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Frequently Asked Questions

Perhaps it is because of the nature of the books that David writes, perhaps it is because David Weber's fans are unusually dedicated and inquisitive... but it seems that everyone has a question! Here are a few that David finds he gets asked most often.

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Series Question Posted
Safehold How are Vicars distributed across Safehold? (Asked Thu Aug 11, 2011) December 2013

You do remember that 85% of the population of Safehold lives on the "mainland" continents, don't you? That means that only 15% of the entire population lives in Charis, Corisande, and Chisholm combined. The mainland countries have much higher populations, which means that they have much higher numbers of clergy, which means (surprise!) that they also have much larger numbers of — roll of drums — archbishops. In fact, most provinces of the mainland realms have their own archbishops, with the archbishop of the "capital province" serving as the senior prelate for the entire nation. Some of the most densely populated provinces actually have more than a single archbishopric. For example, the Republic of Siddarmark alone has something like 20 provinces, of which the majority actually have more than a single archbishopric. Glacierheart, Archbishop Cahnyr's archbishopric, is a mountainous, relatively thinly populated, poor province. As such, he was the entire province's single archbishop. Old Province, the province directly around Siddar City, has something like eight times Glacierheart's population with a proportionately higher number of archbishoprics. And you don't even want to get into the number of archbishoprics in the Empire of Harchong! Each of the small states between the Republic and the Temple Lands has its own archbishop, as well, and there are numerous archbishoprics in the Temple Lands themselves.

Charis, Corisande, and Chisholm were all "second-class" realms as far as the Church and the mainlanders were concerned. They were assigned single archbishops as much as 200 or even 300 years prior to the books, when their populations were still lower in both absolute and proportionate terms, and the Church doesn't worry about regular censuses and reapportionment of sees on the basis of population. Especially not when there's as much prejudice against being posted to the "out islands" as has been the case. For that matter, the various archbishops in those "out islands" have had a very strong vested interest in not having "their" archbishoprics broken up into more numerous, smaller archbishoprics, since doing so would have considerably diluted both their own wealth and the degree of power they wielded in Zion as the sole archbishops of their private domains. As a result, each "out island" archbishop represented a much greater total number of parishioners, despite the fact that all of the "out island" realms combined contained only 15% of the total population.

In addition, the number of vicars is not based upon or directly proportionate to the number of archbishops. The vicarate — which was intended from the beginning to be an effective planetary legislature, whereas you could think of the archbishops as district or territorial governors — is based upon the planetary population as a whole. The number of "seats" within the vicarate was set at 300 when "the Archangel Langhorne" first organized the Church, but the vicarate's composition has been reapportioned several times since the creation of the Church of God Awaiting in accordance with a formula Langhorne also set down. The number of vicars doesn't change; how those vicars are apportioned between the various secular realms does change, and that fact helps to account (in part) for Clyntahn's reliance upon Harchong. As the most densely populated realm, Harchong has the greatest number of vicars, who form quite a solid voting bloc within the vicarate. Those vicars, by and large, are not merely terrified into compliance with Clyntahn's policies but also actively support them because of their own reactionary orthodoxy. That same representational basis also helps to explain some of Clyntahn's antipathy towards Siddarmark; as the next most populous realm, Siddarmark has the next largest number of vicars, and while they form a less homogenous voting bloc than the Harchongian vicars (in part for reasons mentioned below), they were also substantially less supportive of Clyntahn even before the Group of Four launched the war against Charis. Losses among Siddarmarkian vicars in Clyntahn's purge of the vicarate were rather higher than among those of other realms, although not hugely so.

Vicars are chosen by the existing members of the vicarate on the nomination of the Grand Vicar. In fact, it is not uncommon for a weak Grand Vicar's nominations to actually be formulated by someone else, but under normal circumstances the process is for the Grand Vicar to solicit recommendations from the combined archbishops of the realm to be represented and then (after judicious horsetrading with his supporters and the various factions within the vicarate) to make his own selection from their recommendations. Under the current circumstances, any replacement vicars are going to be chosen by the Group of Four (which probably really means Clyntahn and Trynair), and then rubberstamped by the current Grand Vicar.

