The Belkan Empire was the state that existed on the Osean continent from the First Belkan–Osean War (1852) until a revolution (1915) overthrew the ruling Rothenbaum Dynasty. An absolute monarchy with elements of feudalism, the Belkan Empire was the first unified Belkan state, and also represented the height of the country's territorial extent.
Founding and origins
The territory of Belka was dominated by a large number of rival feudal kingdoms since at least the 12th century, up until the 18th century. These states were ruled by powerful noble houses, which led armies of knights in a perpetual struggle for dominance. However, towards the end of the 17th century, some houses made alliances with each other and began to eliminate smaller rivals. The nearby recently-formed Osean Federation attempted to influence affairs in Belka in order to keep the kingdoms divided, preventing them from becoming a force that could challenge the country's growing power. However, by the 1760s, the Belkan states had become limited to a few coalitions formed by the noble houses. The rest had been subjugated over the years and annexed by more powerful neighbors.
The dominant power that emerged from this was the Kingdom of Dinsmark, ruled by a high noble family known as the Rothenbaum Dynasty. Sensing the potential threat from this development, the Osean government decided to invade the remaining Belkan states and fully annex them into the Federation. The kingdom had been expecting this, however, and formed a confederation with the others to counter the foreign invasion.
The Belkan Empire was under the absolute rule of the Rothenbaum Dynasty emperors, which had led it for a total of 63 years. The emperor had the power to appoint and dismiss ministers, grant and take away titles and land, promote officers to the ranks of field marshal or grand admiral, begin or cancel major military operations (being the commander-in-chief), repeal and enact laws, pass judicial judgement on certain criminals, make decisions regarding the economy and the Imperial currency, appoint and dismiss members of the privy council, and so forth. His rule was essentially unchecked, although over the course of the Empire's existence, powerful noble families would gain enough power to influence the decisions of emperors.
The imperial family resided in the capital city of Dinsmark, which was home to the Imperial Palace. The emperors were defended by an elite Imperial Royal Guard.
Under the emperor, the head of government (at least nominally) was the Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet. His powers included management of the various ministries and departments, making decisions regarding the economy, and sometimes, make military decisions. The prime minister had to work with the privy council, and was usually a high noble. During the reigns of different emperors, the prime minister could either be a weak yes-man who just followed the orders of a strong monarch, or an influential 'power behind the throne'-type of statesman, controlling a weak monarch.
The Imperial Cabinet consisted of several different ministries, including: Ministries of War, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Industry, Interior, Education, and Justice.
Being an absolute monarchy, there was no parliament or political parties in Belka, although underground republican and liberal organizations operated on some worlds in secret. These groups sometimes attempted terrorist attacks and/or assassinations, and a few were in contact with the Osean Federation, Republic of Recta, or other nations.
The high nobility possessed great political influence, and by 1900, a select few families related to the Rothenbaum Dynasty had virtually total control over their domains and only paid lip-service to the emperor in Dinsmark. Many were given high ranks in the armed forces or used their influence to keep their sons from having to serve on the front lines. They also used their power to eliminate any potential rivals. The later years of the Empire especially were characterized by widespread corruption among the government and nobility.
Belkan nobles were officially equal in law, but in reality, they were able to do whatever they wanted and get away with it.