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Kanly was a formal and highly ritualized feud or vendetta declared between two Houses Major.


Kanly was established under the Great Convention, primarily with the purpose of sparing the innocent bystanders who might otherwise be slaughtered in a House-to-House confrontation. This regulation was considered important enough by the framers of the Convention to warrant its being detailed in 25 pages in the original manuscript (see Section XXIV of the Great Convention).


The rules regarding kanly are set forth by the Great Convention. Kanly could be declared only by the acting, titular head of a Great House. Any person presenting such a declaration was required to notify the Landsraad High Council and the Imperial Court, as well as the head of the House declared against, so that a Judge of the Rite could be appointed to supervise the kanly negotiations. Once such a Judge — authorized by both Council and Emperor — was appointed, the opposing parties and their immediate families could open negotiations. No outside observers, apart from the Judge, were allowed to witness these proceedings. The negotiations could take several forms. If neither party was willing to consider any other way of reconciling the differences, the "negotiation" consisted of a personal combat with knives only, unshielded and to the death. Even the combat was stylized, with certain phrases being employed on each side to call the other out. When one or both of the combatants had died, the option of either withdrawing the kanly or reopening negotiations was left to the heir(s).

It was not completely unknown, in particularly bitter kanly, for all the possible heirs to a line to be wiped out. When this occurred, the Judge of the Rite was empowered to declare the House ended, put its remaining members wider Imperial protection, and redistribute its assets. The victorious House was allowed only a small portion of those assets. This parsimony helped keep the kanly proceedings from becoming a popular, and profitable, way of doing business. A much larger share was allotted to the Crown, ostensibly to be earmarked for the support of the losing House's survivors.

If the combat were not chosen, kanly could be settled by the challenged House's agreement to meet certain terms set by the declaring House. Such terms most often included the transfer of a fief, and of large amounts of CHOAM holdings or other valuables; occasionally, the demand was made for permission to marry into the declared-against House, with the obvious intent of an eventual takeover.

For a number of reasons — the violent climate of the times not least among them — the settlement approach was seldom used. Kanly, except for those Houses too weakened or sparse of heirs to face the personal combat was chiefly settled by the blade.

One other solution, rarely invoked, also existed: the Judge's Ban. When a Judge of the Rite, acting either as an individual or as a messenger from the Emperor or Landsraad Council, decided that a particular act of kanly was detrimental to the Imperium as a whole, a Ban could be laid on both Houses. Until such time as the Ban was lifted, the House whose members acted against the other could be declared guilty of treason, stripped of all its holdings, and outlawed. In the face of such possible consequences, all but the most stubborn wishes for combat faded; the Ban was a most effective deterrent.

Notable Examples[]

Historically, some of the best-known instances of kanly include:

See also[]