Imperial Court of Velikograd
The Imperial Court of Velikoslavia is the official title for the primary method in which the Tsar of the Velikoslavia exercises executive power over the nation. Court is held two times a year; once in the spring and once in the winter for a period of two weeks. During this time nobility of proper rank, foreign ambassadors, dignitaries, favored commoners, war heroes, decorated soldiers, members of certain orders, and other foreign dignitaries and guests gather and reside in Velikograd, the old district of Kollavik. Those who are offered Imperial Apartments within the palace are automatically allowed to attend court no matter their rank. Food and entertainment are provided for free to all of the guests for the duration of the session.
The first Court of the Principality of Kurev was held shortly after Dagan I was crowned in 956. Initially started as a party for the nobility, the court began to be more focused as the years passed. By the rule of the Ralinov Dynasty, court had become a significant part of the governance of the realm.
Traditionally, the Velikoslav Tsar hosts guests in the throne room at Velikograd Palace, though depending on the size and scale of the affair, he may choose to receive guests in the Grand Study. For visits outside of one of the two yearly sessions of court, it is generally expected for one to wear the appropriate collar and order for their station along with an appropriate level of fine dress for the occasion. Outside of official events and meetings, those with high enough rank to access the palace year round wear everything from dress tunics to full court dress, which is acceptable outside of social seasons, depending on if the visitor is meeting with the Tsar or not. When meeting with the Tsar, one is always expected to wear Court Dress unless the Tsar specifies otherwise.
For sessions of court and other official events, it is expected for one to wear full Court dress. Attire is color coded, based on the rank of the wearer. The Tsar and Tsaritsa wear court dress colored in Velikoslav Blue. For receiving guests in the throne room, the Tsar and Tsartisa both wear their respective crowns and other accoutrements of their station. Direct descendants, typically children, of the ruling Tsar may also wear garments of Velikoslav Blue. No other guests may wear Velikoslav Blue without permission of the Tsar.
Color coding for garments is decided by one's rank; Grand Princess and Princesses wear navy blue, Grand Dukes and Askemann wear red to denote their Telerian heritage, Dukes wear orange, Margraves wear green, Counts wear gold, Viscounts wear silver, Barons wear purple, and Nobles wear white. As dyes have become more varied and widely available, aristocrats have began to wear different shades of their ranked colors and ostentatious colors are common. Other than the color, aristocrats are permitted to have various designs and other displays of wealth such as jewels on their clothing.
Foreign guests are expected to wear appropriate formal attire for their country of origin and are exempted from class and rank color coding rules provided they do not wear Velikoslav Blue.
Meeting the Tsar or Tsaritsa
Meeting the Tsar or Tsaritsa requires strict rules of address. Upon first address, one must refer to the Tsar as "Your Most Gracious Imperial Majesty". Etiquette allows one to switch to "My Lord" or "Sire" for all addresses after the first. For the Tsaritsa, the first address must be "Your Most Fair Imperial Majesty" and may switch to "My Lady" or "Majesty". In addition, one must never turn their back on the Tsar or Tsaritsa and all in the room must stand and sit in conjunction with the Tsar, with the exception of those granted exception for frailty such as the elderly.
There are two court sessions a year with each lasting for two weeks. The courts are named, Court of Winter and Court of New Life.
Court follows a fairly regimented procedure with little deviation in the years since the practice was established.
Court of New Life
The Court of New Life is held in the spring during the last two weeks of the month of April. It has several unique events that occur.
- Grand Parade - The first day of court is marked by an event called the Grand Parade, where dignitaries arrive at Velikograd Palace in various modes of transport. Smaller automobiles are permitted in the Old City on the single large central road, which is large enough to support cars, that leads to the palace. More traditional guests may utilize carriages on occasion. Guests who are staying in the palace are shown to their accommodations while those who are not wait in a prepared reception hall and receiving area. Traditionally, guests who are not residing in the palace arrive last so as not wait all day for the festivities to begin.
