Duchies of Gwynedd (fictional)
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The Duchies of Gwynedd are the largest feudal estates within the fictional Kingdom of Gwynedd in the Deryni novels of Katherine Kurtz. Each duchy is governed by a hereditary noble (a duke or duchess) who rules their land in exchange for swearing fealty to the Crown. Dukes are the most powerful nobles in the kingdom, wielding the power of high and low justice, and their authority in secular matters is surpassed only by the Crown. While dukes and duchesses enjoy the prestige and income of being in the ruling class of Gwyneddan society, they are required to pay appropriate taxes for their lands, see to the defense of their borders, and uphold the laws of the kingdom.
The Duchy of Carthmoor is located in the far southern Gwynedd, bordered to the north by the Royal Duchy of Haldane and to the west by the Kingdom of Llannedd. The lands of Carthmoor are originally part of the Kingdom of Mooryn, but they are incorporated into Gwynedd following Mooryn's dissolution in the ninth century. The first Dukes of Carthmoor are members of the House of Festil, and they are permitted to retain the title after the Haldane Restoration by King Cinhil I Haldane because they have no legal rights to the Festillic claim to the throne. However, they are eventually forced out by the Regents of King Alroy Haldane in 917, and the title is later granted to Alroy's youngest brother, Prince Rhys Michael Haldane. Over the years, the duchy becomes the traditional title of the second sons of the Kings of Gwynedd, but it has also served as a secondary title for the king when there is no Haldane male to hold the office. In 1130, the eleventh Duke of Carthmoor is Prince Nigel Haldane, the second son of King Donal Blaine Haldane and the uncle of King Kelson Haldane.
The Duchy of Cassan is located at the northwestern edge of Gwynedd, bordered by the Gulf of Kheldour to the east, the Atalantic Ocean to the west, and the lands of Meara to the south. Cassan is originally a part of Meara, but it successfully secures its independence as a sovereign principality in the eighth century. A century and a half later, following the death of the last Prince of Cassan, the area is incorporated into the Kingdom of Gwynedd as a new duchy ruled by the prince's grandson. The House of Fitz-Arthur Quinnell becomes extinct in 1025, and the title of Duke of Cassan goes into abeyance for eleven years, until it passes to the House of McLain. In 1130, the eighth Duke of Cassan is Duke Dhugal MacArdry McLain.
The Duchy of Claibourne is the northernmost region of Gwynedd, lying directly north of central Gwynedd and nestled between the Northern Sea and the Gulf of Kheldour. The lands of Claibourne are originally part of the sovereign Principality of Kheldour, which is conquered by King Festil I Furstán of Gwynedd in 823. Following the Haldane Restoration of 904, King Cinhil I Haldane and Earl Sighere of Eastmarch join forces to conquer Kheldour and depose the last remnants of the House of Festil. The lands of Kheldour are incorporated into Gwynedd as the new Duchy of Claibourne, and Sighere is created the first Duke of Claibourne. Over the next two centuries, Sighere's descendants retain the title without interruption. In 1130, the twelfth Duke of Claibourne is Duke Graham III MacEwan.
The Duchy of Corwyn is located in southeastern Gwynedd, bordered to the east by the Kingdom of Torenth and to the south by the Southern Sea. The Duchy of Carthmoor lies to the southwest, while the Royal Duchy of Haldane lies directly to the west. Corwyn is a successor state to the ancient Kingdom of Mooryn, the lands of which are incorporated into Gwynedd in the ninth century as the Duchies of Corwyn and Carthmoor. Unlike many of Gwynedd's Deryni nobles, the Dukes of Corwyn retain their titles throughout the Haldane Restoration, and the duchy itself retains a semi-autonomous status throughout a century and a half of Festillic and Haldane rule on the throne of Gwynedd. That status ends in 985, when Duke Jernian de Corwyn swears fealty to King Cluim Haldane. The ducal line becomes extinct in 1068, and the title falls into abeyance for four generations until it passes to the House of Morgan in the late eleventh century. In 1130, the seventh Duke of Corwyn is Duke Alaric Morgan.
