Covenant Laws (Mundane)
The mundane name of the Nova Semitae Covenant shall be the local name of ‘Melverley’. References to the village as such nonetheless refer to the covenant.
Membership of Covenfolk
All covenfolk of Melverley are freemen. The Covenant shall not keep nor consider any covenfolk a villein. [serf]
The covenant allows for residents (covenfolk), and recognizes a second status, which it offers to mundane visitors. The status of Covenant Guest may be extended by the invitation of a single member of the covenant. Covenant Guests are afforded basic rights detailed by these laws. They are afforded no voice in the mundane governance of the covenant. The status of Covenant Guest may be revoked by the member who granted it, by the Autocrat, or by any member of the Council of Members.
The status of covenfolk shall be extended to all those who founded the covenant with the Magi of Nova Semitae and to those who have, and continue to, fulfill the responsibilities of membership.
The status of covenfolk shall be extended to all issue of existing covenfolk.
The status of covenfolk may be extended to newcomers, unless testimony is brought against him that proves him unfit to be a member, in which case all rights of residency shall be withdrawn. Covenant residency persists, unless abridged through censure of canceled through expulsion.
The Council of Members shall appoint a mundane to the position of Autocrat, per the Charter of the Covenant of Nova Semitae. The Autocrat shall present a formal report to the Council of Members prior to the Winter Solstice. A report regarding the shortfalls, windfalls, or other noteable financial and physical changes to the Covenant stores and membership shall be made available as seems appropriate.
The covenant Autocrat shall appoint the position of Turb Captain to a mundane member of the covenant of suitable martial and leadership ability. This appointment may be at the selection of the Council of Members, or lacking a candidate from the Council, may be appointed by the Autocrat. The Turb Captain shall advise and report to the Master-at-Arms of the Council of Members on the defenses of the covenant. Grogs shall be soldiers paid to guard the covenant and the Members of the Council, both at home and abroad. The Turb Captain shall drill and maintain the grogs' schedules as well well as their discipline. The Turb Captain shall drill and maintain the Home Guard at least one Sunday per month.
The covenant Autocrat shall propose laws for the good of the covenant and present them to the Council of Members for debate and passage. These laws shall be binding solely to the Covenfolk and Covenant Guests.
May 14, 1187
In matters involving covenfolk of the Jewish faith, they may submit themselves to the traditions and judgement of Jewish courts as convened and approved by the resident rabbi of the covenant. In matters involving both Jews and non-Jews, or entirely non-Jews, shall go before the judgement of the Autocrat, or to the Council of Members.
March 13, 1226
Whereas the village of Melverley has been declared to be a Welsh village, Deuddwr commote, Principality of Powys Wenwynwyn, it recognizes Sir William Cornwell as its overlord. The village shall continue to be governed by the Council of Members and answer to Sir William Cornwell and his heirs for as long as he shall be the lawful ruler.
Resources of Nova Semitae
Resources of this covenant are held in common by the Council of Members who shall maintain and defend them. Resources are shared among covenfolk per the laws of the Charter of the Nova Semitae Covenant and as these laws shall provide. This shall include all the product of the lands, animals, and equipment held by the Council of Members. Covenfolk may only consider their fair allocation, and any private gifts, as their own property. No covenfolk may trade property that is not his.
No land, animal, or equipment shall be paid to covenfolk in lieu of salary. Animals and equipment may be purchased from the covenant as the Autocrat shall decide.
The fields held in common to be worked by covenfolk for as part of their duties include the North Tower Common Fields and the South Tower Common Fields within the covenant walled area; the North and South Haimwood Common Fields outside the covenant walls; as well as the Orchard.
Privileges of Covenfolk
All covenfolk shall receive an adequate share of the covenant’s resources in order to house himself, feed himself and his family, and to engage in a useful trade. This shall include housing as directed by the Autocrat, and a small portion of land to work for his family’s sustenance. This land allotment shall be some 50 paces by 100 paces unless otherwise directed by the the Council of Members, any of its Members, or the Autocrat.
The full salary of covenfolk shall be determined by the Autocrat and subject to his periodic review.
All covenfolk of or over the age of 13 engaged in a useful trade recognized as useful by the Autocrat, the Turb Captain, the Council of Members, or any Member of the Council of Members shall receive an annual salary, excepting that those who have not reached the age of majority of 21 shall have their salary handled by their parents or nearest adult guardian. This salary shall not be paid while he is in apprenticeship, but shall commence on entering journeymanship.
All covenfolk who have provided a minimum of 20 years of service, or reached the age of 50, whichever is later, may retire and be entitled to a pension equal to one half-salary to be paid until they shall have died, provided that they reside in the covenant. This pension shall not be paid if the retired covenfolk shall leave the covenant.
On each Solstice and Equinoix, the entirety of Nova Semitae Covenant shall gather for a feast of meat.
Covenfolk shall be allowed one day per week of rest in accordance with their particular faiths.
