The Republic of Piorenza


The Piorenzan chronicler Henry of Perasano recalls his seach for the Tyrant-slayer in this way: "I had finally managed to learn the name of the thirteen-year-old palace page who had made the Republic possible, by stabbing Boant the Usurper to death in his chambers. Andor of Carreva was his name, and his father lived in Carreva still, an olive farmer in a town famous for the quality of its oil, on the terraced hills west of the city itself. When I went out to learn Andor's fate, however, I found only the father and elder brother at work among their olive trees. Andor's brother, a man of genteel country manners, offered me an enormous portion of noodles dressed with olives, olive oil, tomatoes and pepper, with some capers and scallops. We chatted of this and that before coming round to the point. Whereupon I learned that Andor was in Piorenza, the very city I had left to find him. 'He has gone,' the father said, "to become a professional genius.' They were the only words I heard him utter.

"Some weeks later, I tracked down my quarry to a converted warehouse in the Mantillo district. In this ad hoc house and workshop were all manner of unusual mechanical devices, paintings and sculpture in progress, models of new buildings he was designing, and all other manner of works in progress so commonly found in the studios of our new republic's Master Intelligencers. "There was nothing so fascinating as one might see in the workshops of Endreas, or Volerati, but still Andor was clearly a man to observe and watch in the future.

Andor himself showed no interest in speaking of his role in the death of Boant 16 years ago. He was far more interested in what the future held. He is entering the competition for the dome of the One God's cathedral, and he promises that if he wins, it will be the most beautiful temple in all the city. He was also engaged in two painting commissions for the FirstCitizen, and three sculpture works from the Garado family.

"Like his brother, he offered me lunch, a simple meal of country bread and soup, with a wine of the Eastern Hills to wash it down with. I was unimpressed at first, but the subtle flavors grew on me and I found myself asking for thirds, much to my own surprise. Then, on a second round of his studio, I laid eyes on as magnificent a set of devotional paintings as I have ever seen, depicting the Creation of the Three Worlds by Wisdom. It amazed me that a man professing worship of the One God could do such marvelous work, and I said so.

"Andor told me that a new spirit and a new age were dawning here in Piorenza, in which the work of ancient times would flourish in human minds again, enriching everyone's thoughts with love for the past and burning desire to see its glories recreated.

"I paid him little mind. The geniuses of Piorenza can sometimes lay it on a bit thick.

"Nevertheless, I bought all six paintings. My wife Chloe will have a fit."

The Kingdom of Piorenza was really too small to deserve the name. Slightly more than 50 miles across from east to west, and not more than sixty from north to south, it hardly seemed worth the effort of ruling.

The opening of the southern traderoutes changed all that. In a matter of a few short years, the city and country of Piorenza flourished, transforming from a poor and rural land into a wealthy city-state composed of numerous towns, olive plantations, and wheat fields. Modern Pionrenzans eat more produce grown elsewhere than they do their own; they became a people for whom agriculture was a hobby. 'Piorenza has the best of the world's food,' goes the saying, and it may be true; the smells and tastes of not only their cooking, but that of a dozen lands, mingles on Piorenza's wide streets.

All this changed when Boant the Usurper, a Tocaran noble with an avaricious heart, captured the city in a bloody coup. Deprived of nobles and kings, the city and kingdom did not resist openly. Gradually, the number of Tocarans dwindled in Piorenza, either murdered or the subjects of intentional 'accidents', or merely getting out before the going got very rough. Boant held the throne two years, until the child tyrant-slayer, Andor of Carreva, assassinated him. Within hours of Boant's death, every Tocaran in Piorenza was slain by the bodyguards, sailors and household guards of the Tennarici family, a prominent and wealthy mercantile house of the city. Lorenzo Tennarici proclaimed the Republic, and every two years for almost 20 years now, he has been elected to the First Citizenship of the Republic of Piorenza, since only a man of such superb intellect and excellent culture could rule so fine a city as this.

Now, as before, Piorenzan ships and merchants travel away to the south and north and east and west, making landfall in a thousand ports all over the world, and bringing them home to markets. Few citizens are not prosperous, and indeed, Piorenza enjoys the highest standard of living in the world. As the proverb says, 'Let no one claim wealth until she has done her market rounds in Piorenza.' [Society Age: 4 (18 years) Orientation: Equilibrium/ Active; Aspects: Revolution (Arts, Culture), Conviction (Superiority). Isolation: 14; Interaction: 19.]

