The upcoming Travian gives the option to found empires in which a king controls the fate of the state and supervises the military, while their governors take care of the economic development in the villages. With this, Travian has taken a close look at history, as the former German principalities and kingdoms developed out of Teutonic tribal societies.
Originally, the different tribes in central and northern Europe consisted of large family associations and clans that autonomously took care of business. Initially, the word king wasn’t used to describe a ruler with unlimited power over their subjects. Even chieftains of different settlements or leaders of smaller family associations used to be called king, kinglet or subregulus (lower king). The Vikings also had so-called “sea kings”, which had no territory of their own. They were however in charge of the longboats and the raids carried out with them.
During Roman times, Teuton kings used to be elected: In cases of military conflict, some tribes elected a general, a so-called “Heerkönig” (literal: army king; today best described as a warlord). Other tribes elected “kings” to smooth down differences and whose main task was to honor the Gods.
For tasks of such importance, only the most-respected members of the tribe were selected. Usually distinguished leaders, who have proven themselves in battle, who were considered to be very wise, or who have visibly been blessed by the Gods, were elected to be kings. A large entourage accompanying them to the electoral meeting, generosity (and the means to be generous), as well as eloquence tended to all work in favor of an ambitious candidate.
Over the course of the migration of the peoples, kingship did however changed from being an electoral exercise to becoming a hereditary office: Descent from royalty now formed the basis of the legitimation of authority. One no longer became king by achieving the loyalty of the people, but due to consanguinity, belonging to a more “noble” lineage. Kingship was now passed on from father to son.
The adoption of Christianity by the Teutons also meant a more prominent role for religion. Earlier Germanic leaders needed to prove their qualification to become king through deeds and their presence. Their entitlement now was based on the godly order and supported by the church. Aristocratic rule was thus authorized by an even greater power. Questioning this order not only led to punishments in this life, but would also carry consequences in the afterlife.
In the Middle Ages, this developed into a sophisticated feudal society in which the king transferred the administration and usage of land to his followers, which in turn had to pay taxes and be available for military service. Those princes and dukes then transferred parts of their feudal tenure to knights and barons. They, too, had to pay taxes and fight for their feudal lords in wars and feuds. This dependency was sealed by an oath of fealty that obligated followers to loyalty.
Even the rulers of smaller principalities, who themselves had sworn loyalty to a duke or the king directly as their feudal lender, practiced a sophisticated and expensive court. This is why many of the noble followers could usually be found in the prince’s palace, rather than on their own estates. Instead, governors made sure that fields would be tilled and taxes paid in time – players can also take on this role in the new Travian version.