Town and Country
Town and Country
The majority of Novans are farmers who spend most of their lives in rural settings. However, the interplay between urban and rural settlements forms an important part of Novan life.
Villages and Towns
A “village” is the Novan name for an urban settlement that has no defensive wall. In general these are smaller settlements whose inhabitants cannot afford the expense of a wall, though it is technically possible for a “village” to be very large. A “town” is technically an urban settlement with a defensive wall, though for most of this article the term “town” will also be used to include villages.
Purpose and Population
Towns are found everywhere on Nova that humans are settled. Farms are rarely more than fifty miles from the nearest town. However, few towns are fully settled at any given time. One of a town’s most important functions is as a market center, and one of the most important products sold at market is food. For this reason, during harvest season, a town’s population can increase many times; during planting and growing season, many of the town’s nominal inhabitants are at work on their farms. Most farmers maintain a “town house” where they can stay during markets, even if they must share a town house with one or more other families.
In addition to serving as hubs of commerce, towns serve a defensive purpose as well. Knights have a feudal obligation to shelter their tenants in times of peril, but this is not always the strategically wise decision. Moreover, the local castle may be a hundred miles away or more, not always reachable in time of emergency. Towns are often closer than castles, and have no knights to turn residents away. Both towns and villages have a holdfast, a fortified longhouse or palisaded high point to which residents may retreat, and towns have walls as well. These fortifications are never as formidable as a castle, but they are better than nothing if a castle is out of reach.
A city is a walled town that has received a charter from its landlord to enact laws within its borders and provide for its own defense. In effect, a city becomes a miniature House in its own right, though a city is ruled not by a lord but by a council of burghers.
Cities represent a significant abdication of power by a lord, and for this reason are extremely rare. The most common reason to charter a city is to allow an important urban center that is too far away from a castle to better defend itself. Unlike a town, cities may make and accept feudal vows for their own defense, and the ability to make their own laws enables them to incentivize building projects, attract residents, and accomplish many other tasks that a mere town cannot.
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