Well, now. That’s an interesting conjecture on His Lordship’s part; and as you tell me Lord Doncaster has only my best interests in mind in bringing it to my attention, I must of course believe you.
It is certainly true that in Cumbria—or, rather, in Yorke, for historically the Guild, though united, owes its existence to its charter in each city—well, not to put too fine a point on it, yes, in Cumbria a guild must maintain a regular presence at its guild houses or lose its status before the law. That is, ultimately, the foundation of my legal argument for assuming mastery of the Former’s Guild here in Armorica—the Confrerie des Thaumaturges packed bags and returned to Provençe, abandoning the field decades ago.
Best interests or not, this is an absurdly transparent attempt on His Lordship’s part to persuade me to move lock, stock, barrel, and company to Mont-Havre. That would kill two birds with one stone: I would preserve the guild by taking up residence in the Guild Hall, a pleasant enough space, and His Lordship would have me ready to hand.
But you know, Jack, that my father expected me to take over the Cumbrian Guild from him in good time, and so spent more of my apprenticeship teaching me Guild Law, especially as regards this sort of thing, than he did teaching me forming. It was always a bone of contention between us, but after so many years it stuck well enough. And I can tell you, the situation is less simple than it looks.
Under Cumbrian law, His Lordship would be perfectly right. But we are in Armorica. The Former’s Guild here has its origin in the Cumbrian Guild, as represented by my person; but it is the Armorican guild, and is free to adopt its own unique rules as circumstances dictate. To be blunt, within certain customary limits, the laws of the Armorican Former’s Guild are what I say they are.
And, of course, within the limits of the laws of the land in question.
The question is, what are the Armorican laws regarding guilds? Before the war, I expect they would have been the same as the Provençese laws, Armorica being considered a province of Provençe; but what are they now? His Lordship is the Crown’s representative in Armorica, more or less by right of conquest; but as a protectorate of Cumbria rather than as a province. His Lordship is here with the agreement of the population, and that only because His Lordship’s hand has been light, and he has chosen to allow us to retain such of our local laws as seem good to us. Armorican laws apply. And then, the overarching law of guilds is ultimately the law of the city corporations, taken together, as they involve guilds, which is to say, the law of Mont-Havre.
So what is the law of the City Corporation of Mont-Havre as regards guilds? That is what I must determine—for I tell you plainly, I have no intention of making my home in Mont-Havre as a long-term proposition. In the meantime, the phrase “a regular presence” is subject to interpretation; and for the time being I am happy to establish a presence there at least once a year.
Might I add—I have no wish to discommode His Lordship; indeed, I am happy to hear any proposal he might have for me. But Bois-de-Bas is my home. If His Lordship truly has my best interests at heart, he will respect that.
Your affectionate cousin,