Campaign of the Month: June 2012
Free Trade League
Two hundred years ago, the King of Juiss refused to pay for a pair of shoes he commissioned from a cobbler. The very next day, every cobbler in Juiss closed his doors. The day after that, every cooper closed his. The day after that, every blacksmith let his forge darken and go cold. It didn’t take long for the King of Juiss to return to that shop, pay the cobbler for his work and apologize. Such is the power of the Guilds of the Free Kingdoms. Often referred to as “The Free Trade League” (because of its headquarters and its fraternal unity), the Guilds control almost all of the Free Kingdoms’s economic strength and hold its fiscal future in their hands.
Competition is healthy. Economic freedom is essential to the freedom the Free Trade League enjoys. The Free Trade League is not about to say much else regarding the economic state of the Free Kingdoms. The more people spend, the more money changes hands and the bigger the merchant and craftsmen class grows. Therefore, a strong middle class means an even stronger League.
Although not a secret society as the others are (they hold public auctions, invite heads of state to visit them and host parties, galas and festivals), the Free Trade League is powerful and effective at pulling the economic and political strings of the Free Kingdoms. The proposal of the a common currency (which is taking on popularity), the development of organized labor and the push for guilds and mercantile trade under their control has solidified their power base and made the League the most socially acceptable of “secret agenda” types in the world.
The FTL originally started as a branch of the Great Church, known as the Ministry of Merchant Relations, a service branch of the church which began as a regulatory body, defending the interests of craftsmen, merchants and traders. The MMR still exists to some small extent, and is an activist for many merchants who operate outside guild law, but the body of the official guild activities had grown beyond the scope of the church. The Free Kingdoms, and her rulers, formed a loosely organized body, called the Mercantile Council, and moved the guild into the purview of the state’s governing watch. Working with local lords and royalty, a common law was written, with the intent to protect merchants and consumers alike. The Mercantile Council operated for generations, and grew into a sophisticated organization, complete with corruption on many levels.
Seizing on an opportunity to rid the Council of its corrupt members, a consortium of a few very wealthy merchant class families gathered to form what they felt was a more perfect guild. They named this organization The Merchant’s Consortium, and eventually forced the Mercantile Council out of business. The Merchant’s Council was eventually resurrected by High King Murgatroid IV in 987, later becoming the Free Trade League.