‘Garret’s Gowt’ – a sprawling city on the fenland at the estuary of the <name> river. A sea port is there – and goods come down the river on barges – as they have done since ancient times. A bustling, (gowt comes from the name ‘sewer’ or underwater or march flood drain’.
Garrets Gowt is in the kingdom of Balcia, in the Duchy of Portrose.
It has a Free City status charter from the King – so, although it sits in the Duke’s lands, he has no jurisdiction within the city walls. Free city means the city is free to govern itself, in return for tithes and promises to supply men and supplies in time of war.
Although Garrets Gowt can be a bit like a frontier town, it is hugely prosperous and controls much of the trade. The mercantile classes are growing in stature, and it suits the king that this should not fall under the control of the Duke, who it is said, has an eye on the crown.
In return, the City council are canny to try and keep the Duke on side – as although he would be unlikely to create any direct problems to the city (which would give the king cause, and support to sanction him) – he has influence in the city nonetheless, and can make life life very difficult for trade beyond the city walls if he so desired.
In addition, they would rely on support from the Duke in the even of any acts of aggression by external powers.
The day to day business is resolved by the city council. The council meets twice a week and is made up with representatives of the Merchants Guild, the constable and a representative from the Duke (a concession granted by the city so the Duke can be informed of important business).
The rule effectively comes under the Merchants Guild
Trade is the chief economy in the city – the buying and selling of items. It has a strong team of craftsmen who create items for sale, either directly to customers, or more often to merchants who sell them on.
There is limited agriculture to speak of in the surrounding fenland. Most food items are imported.
It has a fairly strong fishing element
The Gowt developed purely due to its location – close to the estuary of a major river at a point where a secondary river joins.
It was originally a fishing village in the very early days. Over time the villagers learned to build draining ditches to make the surrounding fields farmable. These ditches were called ‘Gowts’
The fishermen needed to trade their fish to get food and other items, and from that they expanded to trade other items also between settlements. They found this more lucrative than fishing over time, and from there the powerful merchants guilds developed.
The Merchants Guild
The Gowt’s lifeblood is trade. The merchants control the flow. They get rich and use that wealth to keep the Duke and King happy off their backs. They are all powerful within the city walls, and exercise that power through the tool of the constable.
The Guildhall dominates the city centre. The organisation of the Guild is quite complicated, and at the higher levels incorporates many rituals and rules. There is much intrigue and backstabbing among the members –
The aim of the Guild Masters is to get wealthier, and make the Gowt powerful enough that it can decide its own destiny
The Crafters Guild
The Crafters Guild represents the craftsmen in the city. Not nearly as powerful as the Merchants guild, it is still a strong entity.
Craftsmen have grown up due to the flow of trade items through the city. The craftsmen are able to add value to basic items – e.g. carved wood, carpentry, metalwork – and sell on for a profit. The merchants are all too keen to encourage this and buy goods from the craftsmen they can sell on for greater value.
The Longshoreman (Lumpers) Guild
The Docks are controlled by the Longshoreman’s guild – who handle the loading and unloading of vessels. Commonly called Lumpers. They charge merchants for their services, and also operate some warehousing facilities (the merchants have their own stores also).
Law and Order
The Council appoints a constable to maintain law and order, (who is financed by the merchants guild – it is in their interests that anarchy is held back – and they have a say in who is appointed). The appointment is controlled by the Merchants Guild – and they generally appoint someone capable.
The constable is given a budget to appoint full time Watch men (who are supplemented by deputies on an ad-hoc basis). Most of the watch receive basic pay and just there to handle simple law and order.
The current constable (who is an ex-military officer and very capable) has created a core team of more capable watch men (the ‘Constables Watch’), usually ex-soldiers. Their job is investigative, and to act as a rapid response to more serious threats when they arise.
- City Walls
- Keep/Castle – now home of the watch, and used as a prison