The standard ranks of Nobility are:
- Emperor / Empress
- Archduke / Archduchess
- Duke / Duchess
- Count / Countess or Contessa
- Viscount / Viscountess
- Marquis / Marchioness or Marquesa
- Baron / Baroness
- Baronet / Baronetess
- Knight / Dame
Outside of the relatively simple measure of the Trade Codes that control the presence of lesser nobles, some worlds rise to prominence through location, old family influence, or some other intangible factor. Worlds that the Imperium considers Important are often the linchpins that hold it all together. These worlds are important enough to attract special attention, and the Imperium gives them Landed Dukes to make sure that proper attention is given.
- Some Landed Dukes are given the oversight of not just one world, but an area the size or significance of an entire subsector. Such Subsector Dukes will have the Subsector Capital World as their fief-world.
- Ceremonial Dukes have administrative duties that generally encompass a Subsector or Sector, depending upon the nature and importance of the office.
- The land grant of a Landed Duke is known as a Duchy.
- The Vilani term for Duke is Saarpuhii.
History & Background (Dossier)
The Ziru Sirka
On ancient Vland a Saarpuhii (“Under King”) was the ruler of one of several older kingdoms that had been gradually incorporated into the world-spanning Kingdom of Vland which eventually created the Old Vilani Imperium. Historically there were fifteen such under-kings on Vland, and they belonged to the Bit Reduttii ("Council of Fifteen") which was one of the two major assemblies of nobles that assisted the kings in ruling Vland. As the Vilani extended their interstellar empire the rank became associated with the rule of several worlds within a sector or subsector.
There is no direct modern equivalent to the saarpuhii under the Imperial system, but the few saarpuhii remaining by the time Vland was absorbed into the Third Imperium in its early years were granted titles of count or duke depending on their circumstances. Saarpuhii is generally translated as “duke" by modern scholars.
The Third Imperium
By the early years of the Third Imperium, the old Vilani saarpuhii had become almost completely extinct, existing in only two major domains: one in Vland Sector and one in Zarushagar Sector. There were actually many worlds where one or more of the planetary noble houses bore the title of saarpuhii, but these were considered to be the equivalent of a count at the time because of their reduced circumstances.
The titles of Duke and the more illustrious “Grand Duke” were common on Sylea during the final years of the Sylean Federation. At the founding of the Third Imperium in the year 0, Cleon I redefined the nature of the title, and it was not uncommon for an Imperial duke’s domain to be a single world within the Third Imperium, often the most important world within a subsector. As the Imperium grew, some of these dukes would be elevated to the oversight of small groups of worlds and, eventually, whole subsectors. Today dukes oversee important worlds within the Third Imperium, some being additionally assigned to the oversight of important clusters or groupings of worlds, and (in some cases) the governorship of entire subsectors for those dukes having the oversight of subsector capital worlds.
The Imperial title of duke is one of the few that did not completely absorb an earlier Vilani title. The ancient Vilani title of saarpuhii was roughly equivalent, but by the time of the Third Imperium’s founding almost all of the old saarpuhii families had become extinct or no longer had significant influence. As a result, almost all of these "saarpuhii" were granted lesser titles commensurate with their real influence, and new families were granted ducal status in the Vilani-dominated regions of the Third Imperium.