Imperial Nobility

Discussion of Elder Scrolls lore and how it will be used in Province: Cyrodiil.
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Imperial Nobility

Postby Infragris » 05 Sep 2014, 12:15

As the matter of noble ranks in Cyrodiil recently came up, I thought we could try and set up some basic rules. I've made a proposal here which, I hope, will balance the common system of noble ranks with the need to introduce more exotic and unusual titles, indicative of Cyrodiil's rich history. Basically, rulers and dignitaries can be divided in three main groups:
  • The modern system of nobility: introduced by Tiber Septim, includes dukes, counts, barons, knights etc. This is the aristocracy proper, directly bound to the Emperor by feudal ties. The upper ranks of the Legion are also connected to this system. Anybody who holds power through land will either have this kind of title, or the equivalent of one.
  • The administrative system: also a centralized system, but closer to the Elder Council and the Imperial administration, diplomacy, census and excise, ... than the Emperor as a person. This system will use pseudo-Roman terminology: Praetor, Consul, Inductor, Secutor, Praestitor, ... This seems more fitting as these titles seem to refer to functions as as opposed to station or land. Mostly predates the Septim Empire. Currently planned members are the high dignitaries in Anvil and Kvatch.
  • Remnants: strange, antique or otherwise peculiar titles which somehow survived the Septim reforms. Battlemage nobility, AKaviri bloodlines, Totem society chiefs, Nibenese clans, the Khajiiti clan-mothers, Dunmeri exiles, Redguard community leaders, religious figures... Anything goes. Instead of land or military might, these dignitaries base themselves on "soft"power: knowledge, magical prowess, political and popular support. This is key to the Nibenese situation, as the jungle makes normal territorial politics moot.

The second and third systems are very ill-defined, and can be adjusted depending on our creativity and our desires for specific regions. The only really pressing need are a title/job description for the highest functionary in Anvil, and some fleshing out of the administrative center in Kvatch. For now, let's focus on the ranks of Imperial nobility (items between square brackets do not apply to Cyrodiil directly):
  • Emperor: obviously, the highest rank. The ultimate authority for the feudal system and the Legion (the administrative system answers to the Elder Council, which theoretically answers to the Emperor. Politics).
  • [High King]: the ruler of a Province, who has several lesser kings under his command. A leftover from the time when the provinces were autonomous. The rulers of Skyrim and Summerset are both High Kings.
  • [King]: the nature of this position differs between provinces. Some are ruled by a single king as the highest authority within their borders: king Helseth in Morrowind, the Mane in Elsweyr, Gortwog in Orsinium. These are the political equivalent of a High King, though they enjoy less prestige. Other provinces have several lesser kings within one province: the many rulers of High Rock and Hammerfell, who have no single overlord, or the Jarls of Skyrim, who are considered equivalent to kings. Cyrodiil once had many kings, but all these royal houses were dethroned by Tiber Septim, and their territories became the counties of today.
  • Duke: Usually rulers of large districts or pieces of a province. Examples are the Duke of Vvardenfell and the Duke of Colovia. The latter governs several lesser counties, and has a place on the Elder Council as representative of his region. It is currently unknown/undecided if there should be a Duke of Nibenay EDIT: the former Dukes of the Nibenay were the Tharn family. A new line has not yet been chosen. While the Duke is very influential in the Council, his actual territorial might is limited due to the power of the Counts. The Duke has his own guard, which is more prestigious than the usual city guards.
  • Count: a very important position in Cyrodiil. The Counts are the inheritors of the prestigious kingdoms of Colovia and the influential city-states of Nibenay, and as such hold much of the immediate military and economical might in the province. Counties are highly autonomous, and are relied upon to regulate themselves and counteract any internal threats. Most Counts relish this independence and are loath to call upon the aid of the Duke or the Legions - though the Legions are a constant presence, policing the highways and being gerrisoned around the province.
  • Baron: a lesser position within a county, usually the ruler of a couple of villages, or a city which is not the capital of that county. The city of Sutch is an excellent candidate for a Baron.
  • Lord (or Major): ruler of a single village or a large estate. Ranging from the civilized upper class with a town house in the nearest actual city to impoverished country gentry who plow the field along with their serfs. Despite their low ranking, Lords and Ladies are of great economical importance: farming, mining and other localized industries usually happen under their patronage. Current candidates would be Brina Cross and some of the farmsteads out in the country. In Oblivion, a Lord Drad rules the area around Sutch, but my advise is to either ignore this or to have his rise be part of the Sutch questline. An alternative title is Major, as is used for Stirk: a major is more of a patrician representative, who is elected in a cooperative system between notable citizens and the noble ruler (in Stirk's case the Countess of Anvil). Not supposed to be hereditary, though it usually is.
  • Knight: Cyrodiil is full of all kinds of knightly orders: from the upper ranks of the Imperial Legion and the esoteric religious orders of the Imperial Cult, to the personal ego-orders of various counts. There are lots of ways for a person to become a knight. As a result, the title has been very much watered down, and usually has no lands associated with it: essentially a landless rank, with the exceptions being mostly farmer-knights with their own independent plot of land somewhere in the country. A knightly title cannot be inherited. Of course, not every knight is a pauper: one can have multiple titles, and many Counts, Barons or Lords are also knights. To join a knighthood is a popular pastime for the children of the upper nobility.

