Nobility in the Empire
There are innumerable nuances in the rule and administration of the Celegian Empire. Vocats, or course, are in charge of every Realm, each acting as the Voice of the Emperor, but the rank of Vocat is not a measure of nobility or titles.
The Imperial Council is made up of the Vocats and the Generals, as well as an Autarch from each Realm who represents the Provincial Council in each Realm. The Provincial Council in each Realm is a powerful body in its own right. Realms are further ranked by whether they are Counties, or, in the interior of the Empire, or Marches, which are border provinces, either on an Exiled Realm in the interior (much more common) or on the true Border of the Empire, such as far away on the nigh-fabled Windward Marches.
All of these innumerable ranks and positions are also awards of merit, and have nothing to do with the Nobility.
To make matters even more complex, it is not uncommon for a true Noble Scion to also have one of these positions of merit, so a single person can have two entirely seperate 'stacks' of titles.
To address the actual hereditary nobility, some background is in order.
There are seven ranks of 'Provincial' Nobility, or, noble families who have their titles and priveleges backed up by a Province.
There is one rank of Nobility which is Realm-wide, ie, spanning multiple provinces in a single realm.
There are seven ranks of Imperial Nobility, noble families who have their titles and priveleges backed up by the Imperial Beaurocracy, and whose power and holdings span multiple Realms.
Each of these titular classes are ranked in order of power, prestige, wealth, and nobility. Note, however, that there is a great deal of flexibility in the 'wealth' portion of this description: A lowly Knight who owns every gold mine in a realm is likely much wealthier than a Duke who has fallen on hard times. That said, even the lowliest of Dukes gets invited to a lot more, and a lot more prestigious, parties than even the richest Knight.
The ranks of Provincial nobility and the male and female titles besowed are:
- Esquire- Maiden/Madame
- Knight - Dame
- Baronet - Baronette
- Baron - Baroness
- Viscount - Viscountess
- Count - Contessa
- Earl - Earl-Coronet
The 'middle' rank is :
- Marquis - Marquesa
A Marquis is more esteeemed than any Provincial noble, but is below even the least of the Imnperial nobility.
Lastly, the Imperial nobility is:
- Viceroy - Vicerine
- Prince - Princess
- Prince-Elect - Princess-Elect
- Duke - Duchess
- Grand Duke - Grand Duchess
- King-Imperial - Queen-Imperial
- Emperor - Empress
Obviously, The title on Emperor or Empress is held by one and only one person, but it is not uncommon for other members of Imperial-Line nobility to have the title of King-Imperious or Queen-Imperious, or more commonly, Prince-Elect or Princess-Elect.
Viceroy's, Dukes, and Grand-Dukes are by far the most common of the Imperial Nobility, and they can be truly fearsome entities, with staggering wealth and power.