The Emperor rules supremely over Solgard, the single sovereign of vast holdings. Once, there were many small kingdoms and men often refer to the land they come from by these older names. The old kingdoms now make up 8 states ruled by a Duke. Each state is divided into several Counties ruled by Barons. These counties are furthered divided into Shires and Cities ruled by either a Count or a Lord. The difference between a Count and a Lord is that a Lord may not take income from his fief, and instead rules in the King’s stead, giving profit to the crown. A Count may not levy taxes, but may take, as income, any goods or money raised over the benchmarks set by his Baron, Duke or Emperor. A Count may also raise knights, while a Lord may not. Many is the Lord that has waged battle for his Countship. An Earl is the first born son of any noble set to inherit his father or mother’s station and title. Homage is paid to the Throne in the form of tribute – taxes and goods collected from Imperial Lands. The Emperor holds moot four times a year – on both Midsummer and Midwinter, as well as the Summer and Winter Solstices. Each is also a feastday for the Empire. During this moot, the King will decide policy, make edicts and declare judgment on stately matters. Between each moot, the King regularly holds court with visiting dignitaries and nobles.
Each Duke and Baron may hold court as he sees fit. Counts and Lords regularly hold court to decide matters of law. Dukes keep their names (and sometimes family names), sometimes adding their state to their title (as in Duke Glent of Grannick), while Barons use the name of their shires as their surnames ( Gosric Cedarhall, Bellany Richfold of Faldallow, etc.). Counts and Lords take their names from either their lands (akin to Barons and shires) or their family names. Additionally, they may name their estates and call themselves thusly (as in the case of Lord Rendit of Morningmanor or Lady Trella of High Lodge).
Knights are armed men and women who serve under a noble. Knights can be raised by a Count, Baron, Duke or (very rarely) by the Emperor or Empress. While there are few female knights, the Throne makes provisions for their (ostensible) equal treatment.An important note on honoraries:
- the Emperor / Empress is always called “Eminence.”
- A Duke / Duchess is called “Majesty”
- A Baron / Baroness is called “Highness”
- A Count / Countess is also called “Highness”
- A Lord is called “Lordship / Ladyship”
- A Knight of either gender is called “Sir.”
- An Earl is referred to by his father or mother’s station’s title.
- A landed gentleman or lady, not noble is respectfully called “Goodman / Goodwoman”
- A noble child is referred to as “Master” until age 13 whereby they assume their station’s title.