Ways of the Seven
The Nobility of Valua serves as its ruling class, and encompasses a hierarchy of titles, the majority of which are based on the ownership or custodianship of land. Hereditary titles are passed on through primogeniture. The Valuan aristocratic class operates such that each estate is its own business. Valua is enormously wealthy, and many families within the aristocratic class are so huge that management of all wealth, assets, businesses, and indentured servants belonging to a single lineage is a completely fulltime job. When a child is born into a Valuan aristocratic family, he or she is trained from a young age to one day take over management of the family name. Aristocrat households of a more rural nature (estates that own vast tracts of land, maintain one or more marches, and for whom most of their wealth is in agriculture) typically have their children living on their massive manors until they are ready to assume leadership of the family name, though reliance on siblings is a necessity to effectively run such large estates. Urban aristocrats do much the same, though since living in cities prevents one from buying up much in the way of contiguous acreage, families will often have many houses or mansions spread out over the realm of their home city, where their children move to once they come of age.
The standard hierarchy of nobility is as follows (from most powerful to least):
Count – The title of count grants a family governership over a county or province of the empire, and a consular seat on the Imperial Diet.
Duke – A duke governs a urban area, and often much of the surrounding farmland. Dukes report directly to the local count. A count is also customarily the duke of the capital city of his province.
Margrave – Margraves (occasionally referred to as marquess, marquis, or marchion) govern marches, areas of uninhabited wilderness or borderlands. Often military leaders who have earned a noble title through distinction in service, margraves are more likely to be lowborn than any other form of nobility. A margrave reports directly to the local count.
Baron – This title is granted to landowners who control a significant area of farmland or estates not within a duchy or march. Barons hold a seat on a counsel that reports to Count.