The Government of Maqtis

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Salmoneus
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The Government of Maqtis

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 23 Sep 2017, 21:58

Just a few brief sketch notes. First, a general overview of Maqtean political history...

The Monarchy
The polity of Maqtis was formed in antiquity from the alliance of seven ‘cities’, each ruled by a hereditary monarch. Given the size of the island and its population at the time, these ‘cities’ and ‘kings’ might be better termed ‘villages’ and ‘chieftains’. At first, the alliance simply operated as a confederacy; later, a convention of rotating leadership evolved, in which each of the seven kings ruled as high king for one year in succession. However, except in military matters, each of the seven kings retained the power of veto – the High King was thus a president or chief executive of the royal college, but not a supreme monarch.
During this time, society consisted of two castes: the flaminials, a sacred aristocracy who conducted the religious rituals and held general authority and wealth; and everybody else.
Eventually, to bolster his authority, encourage continuity, and delegate work, the High King began to summon assemblies of the leading flaminials of the island: the body that would come to be known, after its size had become fixed by tradition, as the Thirty.

The Thirty
Over time, the Thirty wrested power away from the kings, producing a constitutional monarchy – in part because the tradition that any of the seven kings could veto the actions of the High King meant that very little could actually be accomplished by the monarchy. The High King retained considerable influence and spiritual authority, but real power lay with the aristocratic Thirty.

During this time, Maqtis flourished, its population growing, public works being accomplished, and its influence beyond the island increasing. However, this brought social conflict, as the power of the flaminial caste came to be challenged by increasingly wealthy and influential commoners, and as the number of disenfranchised commoners in total grew.

The system also encountered logistical difficulties, particularly as the island came into military conflict in defence of its interests abroad. A body of thirty people struggled to produce coherent leadership.


The Archons
To resolve the logistical difficulties, the Thirty began nominating a single one of their members to serve as an Archon, a supreme military commander and general chief executive. The Archon could be elected and unelected at the whim of the Thirty, and did not possess judicial authority (which instead resided with the Thirty as a whole, and with the seven kings as a court of ultimate appeal).

The Ten Thousand
The election of a single Archon did not, however, resolve the tension between the flaminials and the disenfranchised wealthiest commoners (the ‘optimates’), which only continued to grow. Moreover, as the city became richer, the Thirty grew increasingly corrupt and unpopular with the masses. Meanwhile, the Archons came into their own conflicts with the rest of the Thirty, as ambitious Archons sought to use their control of the military and bureaucracy to secure their own dominance and tenure; in response, the Thirty cycled through Archons increasingly rapidly – strengthening their position and the oligarchy of the flaminial class.
To address the problem of legitimacy, the Archons began, with the consent of the Thirty, summoning popular assemblies, the so-called (but not numerically accurately) Ten Thousand, to give consent and advice in a non-binding fashion. Yet this only encouraged political activism among the commoners, and dissent among the Thirty, in which rival politicians sought to use the authority of the Ten Thousand to promote their causes and marginalise their opponants.

This came to a head in an incident known as the Rain of Clay (rain being associated with fertility on the island). When a populist Archon called the Ten Thousand to demand his retention in the post, but the Thirty disregarded their advice, an anonymous mob stole upon the houses of many of the Thirty by night, tore the clay tiles from their roofs, and hurled them down into the houses, killing not only many of the Thirty but also many of their families. The murder method was likely precisely judged: not only did it make it impossible to prosecute any individual for the murders (and save each killer from the guilt of the deed, as none knew, in the dark, whether their tile had struck), but it circumvented the ancient right of inviolability of the flaminials, as no killer laid a hand upon their victims.

The immediate aftermath of the Rain of Clay was negative: the Archon judged responsible was executed for treason, and repressive public safety measures were implemented. But the fear of the unprecedented and brutal killings lingered in the minds of the Thirty, and the judgement of the Ten Thousand, when called, was never again questioned. Eventually, the Ten Thousand sought and obtained the right to elect the Archon themselves.

