A Robber Baron or Robber Knight was a term for an unscrupulous feudal landowner who resorted to banditry while protected by his fief's legal status. Robber barons robbed merchants, land travelers, and river traffic. They might rob cargoes, steal entire ships, or kidnap for ransom.
Some robber barons violated the custom under which tolls were collected on the Osorio either by charging higher tolls than the standard or by operating without authority from the Kings altogether. During periods of weakness of the Sargonic or Degolandic monarchies, the number of such tolling stations exploded in the absence of royal authority.
Since the times of the Weseringian Empire, tolls were collected from ships sailing on the Osorio River in northwestern Aels. During this time, various feudal lords among them archbishops who held fiefs from the kingdoms, collected tolls from passing cargo ships to bolster their finances.
Only with the dual decision of the Kings of Degoland and Sargos could be authorised the collection of such tolls -Casus Bellum for many of the wars between the realms of Sargos and Degoland-. Allowing the nobility and Church to collect tolls from the busy traffic on the Osorio seems to have been an attractive alternative to other means of taxation and funding of government functions.
Often iron chains were stretched across the river to prevent passage without paying the toll, and strategic towers were built to facilitate this.
The Kings and the various noblemen and archbishops who were authorised to levy tolls seem to have worked out an informal way of regulating this process, and among the decisions involved in managing the collection of tolls on the Osorio were how many toll stations to have, where they should be built, how high the tolls should be and as well the advantages and disadvantages of it. While this decision process was made no less complex by being informal, common factors included the local power structure (archbishops and nobles being the most likely recipients of a charter to collect tolls), space between toll stations and ability to be defended from attack (some castles through which tolls were collected were tactically useful until the Blazakhovian invaded in 2594 and leveled them). Tolls were standardised either in terms of an amount of silver coin allowed to be charged or an "in-kind" toll of cargo from the ship.
In contrast, the men who came to be known as robber barons or robber knights violated the structure under which tolls were collected on the Osorio either by charging higher tolls than the standard or by operating without authority from the Kings of Degoland and Sargos altogether.
Writers of the period referred to these practices as "unjust tolls," and not only did the robber barons thereby violate the prerogatives of the Kings, they also went outside of the society's behavioural norms, since merchants were bound both by law and religious custom to charge a "just price" for their wares.
During several times of weakness of Sargos, Degoland or both Osorian kingdoms the number of tolling stations exploded in the absence of royal autority, as after the Sargonic Wars.
History of the Osorio LeagueEdit
During the weak rule of Diego VI The Pretender, Robber Barons began to earn infamy by robbing ships of their cargoes, stealing entire ships and even kidnapping. Lacking a royal response of the weak Diego VI and of the River Guard -which guarded the southern borders of Osorio, then under Tardic influence, from the Barlans-, Osorian cities, princes and prince-prelates (lords of the Karentian Church) will form a league to oppose this organized, military lawlessness, having large stakes in the restoration of law and order to the Osorio.
The Osorio League wasted no time putting robber barons out of business by the simple expedient of taking and destroying their castles: The League not only was successful in suppressing illicit collection of tolls and river robbery, but as well sometimes will intervene to rescue kidnapping victims.
Role in the Huneeus RestorationEdit
However after their success against the Robber Barons of their rivers, some of the cities will see themselves increasingly playing a role in the chaotic policies in Sargos and Osorio due the weak royal rule, adding some rebellions and later supporting the return of the Huneeus Dynasty with Camilo III the Warrior at the 2431.
Ongoing Method Against Robber BaronsEdit
The procedure pioneered by the Osorio League for dealing with robber barons – to besiege, capture and destroy their castles – survived long after the league dissapeared.
When the rule of Diego VI ended, Camilo III applied the lessons learned by the Osorio League to the destruction of the highway robbers in the mountain passes of the Angards, torching their castles and hanging them. While robber barony never entirely ceased, the excesses of their heyday during the rule of Diego the Pretender never recurred.