|Common Names||Tyrians, Imperials, Emp-lords|
|Origins||Imperial Court of the Regalian Empire|
|Social Classes||Upper class Aristocracy/Nobility|
|Major Cities||City of Regalia, various other cities scattered across the Regalian Archipelago|
Imperial Culture is Aloria’s youngest, but arguably also the most controversial Culture. Imperial Culture started being popularized after the dynastic succession from the Ivrae to the Kade Imperial line of the Regalian Empire. This was done partly to reinforce the rule of the Kades, but also to distance cultural tension among the common folk and the nobility from rule of the Empire through cultural unity. Imperial Culture is therefore not a natural Culture, as it wasn’t formed by decades of traditions. Rather, it was artificially created, supported by many theses on the evils of Ailor infighting over cultural notions and oppositions. In present day, Imperial Culture is the de facto court culture, and many segments of the government continue to convince leading nobility to abandon their cultural roots in favor of the Imperial narrative.
- 1 History
- 2 Language and Dialects
- 3 Lifestyle and Customs
- 4 Holidays
- 5 Religion
- 6 Literature and Folklore
- 7 The Arts
- 8 Recreation
- 9 Symbols
- 10 Trivia
Many opponents of Imperial Culture denounce it as a tool of propaganda for Kade rule and a betrayal of ancestry for the sake of fitting in. Proponents of Imperial Culture state that Imperial Culture is the next natural development of Ailor supremacy, where they must let go of old grievances between heritages and unify under one improved cultural norm that takes the best of all other Cultures and creates one super Culture. Whatever way it is presented, Imperial Culture has been the official state culture for roughly five years since the ascension of Alexander I to the throne, though the concept of such a Culture is some years older. The first real notion of Imperial Culture came ironically (due to the heavy opposition against Imperial Culture from Ithanians) from an Ithanian noble in Pays-Sud. Comtesse Destín de Marquillades was at the receiving end of cultural riots between Pays Sud and Girobalda, most notably before the death of Justinian II, causing her to write a long public letter about the evils of cultural opposition, and how Culture should naturally meld together without so much friction.
The idea of cultural union was not much stronger until in 301 AC when Morgannan Kade, the widow of the late ex-Chancellor Norn Kade, championed the idea of breaking down the limiting cultural notions of the Calemberg and Ithanian cliques that had ruled for so long in the Imperial Court. Their two extremes on the scale of gender norms were considered, by Morgannan, as a hampering to the functioning of the Empire, while their haute-culture position towards other, “lesser” Cultures, was considered a depravity. Together with the then-fresh Emperor Alexander I, Morgannan Kade championed the Imperial Culture at court by bribing and convincing key high profile nobility to adopt this form of Culture. Through this process, a trickle-down court fashion arose that quickly saw lesser court magnates adopt Imperial Culture for the sake of fitting in, and before long, the culture started spreading beyond the palace purely on its own merits.
Imperial Culture became more aggressively argued for under the rule of Cedromar I, who started pro-actively denouncing the backwardness of Cultures that cause strife among fellow Regalians. Before long, Velheim and Daendroque fashion was banned at court, and those who did not adhere to Imperial Culture were denounced from political offices and told that their input did not matter as long as they continued to glorify past cultural chaos and disharmony. Emperor Cedromar also popularized Imperial fashion in the army, notably by doing away with the impractical yet traditional Calemberger pelts from the general’s outfits, while also adopting the far more austere materials and combat practicality aimed clothing designs. With the army quickly following suit, Imperial Culture gathered a solid foundation from which it spread to others. It would not always be clear whether someone adopted Imperial Culture because they truly supported the notion of cultural unity, or whether they just wanted to fit in, but the Culture quickly started snowballing after Cedromar’s ascension to the throne. However, in the years since, the Culture has largely stalled. While certain regions have wholeheartedly embraced it, they are small islands in a sea, with very few of the noble families active in Regalian politics adopting Imperial ways. Ultimately, the bans against certain types of clothing and other such restrictions were lifted at Court, as it became clear that the growth of Imperial Culture was not going to be as fast as it had originally been planned. Today, the Culture is seen as a symbol of the Kade-led era of the Regalian Empire, and while it may not have tens of thousands of devotees like even some of the smallest Alorian Cultures, it does have a foothold, and is likely to grow in the coming decades as the Kades remain in power.
