I will defend both your lands and good name from anything that might come to harm it and I swear to answer your call to arms and serve as your humble vassal until either you or the Lord decide otherwise. Both my sword and shield are yours.

The vassal’s oath

Once a person makes the vassal’s oath, a Lord or Lady may decline, but if they agree, they must utter the liege’s oath.

Then I, (name and house name), (landed title), son/daughter of (father’s name), swear before Christ almighty that I shall keep you under my protection. No harm will come to you and no day will you go hungry or be without a warm place to rest. I will never ask anything of you that might put your good name and faith at risk until the Lord decides otherwise. Both my banner and lands are yours.

the liege’s oath

The ceremony is complete once the vassal then kneels, and the liege passes a ceremonial or regular blade from their right to their left shoulder.

Knight’s Code of Honor

The Royal Crown recognizes the titles of Sir and Dame to be those of the Kingdom’s Knights. While serving within the Kingdom of France, Knights ought to follow the Five Pillars of Honor which determine how honorable a person is. Knights are the men-at-arms of the Kingdom’s Realms and as such need to be the ideal representation of honorable servants to the Crown. The Five Pillars are as follows:

  1. A KNIGHT SHALL NEVER REFUSE A CHALLENGE FROM AN EQUAL
  2. A KNIGHT SHALL DEFEND THOSE WHO CANNOT DEFEND THEMSELVES
  3. A KNIGHT SHALL FIGHT FOR HONOR, GLORY, AND COIN
  4. A KNIGHT SHALL ONLY SPEAK THE TRUTH
  5. A KNIGHT SERVES ONLY HIS LORD AND GOD

Rules of the Duel Tradition

The French Parliament and Royal Crown recognize the right of any freeman or freewoman to demand satisfaction once their honor has been questioned. This satisfaction takes place in the form of a righteous duel where God decides the victor. For a duel to be legal, it must have two duelists, who both have at least one witness. The terms of the duel are up to the duelists, but if one duelist yields and admits defeat, then the other duelist is required by law to spare their life.

The Right of Sanctuary

The French Parliament, Royal Crown, and the Archbishopric of Rosewood recognize every freeman’s right to Sanctuary, provided by the Catholic Church. If a man is found to have committed a crime, but has not been chained yet, they may reach their closest church and knock on the door, pleading for Sanctuary. Once admitted, they will be stripped bare, have all of their possessions taken from them, relieved of any rank or title. They will have two weeks to prepare for a long journey, and during that time, they may not leave the church, and must confess their sins to at least one witness. Within those two weeks, the sinner will be given a cross to carry on their back and will be escorted to the sea where they will board a ship and be sent to Jerusalem. Once they deliver the cross to the Holy City, they will be redeemed, but may never return to the Kingdom of France.

The Right to Govern

The French Parliament and Royal Crown recognize each noble lord’s right to govern his land. No liege shall meddle in his vassal’s affairs, however, a liege shall defend his vassals if they are ever attacked, and the vassal will return the favor if the liege ever goes to war. Additionally, the vassal must pay a seasonal tax for this protection in the form of coin and grain.

As such, the subjects of a noble lord are to take their grievances and disputes to their liege, not their liege’s liege.

Every land-owning noble is required, by law, to hold a Council around them, which will help with the daily governance of their lands. This Council will contain the following roles:

  1. The Noble
  2. The Chamberlin
  3. The Chancellor
  4. The Marshal
  5. The Coinmaster
  6. The Spymaster
  7. The Chaplain

Crimes and their Punishments

The French Parliament and the Royal Crown have determined to outline the most common crimes and their punishments. These punishments are enforced by the King’s authority, therefore to deny or reject them, will be considered Treasonous.

The French Legal Code finds the act of plotting to murder one’s liege, conspiracy against the Crown, betrayal during war, or going against the orders of the King, the Parliament, or the French Legal Code illegal, and deems the offense “Treason“. Once found guilty of Treason a man or woman is to be stripped bare, drawn by horse to a place of hanging, disemboweled, and hanged before being taken and left to hang in front of the gates, or from atop walls. If anyone were to remove their body and bury them, they would also be found guilty of Treason. The minting of illegal coins, known as “Counterfeiting” is also a form of treason. Anyone found with Counterfeit buckles will be punished for Treason.

