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Imperial House

"You might think that the Elector Lords are handful but they're nothing compared to the Imperial Houses of old. See how an Elector is bound to their State? Back then, it was no such thing. Territories were spread across the Empire, exchanging hands frequently as they fought each other for power and prestige, and not least to see one of their own on the Throne. 'twas their greed and folly that ruined the first Empire, and Til-Yaltur was adamant that no such thing could happen again."
  Under the old Empire, there were seven 'Imperial' noble houses who were directly under the Emperor in terms of absolute power. Whilst an Imperial House claimed a lot of territory, it was typically non-contiguous, and scattered throughout the Empire. Each House claimed at least one Emperor in their ranks, hence the epithet 'Imperial House'.   The lineage of these families was damaged during the The Great Schism and the Sakamohr Hegemony, with Til-Yaltur breaking them up and abolishing them during his campaign to unify imperial lands. Whilst some existing noble houses claim descent, they no longer hold the power that they did back then.   With the establishment of the new Empire, the lands were split into designated provinces, each one being held by an Elector House, entirely distinct from the old Imperial Houses.  
Number of Emperors: 5
House Belkais was one of the wealthiest of the Imperial Houses but despite this, took over six hundred years to get one of their own on the Imperial Throne. It made a point of acquiring land in resource rich areas for mining, and most of its wealth came from lucrative silver and gold mines; it had many iron mines too, but the ubiquitous nature of iron in the Inner Sea area made that less profitable.   The House had the dubious distinction of having its first Emperor being the first of all Emperors to have their selection of successor rejected. This led to the Fantais Clique, a succession of Emperors all connected by ties of family or upbringing, who ruled on average for less than ten years each. That it was a Belkais that sat upon the Throne when the Empire finally collapsed was not easily forgotten.  
Number of Emperors: 8
Originally hailing from the north of the Empire, House Foath was the third of the Houses to be handed the role of Emperor. A hereditary ailment in the lineage, meant that each Emperor died young, and eventually the house was passed over in favour of another House. It would be 200 years before another Foath member would sit on the Imperial Throne.   A naval focused House, whenever a Foath sat on the Throne, spending on the Imperial Navy was increased markedly, often to detriment of the other Imperial institutions. One of the few Houses that welcomed Til-Yaltur's crusade, but this did not prevent their restructuring.  
Number of Emperors: 12
Carrying the prestige of being the house that the very first Emperor was part of was both a boon and a burden to House Hudor. They were traditionally the most likely to uphold Imperial Law, and many of their more minor members held positions of power in the Imperial state, even when they didn't hold the Throne itself. This did lend themselves to losing out when their rivals openly flouted Imperial Law, and by the time of the Great Schism, they had lost all of their holdings in the northern half of the empire.   They held the Throne for the first 218 years of the Empire existence, but it was another 500 until they held it again; their reputation and honour reducing the tactics they used to secure votes. Their legacy lives on, in the trefoil cross that has become the unofficial symbol of the Imperial Throne.  
Number of Emperors: 5
A house that never expected to rise to a position where it might take the Imperial Throne, it was only through a fortuitous marriage that left one of their own as the closest relative to the Foath Imperial succession, abandoned due to perceived contamination. Whilst that dynasty lasted less than one hundred years, it was Riesam II that decreed that Emperors would from that point on appoint their own successor, and not have it decided by lineage. That this decision led to the corrupt Fantais Clique did not deter the state from retaining the practice, ending the concept of dynasties on the Throne.   The Emperor considered the greatest ever was from this house; Demal I reigned for 62 years and saw the a boom in wealth and population for the Empire. He implemented reforms that restricted the growing power of the Imperial Houses, supported the rights of landless peasants, and strengthened the Imperial Navy against a previous increase in piracy across the Inner Sea.  
Number of Emperors: 13
The largest and most powerful of the old Imperial Houses, Morsuth was the second house to claim the Imperial Throne, and the one that can claim more Emperors and more years spend in power than any other. It was also a leading voice in the secession movement, and the primary House in the short-lived Confederation that emerged after the Great Schism.   Strongly associated with ships and naval power, after the collapse of the Confederation, it was Morsuth vessels that kept the northern Inner Sea free from pirates, and it was Morsuth funded expeditions that discovered The Land Bridge and subsequently the northern continent. They strongly resisted Til-Yaltur, and in the aftermath of his conquest were dissolved as a noble house.  
Number of Emperors: 3
Despite its wealth and power, obtained mainly through trade, Seyad only managed to get one its own placed on the Throne three times, largely due to its smaller size compared to the other Imperial Houses. Considered more of a 'kingmaker' house than one with any serious potential to rule the Empire, it was closely allied with Morsuth and Soldec, and joined them in forming the Confederation.   It was a Seyad Emperor that presided over the split in the Empire, and whilst historians credit the young Talub II in attempting to keep the Empire together, they also note that his own House was undoubtedly pulling strings in the background. Most of the high ranking members of the Hosue fled before Til-Yaltur's crusade and were instrumental in establishing influential factions on the northern continent.  
Number of Emperors: 2
That Soldec can claim to have any Emperors at all is testament to the corruption evidenced in the series of Emperors known as the 'Fantais Clique'. With barely 15 years of Imperial rule to its name, Toirah and Reets were the last two in a sequence of rulers internally appointed between a group of friends. As a consequence, reforms were made, and an introduction of a maximum age of candidate.   Whilst it may only have had two Emperors, no one can deny Soldec's position as one of the Imperial Houses, as like Sayed, it was fantastically wealthy and was a prime source of income for the Confederation. Unlike Sayed, its most prominent members welcomed Til-Yaltur's crusade, but for selfish reasons that the young crusader saw right through, dissolving the House and claiming its wealth for the Empire as a whole.  

1 - 1704

Geopolitical, Great house
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Cover image: A View of Salerno and Vesuvius by Unknown


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