[LMB] Offstage Barrayaran government, Gregor
Lois McMaster Bujold
lbujold at myinfmail.com
Thu May 29 19:08:07 BST 2014
Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Thu May 29 15:50:26 BST 2014
>It was getting pretty close to a constitutional monarchy. Recall that
within 50 years in the 1600s, Parliament had executed one king and
overthrown another, rewriting the lines of succession. Monarchs from
William and Mary on were increasingly quiescent. Meanwhile Barryar has
only a House of Lords equivalent, which seems to be formally merely an
advisor to the Emperor.
Gynne (?): There's a whole section of Barrayaran government that we
We know there's ministers with various portfolios - Minister of the West,
(possibly a few other directions as well), Minister of Finance, Ezar had the
Ministry of Political Education, Minister of the Interior.
Some at least of the ministries were able to wield a lot of power - Ezar
nearly tore the Empire apart to bring the Ministry of Political Eduction
When Miles is meeting the Auditors he knows that Vorhovis was 'onetime
assistant minister of finance'. And even assistant minister seems to have
When Miles becomes an Auditor: "I take my oath before the last joint session
of the Counts and
Ministers, before they break for Winterfair."
So the Ministers and Counts have regular joint sessions.
It's quite possible, even probable, that the Ministers have their own
meetings, like the Council of Counts. Possibly even in the same chamber,
or at least somewhere in Castle Vorhartung. That would make sense
logistically, it'd be safer for Gregor and easier for Security. It's
that the Ministers have their own flags, like the Counts, to show they're
attending the meetings. That would also make sense - you could check
the flags to see if there's a session on, which type it is, and who is
We don't know if the ministers are chosen by Gregor, or elected. I'd guess
chosen, but possibly they work their way up through some sort of Public
Service (Civil Service, government bureaucracy) ranks, and Gregor chooses
from a pool of the top men.
Aral was Prime Minister - that carries a lot of implications. He must have
served on the CoC and the Ministerial whatever-it-is.
I've got a vague memory that the Ministers wear purple robes. Too lazy
to search for textev on that one.
And at least some of the ministers are proles. They run a list of names
past Ezar when Aral is trying not to be regent. Quintillan of the Interior
is suggested by Aral. So even back then at the beginning of the saga,
some able proles can rise high. Years later poor old Quintillan is
supposed to succeed Aral as PM, but he manages to kill himself in a
lightflyer accident - a sad waste of a death.
The point of all this rambling is, we don't know if Barrayar has only a
single House, or if like the UK it has a House of Lords/Counts and
a House of Commons/Proles.
I hope there is a hardworking Cabinet or Lower House somewhere,
because we don't see the Counts do much more than police themselves.
The biggest issue we see them dealing with is inheritance of title - when
Rene and Dono are both making history, each in his own way. They also
try treason cases of Counts and their Heirs. And deal with some matters
of District financing.
LMB: Thank you for noticing!
Yes, Barrayar has a large Imperial civil service, a reasonably highly
organized bureaucracy mostly staffed and run by proles. Who do you
think has been doing all the _work_, while the Counts are swanning
around? (Or so they might put it. Most of the counts are, in fact,
very hard-working, in their spheres. Falco is a fair average sample.
The behavioral outliers, natch, get more press.) Vorbarr Sultana does
not consist of only 3 government buildings; all those hundreds of others
are there for reasons.
For the complex relations of the civil service with everybody else, the
old British show _Yes, Minister_ is probably as good a guide as any.
There are, as I have said before (repeatedly), doubtless lots of smaller
assemblages of people variously appointed, hired, or elected at many
lower levels on Barrayar, all chugging away at getting the planet to
run. And most of them are proles by sheer statistical weight of
numbers, though there is doubtless also a sprinkling of middle-class
working Vor of the sort Ekaterin's family represents.
Plus lots of varied arrangements on the District level -- we don't know,
for example, if the city of Hassadar has an elected mayor, and appointed
city manager, or some traditional lordling heading and/or running things
(not necessarily the same, note). And whatever it doesn't have, some
other place likely does. The planet is not _uniform_.
(Though I do think the Council of Ministers, when not in joint session
with the CoC, would have its own, jealously guarded meeting place.
Somewhere else in the Old Town, equally fraught with arcane traditions.
I am fond of repurposed bizarre architecture for such things, myself.
With maintenance issues.)
Ta, L. Because That's Not What The Story Was About, That's Why.
More information about the Lois-Bujold