The First Estate is the most powerful level of society in the Triad. Even among the Freeholds of the Corsairs and the drifter Kingships of the Reaches, the Houses rule. Descended from powerful Mega Corporations with lines dating back to the Aken Dynasty, the modern nobility is considered by many almost a race unto themselves. Culturally each House often is molded by the planet, sector, or nation it claims power over. Few Houses hold fiefs in lands they have no relation, or some form of blood ties with.
The Nobility name themselves “the Blood” reflecting their status as a cut above the rest. Noble life is filled with complex protocol, language, and is a subculture unto itself.
- 1 Defining the First Estate
- 2 Titles, Fiefs, and Address
- 3 Noble Life
- 4 Forming Alliances
Defining the First Estate
- See also: The Noble Household
The Nobility gain their power from the priveleges, and rights gifted to them in the Blood Declaration a document written by the founding investors of the Aken Dynasty. The Declaration outlines three core attributes:
- The Nobility carry the blood of one of the Imperial Dynasties either the Aken, Ulgan, or Artur Dynasties. This is outlined in the Document “The List of Names”.
- The Blood Mark Amendment which stipulates all Nobility must bear a Blood Mark to prevent the existence of Pretenders to the First Estate.
- The establishment of the Magnates, and Peers of the realm, and their respective titles, fiefs, and addresses.
Further the privileges of rule and responsibilities were laid out with the Decree of the Great Covenant which establishes:
- The right to organize their own personal army known as the House Guard, which can be called upon to serve their liege lord.
- The right to appoint, organize, and establish their own government according to the rules of Local, Systems, and Imperial Law. The right to also enact punishment within their home fief. The right to also set the law of their fief as long as it does not contradict the law of their liege lord, or Imperial Law.
- The right to seize local Genics in the defense of the realm to train as Errants.
To become a Noble requires favor, and an exchange of debt. The easiest way to earn nobility is through action, and commitment. Those who serve a powerful Lord quite well can likely earn grants of land, and an offer to swear fealty. Such actions require the opening of a title, or for a new title to be created. In any case a Great House can only appoint a new title within their realm, and only Sovereign Lords with a vote of the House Senate can raise a new Great House.
All acts of enoblement is authorized by the Sénann who are the ones to grant the access to a spouse who will provide imperial blood. Even if the enobled individual is married, they will gain a marriage to their living heir who will then be granted the future title of Lord. Second, a Blood Mark Glyh is then submitted to the Senate for approval which will then be injected to all standing members of the family. Who will over time intermarry with the primary line, or face expulsion from the House.
Another route to noble status is to marry within a standing family, and to take their name. This option is usually only open to a chosen few:
- Genics who are from the lower Estates, and who the ruling wishes to use to establish a long standing Errant Bloodline, or to reinforce one.
- Skill Guildsman who a House sees as a great asset to their family (rare instance).
Titles, Fiefs, and Address
The Blood see themselves as not only above the commoners, but also nearly a species apart. Their longstanding traditions have survived centuries of weathering, and their bloodlines have yet to falter. Three key aspects note a Noble Houses rank in life, and these are the holding of Titles, Fiefs, and then the addresses Applied therein. Titles are awarded based upon acts, and or fiefs that a Noble holds as a Client-in-Chief of the realm. Bequeathed upon a House by the Sénann, and the Sovereign Lords, it is the Fief that rewards the family with its heraldry, and its inherited titles.
Forms of Title include:
- Imperial Titles - The Titles awarded via the Imperial Government of the House Senate.
- National Titles - Titles gifted to those within the different polities of an Imperial Fief.
- Honor Titles - Titles awarded for acts of valor, or for other acts. Often come with responsibilities or occupations linked with the Imperial Government.
The power a Noble has, and their status in society is determined determined by the fief held by their family. A House Lord cannot be a Earl unless the fief he holds is a Early, nor can his children claim any resources from the holdings tied to the fief itself. In a Household only the House Lord and Consort may hold the Title associate with a given fief. Everyone else is bestowed a lesser related title to denote the power gained from the fief, but places them below the ruler of the House itself.
Fiefs are separated into the following levels:
- Sovereign Demesne - The fief of an entire system under the rule of a Sovereign House.
- High Mesne - The feudal right to rule more than a singular planet or sector of space. includes Marks and Duchies.
- Mesne - The normal rule of a planet or a sector.
- Vassalage - The right to rule a minor territory that is part of a Mesne such as a Barony or a Viscounty.
