September 21, 2019, Saturday, 263

The Great Convention

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The Great Convention

THE HISTORY OF THE GREAT CONVENTION

The universal legal code frame during the Great Synod held between 330 and 340 on Urbanus II. The Convention provided codification and a source of final authority for tenets which had been accepted (to a greater or lesser degree) for several centuries.

The Treaty of Corrin

The history of House Corrino's ascendancy is well known: the discovery of the Salusa Secundus by the unfortunate Megarians; the Sardaukar's victory over their would-be employers and then-subsequent entry into space; the three years of constant defeat for the Landsraad forces culminating in the Battle of Corrin in 88 B.G.; the signing of the treaty, named for that battle, granting Imperial powers to House Corrino.

The Treaty served as the highest law in the new Imperium for 355 years. For most of that period it worked well, and much of the credit must be given the first Corrino Emperor, Sheuset I (88 B.G. -70 B.G.). He presided over the Treaty negotiations, and his foresight for the needs of future Emperors made the document as successful as it was.

CHOAM. Founded in 7 B.G., CHOAM (Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles) was a reaction to the newly revealed existence of the Spacing Guild and to the opportunities for increased and more efficient commerce the Guild's services would provide. It gave Emperor, Landsraad, Guild and the Bene Gesserit a means of controlling and profiting from the new trade.

CHOAM also provided a badly needed second unifying force to the Imperium as a whole. The balance between the Imperial House and the Great House of the Landsraad had rested, since the Battle of Corrin, only on military strength. CHOAM bound the various groups and individuals to one another financially as well as militarily, thus providing increased stability.

The upsurge of prosperity which followed for most of the worlds in the Imperium served to pacify as well as unify. Fractious planetary governments or ambitious but frustrated individuals were placated by the rapidly expanding economy the founding of CHOAM had launched.

The Great Synod

During the prosperous centuries, the social structure of the Imperium - particularly the faufreluches, the code which preserved the rigid social classes - had passed from custom into common law. More and more, the most powerful Houses (who had the most to gain from the status quo) sought to putn those traditions into written law. The movement gained momentum over several years, but it was not until the aging emperor, Menemtahe II, threw in his own support that a decision was reached and delegates chosen for the Great Synod.

Each Great House sent a representative (not the family head, but generally a trusted relation) to the Synod. A substantially smaller group of delegates represented the Houses Minor. Menemtahe II presided over the Synod personally, showing the royal house's interest in the project. Jenarum Sen, head of the Guild, also attended.

The first three years the Synod studied in detail legal codes already in existence: the Treaty of Corrin, the laws of several hundred worlds, the terms of the Guild Peace. Next, the delegates' draft proposals for the Convention were recorded, and at the end of a year, more than 7,000 agenda items had been listed, with precious few duplicates. The debate was underway.

Seven years later a final draft of the Great Convention was ready. Its ratification was relatively simple - those whose approval was needed were already in attendance - and the remaining three years of the Synod were spent in bringing the codes of individual worlds into conformity with the new law of the Imperium.

All was not completely smooth, of course; that could not be expected from a group with such diverse interests. The Synod possessed an advantage unique among parliamentary bodies, however: it could expel recalcitrant delegates. Yet, during the ten years, only five individuals were dismissed from the Synod, and one of these dismissals had nothing to do with the negotiating skills of the person dismissed. (He was one of the House Minor delegates who were discovered to be fronting for the exiled Family Harkonnen.)

The Great Convention

The final document, 317 sections filling five volumes, was a masterwork of balance and careful wording. The Convention was intended to control, in most instances, and not to prohibit. Its emphasis on proper appearances - suggesting the primacy of form over substance - is pointed throughout by the words which begin every section: "The forms must be obeyed."

Nowhere is propriety more evident man in the Convention's most famous clause, which regulated the use of atomic weapons against human beings. The circumstances for employment of family atomics were so minutely detailed that they took up nearly half of one volume, Acceptable means for obtaining such weaponry, for storing them, for rigging them for automatic retaliation should one House be utterly destroyed by another, were drawn out in scrupulous detail. According to Synod records the assembled delegates took over four months to settle the issue. On its face, the rule appears humanitarian, insuring that even in time of war, humans would be protected from the horrors of slow death by radiation poisoning and worlds safeguarded from the desolation of fingering contamination.

