Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The Siebenburgen - Gunthar's Notes
GM Note: Most of this information will not be available to the coterie until the downtime after the tower is built in the Tihuta pass.
These seven cities were chartered around 1141 when the Hungarian King invited Saxons from Moselle, Flanders and Luxembourg to the region to help Westernise (read: civilise and Christianise) and defend (read: help subdue) Transylvania.
In 1150 the Hungarian Ventrue, known as the Arpads, chartered seven Cainites to take Domain over the towns (without, obviously, asking the Tzimisce lords, known as knezi, of the region). This coterie of Princes became known as the Council of Ashes, and they fell apart due to bickering and pressure from Tzimisce, wandering packs of Gangrel and Nosferatu, and Lupines assaults. As of 1176, only 3 of the Princes remained and still form a loose and dysfunctional coalition against the forementioned enemies. About a dozen Cainites have variously attempted to maintain domain over the other three cities, all have failed. Most are captured by the Tzimisce and suffer horrible fates, while the lucky are merely slain.
A small note: Kindred are called Cainites in this era, they won’t be called otherwise for about 250 years. Remember that the Siebenburgen are quite small. By modern standards they can support one vampire plus one or two Childer tops, but the vampire population of Dark Medieval Europe is swollen by the incaution of the Long Night, and the many towns farther west boast two, or sometimes three times this number. Most of the Princes (and only 4 of the cities currently have Princes) use retainers, influence, allies and contacts as well as general fear or complicity by superstistious mortals to ensure their power.
The Siebenburgen consists of swollen villages rather than bonafide towns. Before the Saxons moved in, most of these settlements were villages of about 300-600 vlachs (native Romanians, descended from the Dacians of Roman times. Each of them is now surrounded by sturdy walls of stone, with an attached keep. The saxons dwell both within the cities and on satellite farms that help feed them. Vlach servants dwell in thorpes and villages in these areas as well.
Under the mandate of the Hungarian King, the Saxons literally move 200-300 families into the settlement wholesale and take it over, answerable only to the King and his highest officers. They are charged with developing, and defending, the east against the Cumans and whatever other barbarians are raiding into Transylvania. Mayors are elected by town councils made of very strong guilds, along with judges, captains of the guard, landed knights, edlers and clergy. Vlachs are kind of a second class citizen, which they are used to (elsewhere in Transylvania they exist in virtual serfdom to Szekler landlords, whom are right cvnts next to the Saxons who will at least pay for a good days work).
The local Szekler lords have no authority within the city and 5-to-10 miles outside of it. Outside of their own judges, the Saxons can only be tried (inside their own territory) by one of the King’s agents or the King himself. With the passing of the Golden Bull in decades to come, their legal indemnities will grow further. The King is pretty much under the thumb of the Arpad Ventrue (given that he is their mortal descendant), who have manipulated things so that the Siebenburgen are a direct challenge to the power of the Tzimisce in eastern Hungary (Transylvania).
Many of the gold and silver mines in the foothills of the Carpathians have existed since Roman Dacia, and many of the rulers of these areas appear to have been the Vlach Counts (or Conte’s) that have kept their lands, presumably by offering tithe in gold and silver to the King, whom must have felt that these warlords (and thus, their Tzimisce masters) were too powerful to displace. Lobbying the King requires a presence in Esztergom and Buda-Pest in Western Hungary, which has very interesting inferences to exactly how far the reach of the Tzimisce actually extends into the realm of the Ventrue! Of course, the gold mines in Hungary are obviously firmly under the thumb of the Ventrue, and those in Transylvania that aren’t under the control of a Tzimisce voivode tend to fall under the power of the Szekler and Magyar lords (and whomever controls them).
Owning land outside of town
In short, depending on where you are in Transylvania, you will have either a Szekler Boyar or Burgrave, a Magyar Boyar or Count, a Vlach Count (particularly in the shadows of the Carpathians and the Transylvanian alps), a Saxon Burgrave (in the Siebenburgen he will be a knight, the richest landowner, de facto leader of the militia and depending on the strength of the guilds in that town, either the supervisor or lackey of the Burghomeister Council/ Mayor) or in the case of a Vlach commune (particularly in the south western Banat region) you will have a council of village elders.
Saxon Military Capability
The Saxons generally take their cues from later Frankish military traditions. Mithraism is still alive and well in secret cults in the British Isles (where Mithras lives), but has been stamped out throughout most of Christendom. Pagan cults do persist, particularly in Transylvania, Livonia, Prussia, the Norse lands and Russia. Locally they tend to follow the ancient Dacian gods. The Saxons have capable militia, but they were God-fearing Christians.
Vlachs work in the towns. They are actually paid for a day’s work. Those who do work in the towns are paid, only less so. A craftsman will not earn as much as a Saxon guildmember, and faces considerable hurdles in doing so. Even so, many villages near Saxon enclaves are losing their skilled workers because of the lure of coin rather than barter, which is more typical of a Vlach commune in particular. Servants are easy enough to establish a rapport with, particularly if one intends to addict them to the Kiss. They tend to be good-looking, dark of hair and eye, with high cheek bones, expressive lips, ranginess of build, obedient and rather fearful. With Good Reason, this is the land of the Tzimisce).
The typical difficulty of the Prince’s who have failed to prosper in the region has lain with projecting their power beyond the city walls.
