Structure of the Holds
For most people, the Hold is both the residence and primary social authority. Most Holds are built of stone or networks of caverns both natural and man-made. Shuttering windows and barring doors, makes the Holds ideal shelter in times of Threadfall. Plant life is diligently removed from entrance areas of holds and homes for safety purposes during threadfall.
Types of Holds
Major Holds (Cities)
Major Holds are ruled by a Lord Holder, whose power is largely unchecked in his domain so long as he fulfills his responsibility to the Hold's residents; namely, he provides residents protection from Thread, an appropriate education, and food and shelter in return for labor. The Lord provides protection from Thread by tithing a percentage of the Hold's agriculture and other materiel to the Weyr to which his Hold looks.
Minor Holds (Towns)
Under the jurisdiction of the Major Holds are Minor Holds. These can range widely in size, but operate not unlike a Major Hold on a smaller scale. Despite the name, some of the larger Minor Holds may approach the population of a Major Hold's urban center. Nonetheless, they are subject to the Major Hold of which they are a part and to which they tithe. Minor Holds are managed by a Holder, not a Lord. In many cases, however, a Lord Holder will install his son as Holder at a Minor Hold; the son retains the hereditary title of Lord.
Cotholds (Villages/ Farms)
The more rural members of the population live in cotholds. These are much smaller vassal holds, often consisting of a single extended family located near the fields, pasture, or other site of the Holders' agricultural pursuits.
Holds are feudal in nature. A Lord Holder is a veritable king in his own right, controlling everything in his territory from educational standards, industry, military, writing and interpreting the law of his land, etc.
Day-to-day operations are delegated to a Steward, who is responsible for the Hold's economic health, trade with the outside, tithes to the Weyr, and dealings with its vassal Holds.
In the Hold itself, food, clothing, healing, and other maintenance of the dwellings and residents are the responsibility of a Headwoman under the supervision of the Lady Holder (the Lord's wife). The Lord's female children and relatives frequently assist in these tasks.
Hold children are educated by the Hold's Harper until they've reached an age they may begin receiving an education in aspects of Hold management. A Holder's sons, any fosterlings, nephews, and other male relatives, are given experience in Hold management. This can consist of acting as Steward (or assisting the Steward), taking charge of a particular portfolio of the Hold's activities (such as husbandry) or becoming Holder of a Minor Hold.
Hold Laws & Punishment for Criminal Acts
Each hold is responsible for the upholding of justice and the discipline of its wrongdoers. Most times the Lord Holder will make the wrongdoer pay restitution and service to the wronged party. Incarceration is also an option. Death penalty can be used in response to very serious crimes, but the greatest punishment is to be named holdless. This is where a person is stripped of all rank and status and thrown out of the hold. The reason this is the most severe punishment is because the holdless have nowhere to seek protection from Threadfall.
Hold Guard Ranks vs. Weyr Ranks
Weyrsecond [Lt. General]
Weyrlingmaster [Drill master]
Sr. Wingsecond [1st Lt.]
Jr. Wingsecond [2nd Lt.]
Wingthird [Officer cadet]
Weyrlingmaster assistant [Drill master assistant]
Weyrling [Freshman class]
[For more specific information on Holds, see the individual Hold forums, above RP threads.]