Royalty, A Real Piece of Work!

One author allows himself to wonder what the world would now be like if Julian the Apostate had conquered Persia and imposed a return to paganism. I think we can say that it would not have mattered much.

The adoption of Christianity did not fundamentally change the mentality of royalty. Various members of the royal family were still expected to become the champions of diverse sects and even heathen groups such as the Huns. Attila, a one-time Christian king of Rome, became the prototype for Genghis Khan who lived eight centuries later and was given the same epithet, "The Scourge of God".

Obviously Christianity was taken no more seriously by the royal family than any other religion that it had previously devised. Christianity was adopted because it became politically expedient to do so, not because it was considered to be a higher or final revelation to mankind.

Rule of the whole world by a single family created an enormous “span of control” problem. It was necessary for groups to be kept to a manageable size. Yet the numerous groups made it necessary for individual members of the family to effectively clone themselves through the creation of aliases. Ironically the royal family maintained its hold over the entire world by keeping it largely divided in terms of local identity (including race and religion). It was not in the royal family’s best interest to enlighten the masses. Each group was encouraged to think of their ways as the best and to have contempt for outsiders. Large-scale conflict between groups was not however spontaneous but driven by royal succession battles.

Leadership over the major population groups and especially those that were warlike was not something the royal family ever would have left to chance. The greater and more potent the group the higher the rank of prince placed over them. And every change in dynasty would require the re-assessment of tribal commands if not immediate recall. Those loyal to the previous king or dynasty would normally have to be replaced by those favored by the new king or dynasty. To neglect such an important kingly prerogative could be disastrous. Might did not always make right, but it was never wrong.

A variety of methods were perfected in order to maintain the “matrix” of centralized control while giving the impression of local autonomy.

1) Royal family relationships could be mirrored at the local level by using traditionally local names. Commoners did not expect to see their sovereigns regularly, if at all, therefore rulers did not have to be physically present in every locality. Doubles could be used to give the impression of an occasional public appearance (or be killed off if the circumstances dictated it). Considerable if not constant travel was nonetheless the norm.

2) Junior members of the royal family ruled over important principalities directly. The crown prince controlled the most critical territories and armies in order to ensure an orderly succession.

3) Peripheral kingdoms could be ruled by more distant royal relatives. The royal blood of these secondary ruling houses and associated priesthoods would be sporadically “refreshed” through “changelings”, that is, the adoption of children sired by the central dynasty as heirs to the peripheral kingdom and its religious cults. Peripheral kingdoms often had advisors or councils that were required to swear allegiance to the central dynasty. Peripheral kingdoms would also typically have to accept the appointment of a prime minister of the central dynasty’s choosing. If the local dynasty should fail for any reason the leading minister would take over and hold the region for the greater crown.

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