If this were the Convention's true intent, it could have been achieved very simply: An absolute ban on all family atomics - backed by both Imperial and Great House force - could have rendered such items more dangerous to keep than their worth to the Houses justified. The atomics clause was so minutely detailed, however, because the delegates had no inclination toward nuclear disarmament; they simply wished to be certain that no less powerful House could overcome one of its betters by use of atomic power alone. The same attitude enabled the Great Houses to wink at the existence of stoneburners, weapons which clearly violated the spirit, if not the all important letter, of the law.

The acceptable means of attaining victory in House-to-House combat were also carefully laid down. Open, declared warfare was severely discouraged as a means of settling differences. It was far too wasteful and destructive of the civilian workforce, shipping, and trade that were the lifeblood of every planetary economy. And of what use to the victor was a world made unprofitable?

No, the accepted methods were far more economical. A House could challenge its enemy to a War of Assassins (See War of Assassins and the Rules of War), which involved sending an exact number (agreed upon in advance) of professional killers out to murder by stealth. The permitted weapons were listed in the Book of Assassins, a text appended to the Convention. Once declared, a War of Assassins could have only one of two conclusions: complete surrender, which left the defeated nobles alive but stripped of all holdings and titles, or the extermination of the House. The assassins were permitted to kill only the approved targets - no outsiders - and a Judge of the Change, appointed by the Landsraad High Council and the emperor, insured that the forms were indeed obeyed. (The penalties for not obeying them were quite severe. Offenders could be fined, imprisoned, exiled, or killed, depending on their rank and the seriousness of the offense; the House responsible for the offense could be officially declared the loser of the War.)

Wars of Assassins were generally declared by Houses wishing to expand their interests and not especially concerned about who they defeated to do so. For those with more personal reasons for fighting, the Convention devoted twenty-five pages to kanly, or vendetta (See The Art of Kanly); again, a Judge was appointed and rigid rules regarding procedures and choices of weaponry were given. But in kanly, the head of the House met another personally.

Such rules as those for Wars of Assassins and kanly affected only the nobility, but protected the rest of the population by keeping them uninvolved. Other sections protected the nobility from itself. There were clauses which forbade assassination of one family member by another (a time honored means of gaining advancement) or of any noble by one of inferior rank not recognized as an assassin. While the penalties attached could not completely deter such killings, they were at least severe enough to minimize them.

The faufreluches, the class system, was very carefully preserved. Only under extraordinary circumstances could a House Minor achieve the status of a House Major, or an individual rise above the class into which he or she was born. The age-old route of marrying upward was always available, of course, but was rarely used; young women of noble birth were most often married to a nobleman of their family's choice, while noblemen were far more inclined to take an attractive commoner as concubine than as spouse. Upward mobility usually was possible only for those who could achieve exceptional success in business, war or politics. And in such cases, it was far from assured. The consent of the emperor was needed to elevate an individual, and that of both the emperor and the Landsraad to elevate a House. The framers of the Convention did not wish to spark discontent by making advancement impossible, but it was vital to their social system that the process be kept difficult.

Other sections formalized the prohibitions laid down by the Butlerian Jihad, less than 750 years past and still fresh in Galactic memory. The ban on "machines made in the likeness of a human mind - computers - was rendered partially moot by the later development of Mentats, who functioned as organic computers. And it was known, even at this time, that the Ixians' scientific research was often into "forbidden" areas, and that the Bene Tleilax were actively engaged in the production of suspect machinery; however, no clauses directly curtailed or hindered the work of either group. No House wished to cut itself off from the only sources of advanced technology and Face Dancer assassins.

Many other areas were also carefully drawn out: regulations dealing with kidnapping and ransoms (scaled according to mean ranks of the hostage and the kidnapper); permissible levels of import and export; the procedures followed when a fief was transferred from one House to another. No matter of consequence in the eyes of the delegates was neglected. There was even a clause, admittedly a brief one, which gave instructions for the proper ranking of concubines within a nobleman's house.

The Convention was by far the most comprehensive body of laws in a single document ever written.

THE GREAT CONVENTION IN MYTHOLOGIES OF DUNE

The Great Convention acts as a sort of limitless foundation for Mythology and our standards for which we may expand but still remain in our own vision of what we perceive the Imperium to be and the moralistic values in which it was founded.

Frank Herbert left much to the imagination when describing the Great Convention and his son, Brian as well as Kevin J. Anderson really didn’t answer those question fans developed either with their several attempts at expanding on the Legends of Dune Universe. In the end, we are left with Dr. Willis E. McNelly’s generic outline being the only source of this most potent document.

