Laws and Legal Structure of the Horse People
The Division of Power in the Courts
The Tualárach are a confederation of nine nations that has come lately to Anieth. Each of the nations is presided over by an elected figurehead queen whose presence is largely spiritual. The Tualárach are a four-fold, semi-nomadic culture. They have four castes. The queens are elected out of the warrior caste. Although they practice agriculture, they base their wealth in moveable goods, the most valuable of which is cattle. Although cattle are the "coin of the realm", horses are valued even more highly as animals permitted only to the warrior class. Thus, the name: Tualárach which means, "people of the horse".
Land is not owned, yet the queens, as the head of the Nations, control the use of their traditional territories. Each queen is mated with a king consort whose role is to protect the land and the goods of the nation against outsiders. His other role is that of a charm in that he is a scapegoat king to be sacrificed in an ancient ritual to keep the wrath of the gods at bay. Each nation has a ruling from which hero kings are elected, a family being nine generations from a queen ancestor. But this hero king only rules nineteen years paired with an animal queen. The next nineteen years are ruled by a tree queen paired with a king consort who is a foreigner or a man of lower caste who has had no warrior training or connection with the royal family. (see calendars) Although the animal king consort is under certain contraints, i.e. date of birth, state of health, favor of people, etc., he is also often a foreigner who is adopted by the family and can also be of any caste, unlike the queens who must be directly descended from the ancestress.
Each of the Nations has a "tanist" in the family who can become the king consort in case of accidental death. This "tanist" is usually the Queen's Champion or the closest male relative to the queen who is of age and a warrior. This very complicated structure is to curtail the abuse of power in the queens, to prevent a king from taking over, and to curb aggression against the other nations. During his short reign, the king has much power and many favors, well beyond the norm for even the warrior class, so to compensate, his death is brutal and painful. The Tualárach believe that the more the king suffers in death, the greater the burden of sin he receives from the people and the more the land is cleansed of evil.
The Nine Nations are as follows:
King's Court and Queen's Court
To keep order among the Nations, the Clans thought it was necessary to develop yet another layer upon the royals. There was a Queen's Court and a King's Court and each of these power blocks tried different common law cases. The Queen's Court was a forum for tax and fine violations, contract cases, commerce agreements and all breach of contract, and any cases involving legacies, marriage, birthrights and settlements. The King's Court was a forum for cases of identity theft or masking (like the appearance of half-breeds,) violations of person, issues of honor, libel and slander, assault and battery, accusations of disturbing the peace or acts of aggression and war. Here is a picture of the King's Court in session full of nobles, eolas, and lawyers.
The settlements were different in each Court. Fines were levied in both Courts, but the duties of family obligation were heavy in the Queen's Court and the fines of person prevailed in the King's Court. For example, if a man was found in violation of another's honor, he could pay the injured party his personal wealth, or if he could not pay, he might be asked to give up his freedom, which was often the case in gambling debts, considered an honor violation if not paid. In the Queen's Court, if there was found a violation of contract, the family was fined. They paid the other family in family goods like cattle or slaves. Both of these courts were open forums, presided over by the King and Queen, who acted only as final mediators and keeper's of the peace. The actual trials were judged by eolas or other parties elected to juries, depending on the caste of the one tried. Farmers juried for farmers and slaves for slaves and so on. This was being "tried by one's peers." In the Queen's Court, a guilty party could be physically tried if the Queen was not a "listener" or gifted with telepathy. Physical trial was not used in the King's Court were the battle was in trying to trip of a person in the use of words, debate, and verbal assault. In this next picture, a man is being physically tormented to bring out his thoughts and emotions so that the Queen can "hear" him and deduce the truth of his claim.
The abuse of power is a common thing in any culture, in any caste. Stable societies are those who figured out ways to curb the abuse of power. If a queen or king abused the courts, they could be called before the other court to answer for it. If that failed, both the king and queen had independent relationships with their Clan patrons to complain about the abuses. Since the Clans were also not invested in both the queen and king at the same time, Animal King, Animal Clan, Tree Queen, Tree Clan, then it was rare that the queen or king abusing the power did not answer to the opposing Clan for it. Thus the system was more stable unless there were some abnormal breakdown as that which happened in the Green Nation at the time of King Raol's execution. King Raol went to Zelosia and lost his hand, and the Gwaranaccii could not decide upon a suitable substitute since the choice pick had been killed as a half-breed. The new queen was elected, but the old queen contested her power and the people, who had risen against the old queen's grandmother because of abuses of the family, rose up again and neither of the reigning queens could fight them; Raol was gone, and the new queen had not chosen a king. When she did, she chose a foreigner, but she chose a Zelosian, and the family rose up against her for that choice. Circumstances such as this were rare and the Horse People had been two hundred years in peace prior to the Zelosian Invasion.
The King's Court was more formal that the Queen's. Much of this was that the Queen's Court was a family court, much like those we know of historically like the French Court or the English Court, presided over by a royal, dominated by relations of the royal and heads of families in the upper classes seeking favors. The King's Court was very different and resembled that of the Icelandic "thing" or the ancient gatherings of trial and common law forums. There was a place for the court, the court met at certain times of year, petitions were reviewed and tried by different sets of juries. The King, seen here in the "curta" of the high judge, dressed in a plain manner, usually in undyed wool or linen. He was very unlike all the nobles and such who wore formal clothing, elaborate often to the extreme, showing off their status through their appearance. Eolas were more like the king, marked only by their professional tattoos, dressed in undyed fabric in their uniforms of cloak, robes and long vests. They also shaved the fronts of their heads in order that the tattoos would mark them clearly in their professions.
One of the contests if there was an open call for the king's positions, was a series of mock trials in which the contestants had to show their knowledge of law or their natural abilities at mediation should they be contesting for the Animal King title and be foreign-born or of low caste. Princes of royal families often were groomed to be kings of other Nations and underwent long studies of the law. This involved memorization of precedent and famous cases as well as the wergild fines and common infractions or violations. There was no crime. Crime is a modern word used to set "rules" rather than the common law practice of brining suit and settlement by precedent. Criminal law was an easier system on those who had to prosecute. With civil and common law the body of knowledge was such that lawyers were mandatory. This also slowed down the process such that a person could not be penalized right away, his case would be "aired" for several days, it would be discussed widely, and there was ample time to hear testimony, discuss it and precedent, and argue about the affair for some time before anything was settled. This system served to make even the guilty feel that they had been able to present their side of the matter. The only time a case was tried quickly was when there was an open confession.