The Early-Modern German Court, Part 3/3

The third and last part of this overview of the offices of the early-modern German court covers religion, culture and government.

For Part One go here, and for Part Two go here.

The court’s religious community could either consist of the narrower court itself, in which case religious ceremony took place in the Hofkapelle [court chapel] or Hofkirche [court church] or it might include the wider community that surrounded the court, in which case the Hofkirche also formed its own parish. The church was under the authority of the Hofprediger [court preacher], who was responsible for services as well as the moral condition of the court. Occasionally, court churches were also monastic or conventual churches.

Music was extremely important at court. It was under the authority of the Kapell or Konzertmeister and both smaller and larger orchestras provided music at mealtimes, chamber music and music for religious services. Trumpeters in particular took part in virtually every court occasion. Apart from the actual musicians, vocalists etc, there were also technical personnel, such as instrument makers, copyists etc.

From the end of the Middle Ages, court poets (Hofdichter) were common in England and France, but only occasionally appeared in German courts.

From the late 17th and then in 18th centuries, the name Hofmeister described the tutor of the sons of high aristocrats. These teachers had graduated from the philosophical or theological faculties of the universities, travelled with the court on its journeys and often attained high office.

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The Early-Modern German Court, Part 2/3

Part One last week concentrated on the various aristocratic offices at court. This installment deals mainly with the commoners and domestics, including those responsible for hunting and military display. [For Part 3 go here.]

The office of Hofküchenmeister [Master of the Kitchen] was one of the few to be reserved for commoners, because it was seen as inappropriate for aristocrats to have anything to do with anything to do with economics. Even so, the kitchen [Hofküche] was the most important office to do with the support of the court.

The Hofküchenmeister was in charge of the Küchenschreiber [Comptroller of the Kitchen], who recorded everything that went in and out of the kitchen on a daily basis and was responsible for the accounts. Whatever additional stuff needed to be got from the market was financed by the Küchenmeister, who had his own budget for that. Every morning the dining plan was discussed with the staff of Mund-, Leib-, Kavaliers-, Bei– and Unterköche [senior, personal, knights’, assistant and sous-chefs respectively; sing. -koch] for the different tables. For specialty dishes, specialists like a Hofzuckerbäcker [confectioner] or Pastetenkoch [pastry cook, pie-maker] were available. Other specialist services were carried out by a Brat- und Backmeister [Master Baker], Hofmetzger [Court Butcher], Zehrgeber [to be honest I’m not sure about this one – I think it means ‘provisioner’, maybe someone responsible for provisioning the court on the move] or Geflügelwart [Master of the Poultry]. Lesser kitchen personnel included Küchenjungen [kitchen boys; sing. Junge], Küchenweiber [Kitchen girls; sing. –weib], Mägde [maids; sing. Magd] and Knechte [scullions; sing. Knecht].

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The Early-Modern German Court, Part 1/3

These are a bunch of notes I put together for a friend who was working on a court supplement for WFRP. Although the supplement hasn’t, as far as I know, yet materialised, I thought I’d put these up here to help anyone wanting to reconstruct a convincing aristocratic court in the Empire. There’s quite a lot of it, so I’ll divide it into three posts. The information is taken and translated almost entirely from Rainer A. Müller, Der Fürstenhof in der frühen Neuzeit (Munich, 1995).

For Part Two go here, and for Part Three go here.

Ideally the court consisted of two groups of people, each of which undertook different functions even though the functions often overlapped in one person. One group, the Hofstaat [princely household] was entrusted with the personal care of the prince and his family. The other constituted the offices of state, such as the Hofrat/Geheimrat [both meaning Privy Council]. But the two areas were not separated in the patrimonial early modern state – Hofdienst [service at court] meant largely the same thing as Staatsdienst [state service]. The Hof [court] was at the same time centre of government and the prince’s household. Work in the central administration was couple to service to the prince and administrators had the additional status of being a personal servant of the prince.

The medieval court was dominated by the quattuor officia principalia [Four Principle Offices] of the Marschall [Lord High Marshal or Earl Marshal], Kaemmerer [Lord High Chamberlain], Truchsess [Lord High Steward/Seneschal] and Mundschenk [Cup-Bearer/Butler], but in the later Middle Ages and 16C, the importance of these offices varied greatly, with some becoming key and others losing in importance. But later the hierarchy became much more fixed, with the idea of places of honour (particularly the different statuses in seating positions at feasts) being extended to the administrative hierarchy.

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The Winter of Warlords, notes part 3

Presented as earlier without proofreading.

This is the final piece of my notes for the Winter of Warlords campaign. I think I wrote a better summary for it of the FFG’s forums but I can’t even find the thread there anymore…

The last part introduces the “Eldorado” of Grey Mountains – a mountain that consumed all the wealth of the mountains. It was to be the pinnacle of the campaign, a site where the fate of the Old World would be changed.

Now that I think of it, it might have been the working of the gods of chaos that this campaign never played out. It did not include any chaotic elements, only greenskins, men and women of Empire and Bretonnia (some dwarfs, sure) and a whole bunch of monsters and undead.

The Legend of Karag Elgramazaul

According to legends there is a mountain somewhere in the Grey Mountains that the dwarfs call Karag Elgramazul (The Volcano of Weak Metal) and those few men that have heard the legend the Tainted Peak. According to ancient dwarven sagas it is where the mages of Elves cast a terrible spell during the War of Vengeance. The spell drained the all ore from the mountains into the mountain where it created a lake of permanently molten metal.

