History of Subdivisions
Since earliest times Shireroth has been made up of many territorial and legal Subdivisions. There have been several changes in terminology over the years, so you can think of Duchies, Houses and the contemporary term Imperial States as roughly equivalent. Today, under the Charter, lands actively maintaining themselves are given a great amount of autonomy as Imperial States, with any other territory being under the protection of the Kaiser, along with the Imperial Capital territory.
Each subdivision is a locus of cultural development, often with their own religious beliefs, political systems, traditions and customs.
Over the years a three-tiered system has evolved where subdivisions are generally divided into three levels:
- First-Tier Subdivisions - The Imperial States themselves today. They are directly "under" the Kaiser and Imperial Government.
- Second-Tier Subdivisions - Subdivided areas of First-Tier Subdivisions, often called Baronies. As seen in Kildare's Thanedom system, these are often just administrative groupings of Third-Tier Subdivisions.
- Third-Tier Subdivisions - Often the smallest category of subdivision that is used in Shireroth and visible on the MCS map, these are usually called Counties
Note that due to Loki's blessing, these terms are often not applicable at all, because each division of Shireroth can now use its own terms and methods of organisation. For example, currently the Imperial State of Elwynn refers to itself as a Coordinated State (before it was a Duchy) and contains no counties but 182 Bailiwicks or Circles. But this three-tiered system is reflected across some parts of Shireroth and is a good guide to understanding the history of how we divide up territory.
In the earliest periods of Shireroth's history, early Kaisers started creating subdivisions and appointing other citizens to rule over portions of the nation. The two first Duchies were Brookshire and Goldshire, but as Shireroth's population and activity grew, so did the number of subdivisions. Naturally, while the Kaiser divided his lands into larger, the Dukes themselves had their own residents to whom they wanted to give land and places to develop culture, and so they created their own vassals from within their territory. And so the historic feudal system of Shireroth's government exploded downwards. This system and its development has been called Old Feudalism (spoiler alert: because there was a New Feudalism, see below).
Another source of subdivision is annexation: in the past and to some extent today, Shireroth draws other smaller nations to itself. For example, Mar Sara, founded by Thomas Hubert in 2000, was conquered by Ryan and made a part of Shireroth. (This is probably the point in our history, by the way, that 'County' became a lower administrative unit than 'Barony', bucking real-life noble ranks.) These territories need to be included in the feudal architecture, so the Kaiser would grant the holders of these lands relevant titles compared with their size. How to deal with these annexed territories has long been a problem for Shireroth, but thanks to Kaiseress Mira Raynora Minor () we have no laws concerning Dominions or Protectorates, so the only legal option at the moment is for nations to join an Imperial State or become one, as happened with Aryasht through the Treaty of Mahapur. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
New Feudalism was a system instituted by Yarad I in November 2005 through Imperial Decree 200. It shook the foundations of the system of Shirerithian territorial organisation by making every citizen, after a period of probation, a Count, and allowing citizens themselves to reconstitute the Imperial Republic as they saw fit according to Noble Contracts. Three Counts could band together to form a Barony and two Baronies could form a Duchy. This system certainly saw a much less skewed distribution of land-to-citizens, and with its disregard for ancient arrangements has been noted for its democratic and meritocratic nature. Another democratic aspect of this reform was that it allowed some Landsraad influence based on population. (The relevant sections of the decree are not exactly transparent, but trust me, phrases like "a non-subservient Baron receives one vote for each County within Zir fiefdom" and "pre-alliance votes of zir subservient Barons" really just mean more influence for larger subdivisions.)
However, it should be remembered that the Kaiser was still technically the fons honorum, the person who gave out countships - in this way still a nominally autocratic system. On the other hand his lack of power was seen in another example of annexation, the case of the Duchy of Antica. The terms of its annexation treaty, the Treaty of Aquilaria, especially Art.4 make clear the relationship between the Kaiser and his people: "The Kaiser of Shireroth supports in principle the creation of an Antican political unit within Shireroth, either at the Barony or the Duchy level and according to standard Shirerithian feudal law. The Kaiser also agrees to do his best within reasonable limits to allow Antica to fulfill the legal qualifications for full Duchy-hood as quickly as possible." The Kaiser was not in a position to promise the Anticans anything except confirm their countships and wish them good luck in the big bad world of New Feudalism.
