|Kingdom of Daggerfall and Greater Betony|
With age, wisdom; with wisdom, strength
|Capital||City of Daggerfall|
|Government||The Twin Dragon Thrones|
|Formation||Coronation of King Thagore, 1E 609|
|Language(s)||Bretic (Daggerfallian dialect)|
|Currency||The Imperial Septim (Crownmint, Southweald Mint and Tulunese Mint)|
|Terrain||Plains predominant, hills in the north-northwest|
|Climate||Hot, dry summers and wet, cool winters|
The Sovereign Kingdom of Daggerfall and Greater Betony is one of the chief realms of High Rock, ruled currently by King Camaron and Queen Kelmena of the House of Thagor from its capital city of Daggerfall. Dating back to the early years of the First Era, the kingdom boasts considerable antiquity where continuous political existence is concerned, and it has long been buttressed by the structures and trappings of a rigid social hierarchy.
In recent years, the kingdom has expanded to encompass most of western High Rock up to the Wrothgarian Mountains, which has forced a reluctant repositioning of the highest titles of the realm. King Camaron Thagor now reigns as the King of the West, and his wife Kelmena as Queen of the West; their kingdom at its greatest extent - including its most recent acquisition and birthplace of the Queen, Camlorn - is styled the Kingdom of Daggerfall and Greater Betony. This is ample evidence of the leading role Daggerfall Proper (an area roughly corresponding to the borders of Daggerfall and Tulune before 3E417) assumes in this new construct; indeed, despite spirited competition from the kingdom's second-largest city of Camlorn, the patrimony of House Thagor remains the prime political, economic and cultural centre of the West.
'Daggerfall' is a compound word, a reference to the semi-mythical throw of the dagger alleged to have delineated the borders of the new Nordic colony. Daggerfallian historiography traditionally maintains that the Nord chieftain responsible was a jarl of Skyrim, banished for aiding Elven refugees; this was recently refuted by the Nibenese scholar Praxedes Sulpicius, whose research into the culture of political banishment in the First Empire found no evidence to support a high-profile refugee fleeing westwards in a timeframe compatible with the accepted date for first Nordic settlement in Daggerfall.
To date, Daggerfallian historians have completely ignored Sulpicius' study wheresoever it concerns High Rock.
Accounting for near a quarter of High Rock's total land mass, the Kingdom of Daggerfall and Greater Betony is understandably geographically diverse. In the east, the wooded foothills of the Wrothgarians loom over the great plains and gentle, rolling hills that stretch between Camlorn, Phrygias, and Urvaius. To the southeast, they are broken by the forest-swamps of Dwynnen; to the west, by the sparse smattering of woods that ring Daenia. Southwest, the altitude climbs sharply, giving way to the craggy dales and tall hills of the Ilessan highlands. Past that, the West seems nearly endless forest, save for whatever glades and plains have been clawed back from nature by the local clans - until it stumbles suddenly into the moorlands of Glenumbra, and then at last the sea.
The land in the Far West is ancient, and scarred equally by time, war, and the divine. Past the market-towns and the hamlets, past the tilled fields and pastures and unkempt bocage, the forest is not yet tamed; stray from the Imperial highways or the old cobblestone tracks of the Bretons, and you risk losing your way and life both. Witch-covens and werebeast nests hide away in the deepwoods, where the trees grow so old and so thick, their branches are woven together. In some places, all is dead-still and silent, only charred wood to mark the passing of the Warp of the West. And rarely - and only in the deepest forest, - the sylvan sprawl is broken by the thick and weathered trunk of one of the timeless wyrdtrees, where Y'ffre's bone-whisperings are held to be at their loudest, and where the Bretons' druids gather to sing, talk, and meditate.
