Up From the Mud
Decree of Free Access
The Decree of Free Access is a controversial policy widely considered to be the instigation of the Crofters’ War. Issued by King Bartabas under pressure from a deeply indebted nobility, the Decree authorized lesser nobles to abdicate their lands and titles to whomever they chose. In effect, this allowed hereditary nobles to sell their lands for coin or the forgiveness of debt.
The Decree led to the rise of a class commonly called the Coiner Princes, common-born traders who used their considerable riches to purchase lands and titles. These new landholders instituted policies on the peasantry that, while not out of order for a merchant or mercenary enterprise, were extremely ill-suited for the agrarian workers; countless farmers were forced off their lands for an inability to pay rents, leading to the Crofter rebellion and eventually to war.
The Decree was formally repealed by Lord Regent Saul Mason in accordance with the peace terms at the end of the war, though the exact form of the repeal is still in flux. No one who purchased titles during the period the Decree was active has been formally removed from their rights nor have the hereditary nobles been restored. At this time, it is unclear whether the repeal will ever be fully enforced.