Language and Dialects
Imperial Culture has a single language, being Imperial Standard Common. This language is effectively identical to Common, except that it has a much larger vocabulary and a more formal tone of address, as a lot of sayings and words are borrowed from other languages. This form of Common is notably more articulated and enunciated when spoken, and as a result many regular Common speakers might find Imperial Standard Common speakers to be poncy.
Imperial Culture has no formal naming customs, as names are simply adopted from heritage. Names for newborns are often derived from famous ancestors, such as grandfathers or ancestors who achieved much for the Regalian Empire. New Regalian and Heartland Ceardian naming customs, as well as Anglian names, tend to have a more than average occurrence, especially Anglian derivatives of old Emperor names.
Lifestyle and Customs
Much of the core Imperial concept of loyalty to state runs through to the family life of the average Imperial family. At the core of an Imperial family, a wife and a husband stand, with numerous children, usually three. It is worth noting that Imperial Culture seems to be generally more acceptant, or at least silently condoning to the existence of same-sex couples, largely due to the sexuality of the people who propagandize this Culture. However, reproduction is still very important for Imperial families, and as such lineage planning is a frequently used technique to ensure a good marriage. Marriages for love are not considered proper, and marriages between two people of different social standings are practically unheard of in Imperial Culture. Imperial families often have some level of respect or reverence to their elders as well, more than other cultures do, which often results in families having their in-laws and their parents living adjacent to them in an additional house, or on the same property but in a different section of the house.
One could say that Imperial Culture is a patriarchal one that follows the New Regalian example, but that is not entirely true. It is easy to tell that gender roles are very strong in Imperial Culture, but as opposed to the more dismissive New Regalian view on the roles of women, both genders are equally respected and revered for their role in Imperial society by Imperial Culture. Women and men each have their own occupations and focusses that they excel at, and do not permit the opposite gender to interfere. For men, this is the realm of military leadership and political conduct, while for women this is the raising of children, and the lording of the household. It is said that outside the house, Imperial men rule, while inside the house, their spouses rule absolute. There is generally no real oppression trend in this, however most decisions are made with a consensus of pragmatism, which is often necessary since a lot of Imperial Culture marriages are arranged, both spouses having no real romantic attraction to one another, and needing to produce a functional relationship to endure and contribute to the state.
Imperial Culture has the same holidays as several other Cultures significant to the Regalian Empire. In fact, Imperial Culture adopts any and all of these holidays in an unofficial capacity as while Imperials will not get free from work, they still recognize a holiday’s date and will comment on such when opportunities arise. The most important holidays in Imperial Culture are the religious and state holidays of Unionism and the Regalian Empire, which Imperials often participate in large numbers in to show their loyalty and obedience to the state and its Emperor.
Central to Imperial Culture is religious fervor, an even more aggressive yet poised zeal of the Unionist faith. Unionist symbols are embroidered or woven into Imperial style fashion on nearly every clothing piece, as Imperial Cultured individuals are expected to show unwavering religious support to the Crown of the Regalian Empire, but also the Great Way. Curiously enough, the Great Way and the real focus of the Imperial Spirit takes somewhat of a backseat when it concerns Imperial Culture. What is far more important is utter obedience, respect, and deference to the Emperor as a person, and as the supreme authority of the state. It could be argued as such that Religion is re-used by Imperial Culture not necessarily for its religious goals or notions, but rather for its disciplinary control over authority. Religion, unlike with many of the other cultures, is also not chiefly responsible for the moral code of its adherents. Where-as cultures such as Daendroque or New Regalian retrieve their moral code from Unionism itself, Religion has no bearing on the moral code of Imperials who derive what is right and wrong from State Law.
Literature and Folklore
Imperial literature is mostly related to an essay or thesis of some sort. Imperials don’t write much for the sake of poetry or fiction, though when they do it is often laced with allegories and metaphors about the dangers of straying from Imperial obedience, and the benefits of loyalty to the Empire. Imperial literature, in comparison to something such as Ithanian poetry, is brutally pragmatic and fiery. One would perceive the writer to be a firebrand preacher when reading the intimidating tone of many literary pieces. That being said, these literary pieces are often extremely well written compared to the lacking Ceardian prose. A lot of Imperial literature is often also very critical of other Religions and Cultures, seeking to denounce them as not only deprived of core values, but also of class and haute-culture.