This gives us great leeway when compounding our own Great Convention so to speak. The following section is a creation of sorts outlining a few laws within the Great Convention that apply to Mythologies as whole. This is by no means an entire account of the Great Convention and its volumes but instead only accounts for those laws that we would find the most crucial to our current Imperium.

The Great Convention 355 AG

(Exert Laws)

Faufreluches The Forms Must be Obeyed… (Volume 4)

Law 212 (Vol. 4, Sec. 259) No man may avert Nobility through right of Blood without direct Imperial endorsement. Records of lineage, past Imperial Decrees, record of servitude and major campaign archives must be wholly measured by the Throne.

Law 278 (Vol. 4, Sec. 261) It is unlawful for a lesser Rank to affront the station and sovereignty of a higher Rank. Those that contravene such dignity and rightful respect are at the mercy of the High Counsels as well as subject to the defending Nobility’s Planetary Law if the High Counsels so deem.

Law 322 (Vol. 4, Sec. 263) Any Vassal whom violates the laws set forth by the Faufreluches places their Siridar in a position of conscientiousness. All Siridar are completely responsible for the actions of their subjects and shall face the fullest extent of the Law.

Law 323 (Vol. 4, Sec. 263) Any act by a performing House Subject that violates the terms laid out by the Great Convention will be construed as actions performed by said Subject’s Siridar. All Subjects reside within the rule of those that govern and thus such Rulers are responsible for said Ruler’s people. ‘Scape Goats’ do not apply.

Thinking Machines and Computers The Forms Must be Obeyed… (Volume 2)

Law 87 (Vol. 2, Sec 91) Thou shall not create a machine in the Likeness of a Human Mind. Artificial Intelligence is thoroughly forbidden and such violations will result in complete eradication and the destruction of line and culture.

Law 89 (Vol. 2, Sec 91) Thou shall not create a machine to perform complex tasks. All Navicomputers, Jump-Gate Calculation Devices, Algorithm Analysis Data Chits and Computer Processors are completely forbidden.

The Tripod of Power, The Forms Must be Obeyed… (Volume 2)

Law 22 (Vol. 2, Sec. 31) The House of Corrin is named protector of the Universe. Through Guild Peace and the collective Federated Houses of the Imperial Counsels, the House of Corrin shall rule; remaining balanced as part of a Three-Part Alliance. There will be no contest to dispute right of rule but such rule still remains subject to the passing of time. No Corrino shall step foot from the Throne until alliance through Marriage, lack of Imperial Heir or the Collective, Unified voice of the Federated Houses and the Spacing Guild call for removal.

(These are only a few and more may be added at any time.)

GUILD PEACE

When the Spacing Guild implemented their hold over Interstellar Travel and Banking it brought a sudden peace over the Imperium. The Guild made their demand clear enough for the entirety of the civilized universe and that demand was simple; We control Space Travel and we control Imperial Banking, if you violate our control by making war and refuting one ruler over all, then you shall die, isolated upon your island of humanity unable to move and unable to rule.

The Spacing Guild held no motives for glory, none for totalitarianism and none for the subservience of others. They simply wished to exist within their own complexity without the burden of responsibility that came with providing for one’s self. Humanity served this purpose as long as the Guild had something to offer and what they offered enabled an entire universe to be brought together as if each world resided within the same star system of every civilized world under Corrino Rule.

Through the offering of this service, The Spacing Guild solidified their existence and instilled its Peace with absolution from the Throne and the Federated Houses. The Guild Monopoly in a sense was supported more so than condemned.

Through their Peace, the Guild would lay down terms that would be non-negotiable. Within these terms would be limitations on the transport of troops from one world to another reinforcing the Great Convention once it was ratified. The Guild also retained hidden worlds where exiled Houses could find refuge from complete annihilation as well as worlds of their own for uses kept from the Imperium as a whole.

Many damned the Guild in public to their comrades but it was evident behind closed doors just how desired their Peace had become. Without it CHOAM could not have lasted more than a decade and Corrino Sovereignty would have crumbled with its first true conflict. The Houses of the Landsraad would have become extinct in a matter of a few generations and none would be left to foster the Guild’s needs of resources. In essence, the entire human race would have simply vanished.

The Spacing Guild knew their hold would be complete and the rest of the universe would know their hold was a necessary evil intended to perpetuate the species