Outside the near-mythical clutches of the forest, life seems much simpler in the Bretic West. These lands are densely populated, especially in the south of Daggerfall Proper - the Southweald, held by the Archdukes Acquet, - and so villages and little towns hide behind every which hill and twist of the road. Much of the open land is worked, and split apart into plots for serf and noble alike by rows of hedges tall and short. Decrepit ruins of ancient wizard-towers break up the rural monotony, otherwise disturbed only by tall, stern castles or the occasional larger town, rich enough to round itself with a stone wall. It is only in the very southern tip of the land, where the spires of Daggerfall itself loom like man-made mountains, that one might break utterly with nature and become lost instead in a veritable maze of rock and iron.
Daggerfall Proper EditThe very west of the realm is typically referred to as Daggerfall Proper, encompassing much of the political and cultural heart of old Daggerfall. It does not, however, correspond exactly to the borders of the pre-Warp Kingdom of Daggerfall - in modern times, the isle of Betony and the greater part of what used to be the Barony of Tulune are also considered Daggerfallian, being as they are inextricably bound to the old kingdom's core.
A land of sharp social contrasts, but altogether affluent, Daggerfall Proper remains to this day one of the agricultural powerhouses of High Rock. East of the city of Daggerfall and along the coast of the Iliac stretch the plains of the Southweald, the product of long centuries of deforestation and agrarian enterprise. Several rivers and a plethora of small lakes and ponds dot the region, otherwise famous only as the breadbasket of Daggerfall. Towards the old eastern border with Shalgora, the port town of Debury perches on the Bay - equal parts city and castle, home to the Southweald Mint and watched over by Arkmoth Legion Fort, since appropriated by the local Archducal House of Acquet.
North of the Southweald is the wooded Pysant, where the land begins its steady climb towards the border glens. A chain of castles and lesser fortifications snakes through the region, a stark reminder of the fragile and uneasy peace that lingered for centuries over the borderlands between Daggerfall and now-subjugated Glenpoint. Of these, only one - Castle Tamwych, the ancestral seat of House Bridwell on the very edge of what was once the Kingdom of Daggerfall - still answers directly to the throne; most the rest owe their fealty, by blood or oath, to the Archdukes Pierrel, who reign most often from the imposing towers of Cagnay that straddle one of the main local waterways.
Just to the southwest, poised almost centrally, the great city of Daggerfall dominates the region. The greatest port in western High Rock, and rivaled only by Sentinel and Wayrest throughout the Iliac, Daggerfall is not a coastal city - but it has grown to subsume both banks of the river Dirne, which feeds directly into the Bay. Several inlets join into the Dirne throughout the city, and it is in one of the inlet crooks that the fabled Tower of Raven sits, the very centre of this sprawling urban cobweb.
Past the city of Daggerfall and the river Dirne, the forested flatlands give way to steep, craggy hills known as the Border Wolds. Beyond them are the fertile riverplains of Tulune - the spoils of the recent War of Tulunese Succession, bestowed by King Camaron upon the Archducal House of Beowen - whose north-eastern edges brush against the thicker woods of Glenpoint. In the south-west, meanwhile, the hills spill out across the rocky, wooded coast to make for a landscape truly onerous; a corner of the region known only for its many witch-covens, and for the irreverent sternness of the local Archdukes Paey.
See also: A History of Daggerfall
The long and storied history of Daggerfall is arguably one of the kingdom's greatest - and most jealously guarded - treasures, preserved in the many thousand pages of the Annals of Daggerfall and the works of vast multitudes of eminent Daggerfallian historians, alike. It is a well-known anecdote that the first of Tiber Septim's emissaries to arrive in Daggerfall were gifted a copy of the Annals to pass on to their Emperor, and that speaks volumes of the weight many in the West place upon the antiquity of their realm (the second half of said anecdote - that Tiber Septim then allegedly used the gift-book to prop up a bookshelf in the Imperial Palace - notwithstanding).
Little is known of the earliest years of Daggerfall; save a few passing mentions in the registers of Balfiera, and some oblique references scattered throughout the surviving (and available) writings of Raven Direnni, most of it is the stuff of chant and legend. Much of what we know of the first crowned king of Daggerfall, Thagore, reaches us through the knightly cycles composed about his life - the so-called Chants of Thagore - and historical fact has to be untangled from a web of myth and superstition. All we can surmise with any certainty is that, by Thagore's day, Daggerfall had long been ruled by witch-stewards placed there by the Direnni; Thagore was merely the first with the gall to claim for himself the title of king, and the ability to enforce his ambition despite numerous challenges from countless neighbouring wizard-lords.
