The Regalian Senate was a short lived and now no longer existing deliberative and legislative assembly that replaced the Privy Council and the State Council in the Regalian Empire’s governance. The Senate came into existence after the Drachenwald crisis, that caused the death of the vast majority of the high ranking nobility, creating a power vacuum that the rebelling barons used to force a Constitutional Monarchy onto the Regalian Empire. The Senate was hugely unpopular among the commoners and eventually fell apart under the wave of ultra-nationalism that surged in the Empire after the Chrysant Wars.
The term Senate is derived from the Dressolini word Senecce, which roughly translates to “Elder Ones”. Senators are similarly referred to as Elders in this language, these terms being derived from this language because the original writer of the “Ethos of Senecce” was written by a Dressolini Scholar. Further terms used are in varying ways derived from the Alt-Regalian language to emulate legitimacy of the new form of governance.
The Drachenwald Crisis started in 272 AC when a series of prominent barons in the Dragenthal Lordship agreed to stage a rebellion against their liege lords, the van Sherburne family. The ruling family was considered utterly corrupt and incompetent, having ran their finances into the ground and alienating their landed vassals. They started a theft scheme that resulted in the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer, namely the Lords and Ladies themselves. The situation seemed to calm down when the leaders of the prominent barons came to their lords for negotiations, however the van Sherburnes used an elaborate trap. While the barons were cleared of any legal blame, the Sherburnes used a religious heresy clause to condemn them all to death when they had come to attend a feast at their estate. This date is commonly referred to as the Bloodbaths of Inner Drachenwald, the event namely remembered for the massacre of many of the prominent barons in one foul swoop. The killing then continued into the countryside with anyone loyal to the barons falling to the sword.
This was the catalyst for the actual rebellion to commence, which started relatively well for the Regalian Government, but ended disastrously on the plains of Lausitze when the underfed and underpaid Imperial forces routed to an inferior Baron’s force. This left the assorted nobility to fend for themselves. The high leadership of the State Council and the Chancellor were executed on the spot by the rebels, severing the head of the state. In the power vacuum that followed (given that many fiefs now had to pass through a succession, in many cases to unready rulers), the barons forced the Emperor to accept the Senate Sanction, a law that effectively reduced the State Council to an advisory body, and instated the representative Senate in its stead.
The Senate was staffed by representatives of the various parts of the Empire. Each Earldom had its own representative, supported by various representatives of the ruling families and the cities, as well as the clergy. All in all, the Senate counted 323 members in the assembly, all of whom were housed in the city. From the very get go, the Senate was a hugely expensive drain on the Imperial treasury. To uphold the standard of living of 323 representatives due to their new political status was almost as draining as one hundred State Councils and twice the cost of the Imperial household. The Senate also proved utterly incapable of handling with state matters. Representatives voted with their own interests at heart, causing almost permanent deadlocks in every major decision the senate had to take. Worst of all, the Senators started uniting into interest groups. Various groups existed like the Iron Bulwark Nationalists, the Dragons faction of intellectuals and scholars, the Ithanian Lobby of Ithanian representatives and the Red faction, one of populists and power mongers. With the various groups constantly competing for political power within the Senate, starting bogus votes and undermining one another in public affairs, the people started being affected by the chaos. At the very low point shortly before the Chrysant Wars, Senators were frequently assassinated or forced to step down to put new puppeteer-ed Senators in place. The Senatorial Forum became a cutthroat place of intrigue where the running of the Empire was a secondary concern to gathering wealth and power for one’s self.
The Senate slowly collapsed through skillful maneuvering of Emperor Justinian II and the 12th Chancellor, Moriarty Kade, supported by the Dragons faction. The Emperor used a strategy of divide and appeal, to cause rifts among the various factions and then to appear the better alternative by appealing to everyone’s personal interest. His popularity soared even more when the Chrysant War occurred, some within present day even gossip that the Emperor used the Slizzar attacks on the various nobility to eliminate his own competitors by informing the Slizzar through spies where they were, thus avoiding the blame. Either way, with the new assembly almost unanimously in support of the Emperor, the Emperor proposed a bill that gave him back his unlimited power that the Senate had originally taken away. With a thundering applause, the Senate approved, and the first law the Emperor put in place was to disband the Senate utterly and to reinstate the State Council in 291 AC. Thus came an end to almost 19 years of a more democratic though much more corrupt and nepotistic Regalian Senate.
The Senate is arguably the main factor that caused the Regalian Pessimism, a period of a couple of dozen years where civilian and military morale was at an all time low. During the functioning of the Senate, bread prices quadrupled, diseases frequently ravaged the city unchecked, and public spending crippled the economy until the Chrysant Wars offered enough looted gold from the Essa Empire to make up for the losses. The Senate gave ordinary Regalians a first taste of Democracy in a somewhat limited form, and immediately soured the experience to the point of strengthening the aristocratic tendencies of the Empire. The Senate also awakened old memories of the utterly corrupt Aldermen of the Regalian Kingdom, causing dissent within the population of the city itself that could have eventually boiled up to another rebellion if the Emperor hadn’t put an end to the Senate. Present day, few senators are spoken positively about. The Iron Bulwark were especially vilified in the eyes of the people, their members often becoming the laughing stock of stage plays or comedies.
- Senator Ada Nais-longue once proposed a law that made lemon tarts free for upper nobility. The Senate took three weeks to debate the actual relevance and weight of this proposal, before finally accepting it 200 votes to 123.
- Senator Uldr von Kreplichtenberg was so incredibly overweight, a crane had to be built from one of the windows to hoist him into the building. He subsequently died in the 54th assembly from a heart attack during session.
- A few senators from the Dragons and Red faction proposed beneficial laws for the people. Unfortunately these were often ignored or bogged down in paperwork.