Most of the Vlachs are actually Orthodox Christians by default with decidedly pagan leanings the farther they dwell from the main population centres. Those in the mountain valleys of the Carpathians are particularly resistant to the “Nailed God’s” religion. This is a great source of unrest, because the Szekler and Magyar lords, affirmed Catholics all, have with the King’s leave been seizing the land of Vlachs who refuse to convert. As such, not a few formerly well off Vlachs have now been forced into penury or serfdom for their religious practices. Historically this caused massive uprisings in the following centuries.
About 80% of the Saxons treat the Vlachs “unfairly”, in so far as they actively do not believe the Romanians deserve the same privileges as they enjoy. “After all, the filthy Vlachs are dwelling on Saxon land! The pesky heathens should be grateful for the opportunity to live in a modern German town, safe behind a sturdy wall, rather than in a filthy hovel on a hill somewhere at the mercy of bandits, wolves and worse! Damned Curs!”
The Vlachs actually had a great deal of skilled tradesmen. The problem is that they weren’t allowed to practice it because of the guilds. Those who defy it face possible violence, forfeiture of tools and goods, and boycotts by the Saxons not to mention having to sell their work at an undervalued price. Most find other work on the land instead and ply their craft to their own people very quietly. There would be other trades that the Saxons aren’t interested in, but the Vlachs would not be allowed to form their own guilds, and they would be cheap trades that the Germans find unworthy.
The Szekler’s in the territory immediately around the Siebenburgen almost all owe their allegiance to Nova Arpad, albeit indireclty, by virtue of her royal connections. Those farther afield, in the shadows of the Carpathians in particular, have fallen under the sway of the Tzimisce. This is mostly correct, particularly in the central region around Mediasch, Hermanstadt, and Schaasburg and maybe Belgrade too. Many of the lords are probably Magyar also, and it can be assumed that these are even more loyal to the Arpad Ventrue. They also have a little more noble authority, though they would be not too dissimilar in temperament and behaviour to the Szeklers.
Guild members take matters of importance to their guild masters, and that they in turn wheel and deal these matters in monthly meetings.
Bistritz (Romanian: Bistria)- Prince is the congenial Radu, a rather odd member of Clan Tzimisce (who normally couldn’t give a fig for the western notion of Princes, answering to their own Voivodes instead) and an original member of the Council of Ashes. The most populous of the Seven Cities at 6300 souls, if second to Mediasch in influence and riches. Radu has several Childer and welcomes visitors so long as they pay the proper respect. He also has a marked tolerance for the presence of Cainite from other clans in his cities. Radu is the smoothest of the Princes, and the most interested in establishing contacts and cooperation in the region as it would happen. He is quite odd for a Tzimisce…
Mediasch (Romanian: Medias)- Prince is Nova Arpad, one of the more powerful Arpad Ventrue, “Overseer of the Transylvania” and foremost member of the former Council of Ashes. Mediasch is the richest of the towns and the most Westernised, with a strong guild presence and a number of aristocrats in residence. Population about 5600. Many of the Szekler lords in the surrounding regions owe her their allegiance. Nova Arpad is haughty, but undeniably skilled and powerful.
Hermanstadt (Romanian: Sibiu)- Prince is a Nosferatu called Marusca, a member of the Council of Ashes, renowned for her Animalism proficiency. A number of other Nosferatu are thought to frequent the area, as well as a massive pack of wolves. A particularly fine fortress is nearby. About 5000 souls, strong guild presence. First to be settled and one of the faster growing towns. Marusca is currently being warred upon by a Tzmisce called Marelle who sends her ghouled wolf-packs against Marusca’s people and lands. There is an opportunity for the coterie to win the support of Marusca by fighting Marelle.
Klausenburg (Romanian: Napoca)- Prince rumoured to be a Gangrel for the last ten years or so and a now deceased Eastern Lord Ventrue about thirty years previously. Other than his numerous childer he tolerates no other Cainites in his domain. Very poor population of 3300. Many Gangrel of his creation wander the area. Mitru the Gangrel rules here. He simply doesn’t tolerate anyone else trying to establish domain over “his” people. Also, he is the progeny of Arnulf. Klausenburg is being held back by his attitude, which is to keep the place as small as possible and keep it poor so no other Cainites will see a reason to go there. Likely to be a Gather (Gangrel meeting) held in this area. (Animals in the area will report to Mitru.)
Kronstadt (Romanian: Brasov)- No Prince. No known Cainite residents. Thriving trade centre of about 3700.
- full of artisans
- frequently raided by Bulgars to the south-east and sometimes from Cumans to the east and north-east.
- The last attempted Prince was a Toreador who fled back to Germany or Western Hungary when the pressure from the Tzimisce and mortal raids grew too much. Another Toreador was the original prince of the city, and he is known to have been slain by Lupines in the mountain pass south-west of the town.
Schaasburg (Romanian: Sighisoara)- No Prince. No known Cainite residents. Smallest and most neglected of the Seven Cities at just over 3000. Strong guild presence, very strong castle. Former Prince was an Arpad Ventrue who was a strong ally of Nova; slain or driven into torpor by his Tzimisce enemies. The Tzimisce are particularly strong in the territory around this city.
Karlsburg(Romanian: Alba Iulia)- No Prince. No known Cainite residents. Has a small fortress and a population of about 4100. Former Council Prince is rumoured to have been a Cappadocian noblewoman, drawn by the Roman necropolis of ancient times. She and her childer are thought to have been slain by particularly fierce neighbouring Tzimisce knezi. Lupines are a noted presence in the region. Why was the local Tzimisce knezi so keen to whack the former Prince? Julia wishes to rule this town as Prince