By Paul Monteleoni

A treatise on The Imperial Administration

The Lord High Imperial Seneschal is Duke William Darian the Just, charged with presiding over all territories directly held by the Empire, as well as the Imperial Courts. The inhabitable territories directly held by the Empire are a pittance compared with the holdings of the Royal Houses or the Church, but they are growing. There are some Imperial territories on each planet, but the most extensive are on Byzantium Secundus (on the continents of Veridian, Aldaia, Tarsus, Old Istanbul, Gasperah and Ghast especially), Tethys (actually more of the planet is controlled by the Empire than Byzantium Secundus- many wise men have remarked in recent days that while Byzantium Secundus is the throneworld, Tethys is the backbone of the Empire), Stigmata (most of the human-controlled territory is directly controlled by the Empire, though there is significant Church land and the odd noble fiefdom), Nowhere, Holy Terra, Grail, Aragon and Severus. The last territories on the last three planets were seized as punitive measures toward those who opposed the Emperor. They host a good number of Imperial legionnaires. Imperial land breaks down into subdivisions much like noble fiefdoms, but each subdivision tends to be larger than its corresponding fiefdom. A borough roughly corresponds to a barony and is governed over by a mayor, a province is the size of an earldom or a marquistae and is governed by a provost, a prefecture is the size of a viscounty and is governed by a prefect, a principality is the size of a county and is governed by a viceroy, and a planetary district is the size of a dukedom and governed by a governor. A planet is merely called a planet, and is governed by a planetary governor. All of these officials must be nobles, but many are not landed. In lieu of being given hereditary land for their service of Emperor Alexius, many knights (and a few newly-knighted freemen) found themselves given administrative appointments, much to their disappointment.

An administrative appointment is less prestigious than a noble title for a number of reasons. First of all, the appointment is for life (barring promotions or deposals) and not hereditary. Second, the appointee is not expected to maintain as extensive an army as a feudal lord. All freemen that would have otherwise been the lords men-at-arms are expected to be mustered into the Imperial legions, and the administrator does not have the authority to maintain a train of knights for war. The administrator does maintain a peasant police force with a few noble magistrates to deal with noble criminals, and a peasant militia to defend the territory from external attack in the absence of the Imperial armies. This means that while a little friendly or not-so-friendly infighting is winked at and even smiled upon between landed lords, it is not only prohibited but virtually impossible for regional administrators. Finally, there tends to be a much higher degree of oversight from higher Imperial adminstrators than a vassal lord receives from his liege. Judicial functions must be performed by imperial magistrates in courts of varying formality, and though these magistrates (who must also be noble, although many of them are knighted just for the purpose- a practice nobles decry) are appointed by the administrator, their judgements may be appealed in a lengthy and arduous process. The appeal goes to the administrator, but occasionally the judgement of the administrator itself is successfully appealed as well. However, regional administrators do have a few benefits that landed lords miss out on. They often have Imperial legionnaires stationed on their lands, and though the legions are not in their direct sway, they are sometimes able to exercise some discretionary direction on the conduct of the legions. Furthermore, in any crisis situation, they are able to count on a fairly rapid response from the full military might of the Empire- their peasant defense force only needs to be capable of holding out until reinforcements arrive. Lucky administrators find themselves host to Questing Knights from time to time, who are only to happy to perform any honorable service that the administrator could demand. Corrupt administrators should take note, however- they only perform honorable tasks, and if asked to do anything truly dishonorable, Questing Knights have a tendency of slaying their petitioners, even if they are Imperial appointees. Of more usual benefit, however, is the usual presence of agents of the Imperial Treasury and the Imperial Eye, who tend to ensure that the region is administered well and tends to be more profitable than comparably-sized noble lands.

In addition to the administration of Imperial land, the Imperial Administration oversees all the Imperial Courts, whose role is as yet shakily defined. The Regency Courts had little actual power, as no self-respecting noble would settle an affair in a court, and to an extent the Imperial Courts suffers from the same problem. However, unlike the Regency Courts, the Imperial Courts may have the power to actually enforce a judgement they come to, and so it is possible that the precedent may change if a noble brings an affair into court.