Built upon the bare-boned remnants of the Direnni administration, in the years that followed Daggerfall came to scavenge together something approaching the lumbering hierarchical clockwork that drives the kingdom today - the foundations of statehood. When dissenters and rebels began to clamour not after land to extend their own hilltop kingdoms, but after the throne in Daggerfall, they were acknowledging that something had shifted during those three centuries of hegemony in the West that followed Thagore's reign. This 'something' allowed the Bretons of Daggerfall to thrive despite successive challenges - the Yoku MakeWay in c.1E808, the Thirty-Year Siege of Orsinium of 1E950-1E980, and the near-total dissolution of public order that followed the heavy toll paid in the Wrothgarians.
It was throughout those dozen or so years of almost constant infighting at the dawn of the First Era's second millenium that the Kingdom of Daggerfall can be said to have been set definitively upon the path it now follows. This was the end of the fabled glorious past that the West has spent the next several thousand years pining after, when history crossed from myth into cold, hard reality. Not since those days, when kings of Daggerfall numbered well in the dozens while the rule of the Twin Thrones hardly reached past the walls of their citadel, have the Kings in the West ever put their kingship before the title of Steward. Many of the old clans perished, many of the old towers crumbled; and when the dust finally settled, a changed kingdom was left standing.
Though the years number more, there is, perhaps, less to be said of Daggerfall after the watershed of this Betony Interregnum. By conquest, negotiation, and predatory marriage, the House of Thagor survived the Thrassian Plague and the Akaviri invasions alike - barely scraping by one year to prosper the next. The rule of the Reman Emperors was but a brief and distant flash of peace against the backdrop of endless wars between the many kings, princes and princelings of the Iliac, where only three - Daggerfall, Sentinel and Wayrest - stood head and shoulders above the rest, and which groans under the fear of war to this very day.
Recent Years Edit
Main article: The Greater Betony Campaigns
When High Rock was subjugated by Tiber Septim's legions at the close of the Second Era, the Kingdom of Daggerfall was among the first to welcome Cyrodiilic overlordship - for which it was allowed to remain largely untouched, indeed favoured, by the Imperial bureaucracy. With most local matters palmed off to the ancient and well-established machinery of the kingdom, and with only the thinnest veneer of Imperial oversight, matters continued much as they had for hundreds of years prior, proving once and for all that Daggerfall was well and truly impervious to all change.
Such, at least, seemed the case for much of the Third Era. It was a typical Iliac exercise that would ultimately see the face of the whole province irrevocably changed, when the ancient rivalry between Daggerfall and Sentinel flared up once again - this time, over the disputed isle of Betony. In the end, it was the Kingdom of Daggerfall that carried the field, but the labyrinthine intrigues spun behind the clashing of armies sent an echo that would build up to be the single greatest change the province had seen in centuries. With the vengeful spirits of kings prowling the streets of the capital, and amidst persistent rumours of meddling by the Emperor's own Blades, High Rock was reforged literally overnight.
But the Warp of the West brought no lasting peace to Daggerfall. All was still only for a brief while; as soon as the great lords had reassessed and repositioned, the West exploded into a flurry of chaotic skirmishes and roundabout negotiations, King Gothryd doing his stubborn best to retain the new conquests so unexpectedly thrust upon him, even as they struggled to tear themselves away. In the end, another uneasy peace was struck in the face of an impasse and under the growing shadow of Wayrest, and the King of Daggerfall was named King of the West.
