Padishah Emperor

Padishah Emperor
Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, portrayed by Giancarlo Giannini in the Dune miniseries (2000)

Padishah Emperor[1] is the title given to the hereditary rulers of the Old Empire in the science fiction Dune universe created by Frank Herbert.

Original series

In Herbert's originating novel Dune (1965) it is established that the Imperium of the Padishah Emperor encompasses the entire universe known to mankind. While the Emperor is supreme sovereign ruler of the universe, power is shared, in a quasi-feudal arrangement, with the noble houses of the Landsraad and with the Spacing Guild, which possesses a monopoly over interstellar travel.[2] Members of House Corrino sit on the Golden Lion throne as Padishah Emperors from the time of the ancient Battle of Corrin until the events of Dune some 10,000 years later.[3][4] Dune establishes that Salusa Secundus had been the homeworld of House Corrino, and at some point the Imperial Court had moved to the planet Kaitain.[3][5]

Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, portrayed by José Ferrer in David Lynch's Dune (1984).

As Dune begins, the 81st Padishah Emperor is Shaddam Corrino IV, successor to Elrood IX; all that is noted of Elrood in Dune is that he had died by chaumurky (poison)[6] and that Shaddam's close friend Count Hasimir Fenring was rumored to have been responsible.[7] During the events of Dune, Shaddam himself is deposed by Duke Paul Atreides in 10,193 A.G. (After Guild)[4] after Paul seizes control of the desert planet Arrakis, only source of the vitally all-important spice melange.[8] Though Paul subsequently rules as Emperor, the term "Padishah" is dropped, and the Imperium as it has previously been known essentially ceases to exist since absolute control of the spice gives Paul unprecedented power over the Landsraad, Spacing Guild and all other factions.

As detailed in Dune Messiah (1969), Paul's apparent death 13 years later puts his sister Alia in place as Imperial Regent for his children, Leto II and Ghanima.[9] Young Leto ascends the throne in 1976's Children of Dune, becoming a human-sandworm hybrid to achieve superhuman physical abilities and longevity.[10] Leto rules as God Emperor for over 3,500 years; his assassination in God Emperor of Dune (1981) effectively abolishes the Imperial throne.[11]

An early Emperor named Shaddam I is mentioned in the glossary of the novel Dune,[12] and another called Shakkad the Wise is noted in Children of Dune.[13] The non-canon Dune Encyclopedia (1984) by Willis E. McNelly invents an extensive, alternate chronology of Padishah Emperors.[14]


Several prequel novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson further explore the back-story of the Dune universe. According to the Legends of Dune prequel trilogy (2002–2004) by Brian Herbert and Anderson, the Empire had been founded on Salusa Secundus.[15] The Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001) further reveals that, after centuries as the capital of the Corrino Padishah Empire, Salusa had been devastated by atomics. The Imperial throne had been relocated to the planet Kaitain, where it remains for millennia.[16]

Name Reign Ordinal
House Corrino
Faykan I (Faykan Butler) 88 BG - ? BG or AG 1
Hassik III Unknown
Ishaq XV Unknown
Idriss I Unknown
Crown Prince Raphael Unknown
Vutier II Unknown 78
Fondil III ? - 10,018 79
Elrood IX 10,018 - 10,156 80
Shaddam IV 10,156 - 10,196 81
House Atreides
Paul "Muad'Dib" 10,196 - 10,209
Imperial Regent Alia 10,209 - 10,219
Leto II, "The God Emperor" 10,219 - 13,728
Note: Dune's Imperial dating system is based upon
the formation of the Spacing Guild, measured as
"Before Guild" and "After Guild" (B.G. and A.G.)

Faykan I

The first Padishah Emperor of the known universe was Faykan Corrino I. In the events of Dune: The Battle of Corrin, he was born in 145 B.G. as Faykan Butler, grandson of Xavier Harkonnen. A primero (general) in the Army of the Jihad, Faykan later became Viceroy of the League of Nobles, using the political atmosphere and the religious fervor of the Cult of Serena to gain popularity and respect among the League, along with leverage over it. In 100 B.G. he married Jessica Boro-Ginjo, great-granddaughter of former Grand Patriarch Iblis Ginjo and descendant of the Boro family, the Imperial House in the time before the Titans took control of the Old Empire.