Piorenza depends upon the sea for much of its livelihood, and so new innovations in travel are always welcomed. Since the proclamation of the Republic, however, enormous strides have been made, thanks in part the new spirit of learning and intellectual curiosity which pervades the city. No one from a foreign land can count on arriving unnoticed, and many are questioned closely about the customs of their native country. In addition, the work of the independent crafter/ artisans, sometimes collectively called the Master Intelligencers or merely the 'geniuses', have produced a whole host of new inventions and devices and methods which are enthusiastically received. Domes, roads and bridges, clocks and clockwork toys of various sorts, and the new silk-weaving loom, as well as paintings, sculpture, and other arts, have all come from the work-shops of the geniuses. As the proverb says, 'Gods be thanked for the genius of Piorenza!' [TV: 12; emphasized: DMV, P/MV, B/AV, T/CV, MiscV; Advancement: 4; Assimilation: 7; DMV 12, P/MV 12, A/EV 12, B/AV 18, T/CV 14, MV 11, MiscV 18.]

Piorenza is fully agricultural, but with more than half of its 150,000 people living in urban or semi-urban environments, food production is confined mostly to small gardens, olive and nut plantations, orchards, citrus groves and other kinds of high-value food. Some large grain farms do exist, of course, especially in the hills to the east and west of the city, and bread and a type of pasta are prominent foods. In addition, milk and cheese are widely available; nuts, figs and all kinds of moderate delicacies are found on the tables of most everyone middle-class or higher. Beef, and lamb appear in most households, but not more than once or twice a month; fish, shellfish and poultry are far more common. Rice, a number of types of beans, and various types of soup with beef, fish, chicken or lamb broth are the central aspects of the diet. Wine, sometimes watered, is the main drink, though usually in moderation. As the Piorenzans say, 'Eat heartily, but drink wisely. A man soft with drink is a soft of purse." [Fully Agricultural; Sedentary]

As noted before, the Piorenzans are ruled by a republican form of government. Every two years, in general elections, all citizens over the age of 14 arerequired by law to re-register for the citizen army emergency draft (re-registration is required for all, but only those between the age of 17 and 45 may be called out in anything but extreme circumstances), and to vote for counsellors and the First Citizen. Four political parties have begun to emerge recently, more as loose allegiances than as any kind of formal organization, with the Tansillists in favor of a return to limited monarchy, with Lorenzo Tennarici as king; the Rodachians favoring total democracy and a program of welfare for Piorenza's poor; the Mervillists favoring the mercantile and business interests of the republic; and the Varanians who seek a military buildup to 'protect' the other small principalities on the peninsula through 'aggressive defense'. So far, the Mervillists are the dominant party, and the Tennaricis have denied the Tansillist agenda on numerous occasions. Local districts and towns are similarly governed by mayor and council, although by law they must be re-elected every year. The Council runs most of the republic's day to day operations, including market regulations and setting tariffs. Broad national policy is laid down by the Assembly, which is chosen by lot from the military conscription lists of six years prior. The Assembly, which has 141 members, meets for 6 days at the start of each season; and no one may serve more than six years in a row. 'A man who seems above politics is either an idiot, a foreigner, or up to something.'

Piorenzan law is a professional occupation; the law, especially trade law, is complex, and most merchants read law quite studiously before sitting for the Tribunal Examination, given orally every three months to anyone who can pay the two-'Victory' entry fee. Anyone may become a citizen of Piorenza, and thereby be eligible for any office except First Citizen, by taking an oath of allegiance and either purchasing ten acres of land, acheiving master rank in a craft, or serving ten years in the army. Any native-born whose parents are citizens is automatically a citizen, although failing to vote in two national elections is grounds for denial of citizenship if good reasons cannot be given.

Inheritance can only be given to citizens within the Republic; foreign persons must be careful to find a bonded and licensed inheritance agent to bequeath their goods to that they may be passed to more regular heirs, or else lose them to the state. Women take their husband's name at marriage, and first children usually inherit. [Republic; power 6; Authority 8; Consent 10; Const. Supp. 7; Legal complexity 6; Kinship nondominant, matrilineal, impartible (frequently primogeniture)].