This did not, however, bring about a perfect democracy – on the contrary. The Archons by convention came to call the Ten Thousand only once every seven years, for their own re-election, which was rarely denied, and the Archonate became a de facto monarchy, the unwieldy and temporary Ten Thousand merely an easily-manipulated rubber stamp. When the power of the Archon was challenged, there was violence: the winner-take-all Archonate provoked extreme competition and dramatic changes in policy between regimes. To avoid this, the Archonate became a largely hereditary position, while at the same time losing much of its authority to a flaminial bureacratic system. The Archon himself, meanwhile, was still elected from among the Thirty, and the Thirty retained not only an advisory role beneath the Archon but also independent authority in some matters.
At this point, a clear distinction was drawn between public law and sacred law: the Archon took responsibility for the former, while the latter remained the province of the Thirty, and by convention was not challenged even by the Ten Thousand.
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Re: The Government of Maqtis

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 23 Sep 2017, 22:04

The Thirty-Five
The shift in power away from the Thirty in the Rain of Clay had significantly increased the legitimacy of the government – but there was still a long way to go. In particular, the optimates were now clearly wealthier and more personally powerful than the flaminials, yet they were excluded from the government entirely, and the assembly of Ten Thousand that theoretically gave the public as a whole a voice was barely more than a joke – controlled by the Archon, it could give assent only to measures proposed by the Archon. Archons later ceased to call the assembly at all, so that it was only called by the Thirty on the death (often by assassination) of the Archon, to approve their pre-selected candidate.

Eventually, however, at one such meeting, the Ten Thousand rebelled en masse and took over the city, besieging the flaminials in their palaces – their sacred inviolability would not prevent their being starved to death. The flaminials surrendered to the popular demands, and accepted popular government, which, after a period of chaos, settled upon a system of democratic government through elections every seven years.
The system chosen divided the populace into the seven ancient ‘cities’, each of which would elect five representatives to a new assembly, the Thirty-Five. This ensured representation for the entire population, and for all parts of the city. The Thirty-Five would have supreme authority (subject to the Ten Thousand, when called), but would nominate eight of its members to form an inner cabinet to deal with day-to-day issues. Laws would be passed by the Thirty-Five, but each of the seven ‘cities’ (who debated as individuals but voted as a bloc) had the right of veto. The Archonate was abolished, and while the Thirty (and the kings) were retained, they retained authority only over religious matters.

The rule of the Thirty-Five was, for its time, radically democratic. Yet it failed to address many of the underlying tensions in society. Although the elections were open to the citizenry, they quickly became monopolised by the optimates, as did the magistracies appointed by the Thirty-Five – and by only the wealthiest optimates at that. The Ten Thousand, seen as rendered obsolete with the advent of representative democracy (and increasingly more difficult to assemble as the population grew), was almost entirely neglected. And tensions were beginning to grow also between the so-called ‘eupatrids’ (self-supporting native citizens) and ‘peregrines’ (descendents of slaves, immigrants and other non-citizens) who were increasingly given some of the rights of citizens, without having the full status of eupatrids (eupatrids alone had the vote, for example). Meanwhile, the Thirty-Five saw increasing and paralysing use of the veto, while the governing Eight were rapidly subjugated by a single dominant figure, the First of the Eight.


The First and the Five Hundred

Eventually, the First took steps to address several perceived problems in a single stroke: the creation of a new body, the Three Hundred and Fifty. This was an originally advisory assembly called by the First (through the Thirty-Five) to give the opinions of the broader populace. As elections had come to be seen as opportunities for corruption and oligarchic manipulation, the Three Hundred and Fifty were instead nominated by the First (through the Thirty-Five): fifty of the most notable (i.e. wealthy) eupatrid citizens from each of the seven ‘cities’. Over time, the number of this assembly was increased through new additions, particularly incorporating some less wealthy representatives from among the military, non-flaminial religion, and the crafts. The body became known as the Five Hundred, although the actual number of representatives grew in time to considerably more than this.

The Five Hundred were eventually given the authority to decide any matter upon which the Thirty-Five had been unable to reach agreement. Opportunities for such rule became rather more common when the Five Hundred were given the right to nominate two further members to what became the Thirty-Seven, each with their own individual right of veto. On the other hand, the First, as president of the Thirty-Seven, increasingly bundled together some proposals to reduce the chance of a veto. In practice, the Five Hundred, while (albeit undemocratically) increasing the representativeness of government, largely strengthened the hand of the First.