The Grand Vicar's nominations are not normally automatically seated in the vicarate. Each nominee requires a majority vote confirmation by the existing members of the vicarate, and it is not unheard of (although rare) for one of the Grand Vicar's nominees to be rejected. The possibility of that happening under the current circumstances (especially following Clyntahn's purge) is probably nonexistent, however.

Note that there are no Charisian, Chisholmian, Tarotisian, or Corisandian vicars. This represents a combination of sloth, inefficiency, corruption, and deliberate oversight on the part of several generations of vicarates and Grand Vicars. Initially, there was too little population in any of those realms to qualify them for membership in the vicarate, just as there was too little population to qualify them for multiple archbishoprics. As their populations increased towards levels which would have qualified them for their own vicars, the Church reapportioned the vicarate (in accordance with Langhorne's formula . . . more or less) by raising the population base necessary to qualify for a vicar. The truth was that the archbishops in those realms didn't want a vicar "joggling their elbows," the current vicars at any given moment didn't want to see one of their number reapportioned out of his seat in the vicarate to make room for some out island rube, and the growing distrust of the "out islands" orthodoxy lent additional force to arguments against creating, for example, a vicar for Charis.

In many ways, although for different reasons, being what I suppose you might call un-vicared suited both Haarahld of Charis and Hektor of Corisande quite well. Haarahld, for obvious reasons, didn't want someone sitting in Zion who might have a clue about the Brethren of Saint Zherneau and his own apostasy. Hektor's political ambitions and imperialistic ventures in places like Zebediah were easier to keep "under the radar" when he only had to worry about the oversight of a single archbishop and not someone seated directly in the vicarate. Not only that, but the necessary bribery cost him far less, and the single vicar for whom he might have qualified would have gained him virtually nothing in terms of influence within the vicarate. As such, both he and Haarahld benefited from the "benign neglect" of the vicarate, and neither of them saw any reason to press for a change in the status quo.

It's important to remember that while the vicarate was established as a planetary government, it was never intended to be a representative government in any present day, real life sense. That is, all of its members were to be elected internally, as part of a closed system and without any notion of those vicars being responsible to the citizens of the realm from which they were selected. The idea was that they would be representative of their realm only in the sense of being familiar with its strengths, weaknesses, needs, desires, etc., and bring that familiarity with them to the vicarate, but their function was to govern the entire planet (in the name of God and the archangels, of course) not to contend for the interests of "their" realm. As such, there was never a tradition of serving the interests of a particular constituency, and the average citizen didn't think of the vicars chosen from his nation as being "his" vicars. This is an important distinction, and one which is distinctly alien to our own notions of representative government, and it's another reason why Charisians didn't particularly worry about the fact that they didn't have a "Charisian vicar" seated somewhere in Zion.

In the last two or three centuries, the requirement that a vicar come from the realm whose population he "represents" (in the sense described above) has slipped considerably. It isn't quite a violation of the letter of Langhorne's directives, but it's definitely playing fast and loose with the intent of those directives in many ways. In essence, even though someone may technically be a "Siddarmarkian" vicar — that is, hold one of the seats in the vicarate based on Siddarmark's population — he doesn't necessarily have to come from Siddarmark at all. Langhorne never established a "residency requirement" as a qualification for the vicarate; he simply established that the Grand Vicar should solicit advice from the archbishops and senior clergy governing the population generating that seat in the vicarate. There was no specific requirement preventing them from recommending someone from outside their realm. For example, the Siddarmarkian clergy could have recommended someone from, say, Dohlar as a candidate for "their" seat in the vicarate. As the Church has grown increasingly corrupt, it has become increasingly common for vicars to be chosen more on the basis of reliability, orthodoxy, patronage (especially), and levels of bribery than on where those vicars may have come from. This is another reason Harchong is as heavily represented in the vicarate as it is. It is also one reason the "Siddarmarkian" vicars have been less homogenous; as the vicarate has become more concerned about Siddarmark, it's also become more likely to choose a vicar from someplace other than the Republic to "represent" Siddarmark.