 

Even dwarfs of the Grey Mountains doubt this legend as there are no written records of such an event and even though some foolish beardlings have tried, no-one has ever found this accursed place.

 

The legend has its roots in reality even though it was of no such magnitude that the legends claim.

 

During the War of Vengeance (or the War of the Beard if asked from high elves) there some fighting at the Grey Mountains as they created a natural border with the lands now known as Bretonnia and Empire. A group of elves were tasked to guard the few waystones set high up on the peaks of the mountains and they tried to serve their orders the best the could.

 

Filled with hatred against the elves the dwarves tracked this band of swordsmen and mages and found that they had erected a waystone on one of the highest peaks of the mountains. Caring not of the reason this was done the dwarven warriors attacked the elves without a moments hesitation and left the elves no other choice than to protect themselves.

 

Before the axes of the dwarfs the elves fell and finally there was left but a single mage to protect the monolith. Seeing the blood-lust in the eyes of the dwarves the mage cast a potent spell of Chamon trying to rid the dwarfs of their weaponry.

 

Either by the power of the waystone or by some other unseen force the spell did what it was supposed to and more. It liquefied the armors and weapons of the dwarfs but also sucked all particles of metal from the dwarfs themselves too. In an instant the top of the mountain had turned into a site of massacre mutilated dwarfs and elves everywhere.

 

The horrible event and the surge of energy were too much for the mind of the elven mage. His mind broke down and he became obsessed by the power of the waystone. The once great obelisk was infused with the metal stripped from the dwarfs, elves and the mountain itself. It became a cruel idol of golden energy that the elf worshiped with sacrifices of blood and magic.

 

The mountain, the dwarfs and the elfs were soon forgotten.

 

The War of Vengeance ended and the Time of Woe began. The dwarfs did not venture to the Grey Mountains as it had always been known for it low quantity and quality of minerals. Now and then a small expedition wandered to the mountain and from those that survived the elven guardian the legend of Karag Elgramazul began.

The Winter of Warlords, notes part 2

Continued from previous post. And as earlier these have not been proofread.

This is the quick summary I wrote to come with the adventures. I was committed to write a “full” campaign on this but sadly our gaming group fell apart. I think it was mainly because my own frustration and lack of interest and for that I am a bit ashamed. As we are hopefully starting a new campaign quite soon I have decided to include themes and issues presented at the first two sessions we managed to play the Winter of Warlords. Hopefully those of my new group that were involved in it will get some additional kicks from it.

The Grey Mountains

“In ancient times the Unberogen held the mountains (as sacred as did other tribes along the mountains even before them) and came to the mountains to bury their dead in crude but enduring tombs and cairns. Those same monuments of dead are still said to dot the mountain range and are avoided in fear of restless dead whenever possible.

And even before the men even came to these parts of the Old World elves came to the mountains to worship their gods of skies and stars. And who is to say what ancient beings were there even before the elves. Or are still slumbering under the shadows of the mountains.”

Duncan Baumgartner, Adventurer

The Grey Mountains are long and tall range of mountains running almost from the Sea of Claws to the Vaults and the Black Mountains. It has always served as a natural border between the realms of Bretonnia and Empire having only a handful of usable passes allowing the clear passage from one to another.

The closer the mountains get to the Sea of Claws the more darker their stones get. Some claim that this is due the influence of chaotic winds from the North and though one might argue that is not the case it is also true that at the same time the terrain gains more sharper and wicker forms.

Along the ridge fertile land is scarce and is mostly used as pasture for sheep and other animals accustomed to the hard climate of the altitude. Very few crops can be farmed here but still no house is erected on the fertile soil.

Closer to the Vaults starting from Reikland that peaks and ridges are not as narrow, sharp and jagged, but they are still notorious of their lack of natural resources. This has been the main reason of the lack of dwarven settlements.

Actually the only rich veins of iron ore and some other metals can be found at the area that has been claimed by Bretonnia and belongs to the dukedom of Montfort. There even goes a rumor that the duc of Montfort controls a profitable gold mine. These kinds of rumors are discouraged by Bretonnians and by dwarves who claim that if there would have been gold there would have been more dwarven holds.

The absence of dwarven clans has permitted the greenskins to claim the mountains. They are a constant plague upon the Axe Bite Pass and the Grey Lady Pass (the two most important passes through the mountains) as well as the inhabitants of the mountains. Viciously though they are hunted their lairs seems to be hidden well as next to none have been found. This has lead to rumors of an impossible greenskin stronghold somewhere on the mountains but as greenskins are not exactly the kind of race to build something that lasts – or actually build anything, this is most likely to be only a rumor.

Nonetheless the greenskins are and have been to pain of the mountains. But as the Grey Mountains are a vast and mainly inhabitable all kinds of monsters and darker things lurk there. Many sheepherders still remember the tales of old about the Ghost of the Crags who wandered around the Grey Lady Pass before the turn of 26th century.

One of the most recent events on the mountains were the border skirmishes between Empire and Bretonnia during the winter 2514-2515 that ended only when the Emperor Karl Franz summoned Elector Count Valmir von Raukor and his son from north were they had been raiding the Norscan shores.

The last part of these notes the Legend of Karag Elgramazaul will be published tomorrow. Stay tuned.