The role of the nobility in Tanglestone is… questionable, to say the least. The nobles seem to contribute nothing to the city as a whole, not even a rule of law. They are generally self-sufficient, subsiding on the personal resources within each Manse’s walls. Roughly once a month, each extant House receives a delivery of food from the Kitchens, not enough to feed them entirely but enough to supplement the products of their orchards and gardens. Also, roughly once a month each Manse opens its gate for some small trade with the Crafters: new goods are brought in, exchanged for rare and bizarre curios taken from the House’s vaults.
Presumably the Noble Houses were once stronger. Records indicate that their knights and dames would sometimes lead parties of Battlemen in skirmishes against forgotten enemies, and that they offered arbitration when the Judges of central Tanglestone stopped visiting with the northern wards. What influence they might have had has gradually waned, and the last significant endeavor involving the nobles was the civil unrest surrounding the Four Gates 120 years ago. Indeed, it’s been over fifty years since any of the nobles have set foot outside their Manses at all.