A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items relating to government & the legal system


After the restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy, Lebannen's court is established at the New Palace (also known as the Palace of Maharion) at Havnor City on Havnor. The court consists of various princes, princesses & nobles from all over the Archipelago, including Prince Sege (who functions as Lebannen's deputy), ladies-in-waiting/ladies of honour (eg Lady Opal), councillors of the King's Council and the wizard Onyx. It's serviced by a retinue including the king's guards, captains, lieutenants (eg Yenay) & other officers (including one whose duty is to precede the king crying "Way for the king!"), majordomos (eg Thoroughgood), officials, ushers, footmen, footboys, maids, servants (eg Oak, Berry of Havnor), gardeners, as well as musicians, singers and song writers.

In the Kargad Lands, the imperial court of, successively, the Priest-Kings, Godking & High King is at Awabath on Karego-At; before the rise of the Priest-Kings, it was at Hupun

'She did not mind the formalities of court life or the knowledge that under the civility simmered a stew of ambitions, rivalries, passions, complicities, collusions.'

[Palaces, OW]


Some parts of the Archipelago form principalities governed by Ruling Princes; these include Enlad, Ilien (including Ark) and Way. The extent of the powers of the princes is unclear, but they levy taxes and keep soldiers. Other lands are ruled by Lords of smaller areas, for example the Lord of O, Lord of Gont, and the Lords of the Domain of Eolg on Havnor, and of the Court of the Terrenon on Osskil. The Archmage has dominion on Roke, and, before the restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy, wields considerable political power in the Inner Lands. The islands of the Reaches and the Ninety Isles are ruled by Isle-Men/Women (Islandmen/women), or chiefs. Some towns and districts appear to exert a degree of self-government; for example, the town of Sosara on Lorbanery has a mayor; the district around Valmouth in southern Gont has a council & a mayor (the latter has funds, suggesting an ability to raise taxes); after the restoration of the monarchy, the villages of Middle Valley on Gont also form a council employing bailiffs and levying taxes. Villages on Gont are governed by village elders. Various trade guilds, such as the Seamasters, also govern those who follow that trade.

During the kingless years, there appears to be no universal set of laws even across the Archipelago and Reaches, for example slavery is practised in some areas and outlawed in others. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1051, Lebannen rules over the Archipelago from Havnor under the title King of All the Isles, nominally via a hundred-strong appointed King's Council.

The Kargad Lands are governed from Awabath on Karego-At by Priest-Kings, the Godking and (after around 1061) the High King. The Children of the Open Sea (raft people) are ruled by a chief

Sources: The Masters of Roke, FS; Home, T; The Dragon Council, OW

Related entries: Taxation; Legal and punitive systems

King of All the Isles

Also known as: King of Earthsea, King of the Western Lands

The Archipelago was formerly ruled by the King of All the Isles or King of Earthsea, first at Berila on Enlad, then at Havnor City. The kings and queens of Enlad included Lar Ashal, Dohun, Enashen, Timan, Tagtar, Morred (whose ascension was counted as year 1 in the Hardic calendar), Serriadh and Akambar, who moved the court to Havnor City in around the year 150. The fourteen kings and queens of Havnor included Gemal Sea-born, Denggemal, Heru and Maharion. The line of kings died out on the death of Maharion in the year 452 (800 years previously according to some sources). The new king was prophesied by Maharion to have 'crossed the dark land living and come to the far shores of the day'a; such a king was thought to bring peace and unite the lands. Lebannen, son of the Prince of Enlad and heir of Morred, fulfilled this prophecy and was crowned in Havnor City in around 1051.

Ceremonial items associated with the Archipelagan monarchy include Morred's High Seat, the crown of Morred and a gold-weighted state robe. During Lebannen's reign, however, the king dresses plainly when not performing state duties, and bears no mark of authority, such as a ring or chain

Sources: The Masters of Roke, FS (a); The Dolphin, T; A Description of Earthsea, TfE; Palaces, OW

'"But so runs the prophecy of the Last King, and therefore someday one will be born to fulfil it. And Roke will recognize him, and the fleets and armies and nations will come together to him. Then there will be majesty again in the centre of the world, in the Tower of the Kings in Havnor." '

' "Let there be a king upon the throne, and we will have peace, and even in the farthest Reaches the sorcerers will practise their arts with an untroubled mind, and there will be order, and a due season to all things."

