Trying to explain the organisation of the Far isles is, to coin a phrase, a bit like describing the internal geometry of a bowl of noodles! To start with we like people to form local branches which as they grow form branches of their own ! The councils that govern these groups then fulfill two roles; on the one hand they are a normal mundane committee while on the other they represent medieval officials in charge of managing their lands. To further confuse things you then have purely medieval ranking of nobles AND clergy; not to mention precedence order and such...
The below diagram shows how the society ought to be organised with the various branches forming up into nice orderly tiers depending upon their size and whether they wish to be ruled by a noble or just an elected council.
Ruled by the King or Queen. The top tier of the Far Isles is run by a High Council in the mundane (but that is behind the scenes).
Has 60 or more members and is ruled by a Prince or Princess.
Province or Duchy
Has 30 or more members and is ruled by a Duke, Duchess or High Sheriff.
County or Shire
15 or more members, ruled by a Countess, Count or Sheriff.
Village, Manor, Free Borough, Hundred
Made up of 6 or more members, headed by a person of appropriate title, for instance headman or elder.
Whenever we get a group of members living close together we encourage them to form a branch so that they can organise their own revels, tourneys and workshops to supplement the major ones run by the society.
Joining a Branch
If you want to join a particular branch simply convey this wish to the High Steward. Hopefully there will be branch close to where you live (if not don't despair just nip out recruit a few friends then read the next section). Of course you don't necessarily have to join your nearest group; you might prefer to join a group that specialises in your particular craft or whose sense of humour you appreciate - in fact you don't have to join any branch if you don't want to.
Starting a branch
New branches can form for a variety of reasons. People living close together may decide they want to organise some local events or else they may decide to form a branch around some particular idea or period. Whatever the reason a new branch will need at least six members and lots of enthusiasm and ideas to keep it going. If you fancy forming a local branch then have a chat with the council of the lands you live in or the High Steward to see if this is practical.
A household can be anything from a simple association of friends to the retinue of a noble. Households have no official status and are formed by people simply declaring themselves to be one!
Anyone can obtain rank and status within the Far Isles - all it takes is a lot of hard work.
There are two types of nobles, created nobles and landed nobles; often a person may be both types. A landed noble is the head of a county, duchy or principality within the Far Isles. Created nobles are given their rank and titles for outstanding service to the society. There are also two levels of clergy that count as nobility; Archbishop and Bishop. Be warned, although becoming a noble may seem a great honour which many new members desire to acquire as soon as possible, it actually means that you get to do even more work!
Orders do not confer nobility or give precedence but are nevertheless highly prized; they are our way of saying "Thank you for all you efforts"! The Order of the Golden Apple is awarded for service to the society, especially for the routine, background jobs that make the Society run smoothly and the Order of the Silver Acorn for service to the arts.
The title of Knight does not confer nobility but does give precedence. It is awarded only to the most excellent of our fighters who have also shown the Knightly virtues of courtesy and courtly behaviour appropriate to the title.
The High council is the ruling body of the Far Isles in the mundane. Whilst in persona and in performance of their office, e.g. at court, the members of high council rank as Duchesses or Dukes, but when they cease to be on High Council they lose the precedence and revert to their normal persona rank. Half of High council is elected every two years. You can stand for office after you have been a member for eighteen months (i.e. you know whats going on!) The High Council consists of:
- High Steward - Chairperson of the society; responsible for publications and membership records.
- High Chancellor - Treasurer; responsible for the money.
- Secretary - Responsible for the records and archives.
- High Alderman - Responsible for liaising with the ordinary members.
Once Groups reach Duchy or Province level they normally appoint officers to administer the groups affairs. The titles used will vary but the jobs won't! The larger the branch the more the council has to do! You can stand for office once you have been a member for six months.
- Sheriff - Chairperson; head of the group if the group does not have a noble at its head. The one who kicks other people into doing things. It helps if this person is well known, has a loud voice, some dignity and doesn't mind being made a fool of!
- Reeve - This is the person who writes newsletters and is the normal contact for information within the group.
- Bailiff - Deals with the groups money (if they have any!).