A Matter of Britain
To Be High King
Uther wants to be High King, but he cannot simply ignore or exploit the other rulers of the lands about him, for he has a greater objective to shape his decisions. King Uther is currently the legitimate king of Logres, the largest and single most powerful kingdom in Britain. Yet this is not enough for the ambitious Pendragon. His brother, Aurelius Ambrosius, and many other famous rulers before him were also High Kings of Britain. Uther wants this honor in part simply for the renown, but also because it gives him certain powers over the kings of the other kingdoms. He feels that, if he can muster all the kings together, he can drive the Saxons out forever.
Two ways exist to become the High King. Firstly, Uther can make war and conquer everyone, whereupon all will have sworn fealty to him. Second, he can use politics instead of force; he could be elected to be the High King by an organization called the Supreme Collegium. The greatest Briton High Kings were all elected: Constantine the Great, Maxen Wledig, Aurelius Ambrosius, and even evil Vortigern. Election legitimizes political powers and establishes authority. Uther wants to be elected.
The Supreme Collegium
The Supreme Collegium is the body of “wise men of Britain,” and the college is the sole source of great and ancient powers of Justice and Law. The Supreme Collegium first met during the time of the Roman Empire. It was in August of 306, and the empire was at civil war. The noble men of Britain met and named one from among themselves to be the High King. He was named Constantine, and he defeated his foes and brought justice and law back to the Empire. He went onward to become Emperor Constantine the Great after he united the Roman Empire and made Christianity the official imperial religion.
In Britain, the august body of the Supreme Collegium met afterwards, and at times selected other High Kings. Thus, in 415 it selected a native British leader to rule them, because the Roman Empire had again grown weak and selfish, abandoning the good folk of isle to the barbarians. The Collegium’s choices have always been respected as the legal rulers of the island. Most recently, Aurelius Ambrosius, the older brother of King Uther, was elected.
The council was originally composed of the most distinguished people from all the British tribes and Roman institutions. Eventually, the number of seats was settled at 28, one for each of the Great Cities of Britain. Over time, the right to hold such a seat changed in various places. In some holdings it became the inheritance of one family or was appointed by the local leader, while in others the Legate was still selected from among the leading men of the land.
The Supreme Collegium is subject only to itself. It is a legal political body and must conform strictly to its traditional rules to perform its function. The Collegium must meet whenever a new High King has to be selected, or whenever at least 15 of its 28 members decide mutually to meet. All members must be notified of the meeting six months in advance. Whoever attends the meeting may vote, but no proxies are allowed. All the other official proper procedures must be fulfilled, but when the result of the vote is announced, the results are permanent. Success requires that 3/4 of the attending members of the Collegium vote to elect someone as High King.
Unfortunately, the Collegium is in some disarray at present. Saxons have destroyed one of the seats, Canterbury (though Uther claims he can replace it). Seats are now held by men ruling places no longer important (Manchester, Bulith, etc.), and some seats are held by men who hate Logres and Uther (Totnes, for instance).
Twelve members of the Collegium are Uther’s vassals. At this time, he feels confident that he has the support of some non-Logres votes as well. Yet not all his vassals are loyal enough to automatically vote with him. Behind the cowardly shield of a secret ballot, they have power to defy him. He must always be aware that they hold this power, and that each legate would vote for him only out of friendship, necessity, or admiration. Thus, he is always trying to obtain their greater loyalty. But Uther is a rash king, so there’s the risk that his hot temper will end his (or rather, Merlin’s) long-term plans.
The 28 Legates of Britain
The following seats of the Collegium legates are listed by seat, followed by the name of the current holder of that seat.
Alclud, King Strangorre
Caer Beris, just outside Bulith Wells, King Powys
Caer Caradoc, Duke Gloucester
Caer Constantine (Totnes), King Cornwall
Caerwent, King Escavalon
Cambridge, Earl Huntington
Canterbury, Earl Kent (position destroyed)
Carduel (Carlisle), King Gorre
Carlion (Isca), Archbishop of Carlion (Roman Church)
Carohaise (Wall), King Cameliard
City of Legions (Chester), Duke Cheshire
Colchester, Duke Caercolun
Doncaster, King Roestoc
Dorchester, Praetor Dorset
Eburacum, King Malahaut
Exeter, Duke Cornwall
Ilchester, Earl Jagent
Leicester, Duke Lindsey
London, Lord Mayor of London
Manchester, King Amans
Oroquelenes (Wroxeter/Viroconium), King Orofoise
Sarum, Earl Salisbury
Silchester, Duke Silchester
Sinadon Caernarfon (Segontium), King Gomeret
St. Albans, Archbishop (British Christian) of St. Albans
Vertis (Worcester), King of the Dean
Wells, King Somerset
Winchester, Earl Hampshire