Nonetheless, significant problems were looming. Two factors – imperial military expansion and the introduction of a grain dole for the homeless (which saved the poor from entering slavery, but did not save them from losing their status as eupatrids) – greatly increased the numbers of the peregrines (particularly as the child of a peregrine and a eupatrid was a peregrine). Yet the peregrines (who in some cases were amassing considerable wealth) were entirely excluded from politics, as were many poorer eupatrids (although the tradition of making membership of the Five Hundred hereditary ironically increased the representation of the middle-class, as many ‘nominate’ families lost their fortunes while retaining their voting rights).

For centuries, economic and military success, along with talented and responsive management, obviated these tensions through the spoils of growth. But when the geopolitical tides turned against Maqtis, resentments grew bitter. Most dangerously of all, membership of the military had been relaxed, in order to support an increasingly large military force while minimising conscription of the wealthy; this meant that many disenfranchised peregrines gained considerable military power (though the generals themselves continued to be drawn from among the eupatrids, and generally from specifically the optimates).

The Two Hundred and Ten
It was, in the end, perhaps no surprise that it was a military junta who ended the ancient rule of the Firsts. This junta’s own legitimacy came from elections within the military to a new assembly, the Two Hundred and Ten – military veterans (the highest officers were barred from participating) whose probity and discipline would, it was hoped, fix the errors of the decadent and corrupt ruling order.

Perhaps surprisingly, then, the Two Hundred and Ten – who, after all, contained peregrine, eupatrid and optimate members – did not sweep away that existing order, but merely modified it.

Military (and foreign policy) authority was taken from the civilians and given to a Supreme Admiral (a senior military officer elected by the Two Hundred and Ten), assisted by four Legates (junior officers, members of the Two Hundred and Ten themselves, nominated by that assembly). These were in turn overseen by a ten-man committee of the Two Hundred and Ten.

Ultimate judicial authority, and a great deal of minor public management, was likewise taken from the Thirty-Seven and given to a duumvirate, the Two, elected by the Five Hundred. The independent law of sacrilege was strengthened by permitting the Thirty to elect the Three, three flaminials with the authority to investigate and judge sacrilege cases independently; the flaminials were also given authority over the treasury. In this way, the military hoped to increase the virtue and decency of society, and shore up their rule by appealing to the spiritual authority of the flaminials (and of other religious leaders). A third form of law, military law, was introduced, with cases tried by the Two Hundred and Ten: this was primarily concerned with the conduct of military personnel, but also covered certain forms of treason, sedition, and misuse of public office.

The Thirty-Seven itself was opened up to all citizens: both eupatrids and peregrines had the right both to elect, and be elected to, the Thirty-Seven. Moreover, the Two Hundred and Ten themselves elected seven members to what became the Forty-Four – each one with the power of veto. Similarly, seven members were sent with the power of veto to the Five Hundred, along with seventy ‘popular delegates’ (three eupatrids and seven peregrines for each ‘city’), each elected for a month at a time, with re-election prohibited for ten years, who had seven vetos, one for each ‘city’ bloc (that is, four of the seven popular delegates from a given ‘city’ could unite to cast that city’s veto). A measure supported by the majority of the Five Hundred but vetoed could be put to the Ten Thousand – now assembled by law for one month a year (and, unlike the older form of the assembly, limited to that many representatives, chosen by popular election), but in the interim the Two Hundred and Ten could pass any temporary measure it chose. All such domestic issues were overseen by a ten-man committee of the Two Hundred and Ten.

Finally, a respected magistrate was elected annually as the Corrector, charged with continuing to monitor the constitutional situation and to suggest any necessary reforms to the Two Hundred and Ten.