This volatile and democratic system jolted along, with the next Kaiser after Yarad, Semisa I, almost immediately dissolving the Landsraad due to general pandaemonium. Over the months that followed, the relationships between territories became harder to track, noble contracts were not followed, and it essentially proved to be too much. Old Duchies and methods of organisations disappeared while historian-enraging incongruities like the Barony of Vorpmadal, of Kildare and Yardistan though the majority of territory lay in old Brookshire, flourished. Due to an overwhelming lack of interest, after only a few Kaisers, New Feudalism was out of steam, and by the time of Alejian II it was regarded as dead weight. Towards the end of the Great Slump ushered in by Meskan II, Carol I formally concluded the experiment in November 2006 through Imperial Decree 245. (Ignore these other two Imperial Decrees of the same number. Loki's influence is great.)
The next development was Erik's Great Consolidation of 2007. Letifer III was killed off by Mors V (both Erik) and the latter set about fixing Shireroth, with much assistance from Ari. One of the key changes lay in Imperial Decree 270, which re-established four traditional Duchies - Brookshire, Elwynn, Kildare and Yardistan - with the addition of Straylight. Things went back to normal, democracy was kept at bay to some extent, with the Landsraad starting out as a Duke-only institution, one vote each. But if there's one thing we are good at doing in Shireroth, it's getting bored and rocking the boat for no reason.
It would be unfair and inaccurate to say that the House System was brought about for no reason - in fact, by 2010 strange things like Goldenbrook were happening. The Duchy system was regarded as stale. But there is an irony in the fact that it would be Erik to implement this much-hated complicating system on the nation after he had fixed the system himself - and that the person who helped him then, Ari, would, as Malarbor I 'the Preparer, make way for him. It began in March 2010 when Kaiser Mors VI began a national conversation on the future of the Duchies, which were regarded as being out of date and lacking in enough citizens to maintain. The thrust of the eventual decree, Imperial Decree 445, was to abolish all First- and Second-Tier subdivisions, allow the organisation of remaining citizens into Houses and grant them Third-Tier subdivisions in fief. Based on the number of citizens in a House, it could be granted the title of Baron and become a Minor House, or the rank of Duke and become a Major House. Houses could also hold counties, in the same way that a real-life company can own another company.
It was an interesting system insofar as it could encourage independent second-tier subdivisions to exist, and encouraged more roleplaying through the House structure. The fluiduity of moving between Houses was hailed as an advantage. In reality however it introduced a form of democratic tyranny of the majority, which happened to be House Kalir (formerly and latterly Elwynn), leading to situations like conversations about everyone clubbing together to best the inactive-bloated House Kalir. As well as being initially confusing to arriving citizens, some thought the system was robbing them of lands which they had devoted time and energy to. There was also an attempt to wrap it in economic simulation which lacked popular support. A compromise was brought about in June 2010 under Ikol II's 'Age of Tranquility', with the Duchies reintroduced as historic rather than political groupings, and with the ascension of Ometeotl I in August there was peaceful co-existence of Houses and Duchies. But the will remained to excise the House system totally, especially after the House Kalir declared independence as Elwynn.
Loki IV: Mango Carta
After a period of much political upheaval, inactivity and Kaiserial succession, in January 2012 Loki IV led a discussion in the Adelsraad (Duke-only legislative chamber) to determine the number and boundaries of restored Duchies. This done, Dukes were confirmed via Imperial Decree 4L8. In April he published his rewritten Charter, rechristened the Mango Carta: it made constitutional the notion of 'usual' primary, secondary and tertiary subdivisions (i.e. First- to Third-tier subdivisions) and also the rights of Duchies to select their own Dukes. There were some checks on these rights in the form of the Adelsraad, which could disestablish Duchies or remove territory from one, as well as a right of residents of a Duchy to appeal to the Judex or Kaiser concerning "unjust treatment by a superior". Sounds just right, right? Wrong.
By June 2012, it was commonly reckoned that the Mango Carta was not fit for purpose. Therefore via Imperial Decree 546, Kaiser Ayreon II established a Constitutional Committee to review the constitution and draft a new one. The Commission trundled along and now-public archived footage reveal slow discussions leading to a federally-minded draft with a strong Adelsraad. This draft was probably filed in the bin and nothing was done, though in November some final references to the House system were removed from the Imperial Code of Law. Somehow nonetheless in December 2012, Kaiseress Mira Raynora Major decreed the new Charter into effect through Imperial Decree 586. This new Charter, which outlines our current framework, created a new term for First-Tier Subdivisions: Imperial States, "sovereign states in federal union". Though they cannot secede and may be made part of the Kaiser's lands if inactive, otherwise the Imperial States are completely free to organise and govern themselves however they like. This is intended to encourage a freedom of cultural development and governmental operation hitherto unknown in Shireroth. Imperial States are autonomous in most areas besides foreign affairs and military matters, though the Arbiter may void any measure that is contrary to the Charter.
YOU DECIDE! Please please please decide not to change how we organise our territories.