The Jerbiton Summit
House Jerbiton [Edit]
Jerbiton, the founder of this House, was one of the first wizards approached by Trianoma to help form the Order of Hermes. He was enthusiastic from the very beginning, seeing the Order as a way of giving wizards their own culture from which art and philosophy – as well as magical learning – could grow. He also believed that his presence was necessary to ground the nascent Order in the real world of humanity. Jerbiton was more involved in the mundane world than any other wizard of his time: he was concerned with its politics, its culture, its religion, and its history. The House that he formed has always followed his path.
Although the Primus is the leader of House Jerbiton, the House prides itself on its democratic principles. The Primus is elected: each magus has one vote, Archmages have three each and the Primus has ten. There is a Senate which votes on most issues and advises the Primus (Archmages are automatically members of the Senate). The most important power possessed by the Senate is the ability to call an election for the primacy, it can do this even against the wishes of the sitting Primus.
The Domus Magna of House Jerbiton is Valnastium in the Tribunal of the Greater Alps. The current Prima is Katherine von Burgesdorf, and the Jerbiton Quaesitor is Vulpecula. Katherine is regarded as a strong, fair – if slightly unapproachable – leader. Vulpecula is a formidable investigator who is utterly tireless in seeking out breaches in the Code within the House. Opinion about her is divided: many think that she is practically a traitor; others consider that she is a great asset because her sedulous policing of the House means that other Quaesitors do not feel the need to pry into Jerbiton affairs. The only other important office within the House is that of Steward of Valnastium, which is currently held by the Archmage Caius Veritax.
The Political Parties [Edit]
There are two official political parties within House Jerbiton: the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. In simplest terms, the Guelfs support the Pope, while the Ghibellines support the Emperor. Not all the members of the House belong to one of these parties, but more than half of them do. It is much harder to climb the House hierarchy without membership of a political party. The current Primus is the leader of the Ghibelline party, while the leader of the Guelf party is the Archmage Rictus. By tradition stewardship alternates between the parties. The Steward resigns his party membership upon taking the office (Caius Veritax was chosen from the Guelf party).
Magi of House Jerbiton join the parties for a variety of reasons. Some truly believe in the cause of the party; others regard it as expedient to status within the House; still others simply follow the allegiance of their parens; many more have motives that are entirely their own. Being thrown out of a party is a matter of considerable shame, and signals the death of any political ambitions.
While one is not expected to blindly obey one’s party leader, it is supposed that a party member will carry out any part duties that they are assigned, will aid the leader by acceding to any reasonable orders, and will defer to the leader in all matters relating to the party. The leader can determine overall party policy, make decisions for the good of the party, and expel members from the party.
The broad thrust of the difference between the parties is that the Guelfs believe that the Pope is supreme in earthly as well as spiritual matter, and that the Emperor is his servant, his sword arm; while the Ghibellines believe that the Emperor is supreme in earthly matters, and that the Pope has seized temporal, secular power to which he has no right.
Mundane History [Edit]
On Christmas day in the year 800 Pope (Saint) Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor (despite the fact that the Byzantine Emperors still regarded themselves as inheritors of the Christian Roman Empire). It is believed that Jerbiton himself was instrumental in this. Over the centuries, however, relations between the Pope and the Emperor deteriorated into a vicious power struggle, with Popes insisting on their right to choose Emperors, and Emperors insisting on their right to elect Popes (and both insisting on their right to elect bishops). The arguments on each side are a complex mix of the political and the theological.
Over the years Emperors elected several anti-Popes, while Popes elected a couple of anti-Emperors. Power swung back and forth between the two sides. In 1075 Gregory VII wrote the Dictates Papae which defines the power of the Popes in 27 points, eg:
1. The Roman Church was founded by God alone.
2. Only the Sovereign Roman Pontiff may rightly be called universal.
3. He alone may appoint or depose Bishops.
4. It is forbidden to be in relations with, or to be in the same house as, any person excommunicated by him.
5. He alone may use the insignia of the Empire.
6. The Pope is the only man whose feet Princes kiss.
7. His title is unique in the world.
8. He has the power to depose the Emperor.
9. The Pope alone can convene a general synod.
10. No canonical text exists outside his authority.
11. No-one can condemn a decision of the Holy See.
12. The Roman Church has never been wrong, nor will it ever be, as scripture attests. (This is the famous doctrine of papal infallibility.)
