The Collegial Electorate was the body of prince-electors (Latin: Princeps Elector) of the Holy Levantine Empire responsible primarily for electing the Emperor of the Levantines, though some members of the Electorate also held additional High Offices of the Empire. The body was created via the Pragmatic Sanction of 997, and in most forms, they held responsibility for electing the Emperor from then to the dissolution of the Empire with an exception during the late 18th century. It was one of the three colleges of the Imperial Diet, and the senior-most of the three.
The Leonine Dynasty, created by Emperor Leo I of the Holy Levantine Empire and having been responsible for reuniting the Empire in 965, found itself without a strong male-line claimant by the late 990s, as Leo's heirs failed to produce suitably progeny. An attempt by a Leonine-dominated regency council to install a 4-year old boy descended through Leo's sister sparked revolt among the vassals of the Empire, including the Archduke of Urceopolis. Following the Leonine defeat in the field to a predominantly Urceopolitan force lead by Archduke Julius III, the regency council agreed to the issuance of the Pragmatic Sanction of 997, which permitted for nine electors of the Empire to select the next Emperor, a number that has since been expanded. The Bishop-Electors were added via the Golden Bull of 1207, issued by Emperor Niall I.
After the issuance of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1701, women could sit in the Electorate. Elections during the period known as the Recess of the Julii necessitated procedural reforms to the quorum of the body as the Apostolic King of Urcea - the Elector of Canaery - refused to participate in the election. The Pragmatic Sanction of 1896 allowed popularly elected, term-based leaders to serve in the Electorate, one of several late 19th Century reforms to the Empire intended to maintain its viability.
Following the death of an Emperor, any Elector of the Empire could call for a meeting of the electorate, and was not automatically triggered upon his death, which could sometimes lead to brief interregna. Upon a formal notice from an Elector to the Empire, the Collegial Electorate gathered in Corcra and in the Throne Room of the Imperial Palace. On the Throne, which is several feet above the floor of the room, sat the Crown, Scepter, and Orb of the Emperor with a black canopy hanging above. In front of the Throne, down on the floor of the chamber, sat the seat of the Mayor of Corcra, the non-voting presiding officer of the Collegial Electorate. Before him were two benches; facing the Throne, to the right, sat the benches of the Bishop-Electors of the Empire. They sat based on the seniority of their See, with the Prince-Archbishop of Carinella (the eldest See of Bishop-Electors) sitting closest to the Throne and the Bishop of Glendaire sitting furthest. Opposite the Bishop-Electors sat the Prince-Electors. The closest to the Throne was the Elector of Canaery (that is, the King-Elector of Urcea). He was followed, to his right, by the Elector of Adenborough (not traditionally so; this was changed in the 1750s in recognition of the Kuhlfrosi state), then by the Count Palatine of Baylium, the most prestigious Elector from the Kingdom of Latium. Following these three, the Electors sat in alternating order between the Kingdom of Ultmar and the Kingdom of Latium by age of title; the Prince of Burgundie sat to the right of Baylium, followed by the Margrave of Eastmarch, continuing in such order until it reached the Duke-Elector of Allaria.
The Electoral Regalia was the traditional garb worn by all Prince-Electors during the official sessions of the Collegial Electorate. The Bishop-Electors wore the traditional cassock; the Bishops accompanied by purple trim and the Archbishops by red trim (all Archbishop-Electors of the Empire were, by custom, also Cardinals). The Electoral Regalia had the same form for each member, but each Prince-Elector’s trim was according to the color of the traditional arms of his or her title. Accompanied by the Regalia is, all Prince-Electors were to wear the “hat” (moreso a silver crown) with two exceptions; the Elector of Canaery almost always wore his Crown as King of Urcea, and, after 1823, the Elector of Adenborough would not wear any type of headwear reflecting the democratic nature of Kuhlfros.
In the sight of the empty Throne, the members of the Collegial Electorate would file into the chamber in a line in order of seating; the Prince-Electors and Bishop-Electors enter from two separate doors to the side of the Throne Room and do not enter through the grand entrance, which by custom was not to be used while no Emperor sat on the Throne (the reason being that the door was supposed to only be opened or shut by the authority of the Emperor; if there was none, it was reasoned to remain shut). The Electors sat in silence until the Mayor of Corcra enters, when all stand. From here, there were two different ways to proceed.
