The Imperial Nobility not only forms the upper class and elites of the Third Imperium, but it also is the major source of administrators, military officers, and gentlesophonts of service and honor. While humans form the backbone of this class, increasing numbers of non-humans have claimed or earned Imperial Title.
Ranks & Titles (Entitlement)
The lowest noble rank is knight; the highest level is archduke. (Above the archdukes is the special station accorded members of the Imperial family, but they are not formally considered part of the nobility.)
The standard ranks of Nobility are:
- 1. Emperor / Empress
- 2. Archduke / Archduchess
- 3. Duke / Duchess
- 4. Count / Countess or Contessa
- 5. Viscount / Viscountess
- 6. Marquis / Marchioness or Marquesa
- 7. Baron / Baroness
- 8. Baronet / Baronetess
- 9. Knight / Dame
Noble Ranks Data
|Third Imperium Noble Ranks Data Table|
|#||Rank||Social Standing (T5 Code)||Fiefdom & Land Grant †||Territory (Landed Nobles)||Rule (Landed Nobles)||Sector Equivalent (Landed Nobles)||Subsector Equivalent (Landed Nobles)||Moot Votes (Landed Nobles)||Title Granter||Remarks|
|01a.||Emperor / Empress||17 (H)||Fiefdom - Private Imperial Reserve World: (Usdiki) / THexes: 256x2 within the Imperium. / Fiefdom - Private Archducal Reserve World: (Onon) / THexes: 256x2 within the Domain of Sylea.||Imperium||Entire Imperium / Domain of Sylea||All||All||Yes (?)‡||Moot Validation||Highest Noble. The Emperor rules the entire Third Imperium.|
|01b.||Prince / Princess / Karand||17 (h)||Fiefdom: Private reserve world / THexes: 256x2 within the Imperium.||Imperium||Per subsidiary titles||Per subsidiary titles||Per subsidiary titles||Yes (6 ?)‡||Emperor / heredity||Imperial Family: Close relative of the Emperor. An Imperial consort may also be granted this title.|
|02a.||Archduke / Archduchess / Apkallu Kibrat Arban||16 (G)||Fiefdom: Private reserve world / THexes: 256x2 within the Domain.||Domain||Oversees a Domain.||Nominally 4||up to 64||5||Emperor||High Nobility. A handful of Archdukes, usually 6 to 7, report to the Emperor.|
|02b.||Grand Duke / Grand Duchess||16 (g)||Fiefdom: One world / THexes: 128x2 within the Sector.||Grand Duchy||Oversees a Sector or multiple Subsectors, usually four subsectors.||⅛ to 1||2-16||4||Emperor||High Nobility. Ceremonial title rarely granted anymore. Some Archdukes have been known to appoint Grand Dukes or elevate (promote) Dukes to Grand Dukes with the permission of the Emperor. Also a former Sylean title.|
|03a.||Subsector Duke / Subsector Duchess / Saarpuhii||15 (F)||Fiefdom: Subsector Capital World land grant (generally not more than 100,000 km2) -and/or- THexes: 128x2 within the Sector.||Duchy||Oversees a Subsector.||1/16||1||4||Emperor||High Nobility. Dukes report to Archdukes, and rarely to Grand Dukes.|
|03b.||Duke / Duchess / Saarpuhii||15 (f)||Fiefdom: Variable land grant on an Important World, generally not more than 100,000 km2 -and/or- THexes: 64x2 within the Sector.||Duchy or District||Oversees a group of worlds within a Subsector, or oversees a partial Subsector from an Important World within the Subsector.||Fraction||Significant Fraction||4||Emperor||High Nobility. Dukes report to Archdukes, and rarely to Grand Dukes.|
|04.||Count / Countess (Contessa) / Sarriiu or Shakkanakhu||14 (E)||Fiefdom: Variable land grant, typically on an Industrial or High Population world, generally not more than 10,000 km2 -and/or- THexes: 32x2 within a Sector.||County||Oversees a cluster of worlds within a Subsector, or oversees a partial Subsector, usually including an Industrial or High Population world.||Small Fraction||Fraction||3||Emperor||Administrative rank. Counts typically rule several Lesser Nobles.|
|05.||Viscount / Viscountess / Sarriiu or Shakkanakhu||14 (e)||Fiefdom: Variable land grant, typically on a pre-High Population world *, generally not more than 10,000 km2 -and/or- THexes: 16x2 within a Subsector.||County||Oversees a cluster of worlds within a Subsector, usually including a pre-High Population world *.||Small Fraction||Fraction||3||Emperor||Administrative rank. Viscounts typically rule over several Lesser Nobles.|
|06.||Marquis / Marchioness (Marquesa) / Sarriiu or Shakkanakhu||13 (D)||Fiefdom: Variable land grant, typically on a pre-Industrial world *, generally not more than 1000 km2, -and/or- THexes: 8x2 within a Subsector.||Marquisate||Oversees 1 world, usually a pre-industrial one * with a capable starport.||Tiny Fraction||Small Fraction||2||Emperor||Honour Nobility and Administrative rank. Marquises typically serve in Imperial administrations or important planetary governments.|
|07.||Baron / Baroness / Iishakku||12 (C)||Fiefdom: Modest land on a single world, generally not more than 100 km2 -and/or- THexes: 4x2 within a System.||Barony||Oversees Baronial land grant, or a Rich or Agricultural world.||None||None||1||Emperor or (occasionally) Archduke||Honour Nobility and Administrative rank. Barons typically serve in Imperial administrations or planetary governments.|