In 88 B.G., after the Battle of Corrin ended the Butlerian Jihad, Faykan merged the position of Viceroy with the vacant position of Grand Patriarch as the first step to consolidate his power. Faykan changed his family name to Corrino in tribute to the Battle of Corrin and declared himself Emperor, thereby establishing the Corrino Empire. Later, he asserted his power through military might over the factions of the former League through the formation of the army that became known as the Sardaukar. The Landsraad was formed by the League in order to keep the power of the Corrinos in check.

It can be argued that Faykan may not have been considered an actual Padishah Emperor, as the Golden Lion Throne, CHOAM, the Guild, and the Landsraad were founded circa 1 A.G. The first Emperor to bear that title was most likely Faykan's son or grandson.[citation needed]

Hassik III

Hassik Corrino III was the Padishah Emperor when the Corrino homeworld of Salusa Secundus was laid to waste by an atomic attack by a renegade House.[17] Hassik relocated the Imperial throne to Kaitain and turned Salusa into a prison planet.

In Dune: House Atreides, Shaddam IV noted that the Imperial Observatory had been built by Hassik III. A builder of many grand edifices, "Hassik III had wanted to show that even after the near obliteration of House Corrino, the Imperium and its business would continue at a more exalted level than ever before." The Golden Lion Throne itself, first mentioned in Dune, had been carved from a single piece of blue-green Hagal quartz — "the largest such gem ever found, dating back to the days of Emperor Hassik III."

According to Dune: House Corrino, Hassik III was the first to be entombed in the Imperial Necropolis, the large catacombs beneath the Imperial Palace in Corrinth, the capital city of Kaitain.

In Dune: House Corrino, Lady Jessica went to the Hassik III Center for the Performing Arts (with Emperor Shaddam IV and the Lady Anirul) to see the play My Father's Shadow while she was on Kaitain serving as a personal lady-in-waiting for the Corrino family. It was noted that "Hassik III ... had taxed his subjects nearly into bankruptcy in order to rebuild a governmental infrastructure."

The following excerpts of Hassik III's writings are referenced via epigraphs in the Prelude to Dune novels:

  • How easily grief becomes anger, and revenge gains arguments. — Lament for Salusa Secundus (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • It is difficult to make power lovable — this is the dilemma of all governments. — private Kaitain journals (Dune: House Corrino)

Idriss I

Idriss Corrino I was the father of Imperial Crown Prince Raphael Corrino, and was assassinated by his political enemies. Later, Idriss was featured in My Father's Shadow, a play based upon Raphael's life.

The following excerpts of Idriss I's writings are referenced via epigraphs in Dune: House Corrino:

  • Man participates in all cosmic events. — Legacies of Kaitain
  • The natural destiny of power is fragmentation. — Landsraad Archives


According to most historians, Crown Prince Raphael Corrino was one of the most brilliant politicians and scholars of House Corrino, and to quote Earl Dominic Vernius, "the only good Corrino of them all!" Raphael was also the originator of the term "Law is the ultimate science", which is the motto of House Corrino.

Raphael was born as the eldest son of the Padishah Emperor Idriss I, and thereby the Imperial Crown Prince of the Padishah Empire. When Idriss was nearly assassinated, but left in a permanent coma, Raphael refused to be crowned Emperor, claiming he was not worthy of the throne. Instead, he seated himself upon a smaller throne beside the Imperial Golden Lion Throne. Even as the defacto ruler, Raphael always referred to himself as "Crown Prince". His wife Herade, however, used the title Empress. Much later, a play was written based upon Raphael's life, named My Father's Shadow.