- Procession of Glory - In the evening, court attendees gather in the Hall of Feasts, where they are seated by rank, closest to furthest from the Tsar, at multiple tables. A procession from the second floor of the palace to the Hall is held where the Tsar, his wife, their children, and any other family in attendance descends the stairs in ranked order and enters the Hall, proceeding down the open center isle to the main table placed at the front of the room. Once the ruling family is all seated, the Tsar gives a speech of welcome to welcome the spring season and calls the session of court to order. The Bishop of Velikograd also leads the court in remembrance of the prior year, blesses the meal, and thanks God for another year survived.
- Feast of Velkommen - The Feast of Velkommen, which translates to Welcome in Old Telerian, is held in the evening at the conclusion of the Grand Parade. It is traditionally for welcoming and entertaining guests and no business is handled. This event is always held in the Hall of Feasts. Live entertainment is always present, which is generally either live music or dancing, and guests are served a spread of dishes.
- Homage of the Generals - Named for the Nine Generals of old Telerian tradition. The morning of Day 2 is the time when the upper nobility pay homage to the Tsar and present requests. This is done by rank, with the children of the Tsar receiving first priority should they wish it. Next, the Grand Princes and Princesses of the ruling family are permitted to entreat the Tsar and offer a gift or some sort of homage to him. Directly followed behind them is the eight Grand Dukes for the same purpose, ordered by order in which they were ennobled down to the hour. Their families may next entreat the Tsar, but only those who are direct descendants of either the current, past two, or future title holders.
- Feast of Decrees - The remainder of the second day is where business begins and is reserved for the Tsar to present decrees to the court and the various ministers in attendance. In past centuries, this session was the most important in court but became less important with the rise of modern bureaucracy and communications that permits decrees to be issued at instant speed. In modern times, the Tsar generally issues some more ceremonial or reads previously issued decrees that went out between the previous and current court session. There is a docket that is managed by the высокий писец, or master of scribes, in which issues are brought before the Tsar. It is accompanied by a meal served afterwards.
- Recess of Gabriel - The first court recess, which lasts from the end of the Feast of Decrees to the beginning of Midten Eve. Dignitaries typically return to their dwellings and take time to rest and recover.
- Midten Aften - (Middle Eve), the time where upper middle nobility, such as Dukes, Askemann, and Margraves, are permitted to petition the Tsar and pay homage to him. This is usually accompanied by the Midten Galla, which is held simultaneously for guests who are not petitioning the Tsar. This was introduced in 1650 in order to streamline the process. Relatives of middle nobility are noe traditionally allowed to petition the Tsar, but still may do so if the head of the family requests it and the Tsar grants it. There is a docket that is managed by the высокий писец, or master of scribes, in which issues are brought before the Tsar.
- Præstens Dag (Day of the Clergy) - Day four, known as the Day of the Clergyman, is reserved for members of the Black Clergy to entreat the Tsar. As of 1905, high-ranking clergy from the other Christian sects present in Velikoslavia were also permitted participation in this event, though not collect tithes. Both the Tsar and the Patriarch of Kollavik spend the day over discussions of church related business and the Patriarch collects and is presented with the offered yearly tithes and donations from the aristocracts present and the Tsar.
- Ludens Fest (Праздник луда) - Day Five is entirely occupied by the Ludens Fest, or the Feast of the Luds, where Ludic noblemen and aristocrats have their own dedicated feast where they may socialize and practice their own court customs, apart from the Telerian tradition that the court typically operates on. Ludic is spoken solely for this event, rather than Old Telerian. Guests who do not know the language or do not wish to participate are permitted to use the day as a recess.
- The Hviledage (Days of Rest) - The Hviledage, or Days of Rest, is the first long recess of court which takes up the entirety of Days Six and Seven. Guests spend these days in leisure and have permission to utilize many of the facilities and activities offered by the palace. Though neither day has an official feast, it is customary for guests to meet at the end of Day Six for a grand meal in the Hall of Feasts and higher ranking noblemen often invite guests to their own homes in the Old City for feasts and events of their own design. For Day Seven, guests attend a morning service in the Cathedral of Velikograd lead by the Patriarch himself. No scheduled events take place on Day Seven and it is spent entirely in rest, per Christian tradition.