Though it held for a time - certainly longer than anyone had ever hoped, feared or expected - it could not last forever. The Oblivion Crisis split open the honeypot that was new land ripe for the taking - with Northmoor's ducal line extinct, King Gothryd stepped in to 'keep the peace'; his nobles were not far behind in carving up land wherever they could, and vassalizing those lords who would not budge so easily. And though the old king's reluctance held the tide back for a while yet, it was not terribly long after his passing that this ramshackle order broke down for good. Under King Camaron, Tulune was inherited, Glenpoint annexed and Glenumbra tied securely into the many-layered web that is the aristocracy of Daggerfall. Lastly, his marriage with Kelmena Valtieri - daughter to the ruler of Camlorn - brought it under Daggerfallian rule, nearly doubling the kingdom's territory.
For the first time in years, the Kingdom of Daggerfall stands poised to look further east past its own nose, where Wayrest looms at the foot of the Wrothgarians. And while many in the West feel scarce inclined to chase after wars eastwards, more and more mutters are heard of confidence, even of change. The Warp, some claim, broke more than the old political order; and perhaps it truly is that the Kingdom has passed again into myth, into the fabled, heroic past that once birthed Thagore - and a realm that spanned the whole of Betony Greater.
The fortunes of the Kingdom of Daggerfall are often confused with those of its capital - and, certainly, with the more prominent example of Wayrest and its overwhelmingly urban economy lingering not far in the east, it is easy to see where this presumption might originate. Nor is it entirely unjustified; as the most populous city in the kingdom, Daggerfall is certainly the single greatest centre of industry throughout the West. The blazing furnaces of the capital's Iron Street - home to many of the city's base metallurgical industries - are said never to fade; the thick smog that lingers over this corner of Daggerfall certainly doesn't. Potters, brewers, enchanters, armoursmiths, alchemists and many other craftsmen labour day in and day out between the city walls, while countless ships and riverbarges ply the river Dirne, hulls laden with goods.
Unlike Wayrest in the east or many other Bretic cities, however, Daggerfall is not a free city, nor its many guilds autonomous. From proud steelworkers to alleyway prostitutes and catamites, all citizens of Daggerfall are clients to the Crown, its to protect - and extort. Every single one of the Royal Guilds of Daggerfall - down to and including, in recent years, the once-Imperial Guild of Mages - exist not as independent collectives of craftsmen, but as parts of the all-encompassing central hierarchy; legitimized by and in the service of the Kings and Queens of Daggerfall. In this regard, they are not terribly far removed from the enserfed rural peasantry that is the true backbone of the economy.
Indeed, famous though the kingdom may be for its spellwoven steel, it is agricultural produce that provides the bread and butter of the Daggerfallian economy, and ownership of land and souls that underpins the wealth of its vast aristocracy. Throughout much of the western kingdom, freedom is a rarity - reserved for the nobility and little valued among the commoners. The Daggerfallian hierarchs reign over their social inferiors in a system almost akin to the purposeful and structured subservience once imposed by Clan Direnni. Much of the rural commonry is shackled to what land their clans and families were given by the ruling lords; in return, they work the great estates of the nobility - the very ones that have turned Daggerfall into one of the breadbaskets of High Rock.
As the single oldest kingdom in High Rock, Daggerfall lays claim to being one of the original cradles of Bretic culture and civilization. It is certainly true that, during its three centuries of hegemony following the ascension and rule of King Thagore, the western realm served as something of a model for many of the nascent Bretic principalities then developing throughout the region; and while Daggerfallians themselves tend to grossly overestimate this formative influence, there is no disputing that the rigid hierarchy of their kingdom remains one of the earliest examples of independent Bretic state-building and cultural enterprise.
Daggerfall is best understood as a patchwork of insular societies, periodically looking outwards. From ancient clans and witch-covens to present-day guilds, western Bretons have always tended towards segregation along corporate lines, and many identify themselves by their caste, guild, village, or family first, and kingdom - or even Imperial citizenship - second. Much of the public life in Daggerfall is built upon display and affirmation of status, in which the locals employ a vast array of symbols and badges of office both literal and metaphorical.