The following quotes and excerpts of Raphael's writings are referenced via epigraphs in the Prelude to Dune novels:

  • History allows us to see the obvious — but unfortunately, not until it is too late. (Dune: House Atreides)
  • Among the responsibilities of command is the necessity to punish ... but only when the victim demands it. — Discourses on Leadership in a Galactic Imperium, 12th Edition (Dune: House Atreides)
  • We all live in the shadows of our predecessors for a time. But we who determine the fate of planets eventually reach the point at which we become not the shadows, but the light itself. — Discourses on Leadership (Dune: House Atreides)
  • The worst sort of alliances are those which weaken us. Worse still is when an Emperor fails to recognize such an alliance for what it is. — Discourses on Leadership (Dune: House Atreides)
  • A world is supported by four things: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous, and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling. — Discourses on Galactic Leadership (Dune: House Atreides)
  • Secrets are an important aspect of power. The effective leader spreads them in order to keep men in line. — Discourses on Leadership in a Galactic Imperium, Twelfth Edition (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • Too much knowledge never makes for simple decisions. — Discourses on Leadership (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • An empire built on power cannot attract the affections and loyalty that men bestow willingly on a regime of ideas and beauty. Adorn your Grand Empire with beauty, with culture. — From a speech, L'Institut de Kaitain Archives (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • Facts mean nothing when they are preempted by appearances. Do not underestimate the power of impression over reality. — The Rudiments of Power (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • Political leaders often don't recognize the practical uses of imagination and innovative new ideas until such forms are thrust under their noses by bloody hands. — Discourses on Galactic Leadership (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • It requires a desperate and lonely sort of courage to challenge the accepted wisdom upon which social peace of mind rests. — In Defense of Change in the Face of Tradition (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • There are tides of leadership, rising and falling. Into each Emperor's reign flow the tides, ebbing and surging. — Discourses on Leadership in a Galactic Imperium, Twelfth Edition (Dune: House Corrino)
  • Law always moves in the direction of protecting the strong and oppressing the weak. Dependence upon force corrodes justice. — Precepts of Civilization (Dune: House Corrino)
  • Greatness must always be combined with vulnerability. (Dune: House Corrino)
  • Inevitably, the aristocrat resists his final duty — which is to step aside and vanish into history. (Dune: House Corrino)

In Dune: House Corrino, the following quotes are attributed to Raphael in the play about his life, My Father's Shadow (though Lady Jessica notes that the lines have been slightly altered in some way from the original text):

  • To be born a Corrino is more blessing than any man deserves.
  • I shall not usurp my father's throne, and woe to any parasite who considers it.

Raphael's consort is also quoted via epigraph in Dune: House Corrino:

  • In a society where hard data is uncertain at best, one must be careful to manipulate the truth. Appearance becomes reality. Perception becomes fact. Use this to your advantage. — Empress Herade, A Primer on the Finer Points of Culture in the Imperium
  • Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. You must climb the mountain just a little ... enough to test that it's a mountain, enough to see where the other mountains are. From the top of any mountain, you cannot see that mountain. — Empress Herade, consort to Crown Prince Raphael Corrino

Vutier II

Vutier Corrino II was the 78th Emperor of the known universe, and father to the 79th Emperor Fondil III. Little is known about Vutier II, though in Dune: House Atreides Shaddam IV remarks that Vutier was a great patron of the arts.

Fondil III

Fondil Corrino III (9843 - 10,018 A.G.) was the 79th Emperor of the known universe, son of Vutier II and father to Elrood IX. After striking down many revolts, he became known as "the Hunter".

According to Dune: House Corrino, Fondil was laid to rest in a walled-up vault in the Imperial Necropolis:

The pitted iron door was flanked by the stuffed carcasses of two ferocious predators the man had killed: a spiny ecadroghe from the high plateaus of Ecaz and a tufted saber-bear from III Delta Kaising. Fondil, however, had taken his epithet from hunting men, ferreting out enemies and destroying them. His big-game adventures had been a mere diversion.

The following quotes are attributed to Fondil III via epigraphs in Dune: House Corrino:

  • The fact that any family in the Imperium could deploy its atomics to destroy the planetary bases of fifty or more Great Houses need not concern us overmuch. It is a situation we can hold in check. If we remain strong enough.
  • Pay your spies well. One good infiltrator is more valuable than legions of Sardaukar.
  • The conquerors despise the conquered for allowing themselves to be beaten.

Elrood IX

Elrood Corrino IX (9,999-10,156 A.G.) was the 80th Emperor of the known universe, son of Fondil III "The Hunter" and father to Shaddam IV. Elrood was the penultimate emperor in the Corrino Dynasty and ascended to the throne at the age of 19. During his reign of 138 years, Elrood married into many royal houses of the Imperium, among them House Mutelli, House Hagal and House Ecaz.