13. The Pope, ordained after election of the council, is invested with the powers of St Peter.
14. The Pope may release subjects from oaths sworn to the unjust.
In 1122 Pope Calixtus II and Emperor Henry IV were forced to come to a compromise: they signed the Concordat of Worms which distinguishes the priestly functions of Bishops – invested by the Pope with ring and staff – from their feudal obligations – invested by Emperor with sceptre. The Emperor remained master of the Imperial Church in German territories, able to invest Bishops and abbots before their consecration. In subsequent years, both sides chipped away at this agreement.
Frederick II [Edit]
In 1212 Frederick Hohenstaufen was crowned by Pope Innocent III, as Emperor Frederick II. He inherited a vast Empire that included Germany, the Low Countries, the alpine countries, most of Italy and Sicily. He actually spent very little time in Germany, preferring to develop a highly cultured (some would say decadent) court at Palermo in his beloved Sicily.
Frederick invested the Order of Teutonic Knights, granting its first Grandmaster, Hermann von Salza, unlimited rights, and setting it the task of bringing Scandinavia, the Baltic lands and heathen Russia under the Christian banner.
Pope Gregory IX excommunicated Frederick several times, on one occasion for negotiating the handover of Jerusalem – during the sixth crusade in 1228 – instead of taking it by force as instructed. The power of the Emperor was such that these excommunications never seemed to stick, nor to have the devastating effect that Gregory expected. Considering the impact of excommunication on Frederick’s predecessors, and on the English King (in 1213 John was forced to surrender his kingdom to the Pope, becoming his direct vassal, and receiving his crown back from a Papal Legate), Gregory was infuriated by its failure against Frederick.
In 1241 the Pope called a Synod to enforce the excommunication of the Emperor. In response Frederick sank the Papal fleet of Genoa and seized a large number of Cardinals, imprisoning them in order to prevent their attending the Synod (in fact he captured all but ten). He then marched on Rome in order to depose Gregory. On the way to Rome he learned that Gregory had died (August 22nd). Stating that his argument was with Gregory and not with the office of Pope, he turned back.
There were only ten Cardinals left to choose the next Pope; bitterly divided, and terrified of Frederick, they could not come to a decision. Eventually they were locked up in order to force them to decided (this is the origin of the word ‘conclave’). Finally, on October 28th, they settled on a compromise candidate, Geffredo da Castiglione, who became Pole Celestine IV. Celestine, however, died on November 10th.
The Present [Edit]
The game is set in the early summer of 1242. Frederick II is still Emperor; Louis IX is King of France (his mother, Blanche of Castile, wields the real power); Henry III is King of England. The papacy remains vacant because the remaining nine cardinals are afraid of the Emperor.
Jerusalem is still in Christian hands. Iberia has mostly been reconquered for Christendom – only Andalusia and Granada are still held by the Moors.
The Albigensian Crusade – which was called by Pope innocent III in 1209 to root out the Catharist heresy in Languedoc is nearing its end. The ruler of Languedoc, Raymond VII, the Count of Toulouse, has alternated between supporting and opposing the crusade. His daughter and only heir, Jeanne of Toulouse, was forced to marry Louis IX’s brother, Alphonse. Thus Languedoc is destined to fall finally and fully under the French Crown.
The Jerbiton Summit Meeting [Edit]
There is no Pope. The Church is without the guidance of its Holy Father, of God’s representative on Earth. Moreover, there seems to be no way – given the intractability of the Emperor – to resolve the situation. The power of the Emperor is trammelled only by the French and English kings; but they are bitter enemies. This crisis is mirrored in House Jerbiton. The two political parties have never been so far apart, so distrustful of each other. The House threatens to fall apart, just as the unifying influence of Holy Mother Church seems set to crumble.
The Guelfs and the Ghibellines of House Jerbiton have agreed to hold a meeting to try to find a solution. There is a great deal of mutual mistrust (indeed there have even been rumours of attempted assassinations) between the parties. Nonetheless it is hoped that there is enough common ground – a love of the House and of the Order; the wish for stable and flourishing Europe; a desire to uphold Jerbiton’s dream of a unified Christendom; the belief that art, culture and learning have flowed from the Church – to enable the delegates to find a compromise.