This should not be misunderstood as little more than empty braggery, or a culture-wide obsession with shallow and ostentatious display. Identifying with a certain group or community is social shorthand for associating with a particular set of values and aspirations - and exclusive privileges. A chevalier's ribboned sword is more than just a sign of martial daring and honourable service - it is a show of superiority over one's social inferiors; that is why such and similar symbols are typically jealously (and oftencase legally) guarded, lest their legitimacy and meaning be undermined through appropriation by pretenders. It is the Crown that usually serves as the final arbiter in these matters, as the ultimate source of all authority and privilege - even if it rests at the end of a long line of patrons, nobles and lesser hierarchs.
Of the values and ideals thus displayed, freedom is perhaps one of the rarest and least valued in Daggerfall. It is less a permanent moral fixture and more an occasional toy for the nobility, a bauble of the high aristocracy. Most Daggerfallians are more concerned with honour - whether personal or familial - and loyalty, the result of a veritable caste society built upon public shows of rank and station. For the nobility, it is their title and honour, and the honour and titles of their whole household, that governs all things; for chevaliers, everything depends on the rank of their master or mistress; as for the commonry, their lives are built around their bonds to their lords, and around clan and locality.
The commoners' clans are a curious thing, almost akin to the great houses of the aristocracy. They are corporate creatures, composed of any number of related (sometimes only tenuously so) families at once, whether scattered across a whole region or concentrated in only a handful hamlets and towns. In some places, such as the capital, clan bonds might be weak at best, forgotten and superseded by other groups and identities; across much of rural Daggerfall, however, the clan - alongside the temples - is the only real guarantor of social security and protection. It is your clan-kin that vouch and take vows in your stead at legal assemblies, and to clan-kin you turn for aid first in destitute times. One would think that centuries of serfdom might have eroded such seemingly primeval bonds - but that is not the case, and family and kin continue to be the base building blocks of all levels of Daggerfallian society.
There are few who can understand the entirety of the tangled mess that is Daggerfallian law. Even without the added and fairly recent complication of subsuming the legal practices of neighbouring principalities, it is systems without a system - a chaotic web of ancestral clan-laws and the spoken laws of the people, of town and city codices each recorded and enforced by that commune only, of aristocratic customs and Crown laws. The Septim Empire never made that last wholehearted push to enforce its rights and dues upon this timeless kingdom, and so things persist much as they have for aeons prior - with only the thinnest veneer of subservience to Cyrodiil.
Except in matters of concern to the Twin Thrones, law and its execution is largely governed by local peculiarities and traditions. Most of the commonry never have cause to look beyond their own assemblies, where decrees are enforced by communal pressure and expectation rather than any engine of force. The law here is alive in the minds of the people, still the preserve of the spoken word, and so is mutable and subject to interpretation by a community's best-learned. In some corners of the kingdom, the law-speakers of old still commit law and precedent to memory and then wander from hamlet to hamlet, bringing not only arbitration, but also news and rumours; but it is a dying practice, hardly encountered except in the northern and westernmost reaches of Daggerfall.
It is in towns and regional urban centres that one might begin to find some semblance of a codified system, where laws are often kept in great written codices - penned ages ago, and rarely amended since. The lawreaders, respectable burghers and guildiers to a one, often take the role of judge and prosecution both, and they might, in a few rare cases, begin to employ professional guards and lawkeepers to enforce their sentences; but much of the law's weight is still owed to communal pressure, the threat of rejection and ostracizing hanging heavily over offenders' heads.
Only in the most extreme or unusual cases must the commonry treat with the legal machinery of their social betters. The rule in Daggerfall never varies; the law of the sovereign is the law of the land, and the aristocracy - be it a mighty duke in his halls, or a chevalier ruling from her timber dwelling - goes to great lengths to ensure their courts retain the necessary pomp and gravity expected. Here, professional (and generously compensated) lawyers labour behind the stage, putting words in the mouths of their hierarchs as they dispense sentence after sentence for their retainers to enforce. The Archducal Houses and some of the wealthiest aristocrats immediately beneath them go as far as funding an apparatus mimicking that of the Crown, if significantly lesser in scope, with wandering bailiffs and regional courts.