The resulting system was, again, an astonishing advance toward democracy for its time. It seemed to contemporaries – even those who had opposed the original military usurpation of power – that all the major political problems had been fixed, and that an almost perfect constitution had been established.
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Re: The Government of Maqtis

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 23 Sep 2017, 22:08

The Panarch
This was, sadly, not the case. The delegates to the Two Hundred and Ten soon showed themselves less loyal to their classes than to their own military leaders, and the body became little more than an administrative arm of the admirals, who fought a series of civil wars, as the empire shrank, for dominance over one another. The victorious leaders were not content to share power with other authorities, and they – quite legally – had themselves nominated Corrector, Supreme Admiral, and one of the Two (with the second of the Two being a greatly junior young ally). They ensured continual vetoes in the Forty-Four and the Five Hundred, used the Two Hundred and Ten to sort out administrative details, and came to dominate elections to the Ten Thousand to rubber-stamp their decisions. The entire system of the state came to be ruled by a single man, a Panarch. At first, this was not seen as a failure of the system, but rather a logical consolidation in the interests of coherent rule – and indeed, after the initial wars, a succession of talented Panarchs, appointing their successors, halted the decay of the empire and saw considerable growth in the city.

Without independent checks to their power, however, the Panarchs became corrupt and self-interested, and their succession became largely hereditary for several centuries. When that hereditary rule broke down, what followed was even worse: a series of charismatic rival generals who, while not overtly warring against one another, bankrupted the state waging wars of self-aggrandisement and paying their veterans excessively. Superficially, this era was marked by further growth, thanks to the need for eye-catching military victories. But the state was growing desparately weak, and ‘victory’ over rival Lamaka (who had for centuries kept the steppe nomads at bay) unleashed a tide of mass migration on the continent that resulted in the rapid collapse of the empire.


The Thousand and the Two
Perhaps surprisingly, this failed system was brought down by its least political element: the flaminials, through the prosecutory power of the Three, who led a revolution purging the island of Panarchist elements. At first, the goal of the Three appeared to be the restoration of the pre-Panarch constitution of the Two Hundred and Ten; but the public was not to be satisfied with a return to a failed system. Instead, a popular revolution created a new democratic body, the Thousand, with absolute authority.

Under the rule of the Thousand, the existing institutions changed little, but the balance of power shifted considerably. Military, judicial and executive authority was handed to the Two, still elected by the Five Hundred, just as the Forty-Four still elected the magistrates – but the Thousand asserted the right to pass any law, overruling any decision by the existing assemblies, who therefore had only provisional legislative authority. To further weaken the Forty-Four, its election was made indirect – not by the people, but only by the Thousand. Likewise, the ‘popular delegates’ to the Five Hundred were appointed by the Thousand. An additional judicial forum was later created, the Seventy, comprised of all living former members of the Two, supplemented by additional members elected by the Thousand – the Seventy try disputes among senior officials, and accusations of political malfeasance or incompetance. The Two Hundred and Ten lost the power to pass provisional legislation, and to elect military leaders, and the position of Corrector was abolished.
Over time, however, the power of the Thousand weakened, and that of the Forty-Four strengthened, largely because of the limitations of such a large body. The primary power in this era, however, rested with the Two.

The Hundred
In order to take back some part of its power, the Thousand created a new assembly, the Hundred, which sat permanently and was able to debate much more extensively than the larger Thousand. The measure was superficially successful, with the Hundred almost entirely supplanting the power of the Forty-Four, and limiting the power of the Two. However, the Hundred quickly became more than a mere standing committee of the Thousand, effectively appointing its own membership, and tending to represent a more optimate perspective than the Thousand. The body also became mired in internal divisions and struggled to produce unified policy.

The Nine
Following disasterous military defeats, culminating with the sack of the island by a foreign power for the first time in millennia, the Thousand forced the Hundred to create its own standing committee, the Nine, to exercise coherent control over the state, and particularly over military and foreign policy. This is intentionally reminiscent of the early golden age of the Eight and the First – though in this case there has not yet developed a single authoritative ‘First’ among the Nine. Indeed, the lessons of history discourage such an overt power-grab.

This, then, is approximately the system of government still in place.
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Re: The Government of Maqtis

Post by Salmoneus » Sun 24 Sep 2017, 17:59

So, now, a synchronic look at the institutions in charge of the country, in two parts...