|08.||Baronet / Baronetess / Iishakku||12 (c)||Fiefdom: No territorial grant (or 2x2 THexes within a System).||Baronetcy or Manor/Lordship||None. (Occasionally oversees a pre-Rich or pre-Agricultural world) *.||None||None||1||Emperor or Archduke||Honour Nobility. Primarily a status (prestige) rank. Also a sign of service and loyalty. Some serve in minor capacities in Imperial or Domain administrations or planetary governments.|
|09.||Knight / Dame / Kiduunuuzii||11 (B)||Fiefdom: No territorial grant (or 1x2 THexes within a System).||Manor||None||None||None||0||Emperor or Archduke||Honour Nobility. Solely a status (prestige) rank. Also a sign of service and loyalty.|
|10.||Gentleman / Gentlewoman / Gentlesophont||10 (A)||No territorial grant (or 1 THex).||None||None||None||None||0||Various||Not technically a rank of nobility.
- * - It is an accepted expectation that a Baronet who raises a world from Pre-Ag to Ag status or from Pre-Rich to Rich status will be elevated to Baron. A Marquis who raises a world from Pre-In to In status will be elevated to Count (jumping over Viscount). A Viscount who raises a world from Pre-Hi to Hi status will be elevated to Count. 
- † - THex = "Terrain Hex" = 6500 km2. Each THex generates Cr10,000/annum in revenue per trade classification (Cr5000/annum if there are no Trade Classifications). Until claimed and improved, the Imperium pays the holder of noble lands Cr1000 per Terrain-hex per year. 
- ‡ - Moot votes are normally allocated per the highest subsidiary title.
History & Background (Dossier)
All but the highest noble ranks (count, duke, archduke) can be awarded in recognition of achievement or preeminence in a field of endeavor, though all can be awarded as honor titles to existing lower-ranked peers at the Emperor's pleasure.
Noble ranks are generally conferred for achievement, service, or position.
- Ranks for achievement (heroism in the military, success in civil or commercial enterprise, innovation and discovery in the sciences) customarily carry no special reward beyond the noble title itself.
- Ranks for service (political support in office, victory in the military, contributions or economic assistance from the commercial sector) often carry with them fiefs. Enfeoffment is, however, a different process, and is granted by a separate letter of enfeoffment.
- Ranks for position (occupying specific governmental offices) carry with them special privileges such as pensions. The specific prerequisites, however, vary widely, often at the whim of the Emperor.
Noble Fiefs & Land Grants (Enfeoffment)
Imperial nobility is based on fiefs: territories (usually worlds) which are assigned to nobles for their benefit and placed under their protection. Patents of nobility, especially for service, may include Land Grants as part of their fiefs. Land Grants are given out by the Emperor for two primary reasons :
- To encourage the economic development of the worlds of the Imperium
- To provide a measure of economic support to the nobility
A Land Grant is normally expressed in terms of economic control of one or more Terrain-hexes on the surface of Imperial member-worlds and/or the bodies in their respective star systems. Until claimed and improved, the Imperium pays the holder of noble lands Cr 1000 per Terrain-hex per year. 
The Land Grants associated with fiefs are granted in a Letter of Enfeoffment separate from the patent of nobility. Fief Land Grants are granted to the individual at the discretion of the Emperor and remain the Emperor's possessions. However, the fief conveys the right to use the land, to rent or lease it out and collect income from it. The land grant is a convenient method for the Emperor to reward certain nobles. The size of the land grant depends upon how great an income the Emperor wishes to award a noble, and the location of the grant within the fief itself. A knight with a grant consisting of several hundred square kilometers of sparsely settled wilderness and one with a single hectare of the business district of a city can be considered to hold equal grants. Hereditary nobles have often had the fief and associated land grant in their family for generations, and have built it up in value and income potential. Some sites at the capital generate considerable income each year. Other land grants have been administered with great care to ensure that the territory be not only valuable, but also tastefully used. Still others have been exploited ruthlessly in mining or industrial pursuits. Completely separate from fiefs and land grants, a noble may own land obtained from other sources (inheritance, purchase, and so forth). These lands remain the property of their owner even if his title is revoked, and can be disposed of separately from the land grants of fiefs. Under most circumstances, each terrain-hex of a land grant also includes one local-hex of property gifted to the noble outright as personal property.