- Day of the Well-Born- The Eighth Day at court is known as the Day of the Well-Born where lords at the rank of Count may pay homage to and petition the Tsar. This day culminates in the Feast of the Well-Born held that evening where Counts traditionally mingle with higher ranked nobility. Traditionally, this event is where many marriages between houses are arranged. There is a docket that is managed by the высокий писец, or master of scribes, in which issues are brought before the Tsar.
- Day of the Ravens - The Ninth Day at court is known as the Day of the Ravens, which referred to when the lower nobility used to descend upon the court like "so many ravens searching for scraps" in the words of Tsar Alexis I. Viscounts, Barons, and Nobles of the lowest rank are permitted to attend court on this day and may petition the Tsar. Though no limits are technically imposed on who may petition, there is a set time limit for petitions to be put forward and competition for available time is fierce. Petitioners are also not permitted to individually take more than two minutes unless the Tsar gives permission to take longer.
- Day of the Sojourner - On the Tenth Day, foreign diplomats and dignitaries pay homage to and are permitted to handle diplomatic business with the Tsar. Traditionally, this event would start early in the morning and conclude late at night and sometimes extend into the Feast of the Socialite as multiple diplomats and foreign lords would be petitioning the Tsar. As the centuries wore on and the nation developed, state business was handled more regularly and on a more flexible schedule throughout the year. As a result, the day is most often used for ceremonial displays of friendship, announcements of foreign marriages, and allowing foreign guests to mingle with Velikoslavian aristocrats and government officials.
- Socialite Recess - The second major recess of court, the Socialite Recess lasts until the evening of the Thirteenth Day. It is for business to be handled between officials whie in the capital and for them to further discuss with specific parties issues that came up in petition or through some other medium.
- Day of Departure - The Fourteenth Day is known as the Day of Departure, where the Tsar hosts a morning meal in the Hall of Feasts and departing officials may bid farewell and conclude final business. The final event of the evening is a great feast known as the Feast of the End where the Tsar officially calls the session of court to a close. This is traditionally the day where any updated or new decrees are issued on anything that was decided during the Socialite Recess. Guests would depart the next day historically for the journey back to their estates, but with the advent of faster methods of travel, guests who live within the capital or within a few hours travel may depart the same day.
Court of Winter
Members and entrées
There are three types of membership to the Court; members-by-right, members-by-courtesy, and entrées. Members-ex-officio are by far the largest group and attendance varies as the attendance requirement was dropped in 1935 during budgetary restructuring. Despite this, many of the higher ranked nobility attend. Higher ranks are permitted apartments within the palace itself during court and the highest ranked lords have year round apartments. Members-by-courtesy attend regularly and oftentimes attend more often than ex-officio members. Entrées are in attendance to court solely by invitation and may be invited in two ways; invitation as a result of the position they hold or invitation by a member. The ability to invite is regulated based on the rank of the inviter.
Those who are Ancient Nobility, Titled nobility, Hereditary nobility, Personal nobility, or Estateless nobility are members as a result of the noble title granted to them. Not all ranks of noble are invited by default and lower ranks who do not possess full rights to attend are invited to individual events within each session of court. These are notated on the Table of Noble Privileges.
Members-by-courtesy is a group that is made up primarily of those who do not hold titles within Velikoslavia but have either a position based reason or recognition that permits them to attend court consistently. Those in this class almost always are present. Primarily, this group is made up of foreign exiles granted membership and sanctuary (usually royalty or nobility), foreign diplomats and other dignitaries who have been granted more permanent permission to attend, and resident nobility from foreign countries. These resident nobility typically are not serving in a capacity as diplomats but have a rank in another nation that is recognized in Velikoslavia. Member-By-Courtesy is also extended to brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and first cousins of every offical ranked Duke or above, though these relatives typically do not get to stay in the palace without special permission.
Entrées are those who are personally invited by court members to attend court. Only those who hold an official title may attend and all invitations are subject to approval by either the Grand Chamberlain, the Tsar, or the Tsaritsa. Invitations are typically issued by the palace to those who are either receiving or deserving of recognition.
Notable Court Positions
- Imperial Court Rabbinical Ambassador to the Jewish Community - Rabbi Aziel Emet