Questions: Lords of Admiralty

Specialist290 asks:

In addition to my previous queries, an additional historical / etymological one:  Does the presence of “Lords of the Admiralty” in the Empire’s military hierarchy imply, like their *our*-world British counterparts, that their duties were once concentrated in a singular office of “Lord High Admiral” whose role eventually evolved into an office held in commission?

Well spotted, but alas, no. It’s just the best close approximation I could find to the actual title, noting specifically that in the Eldraeverse it is not short for “Lords Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral”.

As for why that is the title… well, it works like this.

In Imperial practice, there are three kinds of what for want of a better word we shall call “nobility”: the runér, the praetorate, and the exultancy. The first, the runér, are the executive branch – your lairds, barons, counts, dukes, kings, etc., or for that matter your city managers, county commissioners, and state governors. The third, the exultancy, are titles of prestige awarded for loyal service, superior achievement, or otherwise great merit. Those don’t come with hard power, merely precedence, prestige, honors, letterheads, entrées, and the ability to get good tables in nice restaurants at short notice.

The second, the praetorate, includes titles like these – it being the general case that people who routinely interact at the highest levels with the highly-titled runér need equivalent honors, dignities, and precedence to support their offices. At lower levels of the table of ranks, usually it doesn’t apply, but at the uppermost levels – what I might call the Mandarinate if I needed a translation for that term, yet – most offices have some unique praetorate title with its own place in the big list of official precedence.

So in this case –

Well. The top of the Table of Ranks for the Imperial Military Service is grade O-14, which the Imperial Navy calls Admiral of the Fleet, the Imperial Legions call Captain-General of the Legions, the Home Guard calls Commandant of the Guard, and the stratarchies call Lord High Stratarch. Traditionally, that rank is reserved for Lords of Admiralty, so each service only has one of them except for the one that furnishes the First Lord of Admiralty, which gets two.

But that’s a military rank. It empowers them to head up their particular military service, but doesn’t mean anything outside that. (Those who remember The Core War will recall orders sent out from someone using the rank ADM/FLT, rather than from the First Lord of the Admiralty, for example…)

All of those people also sit on the Board of Admiralty, which actually runs the Imperial Military Service as a whole. Their military ranks serve for that portion of the job. For interfacing with the civilian government, however, each of them holds a unique title as one of the Lords of Admiralty, which is equivalent to grade XIII on the Table of Ranks for the Imperial Service (“Minister of State” or “Logarch”), except for the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is ranked as grade XIV (“Minister of the Throne” and/or other Great Officer of State).

Which in turn is because the other Lords of Admiralty sit only on the Board of Admiralty and in meetings of the Council of Ministers (the larger of the two bodies which includes the heads of all the ministries beneath the seven large ones as well as the seven, presided over by the Lord Coordinator of the Chancelry acting as the Minister President of the Council) whereas the First Lord sits on the Council of the Star (the top-level executive body which includes only the seven top-level ministries – of which the Admiralty counts as one – presided over by the Imperial Couple personally).

(If I were to make an analogy to US government here, I’d say that one could analogize the Board of Admiralty in Imperial practice to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the First Lord to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, except that the First Lord’s job is also that of the Secretary of Defense, which is why it’s also the functional equivalent of a Cabinet-level post.)

All of which is very involved, but then, I am attempting to simulate a somewhat evolved structure, here, not an unnaturally clean one…

So, to sum up, basically, they’re called that because it’s Translation Convention for the noble-equivalent title that comes with the job.



A question I did not answer at the time, regarding this:

One wonders, when she was revived, did she reinherit back any of her titles or property?

Well, now.

Titles are the easiest one to answer, *there*, and the short answer is “some of them, according to their nature”.

To answer in a rather longer manner: if we for the moment discount titles of privilege (i.e., those titles which exist simply to be purchased by/to recognize the contribution of personal resources to the public good) and assume that private titles more or less follow the same rules as public ones (an essentially accurate assumption), it looks something like this:

In Imperial praxis, as defined by the Imperial Charter, there are three classes of titles: runér, praetorate, and exultant. The former two are both functional – by definition, the holder of a runér title has the Imperial Mandate over some demesne somewhere, physical, virtual, or abstract, and explicitly executes all the duties attached thereto. Likewise, a praetor holds some office somewhere in the Imperial Service, and the title comes with the job, to provide the precedence and dignities appropriate to the job.

Exultant titles, contrariwise, are not-implying-you’re-done-but-still-post hoc rewards for merit, accomplishment, and excellence, and as such are not explicitly tied to executing any particular duties except for the rather generalized one of continuing to be the awesome soph you were formally recognized as being.

So, the rules for these were set a long time before it ever came up in this particular case. Exultant titles, you keep and can reclaim; they have no dependencies on anything unless you go so far outside the pale that the people authorized to initiate such a case can persuade the Curia to impeach you. Runér and praetorate titles, on the other hand, are strongly linked to doing the job, and as such the condition there is and has always been incapacity. Suffering from “not-dead-in-the-most-technical-sense, long-term, whole-body frostbite” adequately qualifies as incapacity, so those titles do pass – but, then, unlike most Earth cases, they would also pass if you were merely comatose, or suffering from other lengthy medical conditions that meant that you couldn’t perform the duties of the office, because none of those titles are ornamental and someone’s got to.

You do, however, automatically receive the corresponding courtesy exultant title for ex-runér/ex-praetors, because that’s part of normal succession procedure. Which is to say you keep the honors of the position, after all, you earned them; it’s just that you aren’t the person people should be taking their petitions and paperwork to any more.

(As for the possibility of reclaiming those titles: in most cases, that wouldn’t be automatic, although your successor may choose to hand it right back to you. There are a few exceptions due to their own special rules: most House charters reserve the position of “genarch”, for example, to the oldest living family member with descendants, and if the person fitting that description happens to do so because they just came back from the dead, well – ain’t no rule against that, and they’re still the oldest living family member with descendants, so.)

Property-wise: That’s somewhat more complicated, and I don’t want to go into too much detail because that time period is exactly the time at which the legal rules on that sort of thing were in flux, and I have not yet nailed down the exact dates of what fluxed when.

In the modern era, of course, it’s not even a question. You aten’t dead until there’s no information-theoretically recoverable mind-state recognizable as you available anywhere, or alternatively, have personally merged with the Transcendent god-mind, so no-one’d even think about running probate just because you happen to be chillin’ right now.

Back in the day, of course, this was more complicated when you could be dead without being dead-dead, but Imperial law has always been much more generous than ours when it comes to ensuring that the dead can still get their will done, not like mere animacy should be able to impair the sacred obligation of contracts, after all. So it would not be at all hard for her, or anyone else trying this, to set up the appropriate instruments to hold her stuff in trust and then give it back to herself. (That would be necessary because it’s not like they could unprobate, as that would inevitably be ex post facto.)

(And she probably didn’t do that for all of it, either – this being, after all, still very experimental. And, well, one can always get more money.)