The aristocracy of Jinavia is the ruling class and the upper class of the Empire. Within the Aristocracy, the princely class is the most economically and politically powerful social group.
The nobility might be either inherited or conferred by a fons honorum (Emperor or Patriarch of the Empire). Nobility is an acknowledged preeminence that is hereditary, i.e. all legitimate, male-line descendants of noblemen are noble.
The distinctions are noble titles, predicates and coats. The titles can be freely granted by the Emperor and the Patriarch of the Empire. Their transmissibility is under the Salic law. The succession to titles of nobility and predicates attached place for the last male descendant invested by order of primogeniture, without limitation degrees, preferably on the state line. Who are called to the succession must descend by male common ancestor, first invested with the title.
The various titles are given in the form of rank followed by the title. The name of the title can be both a geographic location or a surname.
Nobody can make use of titles of nobility or attributes if he is not registered as a legitimate investment of such titles or attributes in the records of the Heraldic Council. Notaries, officers of civil status and all other public officials can not attribute to anyone noble titles or attributes in public documents or in any document of official character if the person fails to be demonstrates to be invested by producing a certificate of inscription in the registers of the Heraldic Council.
Imperial Nobility and Aristocracy
Nobility is transferred by inheritance or is bestowed by a fount of honour. It can be subdivided into three major clases: the Peerage, the Titled Nobility and the Landed Gentry. The highest among these classes, the Peerage, retains feudal rights and full political representation, while the other two classes have less (but still consistent) privileges.
All Peers are - and Titled Nobles can be - Tenants-in-Chief, but only Peers can have Mesne lords or Lords of the Manor, ranking as the Landed Gentry noble titles, although without full political rights. Landed Gentry can be without feudal duties or be Lords of the Manor (or Mesne Lords) of a princely house or of the Emperor.
Princes (and equivalents) and their heirs cannot be tried in standard courts: they can only be tried in the House of Peers. However, they face tighter rules in their everyday lives. For instance, the charge of mutiny in the military becomes treason when applied to a Peer or his heirs. Even further, Peers are subject to the rule of "Kin Liability" or of "Blood Corruption", which is a form of legl collective punishment against higher aristocracy. It is a practice in which relatives of persons sentenced for treason are held to share the responsibility for those crimes and subject to arrest and, sometimes, execution.
Aristocrats of all sorts - Peers, Titled Nobles and ordinarily members of Gentry - do not go in for any trade as main occupation, although they can deal with trade affairs and business: their main occupation should be military and, although for Peers only, ruling feuds.
Medicine, law and academia are not considered "trades".
Aristocracy in the military
The aristocracy in Jinavia can trace their origins to military leaders: still today the military, and especially the Imperial Army, together with the Church, is seen as the ideal career for the younger sons of the aristocracy, those who would not inherit their fathers' titles or estates. The slang term of "Rupert" is used to describe such blue-blooded, usually elite school educated, officers.
Honour Above All
The Concept of Honour Above All, also known as the Ruling Passion, is a concept-complex which rules most of Jinavian Nobles' life in terms of honour. The concept is primarily occcupied with courtesy to the people around one: this courtesy, depending on the circumstances, may also require killing a person to do them honour, or severely disadvantaging oneself on their behalf. There are many ramifications too involved to go into, but generally, the aristocrat honour is satisfied if all the parties to an agreement or situation feel that their "face" or honour is intact after a social (or other type) transaction.
The concept is severely different from "doing from another one's sake". One does things for one's own good - or rather, the good of one's honour - and if properly carried out, the actions in question will have benefitted the other parties in the transaction as well. It can be a form of hatred that requires you to give your last drop of water to a thirsty enemy - or an act of love that requires you to kill a friend. The meaning changes constantly with context, and even in one given context, it's slippery at best.
The Speech is a form of sacred oath within Jinavian aristocracy. It has legal value, and moral as well. In Jinavia the word is seen as breath and life, that is, albeit figuratively, contains the spirit of a person. The expression «My Word as Noble» is widely used to swear or promise something strongly.
The Noble, as well as the Officer, swears allegiance to the Emperor and the Empire to enter the Imperial Military, as well as Men-at-Arms (or otherwise called) in each Princely Feud swear lifelong fidelity to his master when entering their service.
Swearing by the name of the House is an even more serious form, second only to swearing by God.
The Jinavian Peerage, the highest noble class of Jinavian Empire, consists of three subclasses, each made equal to others, in the noble rank of Prince. The title of Prince is made equal to other titles, to reflect various ethnic origins.