The meeting is to be held at the Covenant of San Horontius, in the Provencal Tribunal, which comprises Languedoc, Gascony, the Pyrenees and part of Provence.
Who is attending the meeting: [Edit]
Rictus is the leader of the Guelf party and is Praeco of the Provencal Tribunal. He is also the leader of the Covenant of San Horontius, Rictus has contacts in most of the noble courts of Languedoc, although it is said that his clout has waned since so many of the Occitan nobles have been replaced by Frenchmen as a result of the crusade. His influence among abbots and bishops remains strong. Rictus, obviously, is a Senator.
Elan is the grand-niece of Rictus’ predecessor (as Guelf leader and Praeco), Therese Bonval. She is a member of the Guelf party and resides at San Horontius. She is known to be extremely pious. Recently she has been heard to criticise Rictus for his leadership for both party and Covenant. There is no doubt that she has great ideals, but some have noted that she also harbours deep grudges.
Cardinal Pietro Cardente
Pietro is one of those Cardinals who were captured by the Emperor. He escaped using magical means and has kept a low profile ever since. An important member of the Guelf party, and renowned theologian, he was a personal advisor to Pope Gregory IX, and to his predecessor. Pietro’s understanding of the complexities of the competing claims of the Pope and the Emperor is unmatched. Pietro is a Senator
Henri, Vicomte de Fontainbleu
With familial connections to the king of France and to the Dukes of Orleans and Savoy, this Guelf party member is one of the greatest movers and shakers of mundane politics in the Order. Little goes on in the great courts of Europe that Henri does not hear about; and he can influence events through mundane means more swiftly than most wizards can using magic. Magi who have upset him have frequently had their lives made much more difficult as the parts of the mundane world that they rely upon seem to turn against them. Henri is hotly tipped to succeed Katherine as Primus and Rictus and Guelf leader. Henri is a Senator.
Margaret van Elsbruck
Margaret is something of a mystery woman. It is said that her devotion to the Ghibelline party borders on the fanatical, and it is believed that she is involved in some way with the feared Jerbiton Archmage, Geist – the truth is unknown. It is also not clear what she gets up to at the very heart of the Emperor’s German dominions, but it is rumoured that it is unwise to enquire too closely Margaret comes to this meeting with the authority of both the Primus and the Archmage Geist, so she is clearly a political force to reckon with.
Michael of Ancona
Sometimes known as the ‘Emperor’s Theologian’, Michael resides in Frederick’s lush court at Palermo. It is said that he enjoys the exotic comforts of the court every bit as much as the theological and political debates in which he vigorously engages. He is the Emperor’s closest adviser on the dispute with the papacy, and, it is said, is second only to Pietro Cardente in his understanding of the arguments. Michael is a Senator.
Coming to the meeting as the representative of the Steward of Valnastium, Gelthron’s role will be to take notes, to report to the Steward and the Senate, and to offer a party-neutral point of view where necessary. Opinion of Gelthron is divided: some regard him as the way of the future, the herald of a new way of doing things; others regard him as a pushy young upstart, That he is the youngest magus ever to sit on the Senate is remarkable enough, but that he has achieved this without
membership of a political party is truly impressive. He travels widely, and, while he seems to have little mundane influence, his list of Hermetic contacts is formidable. Gelthron is a Senator.
Jerbitons of Note Who Will Not Be Attending [Edit]
Katherine von Burgesdorf
Katherine is the Primus of House Jerbiton, and the leader of the Ghibelline party
Archmage Caius Veritax
Caius is the Steward of Valnastium, and, as such, he has resigned his membership of his party. The Steward acts as chairman of the Senate and as an overseer of the democratic principles of the House.
Universally feared and generally loathed, Geist is a dark and mysterious figure in House Jerbiton. He is a member of the Ghibelline party, but seldom takes a direct hand in party or House politics. It is known that he resides in the far north of the Rhine Tribunal, and it is believed that his is involved with the Teutonic Knights in some way. Persistent rumours put him elbow deep in the blood of innocent mundanes.