The Lussa City was designed in my mind as old and messy.
It is unlike the Djeb city-state, which is layered on the old, built on a solid foundation they had found in the desert sands, which turned out to be the sunken ruins of a previous civilization. Even their architecture are layered, the roofs of market district buildings have been converted to footpaths and places for further commerce.
It is unlike the Solune Kingdom, which has sustained the old. The walls that surround the entire Kingdom have been there since its founding, even at the expense of trade and perhaps future growth. Most importantly, the King who currently rules is somehow the same King that founded the Kingdom centuries ago. Though there are explanations as to how this happened, the citizens don’t seem too concerned as to why. The Solune Kingdom, isolated by its wall, has remained quite undisturbed over time, keeping the old sustained into the new.
I bring these other two nations in for comparison. The Lussa City-State has progressed. It began as a military settlement, founded for defence against enemy. Then it grew in safety and number, and its external threat eventually moved on. The city developed laws, and forms of governance. This is about where things came to be, as I said at the beginning, old and messy.
There are heaps and heaps of laws, just stacked on top of each other. Antiquated laws are kept in the system, but forgotten about or ignored. New laws, conditions, and sections are added frequently. (This is about the point in the musings where I begin to generate, or perhaps discover, new things about the Lussa City.)
In order to keep up with the laws, specialists were required. We’ll call them lawyers, though I don’t know if that name will stick. The highest of the lawyers were those who knew all of the laws, judges. But the system of Lussa law was such that it kept growing.
It came to a point where no single person could possibly both learn all the laws and also practice as a judge. A judge could no longer feasibly know all the law. Instead, the title was given to those who were very knowledgeable with the law, knew how all the elements worked together, and knew where to find further written information if a case arose and required it. Specialists in sections of the laws would also later arise, and the lawyer, as well as (interestingly enough) the “poet” came to have their own distinct meanings and roles within the Lussa law system.
The end of all this is that the Lussa law system relies heavily on both what is written, and also on the judgement of judges.
The monarchy system’s succession started rather as expected; the leader’s first born son would take the crown. But there will always be problems with competing heirs and fighting for the throne, as we know from so much history and fiction. (I’ve compared Lussa and Solune succession before in a dialogue. Though it isn’t my best work, it was particularly fun since there has been no succession in the Solune throne…at least not yet.)
The Lussa City has had its fair share of problems with succession, but I suppose that at some point in the Lussa City’s past, these problems culminated in a potentially inevitable event: A Lussa King died before having any children. There were no heirs. The city-state had a problem.
After a period of confusion and worry, those judges, lawyers, and poets of the law stepped in. They drafted a document—The Lussa Confederation—instituting many positive changes on behalf of the city, and the city was happy to accept it. One of those changes would solve the problem of having no heirs, and that was to “institute a full democracy… [and allow] citizens to decide who from among qualified citizens who they wish to rule.”
In classic Lussa fashion, this new Confederation mostly added, rather than subtracting laws. The citizens would vote for a new leader who would then run the country for roughly the same length of time as a king (some kings did step down, especially if they felt they had cultivated a proper successor in their son, but that is perhaps a line of thinking for another time).
This meant that the “qualified citizens” in question would essentially act more like a pool of heirs rather than like a list of democratic candidates. And what made for a “qualified citizen” anyway? Well, it would not end up mattering because two things happened shortly after the Confederation laws came into place, deeply altering its effect.
First, a cousin, or perhaps second cousin, of the King got voted in. The people, it seems, weren’t sure what to do with the new system, and so they favoured something familiar. An aristocrat. A relative of the king.
Second, and most importantly, someone changed the Lussa Confederation document, and they changed it in the way a Lussa would—by adding on top of what was already there. This person made his alterations in plain sight via “Amendations” to the text. One key example is that he decided that the term “qualified citizen” in the Confederation “implicitly suggests, using the words ‘among qualified citizens,’ someone who is related to the Monarch, if only distantly.” What this did was create a strange hybrid that skewed far more towards monarchy than democracy. Put simply, the citizens would be able to vote…but only from the previous ruler’s children, and perhaps other close relatives.
(I wrote the Lussa Confederation out as an actual document, basing it off of the Warsaw Confederation of 1573. You can see the original and the Amendations on top. It is a little difficult to read due to the language, but my creative writing professor at the time thought it was funny in an ironic way, so that’s something.)
(You can read it here, though I will have to revise it. In that document, the successor and the person who changed the document are the same person, and here I’ve clearly said they are not. The change is important because, I don’t think that the first person “elected” after this document came into play was particularly malicious. The Lussa still use this system, and it’s been doing okay for them. The linked version document, being a few months old, doesn’t take into account any of the newer ideas I’ve put into this set of musings.)
Anyway, I think I’ve perhaps made my point. The Lussa City was designed in my mind as old and messy. Things added and added, without much revision or removing. The government system is built as a monarchy, sitting on top of (and sort of destroying) democracy, on top of monarchy again. The laws are added and added, and archived and learned, and forgotten, dug up again, with fringe cases perhaps prudentially ignored.
I think it should, and hopefully will, make for a good backdrop for stories, primarily for The Solune Prince, which is currently on hold as I power through university and do some planning and development for it; planning which you’re witnessing right here.
And that’s a little blog post of world building.
While I’m here, I’ll perhaps list some stories on the Underside.
– The Solune Prince, my serial novel, I said above is on hold, but now might be a good time to catch up.
– The Young Spectator, an interesting little short story about a girl who eavesdrops on law cases, and gets found out by a judge.
– The Lussa Confederation, mentioned in this blog.
– Chloe and Ryann Deliberate on Kings, mentioned in the blog. This, I think, is a fun read, especially if you enjoyed the explorations in this article. It compares the Solune and Lussa systems in a dialogue.
– Those of Noble Status, this is a super early work of mine. July 2017. In fact, it’s so close to the beginning of my writing career, maybe you shouldn’t read it… Anyway, I don’t know if it takes place on the Underside, but it does feature a Lussa, and an early mention of a major event from The Solune Prince that takes place on the Underside.
Isn’t that drop cap (the big first letter at the beginning) cool? New feature in the editor, it seems.