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"It had been a hundred years since anyone had been burned for Consortation or Unnatural Arts, but the laws were still there. The Ink was faded, but the words were clear."
―Kote[1]
The Iron Law of Atur is an ancient legal system, likely to be enforceable in the Commonwealth, Vintas and Atur and potentially anywhere in the Four Corners. Although experts are reticent to share their technical knowledge on the subject[2] this article will collect what general information we have.
Kvothe s arrest 2 by carnath gid-dayyjc1

Kvothe's Arrest by a constable and sumner. We see the iron chains, and cudgel of the constable, though not the iron rod banded with gold that denoted the high-ranking sumner. Credits: Carnath Gid and Bowen12a

Notable Characteristics Edit

Broad Jurisdiction Edit

  • The Iron Law is commonly enforceable in Commonwealth cities, like Imre.[1] However, after the invasion of the Aturan Empire, we are told the peoples of Vint became bound to the rules of the Iron Law as well.[3] It would appear that one would still consider the application of Iron Law to crimes committed in Vintish towns like Levinshir today.[4]
  • Assuming that the Iron Law is still in force in it's country of origin (Atur) this would mean that it's rules are enforceable in 3/7 of the countries in the Four Corners.[5]

Close Connections to Tehlin Church Edit

  • It is notable that the Aturan Empire are said to have brought the Iron Law in conjunction with the Book of the Path - the holy book of the Tehlin.[3]
  • In the Commonwealth jurisdiction for the prosecution of certain offences may be divided between the Commonwealth Courts and the (Tehlin) Church Courts.[1] In addition to quoting the iron law itself, during trials before the Church Court, one might quote readings the Book of the Path itself.[2]
  • As the name implies, Iron is a central feature of the former[6]; the Iron Wheel being a holy symbol in the Tehlin religion.[7] Moreover, the use of conflagration as a punishment for magical crimes, accords with church teachings for combatting demons with fire.

Antagonism Towards Practice of Magic Edit

  • The Iron law contains a number of specific offences directed at curtailing the practice of different forms of magic, such as sympathy and naming. These include: "Consortation with Demonic Powers", "Malicious Use of Unnatural Arts", and "Malfeasance".[1]
  • Historically the punishment for circumventing these prohibitions was extremely severe, even if it has been a considerable time since such draconic provisions have been enforced.
"...parts of the iron law are left over from darker times. It had been a hundred years since anyone had been burned for Constration or Unnatural Arts but the laws were still there. The Ink was faded, but the words were clear."
―Kote[1]
"...it was easy to forget that this part of the world had not seen an arcanist burned for nearly three hundred years""
―Kote[8]

Archaic Methodology Edit

  • The Iron Law follows a predominantly oral tradition of legal procedure, involving the reading of letters of testimony, and formal speeches which could last for days.[9] Nevertheless, both the Commonwealth Courts and (Tehlin) Church Courts maintainted "painstaking" records in their deposition ledgers and act books.[2]
    Kvothe s trial by carnath gid-daz6zn9

    Kvothe's trial again showing the iron bindings, as well as the recitation of a letter of testimony. Credit: Carnath Gid and Bowen12a

  • This procedure was "filled with pomp and ritual", with highly developped rules of legal procedure and formal modes of address. In order to challenge a summons before the Church courts, one would need to be fluent in Tema - an ancient language only spoken amongst Tehlin priests.[10]

Split Enforcement Edit

  • For minor/secular claims (like enforcing a debt or prosecuting a pickpocket), constables and sumners of the Commonwealth courts are charged with enforcement and prosecution. Certain sumners in the Commonwealth are even empowered to detain priests, government officials and members of the nobility.[11][1]
  • However, it is also clear that the Church courts have their own indepedent method for enforcing ecclesiatic elements of the Iron Law. This includes the employ of Tehlin Justices, for the prosecution of crimes likes heresy[12] and adjudication of magical crimes in Church Courts.[13]
  • Historically, this was further complicated by the position of the Amyr. According to conventional wisdom these were a holy order of Knights which evolved in the early years of the Aturan Empire from travelling judges.[14] Given judiciary powers in both the religious and secular courts, they enjoyed exemption (to varying degrees) from the law until they were disbanded by Emperor Nalto under the Alpura Polycia Amyr.[15] However, these assumptions have recently come under considerable scrutiny.[16]

Historical Significance Edit

Undercutting the universality of the Iron Law is considered to be one of the major factors contributing to the fall of the Aturan Empire.[17]

Real World References and Parallels Edit

  • The Iron Law might be considered a reference to the Ius Commune of medieval Euope. Like the Iron Law, the Ius Commune combined elements of both ecclesiatic law (Canon Law) and secular law (Roman Law). Moreover, it was practiced in Latin - even by that time an ancient language, spoken only by scholars and priests, much like Tema. Much like the Aturan Empire, the Byzantine Empire was critical to the convergence of language, law and religion in Europe.

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 45, "Consortation"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 46, "Interlude — A Bit of Fiddle"
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 50, "Chasing the Wind"
  4. The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 137, "Questions"
  5. See numerous references to the Iron Law as "the iron law of atur", for example The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 25, "Wrongful Apprehension" and The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 149, "Tangled"
  6. For instance, being used to chain arrested suspects, see The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 45, "Consortation"
  7. See for example, the Tehlu story in The Name of the Wind, Chaper 23, "The Bruning Wheel" and the Church in Trebon, The Name of the Wind, Chaper 71, "Strange Attraction"
  8. The Name of the Wind, Chapter 50, "Negotiations"
  9. The Name of the Wind, Chapter 45, "Interlude — Some Tavern Tale"
  10. The Name of the Wind, Chapter 46, "The Ever-Changing Wind"
  11. The Name of the Wind, Chapter 49, "The Nature of Wild Things"
  12. The Name of the Wind, Chapter 28, "Tehlu_s Watchful Eye"
  13. The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 47, "Interlude — The Hempen Verse"
  14. The Name of the Wind, Chapter 38, "Sympathy in the Mainsm"
  15. The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 37, "A Piece of Fire"
  16. The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 39, "Contradictions"
  17. The Name of the Wind, Chapter 36, "Less Talents"

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