The noble who is responsible for a given fief is known as the "active noble"; other members of the noble family are known as "courtesy nobles". Note that it is generally considered impolite to point out this difference to a courtesy noble. Each world under the protection and control of a noble is considered a fief. Each world has a limit of one active noble of each rank (although there may be any number of courtesy nobles or inactive nobles on a world - see Honor Nobles and Ceremonial Nobles below). 
An interesting note is that the fiefdoms of higher ranks often include orbital or systemic "property" within a World-System.
In theory, the Imperium reserves for itself the "pentagons" (as opposed to "hexagons") on the geodesic maps of each undeveloped world (including the main-world and every other world within a system). This territory may be developed by the Imperium, or it may be exchanged with the local government for other territory. Note that on previously settled worlds (i.e. those containing Native Intelligent Life), there are no consistently and specifically defined Imperial Lands. 
Distinguishment (Noble Discernment)
Nobles in the Third Imperium can be divided into three types: honour (for achievement), ceremonial or rank (for position), and landed or high (for service). In general a noble's status is lower when he leaves his sphere of influence.
- Honour Nobles receive a patent of nobility from the Emperor for heroism in the military, success in civil or commercial enterprise, or innovation and discovery in the sciences. Normally only patents for knights, baronets, barons, and (rarely) marquises may be issued for achievement, though there are rare exceptions for higher titles. Also, legacy titles of all levels which no longer have an associated Landed Fief or Administrative position are generally considered to fall under the "Honour" category, as well as those nobles with non-substantive "courtesy titles" arising from a close familial relationship to a higher-ranked noble possessing a substantive patent (though both of these are sometimes considered to overlap with the category of local ceremonial/rank tiles - see below).
Ceremonial (Rank) Nobility
- Ceremonial Nobles, or Rank Nobles are given because of a citizen's position.
- These are nobles with connections and obligations to the government of the Third Imperium. While these nobles are also sometimes thought of as Landed Nobility due to individual personal or fiscal circumstances (or High Imperial Nobles in the case of upper level administrators), the term Landed (or High) Nobility properly belong to the third class of nobles described below.
- Ceremonial/Rank nobility belong to one of two sub-types.
- 1. Local Nobility: Serve as Imperial representatives in systems that have a government somehow not conducive to administration by Imperial landed nobility. Patents for local rank nobles are typically hereditary, and are generally equivalent to barons, baronets, and knights.
- 2. Administrators: Citizens who are appointed to an Imperial Office. Often they are administrators of worlds or territories with no formal Imperial representation, or bureaucrats who hold leadership positions in the Imperial Bureaucracy and its many associated offices. These patents are not hereditary as they are tied to a position. If they retire from that position they are allowed to continue to use the title, but it is not heritable (does not pass down).
- Landed Nobles are the smallest segment of the Imperial Nobility and constitute the peerage, generally consisting of people belonging to old and powerful families with voting privileges in the Moot. Landed noble titles are given for: "Political support in office, victory in the military, or contributions or economic assistance from the commercial sector" beyond any reasonable expectation. These nobles directly administer Imperial territories and are personal representatives of the Emperor. They manage and direct the Imperial Bureaucracy. Hereditary, landed nobles are trained from birth to lead. Their training includes instruction in several languages such as Anglic and Vilani, interstellar relations and diplomacy, the art of self defense, advanced administration, fundamental literature, and a variety of other skills. High Landed Nobles have precedence in the Moot, though even landed barons are immensely powerful as compared to barons belonging to the other classes of Imperial Nobility.
Customs (Protocol & Privilege)
The Imperial Nobility enjoys the use of Noble Protocols and Privileges.
Several aspects of noble rank are governed by a strict protocol, including:
- Title (the formal reference to the person in print or by reference): The noble title includes the allowed prefixes (such as Sir) and suffixes (such as "of Yori") to a name, and the order in which they are presented. Nobles are typically referred to by their titles and world holdings: e.g. Duke Regina or Duke of Regina. Note that while a Noble may hold more than one title of the same name, duplicate titles are conferred only rarely. 