In the first form of the entry, the Mayor of Corcra carried the Imperial Seal and a message from the Pope regarding the convocation of the College. The Mayor would hand the message to the Prince-Archbishop of Carinella, who read it and then followed with an opening prayer. The opening prayer had no traditional text and is invented by the present Prince-Archbishop. Following the conclusion of the prayer, the Elector of Canaery and Prince-Archbishop stood in the center of both benches. The Elector and Prince-Archbishop were handed the seal of the Emperor. The Prince-Archbishop would state that “through the death of Christ, in your death, like his, your Imperial Majesty, you find life as he did; as such, he commends your soul to Eternal life” and the Elector would state “through your death, your Imperial Majesty, in the sight of your subjects, we commend your soul to History”, after which point the two destroyed the seal with two blows of a hammer. Returning to their seats, all sat.
In the second form of the entry, the Mayor of Corcra would enter and announce the presence of the Pope. The Pope stood at the front of the room, in front of the Mayor’s seat, and all the Electors formed a line (following their order of seating but further alternating between Bishop-Electors and Prince-Electors; the Elector of Canaery followed the Prince-Archbishop of Carinella, symbolizing the preeminence of the Church) and knelt before the Pope, kissing his ring and returning to their bench. The Pope would then say the convocation prayer and bring the Imperial Seal to the two Electors. Following the completion of the destruction of the Seal, the Pope would leave, stating that he “commends the election of the Most August Servant of the Church on Earth to you, the Electors, knowing that you bear the heavy weight of selecting the temporal protector of the Holy Catholic Church established by our Lord”, at which point he left through the door of the Bishop-Electors, after which point all the Electors sat.
As the actual election process begins, the Mayor would sit and take a roll of those present by title. This was considered to be the point in which the ceremony ends and the selection began; the Electors would silently raise their hands to make a point of discussion or to question the present speaker and was recognized by the Mayor. The Electors would generally spend the first day discussing the challenges facing the Empire and what, in their opinion, the next Emperor would have to embody and what his general policies would be. It was considered extremely impolite and improper to forward oneself as a candidate, though the Electors could speak freely of others they considered worthy of the Imperial dignity. In particular times of crisis the discussion regarding the situation of the Empire could extend beyond one day. In successive days, the Electors would lay before the body whom, in their view, the Electorate should consider. An actual vote could be called for by any Elector at any time.
In order to be elected, one had to receive a simple plurality of the thirty Electors so long as they received ten votes. The Emperor was very rarely elected on the first ballot. Electors voted anonymously by paper ballot put in a box in front of the Mayor’s seat, proceeding in order (again, with the Prince-Archbishop of Carinella, followed by the Elector of Canaery). Successive ballots could take place on the same day. After an individual reached the required threshold, no celebratory ceremony took place; a message is conveyed to the Pope (who could veto a candidate if they failed to receive 16 or more votes) and the elected individual is informed. The next day, should the Pope not have vetoed and should the individual physically have been present (and have accepted the dignity), those present would swear allegiance to him as King of the Levantines, King of Latium, King of Culfra, and Sovereign Protector of Urcea, though he would not formally become Emperor until his coronation. The Mayor would dismiss the Electors following a closing prayer by the Prince-Archbishop of Carinella. The Emperor-elect, however, would remain in the Throne room alone for the remainder of the day, seated upon the Throne in the crown of the King of Latium. This was a symbolic reminder to the individual that he was now alone in his responsibilities as protector of the Church and sovereign of the Empire, which was the highest temporal authority in Christendom. The Emperor-elect, upon retiring from the Throne, would write a letter to the Pope, eventually receiving the Pope’s well wishes while beginning the planning for the Coronation.
Final Composition (1935)
Prince-Electors of the Kingdom of Urcea (1)
- Duke of Canaery (held by the Apostolic King of Urcea)
Prince-Electors of the Kingdom of Culfra (7)
- Prince of Adenborough (held by the ruler of Kuhlfros)
- Duke of Arfenglen
- Duke of Glenmoor
- Duke of Roln
- Margrave of Westmarch
- Duke of Solibris
- Duke of Collendum
Prince Electors of the Kingdom of Latium (7)
- Margrave of Eastmarch
- Landgrave of Lucarnia
- Prince of Burgundie
- Duke of Aedanica
- Duke of Hollona
- Duke of Allaria
- Count Palatine of Baylium (held by the Prince of Burgundie)
- Prince-Archbishop of Martinsburg
- Prince-Archbishop of Ardebriga
- Prince-Archbishop of Röthenau
- Prince-Archbishop of Carinella
- Prince-Bishop of Cantadunum
- Prince-Bishop of Kronensburg
- Prince-Bishop of Præconditum
- Prince-Bishop of Ehrenfell
- Archbishop of Patronum
- Archbishop of Portstark
- Archbishop of Ramsaburg
- Archbishop of Kilnaig
- Bishop of Glendaire
- Bishop of Cashel
- Bishop of Campubeg