- District Vassalage - The rule of a Provincial District, or sub-region within an established Vassalage Fief.
Titles of the Realm
- See also: The List of Names
A titles term, and standing depends upon the responsibilities applied to it. A Markis rules a Mark, or March, a vast area of space set between the Marches of the Triad, and the central population centers. They are often charged with defense of the Realm versus a Earl who oversees a major world and is charged with maintaining Imperial Law among the various nations within their fief. All Titles are marked in both Elder Tongue as the scholarly language of the Lords, and High Avalonic the common language of the Nobility. Further, Titles are divided between the "Magnates of the Realm" who make up the Great Houses, and the "Peers of the Realm" who make up the Minor, Provincial or "Gentry" families, and the Houses Elector (elected rulers of Trade-Chartered nations).
An entitled Lord can have many Titles applied to their person. The rulers of the Empire of Sutārei hold the Titles of "Emperors of Sutārei, Earlessas of Yomi". National and planetary Titles are always applied in full address when interacting between those of lesser rank. The Empress of Sutārei is thus entitled Earlessa when interacting with other Great Houses, and Empress when interacting with those of Minor Houses. Foreign Minor Houses will always address her as both Empress, and Earlessa.
Sovereigns of the Realm
Above even the Magnates of the Realm reside the Sovereigns, or the Princes of the Realm. It is they who are said to hold the strongest blood of the Imperial Dynasties (through their ability to rule), and it is they who rule the Systems Triumvirate (the Upper House). The Sovereign titles are Prince in High Avalonic, and Taebhisén (Prince or Princess) in Elder Tongue.
Members of a Sovereign House are entitled "Sovereign Lord or Lady" as only the ruling House Lord or Lady may hold the title.
Magnates of the Realm
The Magnates of the Realm are the Great Houses who hold membership within the Systems Tribunate (the Lower House) of the Sénann. Titles associated with the Mangates include the rulers of Duches, Marks, Earlies, and Counties.
Following titles and fiefs included are:
- Duc / Duchesse (Duicas) - Those who rule a Duchy (a territory consisting of more than one planetoid).
- Markis / Markesse (Ardalaith) - Those who rule a Mark (a territory consisting of more than one Sector).
- Comte / Comtesse (Arail) - Those who rule a County, a territory consisting of one Sector.
- Earl / Earlesse (Irlu) - Those who rule a Shire, a territory consisting of one planetoid.
Members of a the Great Houses are entitled "Great Lord or Lady".
Peers of the Realm
The Peers of the Realm are the entitled Minor Lords who rule the Sub-REgions of established territories of the Magnates. Some of ethnic minorities, others are specially chartered city lords, who are elected to their position. Unlike the Great Houses though, Minor Houses do not hold the ability to vote in the Tribunate, but may elect Popular Tribunes to represent them.
Following titles and fiefs included are:
- Viscomte / Vicomtesse (Bis-t'Arail) - Those who rule a Viscounty, or nation / cluster of Colonies found within a Sector.
- Baron / Baronesse (Dumainn) - Those who rule a Barony, or a nation upon a planet.
- Prefet / Prefetesse (Rhéchtaor) - Those who are elected to rule a Prefecture, or a Trade chartered territory.
- Baronet / Barontesse (Dumainnsig) - Those who rule a Provincial District in the worlds.
- Baneret / Baneretesse (Scán-Tárnu) - Those who rule a Combine Province of the Space Colonial polities.
- Castelain / Castelesse (Críné-Tárnu) - Those who served a Great House directly by acting as defense of an important fortification or the family itself.
- Reeve / Revesse (Méras) - Those who rule a Sede or Imperially recognized “ceded land”. A nation set aside for major Wyldborn populations.
- Greve / Grevesse (Ciéthór) - Those who oversee a Harde or fortified series of space stations set aside for Trade.
- Burgreve / Burgresse (Ciéthórsig) -Those who oversee a Provincial subsection of a Harde, a Borgh.
Members of the Minor houses are entitled "Lord or Lady".
Sires of the Realm
Sires are the complex system of those lacking a direct noble bloodline, or even bastards who have risen above the rabble to join the First Estate. For this reason Sires are often considered 'non-inherited nobility' their titles are gifted to them by the Nobility or for acts for the greater good of the Triad as a whole (some consider simply "Honor Titles").
Following titles are awarded:
- Esquier (Isbhail) - A high ranking Errant of a Household.
