Holds, are the residences of the bulk of the planet Pern's population.  Members of specialized professions on Pern live in Crafthalls and dragonriders live in Weyrs, but for most people, the Hold is both the residence and primary social authority.

Throughout most of Pern, Holds are made up of either stone buildings or networks of caverns both natural and man-made. By shuttering any windows and barring the door, this makes the Holds ideal shelter in times of Threadfall. Holds are under tight strictures to keep Thread-susceptible greenery away from the entrances.

Hold Classifications


There are three types of Holds. Major Holds are the largest and most politically powerful. These Major Holds are analogous to Greek city-states, with a large (for Pern) quasi-urban center of perhaps one thousand residents (the Hold itself) surrounded by a vast, mostly rural territory under the Hold's jurisdiction of 10,000 or more additional residents. When referring to a Major Hold, a speaker might mean either this entire region or only the urban center.

The Major Holds are ruled by a Lord Holder, whose power is largely unchecked in his domain so long as he fulfills his responsibility to the Hold's residents; namely, he provides residents protection from Thread, an appropriate education, and food and shelter in return for labor. The Lord provides protection from Thread by tithing a percentage of the Hold's agriculture and other materiel to the Weyr to which his Hold looks.

As the series opens in the novel Dragonflight, there are fifteen such Major Holds, occupying the entire Northern Continent (other than the uninhabitable Arctic). These holds are listed below.


Under the jurisdiction of the Major Holds are Minor Holds. These can range widely in size, but operate not unlike a Major Hold on a smaller scale. Despite the name, some of the larger Minor Holds may approach the population of a Major Hold's urban center. Nonetheless, they are subject to the Major Hold of which they are a part and to which they tithe. Minor Holds are managed by a Holder, not a Lord. In many cases, however, a Lord Holder will install his son as Holder at a Minor Hold; the son retains the hereditary title of Lord.


The more rural members of the population live in cotholds. These are much smaller vassal holds, often consisting of a single extended family located near the fields, pasture, or other site of the holders' agricultural pursuits.

List of Holds

Main article: List of Holds

Hold Management

As noted above, Major Holds are managed by a Lord Holder. Day-to-day operations are delegated to a Steward, who is responsible for the Hold's economic health, trade with the outside, tithes to the Weyr, and dealings with its vassal Holds. In the Hold itself, food, clothing, healing, and other maintenance of the dwellings and residents are the responsibility of a Headwoman under the supervision of the Lady Holder (the Lord's wife). The Lord's female children and relatives frequently assist in these tasks.

The Lord's sons, along with fosterlings, nephews, and other male relatives, are given experience in Hold management. This can consist of acting as Steward (or assisting the Steward), taking charge of a particular portfolio of the Hold's activities (such as husbandry) or becoming Holder of a Minor Hold. These young lords are often referred to derisively as lordlings.

Hold children are educated by the Hold's Harper, typically trained in the Harpercrafthall at Fort Hold.

Each hold is responsible for the discipline of its wrongdoers. Most times the Lord Holder will make the wrongdoer pay restitution and service to the wronged party. The next severest punishment is incarceration. Death penalty can also be used in response to heinous crimes. But the greatest punishment is to be named holdless. This is where a person is stripped of all rank and status and thrown out of the hold. The reason this is the most severe punishment is because the holdless have nowhere to go during Threadfall.

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