As for the Crown, its royal courts can be found in every greater town or castle under Thagor rule; and where there are none, royal bailiffs roam the land, with a small retinue or alone, collecting petitions - and sometimes even attempting to address them. For many dissatisfied with local law, or the law of their immediate lord, a bailiff represents the most attainable final appeal, being (theoretically) above and beyond the petty politicking of all the Twin Thrones' many subjects, in much the same way that royal law supersedes any other. For equally as many among the commonry, however, they are an untouchable - never to be bothered lest royal wrath be incurred, for the Thagors in distant Daggerfall rule over so much and so many, it would be almost sacrilege to burden their emissaries with anything else.
Much of Daggerfallian law, whatever its form, is concerned with maintaining peace, tradition, and the boundaries between various social groups. In this, it makes use of some truly draconian symbolic punishments, aimed at either a person's physical body or honour. Thievery or unlawful carrying of a chevalier's blade may cost you two fingers off your left hand - or more, depending on how much you stole or by whom you were caught; a permanent mark of shame to set you apart from the rest of society. Meanwhile, offenses such as embezzlement or minor disturbances of the peace - or even profiteering, a craftsman or merchant's driving their prices too far up, or too far down, from the traditional norm - are punished by public shaming, and having to publicly haul a dog on your back for a mile or two is one popular sentence. Notably, imprisonment is hardly considered a sentence in and of itself - in a culture that does not much value the principle of personal freedom, but places great emphasis on public and communal existence, banishment and the confiscation of property take its place instead.
Of particular note is the punishment reserved for the accused who refuses to plead either guilty or innocent when called upon to do so before a royal court or bailiff. In such cases, they are shackled to the ground on their back and a door is placed upon them; then, heavy weights begin to be laid upon the door one by one, gradually increasing the pressure. An unsurprisingly high proportion relent and agree to plead before their inevitable (and inevitably torturous) death, "crushed by the burden of their unspoken guilt, and their dishonour before the Twin Thrones."
Necessitated by a strict occupational hierarchy and buttressed by a religious belief in final ascension through enlightenment, instruction and the spread of knowledge permeate all levels of Daggerfallian society. Serf or burgher, noble or chevalier, education invariably begins at the earliest years of one's life, and continues to shape it throughout; after all, it is the high teachings of the guild that define a guildier, and years spent in martial training that set a chevalier apart.
For the commonry, whether rural or urban, education is largely a utilitarian matter, confined to the wisdoms of one's own parents and the tricks of apprenticeship later in life. From as young an age as four or five, children are expected to help around the house, picking up bits and bobs of Bretic lore and the skills they will need later in life - be it the peculiarities of a bookbinder's trade, or the rough realities of a serf's existence. The older the child, the more they're expected to do, until the inevitable send-off to formal apprenticeship and the start of one's own adulthood.
In the countryside, this might amount to finding employ in the household of family friends or clan-kin, or even the local chevalier's manor; for townsfolk, it could mean work and training under a craftsmaster. The temples, too, open their doors to all, and here it is important to note the wandering priests of Julianos, who travel the land and preach both new philosophies and discoveries, and old, reliable knowledge alike; a brief and brilliant flash of higher learning for any they encounter. Whatever the destination, however, the expectation is always the same - to see the world, to learn your place, and hopefully, to find the beginnings of your own family.
Matters are not so terribly different among the highborn. A chevalier's child will be tutored at home, both by their parents and with the help of whatever household they might keep; sometimes, a priest of Julianos is paid and invited to stay (or a donation made to the School of Julianos itself), teach-preaching to the local peasantry and the chevalier-to-be both. Inevitably, banner age comes to loom overhead, and the adolescent soldier-squire is either presented to the banner-drills, or otherwise sent to forge a different path in life - be it in marriage to another of their rank, in the service of their lord, or in the higher guilds of the capital.