- Ancient nobility — which the descendants of founding Houses and of ex-sovereign foreign families inherited. They all retain the title of Prince (or equivalent title according to their ethinc origin). The cathegory consists of two sub-classes: Immemorial nobility and Sovereign nobility.
- Immemorial nobility: Is nobility that is established as existing since before normal records of noble title. In its restrictive meaning, it refers to noble families whose origins can be tracked back to the fall of the Glorious Empire (circa 490 AD). The founding Houses are considered as Immemorials.
- Sovereign nobility: Is nobility that ruled a former state, now conquered by the Empire.
There are several titles made equal to Prince, in order to respect different ethnic origins. These are: Tavadi; Rana; Boyar; Kynaz; Pradhan; Ricohombre; Mtavari; Nakharar; Reichsgraf; Princely Count; Flath; Tywysog.
All these titles are precedeed by the address "Vir Magnificus" or, if patriarchal, by the address "Don".
Each Peer must mantain two official residences, one in the capital Saint Basilsburg, and another in his Feud.
Patriarchal Princes and Dukes
The patriarchal princely families are formed by some well-defined families that have had a princely title by the patriarchs. According to the College of Arms:
- The existence of the class of the Princes and Dukes Patriarchal is recognized and represents the ancient Saint Basilurghese barons;
- The Heads of these families have the title of Prince and Duke: families themselves are Patriarchal princely, and Patriachal ducal;
- The Head of the family bears the title of "Don" prefix to the name of baptism to the children entrusted it with the title of Don and Donna of Princes and Dukes, and with the treatment of "Excellence".
- The Patriarchal Princes and Dukes are considered as equal to Peers of the Empire;
- The class of Patriarchal Princes and Dukes is restricted to only those families who are granted titles by the Patriarch of the Empire in Saint Basilsburg and who have their main home in the imperial capital;
Among the princely families, the College of Arms identifies those who had their breasts in one or more of the Patriarchs, by including among the "Conscript Families". The Heads of Conscript Families and their legitimate spouses enjoy the treatment of "Excellence", also given to the heads of Patriachal Princely and Ducal families. Regardless of titles, the Heads of Families Coscritte are considered as brlonging to Jinavian Peerage.
By ancient tradition, are similar to the Patriarchal Princes and Dukes, and therefore to Peers of the Empire, in the rank and treatment, the "Marquis of Canopy". These families are considered to belong to the same category and all the components have of the treatment of "Don" and "Donna".
The title of Prince, Imperial or foreign, is an indication of sovereignty, either actual, renounced or potential.
The foreign princes rank in Jinavia approximately above titled princes and alongside Ancient Princes. They rank below acknowledged members of the Imperial Family.
Foreign princes are of three kinds:
- Those domiciled in Jinavia, but recognized by the current king as cadet members of dynasties that still reign abroad, who are usually accorded full protocolar courtesies at court, for as long as they remain welcome in Jinavia.
- Rulers of minor or vassal principalities who habitually sojourn at the Jinavian court.
- Those who claim membership in a formerly sovereign dynasty, either in the male-line or who pretended to a foreign throne as heirs in the female-line.
Foreign Princes can be disruptive at court and occasionally proved threatening to the Emperor. Their high birth not only attracts the Emperor's attention, but sometimes retrieves the allegiance of Imperial nobles, frustrated courtiers, soldiers-of-fortune and henchmen, ambitious bourgeoisie, scurrilous malcontents, and even provinces in search of an advocate or protector - often against or in rivalry to the Jinavian Crown itself.
Deeming themselves to belong to the same class as the Emperor, foreign princes tend to be proud, and some schem for ever-higher rank and power, or challenged the Emperor's authority. Sometimes they defy the imperial will and barricade themselves in their provincial fortresses, occasionally waging open war on the Emperor, or intriguing against him with other Jinavian princes, or contracting alliances with foreign powers.
Only the Princely Houses exert feudal control, government, protection and administration of the locality of the title, with an extension that varies depending on the time and circumstances.
For the administration of the Feud is never allowed the allocation of the powers of legislation, administration, jurisdiction of the state bodies. In particular, each Prince has the duty/right to enforce law and security through his own Armsmen. Each Peer is permitted a maximum of 500 Men-at-Arms (or otherwise called) allowed to carry lethal weapons and serve as bodyguards and security forces. They can be either nobles or commoners. The Commander of the force generally bears the title of "Armsmaster" and is often recruited among the most brilliant Imperial officers originating from the Feud, but the entire organization both of administration and the security apparatus is entirely under the Peer's discrection.
