[LMB] Citizenship? - Oaths and Arde

Edith khoreutees at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 2 18:59:54 GMT 2021

On 01/12/2021 10:45, Matija Grabnar via Lois-Bujold wrote:
> On 30/11/2021 21:37, Edith via Lois-Bujold wrote:
>> There are at least two things that complicate this picture however. 
>> In 'The Warrior's Apprentice' we see with Arde Mayhew the possibility 
>> that someone may be a subject of Gregor's by virtue of his oath to 
>> Miles, but retains Betan citizenship/nationality. This suggests that 
>> 'subject of Gregor' and 'citizen of the Barrayaran Imperium' are not 
>> completely interchangeable terms. (On the other hand, I don't think 
>> it is possible to be a citizen of the Barrayaran Imperium and NOT a 
>> subject of Gregor).
> My (purely personal) reasoning on this is that citizenship on Barrayar 
> is related to oaths

I definitely see oaths and citizenship as related in Barrayaran law and 
thought. One of the questions I was circling around in my original 
message was how this intersects with the law/practice/thought of other 
states and the international systems. From what we see other planets do 
not give oaths the same weight. So while Barrayar may see an oath of 
loyalty to Gregor as creating the bond between individual and state 
necessary for citizenship, other states may not see it as sufficient to 
create effective citizenship.

> and the oaths define who is responsible to punish you when you do 
> something wrong.
> So, until you are of an age where you can swear an oath, your parents 
> are responsible for your behavior.
> Presumably, once you are old enough, you swear a generic oath to your 
> count. A generic oath might or might not stipulate renouncing your 
> other loyalties (such as citizenship of Barrayar or Escobar), it might 
> depend on the specific count.

Huh. That's an interesting possibility. I realised reading your comment 
that I hadn't ever really thought about how/if/when a normal person on 
Barrayar would make an oath of loyalty. Now you mention it I could see 
the possibility of some sort of ceremony on coming of age at which you 
formally take oath to your Count. On the other hand, I wonder if it 
could go completely the other way - that people only take oath at the 
point when they are changing allegiance (changing Count or entering the 
military being the two that spring to mind) and that up to that point 
the allegiance is just assumed as birthright.

If there is an expectation that everyone makes a formal oath when they 
come of age, that raises the question does this also extend to Komarr. 
Asking all Komarrans to make such an oath seems a really bad idea 
politically, but if you don't that reinforces a hierarchy of belonging 
and (perceived) loyalty. Hmmm.

I had sort of assumed (but this is an unexamined assumption) that making 
an oath would normally require the renunciation of previous and 
potentially conflicting loyalty. Thinking about it purely within 
Barrayar, I would imagine that you could only be sworn to one Count, but 
that having oaths to both a Count and the Emperor would not be a problem 
as (theoretically) they should not conflict. Whether it would require 
the renunciation of a foreign citizenship comes back to the question of 
would Barrayar allow dual citizenship or is this seen as inherently 
creating a conflict of loyalty.

Hmmm. Now I feel a burning need to re-read the whole series paying 
attention to exactly what we are told about oaths.

> A personal oath, such as Arde swore, is different. It was Miles' 
> option if he should demand of his vassal to give up his citizenship or 
> not. Since he did not, Arde could keep it. Possibly Miles could later 
> demand that Arde choose between the two loyalties, or possibly the 
> state at the taking of the oath is the determinant. That would 
> probably depend on very deep Barrayaran traditions and/or their 
> deepest, most basic law.

Yes. I think that would fit with the idea I was trying to work out 
above. As long as Betan citizenship and the status as Miles' Armsman are 
not seen as creating an intrinsic conflict of loyalty, it would be up to 
Miles. Again, I am thinking here that I am fairly sure that if someone 
was already Armsman to another Count, Miles could not swear them to him 
without some kind of renunciation. When it comes to Baz, he and Miles 
both note the fact that he was sworn to Gregor as a potential problem, 
but don't really get into the details of why, so I am not sure that 
helps in working out what is going on in terms of conflicting loyalties.

> Anyway, once Miles has Arde swear a personal oath, and having accepted 
> that Arde is a Betan citizen *as well*, I should think that it is no 
> longer a problem as far as Barrayaran government is concerned. If 
> Arde's dual loyalties ever become a problem for Gregor or his 
> government, they would ring up his liege lord (Miles), and tell him 
> "Are you gonna control your liegeman, or are you in rebellion against 
> Gregor?"

If the problem is in that direction, sure.

What happens if it is another state that has a problem with Arde and 
Barrayar wants to intervene on his behalf (which they would have a right 
to do if he was a Barrayaran citizen)?

As far as I recall we never do find out what the Betan and Barrayaran 
lawyers decide on the question of whether Arde is covered by Miles' 
diplomatic immunity or not. This leaves open the question of whether 
other planets would recognise the oath to Miles as also creating a legal 
bond between Arde and Barrayar as a state, which would give Barrayar 
standing to intervene on Arde's behalf at the international level. Or 
will Betan authorities regard the situation as one in which Miles 
employs Arde, which would not create a legal bond between Arde and 
Barrayar? If Barrayar is recognised as having standing to intervene 
internationally on Arde's behalf, whatever the status is technically 
called, it is starting to look a lot like effective citizenship. If not, 
we are back to the fact that an oath which creates a legally binding 
bond on Barrayar may have no validity outside Barrayar and what does 
that mean for recognition of Barrayaran citizenship (particularly 
citizenship by naturalization) outside Barrayar if it is based on an 
oath? (Sorry if this gets a bit convoluted. I don't have answers and am 
just playing around with ideas and trying to think things out as I go. 
As well as thinking about how some of the problems we see in the modern 
world in terms of citizenship status, recognition and effective 
citizenship might be relevant).

This is getting quite long, so I am going to respond on Miles' Betan 
passport in a separate email.

> But Miles' Betan passport is an interesting problem from the other 
> side. Obviously, Miles was not born on Betan soil, so Beta must have 
> some concept of the citizenship of parents being conferred on the 
> children. That means that Cordelia had to register his birth with 
> Betan authorities. But IIRC, she left Beta as a fugitive. At what 
> point did she arrange to once again become a citizen of good standing?
> And here is another interesting question (it is possible that it was 
> mentioned in the books and I have simply forgotten), at what point did 
> she register Mark with the Betan authorities as her son? When did Mark 
> get his genuine Betan passport, and did he get it from Cordelia's 
> hands, or just ... you know... in the mail?

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list