Similarly, if more lavishly, the children of the aristocracy are typically entrusted largely to their family retinue, with their parents serving mainly to set an example and guide their tutoring from afar. Most nobles will marshal all the resources of their household in the pursuit of a well-rounded education, be it at the hands of their seneschal, one of the trusted house chevaliers, or a specially invited tutor - lawyer, wizard, or priest, or indeed all at once. Afterwards, the aristocratic scion may be sent to one of the high guilds; they are rarely expected to remain there for long, though the children of lesser nobility might well find permanent employ as lawyers, scribes, or wizards. More commonly, they are simply palmed off to the house of another noble - a family friend or a relative, perhaps, or even the house of their sovereign lord (up to and including the royal court), where they are expected to learn all the intricacies of an aristocratic existence whilst showing off their impressive upbringing to date.
Above and beyond professional education, Daggerfall boasts a place among the prime centres of learning throughout High Rock. The Crown keeps any number of eminent scholars, historians, arcanists and artists on its payroll at any one time, be it through direct patronage by one (and in a few rare cases, both) of the monarchs, or the favour of one of their courtiers; indeed, the Grand Historians of the Vault of Ledgers are typically famed and enlightened figures themselves, and often surrounded by others of their kind. Beyond that, there are the Royal Guilds - and while most are associations for the lower crafts, some foster disciplines like alchemy, astromancy, architecture, or artificing and engineering. The kingdom might not boast a single university within its borders, but that is only because their various disciplines are the purview of a peculiar guild academia, or of related societies and associations.
Main article: Varieties of Faith in the Empire: Daggerfall
The western kingdom is a land steeped in myth, legend and ideal, and much here is built upon sacred bonds and barriers. The cycles of nature and life are governed by the divine, and tended by their temples; the most binding of all oaths and agreements are made in places of sacred publicity, from chapels and open-aired altars to ancient rune-circles and wyrd-groves; and all the while, the celestial hierarchy of Kynereth's court mirrors - and legitimizes - the proceedings of the Thagors' own halls. This is not a faith whose practice would seem wholly familiar to the strictest Colovian bishop - it is a worship by doing, by ritual, by life itself.
Central to west Bretic beliefs is the notion that the mortal world is ultimately nothing more than a gilded prison to be escaped, once devised by the Bad Man, Sheor. Unlike the Thalmor of Summerset, however, they could not fathom attempting to unmake the mortal plane to escape it. Instead, the locals place their faith in transcendence through enlightenment, often understood in connection to the arcane. Hence the many hedge-wizards who roam the kingdom's wilds, pursuing that final epiphany in their solitude; occasionally, one will amass a small knot of like-minded followers, and a new philosophy will be born - to whither and die, or to live and worm its way into local superstitions, another layer in an already impenetrable tangle of ideas and beliefs.
Not all, of course, can throw all they have to the wind in pursuit of arcane wisdom, and so many in the west place their faith in the endless cycle of reincarnation that holds them within the mortal plane. Live life well and honourably, and you might be reborn with the seed of greatness; such is the common philosophy of Daggerfall. It is no coincidence that it reinforces the existing social pressure to live respectably, and in accordance to your rank and station - the gods, too, are part of the all-encompassing hierarchy of existence, same as the Thagors and even the fabled Direnni of old.
Preoccupied chiefly with doing, the temples of the Daggerfallian West might seem more alike to guilds than houses of faith and cradles of high theology. It is certainly true that pseudo-Colovian monasticism finds little purchase among the western Bretons, their priests oftentimes living on the road or at least making periodic journeys through a certain familiar region, offering whatever their divine might - healing, charity, teaching, or even entertainment. Some of the priestly convents might thus reek of witch-covens from an outlander's perspective, especially as many dabble in matters such as Daedric summoning; it is only in the capital itself that a more Cyrodiilic temple hierarchy has taken root, in the figure of the Archbishop of Daggerfall and his clergy, and even this has done little to bring the local pantheon into stricter accord with the Imperial Nine.
Politics in the Kingdom of Daggerfall are the exclusive preserve of its nobility, and dominated chiefly by their relations with the Thagor Crown. Issues of honour, land, or money are most often at stake, and the Twin Thrones maintain an ancient and somewhat labyrinthine apparatus to ease such, ranging from roaming royal bailiffs to the many-tiered court that resides invariably in the capital, refusing - rather atypically, for a Bretic court - to budge from its nest in the Tower of Raven.
