The foundation of interstellar government within the Imperium is the nobility. The
Imperium depends on nobles ranging from knights to archdukes to carry
the chain of authority and the mantle of responsibility from the
emperor to the people.
The Imperial nobility is a narrow class of persons at the upper strata
of society who hold, either personally or through their family line,
noble rank from the emperor. Noble rank is a mark of high social
status for citizens and serves two purposes: it rewards individuals for
significant achievements, and it provides social station for the
political leaders within the government.
The nobility includes within it a subset called the peerage, which
consists of all nobles except knights and baronets. Collectively,
the peerage constitutes the Moot.
Nobility is usually hereditary -- a title continues to be passed down
to succeeding generations. This is explained in detail under the
entry for Noble Ranks.
Nobility is acquired through letters patent (patents of nobility)
issued by the emperor. Traditionally, appointments are published
in the Holiday List (appearing
on the first day of each new year) and in the Birthday List (appearing
on the emperor's birthday). Additional patents of nobility for
political purposes or special occasions are published when necessary.
All nobility is 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 successors. Failure to do so can void the patent for
generation or even permanently.
Noble rank can be revoked by the emperor, personally or through the
Moot. Reasons for such revocation are treason, murder,
kidnapping, and extortion as well as other felonies. Incompetence
can also be a reason for revocation of a title.
All noble ranks within the peerage come from the emperor. The
ability to create knights and baronets, however, is shared with the
archdukes of the
Imperium. The archdukes, within their
have an authority to create knights and baronets that is subject to
only by the emperor. The purpose of the knighthoods (and
is to allow the archdukes to create supporters and retainers for their
purposes rather than to depend on the emperor to do so. The noble
created are not members of the Moot.
Under certain circumstances, archdukes may also issue patents of
nobility for the peerage, but these are strictly subject to
confirmation by the emperor; in practice, however, such confirmation is
usually forthcoming, as an archduke would never presume to issue such a
patent were it not clearly justified.
Responsibilities of Nobles
Nobles are expected to conform with social conventions. For
example, those of Cogri are blinded upon ascendancy in
recollection of when actions of the hereditary nobility caused hundreds
of citizens to be blinded by the intense rays of their sun.
A culture may be prejudiced against technologies like bionics, robots,
regeneration, or other medical treatments. They may have to use
breath masks or wear eye patches, or use exotic technical solutions,
such as powered grav chairs equipped with life support. Most
nobles have the resources to purchase these devices. The Marquis
of Inthe, when not in zero-G areas, must wear a delicate
powered exoskeleton to counter his frail bone structure (reportedly due
The upper crust of the Imperium is also expected to avoid psionics; the emperor will not publicly
admit a psionic noble.
Sociocultural or religious traditions may hamper a noble. Certain
lifestyles or careers may be deemed "inappropriate." A landed
may not be able to travel far because of a required presence for some
of ceremony or event.