Finally, Langhorne wanted to guarantee that the vicarate would be financially independent of the laity it was technically "representing" in order to prevent secular pressure on a vicar's pocketbook from influencing his actions and his vote. His original plan was for each vicar to be paid a stipend or salary out of Mother Church's central treasury, but over the centuries a practice evolved in which rather than paying the vicar directly, he was granted the revenues from specific territories to support him. The idea was that this would relieve pressure on the treasury; the result was to create, among other things, the Knights of the Temple Lands.

Now, not all Knights of the Temple Lands are created equal, and legally each vicar's right to the revenues he is assigned is solely a lifetime grant. That is, it isn't hereditary, can't be passed on to his descendents, and reverts to the Church to be reassigned when he dies or leaves office. Most of the "great families" of the vicarate — the families from whom vicars are chosen again and again and again (like the Wylsynn family) — have come over the centuries to hold land in the Temple Lands in their own right. In theory, the revenues of those lands could be assigned to a vicar from outside the family which actually owns them, in which case the landholder would pay "taxes" to support the vicar to whom they have been assigned. In fact, that never happens, because there's always a vicar from one of those families who — on the rare occasions when he is not the landholder himself — is conscious of the family interest and takes advantage of the other copious opportunities for a vicar to enrich himself.

The result of all of this has been to create a theocratic government which is actually an oligarchy whose membership is self recruiting, which is not subject to recall by those it theoretically represents, and whose financial security does not rest upon the support of those it theoretically represents. And the result of that has been that there's been no external corrective to the vicarate's internal decline into corruption, self-aggrandizement, and power seeking, which, in turn, accounts in no small part for the emergence of something like the Group of Four. The vicarate had become as venal and self-serving as the Roman Senate in its final days before Clyntahn came along, and it's entirely possible that Clyntahn would have used that venality and corruption, coupled with the coercive power of the Inquisition, to make himself virtual dictator of the Church even without the "external threat" of Charis. That was certainly what he had in mind, at any rate.

Safehold How did the current Group of Four come about? (Asked Mon Jun 20, 2011) December 2013

I was answering the original post in a hurry because I had to take my son to his baseball practice --- one reason we had some of the typos we had in it. <G> I was also responding specifically to the attitudes and beliefs of the Gof4, not the Church as a whole, and I think a more thorough discussion of where the Gof4 came from and what motivated its individual members might be in order. This is especially true of the Grand Inquisitor, since Clyntahn has been the driving force behind so many of the Gof4’s policies and actions.

Clyntahn had several driving motivations beyond simple pique at Charis or “fear” of Siddarmark, and he’s a firm believer in killing as many wyverns as possible with a single stone. Let’s look at some of the aspects of what the Gof4 is, how it came into existence, and exactly what Clyntahn’s role in all this is.

The Gof4 has ZERO official, legal standing as the determiners of Church policy. Its members didn’t exactly set out as a group to “seize control” of the Church; instead, these are the four men who wound up accumulating a terrific amount of personal power because each had risen to the head of one of the four primary bureaucracies of the Church. In effect, they were the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General AND Supreme Court (in one package) under a President with absolute power . . . and a lobotomy. That’s actually a little unfair to the current Grand Vicar, but not a lot, and the fault in that instance belongs to Trynair, yet it was actually a defensive maneuver on his part.

What may not yet be fully evident in the books to date (but should be clear at least by the end of FOUNDATION) is that the votes were cooked when Clyntahn was selected as Grand Inquisitor, and the guy who handled the tactical details of the ballot box stuffiing was our good friend Rayno . . . which has something to do with his present position. The true winner of the election (though no one actually knows this in the books) was Samyl Wylsyn, which is one reason for Clyntahn’s pathological hatred for the entire family. This was something like the equivalent of Heinrich Himmler taking over the SS, except that when Himmler first took over the SS, it was a very small cadre within the SA whereas the Inquisition was the SS at the height of its power when Clyntahn was “elected.”

