Darion is reluctant to talk to me about this early work – written when he accompanied a Fleet circumnavigation. He doesn’t seem to have noticed I found a copy, well-hidden in his library.
It certainly appears to betray liberal biases. This admiring extract about the brave, noble Jeniani would never spill from the pen of an older Darion. Was it mere youthful enthusiasm, or something more enduring? I cannot spare this book, but should you happen upon a copy, study it. Your mentor may be very interested.
I remain your loyal friend.
An Account of Governing Thought Across Janspar
The beliefs concerning governance in the region of Jenian, peculiarly among the nations of South-Eastern Dutherim, places the right of an individual to choose their rule above all other rights. As such, a faithful account of this nation’s governance must place the ordinary folk, the working, common classes, at the forefront of its description.
A Jeniani’s first level of representation is the local; the population of a city district or a rural community will agree upon a representative or governing council. The process by which these representatives are chosen takes many forms across Jenian. Many are selections conducted through secret ballot; in the east of the country, public assemblies often choose a victor through public consensus; and other more unusual systems may exist, peculiar to the locales in which they are practiced. The single unifying factor is that all traditions must be seen to reflect the will of the people, for this is a strongly ingrained feature of Jenian’s culture.
These elected stewards and committees are empowered to issue petty laws for the regions they govern, but their more important role is to raise taxes and to represent their districts at the next level of rule in Jenian – that of the City. Similar to the diverse and peculiar customs of individual regions, each City has its own method of governing the city itself and the surrounding areas to which it administers.
There are a total of fourteen Cities – formally known as the Free Cities – in Jenian, which provide representation to and accept the affiliation of client regions. A unique feature of Jeniani life is that the Cities do not have fixed, territories; nor is the concept of a particular region’s affiliation to a City enduring as a permanent relationship one that is familiar to Jeniani thought, such is the emphasis on choosing one’s governance. Rather, communities decide which City to ally themselves with. As such it’s not uncommon for communities, especially those lying further distances from Cities, to cease allying themselves with one partner and being paying taxes and receiving protection from another. As well as passing laws and governing their client regions, the Cities levy taxes and raise soldiers, and in return provide protection, stability, and representation at the next level of rule, that of the Sovereign Court.
The Sovereign Court is composed of 14 members, one representative elected or chosed from each of the Free Cities; again, often by diverse customs, peculiar to each City. Together this court agrees on common laws regarding trade, military protection, and other national issues, to be enforced throughout Jenian and in all territories governed by the Free Cities. The court also functions as the land’s highest legal authority, its judgements held to universally overrule those of all other courts. It is the final arbiter of any legal case or petition that should come before its members. The Sovereign Court does not meet in a single location, but rather moves between the Free Cities, changing location twice a year; or in times of emergency, convening at a location convenient to dealing with the crisis. Though the Cities raise their armies for the Sovereign Court, these soldiers are still ultimately under the control of the Cities, and a number of periods of civil strife and interurban warfare in Jenian’s history attest to the truth of this.
From its ranks, the Sovereign Court elects a single member, the Chief Sovereign. Unable, due to the Jeniani love of independence and the nation’s regard for personal freedom, to act as an autocrat or dictator, the Chief Sovereign is nonetheless Jenian’s leader, a monarch in all but name. Their role is to cast the deciding vote in the Sovereign Court, to perform the diplomatic functions of a chief envoy to neighbouring lands, and in times of war to lead Jenian’s army. This position is held for life or until retirement, and historically many Chief Sovereigns have exercised their right to appoint their successor.