The concept of the Decusian Prelacy (or simply Prelacy for short) is a societal Decusian concept that is prevalent in all facets of life within the Republic. In the simplest terms, the Prelacy can be considered a caste in of itself, towering high above both the Civilian and even the Citizen when viewed comparatively upon the hierarchical ladder of Decusian society. Unlike the ascension from Civilian to Citizen, however, membership within the Prelacy is not earned through rewards from the Decusian meritocracy or through service to the Republic. Instead, the concept of the Prelacy and earning a position within it is exclusively based upon genealogy, creating what is most readily identifiable as a hereditary aristocracy within the Republic and Decusian culture.
The term Prelacy refers to that of the original Prelates of the Decusian Church, of whom are some of the most famous and influential founding members of the Decusian Faith proper. Not to be dismissed simply as some of the founding members of the Decusian Templar, the Prelates are considered historically and culturally significant as they were described to be among the most revered and closest disciples to that of Archangel (or, in some texts, Arch Prelate) Decus during his life amongst men in the Mortal Realm. These hallowed men and women were considered to be the closest humans to that of the One True God, and unsurprisingly are credited to significant and epic deeds within ancient history, ranging from leading the first armies of Men, to liberating large swaths of humans from the yolk of slavery, to more fantastical and monolithic feats. In modern-day, post-Reclamation Decusian faith, the Prelates continue to maintain a strong presence as well, as many of the more established and famous Prelates of Decusian history are also commonly associated with representing a moral ideal or custom important to the Decusian way of life. This representation comes in the form of the Prelates acting as a champion or patron of a moral ideal or lesson, such as being representative of a specific virtue of the Sacred Eight, or championing ideal or custom deemed important to the Decusian culture, such as the responsibility of paying one’s Tithes to the Venerated Church.
The true number of Prelates that are formally recognized by the Ecclesial Authority are anyone’s guess, as records of these ancient times are closely guarded secrets to the state and Authority. There are however thousands of Prelate ancestorial lines that have been publicly recognized by the Authority and Clergy to date, of which become matters of formal record once proper investigations into the genealogy have concluded. These investigations can sometimes take generations to complete, as the bureaucracy in declaring a Prelate is nigh never-ending. However, when a new Prelate has been “discovered” within the annals of history and crowned accordingly, it is truly an occasion – more often than not, great celebrations are held by the territories and Municipalities that claim a new Prelate, with weeks’ long festivals and feasts held in their honor. This celebratory period is sometimes the only deviation from otherwise dismal living conditions some Decusians may experience in their entire lives, and thusly, it is truly a wonder to behold.
Along with this rather rare and unorthodox departure from the grim reality of day-to-day life that Prelate Celebrations offers comes a rather curious phenomenon; the perceived honor a Decusian may experience in being a member of a territory or province that a Prelate is credited to have hailed from in pre-Reclamation times. For many of the poor and destitute within the Republic, this fleeting notion can truly impress upon them a sense of kinship with an otherwise inaccessible Faith and Republic, with the less fortunate often adopting whatever mantle a newly ordained Prelate is said to be the patron of, be it a virtue or simply an idea or concept, as a cornerstone to their own personal faith. So influential is the idea and concept of beholding Prelates as patrons of these given ideals that effigies and inscribed monikers of the Prelates are rife and commonplace within the Republic, especially with those of lesser stations and castes, as it is often the only non-confrontational and non-domineering aspect of Decusian Faith these destitute may ever experience in their miserable lives. Violence and strife do however find its’ way even into such innocuous and hope-inspiring rituals such as these. At times, the impoverished amongst the Republic sometimes so fervently championing their patron Prelates and the ideas they represent that they will use force against those who do not share such zealotry. In large Municipalities and Church-Cities, where numerous Prelates may share lineage from, street-gangs have even been known to form with the sole intent to bring martial force against rival neighborhoods that may look upon a different Prelate as their source of faith inspiration.
