In Dòkràr, the collective term Free Cities (Kràaxodsa [KRAY-ah-ksohd-sah) has been used from the early 6800s to denote a self-ruling city that enjoyed a certain amount of autonomy and is represented in the Diet of the Realm (Ràkrxos [RAY-kur-ksos]. A Free City holds the status of immediacy, and as such, was subordinate only to the First Lord, as opposed to being subordinate to a lesser lord.
Origin & Development
The evolution of some cities into self-ruling constitutional entities of the Dòkràkr was slower than that of the secular and ecclesiastical princes. In the course of the 6600s and 6700s, some cities were promoted by the emperor to the status of Free Cities (Ràkrxodsa[RAY-kur-ksohd-sah]), ), essentially for fiscal reasons. Those cities, which had been founded by the First Lords in the 6300s through the 6600s and had initially been administered imperial stewards (Quša [CHUH-shoh-sah]), gradually gained independence as their city magistrates assumed the duties of administration and justice. Others were initially subjected to a lesser lord and, likewise, progressively gained independence from that lord. In a few cases the former lord continues to claim the right to exercise some residual feudal privileges over the Free City, a claim that gives rise to constant litigation.
Like the other Imperial Estates, they could wage war, make peace, and control their own trade, and they permitted little interference from outside. In time, a number of Free Cities formed City Leagues (Xodsabimda [ksohd-SAH-bim-dah]) ) to promote and defend their interests.
In the course of time, cities gained, and sometimes – if rarely – lost, their freedom through the vicissitudes of power politics. Some favoured cities gained a charter by gift. Others purchased one from a prince in need of funds. Some won it by force of arms during the troubled 6700s and 6800s and other lost their privileges during the same period by the same way. Some cities became free through the void created by the extinction of dominant families. Some voluntarily placed themselves under the protection of a territorial ruler and therefore lost their independence. A few were stripped by the Emperor of their status as a Free City for genuine or trumped-up reasons.
Having learned from experience that there was not much to gain from active, and costly, participation in the Diet of the Realm’s proceedings due to the lack of empathy of the Lords, the cities usually make little use of their representation in that body. Almost all the cities are represented by various Mirakbars (where the Diet is located) lawyers and officials who often represent several cities simultaneously. Instead, many cities find it more profitable to maintain agents at the First Lord’s Court Council (Rukros [RUK-rohs]), where the risk of an adverse judgment poses a greater risk to city treasuries and independence.
Unlike the Free Cities, the second category of towns and cities, now called Territorial Cities (Romdxodsa [rohm-KSOD-sa]), of which there are currently 6 (Kòemz, Kakemsam, Lulvèrz, Kuax, Lèoz em Vaxkardar, and Šòlòrinö), are subject to a lesser lord, and while many of them enjoy self-government to varying degrees, this is a precarious privilege which can be curtailed or abolished according to the will of the lord who granted the charter.
There are several thousand towns and cities in the Dòkràkr, although over nine-tenths of them have fewer than one thousand inhabitants. Over time, fewer than two hundred of these places ever enjoyed the status of Free Cities, and some of those did so only for a few decades. There are currently 96 such cities in the Realm.
Free Cities were not officially admitted as Realm Estates to the Diet of the Realm until 6889, and even then their votes were usually considered only advisory compared to the Chambers of Electors and Lords. The cities divided themselves into four Circles (Dràk [DRAYK]. The Northern Circle (Murdamdràk [MUHR-dahm-drayk] consists of the Free Cities in the Ridaxok, Rikreken, Vikonen, Vixakòrd, and Vòrdarkòrd regions; the Eastern Circle (Uxamdràk [UKS-ahm-drayk]) which consists of the Free Cities in the Börenen, Mòšaràkr, Savòrdosk, and Vurkenen regions; the Western Circle (Vaxamdràk [VAHKS-ahm-drayk]), which is made up of the Free Cirties in the Imsakrèka, Kidkardar, Murdkardar, Rersarom, Rukrom, Sòmakrom, Udromkòrd, Vaxkardar, and Vemzarom regions; and finally the Southern Circle (Kidamkràk [KIH-dahm-krayk) which consists of the Free cities in the following regicons: Ràòmanen, Rauvren, Ruvaksen, Sàkrom, Sesarkesen, and Uxkardar. Each Circle has a number of semi-collective vote which are apportioned proportional to the actual votes cast.
Murdamdràk (1 vote)
Uxamdràk (3 votes)
Vaxamdràk (6 votes)
Kidamkràk (7 votes)
- Ròjamkibèrs ok Kar
The constitution of Free Cities is republican in form, but in all but the smallest cities, the city government was oligarchic in nature with a governing town council composed of an elite, hereditary patrician class, made up of the most economically significant burgher families who have asserted themselves politically over time.
Below them, with a say in the government of the city (there are exceptions where the patriciate rules alone), are the burghers, or citizens (Bèrsar [BEER-sahr]), the smaller, privileged section of the city’s permanent population whose number varies according to the rule of citizenship of each city. To the common town dweller – whether he lived in a prestigious Free City or in a small market town such as there were hundreds throughout Dòkràkr– attaining burgher status (Bèrsaràkrs [BEER-sahr-aykurs) could be his greatest aim in life. The burgher status is usually an inherited privilege renewed pro-forma in each generation of the family concerned but it can also be purchased. At times, the sale of burgher status can be a significant item of town income. Burgher status is local and not transferable to another city.
The burghers were usually the lowest social group to have political power and privilege within the Dòkràkr. Below them are the disenfranchised urban population, maybe half of the total in many cities, the so-called “residents” (Bàkòkam [BAY-kowe-kam]): smaller artisans, craftsmen, street venders, day labourers, servants and the poor, but also those whose residence in the city was temporary, such as wintering noblemen, foreign merchants, lordly officials, and so on.
Urban conflicts in Free Cities, which sometimes amount to class warfare, are not uncommon. Sometimes the situation is considered sufficiently serious to warrant the dispatch of an special commissioner with troops to restore order and negotiate a compromise and a new city constitution between the warring parties.
Adapted from the Wikipedia article on Imperial Free Cities