The Inquisition was already corrupt (one reason Wylsyn was running for the Grand Inquisitorship; he wanted to reform the abuses he saw), which had a lot to do with how the election could be manipulated in Clyntahn’s favor, but Clyntahn took it to a whole new level. He took a corrupt institution (corrupt in the sense of individual abuse of power and a steadily increasing tendency towards arbitrary decision making, bribe-taking, and the use of the iron fist to suppress dissent and/or resistance to that power abuse) and gave it dynamic new leadership which took it in the direction of his own particular brand of intolerant zealotry. I’m not saying he completely created the “new” Inquisition in his own image or that the “old” Inquisition was somehow benign or “kinder and gentler.” What I’m saying is that the Inquisition (like the Church hierarchy as a whole) had been gradually slipping into a more decadent, power-and-wealth-loving, corrupt stew of political infighting and self-seeking cliques for a couple of hundred years and, in Clyntahn, the process met one of its poles. He was the consummate insider and manipulator of the decaying system, perfectly suited to seizing control of the most powerful and ubiquitous single arm of the Church, and reshaping it in accordance with his own vision. What made him especially dangerous was that he genuinely saw no divergence at all between his own narrow and intolerant views and the will of God. Worse, the cynical and pragmatic side of him recognized the power of terror as a means of discouraging or crushing opposition. Long before he moved against the Wylsyns’ Circle, he’d already decisively crippled their power base within the Vicarate (the only power base that really mattered) by essentially terrifying all of the “fellow travelers” into getting out of the Inquisition’s line of fire.

Trynair didn’t see Clytahn coming. He EXPECTED Wylsyn to win the election, and when he realized what Clyntahn was up to, he cast about for a counterbalance in order to preserve his own powerbase. Fortunately for him, the Grand Vicar died before Clyntahn had fully consolidated his own power. Trynair’s alliances within the Vicarate were enough for him to secure the election of his candidate, the current incumbent. That consolidated his own powerbase in the political side of the Church’s leadership and policymaking, which --- on the surface --- actually gave him more power, more ability to shape the Church’s agenda (at least in the traditional fashion), than Clynthan possessed. At the same time, however, he was aware that his power was more amorphous and indirect than Clyntahn’s . . . and that Clyntahn was still in the process of consolidating and strengthening HIS powerbase. At that point, Trynair made an alliance with Maigwair in order to bring in the Temple Guard as a balance for the Inquisition’s coercive power. It wasn’t that anyone expected there to be a direct confrontation between the Inquisition and the Guard; it was simply a matter of assembling offsetting powerbases with an eye towards distributing control of the Church and Church policy in accord with the de facto division of power.

In effect, Trynair brokered the Gof4 (only he originally envisioned it as a Group of THREE), reaching an accommodation with Clynthan and Maigwair. Initially, Trynair anticipated that Maigwair would be his ally against Clyntahn; in the event, Maigwair proved a weaker reed than Trynair had hoped and Clyntahn’s influence continued to expand.

The offset for that in Trynair’s eyes was Duchairn, who (because of his control of the Church’s finance) had a huge de facto powerbase of his own. Both Clyntahn and Trynair recognized that they would require Duchairn’s participation if their alliance was going to effectively control Church policy, but Duchairn had acquired his powerbase by being the consummate bureaucrat. Unlike Trynair or Clyntahn, he was a nuts-and-bolts kind of guy, a technocrat. He played the game of personal power, of course, and built his own empire in the Treasury, but he wasn’t remotely in Clyntahn’s league for megalomania or in Trynair’s for Machiavellianism. In a way, Duchairn and Maigwair were both technicians *although Duchairn, frankly, was a far more brilliant and CAPABLE technocrat), while Trynair and Clyntahn were both political operators, which left the Chancellor and the Grand Inquisitor as the poles of power within the Gof4.