Relying on a vast network of trade, financial dealings, and supply routes, Piorenza relies principally upon an extensive system of credit for its business. Most of the prominent families and commenda (partnership companies) run banking services and mail routes, and even maintain banking and mercantile agents in dozens of major cities. The government also mints coins and draws up Republican Bonds. Piorenza's coinage is founded upon its silver mines in the western hills, with the silver Laurel being the principal unit of exchange. The copper blade, with a portrait of Andor's weapon, is worth 1/25 of the Laurel, while the Leaf is worth 1/5. The golden coins, the Wreath and the Victory, are worth 5 and 10 Laurels, respectively. The Kelwyn Moon is usually valued at 90% of a Laurel; the Benyran Lune, though essentially the same coin, is valued at 60% because of widespread hatred for the Tocarans.

The guilds of Piorenza possess enormous power, but they are countered by the free-wheeling, intriguing first families of the city, most of whom are merchants. The result is a half-mercantile, half-free-market where anything may or may not be illegal on any given day, depending on who has been influencing the Council lately.

Piorenza's trade network gives it access to a wide range of goods, raw materials, and services, which flow through its gates and harbor with astonishing rapidity. Its many industries turn imported raw materials into finished goods, and the profit of the middleman keeps much of the economy going. Even so, Piorenza makes use of less than half what flows through its hands in a given year, thus enriching the city enormously as the goods are traded away for favors, other goods, and food. "A well-laid feast table is a ship laden with cargoes from 'round the world." [Resources 11; Exploitation 8; Trade 17].

The Republic maintains a standing Army of some 8,000 persons, and a fleet of some 30 ships, with a small elite marine force of 250. Most of the army is infantry, whose effectiveness and cost are appropriate to a citizen army, although there are cadres of cavalry and archers. These forces are supplemented by the Citizen Militia, which trains several days a year, and which is called out to repell attacks on the republic, rather than deal with combat in foreign parts. Citizens are required by law to possess a spear or poleaxe not less than 12 feet long; a dagger longer than one's hand; and either an axe, a sword, or a bow. In addition, most urban citizens are expected to take several nights a year on patrol as part of the city guard. After all, 'A neighbor by a neighbor helped is as a strong kingdom, and a fortress surely barred.'

Piorenzans value the humanities highly. Numerous religions come together in the melting pot of this very cosmopolitan city-state, among them the One God worshipped in Norvallin, the Nine Holy Ones of Benyr, the Deep Dreamers of the South, the Firebird of northern lands, and many others. Wisdom is widely admired and revered however, and is considered by many to be the patron of the Republic. A Piorenzan would say, 'Find wisdom first, and wealth and honor will follow.' [Religion: all values 14.]

In the arts and scholarly wisdom, no one exceeds Piorenza. Supporting three full-time theatre companies (including one which performs nothing but ancient comedies and tragedies), more than two dozen major painting and sculpture studios; three Master Intelligencers whose work is exclusively architectural; and more poets, dramatists, musicians and jugglers than could be believed, artists are welcomed in every gentle house in the republic. As the great Endreas is reported to have said, 'who has time for food when there are portraits to be painted?'

As for scholarly pursuits, the city alone maintains half-a-dozen private libraries, four schools and eight monastic communities. More recently, a scholarly community of humanists has sprung up in the northern town of Barrema in the abandoned Summer Palace of the Piorenzan kings. Calling itself the University of Barrema, it teaches the traditional arts of grammar, rhetoric, logic, astronomy, mathematics, geometry, and music; as well as the more modern subjects of medicine, law, history, and magery. A large percentage of the population is literate and even literary, and few Piorenzans can resist a good aphorism. As the saying goes, 'A Piorenzan without a proverb is a like a meal without wine.' [Scholastics T:13, P:15, D 14; Arts T:18, P:18, D 20.]

