speaking, Circle holds absolute power over the Republic. However, the
Circle has developed or co-opted various institutions, which it consults
on issues of import, such as parliaments representing the interests of the
home world and the provinces. It also regularly hears its senior servants,
the governors, the nobility, and the military on issues affecting their
domains. So long as its servants govern well, the Circle tends to leave
them alone, paying close attention to the military, but allowing most
issues of day to day administration and law to devolve to the governors
and local custom.
The nobility forms one of the mainstays of the administration. The
Denayi Republic recognizes many different types and degrees of nobility:
from the petty nobles whose power and influence is confined to a single
city on a single world, to the intra-mundal nobility who frequent the
courts of their World’s governor, to the mighty Republican High
nobility, whose reach extends across many worlds, and whose feuding
decides who will sit on the Circle itself.
The High Nobility provides most of the candidates for governors,
judges, generals and other high officials. Their sons also bolster the
ranks of the Uukaptai or the local officer corps. With their immense
wealth (sometimes their estates cover entire continents), they form a
counter-balance to the power of governors – when they are not governors
themselves. So long as the Circle controls the High Nobility, whether by
fear or favor, a successful revolt on any World is nearly impossible.
The Lesser Nobility, although more limited in its influence, also
serves its purpose, and indeed forms main conduit by which the Republic
governs its provinces. Governors prefer to co-opt local holders of power
into their system, acculturating the greatest of them to Denayi ways, even
increasing their power relative to the common people. In return, the
governors hold the local elites responsible for collecting taxes,
maintaining order, and quelling the seditious. Should they fail to do so,
the governors may call upon the Uukaptai to replace the elites with
someone more pliant.
The Denayi law-codes are quite varied, and each World experiences
overlap of jurisdiction. At the most local level, each region of the
Republic has its own laws and customs, which the administration respects
when it does not conflict with Republican interests. Thus in provinces,
the people follow their traditional religions, speak their own languages,
and settle their differences in their own courts. Thus regional codes of
law vary enormously from place to place.
Denayi’s own civil and criminal codes (often called Republican law)
applies only in those cases where regional laws conflict, that involves
servants of the Republic, the military or members of the High nobility.
Denayi law also serves as the law of appeal. In areas where Denayi rule
has been long established, Denayi law (or its derivatives) is often the
local law as well, as centuries of contact have created legal conformity.
Denayi civil and criminal law has been shaped by years of rational
systemization, and is surprisingly humane, given the constraints under
which it must operate. It grants wide latitude to the legislative power of
the Circle and its agents, and permits judges to initiate and research
cases. Thus it most resembles the Roman law of our own world.
Personal privileges vary widely under Republican law. Slavery and
serfdom are almost unknown, but the law recognizes many forms of temporary
indenture – for soldiers, for civil servants, even for concubines. All
of these persons are formally free, but must temporarily serve their
designated master, who often possesses the right of usufruct over their
bodies and property. Noble status also grants certain privileges,
depending on its degree – usually exemption from taxes, fines or
military duties, and a right to "noble" forms of punishment and
execution, such as beheading, rather than hanging.
Criminal law provides for swift punishment, usually corporal, as the
Republic has no extensive prison system. Lashes, mutilations and branding
are common; execution most often takes the form of hanging. Despite the
system’s brutality, it nevertheless is less cruel and inventive than
those of, say, the European ancien regime of our own world. Torture is
sometimes used for interrogation, but is rarely an end in itself.
Execution is usually by hanging.
Even in peacetime, however, banditry, inefficiency and corruption often
hamper the exercise of justice. The Denayi Republic’s reach and aims
more closely resemble early modern states of our own world than they do
modern bureaucratic societies. The military usually serves as a police
force, and the rich double as officials; neither may be especially
interested in protecting the rights of the weak. The cure for such
corruption is often worse than the corruption itself – for the Uukaptai
themselves are often unleashed upon corrupt governors and revolts alike,
and during direct military rule, normal legal procedures are suspended in
favor of naked force.