Clyntahn, in his competition with Wylsyn, had identified the urge for Reformism (which was still very much below the surface) with his opponent in the race for the Inquisitorship. He hadn’t really identified all the components of the movement, nor did he realize how wide and deeply it had truly spread, but he was aware of its existence. Where Trynair was focused on Siddarmark as a potential (and fairly distant, long-term) secular threat to the Temple Lands (which, bear in mind, were OFFICIALLY secular states themselves), CLYNTAHN was concerned by the Republic’s potential to support Reformism. It wasn’t that there were openly “Reformist” congregations springing up everywhere or any organized movement in that direction, but the Republic’s social and political organization (in his view) LENT themselves to the POSSIBILITY of such movements, and he actually saw signs of drift in that direction in places like Glacierheart. His inability to get his hands around the Republic’s throat by threatening/coopting the aristocracy as the Inquisition did in most of the mainland realms made him automatically suspicious of it, just as the geographic distance between Zion and places like Charis (and the failure to cross-transfer so many of the local clergy, as was done in the continental dioceses) made him hugely suspicious of Reformist sympathies in those distant realms. Charis’ wealth and hugely disproportionate and ubiquitous influence (because of its merchant marine and the power of its navy) made it even more visible on his radar screen than the Republic and only reinforced his suspicion of and hostility towards Charis. (Rayno was Clyntahn’s man on the disputed Hanth succession, and the decision that panel handed down was really directed by Clyntahn as a move against Harahld BECAUSE of that suspicion and hostility).

Clyntahn is constitutionally incapable of recognizing what is driving the Reformist movement completely irrespective of anything having to do with Saint Zhernau’s journal. In his eyes, anyone who disagrees with him, who questions any aspect of HIS interpretation of the Holy Writ, or who dares to object to his harsh and arbitrary policies, is an enemy of God Himself. There is no distinction in his mind between himself and God; therefore, anyone who disputes his judgment (or MIGHT dispute his judgment) is a vile, willing servant of Shan-wei and deserves whatever happens to him. As Merlin himself observes, however, Clyntahn’s instincts did NOT play him false in Charis’ case: Harahld and Staynair WERE systematically working to undermine the Church of God Awaiting, to discredit the Archangels, and to embrace all the “heresies” of the historical Shan-wei. Clyntahn may have become suspicious for all the wrong reasons in Charis’ case, but his suspicions were fully justified.

From the perspective of Trynair and (especially) Duchairn, Clyntahn’s “Final Solution to the Charisian Problem” came out of left field and the decision was almost casually reached; from Clyntahn’s perspective, it was anything but casual. There was a reason he assigned his own agent to Archbishop Erayk’s staff, just as there was a reason for the way in which he presented that agent’s findings to the other three members of the Gof4. He wanted to do exactly what he accomplished: to panic them into accepting his deliberate destruction of Charis. And he intended that destruction to be just as spectacular and complete as the Charisians think he did, both to punish them for daring to rebel against him (oh, and against God, too, of course) AND to serve as a grim warning and horrible example to anyone else (like Siddarmark) who might be considering a similarly Reformist approach.

One point that needs to be understood, however, is that he did NOT react out of fear or out of any doubt of his own power or the coercive authority of the Inquisition and Mother Church. He was absolutely confident of his ability to destroy Charis, or he would never have acted in the first place, and the other members of the Gof4 were equally confident of their ability to destroy the kingdom and all its works. He managed to frighten them with the potential of what might happen if they didn’t act, and he rushed them into agreeing with his proposed plan of action (largely because he was the only one of them who brought a plan of action to the meeting, since he was the only one who knew how he intended to shape and push the discussion), but not a single one of them doubted for a moment that they would succeed in their efforts. And none of them really considered the implications for the people of Charis, either. It was a theoretical discussion and decision for them in many respects because they had become so divorced from the day-to-day realities of the Church at the level of local kingdoms and congregations as a result of their high office. That divorce is, in fact, the thing for which Duchairn is unable to forgive himself now that he has experienced a genuine regeneration of his personal faith.