Imperial writing is always done in the Common tongue, though a new language is artificially being created to suit the Imperial Culture. At the Imperial Palace, a segment of the Scholar’s Court named the Spoken Council is responsible for updating an encyclopedia on the Imperial speech conduct. They select loanwords from other Languages, either commuting them to the Imperial Standard Common, or producing new words for it altogether. A prime example of a borrowed expression from Ithanian that is frequently used in Imperial literature is “raison d’être”, which even though it is Ithanian is part of the Imperial Standard Common dictionary, and is frequently used in theses to assess the purpose of being.
Imperial literature is, as mentioned, often of a philosophical nature through some thesis or essay. Imperial writers believe in the need to spread their beliefs by arguing for them in public through these theses, and will frequently rent out a spot on the tavern notice board. Additionally, state owned printing presses frequently mass-print notable theses in favor of Imperial authority and loyalty, which in essence, makes Imperial literature and philosophy a tool of propaganda.
The core idea of Imperial Culture is to extract the strongest and most suitable values of other cultures to assimilate into a much greater culture. Prime examples of this are the adoption of New Regalian military fervor, Ithanian high-culture fashion, Dressolini music affection, and strong Dressolini cuisine, coupled with honest and local Anglian produce. In many ways, Imperial Culture is thus referred to as the best of all cultures, since it has none of the shortcomings which generally cause such cultural strife among the other cultures.
Folklore does not exist beyond the beliefs held from religion, as Imperials are very much of the opinion that superstition is not of this world. Lucky charms may sometimes still be held, but one would be hard pressed to find an Imperial engaging in some folk ritual, as these are generally denounced as backwards remnants of old cultures.
Imperial Culture emphasizes pose paintings as a way to showcase individuals and others who are excellent examples of their ideals. The foremost individual who is painted is the Emperor, usually in either a neutral pose resting his hand on a map and another hand on a sword, or in the scene of a battlefield in ranks with soldiers. In such art, the Emperor is always lit with a ray of light while other individuals around him are relatively dark. Notable Imperial painters such as Breul von Brallers and Arno van Kamerdijk are considered masters of light who possess unrivaled abilities to guide the viewer’s attention through the use of contrasting colors and brightness. Imperial nobles also frequently commission idealized paintings of themselves or their families, usually with some allegory inside the painting about Imperial loyalty, but also about personal qualities. Paintings are often produced in life-size, and rarely if ever look at the spectator, as the subject is held above those who look at the painting.
Sculptures are also still very popular among Imperials, and often depicted in ways that New Regalians or Ithanians might snub their noses to. Artistic nudity is not shied away from in sculptures; it is even encouraged, as sculptures are used to glorify the broad shouldered ideal of the military male, or the healthy voluptuous child-bearing female. Laying females are often popular on fountains and fireplace mantle pieces, while guarding males (often with a weapon or shield of sorts) are found in galleries and in gardens. Curiously enough, many of these sculptures are of the Imperial Family or of ancestors. This is not considered obscene or heretical in Imperial Culture, as the physical ideal is considered something worth striving towards, and to remind those who gaze upon the statues that these individuals are prime examples of the greater Ailor.
Finally, tapestry is also a huge part of Imperial Culture. Embroidery has taken a far more simple tone, meaning there are no intricate patterns, but instead simple symbols repeated over and over. That being said, embroidered drapery is everywhere, frequently decorated with Unionist eyes. Such tapestries are not only just suitable for windows, but are also frequently used to carpet staircases, to suspend from ceilings and walls, and drape around bedrooms and dining rooms. These are often detailed with additional family crest drapes. Most Imperial drapes have the same color scheme; either purple, blue, or black, with gold embroidery, or at least silver if one cannot afford gold thread.
Imperial Culture borrows its musical direction directly from Dressolini, but spends more time emphasizing on the relation between soprano and orchestra through arias, as opposed to greater orchestral pieces with choir backing. The soprano is often a key piece of the composition, while crescendos are also very popular in such musical pieces. Composers will also try to play off a soprano with a violin, creating a duo-play that is supposed to emphasize divinity (through the voice) and control and poise (through the violin). Cellos are also used to create a feeling of dread, only to be cast away with the crystalline brilliance of a soprano voice.
For more private settings, Imperials often prefer a single violin play. They tend to play rather dramatic pieces, though not ones too oppressive towards the atmosphere of a room. These violin players are often delegated to another room so as to mute their sound to avoid them conflicting with conversation. That being said, string quartets are also quite popular in public settings and gatherings where crowds are large enough to dim the volume of the violins playing.