Said royal court is almost synonymous with Daggerfallian politics at their highest level. While each of the Archducal Houses hold their own court - and they are not insignificant, being as they are accustomed to reigning with all the attributes of kings, - and many other nobles too, it is in the halls and corridors of the royal towers that every deal imaginable might be struck, every favour conceivable bought, and every complex intrigue unraveled. The rule of the kings and queens of Daggerfall is "held of Direnni, by will of Meridia and by leave of Kynereth", and they hold themselves above the petty kings and hilltop kingdoms of other Bretons.
Legitimized as the Stewards of Daggerfall as put forward by Raven Direnni herself, the House of Thagor remains to this day at the very centre of Daggerfall's politics. Whether through ability or sheer fortune, their line has never once been broken, nor unseated from the Twin Thrones - if only because marriage into the royal family invariably means adoption into its ancient ranks. There have been Thagor kings and Thagor queens, Thagor bastards and even Thagor pretenders; but throughout the whole of the Kingdom of Daggerfall, there have never been Thagors' peers, and the Crown has survived intact every challenge and upset since the First Era interregnum.
Below the king and the queen - reigning on constant display from the Towers of Daggerfall - sprawls their vast and many-tiered court, built around tending to their every need and slightest whim - all while scheming and competing for royal favour and patronage. Everything here is built around the pursuit of wealth, prestige and influence, but never at the cost of public image and etiquette. It is a glamorous roulette, where reward must come before the costs can ruin you. More than one noble house has squandered whole fortunes here to no gain, laid low for centuries if not forever; and yet the allure of gifts, of high rank, of influence over the monarchs themselves, is much too strong for most to resist.
Daggerfall Proper is one of the most densely populated regions across the Iliac Bay, and throughout the whole rest of High Rock. An Imperial census from the tail end of the Third Era puts the population of the capital city at well above a hundred thousand, easily among the largest cities in Tamriel; and while little precise and reliable data exists concerning the countryside, it can safely be surmised that the West accounts for a great portion of High Rock's overall populace. With good reason - despite the stifling, dry heat of the summers, the climate here is milder, and the land more welcoming than further east, in the Wrothgarians and beyond.
Whatever their exact numbers, it is clear that the majority of Daggerfall's overall population resides centrally - in the fertile regions surrounding the capital and the river Dirne, and then further east along the coast, in the agrarian reaches of the Southweald. While the city of Daggerfall itself is a melting pot of cultures, home to sizable Redguard, Nibenese, Colovian, and even Orcish and Reach communities, the smaller townships and rural reaches of the kingdom remain overwhelmingly west Bretic; marked by strongly elven features and influences, much more so than their cousins north of the Wrothgarians (if not exactly as overwhelmingly as the mongrelmen of the Western Reach).
Beyond the main centres of Daggerfall, Tulune and Debury, the region is not highly urbanized - but, as is the case across most of the Iliac coast, it is home to countless smaller towns and cities that would constitute little more than glorified villages by Nibenese standards. They serve as local economic, religious and cultural centres, and sometimes also the seats of nobility; urban autonomy is not a feature of the Daggerfallian hierarchy, and the vast majority of these settlements have remained clients to their ruling lords and ladies ever since founding.
Perhaps the most peculiar feature of Daggerfall is its vast host of aristocrats; available data suggests that nobility, including the militant chevalier caste, account for near a tenth of the whole populace. Much of this number consists of the aforementioned chevaliers, the very lowest link of the kingdom's aristocratic food chain and practically a class unto themselves, and it is only possible because a great many of these soldier-knights live in conditions not far removed from the existence of a well-off freeman in any another, less sharply ordered Bretic kingdom. And while some might certainly live in fortified estates more akin to the knightly abodes typical across the rest of High Rock, they all subscribe to the unique ethos of a rank that is more soldier than chivalric warrior.