The estates of Galthamar: Holbits

This estate description is part of a short series of posts on the people and society of my homebrew setting, Galthamar.

Ideals, self-portrait

A Holbit is industrious and family-oriented, honest and true, hospitable and courteous. They follow steady ways of life, such as agriculture, handicrafts and long-contract employment. Holbit culture is traditional and modest, with time-honoured forms of worship, celebration, family and community life. Holbits accept into their estate those of appropriate position, especially if they are agreeable and settle in well.

Stereotypes, criticisms

Holbits are dull, conventional, meek and small-minded. They lack ambition and appreciation for greatness or achievement, and indeed turn against any who seek to stand out from the crowd or make their own way. They are prejudiced against anyone who does not meet their standards of normal appearance, conventional behaviour or social pleasantness. Holbits have no get-up-and-go.

Description and styles

Holbits show the usual Galthamarian range of physical types, with some tendency to small size and away from ‘unusual’ features.

Most Holbits favour plain, practical styles, but those who can afford it choose bright colours for festive wear. Holbit taste is generally conservative and disapproves of the Highman tendency to change fashions rapidly—nonetheless their clothing and other styles tend to follow general trends in Highman dress, with a lag of a generation or two and moderation of the more extreme fads. They rarely wear hats or heels, seeing efforts to exaggerate height as somewhat ridiculous. Holbit buildings are also typically low and may feature curved or sloped lines, especially if this fits with the practicalities of the available building materials. They are known to build in materials such as cob or turf that other estates tend to scorn. They pride themselves on not relying on riding animals, though they take advantage of carts where practical. They are known, more than other estates, for smoking a fragrant herb that they call pipe-weed.

Social position

Holbits are mainly found in the rural workforce. Many of them hold land as tenants, often with labour obligations and other liabilities; in some lands they are required by law to remain on their holdings and prohibited from holding free property. There is a range from those holding just a cottage or small patch of land to substantial villeins or even farmers with many acres and considerable wealth in livestock or goods. In some lands Holbits may also have a range of non-agricultural and non-rural occupations such as domestic servants, labourers and (unregulated) craftspeople. In most lands, however, they are more or less excluded from the positions (such as white-collar work, commerce and regulated crafts) monopolized by the more privileged estates. They also, as an estate, may tend to disown individuals who fall out of regular positions or respectable ways and into the casual lifestyles of Gobelins.

Relations with other estates

Holbits get on with most other estates—rarely being in a strong social position to offend them, they tend to defer to the power and wealth of Highmen, the learning of Eltheren and the business of Dueren. They do have a tendency to snobbery about Gobelins though, making it known that they have a place in society, an adherence to its virtues, and a regular physical type—despite often being as poor as most Gobelins.

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