The Charter of the Land is supreme law of the Empire of the White Tower. It is the foundation and source of the quasi-mystical authority underlying the existence of the Empire. It provides blanket amnesty for all actions committed in Arcadia, a promise of mutual protection and specific legal powers that are granted to the Four Great Seasonal Courts.
According to legend, the Charter has existed since the time of The First Empire. Its powers are not fully known, but it seems to hold the powers associate with Pacts and Oaths. While the document is many pages long (mostly consisting of signatures from individuals who have signed on to the charter), the main body of the document is held in Guildhall under the watchful eye of The Man for All Seasons. The contents of Prince Martin's Diary seem to contradict these facts.
The Empire takes pride that "Rule, Britannia!" directly references the charter in it's first verse.
The charter was created as a large-scale agreement to end the Seasonal Civil War of the early 18th century. Once the charter was formalized, signed and agreed upon, a time period known as The Second Empire began.
According to Several sources, eventually the charter was opened up to non-changelings to sign, allowing them rights and privileges under the Pax Imperia of the 18th and 19th centuries. These agreements (added to the charter) often were worded very specifically to give the Changelings of the Empire great advantages over the other beings that signed them.
These agreements apparently held until The Third Empire when the charter was destroyed by a German bombing raid. The distraction of the charter is a closely guarded secret, which nearly got out due to the actions of Mr. Black and The Cat leading to the Anglo-Goblin War.
Tonight, only a handful of changelings know that the original text of the charter has been completely destroyed.
It was often said that the document was not often brought out for public consumption due to its importance to the Empire, when in truth it was hidden because the document itself was burned long ago. The following bits of text are widely known and distributed-
BE IT KNOWN...
That we, the Lost of London, have banded together to protect and safeguard ourselves, our loved ones and our nation against the insidious powers of the Gentry, also called the Others, also called the Strangers, also called the Fair Folk, the Shide, The Old Ones, The True Fae, The Arcadians and the tenfold other Horrid Names.
That we shall brook neither attempts to return us, nor attempts by any of our number to return, to the Thousand Kingdoms of Fae Arcadia, and that all of the Lost are called to prevent such an occurrence upon pain of death.
That we dedicate ourselves to the seasons, the House of Roses, the White Tower and the establishment, growth, and preservation of peace, liberty, equality, and justice under law.
this IS our SOLEMN Oath.
The charter gives the Empire the power to tax it's citizens (done via The Eccentric Club) and, in times of great need, to spend from The Black Treasury a mythic location that possesses the wealth of the First Empire.
Games of Fortune
The charter gives the current regent and the Imperator the power to call Games of Fortune. These games can be tumultuous events and the charter gives the games deep resonant power by sanctioning a "Gaming Pledge" among all members of the empire as a clause of the greater text.
The Death List
The Death List is a well known part of the charter that apparently grants the charter's official keeper the power to know the exact method of death of any signatory to the charter. Note that this does not give any information relating to the circumstances surrounding an individual citizen's demise, only the direct cause of death (IE if a person is murdered by drowning, it would not say "drown" or "suffocation" but not "murder").
The House has implied that the Death List is even greater then that, it is a Status List giving the relationship status, personal status and titles of all members of the empire, a piece of very powerful Wyrd magic.
The Charter lays out the specific format and procedures for trials, while allowing the presiding seasonal Regent to determine exact rules and guidelines. For particularly henious crimes, the Imperator of Roses may act as judge, but only at the request of the ruling seasonal Regent.
Imperial citizens can request an Ordeal if the situation calls for it. Given the brutal nature of the Ordeals, few changelings ever decide to go this route (though Trial by Combat is popular among accused Summer Courtiers of a certain age).
To prove one's self worthy of a position or accolade, the charter has rules for going on officially sanctioned "Quests" Quests are usually created by a seasonal regent to allow a last-ditch effort for individuals who have lost trials or been denied membership in the empire by The Membership Committee to clear their names.
Exile and Banishment
The Charter grants the Seasonal Regents the power to Exile or Banish citizens. It is unknown exactly what these terms mean to the empire (the closest explanation came from Baron Amyas Crayle who said "You are exiled to a place and banished from a place") but every individual with knowledge of these sanctions have agreed that Exile is a far worse fate than Banishment.
Banished and Exiled individuals include:
- Members of a strange circus.
- A changeling named Humphrey Peel.
- King George following his aborted Coup