The Landsraad is a fictional organization in
Frank Herbert's "Dune" universe. The Landsraad is the assembly of all the nobles in the Imperium, representing Houses Great or Minor.
The Landsraad, as a political body, predates the end of the
Butlerian Jihadby approximately 2000 years. [Herbert, Frank. "Dune", "Appendix II: The Religion of Dune": "The major dams against anarchy in these times were the embryo Guild, the Bene Gesserit and the Landsraad, which continued its 2,000-year record of meeting in spite of the severest obstacles."] It was at some point referred to as the Landsraad League, and held influence over more than 13,300 worlds immediately after the Jihad. ["Dune", "Appendix II: The Religion of Dune": "Historians estimate the [anti- ecumenism] riots took eighty million lives. That works out to about six thousand for each world then in the Landsraad League."] The organization plays a very important role in the political and economic power balance of the Empire, which is shared among the Landsraad, the Emperor and the Spacing Guild(the Bene Gesseritprefer clandestinemanipulation to overt action and therefore remain a "silent" fourth power in the Empire until the fall of Leto Atreides II).
The supreme military power of the Emperor through the
Sardaukar, paired with his essentially unlimited wealth, makes him the principal power in the known universe. The Landsraad represents the unification of all the other Houses, creating a check against the power of the Emperor which is theoretically a comparable force. Both the combined Houses and the Emperor were in turn totally dependent on the Guild for interstellar travel. This delicate balance of power serves to prevent any particularly ambitious or destructive faction or individual from upsetting the stability of society; at least, for a time.
In "Terminology of the Imperium", the glossary of the novel "Dune", Herbert provides the following definitions:
HOUSE: idiomatic for Ruling Clan of a planet or planetary system.Aside from the Imperial
HOUSES MAJOR: holders of planetary fiefs; interplanetary entrepreneurs.
HOUSES MINOR: planet-bound entrepreneur class.
House Corrino, the other noble houses including House Atreidesand House Harkonnendo 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. Notable Houses in the Landsraad include:
The High Council is the inner circle of the Landsraad during the time of the Faufreluches, "the rigid rule of class distinction enforced by the Imperium" ["Dune", "Terminology of the Imperium" (Faufreluches)] . The Council is "empowered to act as supreme tribunal in House to House disputes." ["Dune", "Terminology of the Imperium" (High Council)]
A grievance is brought before the High Council in a Bill of Particulars. Shortly after the assassination of his father Duke Leto Atreides I and the Harkonnen/Corrino invasion of the planet
Arrakisin "Dune", Paul Atreidesexpresses a desire to put forward a Bill of Particulars to the Landsraad High Council to express his grievance and point out the laws that had been broken by this invasion. Paul believes that his grievance would be supported because the Great Houses would never support the Sardaukar eliminating them one-by-one (which was, of course, one of the principal reasons why the Landsraad existed to begin with).
Judge of the Change
The Judge of the Change is "an official appointed by the Landsraad High Council and the Emperor to monitor a change of fief, a kanly negotiation, or formal battle in a
War of Assassins. The Judge's arbitral authority may be challenged only before the High Council with the Emperor present." ["Dune", "Terminology of the Imperium" (Judge of the Change)]
It is established in the "
Legends of Dune" prequel trilogyby Brian Herbertand Kevin J. Andersonthat the predecessor to the Landsraad was the League of Nobles. The League was the system of government employed by the remaining free humans before and during the Butlerian Jihad; it was feudal at its core but slightly more democratic than the Landsraad, as the League members voted for which Viceroy they preferred to govern them. After the Jihad and the ascension of Faykan Corrino to the new Imperial throne, the Landsraad was formed by the League in order to keep the power of the Corrinos in check.
"The Dune Encyclopedia"
The non-canon "Dune Encyclopedia" invents an expanded history and structure of the Landsraad [McNelly, Willis E. "The Dune Encyclopedia",
1 June 1984, pg. 362-365, ISBN 0-425-06813-7 (US edition)] . According to the "Encyclopedia", the Landsraad's 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 presiding officers, who were elected by the body at large. Votes were determined according to the population spoken for by member governments. Meetings of the Landsraad occurred every five 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 one vote, and no more than 10; however, this number could be increased through proxy-voting, which occurred frequently.
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". The word "raad", or similar words, exist in most modern Germanic languages ("raad" in Dutch and Afrikaans, "råd" in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, "rada" in Ukrainian, and "Rat" in German) and almost universally means some sort of governing council. In Dutch or Afrikaans the word would also be "Landsraad", and the German version would be "Landrat", which is in fact used in Germany's current political system as the name of the highest rank of local administration.
Herbert, when asked, defined the Landsraad thus:
In the novel "Dune," what is the Landsraad?
Well, Landsraad is an old Scandinavian word for an assembly of landowners. It's historically accurate in that it was an assembly and the first meetings of the legislative body - an early one, yes. The Landsraad - it's the landed gentry. [ [http://members.lycos.co.uk/Fenrir/ctdinterviews.htm "Vertex Interviews Frank Herbert"] . interviewer / Paul Turner October 1973, Volume 1, Issue 4]
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