The French Legal Code finds the act of lying under oath to be illegal, and deems the offense “Perjury“. Once found guilty of Perjury, a man or woman is to have their tongue cut out and pay a fine to the person they lied to, which scales with the severity of the lie and the status of the person they lied to.

The French Legal Code finds the act of defaming the good name of nobility or prominent citizens to be illegal, and deems the offense “Slander“. Once found guilty of Slander, a man or woman would have their tongue cut out and pay a fine of 200 buckles to the affected nobleman or prominent person.

The French Legal Code finds the act of deliberately setting fire to property within two hundred yards of a settlement’s borders to be illegal, and deems the offense “Arson“. Once found guilty of Arson, a man or woman is to be put to death by hanging, and their close family, if they have any, is to pay a fine to those affected by the fire. If they are unable to pay, they will be placed under indentured servitude to those affected by the fire for a minimum of five years.

The French Legal Code finds the act of unrightfully taking someone’s life to be illegal, and deems the offense “Murder“. Once found guilty of Murder, a man or woman is to pay a Blood Fine to the affected family. Depending on the social status of the person murdered, the Fine will be higher. If they are unable to pay the Fine, those found guilty of Murder will be hanged. If someone were to kill out of Vengeance, once found guilty, they would be put to death by hanging. If someone were to kill out of Self Defense, once found guilty, they would be pay one-tenth of the required Blood Fine to the affected family. If they were unable to pay, then they would enter indentured servitude to the affected family for the course of six months.

The French Legal Code finds the act of taking someone’s material property to be illegal, and deems the offense “Larceny“. Once found guilty of Larceny, a man or woman is to have a finger on their dominant hand chopped off. Once three fingers have been chopped off, the Thief is to be Outlawed. An Outlaw is someone who is banished by the French Legal Code from ever entering settlements under the Kingdom of France. All of their rights as freemen and citizens are forfeit, meaning anyone can arrest or murder them. If they are ever caught within a settlement, they will be tried for breaking their Banishment, and if found guilty, will be put to death by hanging.

The French Legal Code finds the act of taking stealing from a Highborn or a Bank to be illegal, and deems the offense “Grand Larceny“. Once found guilty of Grand Larceny, a man or woman is to be put to death by hanging, and their close family is to have all of their material wealth confiscated by those affected.

The French Legal Code finds the act of taking bribes, working with criminals for personal gain, and the obstruction of justice by members of the Watch to be illegal, and deems the offense “Malfeasance“. Once found guilty of Malfeasance, a man or woman is to be put to death by hanging.

The French Legal Code finds certain items to be illegal and thus “Contraband“. The sale of Contraband is found to be illegal, and is deemed “Trafficking“. Once found guilty of Trafficking, a man or woman is to be fined 500 to 1000 buckles. If they are unable to pay, they will be put to death by hanging.

The French Legal Code finds the act of stalking the Kingdom’s roads and robbing its citizens and freemen to be illegal, and deems the offense “Banditry“. Once found guilty of Banditry, a man or woman is to be put to death by hanging.

The French Legal Code finds the act of citizens hunting game without a hunting license to be illegal, and deems the offense “Poaching“. Once found guilty of Poaching, a man or woman is to pay a fine to the local lord, which scales with the value of game found on them, the amount of time they have been poaching, and the social status and wealth of the accused. If they were unable to pay, then they would enter indentured servitude to the local lord for the course of one to five years.

The French Legal Code finds the act of someone entering the home of someone else without consent from the owner to be illegal, and deems the offense “Homebreaking“. Once found guilty of Homebreaking, a man or woman is to pay a fine to the homeowner of exactly 100 buckles. If the home is of someone highborn, or prominent, then the fine is from 500 to 1000 buckles. If they were unable to pay, then they would enter indentured servitude to the homeowner for the course of six months. However, those exempt from the Crime of Homebreaking are:

  • The Royal Family
  • Members of the local lord’s family
  • Members of the Watch, or the local lord’s garrison
  • Anyone with express permission from the local lord, or the King

Additionally, owners of private services like Taverns, Inns, Bathhouses, etc. are given the right to refuse entry to anyone. Refusing to adhere to their request is illegal and deemed “Trespassing“. Anyone found guilty of Trespassing will be punished the same way as for Homebreaking.

