The Unknown Past
The Trade Assembly
The Trade Assembly
The Trade Assembly was one of the four original Factions of the Royal Council created by King Justintine in SR 121. The charter of the Trade Assembly codifies the need for the crown to have a central point of contact for all resources in the realm during the times of national need. It also records the need for tradesmen to make a fair profit without restricting resource availability to any individual who may need or want said resources. The Assembly originally included artisan guild, the maker’s guild, and the laborer’s guild. In SR 141 the Trader’s Guild was added to the Trade Assembly.
The Trade Assembly charter defines the crown’s right to lay claim to all resources and labor that is governed by the Trade Assembly in time of national emergency or war. It agrees that the crown will fairly compensate all individual providers during the emergency for their contribution. In exchange for this guarantee of product and service when needed, the crown allows the Trade Assembly and its members some additional benefits that are spelled out in the charter.
The first benefit is the Trade Assembly was given Faction membership in the Royal Council and thus can assist in making the laws of the realm.
The second benefit is they are allowed to guide the pricing and availability, and to protect the resources provided by its members through force of arms; as long as any individual that has the need for an Assembly provided resource has a reasonably affordable opportunity to purchase the resources when needed.
The charter also sets some restrictions on the Trade Assembly’s authority and responsibilities.
The charter records that the Trade Assembly is required to maintain a guild hall for each of its member guilds in each of the duchy’s capitals. These guild halls must include an open meeting room for buyers and sellers to discuss deals and for the Assembly’s representatives to use when resolving negotiation disputes. This space and the usually available guild vault space have made trading with Assembly members preferred by most of the wealthier persons in the kingdom.
The charter also expressly prohibits the Assembly and its members the right to storage of resources or the sale of resources for storage at any price to any non-crown entity when an individual person is willing to pay a reasonable price; unless it is being stored for consumption by the member’s immediate family. Violation of this premise by the Trade Assembly hierarchy will result in the dissolution of the Trade Assembly. To that end the Trade Assembly holds annual meetings in each duchy where the local representatives meet and agree on the general, regional price range for products that year, to discuss expected production, and expected regional consumption. In addition, each Trade Assembly official is tasked by its leadership to uphold this responsibility by acting as a broker and a neutral negotiator when requested by either the buyer or seller if a member is involved. Also, the Trade Assembly leadership holds monthly court in each duchy to resolve disputes that can not be resolved by the local officials.
Finally, the charter includes rules regarding the non-member’s rights. The rules state that no individual shall ever be required to join the Trade Assembly to make, sell, or trade anywhere in the kingdom. It also states that the Trade Assembly cannot make exclusive trade deals with any individual. Any proven attempt by any member or representative of the Trade Assembly to will also result in the dissolution of the Trade Assembly.
When the Trade Assembly was formed there was much discussion as to why anyone would want to limit themselves to the King’s rules and join the Assembly when there was no perceived value to the individual members. For many years most craftsmen were not members of the guilds and the Assembly. That all changed during a large scale drought that swept through the foothills of the Dragon Razors in the summer of SR 141.
To save the lives of many tens of thousands of people, the king ordered the Ministry of War to confiscate all the resources of the Trade Assembly. When that was not enough he ordered them to confiscate the resources from all individual tradesmen no in the effected area. This created a transportation issue that King Dorentine resolved by confiscation all wagons and boats of all trader’s in the realm. With this system in place and manned by the Ministry of War, the resources flowed into the hardest hit regions and many lives were saved. At the end of the summer, when the drought was over and the stricken areas were able to again support themselves, the king ruled the crown would only reimburse persons who were members of the Trade Assembly. (He only agreed to that because of the Royal Council’s instance and the Assembly’s charter that was signed by his father.) This ruling caused the memberships to swell quickly. Since the Trader’s were not members of Trade Assembly they were left out and many people had to start their lives over from nothing. After being informed of this, King Dorentine allowed the formation of the Trader’s Guild and signed its addition to the Assembly on Thowe 2 in SR 141, turning the Trade Assembly into the Royal Council Faction with the largest number of members.