The Royal Duchy of Haldane is located in central Gwynedd, encompassing the lands that surround the capital city of Rhemuth. The Eirian River forms the northern border of the duchy, and it is surrounded by the Duchy of Corwyn to the east, the Duchy of Carthmoor to the south, and the Duchy of Travlum to the west. The lands of Haldane are originally conquered by Halbert the Dane in the fifth century, and his descendants successfully expand their borders until the establishment of the Kingdom of Gwynedd in the seventh century. Throughout the history of the realm, with the exception of the eight-decade Festillic Interregnum, Haldane is a royal possession under the direct control of the reigning monarch, making it the only duchy in Gwynedd that does not bear a separate title of nobility. In 1130, the Royal Duchy of Haldane is ruled by King Kelson Haldane.
The Duchy of Laas occupies the western half of the ancient lands of Meara, surrounded by the Duchy of Cassan to the north, the Duchy of Ratharkin to the east, the lands of The Connait to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The duchy is named after the city of Laas, which serves as the capital of Meara for over four centuries. In 1028, King Malcolm Haldane of Gwynedd moves the administrative capital of Meara to Ratharkin, but many Mearans continue to regard Laas as the traditional seat of power in the land. Following the defeat of the last Mearan Pretender in 1124, King Kelson Haldane creates the Duchy of Laas in 1128 to appease the Mearan people by restoring some of the city's past prominence and independence. For the first Duke of Laas, Kelson chooses Jolyon Ramsay-Quinnell, the senior surviving member of the ancient Mearan line.
The Duchy of Ratharkin stretches across the eastern half of the ancient lands of Meara. It is surrounded by the Duchy of Cassan to the north, Gwynedd to the east, the lands of The Connait to the south, and the Duchy of Laas to the west. The duchy is named for the Mearan city of Ratharkin, which is the second-largest city in the land throughout the history of Meara. Following the annexation of Meara into Gwynedd in the eleventh century, King Malcolm Haldane moves the Mearan capital from Laas to Ratharkin in an attempt to establish a new seat of power in the realm, but many Mearans continue to regard Laas as the traditional center of power in Meara. Being located between Laas and Gwynedd, the lands surrounding Ratharkin are often plagued by the uprisings of the Mearan Pretenders over the following century, and Ratharkin itself is used as a base of operations by the last Mearan Pretender in 1124. In 1128, King Kelson Haldane divides Meara into the Duchies of Laas and Ratharkin and appoints his first cousin, Prince Rory Haldane, as the first Duke of Ratharkin. In an attempt to appease the Mearans, Kelson not only arranges Rory's marriage into the ancient Mearan royal line, but he also names his cousin Viceroy of Meara, granting the land a semi-autonomous status that many Mearans have sought.
The Duchy of Travlum (also known as Transflumenia) lies in western Gwynedd, across the Eirian River from the Royal Duchy of Haldane. The Llanarfon River forms the southern border of the duchy, separating it from the United Kingdoms of Howicce and Llannedd, and the Mughdorna Mountains form its western border. The area is ruled by a series of sovereign Counts of Travlum for over five centuries, until the last ruler flees to The Connait in the tenth century. The land then becomes a Gwyneddan duchy, and several members of the royal family hold the title throughout the eleventh century. The title eventually goes into abeyance in 1078, but it is revived by King Kelson Haldane fifty years later when he bestows it upon his first cousin, Prince Payne Haldane, as the fifth Duke of Travlum.
- Katherine Kurtz and Robert Reginald, Codex Derynianus (Second Edition), ISBN 1-887424-96-2
- Katherine Kurtz, In the King's Service, ISBN 0-441-01060-1
- Katherine Kurtz, Childe Morgan, ISBN 0-441-01282-5