Dragon Age Origins: Shadow of the Blight
Ferelden is a kingdom in southeastern Thedas. It was conquered by Orlais a century ago, when King Darlan ruled, but was freed through the efforts of King Maric Theirin, known as Maric the Saviour, grandson of King Brandel.
Culture and Society
Ferelden is a relatively temperate nation in the far southeast of Thedas populated by a barbarian, militaristic culture that has only begun to civilize in the last few centuries. Fereldan cities are considered anarchic by most standards. The Fereldan desire for freedom has engendered a laissez-faire cultural attitude towards law enforcement and behavior in general. While the worst offenses are quickly put down, many others are ignored and citizens are often left to make their own justice. Petty theft is common, as guardsmen will only go out of their way to deal with major crimes. Commerce is largely unregulated as long as taxes are paid: businesses such as brothels and gambling halls are not only tolerated, but expected.
Like many countries in Thedas, Ferelden has a large population of elves who are segregated from the rest of society and live in walled off alienages. Most elves working there are unable to achieve high paying jobs, but many elves feel that, in alienages, they are at least among family who look out for each other.
Importance of dogs
Often visitors and travelers to Ferelden ask the residents and scholars to explain the omnipresence of dogs in Ferelden. In every civilized corner of Thedas, astute observers note that dogs are employed in hunting game, keeping barns and storehouses free of vermin, herding livestock, guarding homes, and, in the mountains, they are even used as beasts of burden. It is simply that Fereldans show appreciation for the work that their dogs do. The reason for that is tangled up in Fereldan mythology.
To its neighbors, Ferelden seems utterly chaotic. Unlike other monarchies, power does not descend from their throne. Rather, it arises from the support of the freeholders.
The Landsmeet is a council of the entire Fereldan nobility, which has been held for three thousand years – with the occasional interruption by war, occupation, or Blight. The Landsmeet has been an official legislative body for Ferelden, and it can override the king on any matter of law, although the Landsmeet tends not to exercise its power if the king is strong. During the Landsmeet, it is expected that the current monarch of Ferelden will mingle with, and curry favor from, the nobility.
An important milestone in the history of the Landsmeet, and of Ferelden itself, was the Landsmeet forced by King Calenhad Theirin in the 33rd year of the Exalted Age. After mysteriously gaining the support of the Circle of Magi, Calenhad marched on and defeated Redcliffe – forcing a Landsmeet where the nobles unanimously submitted to him as king. This marked the birth of modern-day Ferelden and began the Theirin line of royalty from which Ferelden Kings have descended – the primary interruption caused by the Orlesian invasion and occupation.
All nobility may be referred to as ‘lordship/ladyship’ or ‘my lord/lady’ when not using their title. This is also the correct term for their spouse.
The term for any land-owner in Ferelden. A few commoners are freeholders.
A male or female knight of the realm. Also commonly used as a polite term of address to and by those of equal or greater status than oneself. (For example, “No, ser,”)
Each freehold chooses the bann or arl to whom it pays allegiance. Typically, this choice is made based on proximity of the freehold to the lord’s castle, as it’s rarely worthwhile to pay for the upkeep of soldiers who will arrive at your land too late to defend it. For the most part, each generation of freeholders casts their lot with the same bann as their fathers did, but things can and do change. No formal oaths are sworn, and it is not unheard of, especially in the prickly central Bannorn, for banns to court freeholders away from their neighbors, a practice that inevitably begins feuds that can last for ages.
The teyrns established the arls, giving them command of strategic fortresses that the teyrns could not oversee themselves. They are somewhat more prestigious than banns but usually have no banns sworn to them.
Teyrns arose from among the banns, war leaders who, in antiquity, had grown powerful enough to move other banns to swear fealty to them. There were many of these in the days before King Calenhad, but he succeeded in whittling them down to only two: Gwaren in the south and Highever in the north. These teyrns still hold the oaths of banns and arls. They may call upon them in the event of war or disaster and they are responsible for defending those sworn to them. Teyrns are referred to as “your Grace,” a form imported by the Orlesians.
The king is the most powerful of the teyrns. Although Denerim was originally the teyrnir of the king, it has since been reduced to an arling, as the king’s domain is now all of Ferelden. However, even the king’s power must come from the banns, which is especially evident during the Landsmeet. The sight of a king asking for, and working to win the support of “lesser” men is a source of constant wonder to foreign ambassadors. A king or queen is referred to as “your Majesty”, while a prince or princess is called “your Highness.”
The titles ser, bann, and teyrn originate in Ferelden. Calenhad, the first teyrn to unite the Clayne tribes into a single nation, borrowed arl and king from neighboring states.
Fereldans are mostly patrilineal, but there’s no firm rule that dictates who rules the household. Fereldans are willful and their families tend to be managed by whoever can. Usually, the oldest child inherits the majority of the property regardless of gender, but there are some cases where a younger brother or sister is named the heir simply because he or she seems more capable.