Role and Responsibilities
Lord Holders serve as the main governmental authority for Holds. The tradition of Holding was not originally stipulated in the Charter. Instead, some of the original settlers were Stakeholders, who were given defined plots of land through grants, which could be passed on to descendants. Many modern Lord Holders can trace their ancestry back to one of these original stakeholders. These family trees, referred to on Pern as Bloodlines, are carefully traced, especially in the case of marriage between two different Holders' families, as the descendants of such marriages are eligible for either Lord Holder position.
Lord Holders have several responsibilities. One of the most important is to provide protection to their Holders during Threadfall. In addition, they provide education, food, and shelter. In exchange, the Holders provide labor, goods and services for the Hold. Traditionally, the Lord Holder then provides a portion of these goods to the Weyrs, who fight Thread. Lord Holders are assisted in their duties by Stewards, who help oversee the administrative duties of running a hold. A Lord Holder may sometimes assign a family member as a Steward, but can choose any capable person. Lord Holders also oversee the leaders of Minor Holds in their domain.
In addition, Lord Holders are responsible for dealing with lawbreakers in their Holds. Crimes against the Crafts or Weyrs are typically handled by those organizations, but criminals have the option of receiving punishment from their Lord Holder, should they claim a Hold affiliation. In the event that a formal trial is needed, a Lord Holder must have a Weyrleader and a Craft Master present and hold it in the presence of sufficient witnesses.
Lord Holders are required to attend regular council meetings, where they discuss planet-wide business and deal with Holder petitions. In the event that the Lord Holder commits a major crime or fails to fulfill their duties, they can be forcefully removed via a vote by the Conclave of Lord Holders. Typically, this punishment is reserved for the most extreme cases. If a Lord Holder is removed, the Conclave has the option to select a replacement from the bloodline of the Hold.
It is a tradition among Lord Holders to foster the heirs from other holds, allowing for heirs to gain experience and for support during Confirmation hearings. Children of Lord Holders often assist the Lord Holders in their duties, whether by acting as Steward, or performing other necessary tasks. A Lord Holder may also assign an heir to lead a minor hold, as a way of providing experience.
The position of Lord Holder is usually hereditary. A succeeding Lord Holder is not required to be of the Bloodline of the previous Holder, but Pern's charter states that Bloodline candidates must be considered first. It is a duty of the Harper Hall to keep track of all possible heirs. Under normal circumstances, a Lord Holder will nominate their successor. Upon the Lord Holder's death, the heir then calls for a Conclave, where they are confirmed. However, the succession can be challenged by members of the Bloodline. At that point, the successor will be voted on by the council out of the eligible nominees, who must receive a defined majority of the votes. In the event that no heir is nominated, fights can break out between family members.
While male candidates have usually been preferred, women are eligible, and have take Hold on rare occasions. In absence of any remaining members of the Bloodline, challenge will decide the new Lord Holder. It is thus considered tradition for Lord Holders to have large families, in the hopes that one child will prove to be an acceptable successor. In the event of an underage heir, a Lord Warder can be appointed to lead the Hold until the heir comes of age. Upon coming of age, the heir must still be confirmed before they can officially take Hold. An heir has the option of renouncing their claim in favor of an alternative candidate.
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