Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ankh-Morpork City Watch
The Ankh-Morpork City Watch (originally the Night Watch) is a fictional police force within the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett. The watch is based in the city-state of Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld. Terry Pratchett has stated that, "I wanted to give them a spot to shine in the sun, but it turned out to be a full blown tropical vacation."
The primary members of the watch are (see the linked articles for full details of the characters):
- Commander Samuel Vimes
- Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson
- Sergeant Angua
- Sergeant Detritus
- Sergeant Fred Colon
- Corporal Nobby Nobbs
Corporal Cheery Littlebottom is a forensic alchemist for the City Watch and one of the first dwarfs to be openly female, changing her name to Cheri. Her name translates in Dwarfish as Sh'rt'azs. Her family lives in Uberwald, except for her late brother. She is introduced in Feet of Clay and appears in all subsequent Watch novels, most notably The Fifth Elephant. A web comic features her (The Adventures of Cheery Littlebottom).
Reginald Shoe (usually Reg Shoe) is a zombie, and a Constable in the Night Watch. He was introduced in Reaper Man and joined the Watch in Jingo. He died in the Ankh-Morpork Revolution that took place during now-Commander Vimes' first days on the Watch force, some thirty years before the present. (Details in Night Watch.) Reg died from several crossbow bolts to the chest, although it took him some time to realise this. Afterwards he became strongly interested in his own "Dead Rights" movement, spending the years between then and now on creating his "Fresh Start Club", preaching to the cemeteries of the city on how maltreated dead people are, and taking a job as an undertaker merely so that he can leave flyers for the Fresh Start Club on the inside of the coffins.
Reg was hired on to the force by Carrot Ironfoundersson, on the basis that if the authorities maltreated the dead they needed some more expertise. Since then the number of complaints doubled, and they were all against Mr. Shoe, who claims it is all because of a lack of understanding of the demands of policing in a multi-vital society. While he spends most of his time outside it, Reg has a grave in the Small Gods cemetery next to the other important casualties in the revolution.
Visit-the-Infidel-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets is a Constable of the City Watch, sometimes known as Visit or Washpot. He first appeared in Feet of Clay.
He is an Omnian human of a gentle but determined proselytising nature. He can clear a large crowd in minutes, just by talking to them about religion and threatening them with pamphlets (principally "Unadorned Facts" and "Battle Call"). In off-duty moments he goes door to door with his fellow Omnian "Smite-the-Unbeliever-with-Cunning-Arguments".
Note: Some of the information repeated below was taken from the Discworld Companion and the 1999 Discworld Diary, which had a City Watch theme, and has not been confirmed in any of the Discworld novels.
The Ankh-Morpork Watch & Ward was founded in AM 1561 by King Veltrick I. They had full copper armour and a copper shield inscribed "Fabricati Diem, Pvncti Agvnt Celeriter" ("Make the Day, the Moments Pass Quickly", Veltrick's motto). Four days later Veltrick's son asassinated him, and became Veltrick II. Since he had little interest in maintaining a police force the smart armour and equipment of the Watch quickly deteriorated.
At this time there were four separate forces: The Palace Guard, who guarded the palace; the Cable Street Particulars, who served as government intelligence; the Ward, who acted as gate-guards, thief-takers etc. during the day; and the Watch, who served the same purpose in the hours of darkness. The force comprised one commander, five captains, ten sergeants, forty corporals, lance-corporals, constables and lance-constables, and, in times of emergency, a "citizens militia" of varied size.
Public opinion of the Watches (the Ward became known as the Day Watch) was never high, and reached an all time low when a Commander, who had told the public not to take the law into their own hands, was thrown onto the Ankh with a cry of "If it's not in our hands, whose hands is it in?" The Guilds were policing themselves by this point, so the Watch was becoming increasingly irrelevant.
The Watch had a brief respite in AM 1688, following the Ankh-Morpork Civil War, when Commander Suffer-Not-Injustice Vimes and his Ironheads became the city's rulers. However, after he was deposed in favour of the Patricianship the Watch sank even further into obscurity; he was (until recently) the last Watch Commander. Under the rule of the Patricians, not only did Guild Law apply in the Guilds, but the only laws that applied anywhere else were the whims of the man in charge.
By the time of Homicidal Lord Winder's rule as Patrician, there were only a handful of Watch Houses remaining. The Cable Street Particulars were thriving, however, having changed from intelligence agency into a secret police force. During the Revolution of the Twenty-Fifth of May their building was burnt down by members of the Night Watch from Treacle Mine Road. The change in Patricians did not lead to an improvement in perceptions of the Watch, and when Lord Vetinari replaced Lord Snapcase, and even theft was legalised, there seemed to be no point to them at all.
The Night Watch now comprised three men, based in the old Treacle Mine Road Watch House, and all there because they couldn't do anything else. While the Day Watch had become another of the city's gangs, the Night Watch couldn't even manage that. As they saw it, their purpose was to walk down the street chanting "Two o'clock and all's well", and if all wasn't well, you found another street.
This changed when Constable Carrot joined, and the Watch saved the city from a dragon. Following the destruction of their Watch House, they moved to larger premises in Pseudopolis Yard and started recruiting more members, especially from ethnic minorities such as dwarfs, trolls and the undead. They then saved the Patrician's life, and he agreed to increase the force's stature, with new Section Houses being built around the city. The remains of the Day Watch were incorporated into a new City Watch, commanded by Samuel Vimes.
Since then, the Watch has become a proper police force, dealing in crime prevention and investigation, rather than simple thief-chasing. They now have a forensics section, a Traffic Division and the Cable Street Particulars have been revived as a plain-clothes division (although this exists on an ad hoc basis, because the senior officers (Vimes and Carrot) believe watchmen should wear uniform). A Watch Academy has been set up, although watchmen trained there often get "poached" by other Sto Plains city-states who have seen the advantages such a force has.
A Guild of Watchmen exists, having been set up by Corporal Nobbs. It is not often referred to, however, presumably on the basis that "Mister Vimes would go spare".
Uniform and equipment
Watch uniform consists of a brown shirt and knee breeches (hence the derogatory nickname of "brownjobs"), chainmail, an iron breastplate, an iron and copper helmet, sandals or boots and a waterproof cape. A watchman will also be issued with an oak truncheon, a sword and crossbow (or cultural weapons of choice) and an hourglass and bell.
The current watch badge was commissioned following the events of Men at Arms. It is an eight-pointed copper star, with the city coat-of-arms in the centre. Around the arms is written "Fabricati Diem, Pvnc", a truncated version of Veltrick's motto, although Sergeant Colon insists it means "To Protect And Serve". Sam Vimes retains his original badge, a simple copper disc or shield (accounts vary) inscribed AMCW and with the badge number 177. A badge with the motto "The Innocent Have Nothing To Fear" was proposed by Carrot, but vetoed by Vimes.
Until recently, a watchman could send a message for back-up by ringing his bell as hard as possible. This was briefly replaced by a whistle. Currently, a watchman on patrol will have at least one homing pigeon and a set of semaphore paddles.
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