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Re: Imperial Nobility

Postby Infragris » 29 Sep 2014, 11:32

Administrative nobility: the "nobility of merit" of the centralized Imperial government. Unlike the classical nobility, these ranks are not based on land ownership but on the tasks and appointments the Imperial administration imposes on them - an administrative aristocrat can never rule a town or a city without also being a Septimite peer. However, many "Quill-princes" can be found managing mines, farms or other industrial businesses which are the direct property of the Empire - that is, they act as representatives and have no direct claim on the property (though they often act otherwise). While normal nobility considers the Emperor the highest rank, administrative nobility consider the Elder Council as the absolute authority.

There is often a lot of strife between the "old" aristocracy, whose claim comes from blood, battle and possessions, and the "new" aristocracy, many of whom have no significant family history, or were born as commoners. However, these orders are not exclusive: a person can be both Septimite and administrative nobility at the same time.

A proposal for given titles of administrative nobility. The ranks mirror those of the normal nobility (keeping it simple). Names of these were proposed by MoonAndStar and Praetor here.

  • Consul: a member of the Elder Council who acts as an appointed ruler or administrator in a given area. This term is rarely used, as most Consuls have a plethora of other titles which command more immediate respect. Currently, there would be one Consul planned, in the offices of the Imperial administration branch of Kvatch. This Consul would be responsible for all governmental work in Colovia, and acts as the Council's hand in this region (to counteract the Emperor's power through his Legions and theoretically faithful vassals).
  • Praetor: a high administrator, ranking directly underneath the Council, but very independent in many ways (as the Council is a divided organ, and often has difficulty coming to a decision). Usually based in the large cities, or places of great economical or political significance. The highest administrator in Anvil is a Praetor, there specifically to coordinate import & export, border control, census & excise etc.
  • Precantor: originally a public speaker for the Praetor, tasked with publicizing his decisions and communicating them to the people. Today, he is more like an assistant administrator, or a second-in-command who can be relied on to act as the Praetor's hand in the Provinces.
  • Inductor: middlemen, who direct and bring about the decisions of the Praetor, with limited power of their own.
  • Secutor: "follower", lowest class of magistrate, who is sent into the hinterland to deal with things on the spot, or acts as a clerk. Power is mostly limited to observing - often used as spies.


EDIT: I've made a mock-up of what the political borders of West-Colovia might look like. Purely speculative, of course.
Spoiler: show

  • Dark gray: wilderness etc. Mostly unclaimed land, either because the people died (the Camoran Usurper depopulated large stretches of the land) or because the owners are aristocrats who live in the Imperial City and don't care about the land.
  • Orange: the immediate possessions of the countess of Anvil. Of course, the entire county "belongs" to her, but indirectly, through her feudal vassals.
    Mustard yellow: Stirk etc. Can't remember what the local ruler was.
  • Bright yellow: the barony of Sutch. After the Kali Mes business, this would belong to a Redguard magistrate.
  • Purple: the county of Kvatch.
  • Dark red: under control of the Imperial Crown: mostly Legion forts and border crossings.
  • Bright red: the Imperial Reserve. A land-grab of a previous Emperor, supposedly his personal hunting grounds, but actually a way of keeping unruly Colovians and Redguard apart.
  • Green: small vassals: knights, lords, and free peasants. Farms, mines,inns, villages: everything that theoretically belong to or is managed by someone. Of course, some of these could belong to the local count or even the Emperor in person. Note that I've made the Imperial fortresses around Kvatch green, mostly because there is mention of noble lords named Wariel, Hastrel and Linchal in lore - these could be the strongholds of local lords instead of Imperial Legions.

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Re: Imperial Nobility

Postby Saint_Jiub » 29 Sep 2014, 16:57

Very good, this was very similar to what I was thinking as well. As far as the administrative nobility is concerned, do we want to include Skyrim's legion ranks (auxiliary, quaestor, praefect, tribune, legate) anywhere for continuity's sake? They're a little too on-the-nose for the Legion I think, but they'd fit in well as maybe an administrative branch of it.

Also, as far as Akaviri titles go- from the katana, tanto, and wakizashi, it's clear that Akavir has some etymological roots in Japan. As a base, I would suggest the following if we decide to go that route for Nibenay:

Shogun [Duke]
Daimyo [Count]
Jito [Baron]
Kikujin [Lord]
Syffim [Knight]

Thankfully, Oblivion provided an alternative to "samurai" for the knightly class :P We would need to make up new, but ideally similar, names for the other four as well so that they're not purely Japanese titles.

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Re: Imperial Nobility

Postby Infragris » 30 Sep 2014, 12:29

The Skyrim ranks could work for the alternate Legion branches: perhaps something like an internal investigator/inspector type, since the Legion questline seems bound to focus on internal problems.

I'm not sure where and how we can use Japanese-inspired titles. I haven't really given much thought to how the Tsaeci bloodlines should manifest in-game, but I assume they're primarily clan-bonds and family connections - a secondary network underneath the system of official titles and functions. Perhaps an enclave of Snake-people somewhere in the jungle? Gonna have to think about the Nibenay.

EDIT: I would drop Shogun and Daimyo, mostly because they are very recognizable Japanese terms and because we probably won't have rulers on that level using local titles. Jito would be perfect to full-on replace baron for the east: Mir Corrup, obviously, and probably a number of smaller villages and towns along the river (Nibenay is very urbanized). For lower ranks I would prefer to use family honorifics: cousin, brother, etc. to illustrate how power here is in hands of very exclusive families. I would avoid Syffim, as it could cause confusion with the Guild of Fighters. Of course, the term can be used within the Guild: a warrior calling himself a Syffim, part of the Syffim.

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