The Imperial Senate has the power to commission an embassy to handle negotiations with a foreign nation or power. The Empire can open embassies with distant foreigners such as Asavea, Jarm and the Commonwealth. These foreign powers are empires in their own right and have a similar level of might and influence to the Empire, but are far away over the seas and have many concerns of their own. The Empire can also open embassies to nearby foreigners such as the Axos, the Faraden and the Iron Confederacy. These nations possess power equivalent to one or more Imperial nations, but they are much closer to the Empire and their concerns are much more likely to be aligned with Imperial concerns.
Each embassy is overseen by an ambassador - a new title is automatically created when a new embassy is created. The power to oversee relations with other nations is vested in the Imperial Senate but in practice it is logistically impossible for the Senate as a body to carry out detailed negotiations with a foreign power. As a result, appointing an ambassador automatically grants a citizen the authority to negotiate on their behalf.
The civil service appoint one or more of their number to the position of Secretary to the Diplomatic Corps (currently the magistrate John Cooper of Upwold). This position is intended to provide support for the Empire's ambassadors in pursuit of their responsibilities, in particular providing them with briefings and helping them to manage any foreign delegations that come to Anvil.
It is possible to appoint an ambassador to another nation without constructing an embassy - however most foreign nations will only take an ambassador seriously if an appropriate embassy is constructed to house them and the civil servants required to support them. When a title with authority is created, it is essential to clearly delineate which nation or power the title is being given authority to negotiate with. It is not possible to grant authority to negotiate with a non-Imperial group unless they are clearly a nation, major power or the equivalent. For example it is possible to grant an ambassador authority to negotiate with the Sarcophan Delves - but not authority to negotiate with a prominent Sarcophan family or trading house.
It is not possible for the Senate to limit the scope or dominion of an ambassador. For example, it is not possible to limit the authority to conduct treaty negotiations to specific subjects such as religion, trade, or magic.
An ambassador is responsible for representing the Empire to a foreign nation, and often vice versa. They receive a briefing from the Civil Service about events in the foreign nation they represent, and are expected to conduct or oversee any treaty negotiations with that foreign nation. The civil service will direct representatives and citizens of the foreign power to the ambassador wherever appropriate. It is illegal for any Imperial citizen to falsely claim authority to negotiate a treaty on behalf of the Empire.
Although it is only possible for a single citizen to have authority to negotiate treaties with a foreign nation, any citizen can negotiate and agree individual deals with members of other nations and it is possible for the Senate to create other titles that have responsibility to ensure good relations or similar with certain members of that nation. In most cases the ambassador's responsibilities will be assumed to include such liaison and cooperation with those individuals as is required to ensure effective relations with the nation in question.
In addition to the Empire's goals, foreign nations have agendas of their own, and may seek to draw the Empire into their intrigues. The Asavean Plenum might seek to enlist the Empire in its conflict with the Sumaah Republic, for example. One member of the Plenum might seek to engage Imperial support in a conspiracy against another Plenum family. A high ranking noble might want to employ foreign mercenaries to help put down a slave revolt, or to locate a prized artifact. Handling these matters are considered the primary responsibility of the ambassador.
Authority grants the holder the power to negotiate a treaty with another nation for consideration by the Senate. A senator must use a Senate motion to submit the treaty for ratification by the Senate - but ratification only requires a single senate motion, regardless of how many legal changes are required to ratify the treaty. For example, the Senate recently ratified a treaty with the Thule which ceded control of the Winter Mark region of the Silver Peaks and declared peace with them for three years.
Ratification of a treaty is considered to be a single motion before the Senate because the Senate can either choose to accept the treaty or reject it. It is not possible to amend a treaty once it is presented as a motion; it either passes in its entirety in the form it was submitted or it does not pass. The only legal way for the Senate to ratify variations of a treaty is to submit different treaties as separate motions.
Any citizen can negotiate and agree a deal with individuals from another nation, but only the Imperial title with authority may submit a treaty for ratification by the Senate and only when the civil service have confirmed that it is a genuinely negotiated treaty with members of that nation.
Any attempt to submit a treaty for ratification that is not negotiated with authorized representatives of that nation by the Imperial citizen with the appropriate authority would be breaking Imperial law by subverting the agencies of state. Any deals which require Senate authorization that are made with foreigners who are representing their own interests rather than their nation must be submitted as distinct Senate motions as usual.
As a senate motion, a treaty should be carefully worded. It should concise and to the point, clearly laying out the actions to be taken as part of the treaty. Treaties are subject to scrutiny like any other senate motion. Perhaps moreso than other motions, it is sensible to have a treaty scrutinized before it is presented to the Senate.
If a foreign delegation is seeking to meet with the ambassador to discuss matters of state, then the Secretary will inform the ambassador of their presence and let them know when the delegation is expected to arrive. The ambassador can choose where to receive the delegation, they may opt to receive them in the Senate if it is free or choose a more informal location if they prefer. The secretary will pass on the information to the delegation and may escort them to the agreed location if necessary.
