CHAPTER 74 – IN A HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE
I’ve caught the attention of a troublesome opponent, I sighed mentally.
The Nordsturm family is a major noble family from the north, and their current family head is Marquis Nordsturm. Three generations ago, they had also been married to royalty, so they still have quite the connections in the royal capital as well.
Although they have a bad reputation from the fact that their power comes from the moneylending business, because of it very few nobles dare to go against them. What’s more, many of the northern nobles are related to the Nordsturms by being one of their branch families or through marriage in some way, so their influence in northern Arxia is even greater than that of the royal family.
At one time, the north had been treated as the least important part of Arxia. There was the Amon Nor Mountains forming a natural barrier with the eastern countries, and there was nothing but rough sea waves on the northern border, both of these geographical attributes contributed to making the north a formidable natural fortress.
It was a bad location for conducting trade on the seas. Although it’s possible to travel east to other countries farther down, a large section of the coastline bordering Arxia’s is controlled by Densel, or belongs to the Rindarl Union that opposes us. Their naval technologies weren’t very far advanced either.
The earth was frozen over in many places, and even what wasn’t frozen over was very poor land for raising crops, so it was overall a very poor region.
Because of that, the Nordsturm family has been the only noble family ever since Arxia was founded that’s ruled in the north. Because talented people would be placed in more important places to make use of their skills at governing, no aristocrats were ever sent to the north.
Of course, ruling over the vast north would be impossible for only the family head, so the Nordsturm family divided the northern lands among its own family members, and starting from about one hundred and twenty years ago, their current governing system is basically a group of lords that all report to the leader of the Nordsturm family.
For the Nordsturm family who has such power in the north to still have good relations with the royal family, it’s simply because of money. First of all, the Nordsturms are talented at making money in the north. Their most prosperous city is the city where the marquis currently resides, it’s a place where people and goods gather.
Next, the north helps with the country’s military spending every year even though it benefits them the least. They also have vast sums of money stored away, and they’ve recently started lending money to their neighboring domains, and simply the interest on the loans were already more than sufficient already to cover all the north’s expenses for governing their territory.
I remembered how Earl Terejia had taught me that a member of the royalty had gotten married to a Nordsturm as a political sacrificial pawn, in order to obtain part of the Nordsturm family’s wealth for the sake of the country.
There are two royal families in Arxia, meant to be as a measure for keeping the throne out of the reach of any other non-royal family. A daughter from the current royal family that isn’t on the throne, the Melloart family, had married a Nordsturm in exchange for one third of the Nordsturm family’s wealth being donated to the national treasury. Earl Terejia had told me that it was a story he heard from his older brother Marquis Rittergau who’s working in the royal palace as the prime minister of Arxia, so it must be true.
Their wealth had been reduced, and the Nordsturms also attracted the hostility of other nobles in Arxia with connections to the royalty. I want them to just take a break and ignore me, but it seems there’s no helping it.
In the first place, the reason why I attracted their attention was because half of the entire defense budget financed by the north was allotted to only three domains, which were Kaldia, Jugfena, and Genas, the eastern border domains. Any funds that were not used for the sake of defense were supposed to be properly returned to the House of Lords.
The northern nobles are taking it out on only Kaldia, meaning me, as Earl Einsbark who’s in charge of the Jugfena domain and Margrave Genas are too powerful for them to attack politically, so out of simple spite, or maybe picking on weaklings, they’re taking it out on me for being a financial beneficiary of their funds.
“I’m actually relieved to see that gloomy expression of yours finally returning.”
As the horse-drawn carriage clattered and shook, Earl Terejia who was sitting across from me said so with a snort from his nose. Claudia sitting next to him also nodded in agreement.
“At any rate, let’s settle this problem quickly. Jugfena and Genas have organized their own domains much faster and better than Kaldia, that’s because Earl Terejia has been deciding policy matters in my place up until now. For the Nordsturm family that isn’t well armed militarily, they would gain nothing from moving against all three of the Terejia, Genas, and Einsbark families at once.”
“The Nordsturm family should be aware of that as well. Still, saying something like moving against all three families, does this mean that you see a way to cooperate with the other families?”
What I’m concerned about right now is, the factions other than the Nordsturm family.
The Nordsturm family doesn’t actually have much power other than lots of money and the support of the northern nobles. That alone wouldn’t be a threat by itself. However, depending on who allies with whom, things could get a lot more troublesome. I think the problem lies in how the Nordsturm family utilizes their vast fortune.
“If the Nordsturms seriously attempted it, do you think they have enough power to overthrow the current government?”
Earl Terejia raised his eyebrows greatly at my question. Since the north regularly finances the other domains with their extra funds, decided through meetings at the House of Lords, it means they get more of a say in issues compared to the rest of the nobility. Meaning, they already control much of national policy.
By the way, the House of Lords only consists of domain lords with the rank of viscount or higher, and court aristocrats with the rank of earl or higher. Lower ranked nobles are supposed to be represented by nobles higher-ranking than they are. It’s like how I used to not attend meetings at the House of Lords, as Earl Terejia attended them for me on my behalf.
“I don’t think they would try something like that though, would the conservative northern nobles really rebel against a decision made by the House of Lords?”
I answered my own question, and the earl nodded in assent. Although the northern nobles are conservative in a different sense from the court aristocracy, I think that they wouldn’t want to take any risks that would end up lessening their influence.
Since the Nordsturm family currently seems to be gathering power right now, I definitely think it would be for the better if I think of something I can use against them first. It never hurts to be wary.
Earl Terejia unexpectedly looked out the window. While watching the scenery pass by, he was probably thinking about something. Our conversation ended as well when the earl looked away. Because there’s many things to be worried about, both of us are probably thinking about things regarding the northern nobles that we’re going to have to deal with someday.
“……The Nordsturm family’s time may be unexpectedly ending soon, to be replaced by someone else.”
Earl Terejia suddenly said that out loud after a while. Is this some sort of prophecy, once again I confirmed to myself that the earl is quite terrifying.