Fading Suns Codex
Estates of Power
It is said that there are four “estates of power” within the Known Worlds: the nobility, the Universal Church, the Merchant League, and the Nobility (LotR 11).
The estate of nobility, when considered galactically, is an oligarchy – rule by few, made up of local dictatorships. The estate of the Emperor, however, radically changes this concept, putting one person over all. The regent was a mere puppet, an empty symbol – but an actual Emperor is something that resonates in the depths of conciousness, reaching to the very roots of our concepts of power and leadership.
Even the Church has borrowed noble forms of rule, as has the League. But there is more room for meritocracy in both of these factions, for among the nobility, merit based promotion rarely extends outside the bloodline (LotR 11).