Landsraad

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The Landsraad was a fictional organisation in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. The Landsraad is the assembly of all the nobles in the Imperium. These nobles almost always come from great or minor houses.

Meaning

The word Landsraad means literally the council (raad or raed or rede (see Great Vowel Shift), from Middle English) of the lands (or of the landowning nobility in a feudal system). However, it is unknown whether the term landsraad as such was ever used outside the Dune universe (See below). Herbert may have invented it for his novels. Landsraad or Landsråd is a modern Danish word, meaning regional council. Indeed the word raad, or similar words, exist in most modern Germanic languages (raad in Dutch and Afrikaans, råd in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish and Rat in German) and almost universally means some sort of governing council. The Dutch and Afrikaans versions would be Landraad and the German one Landesrat.

Houses

Aside from the Imperial House Corrino, the other noble houses including House Atreides and House Harkonnen do not individually approach the power of the Emperor and are in competition for fiefdoms, financial and political power, and Imperial favor. However, their representation in the Landsraad and their combined armed forces provide a check and balance against the power of House Corrino and the Emperor. The most important great houses in the Landsraad are:

At any time, there are around 100 great houses represented in the Landsraad, though this number could vary by a great deal.

Power of the Landsraad

The Landsraad played a very important role in the political and economic power balance of the Empire, which was divided and shared between four organizations: CHOAM, the Spacing Guild, the Emperor, and the Landsraad.

The supreme military power of the Emperor through the sardaukar, paired with his essentialy unlimited wealth, made him the principal power in the known universe. The Landsraad represented the unification of all the other houses, in fact against the power of the Emperor, creating a check against his power. Theoretically the power of all houses combined was a comparative force to the Emperor's. Both the Houses and the Emperor were in turn totally dependent on the Guild for interstellar travel, and interstellar commerce was monopolised by CHOAM.

This delicate balance of power served to prevent any particularly ambitious or destructive faction or individual from upsetting the stability of society; at least, for a time.

Structure of the Landsraad

The Landsraad, as a political body, predates the Corrino Imperium by approximately 2000 years. Its original structure was as a democratic body that existed to facilitate dispute resolution, and to aid in the regulation of international trade between what were largely independent governments. The body was overseen by a high council, which was decided by the drawing of lots, and preciding officers, who were elected by the body at large. Votes were determined according to the population spoken for by member governments. Meetings of the Landstraad occurred every 5 years, with sub-divisions meeting more frequently.

With the advent of the Old Empire, this structure was preserved, requiring only slight modification. The High council was initially elected by the body at large, and new members were thereafter co-opted internally. The total number of votes allocated to the Landsraad was 1000. 100 for the Imperial house, 100 for the Guild, 400 for the Houses Major, and 400 for the Houses Minor. The Imperial representative received its 100 votes in addition to the votes given to it as a House Major. The votes given to the Minor houses were appointed per spacial regions, or 'Circles' with a representative for each Circle. The votes assigned to Major houses were allocated by the Guild according to each houses' relative standing among its peers, as an 'Impartial Observer'. Vote allocations were posted a year before each session of the Landsraad, and could be appealed within a certain time period. Each House Major was entitled to no less than 1 vote, and no more than 10; however, this number could be increased through proxy-voting, which occurred frequently.
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