Unless instructed otherwise, the Secretary will remain present during any official meeting between an ambassador and a foreign delegation. They can provide help with formulating treaties to ensure that they are legal and binding. Where possible they will consult with the Constitutional Court over the wording of a treaty to minimize the impact of scrutiny and their confirmation is required to submit a treaty to the Senate to guarantee that it is genuinely negotiated treaty with representatives of the appropriate nation.
Priests with the power of witness may attend a formal meeting to observe proceedings but only those given permission by the ambassador may speak. Anyone who attempts to disrupt such a meeting, even speaking without permission, runs the risk of being prosecuted for subverting the agencies of state.
If the Senate construct an embassy, then this will be used to house civil servants who can compile information and reports on the current status of relations with the foreign nation. In this case, the ambassador will receive a briefing from the civil service each summit which provides a summary of current nature of diplomatic relations. This usually involves a meeting with the current Secretary who will provide the ambassador with the written documentation and attempt to answer any questions that the ambassador has.
Only the ambassador is privy to this information, and they have complete freedom as to how they use it and who they share it with. This briefing often includes opportunities for the ambassador to consider. The Pallas Docks, for example, were built as a result of an opportunity offered to the Ambassador to Jarm. It may also contain requests or demands, or foreshadow potential future problems between the Empire and the nation.
If an ambassador wants to take advantage of an opportunity or enter into a dialogue with the representative of the foreign nation, they make use of the ritual Call Winged Messenger. At this time it is the responsibility of the ambassador to arrange (and pay for) the performance of this ritual.
A common type of opportunity presented to ambassadors are trade opportunities - the ability to exchange commodities with a foreign nation. To take advantage of an opportunity like this, the ambassador ensures that the materials or money required as payment are in their inventory, and then e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org before downtime closes. They should include clear details of the trade.
If the Empire opts to build an embassy then merchants of both sides who engage in trade between the Empire and the nation in question will visit it to curry favour with the ambassador for various reasons. Commonly they will take a portion of the items they buy and sell and make them available to the ambassador at favourable prices.
This benefit is reflected by the inclusion of a ministry as part of an embassy. This allows the ambassador to directly purchase raw materials from traders and merchants of the associated nation. For example, the Asavean embassy allows the ambassador to purchase Cerulean Mazzarine, Orichalcum, Iridescent Gloaming, and Tempest Jade directly for Imperial currency. The materials provided may fluctuate, but will be tied to those which the foreign nation has regular surpluses of.
The default situation under the Imperial Constitution is that authority for all foreign relations is vested in the Senate. If the Empire chooses to appoint an ambassador (or any other title with authority) then they have authority to handle all treaty negotiations with any representative of the foreign power, without recourse or appeal to any higher power.
In Summer 379YE, the Senate passed a motion to create a Consul, with the power to exercise authority where no other Imperial title existed with that power. The title included responsibilities to coordinate with existing ambassadors. The Constitutional Court issued explicit guidance to make absolutely clear that an ambassador would have primacy in all matters of authority for the nation they dealt with. The Consul has no legal right to direct the ambassadors in their work.
In the past, there have been times when individual ambassadors have been appointed by unanimous decision of the Senators of a chosen nation, by the General Assembly of the Imperial Synod, and through open auction on the Imperial Bourse. During the reign of Emperor Nicovar, a motion was proposed to modify the powers of The Throne to allow them to appoint the ambassadors. The motion was approved by the Constitutional Court at that time, but did not pass the Senate.
The method of removal depends on how the title has been selected. If the well-worn path is followed, an ambassador can be revoked by the General Assembly or the Assembly of Nine.
An ambassador serves until a new ambassador is appointed. By default, an ambassador serves for one year before the title must be reappointed. It is traditional for an outgoing ambassador to bring their replacement up to speed on any outstanding business. The Secretary to the Diplomatic Corps will deliver a briefing to the new ambassador when they are appointed.
This table includes all ambassadors which have been appointed in recent times. For a full list of title holders see here. This was last updated following Autumn Equinox 381YE.
|Ambassador||Foreign Nation||Location of Embassy||Term|
|Ambassador to Asavea||Asavean Archipelago||Sarvos, Cigno||Year, Summer|
|Ambassador to Axos||Axos||Redoubt, Limus||Year, Winter|
|Ambassador to the Commonwealth||Commonwealth||Madruga, Siroc Plains||Year, Summer|
|Ambassador to Faraden||Faraden||Segura, Anduzjasse||Year, Summer|
|Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy||Iron Confederacy||Sarvos, Cigno||Year, Summer|
|Ambassador to Otkodov||Thule||Miekarova, Mieriada||Year, Spring|
|Ambassador to Jarm||Principalities of Jarm||Redoubt, Limus||Year, Autumn|
|Ambassador to the Sarcophan Delves||Sarcophan Delves||Redoubt, Limus||Year, Autumn|
|Ambassador to the Sumaah Republic||Sumaah Republic||Necropolis, Coursmouth||Year, Spring|
|Imperial Consul||Druj, Grendel, Jotun and Skoura||N/A||Year, Summer|