Legislative Bodies

The Ten Thousand
The Ten Thousand meet annually, for one month; however, they do this not as one group, but as eleven assemblies, one for each quarter of the city. Representatives are elected by general suffrage of property-owning citizens; they may each serve only once in any seven-year cycle. The assemblies do not have the right of general debate, nor the right of initiative – they can neither propose laws, nor freely discuss them, as these are held to be impractical for bodies of such size. Instead, the leaders of the assembly – chosen by lot – listen to the concerns of each member as expressed in a speech, and they appoint (or select by lot) ten-person boards to consider topics of particular concern. The boards then discuss matters internally, before deciding upon resolutions to put to the assembly. When a resolution is proposed, the assembly votes yay or nay, in bloc votes ward-by-ward; a yay vote causes a statement of concern to be issued to the next session of the Thousand. However, if all eleven assemblies, in the same annual session, vote to call a plenary meeting of the entire Ten Thousand, that plenary assembly, which follows the same procedure, with block voting by ward and by quarter, has the power to pass binding laws (including laws of personal attainder). This only very rarely happens (anyone attempting to call a plenary assembly of the Ten Thousand will be considered a dangerous radical with little political future). Instead, the Ten Thousand is generally a forum for the airing of local grievances.

The Thousand
The Thousand meets in three month-long sessions every year. It is publically elected; again, each representative may serve only once in any seven-year cycle. Its procedures are similar to those of the Ten Thousand; however, its fifty-person Commissions on various topics (most selected by lot, although individual experts may be assigned to a Commission if appropriate) are seated for the entire year (without pay). The presiding officer is elected by the Thousand as a whole – almost invariably following the recommendation of the Hundred – although their assistants are chosen by lot. The presiding officer decides which resolutions to put to a vote, though they cannot simply compose a question themselves – they select from among the proposals of the Commissions, the statements of concern taken from ward assemblies of the Ten Thousand, and a list of proposals issued by the Hundred. The Thousand must vote upon each of these issues in turn, if there is sufficient time – with the exception that the presiding officer may decline to offer for a vote a resolution that directly repeats or contradicts another already voted upon in that session. The Thousand has an extraordinary legal power, including the power to order executions of individuals, and it can be gainsaid by no body other than the full plenary assembly of the Ten Thousand. However, in practice it is mostly concerned with paperwork, and low-level administration. Also of significance is the power of the Commissions to summon witnesses – although the Thousand rarely act directly against powerful politicians, a summons to a Commission is one way to scrutinise and publically question the actions of an individual without levelling any particular accusation against them. Such summons are not inherently binding, but may be made so if confirmed by the Thousand as a whole; nonetheless, they are very rarely denied. In general, the Thousand is therefore a relatively unimportant part of the government system; however, it retains immense theoretical power, and in times of crisis and discontent it can become temporarily dominant.

Notably, membership of the Thousand is restricted: members must possess less than a specified threshold of wealth, must not be of the flaminial, optimate or nominate orders, and must not have served as a magistrate, admiral, or other high state office; an exception is made for wealthy or high-born individuals between the ages of sixteen and twenty-eight. The purpose of these restrictions is to ensure that the Thousand remains genuinely representative of the common people – although in practice many of its members are high-born youths, and the restriction ensure that the members of the Thousand are likely to be seeking the patronage of those with more institutional power.

The Hundred
The Hundred are an assembly summoned by the Thousand, to act as an advisory body. In practice, it is the Hundred who write legislation, for rubber-stamping by the Thousand. This includes their own composition: each year, when vacancies arise, a list of nominations is given to the Thousand to fill the vacancy; occasionally, the Thousand may vote against the first name on the list, but it is extremely rare for the vacancy not to go un-filled, or to be filled by someone not on the list of nominations. Members of the Hundred serve up to seven one-year terms; having served seven terms, they are ineligible for seven years, but following that may be re-elected for an eighth and final term of seven years. Following this, members still in good standing may be granted emeritus membership indefinitely – this gives the right to debate, but no right to vote. The presiding officer is selected by lot each year. The Hundred serve in annual sessions, lasting the entire year.
The decisions of the Hundred do not have full force of law unless confirmed by the Thousand; nonetheless, unless they are specifically countermanded by the Thousand, they have the strength of a very strong legal opinion that is binding in most circumstances. The Hundred also have the customary power to summon witnesses, although these summons lack the full customary authority of a summons by a Commission of the Thousand.