As a consequence of their failure to destroy Charis as planned, the Church of God Awaiting and the Gof4 now face a battle for their very existence. By eliminating the Reformist Circle in Zion --- and using the hideous example of what happens to anyone who questions Clyntahn to completely cow the surviving vicars --- the Gof4 has consolidated its control over the Church. There is no trace of any sort of organized resistance to their policies in the rest of the Vicarate . . . and no new vicars have been named to replace those who were executed for “heresy.” No “new blood” which might dispute the Gof4’s policies (or grow the courage to resist them) is being permitted into the Vicarate, and every present vicar knows that he will survive only so long as Clyntahn is convinced that he is not a threat. The Gof4’s control in Zion is absolute at this point, and the other three members are finding it increasingly difficult to restrain Clyntahn, whose control of the Inquisition in time of jihad has made him unquestionably first among equals. Yet even as that happens, all three of the others are aware (though they aren’t all necessarily to admit it to themselves) that it is Clyntahn and his policies which have created the very real and very deadly threat to their existence and the Church embodied not simply in the Empire of Charis but in increasing Reformist sentiment in OTHER realms.

Where the Gof4’s internal dynamic will go is not (of course) something I’m going to tell you at this point, but that’s where it came from in the beginning and the reason for the actions it’s already taken.

Safehold What powers does the Charisian Crown have? (First asked Tue Jun 14, 2011) December 2013

All right -- you guys asked for it, so don't blame ME for the length of this! And BTW, the reason I'm using all caps for emphasis rather than ital isn't to shout at you but because I composed this off-forum and didn't want to hunt through it to find and reformat each emphasized word. <G>

We haven’t discussed how Constitutional law works in Charis because it hasn’t really been important to the story. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been important to what’s happening (or to the characters in their off-screen lives), but that the actual mechanisms haven’t been crucial to the results the reader has had to see.

Unlike most medieval Terran monarchies, Charis has a written constitution which was promulgated by the House of Ahrmahk after Saint Zherneau’s journal had revealed the truth about the “Archangels.” It was intended to provide a basis which might later be transitioned into a constitutional monarchy (in our present sense of the term) while conserving the power of the Crown at the moment, and so it favors the Crown rather heavily over Parliament.

Essentially, the Crown can rule by decree, and its decrees need not be approved by Parliament to take effect. HOWEVER, Parliament can by a majority vote of both houses repeal and negate any royal decree within a half-year of its promulgation; after that, it requires a two-thirds super-majority of both houses to repeal a decree. This means (in effect) that Parliament has a collective veto power over the Crown, although the process is complicated enough that it’s not real likely to happen (especially since a smart monarch will withdraw or modify a decree which is generating that much resistance before Parliament gets into the habit of overruling him).

The Crown also controls fiscal policy and establishes tax law and Parliament cannot repeal Crown policy (except by a majority vote of both houses, as described above), but Parliament does have the power to ammend existing tax law. Because the Crown can (and normally does) rule by decree which (in effect) simply has to be approved by a majority of one house to remain law, the Council, as the Crown’s advisor and executor, is of special importance under the Charisian Constitution. The House of Commons’ biggest stick is that it has the responsibility of approving (and the right to recall) all members of the Council. The Crown determines which councilor holds which “portfolio” (including the First Councilor’s position), but the Commons (by majority vote) can control who SITS on the Council. The House of Lords doesn’t get to confirm members of the council, but it CAN move to remove a councilor. The process is sort of a mirror image of the US Constitution’s impeachment process (except that it can be exercised for any reason, not for specifically enumerated offenses against the Constitution) in that a simple majority of the Lords can call for a councilor’s removal but that the actual removal must be confirmed by a two-thirds majority of the Commons.

