The Kadrin Empire is the most powerful land in the world of Veydrus. Though not unchallenged in their dominance, the Kadrins have been a major factor in world affairs for most of their six thousand summers of existence. We first learn of them in Firehurler but there is only so much you can gather from the sitting in the middle of their affairs. Here, I will go into more detail on how their system of government works.
At it’s heart, Kadrin is a dynastic empire. Rule is passed down a patriarchal line to eldest sons in straightforward fashion (in theory at least, if not always in practice). The entirety of the empire is at the emperor’s whim to command, however the vast scope of that empire requires equally vast delegation. With that authority, some emperors choose to while away their lives in leisure while underlings take care of every detail or rule. Others prefer to get their hands dirty in the business of politics, especially those with ambitions to further the reach of the empire’s borders.
Noble titles (as outlined below) exist at the emperor’s whim as well, though most take them as sacrosanct. The more inclined an emperor becomes with shuffling about and disrupting the lives and legacies of his nobles, the shorter and more interesting his life is likely to be.
The title of Empress exists as well. Its definition evolves to fit the times but rarely means more than “mother of the next emperor”. All her power derives from her influence over the emperor.
Dukes and Lords
The lands of the Kadrin empire are held by various noble houses, each headed by either a duke or a lord. Within their holdings, each noble house is a law unto themselves. They may collect taxes, raise armies for local defense, and pass judgements in legal disputes both civil and criminal. Properties that might appear to be owned by peasants are actually part of a complicated bureaucracy of land use rights, rents, and land improvement contracts. Most noblemen are savvy enough to keep the peasantry prosperous enough not to choke off their own rental incomes.
The key difference between a Lord and a Duke is the settling of disputes among the nobles themselves. No lord can sit in judgement of a nobleman (or noblewoman). That is the purview of a duke. Dukes have the unenviable task of settling disagreements between two parties backed by their own small armies. The only other difference between a duke and a lord (aside from prestige and generally larger personal holdings) is the settling of their own disputes. Disputes between dukes can only be mediated by the emperor or someone acting as his proxy.
The Imperial Circle
The Imperial Circle is the body of sorcerers that serve the Kadrin Empire. Its members are indoctrinated from youth at the Imperial Academy, where they learn everything they need to become full-fledged members upon reaching the age of majority. The Circle (as it is called commonly) has seven ranks, or “Circles”, ranging from Seventh down to the First or Inner Circle. While I will devote another blog entry to the workings of the Imperial Circle, the Inner Circle are the ones who play a governmental role.
The Inner Circle acts as adviser to the emperor. They are responsible for the intelligence gathering and the security of the empire alongside the army. In theory, theirs is solely to focus on magical security and intelligence gathering but that it frequently not the case.
Though the Kadrin Empire boasts a vast military, it is spread out. The Imperial Circle, though widespread, is heavily concentrated in the imperial capitol of Kadris, giving them an advantage in swaying imperial policy. Their magical might is viewed as the true backbone of Kadrin strength.
Though nominally not a political body, the Imperial Army manages to play politics from time to time. Knights make up the majority of senior officers in the military and the noblemen among them often retain familial loyalties that conflict with their oaths to serve the army before all else. Militaristic emperors who find generals who will tell them what they want to hear may elevate the military onto par with the Imperial Circle.
The Knighthood draws their rank and file from the later-born noble sons and peasants who have proven particularly worthy (generally young officers who show courage in battle). A knight swears his oath of fealty either to a lord or duke, at which point be becomes part of that noble house’s army, or he swears and oath to the emperor and becomes part of the Imperial Army.
Unofficial Faction: the Sorcerous Houses
The Imperial Circle has maintained dominance over hundreds of generations in no small part due to proscriptive marriage. In all that time, certain pedigrees of sorcerer have risen above the others, gaining wealth and influence along with strong magical abilities. A few have become de facto noble houses unto themselves. While they may have no proper political role, families with prominently placed members in the Imperial Circle (especially the Inner Circle) can exert as much influence – or more – than the nobles.
While disputes between actual noble houses and the sorcerous houses ought to be one-sided in favor of the nobles (by law), in practice it is akin to complaining to the neighbors that their pet dragon (“he was so cute when he was little!”) has been eating your livestock. It may be useful information but there isn’t a whole lot to be done about it.
Special Case: Warlocks
The Kadrin Empire has always loved their warlocks. The rise of a new warlock is often the herald of a new age of expansion. Their magical and military ability is unmatched and difficult for any foe to stand against.
For those same reasons, Kadrin law has never really quite settled on how to handle warlocks. By the rules of the Inner Circle, they are qualified to challenge for an assume the title and role of High Sorcerer. However, that title is restrictive, requiring too much administration for a sorcerer whose main role is warrior. By the same token, the army has no official rank for a sorcerer – by military regulation, sorcerers are deemed incompetent to command troops – yet a warlock outranks the top generals.
The pragmatic approach most emperors take is to allow a warlock nearly free rein. It generally results in casualties outside the empire, rather than within it.
Oh, pity the peasants. Comprising 99%+ of the Kadrin Empire’s population, they mainly live at the mercy of the nobility. For some that it no real burden, but hereditary succession brings no assurance of competent or benevolent rule. Often the best scenario for a peasant is to lead a life that brings no attention from the noble class.
There are four primary means by which a peasant might better his or her life:
- Earn wealth and join the elite of the merchant class (who are still technically just cleaner, more fashionable peasants)
- Advance in the military, possibly joining the knighthood
- Marry into a noble family (rare, but some cases exist)
- Display some magical talent and join the Imperial Circle
All in all, there are better places in the world to be a peasant than the Kadrin Empire.