Notably, unlike the Thousand and the Ten Thousand, the Hundred features extensive debating: each member is entitled to speak twice on each measure, and filibusters are common. The Hundred also does not have the restrictions on wealth, class and office that apply to the Thousand, and they are generally an aristocratic, or more accurately plutocratic body, although they do contain (at the urging of the Nine) delegations of less wealthy members representing the crafts, religion and the military.

The Nine
The Nine are a subcommittee of the Hundred, drawn from among the members serving their eighth terms; however, by law (in order to prevent disorderly changes of command in times of crisis) they hold permanent positions, without regard to their ordinary term limits, and leave office only when they die, resign, or are dismissed by an act of the Thousand (which happens extremely rarely). The Nine are in theory elected by the Hundred; in practice, however, new members are chosen by old members, and the Hundred rubber-stamps the nomination in all but the most controversial cases. The Nine generally seek to make themselves broadly representative of Maqtis – or at least, of its ruling classes. They do not have formal individual portfolios, although they may have fields of interest – there is usually one admiral, for example, who typically takes the lead on naval policy. Likewise, they have no formal leader, although it is common for one or two dominant figures to emerge informally – however, it is taboo to discuss the internal workings of the Nine with strangers.
The Nine have, formally, no powers at all, except in the specific area of conducting foreign and military policy (which includes the ability to order the summary detention of any individual who is interfering in foreign and military policy, regardless of whether they have committed a crime). In practice, however, they are the ultimate fountain of most legislation and most high-level executive policy.

The Two
The Two are the highest judicial authority on Maqtis, for most purposes (as well as controlling the judicial and executive systems). However, in settling cases they do not need to rely on existing laws, but can devise their own on the spot. These directions, however, are less authoritative than laws passed by the Thousand.

The Three

The Three investigate and adjudicate cases of sacrilege – violations of sacred law. As sacred law covers such matters as treason, murder, many sexual crimes, breach of contract and violations of filial piety, and as the Three are able to hand out such punishments as banishment, stripping of citizenship, and the death penalty, this gives the Three immense power. Moreover, sacred law is known in the heart (and tradition), not through legal texts, meaning that the Three can essentially write the law as they wish. However, they generally seek not to come into overt conflict with the secular authorities.
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Re: The Government of Maqtis

Post by Salmoneus » Sun 24 Sep 2017, 18:01

Other Assemblies
Therere are many small bodies on Maqtis for addressing particular areas of policy and management, such as the census commission, or the tax collection commission, or the harbour commission. Most of these bodies are ultimately subject to the Two, who serve as the national chief executives for terms of one year.
However, a number of bodies are independent of the general executive framework. Such as...

The Forty-Four
The Forty-Four are an ancient body of great esteem, thirty-five of whom are elected directly by the people every seven years (seven are appointed by the Two Hundred and Ten, and two by the Five Hundred). Being elected to the Forty-Four is a great honour. The Forty-Four in turn elect a presiding officer from among their number (not including the appointed members), and to be President of the Forty-Four is one of the highest possible honours of the State.

In theory, the Forty-Four are a legislative body who may pass any law; only the Thousand may countermand their laws. In practice, however, this power is hamstrung by vetos: any of the nine appointed members, or any one of seven blocs of the five elected members, may veto any measure. In practice, this means that, outside of times of revolution, the Forty-Four pass only certain ceremonial legislation – generally annual continuing resolutions of no controversy.

More importantly, the Forty-Four appoint (or more accurately certify) magistrates. They do this on the basis of a list provided to them by the Hundred (on the advice of the Nine), but they can and do debate this list, and every so often can and do vary from the list in their appointments. Nonetheless, this is an unusual occurance. The Forty-Four also act as a jury to try cases against current or former members of the Hundred, and against former members of the Thousand or the Two (current members of both are immune from secular prosecution), and in corruption cases against minor officials.

In general, however, the Forty-Four are a social club for retired politicians, and a measure of lifetime political success.

