The Reich Nobility
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- The Imperial Council
- The Higher Nobility (Uradel/Hoher Adel)
- The Lower Nobility (Niedriger Adel)
The Reich nobility is divided into two classes: higher (hoher Adel and Uradel) and lower (niedriger Adel). Numbers of the former are strictly limited to thirty-five titleholders and their families, and technically, all members of the higher class consider each other to be of equal standing, regardless of actual title. With the lower class, the title structure is more important. Numbers of this class vary, dependent on the Kaiser’s wishes and other factors. The basic designation of the Reich nobility is the predicate “von”, which is sometimes, but not always, used with their family names, but is always used with their titles. All legitimate children of a nobleman become nobles themselves, with noble titles. Children of morganatic or illegitimate relationships are not included in the succession within their houses, although Lebensborn children who can later prove lineage from an appropriate father (or in rare cases, mother) are considered legitimate and therefore can succeed.
The Imperial Family, including Princess Wilhelmina, do not count in either degree of nobility, being above both, although it has recently been confirmed that the Lebensborn legitimacy rules do apply to them. All persons being admitted to the nobility, or taking up a title on the death or otherwise of the previous holder, are expected to swear an Oath of Fealty to the Kaiser.
The Imperial Council
All decisions regarding suitability and eligibility for holding title and rank in either branch of the Reich nobility are taken by the Imperial Council, which receives and issues various Writs stating their official opinions on an number of matters related to the administration of the noble classes. Within the political and social machinery of the Fatherland, the Imperial Council serves two purposes: first, as the highest body which can pass or reject a piece of legislation; and second as record keepers and administrators of the deeds, ranks and membership of both degrees of the Reich nobility.
In the latter capacity, it employs twelve Imperial Registrars, who are responsible for acknowledging births and deaths within the nobility, and ruling on the suitability or otherwise of noble marriages, especially within the High Nobility. It also confers – or on rare occasions removes – titles, as well as designing and awarding coats of arms to the noble households and individuals. In addition to the twelve regular registrars are three Investigating Registrars – forensic mages who have responsibility for investigating crimes which may involve members of the nobility, or unexpected deaths thereof. The current Chief Registrar (and effective Head of the Reich College of Arms), Herr Doktor Klemens von Brandt, was also formerly one of the Investigating Registrars.
|Writ of Request||The fundamental tool within the working of the Reich nobility, Writs of Request are the method by which members of the nobility ask the permission of the Council to undertake various courses of action which will affect their house, for example marrying, affecting succession or naming an heir. The only cases in which it is not required, are to register the birth or death of a member of a noble house.|
|Writ of Decision||These are returned to the named noble once the Council has ruled on matters presented to them in a Writ of Request, unless their answer would be more appropriately delivered by another form of Writ (such as Ennoblement or Entitlement).|
|Writ of Birth||This is a request to the Council to acknowledge the child of a noble marriage, and a copy is returned to the parents when the infant’s name has been placed on the family registers held by the Imperial Registrars.|
|Writ of Ennoblement||A Writ of Ennoblement is issued if a new title is created (which only occurs within the lower nobility) or, for example, if a Lebensborn child is made heir to a noble family, for example when Princess Astrid’s status was recently confirmed.|
|Writ of Entitlement||These are issued when a nobleman or woman is confirmed in a new position: either as an heir succeeding to a title on the death of a parent or predecessor, or due to a change in the identity of the heir if there has been a death in the family.|
|Writ of Arms||These are issued when it has been agreed that a noble family or a member of such family should be awarded a coat of arms (or an existing set of arms would change due to a change in status), and include the details of the blazon for that family or individual.|
|Writ of Demise||This is the equivalent of a death certificate for the member of a noble house, and is issued by the Investigating Registrar who confirmed the cause of death (all deaths within the Reich nobility are investigated, albeit to varying degrees).|
|Writ of Attainder||When issued by the Council, the individual mentioned by name is stripped of all ranks and privileges within the nobility of the Reich. They are exceedingly rare, although the most recent – the Writ of Attainder against Andreas Delatz – is still fresh in the collective memory of the Fatherland.|