For those interested in the feudal structure of the Argensian Empire, you can refer to this section plus the figure below The Southlands Feudal Hierarchy. The various ranks of characters in “Shards of Light” have a bearing on the socio-military order of the Empire, and it also concerns certain characters in the upcoming series “The Tests of Fire”. You can also refer to the maps called The Southern Empire, The North Mark, Mon-Crulbagh and Pritaelseran.
The Argensian Empire has always followed the same traditional hierarchy, despite the fact that reality has seldom reflected its symmetry.
The Emperor of the Southlands (Solar Radiance level) retains, in addition to the top spot in the entire feudal hierarchy, the direct allegiance of the Imperial Domain, or Demesne, occupying the very best land in the coastal strip around Argens and comprising military strength the equivalent of 10 Knighthoods of crack troops. There is theoretically no way that these vassals can ever be justified in rebelling against their overlord, and in return for this loyalty these lords gain special protections under the law. Though technically just knights, they have the ranks of Barons (Aral Radiance level) in the pecking order. At various points in history, the emperor has supplemented his feudal levy with other military aid, such as mercenary companies and state-funded troops.
Beneath the Emperor have always been four positions which between them divide the remainder of the Southlands, known as Marks (Unal Radiance level). In earliest times they were of somewhat equal size, though the South Mark was always the smallest (but technically can claim the entire jungle as its domain, though that remains unconquered). The Far Mark has been abandoned for over five hundred years until 2001 ADR, when the usurper Yula I threw a series of lightning bolts across Southern society. In rapid succession, Yula declared all slaves to be free, and then appointed one of their number, a former gladiator named Kallisthenes, to be the first Far Mark in five centuries, offering any who would travel with him free land and possible advancement in re-colonizing the lands across the Shimmering Mindsea in the very shadow of the Swords of Stone. Hundreds of thousands took up this offer (many ex-slaves, but other ambitious men, adventurers and former Conspirators who had no prospects any closer to the throne): it is still too soon to see what structure will emerge in this distant foef, but word has come from the Far Mark that Kallisthenes has already managed to erect the outer walls and many buildings of an enormous city, which he has chosen to name Fetter. In more recent centuries, the bulk of the feudal war-mark, as well as the civilian population, has grown or been given to the Inmark, which occupies the broad central swath of land in the Empire. The Barony of Dargor, traditionally part of the South Mark, was transferred to Inmark control in the 1700s, and Inmark Barons (Aral Radiance level) typically control more knighthoods than other Marks.
Beneath the Barons there are generally, but not always, a series of Greatknights (Planetar Radiance level), who in turn draw the loyalty of several Knights (Star Radiance level). Each vassal is required to supply a set number of men to his overlord, who in turn guarantees the vassal in his right to use the land and to protect him as circumstances of the chaotic Empire allow. A Greatknight will often (but not always) have the equivalent of 2 Knighthoods in direct allegiance to himself, in addition to the Knighthoods under his control. In the same manner, Barons control at least 3 Knighthoods directly, and Marks directly control the equivalent of two small Baronies (about 10 Knighthoods). Thus, the total force of the assembled (and presumably united) Southlands would be roughly 190 Knighthoods. The strength of each Knighthood is thought to be equivalent, but the actual number summoned will vary widely: if it is a classic levy of knights with just a few retainers, it could number under 25, but foot-armed Knighthoods or those supplying more irregular troops may send up to 300 or even more (not including peasant levies, who can more than double the totals here). On the field at Tor Perite, it is estimated that the entire Southern non-levy battle assembled for the first time in well over a half-millennium (though not all on the same side), and numbered in excess of 30 thousand persons (of whom about six thousand on both sides were killed, not counting casualties among Yula’s northern allies or the demonic forces that were there).