Thursday, 3 May 2012

Kurutz and Hayducks

The Plains People like to compose ballads praising their heroic past as free cavaliers, but the present is alas much bleaker and less romantic: unless someone born outside of the noble class has somehow managed, for instance as a skilled craftsman or as a successful soldier of fortune, to integrate the class of the burghers, he is condemned to a hard life of intentured labour, without any hope of change. This explains the frequent peasant uprisings, which are invariably met with harsh repression meted out by the gentry and their retainers. Those malcontent armed peasants who manage to evade the nobles' repression will then usually gather with similarly-minded individuals from the lowest-ranking groups of feudal society such as wandering students, defrocked friars and parish priests, and with fugitive nobles, and then end up as highwaymen known as kurutz.

In the violent society of the Fair Kingdom, cattle driving is an important and dangerous occupation, and drovers travel armed. When unemployed, and loth to return to serfdom, many of them end up as bandits or retainers in the service of local landowners, or become soldiers of fortune. These armed commoners are known as hayducks across the Fair Kingdom.

Kurutz and Hayducks are a good background for a party of adventurers in the Fair Kingdom, as it provides a rationale for their skills at horse-riding and fighting, and also for their behaviour outside of the established classes of 16th/17th century Central Europe.

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