Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Imperial Civil Service

Tamerin III, even before declaring himself emperor and the empire reborn, had been working to reinstate the ancient civil service as had his father Velas before him. This effort was partially designed to rob the great Dukes and Counts of the empire of their power to refuse the throne or otherwise logjam imperial policy. While innumerable clerks and clerics work to keep the empire functioning, they form only a massive and critical arm of the emperor's power but not all of it. The same can be said of the Sacred Heralds, who act as messengers and protectors of imperial authority.

The central offices of the civil service are accesible only to nobility—that is, freeborn imperial citizens that have never owed servile duties to anyone (including the urban communes, lords, or other sorts of masters). Thus, these offices are normally stuffed with second or third sons seeking to gain advancement from the imperial throne. It also serves as a good way for the nobility to dispense with their lesser sons who would otherwise present a drain on the family coffers, land, and holdings.

While some nobles do enter the priesthood in order to become clerks or advocatii in the emperor's service, the great offices are barred to all but nobles and common folk may indeed send their children to train as clerks or advocates as well, making that section of the service intermingled between nobility and common folk.

Some of the major offices include:

Imperial Nuncio. An emissary plenipotentiary, the Nuncii are the direct envoys of the emperor. They are called "Excellency" and wear complex layers of purple and red robes. Many of them are also minor magicians. They serve as diplomats and envoys as well as traveling emissaries, generally attended by several Sacred Heralds.

Imperial Magistrate. These advocatii are specially trained to apply imperial law and generally act in concert with a Hierian priest in order to sit in judgement before those who have committed high crimes against their emperor. This position requires perambulation throughout the empire, as not all criminals can be sent to Miles for judgement by the emperor himself.

Vaultmaster. A sort of high tax collector, Vaultmasters are located in the major imperial trade ports to collect the taxes from their lords. The Vaultmaster holds the sacred duty of watching over the treasury and ensuring the delivery of the imperial tax-in-coin to the capital.

Imperial Oculus. The eye of the emperor, generally commanded by the Imperial Spymaster (the Dorl), these men are visible extensions of the emperor's power who attend the courts of the Dukes and act as attendants to the Nuncio. They are each expected to make full reports to Miles at the end of each season as well as to entangle themselves in as many plots as they can to learn their details.

Imperial Roadwarden. These men and women travel the roads of the empire and look for signs of disrepair. They administer the waystation-system in and around the heartland, making certain that those who run them are doing their duty and making horses available to imperial messengers and other servants. While the upkeep of the roads fall to the various nobility on whose land they lie, the Roadwarden has the power to immediately demand a corvĂ©e of local peasantry to repair the roads upon observing their decay or poor repair. They are hated by the nobility for this power. They generally wear black and the sign of Vaela, and are friends of the Knights Mendicant.

Imperial Tax Collector. The tax collection service is despised by all and sundry. Since most taxes go to their direct overlords, imperial tax collectors merely serve to swoop in and take cash fees from the local nobility once a year. They are empowered to investigate the wealth of the nobles, grilling stewards and seneschals and investigating the total income of an estate. They then tax the noble between 10-20% of their gross income—calculating the market cost of all labor and goods and adding that to the receipt. They are always accompanied by knights from the imperial city or members of Tamerin's tagmata. Still, their disappearance or murder of imperial tax collectors is not uncommon.

Guarantor. These men and women are professional witnesses who attend courts at urban communes and make themselves available to sign as witnesses on important legal documents. Their fees form part of their stipend, while 30% of their gross earnings must be forwarded to the emperor's coffers.

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