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What's a Tribunal?

* A geographical region of the Order of Hermes
* A meeting of the magi of that region, conducted under specific rules

This term has two meanings:

1: A geographical division of the Order of Hermes, usually defined by the covenants it contains/has jurisdiction over. The Order at its height had thirteen Tribunals.

  • Each tribunal would have three officers appointed by its magi from the locals - a Praeco (usally the oldest magus) who chairs the meetings of the Tribunal; a Quaesitor Maximus who led the legal team of the Tribunal; and a Mercurius (usually the senior magum ex Mercere) who maintained lines of communication between the covenants of the Tribunal. Other offices were defined and appointed by various Tribunals as the need or desire arose but those three were constants.

2: A meeting (usually held every seven years) of the magi of a given Tribunal. An extensive body of law exists around who can attend, what rights they have, how the meeting is conducted, etc. Normally this law is of interest only to Quaesitors, who advise others on it.


Current Tribunals of the Order:

In 1346 The Order has (arguably) three Tribunals that are functioning as such, only one of which is still fully operation to the traditional definition - the Greater Alps.

  • The Greater Alps also known as The Rhaetian Tribunal: setting of this game and the last fully-functional Tribunal.
  • The Roman Tribunal: covering Italy, part of the Balkans, Sicily and part of the north African coast, it is still home to the Domus Magnae Verditius and Mercere, but has not met formally since the destruction of the Guernicus Domus Magna in Rome and is falling into anarchy. While no formal application has yet been made, many expect the Mercere to petition for their Domus, located in Savoy, to join the Greater Alps soon.
  • The Tribunal of Thebes: covering Greece and part of the Balkans, Anatolia and the old extent of the Byzantine Empire, it's fate is tied quite closely to the empire's and as such is in the descendant as the Mongols and Turks rampage through the area. Surviving covenants are old, and hidden, and if tribunal meetings still occur they do so in secret.

Former Tribunals of the Order:

Information provided for colour and interest - you won't need to know this.

  • Transylvania, or the Carpathian Tribunal: Collapsed in the early 1200s with the destruction of the House Unnamed, whose stronghold this was. Absorbed by Thebes and Rome.
  • Novgorod, or the Sarmatian Tribunal: Collapsed under the onslaught of the Mongol invasion in the mid 1200s. All known covenants were destroyed.
  • Outremer, or the Levantine Tribunal: Originally based around the Christian Kingdoms of Outremer, it expanded to include covenants of Islamic magi and followers of ancient Egyptian magical traditions. The Tribunal fell apart during the Crusades. Magi there no longer recognise the Order, and are largely of Islamic taditions.
  • The Rhine, or the Tribunal of Germania: Heart of the Order and in long decline - it lost first the Merinita Domus, then the Bjornaer one to the Livonian Crusade, and finally Durenmar, the Bonisagus Domus and spiritual heart of the Order, to a magical catastrophe. There are no covements extant now, only scattered lone magi.
  • The Iberian Tribunal: Torn between the christian north and the muslim south of Spain this was the site of some of the Order's most ferocious battles. Too many unsubtle Flambeau led to vicious purges and local crusades against magicians. Nowadays no covenants are known to survive.
  • The Provence Tribunal: The region never really recovered from the Cathar crusade in the 1200s which caught several covenants up in it. As the French crown consolidated power, Magi were subjected to harassment and most left. It's believed one or two powerful hidden covenants may remain.
  • The Normandy Tribunal: Relatively stable up until a few decades ago, the tribunal has falen apart under first the French crown's pogrom against the Templars in the early 1300s and latterly, the English invasion of the last ten years. All contact with covenants behind the English lines is lost, including that of the Tytalus Domus Magna, and those that remain in French hands have gone underground or disintegrated under church harassment.
  • The Three Tribunals of Britannia - Stonehenge, Hibernia and Loch Leglean: Growing increasingly isolationist and distant from the mainland Order, no formal declaration of secession was ever made - but over a decade or so, in the late 1200s, travel over the Channel became impossible for magi from Europe, and none came from Britannia.

Some point to the strange fate of the Normandy covenants behind King Edward's lines, and wonder...

What's a Covenant?

* a group of wizards who choose to live together;
* the place where they live;
* the rule they abide by while living together.

A Covenant in Ars Magica has several meanings but the main one is "a community of magi who have agreed to live together and pool resources".

It can also mean the physical location of that community (i.e. "the covenant of Valnastium" refers both to that community of magi and the place where they live).

Last of all, many covenants swear an oath to one another and insist and new recruits also swear that oath - the oath itself is also referred to as a covenant, and is the root meaning the other two have evolved from.

When covenants grow very large, or very old, they often create Chapter Houses - offshoots from the main covenant which might be located in a different place, or pursue a different aspect of the covenant's aims.

The Basics

Houses - Tribunals - The Code - Titles and Positions - Magi and Magic - Quick Reference

Introduction - The Order in 1346 - A Who's Who of Attendees - Rules and Techniques