A Commission of Mustering is a commission given by the Empire to Peers to muster and array the inhabitants and to see them in a condition for war.
Hereditary and political matters
A Peer has to appoint formally his own successor, who is his eldest living son. The chosen heir must be formally presented to the House of Peers and approved by a simple majority of present members. If the Peer fails to appoint an heir, or some dispute over the named heir surfaces after the Prince’s death, the House of Peers shall settle the matter.
A Prince's heir speaks with the Peer's authority and under his own responsibility and, in the absence of the Prince, can vote in the House of Peers. He may also pronounce justice in the Princely Feud, if authorized to do so. A female relative cannot be named a Prince’s heir, though she may act as guardian (with voting rights) for an infant heir, if there are no other male relations to do so and if authorized by the Emperor.
The following are the Jinavian grades of Titled nobility. Even the Grand Dukes rank below Princes.
- Grand Duke - Kyrios - Khan - Roy (Vir Gloriosissimus)
- Archduke - Valiathan - Thakur (Vir Gloriosissimus)
- Duke - Jarl - Sardar - Chhatrapati - Eristavi (Vir Gloriosissimus)
- Marquis - Mouzadar - Markgraf - Mir (Vir Inlustris)
- Count - Graf (and derivate titles, with the exception for "Reichsgraf" and "Princely Count", that rank as Prince) - Earl - Voivoda - Vispáti - Curadore - Thane - Tiarna - Herisr (Vir Clarissimus)
- Viscount (Vir Clarissimus)
- Baron - Lendmann - Vatandar - Segneur - Aznauri (Vir Spectabilis)
The titled nobility can be divided according to the source and to the features of the title.
- Hereditary nobility — routinely inherited by heirs. It is the highest category. The hereditary nobility is acquired from the day of birth.
- Personal or Life nobility — granted for the personal merits of the recipient. It is transferable only to the wife and is of much lower prestige. The personal nobility is acquired from the day of birth.
- Unpropertied nobility — is obtained without the allotment and securing of a landed estate. It is nobility gained by state service, but which is not entitled to land ownership. The unpropertied nobility is acquired from the day of birth.
Unlike the Peerage, which is exclusively hereditary, the remaining classes of nobility could be acquired. A newly designated noble is usually authorized to landownership. A loss of land does not automatically mean loss of nobility. Higher ranks of state service are automatically granted nobility, not necessarily associated with landownership.
Jinavians often employ a nobiliary particule before a surname, which can vary accoring to the family's origin, and noblemen are accorded an official salutation that varies by their ranks: your nobility, your high nobility, your high ancestry, etc.
In Jinavia, Life Nobles are appointed members of the nobility whose titles cannot be inherited, in contrast to hereditary aristocracy. Nowadays life noble titles entitle the holders to seat in the relevant bodies and organs, presuming they meet qualifications such as age and citizenship.
The Crown, as fount of honour, has the undoubted right to create noble titles. No limits are placed on the number of noble titles that the Sovereign may award. A Noble created under the Life Peerages Act has the right to sit in the nobility and assemblies, provided he is 21 years of age and is not suffering punishment upon conviction for treason. Life noble titles are created by the Sovereign but, in practice, most of them are granted upon the proposition of the Prime Minister.
Life nobles do not, unless they also hold ministerial positions, receive salaries. Life nobility may be awarded through a number of different routes: life nobles are to be chosen from senior judges, civil servants, senior officers of the Imperial Armed Forces, scientists, writers and artists.
Creations may be made for individuals on retirement from important public offices, such as Prime Minister: if the retiring Prime Minister does not hold a noble title, the customary title offered is of Earl or Count or equivalent.<nr> The Prime Minister continues to recommend a small number of former public office-holders for life noble titles. This generally includes Chiefs of Imperial General Staff, Ministers and Ambassadors. A small number of Bishops of important Dioceses are ennobled on retiring. High judicial officers are created life peers upon taking office.
Assembly of Nobility
Assembly of the Nobility is a self-governing body of the Estate of the Jinavian nobility. The Nobility Assemblies are at the regional and provincial levels. The chair of an Assembly of Nobility was called Regional (or Provincial) Marshal of Nobility. These Assemblies governed both the local nobility itself and took part in the governing of local affairs of the whole society, such as the election of the persons to the posts in local administration and local Gendarmerie commands.