Imperial clothing takes many of its quality aspects from Leutz-Vixe clothing and embroidery, while combining it with Anglian color schemes and New Regalian functionality. Imperial clothing is often tight-fitting with a dark chest piece, accompanied with more brightly colored arms and over sashes. Jewelry is also fairly popular in Imperial fashion, notably with the use of Unionist symbols in necklaces or ear pieces. Most Imperial males wear black leather riding gloves and high boots that cut off above the knees. The most prominent aspect of Imperial clothing is the heavy embroidery of the black central pieces. Decorated floral or arching patterns often accompany sown waves or sunrays with fleur-de-lis on them.
Imperial architecture is not too dissimilar from New Regalian architecture, though with Imperial architecture, support beams and stone decorations often feature more Unionist-based symbols as opposed to floral patterns or animals. In fact, animals in Imperial architecture are almost unheard of; Imperials prefer to use statues of individuals for their architecture. Imperial architecture makes use of dark roof tiling, usually dark granite or dark painted brick. Wall materials are gray, while large open windows breathing air and light into a building are a must. Most Imperial buildings are built with verticality in mind, with the intent to impress and wow anyone gazing upon them. The interior of Imperial structures is entirely designed to force a visitor or foreigner through galleries and ever-high corridors. This is meant to create the illusion of ascending to something of much greater importance, before finally arriving at a great hall. Imperial bedrooms and great halls are usually synonymous, as higher ceilings are very popular in Imperial bedrooms with massive windows.
Imperial cuisine is simple, yet refined. It encourages the use of fine local produce, usually Anglian, meaning most dishes are based on a diet of wheat, rye, onion, lettuce, beef, and simple fruits such as apples and peaches. Yet, these simple ingredients are often severely spiced with southern herbs and spices, while also making use of more extravagant Ithanian cooking methods such as flambee or marie au bain. Slow cookers are particularly popular among Imperials, favoring stringy and well-done meat over the rawer common varieties.
Imperial Culture glorifies sports in all forms, from simple Leutz-Vixe fencing to intensive military drills. The male physical ideal is that of a trained warrior. Not everyone is able to pursue this ideal, but many invest in fencing or sword fighting of one means or another. For those who cannot, they often surround themselves with more military apt men so as to seem well equipped in comparison to well-versed Imperial knights or warriors. Sports, aside from fencing, are barely done in public. Most Imperial households have a specific health room, usually adorned with additional spa facilities where one maintains their physical peak condition. What few sports are engaged with in public are mostly combat tournaments or competitions of some sort.
Imperial leisure is very wide and with a lot of variety, and as opposed to sports often done in public with many others. The foremost used form of leisure of Imperials is stage play as well as musical concerts. Further activities include hunting, country and park walking, bird watching, and a whole variety of chess and military strategy-related board games. When an Imperial is not working or spending time with their family, they can usually be found in palace parks that are adorned around the streets surrounding the Imperial and notable aristocratic palaces. In a more private home setting, leisure might include listening to music while reading, but also debating and conversing about state subjects. Even when no longer working, Imperials encourage state-participation and actively remaining informed about all the going abouts of the Empire.
By far the most popularly used Imperial Culture symbol is the Unionist eye from which sun rays shine downwards. These sun rays may either be wavy patterned or simply straight. Such symbols must always be made of gold plating, gold thread or any material that can imitate gold as best as possible. Other symbols include a Blue Crown Dragon and stork in flight together, or military emblems like a knight on a horse or a soldier in formation. Within jewelry, blue or purple crystals or stones are often used to decorate, or any material that symbolizes the Imperial household through the colors of the Kade family.
- Imperial Culture does not officially have a heavy military dress code for battlefields. Leutz-Vixe armor designs are often borrowed in the absence of one.
- Imperial clothing, while incredibly detailed and well crafted, is often very cheap due to the austere color requirements. Dye is often the most expensive part of any wardrobe, and the frequent use of dark color tones and black inks mean that a lot of money can be saved by purchasing Imperial clothing over Ithanian pink dresses.
- While Morgannan Kade is generally considered the grandmother of Imperial Culture, Emperor Cedromar is generally considered the forceful father of its adoption. Morgannan is Cedromar’s grandmother, so some are wondering if or when his children will do anything of significance within the Culture.