The Imperial Peers consists of the entirety of the Finian gentry and nobility. Finian aristocracy is composed of three parts; the ducal, baronage, and honorarium. Each serves an important function in the structure of the empire and the conduct of society. There have been considerable changes over the years as the nobility has swelled to enormous size in proportion with the population. Thus, in order to maintain the august mystery of the state, select titles have been steadily elevated to retain divisions in society.
The lowest and largest level of peerage is the Honorarium. It includes those with honorary peerages such as the various chivalric orders. Most titles of the Honorarium are not hereditary or familial, with the exception of the ranks of Tor and Ixion. In fact, outside of chivalric orders, most Honorarium are legislative appointments. Appointment or election to the House of Lords, the lower house of the legislature, carries a lifelong title in the petty nobility (typically Rector or Lictor depending on length of service) but no estates. These titles are always granted so that the imperial government would be entirely ennobled and, more importantly, that the Emperor would not be forced to take the advice of commoners on policy matters. Since the title is lifelong, but appointments to the House of Lords are not, there is a great number of retired Lords across Finium and its many colonies. During the last census, 0.06% of the population had a title or style in the Honorarium.
Tor, Ixion and some Khanda are also granted seats in the House of Lords, but many of them prefer to delegate those duties to a publically elected officials. This is especially common in the colonies and Carynthia, but almost a third of Knightly lords in Finium herself have opted to relinquish direct authority in the House of Lords.
The House of Lords, while technically the lowest house, is the source for most legislation except the levying of taxes, declarations of war, and any affairs concerning appointments, successions, and nobility. It is the only legislative house not formally led by the Emperor, instead it has an informal caucus system (caucusing or the creation of parties is forbidden at higher levels of government). The eldest, highest ranked member of the most numerous caucus presides over the house of lords and is granted the additional title of Lord Councilor. It is the Lord Councilor who conveys the wishes of the House of Lords to the Emperor or to the imperial ministry, this is once again to ensure that the Emperor need not take the considerations of a commoner. The Lord Councilor meets regularly with Emperor.
The Baronage describes all titles at or above Baron, or which hold an estate. Baronage titles are also extended to entire families and heritable. Counts, viscounts, barons, and baronets are the titles of choice at this level of government. Any holder of a barony estate is entitled to a seat on the Barony Court, which is the secondary legislative body of the imperial government and specifically has the right to levy taxes, approve the appointment of governors, and advise the Emperor on decisions of a domestic nature.
The Barony Court itself includes members of the ducal estates, although they seldom are involved in the doings of the court except for ceremonial purposes. The Emperor formally presides over the court, but for non-ceremonial functions, the Emperor appoints a Premier Councilor to serve in his stead on the advice of the Court. The Premier Councilor serves a similar function as the Lord Councilor, an intermediary between the legislative and executive branches of government.
The Ducal Estate
The Ducal Estate is the highest level of Finian nobility, composed of Dukes, Jagirs, Marquis, and Margraves. The Ducal Estate is legislative body in name only as all of its members are also members of the Barony Court and, more importantly, all Dukes hold edictal authority within their own realms. However, the estate advises the Emperor on foreign affairs, appoints to the Imperial Ministry and Imperator Court, and has authority over the high noble titles of Finium including the throne. The estate is presided over by the Archduke of Imperial Chael. The Archduke is technically a sovereign as well as a duke; his sovereign counterpart, the King of Carynthia, does not serve as a part of the estate. As leader of the estate, the Archduke also carried the title of Imperial Councilor.
The Grey Throne
The Grey Throne has several components beyond the Emperor that help the Finian state function efficiently. The three councilors—imperial, premier, and lord—make up the Presidium. The Presidium collectively is the Finian head of government and a subunit of the Throne. The Emperor, of course, is the head of state by tradition, though they are also the supreme source of all authority. The Throne also has a religious arm that is better described elsewhere in addition to the Board of Generals and some intelligence agencies.
The National Assembly is the bicameral legislature of Finium divided into the Barony Court and the House of Lords. It has 16,000 seats in total, but those seats are coalesced into 2,088 voting delegations—one for each county and municipality. Most of its members (10,000) are directly elected by constituents whom they represent. Members in the upper house are forbidden from forming parties or caucuses, but three informal caucuses exist in the lower house: National Imperialist, Globalist, and Social Nationalist. On occasion, communists, Jacobins, and other fourth parties have also been elected.