Despite this, magic is merely tolerated, rather than welcomed. It was present in small amounts before the Tocaran coup, much abused during the short time of Tocaran rule, and some occasional but highly publicized accidents have kept people wary. Its obvious assistance during the revolt which created the republic has helped greatly, and magic's potential artistic value, have kept it from being outlawed. Even so, Tocaran rule succeeded in eliminating most of Piorenza's major magical families, and so the range of philosophical understanding is greatly limited at the moment, though it is likely to rise as the republic grows older and attracts new citizens. Magical healing is well-patronized, of course, since ordinary doctors are seen as less competent. 'Trust a physician as far as you can kick him; trust a healer to the end of time.' [Magic T10, P8, D4.]

Piorenzan society is founded upon two things: Citizenship, and financial power. It is widely agreed that foreigners with enough money are just as capable of influencing politics as any citizen. No effort is made to stop this influence; acknowledging its existence publically and regularly alone seems to keep it from gaining too tight a hold.

As a result of the major shifts which have occured in Piorenzan society in the last thirty years or so, Piorenza is a very fluid society. 'Any citizen can be First,' as they say. Piorenzans tend to be proud of citizenship, and their power over the affairs of the Republic; any of them might be called upon to serve in Council or in Assembly by their district at almost any time. Thus, the rich citizens tend to host large parties for people from all walks of society. 'The next ship to anchor can make the poor man a rich one, or ruin the rich woman for ever.' This is not to say, however, that there is no observance of customary divisions between classes; far from it. Honor is very important, and while dueling is illegal inside a city wall anywhere in the republic, duels can be common, especially in the winter social season, when tempers get hotter as a result of long confinement. [Primary status: Tradition (Citizenship); Power (Economic); Custom Status: 5; Rigidity 3].

All citizens, as noted earlier, are expected to possess at least a small cache of weapons for emergencies. Artisans, particularly Master crafters and the Intelligencers, are given a number of wide privileges out of custom, and in the case of the geniuses, out of reverence for their intelligence and fame. Clergy of Wisdom have the right of trial by other citizen-clergy; all other religious are tried by the Republic Tribunals. The wearing of armor is reseved to citizens on patrol duty and to the regular armed forces. The assembly and council are housed and fed at public expense during their sessions. The First Citizen receives an allowance of 12,000 Laurels a year for the maintenance of the Republic's position and standing before the embassies of other nations and other foreign visitors.

Hierarchy of Social Estates

Ruling Agency
	Political (I)        Counsellor                            20
	Ecclesiastical (I)   Senior Clergy of Wisdom               19
	Merchant (I)         Senior Factor, Household Head         16-19
Ruling Class
	Merchant (II)        Senior Merchant (commenda), Factor    14-17
	Bureaucratic (I)     Senior official, Assembly officer     14-17
	Political (II)       Representative to the Assembly        10-18
	Ecclesiastical (II)  Wisdom middle clergy, senior clergy   14-16
	Artisan (I)          Senior Guild member, Genius           10-17
Privileged Class
	Merchant (III)       Junior Commenda, traders              12-15
	Ecclesiastic (III)   Other clergy                          10-14
	Artisan (II)         Other guild master, some journeymen   8-13
	Academic (I)         University professor                  11-12
	Professional (I)     Doctors, Lawyers, Architects          12
	Fine Arts (I)        Recognized artist of some fields      10-14
Professional Class
	Merchant (IV)        Minor trader, store operator, market   7-11
	Artisan (III)        Most Journeymen, apprentices           6-12
	Fine Arts (II)       Artist, dramatist, poet, painter       8-15
	Warrior              Soldier, mercenary, adventurer         5-15
	Academic (I)         Student, tutor, masters of arts        7-11
	Professional (II)    Astronomer (navigator), ship captain   6-14
	Arcane               Wizards, mages, seers, etc.            5-12
Labor Class
	Labor (I)            Citizen Farmer, Fisher, workmen        4-5
	Labor (II)           Non-citizen farmer, Fisher, workmen    2-3
Marginal Class
	Fringe (I)           Beggars, peddlars, hired fieldhands    1-2
	Fringe (II)          Outlaw, convict, thief, Tocaran*       0
*Tocarans, it should be noted, occupy a special place in most non-Tocaran-ruled kingdoms: the bottom. They are often seen as advance scouts for takeover attempts, and must often buy expensive writs of safe passage from the governments of the places they visit.

© Copyright 1995, Andrew B. Watt (
HTML source modified slightly 27 April 1995 by Sixten Otto (