- Style (the method of addressing the individual personality): The noble style dictates the manner in which a noble is addressed, including such honorifics as "Your Grace" or "Your Majesty".
- Precedence (the relative seniority of the individual among others): Precedence is accorded strictly on the basis of government position, with seniority by date of patent following. The date of noble rank is taken from the date of confirmation when an inherited rank is assumed.
In addition, customary perquisites for each noble rank vary widely.
The bulk of patents of nobility are published on one of two lists annually:
- The Holiday List is published on Holiday, the first day of the new year, and covers awards for achievement.
- The Birthday List is published on the Emperor's birthday (Strephon's is day 202) and covers awards for service.
Continuing awards for position are given out as called for by circumstances.
The Nobility Lists are maintained by the Office of the Emperor.
The nobility includes within it a subset called the peerage, which consists of all landed nobles except knights and baronets (though Imperial Landed Baronets have access to and voting rights in the Moot). Except in extraordinary situations, to hold high office in the Imperial bureaucracy, a person must be a peer. Collectively, the peerage constitutes the Moot, the Imperial government's only deliberative body.
Nobility is usually hereditary. Once confirmed by the Moot, a title continues to be passed down to succeeding generation. Titles need not pass through the first born (although this is the accepted practice), and individuals with several titles may divide them among their children as they see fit, along with their associated noble land grants. A specific noble title (and its associated lands) are normally indivisible and must be inherited by a single individual as a unit. 
Children of a noble are generally accorded a courtesy title of one noble rank lower. For example, the sons and daughters of a Count or Viscount receive a courtesy title of Marquis or Marchioness (although in some cases the heir of a Count may be permitted the use of Viscount). Upon the death of the Count or Viscount, the heir assumes the title of Count or Viscount (respectively), the other offspring remaining Marquises and Marchionesses. Note that the courtesy title one level lower for a Baron is Baronet, not Knight. 
Revocation of Nobility
- High Crimes: Reasons for such revocation are treason, murder, kidnapping, and extortion as well as other felonies.
- Incompetence: Extremely poor performance can also be a reason.
- Discontinuation: Occasionally, a noble rank will not be confirmed upon inheritance.
- All noble ranks within the peerage come from the Emperor.
- The ability to create Knights and Baronets (and in a few rare cases, Barons), however, is shared with the Archdukes of the Imperium, though such archducal appointments are never considered members of the peerage, and always rank equal to but behind those of similar title bestowed by the Emperor.
Typical Noble Hierarchy & Sequence
Typical Noble Elevation Sequence: The elevation and promotion of a noble and his or her family typically takes the following sequence and may take generations:
- World-State Nobility or Gentleman or Gentlesophont 》Imperial Clan 》Landed Nobility 》Noble House 》High Nobility 》Emperor
|World-State (Local) Nobility||N:7-10 (A)||World-State and/or local nobility possess a bewildering variety of titles and power bases. These nobles often predate Imperial contact and they do not possess Imperial sanction, title, or recognition even if the Imperium negotiates with them. According to Imperial law, they have no official standings or, more to the point, they possess the official recognition of a foreign power and not an indigenous, friendly ally. Some are later elevated to greater recognition and status.|
|Imperial Clans||N:7-11 (B)||Imperial Clans hold an intermediate position between houses and local world-state nobles. Many of these clans aspire to Imperial recognition and earn it through service or other means, thus acquiring Imperial title, but not always direct Imperial Sanction. Sometimes, organized multi-systemic interstellar powers have been known to acquire Imperial title and be recognized as Imperial clans, but not proper Imperial houses.|
|Landed Nobility||N:12-16 (G)||Landed nobles are recognized by the Emperor and the Third Imperium. They hold Imperial title and sanction. Being a landed noble (peerage) is practically a prerequisite to joining a Noble House although exceptions have been made.|
|Imperial Houses||N:12-16 (G)||Many noble families eventually seek to consolidate and increase their power and prestige through concerted efforts of intermarriage or other social institutions of obligation. These families eventually form Noble Houses, which pool the assets of many families into greater accumulations of power, ability, and resources.
|High Nobility||N:15-16 (G)||The Third Imperium has been called a government of, by, and for Dukes. Even the lowest Ducal title is an enormous sign of Distinction. The elevation and promotion of a Duke typically follows the below sequence and often takes many, many generations:
Ducal Elevation Sequence:
|Emperor||N-17 (H)||Above the range of noble ranks is the Emperor and the Imperial Family. The noble family may include princes, princesses, dowagers, and other noble titles. The spouse of an Emperor or Empress is technically the "Empress Consort" or "Emperor Consort", but in common everyday usage they are simply refereed to as "Empress" or "Emperor", respectively.