The House of Lords’ biggest stick is that it serves as the kingdom’s supreme court in constitutional matters (the King’s Bench is the supreme court in criminal matters, which has the potential to lead to a clash of authorities), which means that the Lords are the final determiners of what the Constitution actually says. In addition, the Lords must confirm the succession to the throne. The Constitution doesn’t specifically address the question of inheritance, but Charisian tradition enshrines male primogeniture. The Constitution DOES, however, provide that the House of Lords can refuse to accept the “proper” heir and move further down the line of succession. The Lords are required to approve an heir as soon as a new monarch assumes the throne, however. This means that the succession is always secured, by act of Parliament, without room for a disputed succession in the event that a monarch dies childless. The Lords can alter the succession at any time, but that requires a two-thirds vote rather than a simple majority, and they’d probably better be sure they REALLY want to get into a pissing contest with the Crown if they decide to do so without a damned good reason. <G>

The Crown determines foreign policy and negotiates treaties and alliances, but any formal treaty must be approved by both houses of Parliament. (This means that Cayleb’s proposal of marriage required parliamentary consent. As one may have noticed from reading the books, however, Cayleb didn’t say a word to Parliament until he announced what was effectively a fait accompli. That reflected not simply the absolute necessity of keeping the negotiations coompletely secret until they were concluded but also the fact that he knew damned well Parliament would accept it, in no small part because he had discussed it intensively with the critical members of his council (who tend to keep in touch with little things like the mood of Parliament). In addition, of course, there was the minor fact that it was a matter of national survival . . . and that no one in his right mind wanted to piss Cayleb off at that point in his reign.)

The Crown also makes and determines military policy (which includes procurement fiscal policy covering --- very specifically --- shipbuilding). The monarch is also commander-in-chief, and the military’s oaths are sworn to the CROWN not the CONSTITUTION. (A minor point, after all . . . which the Crown made darned sure was enshrined UNDER the Constitution. <G>) The Crown does NOT require a formal declaration of war from Parliament to commit the kingdom’s military forces, but Parliament can use its power to amend tax policy to starve the Crown of funds for military operations of which it does not approve. This is a time-consuming process, however, and leaves Parliament without EFFECTIVE control of the kingdom’s military operations. Nor has it ever actually been employed in Charisian history.

Parliament does have the power to initiate legislation. ALL bills must originate in the House of Commons but are amendable (and must be approved) by both houses. However, no act of Parliament can become law without the Crown’s assent, and Parliament does NOT have the power to override the Crown. (It would always be theoretically possible for Parliament and the Crown to get into the equivalent of a series of nuclear exchanges with both sides effectively vetoing the other side --- in Parliament’s case by repealing existing Crown decrees and “amending” tax laws out of existence before allowing them to pass --- until one side or the other gives up. This has not happened in Charisian history to date, however.)

There is a formal procedure for amending the Constitution. Amendments can be proposed by Parliament (simple majority of both houses) or by the Crown. To become law, an amendment must be approved by a two-thirds majority of both houses AND the Crown. An amendment can become law OVER the Crown’s objections only if it can be approved by a two-thirds majority of both houses in successive parliamentary sessions. The sessions in question need not be IMMEDIATELY successive to one another; that is, there is no limit on how much time can pass between the two parliaments which ultimately approve the amendment.

As far as the succession in Old Charis is concerned, the Lords had confirmed the succession before Haarahld’s death as : Cayleb, Zhan, Zhanayt. When Cayleb became king, the succession became Zhan, Zhanayt, Rayjhis Ahrmak (minor Duke of Tirian). The big problem with the succession at this point (of course) was that ALL the immediate heirs were minors, but Zhanayt wasn’t enough older than Zhan (in Parliament’s view) to alter the succession, and Parliament was not prepared to move beyond Cayleb’s immediate family to name a more distant adult relative as his heir although it COULD in theory have done so. Cayleb and his council had named Gray Harbor as his regent in the case of his death in order to provide the greatest possible ciontinuity iin the case of a minor reign.

Under the Constitution, Parliament must meet yearly and must sit for a minimum of four months a year. There is no maximum length on a session of Parliament, and the Crown cannot dissolve it against its will until it has sat for its minimum of four months in a year. In other words, the monarch can’t simply dismiss Parliament and rule by unchecked decree the way Charles I attempted to do in England and the French kings after Louis XIII did regularly up to the Revolution. Members of the House of Commons are elected for three year terms, NOT for the duration of a single Parliament, and elections are staggered, with one-third of the boroughs holding elections each year. The Crown is specifically prohibited under the Constitution from arresting or imprisoning any member of Parliament for any offense during sessions of the Parliament in which he serves. Even MPs or Lords who have been imprisoned for some other offense between sessions must be released to take their seats during the current session.