The French Legal Code finds the act of destruction of another’s property to be illegal, and deems the offense “Deviltry“. Once found guilty of Deviltry, a man or woman is to pay a fine of 10-500 buckles to the affected party. If they were unable to pay, then they would enter indentured servitude to the affected party for the course of one month.

The French Legal Code finds the act of refusing to work in a City to be illegal, and deems the offense “Lollygagging“. Once found guilty of Lollygagging, a man or woman is to pay a fine of 100 buckles. If someone has been previously found guilty and failed to find work within one month, they are to be finned 500 buckles. If someone has been previously finned 500 buckles for Lollygagging and hasn’t found work within one month, they are to be Outlawed.

The French Legal Code finds the act of not paying tax to the Crown, and to the Church to be illegal, and deems it “Tax Avoidance“. Once found guilty of Tax Avoidance, a man or woman is to pay what they owe in taxes and a fine of 500 buckles to their local lord. If they were unable to pay, then they would enter indentured servitude to the local lord for the course of six months.

The French Legal Code finds the act of attacking another freeman or citizen to be illegal, and deems it “Assault“. Once found guilty of assault, a man or woman will be required to pay a fine of 100 buckles to the victim. If they were unable to pay, then they would enter indentured servitude to the victim for the course of one month. If the victim is of noble birth, the guilty party is to be put to death by hanging. The unlawful arrest or binding of another is also considered to be Assault.

The French Legal Code finds the act of stealing possessions from abandoned settlements or corpses to be illegal, and deems it “Looting“. Once found guilty of looting, a man or woman will be required to forfeit what they have looted, and pay a fine of 100 buckles to their local lord.

The French Legal Code finds the act of unwillingness to help someone whilst they are yelling or screaming for help to be illegal, and deems it “Eschewal“. Once found guilty of Eschewal, a man or woman will be required to pay a fine of 100 buckles to their local lord.

The French Legal Code finds the act of repeating to break the law, often in close succession, to be illegal, and deems it “Recidivism“. Once found guilty of Recidivism, meaning the guilty person has been arrested more than three times in the past two months and shows no signs of progress, a man or a woman will be put to death by hanging.

The French Legal Code recognizes the role of freemen in Indentured Servitude to be legal. A master may not strike their servant to death. A master may not maim their servant. A master may not sell their servant, although they may be rented out. A master may not keep their servant beyond their legal mandate. If a master were to be found guilty of any of these counts, they would be tried and punished by the local lord.
A servant may not harm their master. A servant may not speak ill of their master. A servant may not flee their master. A servant may not refuse their master. A servant may not have children while they are serving their master. A servant may not lie to their master. A servant may not betray their master. A servant may not steal from their master. A servant must obey their master. If a servant were to be found guilty of any of these counts, they would either be fined, have their mandate extended, outlawed, or put to death by hanging. A master has the right to free their servant of their duty at any time. Additionally, if a master is found guilty of any crime, all of their servants are released from servitude.

The French Legal Code recognizes the inability to prepare for all crimes and therefore grants the judge, who is the local lord of the land where the crime has taken place, the right to punish any and all disturbances to the peace of their land.

Types of Trial

The French Parliament and Royal Crown recognize three trials within the Kingdom of France, two secular, and one ecclesiastical. The two secular courts follow the secular French Legal Code, while the Ecclesiastical court follows the Church Law of the Kingdom of France, which will be added below.

The Local Trial

The French Parliament and Royal Crown recognize the existence and authority of the verdicts and practices of Local Trials within the Kingdom of France. They serve the purpose of upholding the French Legal Code at the local level, among citizens and commoners. If a commoner, peasant, freeman, citizen, or foreigner breaks the French Legal Code or Law, they will be tried under a Local Trial, presided by the Local Lord of the land where the law was broken.

A Local Trial has no set rules in place as to the flow of questioning, or how the verdict is reached, instead it differs from place to place. Usually, the only requirements according to the French Legal Code is that the accused is granted at least one statement and that they are given the right to call Oath-Keepers. However, the verdict of any Local Trial must be in accordance with the French Legal Code, otherwise, the Judge is to be found guilty of Treason.