The Seventy
The Seventy are nearly as revered as the Forty-Four, and in some ways more powerful. They comprise all living and still mobile former members of the Two, and as many supplementary members as is required, elected by the Hundred, usually from among their own retired members. The Seventy are a form of supreme court: they try cases of constitutional law, and they try senior state officials. Only a direct act of the Thousand can override their judgements.

The Two Hundred and Ten
The Two Hundred and Ten are elected by the ordinary militia from among its veterans. By law, members must be of the eupatrid order, although this may easily be obtained through adoption. The Two Hundred and Ten have essentially no powers at all, save for nominating four military legates to advise the Two and the Nine on military policy; where possible, a legate accompanies any major military expedition, and reports back to the Two Hundred and Ten. The Two Hundred and Ten may also try any member of the ordinary or extraordinary militias, or the army, for violations of military law, with the power to if necessary strip soldiers of their rank and service status. However, this almost never happens without the approval of the Nine and the Two. Most of the time, the Two Hundred and Ten is a stepping stone in a political or military career.

The Five Hundred
The Five Hundred are a hereditary body. There are in fact over a thousand individuals with the right to attend meetings of the Five Hundred; only the five hundred senior members actually attend meetings (retirement is impossible, but individuals can declare they do not wish to attend, providing a vacancy for a junior member, or may send another person in their place). The Five Hundred, who meet annually, theoretically have the power to pass a law that the Forty-Four have considered but been unable to come to agreement upon; in practice, this no longer happens. Instead, the sole significant function of the Five Hundred is now to elect the Two; this does remain an area of genuine choice (perhaps because the candidates are almost always former and future members of the Hundred, which as a result tends not to want to definitively support any two candidates) although in practice the views of the Nine, if any, are weighed very heavily. The Five Hundred also elect the Six. Membership of the Five Hundred is a legal prerequisite for several appointments, and either membership or being the heir to a member are de facto prerequisites for a higher political career; they are generally obtained by paying for ‘adoption’ by an eligible benefactor. Most importantly, only members of the Five Hundred (or an heir) may be appointed Popular Lustrator or First Amanuensis.

Hebdomadal Honours
Several positions of historic importance are awarded for such brief periods that they consitute honours more than jobs – traditionally these appointments last a week. The Six are six individuals responsible for public order – all usual emergency warrents for detention or curfew must be signed by one of the Six, and may be vetoed by any other member of the Six. The First Amanuensis is a scribe appointed by the Forty-Four to take minutes in their meetings (or, in practice, to sign off on the minutes taken by a professional); because the role involves being in a room with many of the most important (former) politicians in the nation, it’s incredibly important as a stepping-stone for a high political career. The Popular and Flaminial Lustrators have a ceremonial role in the washing of certain idols, in which role they represent the entire nation – the role of Popular Lustrator is one of immense honour and legal inviolability, and immeasurable antiquity, but no practical power. The Popular Lustrator is elected by the Forty-Four, and is typically the indicator of the beginning of an individual’s higher political career. There are various lesser ceremonial roles also.

The Thirty
A council of thirty flaminials – the sacred-inviolable caste – elected from among their members through a complicated system. The Thirty in turn elect flaminial officials: most importantly the aediles and the Commission of the Treasury, the Fourteen, and the Three. The Thirty may also try crimes of sacrilege, although in practice such trials are extremely rare (as the Three instead exercise that power).

The Fourteen
The Fourteen, elected by the Thirty, are charged with the oversight of all religion in Maqtis.

The Seven
The seven ‘kings’ of Maqtis worship the Seven Gods (who are so obscure that few people can name them all), and more generally symbolically represent the nation’s practice of religion. In some functions they are in turn represented by the High King. The monarchy is hereditary-elective – the eligibility for the role passes to all the sons of the former king, but the actual successor is elected by the Thirty from among those eligible.

The Twelve
The Twelve are elected by the Thousand to serve annual terms. They are tasked with formally convoking the Thousand, and the eleven assemblies of the Ten Thousand. They spend the entire year dressed in grey, living in a communal house, and eschewing all luxury. This again is a role generally given to a young politician with prospects.
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