The Church, under the original Constitution, holds ultimate veto power over any purely political act in that the Church through the local archbishop and/or his intendant may rule any act is not in accord with God’s law as revealed through the Archangels. (This is the case for any Safeholdian rwealm, not simply Charis.) The Church also holds ultimate authority over the confirmation of any title of nobility, since the succession cannot become legal without the Church’s attestation. (This was the reason the Church had final authority in the disputed succession in Hanth.) It has historically been very rare for the Church to have to intervene that “crudely” in domestic political affairs because the Church is guaranteed a large percentage of the seats in the House of Lords in every Charisian kingdom and --- in most Charisian kingdoms --- the Lords dominate the Commons. (This was one reason the Chrch was prepared to whack Chisholm as soon as Charis was out of the way even before Sharley married Cayleb; Chisholm was giving the Commons too much power. The situation in Harchong, where a reactionary nobility is completely loyal to the Church, is the Temple’s ideal political equation. This, of course, is another reason the Church is unhappy with the Republic, where the Lord Protectorship is elective and the legislative authority lies in the hands of an elective senate rather than an hereditary nobility which can be seduced/coopted into serving the Church’s ends out of self interest.)

As part of the marriage contract with Sharleyan, Zhan (who had already been confirmed by Parliament as heir to Old Charis until Cayleb produced a child) was made their joint heir because Sharleyan HAD no siblings or children. Indeed, the succession question in Chisholm was a bit vague, and Sharleyan’s need to produce an heir (or to do an Elizabeth I tap dance about who she might marry as a diplomatic weapon) was a major policy issue for her and her council. The agreement to make Zhan their joint heir satisfied existing Charisian law and clarified the succession for Chisholm (and, of course, the Empire as a whole), while the provision that either partner became joint heir to both thrones in the event one of them died (and the relative youth of both of them, with the promise that additional joint heirs could --- and would --- be produced) went a long way towards quashing any lingering temptation to depose Sharley among the Chisholmian peers. It also solved the problem of minor heirs in Charis, since it provided Sharleyan (an adult and obviously VERY competent monarch in her own riight) as Cayleb’s heir if anything happened to him. When Crown Princess Alahna was born, she AUTOMATICALLY became first in line to the imperial crown because of the specification of the marriage contract (she is the ONLY “heir of their joint bodies” in existence), although Zhan remains next in line behind her. The Imperial Constitution, moreover, provides that the heir to the crown is the FIRSTBORN child, regardless of gender, since they could scarcely exclude female heirs with Sharleyan specifically named to succeed Cayleb if he should pre-decease her.

The Imperial Constitution differs from the Old Charisian constitution in several other minor particulars but follows it in general. The Chisholmian “constitution” was largely unwritten, with the power of the Crown waxing and waning (which was the problem Sharleyan’s father had in recouping the Crown’s power). Sharleyan, however, was a VERY strong monarch, which meant she and Green Mountain had near absolute power when Cayleb’s proposal arrived (and explains the reason she was able to announce to her Parliament that they WERE going to do things her way). By signing onto the imperial Constitution, she has in effect accepted a de jure limitation of her powers, although in a de facto sense she and Cayleb remain very nearly absolute monarchs under the current conditions.

Safehold Okay, So I'm dying to long does David think that this series is going to be? And will the inhabitants of Safehold ever meet the Gbaba? August 2009

David is currently anticipating that the Safehold series will be a minimum of nine books. And, he is currently planning for the humans of Safehold to run back into the Gbaba at some point...but that's all the details I could squeeze out of him!

Safehold I've just finished reading the most recent Safehold book, and I've got to know, what is the name of the next Safehold novel, and when is the publication date? July 2009

David is currently writing one per year. The next Safehold release is titled Hell's Foundations Quiver, with the release in November of 2015.