The noble and princely House is an extended family community, distinguished by heraldry and recognized by the Emperor, who is descended from a common ancestor and have kinship and vassalage to the Head of noble lineage. Each House includes a group of families not linked to the main branch, recognizing the head of the House as their leader and as their protector.
The House, in its quality of "Association of Nobles", is a hereditary property of the head of the House and the Seal of the head of the household is the seal of the House itself. Formally, is the head of the House to "own" the House and to be ultimately responsible for it.
The Head of the House is the representative and heir of the founder and represent his clan. The title of Head of the House is more than the title of Householder: Heads of families and industries of the House have the title of the householder.
Every Princely House (or family) has several smaller ones, called Lesser Houses, bloodly or not related to the main House, that have sworn loyalty to them and are supposed to support them in case of need. At the same time, the Princely House protects its members and associated liegemen.
Tribes and Clans
A Tribe is a Noble House of certain ethnic groups. The Tribe, in contrast to Noble House, gathers also non nobles, such as commoners and plebeians. It is a corporate descent groups, named Clans.
A Freeman is the leader of a tribal chiefdom. The most common types are the chairman of a council composed by tribe clan chiefs and the elders of the Tribe. The term is severely distinct from chiefs at lower levels, such as village headman or even clan chief. A Tribal Chief ranks as a Duke.
Landed gentry is a traditional Jinavian social class, the lower part of nobility, consisting of "gentlemen" in an early sense: men who own extensive land in the shape of country estates and thus are not required to work, except on the management of their own lands and in connected public services, together with their immediate families. The estates are often, but not always, made up of tenanted farms, in which case the gentleman could live entirely off rental income. The term "gentry" include three separate subclasses:
- Patrician (or Baronet): This is a position created in 1601 giving the person the hereditary right to be addressed as "Sir". The title is hereditary: while the Patrician denotes an urban title, the Baronet is a rural dignity. Patrician (but not Baronet) status could be passed on through the female line: For example, if the union is approved by her parents, the husband of patrician daughter is granted membership in the patrician society as a matter of right, on the same terms as the younger son of a patrician male, even if the husband is otherwise deemed socially ineligible.
- Knight. This is a secular honour as a reward for service to the Crown. The title is for life and not hereditary, unless they are close relatives of a titled noble.
- Esquire. This is a title related to a person aspiring to knighthood, an attendant on a knight, and is also an honour that can be conferred by the Crown. The title is hereditary. If the Esquire is the untitled son of a germanophone titled nobleman, he could carry the title of Junker or equivalent.
In the Holy Empire of Jinavia four types of knight exist: Knights of the Bath, Knights of the Shield, Knights of Arms and Knights of Decorations.
The Knights of the Bath are invested with elaborate ceremonies in which they were washed of all impurities. The Knights of the Shield are men who have been made knights by Peers or by the Empire. The Knights of Arms are soldiers who are created knights before or after a battle, or in return of their military service: this is the case of most General or Flag officers. The Knights of Decorations are the elite rank within the knights and formally they retain the rank because they could afford elaborate clothes, armour and equipment for themselves, their charger and their palfrey.
Although they are not properly titled, they are full nobles. They can vote to elect the Nobles of Parliament, and have the right to wear all noble honours of distinction on civil or military uniforms.
College of Arms
The College of Arms is the advisory and jurisdictional body in the field of heraldric matters. At national level is established the Council of Arms, which is responsible to advise the government on titles, coats of arms and other public honours: the opinion is required in all cases except the concessions of his own motion of the Sovereign. The Council of Arms encompasses both Herladic Central Committee, the central and coordination body, and the National Institute of Heraldry.
Heraldic Central Committee
The central body, the Heraldic Central Committee is composed of eight members, four of which Princes. All members of the Heraldic Central Committee, said Lord Councilors-of-Arms, are appointed by decree of Emperor and hold office for five years and may be renewed. They are headed by Lord Prince-of-Arms, appointed separately by the Emperor, usually among retired senior military officers, and by law member of House of Peers. The Lord Prince-of-Arms is overseen by the Emperor in His capacity of fons honorum.
National Institute of Heraldry
The National Institute of Heraldry is the heraldic central academic body, in charge of providing services and advice materials heraldry to Imperial organizations.