Covenfolk shall be allowed the traditional holy days of their faith, provided that covenfolk conclude their normal duties.
Upon the death of the head of the family, the lands and household shall be vested in the eldest surviving son. Should the eldest surviving son not be of the age of majority, it shall be held by the wife of the head of the family until the eldest son shall have reached age of majority. If the wife of the head of the family is also dead, and no sons shall remain, then the eldest daughter shall be vested. Should no living issue be found living in the covenant, or if said issue shall already be head of his own household, then the lands and household shall be at the disposal of the Autocrat.
January 14, 1172
No heriot shall be demanded from the new head of family for a transfer of lands and household. [Fee for privilege of transfer of lands to an heir.]
Covenfolk are not obliged to pay the merchet to the covenant. [Fine for marrying a non-freeman belonging to another manor.]
Covenfolk are not obliged to pay the leyrwite to the covenant. [Fine for a daughter having a child outside marriage.]
Covenfolk are not obliged to pay a fine to the covenant if fined by an outside court.
March 21, 1177
No female covenfolk shall be denied access to scholarly pursuits by order of the Autocrat, or any officer appointed by him.
No female covenfolk shall be denied martial training by order of the Turb Captain, Autocrat, or any officer appointed by him.
Responsibilities of Covenfolk
All covenfolk must pay rent for their holding and fair allocation of resources to the Autocrat at a rate and time determined by the Autocrat. The Autocrat must collect this rent no less than once per annum and faithfully record all such transactions.
All covenfolk of or over the age of 21 are required to be engaged in a useful trade as recognized by the Autocrat, the Turb Captain, the Council of Members, or any Member of the Council of Members. Failure to be so engaged shall result in censure or expulsion from the covenant; excepting that a waiver granted by the Council of Members or any of its members shall absolve the covenfolk of this obligation.
Each family shall provide one season’s work per annum on the fields held in common. This obligation may be waived by the Council of Members, any of its Members, or the Autocrat provided that the covenfolk is otherwise usefully employed, such as in the direct service of a magus.
Covenfolk are directed to act at the behest of the Council of Members as a whole and as its Members shall bid. Should any child of a covenant member be discovered to be Gifted, that child must be rendered unto the Council of Members at a time selected by the Council. If the covenant member refuses, that covenant member and his family shall be expelled from the covenant.
All covenfolk males being of sound health and of 13 years of age and older but less than 40 years of age shall be enrolled in the Home Guard and shall be proficient in the bow, or other melee weapon of suitable type as determined by the Turb Captain. The weapon must be kept in a sound condition and must be at hand at all times. All members of the Home Guard shall drill one Sunday per month as determined by the Turb Captain.
Covenfolk must pay a toll tax for the sale of any privately owned animal that is not purchased by the covenant.
April 21, 1173
All covenfolk on reaching the age of 13 are encouraged to enter apprenticeship in a useful trade for the future benefit of the covenant.
November 16, 1175
Covenfolk shall inform the Autocrat of any leavetaking that shall take more than two seasons. This is to ensure that his responsibilities can be accounted for.
The Autocrat shall endeavour to keep an accurate record of births and deaths of covenfolk. The Autocrat shall endeavour to keep an accurate record of the settling and departure of covenfolk.
Covenfolk must inform the Autocrat of births and deaths in their household, and of the settlement of new family, or any other household member not from Melverley village.
Censure of Covenfolk
If covenfolk should contravene the decisions of the Council, a Council member, or the Autocrat, or a grog that of the Turb Captain, then the member may be censured or expelled by the offended party save that the member may be restored by a vote of the Council of Members. The status of Covenant Guest may be withdrawn at any time by the Council of Members, any of its Members, or the Autocrat without the need for censure.
Censure may revoke the rights of covenant membership, or cause the offending covenfolk to be amerced, or both. [Amerce means ‘to be fined’.]
Expulsion is enacted by a motion of the Council of Members, or any of its Members on his own accord, or by the Autocrat on his own authority. Expulsion shall require the former covenfolk to cease to draw upon those rights by the first full moon after the expulsion was enacted, except that the Council of Members or one of its Members or the Autocrat may require that they depart sooner.
Covenfolk may appeal a decision of the Autocrat or any of his officers to the Magister. Covenfolk may appeal a decision of the Magister to the Council of Members.
If covenfolk shall commit a non-capital crime, he shall be rendered to the Autocrat for punishment. The covenfolk may instead choose to be rendered to the nearest Hundred to stand trial. If covenfolk shall commit a capital crime, he shall be rendered unto Royal Justice. If covenfolk shall commit an ecclesiastic crime, he shall be rendered to the nearest archdeaconate or bishop's court for proper judgement.
Within at least 100 paces of the western side of the covenant wall, no fields, housing, or any other buildings shall be built, nor shall any trees be allowed. This is in order to provide archers a clear view of approaching mercenaries.