According to the back matter of Dune: House Atreides, Elrood married Barbara Mutelli in 10,019 A.G.; they had a daughter called Wensicia (who should not be confused with Elrood's granddaughter), and a son called Elliott. Elrood murdered one-year-old Elliott himself, after which "Barbara went insane; Elrood kept her, though, and impregnated her repeatedly ... the fertilized embryos were placed in storage for later dynastic emergencies." Barbara died in 10,026, and Elrood's subsequent marriage to Yvette Hagal in 10,036 produced three daughters: Crystane, Tara and Edwina (b. 10,070). Edwina would later marry Count Ilban Richese in 10,090, and eventually became the great-grandmother of Paul Atreides.

Yvette died in 10,075 A.G., and Elrood next married Alexandra Ecaz in 10,079. She gave birth to the Crown Prince Fafnir, but later disappeared in 10,098. Elrood's "impulsive marriage" to Habla of Hassika V in 10,100 was childless for 19 years. Using one of the frozen embryos from his first wife, Barbara Mutelli, Elrood made it possible for Habla to produce a son — Shaddam. Shaddam himself never knew that his genetic mother was Barbara.

Elrood's eldest son and heir Fafnir was murdered by Count Hasimir Fenring in 10,138 A.G. at the urging of Shaddam, who himself desired to inherit the throne. According to Shaddam, Elrood suspected Fenring's role in Fafnir's death (and later discovered Shaddam's complicity), but accepted it as part of Imperial politics. Though they never confessed, in Dune: House Corrino, Shaddam recalled that Elrood had "cackled knowingly: and said:

It shows initiative that you are able to make difficult decisions. But do not be so eager to take the responsibility of an Emperor. I still have many years left in my reign, and you must observe my example. Watch, and learn.

In Dune: House Atreides, Shaddam remembered how Elrood had been amused when he learned that Shaddam "had been slipping contraceptives into the food of his own mother, Habla, so she couldn't conceive another son and rival to him." Elrood, however, had also fathered an illegitimate son named Tyros Reffa with his concubine Shando Balut, the future wife of Earl Dominic Vernius of Ix.

Elrood was Padishah Emperor at the time of the first Prelude to Dune novel, Dune: House Atreides. In his later years, Elrood gave the siridar-governorship of Arrakis to House Harkonnen. He also created the title "Imperial Planetologist of Arrakis", and appointed Pardot Kynes to find out exactly how the spice melange was created. Elrood became a despotic and dictatorial ruler who in 10,154 A.G. authorized the Tleilaxu takeover of planet Ix and established the Project Amal program to create synthetic melange, intending to remove the Empire's dependency on Arrakis and control the spice himself. His long rule ended in 10,156 when he was assassinated, poisoned by slow acting chaumurky administered to him by Count Fenring (again doing the bidding of Elrood's son Shaddam).

In Dune: House Corrino it was revealed that Elrood’s remains were interred in the Imperial Necropolis:

He finally led Fenring to where the sealed ashes of Elrood IX waited in a relatively small alcove, adorned with shimmering diamondplaz, ornate scrollwork, and fine gems — a sufficient display of Shaddam’s grief at the loss of his "beloved father" ... Disrespectfully, Shaddam leaned against the resting place of his father’s ashes. The old man had been cremated to foil any Suk physician’s attempts to determine the true cause of death.

The following quotes and excerpts of Elrood IX's writings are referenced via epigraphs in the Prelude to Dune novels:

  • Like many culinary delicacies, revenge is a dish best savored slowly, after long and delicate preparation. — Deathbed Insights (Dune: House Atreides)
  • Immobility is often mistaken for peace. (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • Enemies strengthen you; allies weaken. — Deathbed Insights (Dune: House Harkonnen)
  • Blood is thicker than water, but politics is even thicker than blood. — Memoirs of Imperial Rule (Dune: House Corrino)

Shaddam IV

The son of Elrood IX, Shaddam is featured in Dune, and his early reign is further explored in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001).