The National Assembly was convened in its current form in 1799 to quell a surge in revolutionary support across the home country, but individual sections of it had long existed to serve as advisors to the Emperor. Since 1799, the Emperor has gradually reduced the direct rule of the Grey Throne in favor of the mixed aristocratic-republican legislature. It has tacitly accumulated a great deal of authority, but shares it with the Imperial Ministry, which has broad powers to fulfill any needs of the empire by edict should the National Assembly fail to do so by act. Decisions and acts by the National Assembly can be vetoed by the Emperor or the Ducal Estate, and can be appealed the Imperator Court.
The Judiciary can be divided into two distinctive sections: The Imperator Court and the National Magistracy. Collectively, they serve as the primary interpreters of imperial edict and law. The judiciary was originally convened as a function of the throne itself and some scholars continue to argue that the higher court is indeed a section of the Grey Throne. Legal theory in Finium is based on the imperium voluntatis or “imperial will.” The Emperor, in legal theory, has a set of formulaic desires for the empire—such as the sacraments of obedience or the glory oaths—which it is the duty of the judiciary to implement. While all judges are bound to fulfill the imperium voluntatis, only the Imperators of the high court are allowed to speak with the imperial voice (i.e. create imperium volunatis).
All members of the judiciary are appointed by the Emperor, but they have ceded much of that authority to the Imperial Ministry and Barony Court. The seven imperators (one for each minister) are appointed personally by the emperor and serve indefinitely at the pleasure of the Emperor. When hearing a case, typically only one or two Imperators take part, but some cases of particular importance are heard with the full court. Cases are referred to the Imperators by any one of the three legislative houses, the Imperial Ministry, or the Throne. Technically, the Imperators may seek out or refuse hear any grievance, but have not done so since they intentionally sought out the end of the Grand Inquisition.
THE IMPERIAL MINISTRY AND GRADED ADMINISTRATION
Much can be said about the national bureaucratic structure of Finium--it is definitely unique among modern states for its fluidity and obscurity. The development of the government very much follows the development of the nation as a whole and each Minister's appointment and portfolio has a history. It is also important to note that these portfolios are not permanent, they are completely fluid. For example, over the past fifty years, the Department of Curricula had changed hands seventeen times. To further explain this process, each grade of bureaucracy is defined and expanded on below.
The Imperial Ministry
The Imperial Ministry is composed of seven Imperial Ministers that serve as highest level of Common Government (i.e. non-aristocratic government). They are appointed, and serve at the pleasure of the Emperor or whatever regency may occupy the Grey Throne. The Ministers are each assigned a portfolio that may include one or more national departments and unincorporated bureaus, or Grade A and B Administrative Units. Once assigned Imperial Ministers are free to alter their portfolios with the consent of other Ministers. For example, the Requirement Minister might exchange his control of the Bureau of Science for the Bureau of the Post so long as the Council Minister approves. However, since most Ministers serve a life term, there is seldom any change to the portfolios expect on the appointment of new Ministers.
Each ministerial office was created as demand for new bureaucracy was needed. The first ministerial office was that of the Old Minister, although it was originally titled Prime Minister in the style of neighboring governments. The Prime Minister oversaw all departments and unincorporated offices until the mid thirteenth century when the church was at its strongest point. Even though most of the bureaucrats were ecclesiastical in nature, the clergy demanded representation in the bureaucracy distinct from the civilian government. The office of the Ordinal Minister was created to satisfy this need and the Archbishop of Hallsind was appointed the first Ordinal Minister.
This system continued until the Prime Minister fell ill and was unable to serve as a diplomat to visiting nobility from across the region. Seizing the opportunity, the Prime Minister's deputy ordered a new, "Royal" Ministry to divide the interests of foreign affairs from those of the domestic. Now with three Ministers governing the respective functions of the judiciary, diplomatic, and domestic affairs, the Emperor announced that they would be his council of state.
The Council Minister was appointed a way to once again consolidate the bureaucracy under one officer. The current Prime Minister coerced the other two Ministers to appoint him as their collective leader and left his old office. It is at this point that the Prime Minister was first called the Old Minister because his duties were essentially governed by the newly created Council Minister. As soon as the Council Minister died, his power was redivided among the other three, leaving a group of four equally powered administrators. The Council Minister was given control of the Treasury while the Old Minister retained all other domestic functions.
A sudden recurrence of the Black Plague in Finium raised questions about the ability of cities to keep themselves sanitary. The Requirement Minister was appointed specifically to avert a mass resurgence of plague by overseeing the efforts of cities. He was ultimately successful by quarantining the affected port cities and allowing the disease to run its course and by burning the houses of the dead. The Requirement Minister would continue to monitor the great cities of Finium through the industrial revolution.
