As we take a look at the Klingon Culture, we discover more and more facets that make them so compelling on the page and screen. In our last installment we took a look at the surface. Now we dig deeper. The Klingon Royalty is at the top of the hierarchy tier of Klingon culture. Consequently, this is the most seen social tier. Let’s break it down.
The High Council
Each of the Major (Noble) Houses of the Klingon Empire have one head and comprise what is called “The High Council“. A Klingon gets into the High Council by creating and/or maintaining a Major House. It is their responsibility to keep a level of order in the Empire. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Major conflicts can shatter the peace in the Empire and has done so off and on, throughout the history of Empire. That is why the High Council elects a Chancellor. There is better cooperation between the houses if everyone agrees to freely follow and give fealty to someone they all can respect as a leader.
These Heads of State will vote on who will be the Chancellor. The Chancellor is elected royalty. But, as I have said, earn your place. They have to prove that they earned the nomination. The nomination cannot be purchased with currency. The nomination must be paid by action and blood. (Which is why the House of Duras is such an abomination to the Empire)
Those who pass the nomination process can then, try to convince others of the council to vote for them. This might include things like promises of land, warriors, ships, food resources, planets, star Systems, titles, trade contracts, marriage alliances, or flat out alliances, but not currency! The things promised during the voting process will filter downward through the houses. These are all rewards for houses, families, and individuals who have served honorably whom ever they owed their fealty too. Not unlike the Aristocracy of Medieval Europe, where this was common practice.
It is a delicate time for the Empire during this state of change over. It is normal practice for political adjusting going on throughout the entire hierarchy of the Empire. Oaths and fealty are released or broken during this period of adjustment. Along with the option to create new oaths or retake old oaths of fealty. Skirmishes are common throughout the entire system during this time of change.
Generally speaking, it is the only time to do so. Disobedience or assignation is treason, when the Chancellor takes his position. Anyone at any level is free to disagree. However, obedience is required. It doesn’t matter if that Klingon likes the orders or not. Once the Chancellor is chosen and the ceremony held, he is official and begins the process of taking fealty. This Klingon is in that position for the rest of his life.
A long time ago, the Klingon Empire had a line of Emperors. The practice halted for a very long time, until Worf came along that is (Rightful Heir). On the return of Kahless, the High Counsel decided the position should be as a role model. This position is the only true blood royalty of the Empire.
That does not demean the importance of the Klingon Emperor. Instead of ruling as a political figure, the Emperor is a representation of the moral and religious structure for the Klingons. The Emperor leads the Klingons as an example. This is very important to the structure of the Klingon culture as a whole. The Emperor unites the Klingons in ideal. Since the societal structure of the Klingon Empire rests mainly on the ideas of fealty and oaths, which are intangible things, the true blood royalty is the physical embodiment of that intangible. It is a daily, physical reminder of all their ideals.
The Weakness of an Empire
Just like any other systems of hierarchy, this system has a disadvantage. The Klingons warrior centric system of governing has the Klingon race as the primary force that controls the Empire. If for any reason, the Klingons cannot maintain their hold on the Empire, the Empire would break down, just as the Roman Empire broke down (Klingon History). It would take time, but it would happen and the entire system of the Empire would enter a dark age.
This would weaken their hold on their territory and it would be vulnerable to outside attack, say from Romulans. If their were no Klingons to patrol their boundaries, trade and supply would fail. Food, medicine, resources for armies, fleets, and government would fail. Entire worlds would be vulnerable to pirates, raiders, and other enemies. Entire Star Systems would revolt and the Klingons would not be able to stem the tide of revolution, causing further break down of available resources. Kronos is not a planet of farmers. The Klingon Empire would break down at its core. The billions of citizens would starve. There would be mass destruction of everything they had been building for thousands of years. Asking help from the Federation would cause the Klingons rage, shame, and embarrassment.
Other Worlds of the Klingon Empire
What about the worlds inside the Klingon Empire who would need the same help to avoid extinction? The Prime Directive would prevent the Federation from offering assistance to those worlds. Even if they were on the brink of mass destruction. Even if the Federation had an indirect hand in causing that destruction. Of course, in the traditional universe anything like this would happen beyond the sight of the audience. I wonder what would happen if the audience were to get a peak at this scenario. If we do get a peak, it would have to be in an alternate reality.
Mirror of the Human Condition
Klingons are not different from humans. Klingons mirror a time in history when we governed ourselves through feudalism. The ideas, values, and beliefs are still alive. Things like, duty, honor, and loyalty; These are the attributes that bring us together. So, it is not a surprise to find them in our heroes of Pop Culture and Myth. If the Klingon Empire and the Federation can come together in peaceful relations, then there is still hope for this earth, now. That is what Pop Culture and Myth are; a mirror of the Human condition.