In modern-day, post-Reclamation Decusian faith, the Prelates continue to maintain a strong presence as well, as many of the more established and famous Prelates of Decusian history are also commonly associated with representing a moral ideal or custom important to the Decusian way of life. This representation comes in the form of the Prelates acting as a champion or patron of a moral ideal or lesson, such as being representative of a specific virtue of the Sacred Eight, or championing ideal or custom deemed important to the Decusian culture, such as the responsibility of paying one’s Tithes to the Venerated Church.
The process of ascending the social-economic ladder of Decusian society and becoming part of the Prelacy is no easy task. Only those families who can prove, through exhaustive research and evidence provided to the Ecclesial Authority, that they possess common ancestry to a Prelate can claim the mantle of belonging to the Prelacy. This process is, of course, exorbitantly expensive, and therefore is cost-prohibitive to lesser Citizens and Civilians. It is thought that for every bloodline that is officially recognized as being decedents to the ancient Prelates of the Decusian Faith, ten more may realistically exist but will never garner recognition as they are kept oppressed by inordinate amounts of Fidebes and other obligations to the Authority that prohibit them from ever transcending above the Civilian caste. Despite the exorbitant costs associated with proving relation to a Prelate, Citizen bloodlines and families are continually attempting to prove kinship to them, as being awarded formal recognition of such by the Authority is a guaranteed ticket to upwards class mobility within the Republic, and is a goal that nearly any sensible Citizen maintains.
Bloodlines whom are in fact able to prove relation through genealogy to a Prelate are officially recognized as kin of the Prelacy by the Ecclesial Authority, and with such designation comes power, prestige, and above all else, wealth. These families, of whom span generations, are essentially the aristocracy of the Decusian culture and are entrusted with civil responsibilities and powers by the Authority that easily generate influence and wealth, especially when accounting for generational periods of time. A member of a Prelacy House, for example, would be given priority over that of any other Citizen in considerations of free market or trade, allowing those of the Prelacy to establish generation-enduring farms, plantations, fisheries and trading companies. Furthermore, upper echelons of the various Decusian factions – up to and including the Ecclesial Authority itself – are nearly exclusively populated by those of Prelacy genealogies, and thus often exhibit preferential treatment to other Prelacy Houses when conducting the various aspects of Republic bureaucracy.
Only those families who can prove, through exhaustive research and evidence provided to the Ecclesial Authority, that they possess common ancestry to a Prelate can claim the mantle of belonging to the Prelacy.
Hereditary bloodlines and Prelacy families are often referred to as “Parishes”. A single Parish can span generations and numerous family lines, as consanguinity through marital union is recognized as viable relation as well. A Parish, depending on their size, power and general influence can often carry enough notoriety to be a household name among thousands of Decusians in a given geographical region of the Republic. Serious means of industry, manufacturing and trade that are not owned and operated directly by the Republic Foundry are most always owned and managed by a Parish. Parishes often have their own colors, standards and, depending on their size and wealth, private men at arms – of whom, by official standards, can only be used in the defense of Parish holdings and properties. Parishes have further been known to often adopt and incorporate their ancestral Prelate’s patron virtue or ideal into the fabric of their own existence, often serving to champion such ideas through acts of philanthropy within their communities.
Of rather special note is that those of the Prelacy that hold positions within the factions of the Republic do so of their own free will, as being part of a Prelacy bloodlines automatically bestows upon future heirs and heiresses the mantle and station of Republic Citizenship without the need of Divine Officium, or Divine Service. Those of Prelacy Parishes that do enlist within the Church Templar, Clergy, Legion, Foundry or any other faction of the Republic often do so with the intent and aspiration to become quickly promoted to administrative positions of power due to their genealogy – with an end-goal of retiring early and safely with a bestowed title of honor as to even further their influence within society as a whole. It is to be deduced that those of the Republic that have been bestowed the official titles of honor ( Magnus Dux/Magna Ducissa, Archidux/Archiducissa, Dux/Ducissa or Prorex/Proregina) upon retirement by their patron Factions are often members of the Prelacy.