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Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far Future
The government of the Third Imperium is not a democracy. While individual worlds may practice almost any form of government they wish, the overall power of the Imperium is centered on the figure of the Emperor. Below the Emperor lies the nobility, charged with the administration of the empire. All nobility forms part of the feudal system of Imperial government. Nobles, upon receiving their patent or upon confirming their inheritance when coming of age, swear continuing loyalty to the Imperium, to the emperor, and to the emperor's heirs and successors. There are three types of nobles: honour, rank and high nobles. Only rank and high nobles have real administrative functions within the Imperium. Rank nobles can be divided into two subtypes. The first subtype comprises the "local nobility", who make up the majority of Imperial nobles. They serve as Imperial representatives in systems that have a government somehow not conducive to administration by high nobility. These representatives occupy specific governmental offices, and have little power outside their local sphere of influence.
The second subtype of rank noble is the "administrator", a citizen who holds Imperial office. Often, these nobles administer worlds or territories with no formal Imperial representation. The title is tied to a position, so these patents are not hereditary (although the use of the noble title is still allowed upon retirement). Their sphere of influence includes operational territories or influence among others within a specialised field. High nobles hold hereditary office, and are responsible for direct administration of Imperial territories. They are personal representatives of the emperor, with the responsibility of holding together an interstellar community. High nobles frequently hold noble ranks of lesser precedence, which may include other local titles. Their sphere of influence is essentially the area administered by their local peerage. They have almost direct control of entire economies, and spend large amounts of time and resources developing their territories.
Generally, decisions affecting one area of the Imperium are settled by the nobility in that area. The nobility is allowed this power primarily due to the communications lag which exists when trying to control such a vast area as the Imperium; requests and orders take too long to reach higher authorities and return. Nobles are regulated through standard codes of behaviour known as protocols. Protocols aside, nobles have few obligations in terms of provision for one another, notwithstanding the payment of taxes, attendance of summits, and settlement of disputes that fall within each other's jurisdictions.
Members of the nobility are largely autonomous and have few restrictions on their activities, especially if they are in a backwater. The nobility contains a subset called the peerage, consisting of all nobles except knights and baronets. Collectively, the peerage constitutes the Moot, the Imperium's only deliberative body. Technically, the Moot is supreme in the Imperium, but its power is extremely limited. In practice, its deliberations are advisory to the emperor, and he is wise to heed them. The Moot has one main power: to dissolve the Imperium. When this power is brought to bear, it compels compromise between opposing factions. The Moot also has the power to confirm emperors and other nobles to their posts.
The Imperial bureacracy lies under the nobility in terms of official power. It is made up of a number of "ministries". Each ministry has offices in each subsector of the Imperium. This lessens the likelihood of sector-wide power bases forming, and provides more opportunities for patronage.
Imperial Ministries include:<br/> * Imperial Ministry of Colonisation (SMC, 1111; DENEB, 1120)<br/> * Imperial Ministry of Conservation (ADV-1, 1105; SMC, 1111)<br/> * Imperial Ministry of Defense (SUPP-11, 1107; MT-ENCYC, 1120)<br/> * Imperial Ministry of Justice (MOJ) (MT-REBEL, 1120)<br/> * Imperial Ministry of State (SUPP-6: p14, 1107)
Ref: SUPP-8, 1107