The first settlements on S’Mary’s World were run along the lines of monastic communes: the people of the settlements, though not professed religious, lived, farmed, worked, and built their homes and infrastructure together, and held it all in common. The settlement’s church was usually the first permanent structure, and, as many of the colonists were tertiaries of various orders, an abbreviated form of the divine office was usually sung or said each morning and each evening.
As the second and third generation of colonists grew to maturity and the settlements began to grow, this communal life became unwieldy and the settlements began to be organized in family households. Households began to specialize, with particular skills (e.g., shoemaking, tailoring) being passed down in families. The church remained the center of each settlement; and as the population grew many settlement churches turned into true monasteries. These monasteries provided the settlement schools, and worked with the Albertines to pass needed knowledge and technology to the people of the settlements. There was never a conflict between science and faith on S’Mary’s World, as the Prefecture and the religious orders were closely associated with scientific and technological progress in both the popular mind and in actuality.
The original settlements were carefully planned and positioned near various kinds of natural resources, and were thus from the earliest days bound together in a network of trade and interdependence. As they grew and prospered, however, settlements naturally began to compete for land and other resources, with those within the interior of the network feeling the pinch first. This led to the first significant inter-settlement conflicts, which were occasionally bloody, but were constrained and moderated by the influence of the Prefecture as enforced by the Knights Particular.