- Sire / Dame (Anhár) - A basis title awarded to ranking Errants within a Household or Soldiers who have risen to high esteem within the House Guard.
Address and Honorifics
- See also: Honorifics
The Blood take the respect given in addresses quite seriously, and failing to remember how to do soe is often a mark of foolishness. Among the Nobility the usage of address is often a form of sarcastic banter, a means of testing the waters, and also a subtly means of displaying loyalty. Official addresses are conducted based upon rank, and relationship. Entitled nobles (House Lords and Ladies) are simply referred to as “My Lord” and then the Title. Their family are referred to as either Lord or Lady for Minor Nobility; Great Lord or Lady for Great Houses; and Sovereign Lord or Lady for the Sovereign Houses.
The simple form of the address is used often to refer to unallied or general Nobility. When someone places more emphasis on the address it can mean a few things.
Negative Honorifics used to display respectful distaste:
- “Your Honor” - All Nobles are implied to have honor, to state it openly is to question it.
- “Honorable Lord” - Same meaning as “Your Honor”
- “Your graceful” - A minor form of insult.
- “Your Excellency”' - For those of one rank above.
- “Your Grace” - Only applied to Sovereign House family members.
- “My Liege” - Direct ruling liege lord.
- “M’Lord” / “M’Lady” - Contraction is a personal mark, to added it to those not in direct contact or intimate in knowledge or loyalty is to be indiscreet.
Life for the Blood in itself is controlled, and directed by the pieces of the Sovereign Game. The drive to one day sit the Ancestor Throne, and reunite the Empire has been a dream of many a young Lordling. In its entirety the Sovereign Game directs the lives of not only the ruling nobility, but also the members of their Houses. A steady series of currents that drive loyalty to ones Blood, and to the name and heraldry carried by the Houses. Because Houses often come from diverse backgrounds they often have specific strengths and weaknesses that make them stand out from the rest.
Traits define how a family has bred itself, and honed its internal culture over the centuries. Soldier Houses often exuded a sense of duty, honor, or brutality. Traits are often vaguely interpreted and times defined across an entire family. This creates a sense of diversity while silly securing a deep identity for the families in question. Traits can also lead to a sense of political obsession especially among more conservative families or "Purists" who despise the intermarriage between those outside their ethnic group, subrace, or even their extended family (neo-alchemy can eliminate issues with incest).
House Traits can be defined into the categories of:
- Humour - The personality of a family. Humours are often a series of quirks, and traits that mark a families history. Some might be madness, others are fool hardy decisions.
- Blood - The Blood Traits are physical quirks, oddities, or even genetically modified aspects that the family uses to identify their members.
Purity of Traits
The way how Traits are interpreted across the Triad has led to a movement of multi-ethnic proportions among the Faeru, this is the Purity movement. A greater aspect of the Traditionalist train of thought found among the Nobility. Even the most liberal minded Nobles consider themselves above the lower Estates, but Purists take the ideal to a new level. Extremists often practice "Pure Bloodlines" a form of carefully bred incest to produce certain traits. Among Magister Families this is far more likely as they attempt to sire more powerful genics, or to reinforce failing bloodlines. In other cases Purists seek out marriages to better develop their family. Like the breeders of fine steeds, or prized pets they select their children or sub-brannches to produce offspring with desired traits.
All Houses control Nations, or many Nations and have subservient families that answer to them. All of this adds up to what a House controls, how they make money, and how they deal with external or internal threats. Houses with powerful Naval Defense Forces (NDF) are more apt to fight well in wars dealing with space flight, and territory in the Sea of Stars. Families with access to stronger AMF (Atmospheric Defense Forces) are better defended in atmosphere and are likely going to be world bound. Houses also need relationships with others than themselves. This can be a contract with another House or to place many members within one of the Guilds to gain a level of expertise. These are known as the Houses "Holdings" a term that once reference the fiefs controlled by a family, but has come to also include the skill-sets or even the information a family Holds.
Forms of holdings often include:
- The Skill-Sets of the members of the family in general. This includes active Meisters, Errants, Wrights for specialties. Diplomats or other skills are often honed depending upon the "Kind" the family holds.
- The physical businesses owned by the family.
- The defensive or military forces controlled by the family.
- The number of Errants, Chevaliers, and Squires the family controls.
- Any Soulgiven, within the family.
- Any connections with other organizations such as the Imperial Collegiate, the Guilds or even the criminal Cartels of the Triad.