During the industrial revolution, the Principle Minister was appointed to manage the public purse. The first Principle Minister had been the private banker of the Emperor and insured the profit of the crown during the course of the boom. The Principle Minister was also tasked with maintaining and building various infrastructural projects to help fledgling industry thrive.
During the rise of fascism a prominent fascist party demanded a parallel, military government to the civilian one. Originally it was planned that the New Minister, as it was called at the time, would take control of the Department of War. However, the current Emperor arranged for a compromise under which there would be separate institutions governing the soldiers themselves and the actual fighting of wars in order to prevent the fascists from gaining too much power. This new office was known as the Proclaimed Minister because it was a decision forced by popular proclamation. After the Proclaimed Minister was appointed, the Emperor issued a decree forbidding the appointment of any new ministers, keeping the number since then at seven.
The Imperial Ministry is housed in the Manum Center in Hallsind.
In the modern world, Ministers follow the doctrine of Communia, or "shared responsibility." This allowed the collective Imperial Ministry certain rights and responsibilities, but more interestingly allows Ministers to serve interchangeably. This allows any Minister to serve as a diplomat and each Minister to issue orders to any department or bureau so long as it is in the interests of the state. This doctrine was created to allow any one Minister to maintain control of the government in a given emergency and gives a sense of balance to the independent portfolio system.
It also allows the Imperial Ministry as whole to act as a court of internal redress. Conflicts between Ministers can be settled by a vote of the whole. Under Communia the Emperor also allows the Imperial Ministry to issue the imperial levy and to distribute funds to the respective departments. The executive functions of the Emperor were designated to the body of Ministers, though those rights are still retained by the throne.
An originally innocuous subject of this doctrine was the creation of a Civil Service Academy to train new bureaucrats. Over the years, the Academy morphed into the exclusive source of Imperial Ministers and their staff. The Academy is highly selective and actively selects for those with antisocial behaviors and sometimes even outright disorders in order to create a more perfect administrator. Some academics have suggested that the Academy may not only select for such disorders, but use clinical psychiatry to develop those disorders. This almost definitely came about as a result of the Imperial Ministry to select its own members in place of the Emperor.
Grade A Administration
The Grade A Administration is a series of departments lead by Secretaries. Secretaries are appointed for definite terms of four years which can be renewed indefinitely by the Minister. Department portfolios are permanent and have explicitly states objectives, although some of them have been modernized in purpose, but not name. While the departments are enduring, whatever Minister administrates it may disenfranchise constituent bureaus into an independent organization. Ministers may not incorporate bureaus into departments without the approval of the Ministry.
Grade A Administration is considered an estimable career for the nobility and many Secretaries are prominent aristocrats and clerics. There is a clear distinction between the Imperial Ministry and the Grade A's, which are more political and in the public eye. Secretaries also report to the legislative Barony Court, which is the upper house of the Finian political system, and are almost always seated members of the court. If not, Secretaries are often granted an honorary seat if they are a commoner or a permanent seat if they are a member of the House of Lords.
Secretaries also meet collectively in the form of the Secretariat Council, which makes formal recommendations to the Imperial Ministry and the Barony Court. On rare occasions it has also made recommendations to the Emperor, although this is normally a formal ascent to an Imperial Decree. Recommendations are also made to the provincial governments and sometimes even specific estates. Operational affairs are almost always designated the responsibility of the Secretariat Council, while strategic affairs are reserved to the Imperial Ministry.
Each department has an office in Hallsind.
Grade B Administration
Grade B Administration is composed of the unincorporated bureaus the report directly to an Imperial Minister, each one with a director. These directors are seldom of high noble birth and is typically a mixture of common and low nobility. Bureaus are often disenfranchised because there is a need for certain functions within a specific portfolio that is distinct from its parent department. For example, the Bureau of Research is specifically intended to perform military research and so is included in the portfolio of the same Minister that oversees the Department of War.
Grade B directors do not sit on the Secretariat Council and instead are granted seats on the Directorate General. The Directorate General was created to coordinate Bureau activities and prevent redundancy, but is not as influential as its parents organizations. Unincorporated bureaus do not, however, answer to the Secretariat Council and are apportioned funds separate from the departments.
Each bureau has dedicated office space provided by the Imperial Ministry.
Grade C Administration
Grade C describes any incorporated bureau that reports to a department. Grade C is considered commoner work and nobles of any rank seldom accept invitations to work in one, even as a director. These bureaus perform specific sub-operations of the department in which they are incorporated. The Grade C directors do not have a formal assembly, but attend an annual Conference of the Directorate General.
Grade D Administration
Grade D Administration is any non-national, provincial, or territorial government institution.