The High Trial

The French Parliament and Royal Crown recognize the existence and authority of the verdicts and practices of High Trials within the Kingdom of France. High Trials are made to resolve Noble Feuds, disputes regarding the French Legal Code, and issues between the Kingdom of France, and the Roman See.

High Trials are preceded over by multiple Judges: the King, given one vote, the Parliament, given one vote, the Archbishop, given one vote, and a Jury made of Twelve Citizens of Rosewood, given one vote. For the Jury’s vote to be valid, it must be unanimous. The Parliament’s vote will go in favor of the majority vote between themselves. Usually, it will not end in a tie, however, in the case of a tie, the Mayor of Rosewood will be called to cast their vote.

During a High Trial, the accused party will be given the right to a defense statement, which the many Judges will respond to. Both the Judges and the accused have the right to summon as many people who might help their case.

The Morality Trial

The French Parliament and Royal Crown recognize the existence and authority of the verdicts and practices of Morality Trials within the Kingdom of France. They serve the purpose of enforcing Church Law onto the Kingdom of France and its population. As per agreement with the Papacy, the Archbishop had the duty of enforcing Rome’s Church Laws and the Catholic Council’s Canons onto the believers of France.

The Judge of a Morality Trial can be a Priest, Archbishop, or Inquisitor General. The Trial is made to specifically try people who have committed acts of immorality, however, it is also there to try members of the clergy for any violation of secular or church law.

Unreachable Verdict

The French Parliament, Royal Crown, and the Archbishop of Rosewood recognize the difficulty of reaching a verdict at times, therefore, they authorize the legal use of two additional Trials.

Trial by Combat – is used when a secular trial cannot reach a verdict due to a lack of evidence, or if both accuser and the accused only have their word as evidence. If the Combat by Trial is evoked, the accuser and the accused will engage in a Duel to the Death which will determine God’s righteous champion. They will have the right to choose any weapon or armor from the armory. If either does not wish to take part in the duel, they can ask someone to duel on their behalf.

Trial by Ordeal – is used when a Morality Trial is unable to reach a verdict due to a lack of evidence. If it is evoked, the Judge will choose an Ordeal that the accused must complete in order to prove their innocence. For example: holding a white rod of iron without letting go, swimming to the surface after being submerged with stones tied to your feet, holding out your arms for an hour in the sign of the Cross, eating dry bread without choking, etc. If the accused fails the trial, then they will be punished accordingly.

The Morality (Church) Laws

The French Parliament and Archbishopric of Rosewood recognize the establishment of Church Laws over the Kingdom of France, in order to preserve the spirit of Christ within the Kingdom. Those found arrested for breaches of Morality will be tried by a Morality Trial.

The Archbishopric of Rosewood forbids the following within the Kingdom of France:

  • Public Drunkenness – fine
  • Adultery – fine, excommunication
  • Fornication – fine, excommunication, forced marriage, death
  • Kin Marriage – fine, excommunication, death
  • Simony – fine
  • Usury – fine
  • Apostacy – death
  • Heresy – confession and conversion
  • Witchcraft – death
  • Sexual Deviancy – death
  • Sodomy – death
  • Production, sale, or ownership of Translated Bibles – fine, excommunication
  • Abortion – death
  • Breaking a religious oath – fine, excommunication
  • Wielding a weapon within a church – fine
  • Blasphemy – fine, excommunication, conversion, death
  • Violence against the Clergy, or those associated with them – fine, excommunication, death
  • The breach of a truce – fine, excommunication
  • Any other doctrinal discrepancy, a layman may find – punished as the judge sees fit

The Order of Disbandment (added 1212)

By order of the Queen of France, her Grace, Lady Elanor I Sirius, the Parliament has agreed to disband the Imperial Army in its entirety and has therefore made it a Treasonous offense to be affiliated with the late Imperial Army, to fight for it, to use their previous ranks and social statuses, to carry their insignia, or to claim their existence whatsoever. Former Imperial Officers will be put to death by hanging, while Imperial Soldiers will be forced to give up their Imperial Identities and forego their oaths to the Sirius Emperors and their Empire.

The French Legal Code is to be upheld by the lowliest peasant, who will be guided by their local lord, to the King, who will be guided by his enlightened Parliament and God. As such, the French Legal Code is put into effect across the entirety of France by the grace of God, by the power of the Royal Crown, and by the authority of the French Parliament.

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Categories: History