Classical Social Ranks
The old rank structure was in use for Mortal Online and onward until modifications were made for Life is Feudal. These ranks represent a classical era of the Republic and play a role in the lore. They are part of the history and culture of the nation.
Everyone begins as an immigrant to the Republic no matter what their previous status or position in any other guild or organization. Immigrants go through a one to two week trial period when they are offered the opportunity for mentorship from another citizen or formally by the state in the form of a Prefect. Prefects handle the trial membership process from Day One after the application for immigration is approved by a Herald. Heralds only handle the inprocessing of immigrants and hand them off to Prefects for the rest of their journey towards citizenship. The reason for this is a two pronged approach ensuring multiple individuals are involved in the immigration process.
Once an Immigrant has proven themselves they can have their trial period shortened to one week or prolonged for the entire two weeks. At the end of the two weeks the Prefects must make a decision on whether or not to accept or deny the Immigrant's application for citizenship. Should the citizen be accepted they will be granted the rank of Plebeian if they are of human blood or Screeta if they are not. Wealthier non-humans may entice the state through various means to grant them Plebeian status to avoid becoming Screeta.
Slaves of human blood are generally treated with more respect than the lowly Screeta although they are considered to be of the same social status. Vagrants, convicted criminals and petty thieves are among those of the Screeta class although newly arrived non-humans generally spend some time in this caste until they have proven themselves by either enlisting in the military, finding patronage from a Great House or gaining employment by someone of a higher caste. Those who do nothing to help themselves out of the gutter find a longer stay within this undesirable caste. While it may seem a horrible way to exist, some find that there are certain "advantages" to being part of the Screeta.
The gears of the Republic turn because of the Plebeians often referred to as "Plebs" or "Plebes" (pronounced Pleebs) and many of the higher classes recognize this knowing that they enjoy their elevated social status because of these people. Many newly arrived humans find their way into the Plebeian caste with ease while non-humans may have a more difficult time overcoming that hurdle. Most solve the issue by immediately enlisting in the military upon immigration to avoid spending any time in the Screeta caste.
Plebeians are allowed to vote, but cannot run for office. Many Great Houses will pander to the Plebeian caste around election time or during holiday celebrations to gain popular loyalty. The numbers of this caste make them powerful, however, they are not very organized relying mostly on patronage from the Nobilitas of the Great Houses to provide leadership and unity in times of difficulty or civil unrest. When the Plebs are happy, the people are happy and many Nobilitas recognize this fact of life.
Should a Plebeian prove themselves worthy through periods of service, purchase an elevation of caste status, join a Ministry as an official or rise in rank high enough in the military they will advance to the Eques (Classical) caste.
In ancient times of the Republic there were no methods of stabling or providing great numbers of horses by the state for its militaries and only certain families owned several horses. In times of war the nobles would negotiate with these families granting them additional lands and a higher social status to ensure their armies were equipped with enough mounts. As war became more commonplace these families enjoyed an elevated measure of wealth rising above their peers since horses were so valuable. Over time this gave way to a new caste as the families reinvested their wealth to become a self made caste below the nobles in social status, but above their peers economically. Eques (Classical) means horse in the old tongue and has transformed into a self risen caste between Plebeian and Nobilitas.
The Republic further solidified the caste by allowing members to run for and hold public office. Many Nobilitas are Eques (Classical) who have successfully won elections and created their own political dynasties. There are not many true Nobilitas who can trace their roots to the ancient families and bloodlines any longer. To ensure the continuation of the social elite, the older families allowed the Eques (Classical) to elevate themselves to gain allies against the Plebieans and hold on to their status. Some Eques (Classical) enjoy so much wealth and economic success that they are able to forgo the elections and elevate themselves to Nobilitas through finances alone.
The true social elite of the Republic are the governing caste of the Nobilitas. While most are self made there are others who have risen from immigrants all the way up to Nobilitas. Very few true blooded Nobilitas are alive today and there are some who maintain the blood, but have been banished or exiled being prevented from proclaiming their true rights of status.
Nobilitas may achieve an even greater status having been bestowed a Great House with a charter from the Republic's Senate. Great Houses allow patronage which means any Plebeians or Eques (Classical) may join and adopt the family name. Not all who join Great Houses immediately or ever use the house name, but they wear the colors of the house and are loyal to the Matriarch or Patriarch who provides them patronage. Each Great House has its own set of colors, preferred weapons, magic, Ministry officials, deities and many other elements which make them unique and united.