At the center of any good nation is the drama, grandeur, and chaos we call politics. It transcends governmental boundaries. Many of us today have experienced the nonsense and bureaucratic nightmare of what we call democracy in action, but the intricacies of the political shadows have stretched long over monarchies, empires, and theocracies as well, hounding us since the moment first laid down roots and declared: this is how we shall live.
Politics, as central to the human experience, is also key, I believe, to any developed world. So many plot hooks, twists and turns, and dramatic pirouettes of story can come when politics factors into the scene. It sets up new hurdles for adventures, roadblocks for characters, and enemies of the sort that might not be all evil—in fact, they might even think their opposition to what the reader sees as “good” is in turn “good” for what they hope to achieve.
Intricacy. It’s always good to have layers.
Such is the case with the nation of Idasia, in my own little novel world.
Today, we’re talking the empire itself, as well as some of the larger players and wheels of the scene—I’ll discuss more of the greater structure in later posts…
Idasia, lying at the core of the continent Marindis, is often referred to as the Heartland Empire. While its presence tends to be overshadowed in the modern era by the threat of the continental Zuti empire to the southwest, it remains (and continues to grow as) a political and territorial powerhouse, constantly roving its neighbors’ borders. In certain circles, it is believed to be the “Third Empire,” which is to say, the third incarnation of Vata’Marindis, which the continent’s histories point to as the flower of human culture, if real. Though the royal family that could once trace its lineage back as far has since met with unfortunate ends (those pesky civil wars), the nation continues to cultivate that image.
But what makes Idasia truly unique in terms of politics is the nature of its imperial status. Though the Emperor wields utter political power over the state-at-large, the barest shreds of a republic can be seen lurking in the shadows of his death. Seven men, in a hereditary grant, are given the sole authority to choose the emperor. Known as the Altengarde, or the electors’ council, these men have the right to deny the passing Emperor’s own choice in a successor…though tradition does tend to dictate the title stay within the hereditary royal family.
It does, however, leave the door open for evading some truly nasty individuals…or at least the ones that don’t know how to play the game right and proper.
Custom dictates the Altengarde consists of the Dukes of Dexet, Wassein, and Sorbia, as well as the Count Palatines of Usteroy, Berundy, Fritensia, and Varstein—all imperial provinces in their own right. While the Dukes are essentially second only to the royal family itself in power, years ago the rank of Count Palatine was established in the noble hierarchy to give the royal family a greater ability to balance out that power. The palatines, as such, are answerable solely to the crown, and theoretically act in their interest, whereas all other nobles answer to imperial, as well as Ducal decree depending on where their particular realms lie.
The council itself was established to “thin the blood,” as it were, and evade the uncertainty that comes with traditional passage of power to the eldest son. The hope has always been that they would pick the best man for the job.
Sometimes it’s even true.