Analysis of Malkioni Caste System---Peter Metcalph
On the subject of Malkioni castes, others have weighed in with corrections
and suggestions to Terra's chart, so I'll digress generally rather than
focus on nits.
Although the medieval parallel is always there, I've tended to infuse the castes with other concepts. The first is the Indian _varana_ that Terra's already mentioned. The second is to emphasis their sacred nature - after all, if god created them then the castes must be something more than a social encumbrance. The third is to play up the privileges and responsibilities of each caste in legal terms so as to give them a quasi-classical and logical basis.
I think the four standard castes is a construct out of diverse Malkioni traditions much like 14th century Italian lawyers created feudalism out of European traditions scattered over time and space. For example, the Wizard's Caste follows the footsteps of Zzabur, a true being second only to Malkioni himself while his so-called brothers have far less exalted backgrounds.
IMO Malkion created the Castes as he needed them and only afterwards was some structure placed on them. I think his four "sons" created the four caste scheme to bring order to Malkioni society at a time when Malkion was losing his grip. If we analyze Malkioni castes without restricting ourselves to the number four, the following picture emerges:
CITIZENS: The first Malkioni. "They were those that made things, recorded information, explored, boated, and did the other everyday work that they preferred" RM p5. This is no doubt connected with the first tribes and so the oldest types of citizens are builders, speakers, writers, philosophers, explorers and sailors. The philosophers later are raised above the other citizens to become the core of the Sorcerers' caste, a change in Malkion's supposedly immutable social order. This also shows the common philosophy between sorcerers and citizens in their work. But since Malkion created the citizens, there is very little difference between citizens of sorcerous and venerating societies.
The Citizens exist now as the inhabitants of the towns and cities. Usually they are controlled by other castes but can sometimes be socially dominant (i.e. some City-states). They are capable of fighting but will never be as good as soldiers or knights.
FARMERS: Distinct from citizens in that they work the soil and provide others with their daily bread. The origins of their development is uncertain but given they are a product of worldly degeneration, it is unlikely to be glorious.
SOLDIERS: Disciplined professional fighters. Created before the split between Malkion and his sons, they approach war in the sorcerous frame (mastery of the craft) yet are acceptable to the venerators.
KNIGHTS: Created by Hrestol from the other four castes, the Knights are a clear challenge to the four caste orthodoxy. As the younger martial caste, they embody the venerator ideal (following god) rather than the sorcerous (mastery of the craft), thus the knights are prone to feuds with the soldiers and sorcerers.
SORCERERS: Founded by Zzabur. Considers the Invisible God to be a collection of impersonal forces that can and should be manipulated. They differ from the citizens (in which they have similar philosophies) by working with invisible energies while citizens work with visible matter.
Pure sorcerers are now mostly independent wizards or guilds of the same. Because Sorcerers were once acceptable to Malkion, most venerating Malkioni have wizards in their churches - these differ from the sorcerers in that they venerate god and master spells.
VENERATORS: Founded by Malkion. Considers the Invisible God as something to be worshipped. The venerators are dominant in Malkionism philosophically although the distinction between their approach and Zzabur's is blurred by Zzabur once being close to Malkion. Because of this, venerators can take sorcerous shortcuts in their philosophy.
LORDS: The rulers. Pretty much at home with either sorcery or veneration. Originally a civilian post but among many cultures (such as the Brithini and Rokari), they have taken to leading armies and performing deeds that are properly the preserve of other castes.
WOMEN: Women that live according to the rules of their caste, encumbered by the strictures of men.
INDEPENDENT WOMEN: Women that live according to the rules in all Malkioni societies much to the disquiet of the authorities.
So the Malkioni have to deal with nine (or fourteen) castes within the framework of a construct that only admits four. Although some decisions are easy (lumping the farmers with the citizens is fairly standard), others are extremely difficult (balancing sorcerers against venerators or soldiers against knights). No matter what decision is made, there is always going to be tension that could potentially plunge the society into chaos because the fit will never be perfect.
Another question that must be settled is the order of the castes. Since it is near impossible to make all castes equal (the farmers will outvote everybody else and that's no good), some castes must be better than others. At the same time, the caste order must be acceptable to all if there is to be civil peace. The standard treatment is to make the citizens and women subject to the soldiers, wizards and lords. Two main variations exist - the wizards are supreme in the Brithini scheme while the Lords are supreme in the Malkioni scheme. Given the low importance attached to soldiers, the Malkioni might have had bad mythical experiences attached to martial law. Other possibilities are the big three castes being separate but equal or a matriarchy.
