The Clans of Gwynneth
Gwynneth is ruled by a dozen noble clans, the so-called 'houses'. The chiefs of these clans - the counts - form the nobles' council and in case of an unclear succession elect a new king, usually from among their own ranks. The special role of these clans - their nobility - derives from the fact that their lineage goes all the way back to the legendary hero Ulthar Giantslayer.
House Camlin is the ruling dynasty of Gwynneth. Four generations ago, after the short rule of the usurper Tornig Bloodking, Lleren ap Camlin was elected king. Since then the Camlins have ruled Gwynneth perhaps not gloriously but effectively - until the last king, Olbran ap Camlin, was murdered by one of his sons. Whether it was Geren or Corwin does not really matter anymore. What does matter is that since the murder the country has virtually been in a state of civil war.
Originally the Camlins were a rather poor highland clan, but their long rule and the bountiful income of the royal lands have made them a wealthy and prosperous family.
Their ancestral seat, castle Caer Camlin and the town of the same name, is a rather unimportant settlement at the edge of the highlands. Unpopular family members often find themselves as wardens of the huge and half-empty fortress. The Camlins' real seat of power is the capital Gwynnin.
Many older Gwynnians remember the rule of Culbran ap Camlin and the preceding stewardship of his mother Ellen fondly as a time of peace and prosperity. King Culbran is still often called "The Good".
The counts of Llannaid have ruled the port city that bears their name for generations. Originally Llannaid was but a tiny fishing town on the Sea of Cold, but it is Gwynneth's only deep-water harbor that can handle the large ocean-going trading ships of Narsaria. And since Narsarian navigators have found a way through Ulgor's Maw into the Sea of Cold, tariffs and taxes have made House Llannaid the richest family of Gwynneth.
The Llannaids have always been staunch supporters of the ruling kings without any noticeable ambitions for the throne themselves. The current count - Tamaig ap Llannaid - exemplifies this attitude. Only with great reluctance and faced with violent aggression from King Geren himself has he taken up arms against his sovereign.
The count is a loyalist and traditionalist in political matters, but he also has a keen eye for social and economical changes. Faced with the dwindling of free landholders eligible to fight in the levy, he was the first Gwynnian noble to institute a standing force of professional soldiers. It is called the Llannaid city guard, but functions as the count's force of arms.
Tamaig ap Llannaid is also very much interested in modern architecture and city planning. It is rumored that he has hired a Narsarian master builder to bring some of Dar-Maran's splendor to his city.
Since almost all of House Llannaid's wealth goes directly in the coffers of the count, he dominates house politics to the point that his opinions are usually seen as identical to that of the clan as a whole.
In a way the Teregs are typical for the lowland clans of Gwynneth. Their lands are predominantly located in the agriculturally rich Raerwen river valley. The blossoming trade with Narsaria and the house's monopoly on wheat and wood has increased their wealth and power significantly - at the expense of the free landholders. As more and more farmers become tenants on Tereg lands, their rule becomes tighter. By now the Tereg count - Cairnbain ap Tereg - is more a feudal lord than a first among equals.
The Teregs have the distinction of having been the first royal dynasty of Gwynneth after the defeat of Donar Swordbearer by the Tlaroi. It is a closely guarded family secret - which now threatens to become public - that after three generations the Teregs lost the throne because they were caught practicing heresy.
The old man of the Teregs - Cairnbain - rules the clan from the town of Teregon. He has become immensely fat and rarely leaves his hall anymore. Innumerable children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins are said to be waiting for him to finally choke on one of the incredible feasts for which his household is famous.
As the Teregs are typical for a lowland clan, so are the Gawaens for the highlanders. Their lands are in the less fertile foothills of the Garwant Doriennar and the economy consists mainly of sheep raising and the wool-trade. But every freeman may trade wool making the business much less profitable for the ruling clan. As a result the count is more of an arbiter and spokesperson of free landholders than a ruler.
But this also means that the military force that Gawaen can muster is much larger and better trained than any one of the lowland clans. Every freeman has the right and duty to bear arms and to train at least one son in their use. In the lowlands many farmers are forced into tenancy thereby forfeiting these privileges.
The Gawaens once ruled Gwynneth as the second royal clan, but they were forcibly removed from the throne by the Tlaroi when Voren ap Gawaen attacked neighboring Langein to reunify the two kingdoms. Since then their fortunes have been slowly declining, but they are still very much respected as one of the most traditional and pious clans.
The young count - Dugal ap Gawaen - is said deeply learned in the traditions, history and legends of Gwynneth and has quite a scholarly reputation - very unusual for his family. But he is also unmarried and extremely good looking, making him one of the most sought after bachelors of the country. Despite spending much of his time with books and old scrolls he is also said to be quite good with the sword.
Another influential person in house politics is Subran ap Gawaen, Dugal's aunt and high priestess of Saër. In addition to being probably the most powerful woman of Gwynneth, she has a great reputation as a wise and just judge.
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