Kinds of House
Coined from the people of Aesgir, the term "Kind" refers to the blood or children of a House. Over time it has morphed to refer to the type of culture, and mentality the House breeds. Families with extensive prominent Errant bloodlines are often called Magister Houses, and are sought after for the powerful Tek skills they maintain. In some families entire bloodlines will be devoted among the Cadet Branches to produce powerful Chevalier pilots to maintain the defenses of the family overall. Those with strong military focus are often called Warrior Houses, and are often heavily invested in either Naval Defense Forces (gaining them the nickname "Naval Families"), or the power of Atmospheric Defense Forces (named Soldier Families).
Crafter Houses are those with strong attention to production, agrarian attitudes, and Trade. They are often the opposite of the more aggressive Warrior Houses, and usually lack the genic blood of the Magister families.
- See also: Noble Schools
Growing up as a member of the Nobility often means private tutors, and a life of constant training. Heirs of the family will often received the most rounded education focusing upon managing the family Holdings, and understanding the current Lord's ideas of rule. Secondary children will often be given a chance to decide where they wish to go, or will in general have an occupation of the future selected for them. Many families usually assign one of their children to become the primary Captain of the House Guard, and another dedicated to the local faith. Others still will often be encouraged to take up land, and found their own Subhouses to better take control of local minor fiefs.
Most if not all children within the Nobility learn the local primary language of their system, and High Avalonics. More enterprising individuals will often learn Elder Tongue, the scholarly tongue of the entire Triad. More aristocratic families with longer standing bloodlines often make the language mandatory language to express their blue blood status.
Any Genic children are automatically identified, and sent to a local Tek School for training once they reach the age of four, or sometimes personally trained from a master from a standing School (sometimes even a directly or distant relative).
- See also: Inheritance and Succession
The internal problems of Houses often circle around the inheritance gained from the previous generations. Feuds have sparked over the splitting of land, and the struggle to be named Heir. Historically it was this reason that caused the splitting of House Perseus from House Athenes centuries ago. It was the reason why the Ulgan Dynasty almost fell apart from internal struggles for power. Laws of inheritance differ from nation to nation, but in general the rules are simple. Eldest inherits, or the one designated by the current House Lord. The arguments over inheritance thus often result from years of legal battles within the House Senate, or within the various branches of the family itself.
Power and Rule
- See also: Tárnais
The Power of Lordship or Rule is to many Nobles a right gifted to them by the Divine. However, no matter how decadent they become the Nobility understand that to rule properly they must obey the rules of Tárnais, and the Great Covenant. In the Ortaor the Houses are to manage the territories of the Realm, and to bring prosperity and protection. Standing armies are awarded for defense, and not to abuse the local population (many ignore this ideal). The right to seize Genics for training is purely a defensive basis (it is more used as a means of control). In all the Nobility are to be "stewards" of the Realm, not tyrants seeking to carve up their lands like wanton Warlords.
The Nobility were born from the investors of powerful Mega Corps that had little interest in maintaining good will. Hostile takeovers, and mergers were the story of the day. Over time this mentality evolved as the older families of the Nobility were forced accept those in first other systems, and then later the Starborn which the Worldborn nobility utterly despised for generations. This problem created the basis of the modern Sovereign Game. Politics slowly replaced the talks of taking over enemy stocks, and marriages became the means of cementing power and alliances.
Marriage is the solid means forming an alliance between two Houses. The sharing of blood that in of itself was established when Baal Aken's line married into the various investment families of Throne. Marriage Alliances established long standing links between families with some even coming to breed branches sorely for offering new brides, and grooms to their overlords. In the modern day of the Three Systems Era marriages are rarely done for love, and are always done for advantage, and gain. The newlyweds are evaluated, and documents are signed in a businesslike manner. All children are contracted, and which House gains the family is decided.
In most cases the House marrying into the other gives up a choice child to entice the other into a series of favors, or agreements. Other cases the Parents will select a match they think will serve best for their children. Other options exist which include ordering a Genespun for their child (an act considered slightly abhorrent by the more Traditionalist Houses). In all cases the marriage sees one individual leaving their home to join the other. Who and where is decided by the ruling laws of the system in question (women leave their family in Throne, it is negotiated in Rook, men leave their home usually in Sentinel). That individual then takes on a tattoo baring their new "House Glyph" to mark their transition into the new Household.
Marriage Alliances rarely last more than five generations, with only certain families keeping them for any longer.