The last question is who gets to fill what caste? Is it meritocraitic, positions were filled this way). I don't think there is a clear answer to this in Malkionism because in the good old days, people lived forever in their positions with little need for replacement. There is a need to keep the farmers where they are and at the same time have capable people fulfilling important roles.
The Brithini take the austere route of exiling all venerators and people associated with them (knights). The hazard of this route is that the sorcerous/veneration preference is really a personal choice, thus venerators are born in every generation.
The Vadeli have no problems with caste for they have perverted the concept. I think Vadeli Castes are a subset of explorers rather than the traditional citizen/sorcerers/lords/soldiers that other Malkioni have. Despite this, the Malkioni persist in identifying Vadeli skins with their own castes. One nitpick in Terra's chart - the Vadeli of the Old Vadeli Isles do know of Knighthood as Hrestol once stayed among them. Knowing the Vadeli, it's probably perverse version of the original - a model, perhaps, is the Twisted Mentats of Dune.
I think in light of the information in Revealed Mythologies that the Waertagi were one of the original tribes of the Malkioni that they should still be recognizably Malkioni. That they worship sea gods is undisputable but then again most Malkioni were pagans at the Dawn. I think they retain Castes for Missing Lands only states that they "escaped the bondage of [the Brithini] rigid caste system" - which can be resolved by having a fluid approach to Castes. I don't think this is anything like the Hrestoli rising through the castes that makes an incongruous appearance in the Atroxi church writeup.
For the Rokari Church, I'll observe that even in Seshnela, a serf is a type of farmer and not synonymous with citizens in general. Although the Rokari deny any concept of Knights as a separate caste, they do have knights within their martial caste while the titled nobility that engage in warfare can be considered knights under another name.
Shouldn't the Axemen and Taxmen be members of the Ramalian Warrior caste rather than the Lords?
The Loskalmi social progression is stated to be an idea more than anything else and I think there are obvious tensions within it - are the soldiers are separate caste from the Knights or not? If the knights draw upon all four castes, why is their station in the middle rather than at the end? How if knights are opposed to sorcery, do they make effective wizards? Rather than state make a definitive statement one way or another, I think these are issues that the Loskalmi struggle with.
I generally see Loskalmi government as split between Men and the Overmen rather than a four step society. The Men are your average Malkioni while the Overmen are heroic types striving to surpass their mortal forms through embodying the Ideal.
I've used Overmen instead of Knights because the latter has already been defined as a military rank. Although most Overmen were once Knights, I do think it possible for devout Acolythists to become Overmen. I don't know how a Squire might become an Overman though.
Once someone's become an Overman, they are ideal and there's little need for them to join the other branches of Loskalmi society and master their arts. Instead they carry pretty much with what they were doing before, although knights often retire to take up Lordly or Churchly positions. The only exception is to qualify for the throne - then the candidate must have mastered the arts of all branches.
The Men are subordinate to the Overmen and perform most of the work within the Temporal, Spiritual and Militant hierarchies. Their inferiority means they are effectively citizens with minor titles. Instead of lords, there are squires performing pretty much the same tasks and instead of clergy, there are acolythists. This humbling also means the hierarchies are now equal before the Overmen. But since they are citizens, the hierarchies are free to maintain their old traditions making it possible for an acolythist not to belong to the idealist church or for a squire to bequeath his status to his son.
The Overmen are committed to the ideals of the Hrestoli Church and in government, their role is to monitor the men to make sure their decisions comply with the Ideal. They are aided in this task by a large proportion of Idealists among the ranks of Men that are willing to bring any errors of their non-idealists brethren to the attention of the Overmen. Hence the leading Men are mostly devout Idealists that have finked their way to the top with a minority of astute competents of whatever persuasions.
Although the army is where most Loskalmi attempt to become overmen, I do think there is a cadre of hardened professional soldier-castes within the Loskalmi army. They can never become knights because of their attitude and so have hate them, which can cause some sticky moments in battle due to conflicts in
So my conception of Loskalmi society looks like:
Overmen: Prefects Wizards Knights
Men: Squires Acolythists Soldiers
Men: Citizens and Farmers
Many known ranks such as the Grand Knights and Cardinals are IMO graduations in the basic Overman ranks rather than special ranks themselves.
Lastly for the Safelstrans, the Arkati do not rule openly. They require an non-Arkati government to manipulate from behind the shadows. Thus their Caste system might look similar to other Malkioni.
Return to Chart of each Malkioni Caste System