Heroes of Greyhawk
Furyondy’s current sovereign is King Belvor IV, a 71-year old paladin who came to the throne very young in 537 CY, after the death of his father Belvor III. Belvor’s biological age, however, is but 59, due to quaffing a potion of longevity. Belvor is strong and brave–a true King. Unfortunately, he is also prone to fits of impatience, and that is his one failing despite his skills as a diplomat and negotiator.
Technically, Belvor is an absolute ruler; what he says goes. However, he is always required to consult with the representatives of the “Seven Families” (as the noble houses are known). Each of these hails from one of the provinces of the land, and is a minor noble in his own light. These representatives form Belvor’s Noble Council, which meets in Chendl. Everything has to be agreed to by them before Belvor can act on matters of state, and there are often powerful disagreements between them. As noted, southern nobles are reluctant to see taxes raised for the north, but there are other personal- and political conflicts too. These noble houses hold the right to gather taxes, levy troops and other royal privileges. They jealously guard these ancient prerogatives from usurpation by the King. The noble houses of Furyondy are detailed in the in the gazetteer entries for each province.
One point of precedence which is very important to the Seven Families is that their formal titles (Baron, Count, or Viscount) are not important. They are regarded as equals in rank, above everyone except the king. This is an exception to the usual niceties of life in Furyondy, where social rank and title is of great importance among the elite. Furyondy is a feudal state. Below the king and the Noble Council is an array of minor nobles who meet in what is termed the “Knightly Conclave,” a semiparliamentary group which considers more or less any issue it wishes to and then offers its opinions to Belvor. This is the forum where Knights of the Hart (a powerful military alliance detailed below are influential, as are a few powerful Guilds, priesthoods, artisans, and the like. There are very subtle divisions of rank within this group, which is self perpetuating either by birth (for nobles) or by very secret appointments and elections (as with Guild representatives).
Within the Knightly Conclave, ancient and elaborate traditions of rank and procedure are observed. The Knightly Conclave is presided over by a Speaker, who dresses in garish robes and bears the preposterous title of Cerise Pursuant Dragon. The Speaker directs the debates of the Conclave and delivers their judgements with ponderous formality to the King. Belvor doesn’t have to listen to the Conclave’s advice, but he needs the Conclave’s support to implement his decisions .
Belvor has his own advisers, of course, and he increasingly turns to them for help in trying to make his nobles do what he wants them to do. In addition, ambassadors of certain foreign states now play a key role in decision making. This is especially true for Canon Gellain of Veluna, Furyondy’s major supporter-state. The role of Veluna is described in the section on relations with foreign powers. Belvor also maintains very warm relations with the Highfolk, and works hard to keep this alliance firm.