[The Masters of Roke, FS]

Related entries: Government

King of Earthsea

See King of All the Isles

King of the Western Lands

See King of All the Isles

King's Council

Hundred-member council voting on laws and taxation in the Archipelago, which meets in the throne room of the New Palace in Havnor City. Instituted by Lebannen and presided over by Sege. Councillors are selected by the king to serve for terms of 2-3 years (possibly repeated), and include noblemen and women, princes, merchants, guild masters, wizards, islandwomen, army and sea captains, poets and scholars. Speeches are limited to two minutes using a sandglass

'All laws and taxations, all judgments brought before the throne, [Lebannen] discussed with them, taking their counsel. They would then vote on his proposal, and only with the consent of the majority was it enacted. There were those who said the council was nothing but the king's pets and puppets, and so indeed it might have been. He mostly got his way if he argued for it. Often he expressed no opinion and let the council make the decision. Many councillors had found that if they had enough facts to support their opposition and made a good argument, they might sway the others and even persuade the king.'

[The Dragon Council, OW]

Related entries: Government

King's Courts of Law

After the restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy in 1051, the king's law courts recommence meeting to judge serious cases, including murder. Such cases are tried at Gont Port on Gont, so presumably the king's law courts are distributed across the islands ruled the King of All the Isles, rather than located on Havnor

Sources: Winter, T; The Master. T

Land ownership

Also known as: Tenancy

In the central Archipelago, land and, to a lesser extent, property appear to be predominantly owned by landowners, large and small, who let to tenants. For example, on Gont, the Lord of Re Albi employs farmworkers described as tenants, Oak Farm's holdings in Middle Valley include two tenants' cottages, and Tenar rents a cottage from Weaver Fan in Re Albi; on Way, four families contest ownership of the rich farming land of the domain of Iria; in western Havnor, the merchant Golden owns chestnut groves. Tenants on Gont commonly hold a life interest in the profit from the land they work on. Property passes in the male line on Gont, with the widow of a property owner only being entitled to hold the property for an absent (or possibly underage) male heir. The situation regarding land ownership in the Reaches and the Kargad Lands isn't clear

Sources: A Bad Thing, T; Mice, T; Finding Words, T; Winter, T; Darkrose and Diamond, TfE; Dragonfly, TfE


See Legal and punitive systems


Coalition which emerges to govern the central islands of the Archipelago around a hundred years after the dragon Yevaud despoils Pendor (ie, approx 950). The League's only known action is to raise a fleet with seven mages which temporarily drives the dragon from Pendor. Only mentioned in 'The Rule of Names', the League may have dissolved before the events of A Wizard of Earthsea, perhaps facilitating Yevaud's return to Pendor

Sources: The Rule of Names, W12Q

Legal and punitive systems

Also known as: Law, Punitive system

Little is stated regarding the legal systems of the Archipelago. After the restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy, the King's Courts of Law judge serious cases. A dispute about inheritance is pursued in the law courts of Shelieth, the capital of Way, but few details are given. On Gont, law enforcement is carried out by bailiffs, sea-sheriffs and officers of the peace, reporting to the district mayors and village councils. After the restoration of the monarchy, slave-labour and execution by hanging are used for serious crimes such as murder. Prisons or similar methods of punishment such as stocks are not mentioned. During the Dark Years, torture and public execution by burning alive were practised on Havnor under the rule of the warlord Losen.

Whipping with a bundle of reed canes is a common punishment for mild offences in the Place of the Tombs on Atuan. Execution is practised in the Kargad Lands: those of noble birth convicted of treason or sacrilege towards the Godking have their tongues cut out before being sacrificed to the Nameless Ones of the Tombs of Atuan; decapitation is the punishment for trespassing within the Place of the Tombs; High Priestesses caught in falsehood can be executed.

Whipping with nilgu thongs is a punishment among the Children of the Open Sea

Sources: The Wall around the Place, ToA; The Prisoners, ToA; The Ring of Erreth-Akbe, ToA; Orm Embar, FS; Home, T; Winter, T; The Finder, TfE; Dragonfly, TfE


Regions of the Inner Lands that constitute the Archipelagan kingship; includes Enlad (the Principality of Morred), Ilien (including Ark), and Way, and formerly, Ea (including Taon) and Havnor. Each was governed by a Ruling Prince descended from the ancient kings; the royal lines on Ea and Havnor have died out

Sources: The Masters of Roke, FS

Punitive system

See Legal and punitive systems


Shipping (and possibly other) taxes are raised from merchants of the Inner Lands by the King of All the Isles, subject to the vote of the King's Council. The lords and Ruling Princes levy local taxes and, after the restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy, village councils on Gont also levy local taxes to employ bailiffs

Sources: Home, T; The Dragon Council, OW


See Land ownership



WoEA Wizard of Earthsea
ToAThe Tombs of Atuan
FSThe Farthest Shore
OWThe Other Wind
W12QThe Wind's Twelve Quarters
TfETales from Earthsea

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