Other Emperors

The following Corrino Emperors are mentioned briefly in Dune works, but their exact place in the Imperial chronology is unknown:

Ishaq XV

Padishah Emperor Ishaq Corrino XV designed and built the Ishaq Hall of Magnificent Documents in Kaitain’s capital city of Corrinth. In its time the museum was, according to Dune: House Corrino, "one of the most spectacular constructions in the burgeoning Imperial city." However, by the time of Shaddam IV it had been "swallowed by ever more impressive architecture" and "lost among the extravagant monuments on Kaitain." The museum was a repository for, among other things, the handwritten personal diaries of past Corrino Emperors.


The "long-forgotten" Corrino ruler called Mandias the Terrible was known as "the Emperor who made worlds tremble." According to Dune: House Corrino, his mummy was hidden in the Imperial Necropolis "in a chamber fronted by a fearsome, life-size statue" of Mandias. Shaddam IV noted when looking at Mandias' body: "I am not impressed ... Nobody even remembers him."

See also

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Notes and references

  1. ^ Padishah (پادشاه) is a Persian title meaning "great king" or "king of kings", which was historically given to Persian emperors and kings.
  2. ^ Herbert, Frank (1965). Dune. "We've a three-point civilization: the Imperial Household balanced against the Federated Great Houses of the Landsraad, and between them, the Guild with its damnable monopoly on interstellar transport." 
  3. ^ a b Herbert, Frank (1965). "Terminology of the Imperium". Dune. "CORRIN, BATTLE OF ... the space battle from which the Imperial House Corrino took its name. The battle fought near Sigma Draconis in the year 88 B.G. settled the ascendancy of the ruling House from Salusa Secundus." 
  4. ^ a b Herbert, Frank (1965). "Appendix IV: The Almanak en-Ashraf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses): SHADDAM IV". Dune. The reign of Shaddam Corrino IV is noted to have ended in 10,196 A.G. (After Guild). 
  5. ^ Herbert, Frank (1965). "Terminology of the Imperium". Dune. "SALUSA SECUNDUS ... designated Imperial Prison Planet after removal of the Royal Court to Kaitain. Salusa Secundus is homeworld of House Corrino ..." 
  6. ^ Herbert, Frank (1965). "Appendix IV: The Almanak en-Ashraf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses): SHADDAM IV (10,134-10,202)". Dune. "The Padishah Emperor, 81st of his line (House Corrino) to occupy the Golden Lion Throne, reigned from 10,156 (date his father, Elrood IX, succumbed to chaumurky) until replaced by the 10,196 Regency set up in the name of his eldest daughter, Irulan." 
  7. ^ Herbert, Frank (1965). "Appendix IV: The Almanak en-Ashraf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses): COUNT HASIMIR FENRING (10,133-10,225)". Dune. "A distaff cousin of House Corrino, he was a childhood companion of Shaddam IV. (The frequently discredited Pirate History of Corrino related the curious story that Fenring was responsible for the chaumurky which disposed of Elrood IX.) All accounts agree that Fenring was the closest friend Shaddam IV possessed." 
  8. ^ Herbert, Frank (1965). Dune. 
  9. ^ Herbert, Frank (1969). Dune Messiah. 
  10. ^ Herbert, Frank (1976). Children of Dune. 
  11. ^ Herbert, Frank (1981). God Emperor of Dune. 
  12. ^ Herbert, Frank (1965). "Terminology of the Imperium". Dune. "HAGAL: the "Jewel Planet" (II Theta Shaowei), mined out in the time of Shaddam I." 
  13. ^ Herbert, Frank (1976). Children of Dune. "Melange ... spice of Arrakis (Dune) with geriatric properties first noted by Yanshuph Ashkoko, royal chemist in reign of Shakkad the Wise..." 
  14. ^ McNelly, Willis E. (June 1, 1984). "EMPERORS OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE". The Dune Encyclopedia. pp. 200–205. ISBN 0-425-06813-7 (US edition). 
  15. ^ Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2002-2004). Legends of Dune. 
  16. ^ Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (1999-2001). Prelude to Dune. 
  17. ^ Paul of Dune (2008) notes House Tantor to be the offending house, who are subsequently exterminated and erased from history.

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