Sunday, May 19, 2013

Boss Profile: Dawson

Marquess Dawson was a staunchly opinionated man, the adamant ruler of Ryerde, a territory in the Lycian League.

He once, as a young adult awaiting succession, spent a year living as a villager in Kathelet. Dawson was determined to see the world for himself. During that time, he formed many of his opinions on governance—opinions that were often starkly different from the prevailing thoughts of his era. He firmly believes in the benefits of local-based governance, including the popular selection of officials that dealt most directly with citizens. Under his rule, Ryerde one attempted a limited system of local democracy, where the Marquess nominated officials for a popular vote of approval. Dawson took care to nominate local leaders with established reputations in their communities, in order to give those communities a sense of connection with their government.

By some measures, it worked. Dawson oversaw the most rapid growth in military volunteers, as popular support encouraged service to the state. However, without a mechanism for the reconsideration of these officials (they served until they retired of their own accord), the perks of incumbency and power took its toll on Dawson's experiment. Although Dawson nominated local leaders to government posts, the system eventually degraded into a bureaucracy typical of that era's states. The "local officials" grew disconnected, and essentially became the government officials of old. A small burst of democracy and popular support reverted. The decline became undeniably apparent nine years after the system first began. Rarely, a death or retirement would bring in a new face, but with the majority of officials bureaucrafied, they could make little impact.

When living in Kathelet, Dawson worked as a farmhand. He connected with the farmer, and came to understand that having a relationship with your superior matters. This is where the idea came from. Although his experiment ultimately failed, it marked one of the first real attempts at direct democracy in Lycia.

One opinion, however, has been held by Dawson for a particularly long time: his belief that Lycia's leader should be determined by ability, not just automatically given to the Ostian heir. It all goes back to his father, who rose to prominence during Ulric's rule. Dawson's father, Dewydd, played an instrumental role as Ulric's advisor and political ally towards the end of the Ostian's rule. After Ulric's passing some in the upper class believed that Dewydd should succeed Ulric, but this chatter never amounted to a tangible effort. Uther succeeded his father, and Dewydd was shunned by the new Marquess, which created the rift between Ostia and Ryerde's royal families. Dawson shared in his father's resentment of the new regime. However, when Dawson succeeded his father, Uther had already grown into the role. Dawson chose to focus his early efforts not on usurping the leader, but instead on reforms in Ryerde.

As was stated before, Dawson is staunch. He accepted Uther, but the younger brother had long been an object of Dawson's disdain. When illness took Uther and swept the inexperienced Hector to power, Dawson knew that the time had come. He amassed many troops, bolstering his already impressive military with conscription. In addition, he began making connections with other Lycian royalty with a grudge against House Ostia. Yorrick of Tuscana and the young Eric of Laus pledged an alliance with Dawson.

Yorrick himself worked to obtain more allies, but his efforts were mostly thwarted. He tried to use Dawson's connections with Kathelet to sway their Marquess, but this effort ultimately failed to gain traction. In Caelin, Yorrick sponsored a rebellion over succession issues. Hervor, the bastard granddaughter of Lundgren, the brother of the deceased Marquess Hausen who himself tried to kill the Marquess's granddaughter in order to secure the throne, sought to take control of Caelin after Hausen's granddaughter ceded the territory to Ostian control. The rebellion, supported by Dawson's alliance, was defeated by the alliance of Caelin, Ostia, and Pherae, led by Kent, the captain of Caelin's knights.

With resources depleted in a failed attempt at gaining an ally, the conspirators pressed onward. Yorrick attempted to coax Orun, Hector's distant half-brother, with the suggestion that Dawson's reforms might allow Orun himself to become Lycia's leader one day. Out of loyalty to his family, Orun refused.

Nevertheless, the conspirators declared their attack. Eric of Laus, keenly aware that their alliance was in decline (and also aware that supporting Dawson's ascension would limit his own ambitions), decided to ally with Ostia in the middle of the battle. In addition, Orun mobilized Thria's small army to support Hector's coalition. With Tuscana's armies weakened, Ostia was able to defeat the conspirators. The battle ended with Dawson's death.

Although history will remember him only as a would-be usurper, Dawson's life serves as a reminder that while history may frame people as "heroes" and "villains," sometimes these roles aren't quite so clearly defined. Though his methods were indeed militaristic, Dawson was also one of Lycia's first groundbreaking proponents of democracy. When the Great War took Hector's life, necessity forced the breaking of Lycia's tradition. Eliwood, the longtime friend of Hector and Marquess of Pherae, was chosen for the leadership role. Eventually, Eliwood's son Roy was chosen to succeed him, but by then, the process of selecting leaders had already begun. Many years after his death, Dawson's most ambitious reform had become a reality in Lycia.

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