The Institute activities include research, design, development, standardization, quality control and other services related to the characteristics of official symbols - seals, decorations, medals, insignia, badges, flags and other official material, for governmental bodies or state agencies. Services are extended, upon request, to individuals and the nobility.
Regional Heraldic Commissions
Regional Heraldic Commissions are established as the territorial divisions of the Heraldic Council. They are autonomous from Regional Government and Assembly and are accountable only to the local aristocracy.
The regional commissions are chaired by a Prince appointed by the House of Peers, called Lord Lieutenant Councillor-of-Arms, in his capacity of substitute of Members of Central Committee. Vice President of Regional Commission is the Superintendent of State Regional Archives, vesting the rank of Chief Herald-of-Arms. The other five members (Herald-of-Arms) consist of representatives of the families registered in the area of jurisdiction of the Commission, in the Golden Book of the nobility.
Regional Heraldic Commissions decide on all matters that fall within their territorial area and offer advices, through the Heraldic Council, to the Government. Decisions are taken by majority and the chairman of the committee has the right to settle matters in case of a tie.
Regional Heraldic Commissions are responsible for:
- Keep updated lists of nobility ruling out any improper inclusion of bogus licenses;
- Provide technical advice to the judiciary;
- Give advice in the field of arms and noble at the request of third parties.
Heraldic Council hierarchy
- Lord Prince-of-Arms (1)
- Lord Councilor-of-Arms (8)
- Lord Lieutenant Councilor-of-Arms (28: one for each region)
- Chief Herald-of-Arms (28: one for each region)
- Herald-of-Arms (140: five for each region)
- Pursuivant-of-Arms (280: ten for each region)
- Deputy and Licensed Pursuivant-of-Arms (varying according necessities)
False titles of nobility
False titles of nobility are supposed titles of nobility that have been fabricated and are not recognised by any government and were not so recognised in the past. It is impossible to purchase or self-style a Jinavian noble title as such a transaction would be in breach of the Honours Act, 1825.
Aristocracy schools, colleges and institutes
Beyond the several institutes, both private and public, which are reserved for the generally-intended "upper classes", there are some bodies specifically reserved to sons of aristocrats and most senior military officers.
Corps des Pages
The Corps des Pages is a military academy in Imperial Russia, which prepares sons of the nobility and of most senior officers for military service.
In common with the other Jinavian military schools, the Corps des Pages imposes a harsh regime on its cadets. Corporal punishment involves beatings with a birch for even minor offences and bullying of younger students by their seniors was common. However the education provided is of high standard with courses in mathematics, languages, sciences, and military subjects.
The students serve as pages at Court and provide services at ceremonies, including attendance upon individual members of the Imperial family.
The Graduates from the Corps des Pages have the unique privilege of joining any regiment of their own choice regardless of the existing vacancies although, as a matter of etiquette, the consent of the unit's commander is sought long beforehand. They wear, on the left side of their tunic, the badge of the Corps des Pages, modeled after the cross of the Order of St John. The Corps has a range of uniforms for different purposes. The most spectacular of these is the gala uniform worn for Court functions. This comprises a spiked helmet with white plume, a dark green tunic with gold braid covering the front, white breeches and high boots.
Imperial School of Jurisprudence
The Imperial School of Jurisprudence is, along with the Corps des Pages, the most prestigious school for noble boys in Saint Basilsburg, the capital of the Holy Jinavian Empire. Although it shares many professors and follows the same courses, it is clearly distinct from the Imperial School of Administration, which forms elite officials after the graduation degree. The ISoJ, differently, unites the degree and the high formation.
The school for future imperial administrators was founded by Emperor Jules VI in 1724. Among the instructors are the leading lawyers of Jinavia. Boys studied in the school at least for seven years.
- See also: Imperial Parliament (Jinavia)
The Parliament of the Holy Empire of Jinavia is the supreme legislative body in Jinavia and Jinavian overseas territories and colonies. At its head is the Sovereign, Emperor Jules IX.
The parliament is bicameral, with an upper house, the House of Peers, and a lower house, the House of Nobles. The Emperor is the third component of the legislature.
The House of Peers includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual (the senior Cardinarsl of the Imperial Church of Jinavia) and the Lords Temporal (the Princes of the Empire). The Huse of Peer performes the supreme judicial role through the Law Peers. The House of Nobles is a chamber with elections within other nobles and aristocracy. The elections are to it held at least every 20 years. The two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Palace of Parliament in Saint Basilsburg.
Supreme legislative power is vested in the Sovereign-in-Parliament.