Emperor

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The Emperor is the leader and ruler of The Empire, the most powerful nation of the Old World. He is chosen from the Elector Counts by the fifteen Electors and crowned by the Grand Theogonist. The first Emperor was Sigmar Heldenhammer and his crowning started the reckoning of the Imperial Calendar. The current Emperor, Karl Franz, was crowned in 2502 IC.

Despite being technically both head-of-state and commander-in-chief of the Imperial military, the Emperor is by no means an absolute ruler. He has to share much of his power, influence and responsibilities with the powerful Elector Counts.

Election

Upon the death of an Emperor the throne does not automatically pass to his heir. An election is held with fifteen Electors, ten of which are Elector Counts. The heir of the deceased Emperor is an obvious candidate; under normal circumstances he will be supported by the friends and allies of his predecessor. Therefore a dynastic succession is a strong possibility. However the heir may lose the election due to personal enmities or because of personal failings.

Nearly all Emperors in Imperial history were chosen from among the Elector Counts and in many ways being an Emperor means being but the "First among equals". He is largely the leader of the Elector Counts, each of whom is powerful and independent. Many matters are debated between the Emperor and the Counts on an equal standing and then agreed upon, and not always as the Emperor wants.

Powers

The Emperor's power is severely limited by the inability of enforcing his edicts within the semi-independent provinces. Far from the capital and inside their own provinces, the Elector Counts rule and they can choose to largely ignore his edicts and decrees. Furthermore The Empire is not a centralised state, but a feudal confederacy. The Emperor does not control the entire military of the Empire and he does not receive all, or even the majority, of taxes. His taxes and resources are collected from his own province and his own personal treasury will pay the military units under his direct control.

Each of the Elector Counts collects taxes from his respective province and will spend his wealth as he sees fit. He will recruit and pay his own provincial army, who is far more loyal to its local ruler. Depending upon the wealth of the province, a wealthy Elector Count may even afford and recruit a larger army than the Emperor. A wise Emperor will realise that trying to subdue the Elector Counts through threats and/or force is a very dangerous errand, which all too easily ends up in open rebellion and civil war. Gaining their respect and loyalty through example and fair leadership tends to be the best policy.

The Electors can de facto depose a weak emperor.

Known Emperors

Name Reign Notes Sources
Sigmar 1 IC - 50 IC Chief of the Unberogens, founder of the Empire. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pg. 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition), pgs. 56, 58
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 30
Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172
Siegrich unclear, around 50 Count of Averland. Tome of Salvation, pg. 15[*]
Hedrich I 51 - 100 Receives the Runefangs from the Dwarfs. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition), pg. 57
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 30
Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172
Hündrod the Furious unclear, around 322 Slays the dragon Mascar the Great in Drakwald Forest Sigmar's Heirs, pg. 20
Sigismund II 479 - 505 The Empire absorbs Marienburg. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 30
Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172
Siegfried I 677 - 732 Dies at the Battle of Fates. Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172
Jürgen the Opuelent unclear, sometime during the 9th century Sigmar's Heirs, pg. 16
Ludwig the Fat unclear, around 1000 Establishes The Moot, and gives an electoral vote to the Elder of the Moot. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 30
Boris Goldgather 1053 - 1115 The Skaven release the Black Plague which devastates the Empire, Boris is one of its last victims. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pg. 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition), pg. 58
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 30
none 1115
1124
The Empire is largely overrun by the Skaven invasion. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pgs. 10, 30
Mandred Skavenslayer 1124 - 1152 Count of Middenland, defeats the Skaven invasion, was later murdered by a Skaven assassin. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pgs. 7, 8, 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 10, 30
Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172
none 1153 - 1358 The Electors are unable to choose a leader. This situation continues unchanged until 1359. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pg. 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 10, 30
? 1359 - ? Count of Stirland, his election is disputed by Ottilia, Countess of Talabecland, leading to civil war. The Empire at War, chapter Guile
the Battle of the Talabec

Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pg. 8, 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition), pg. 59
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 10, 30
Two feuding candidates 1360 - 1546 The Empire is torn by civil war between the elected Emperors and the Ottilian Emperors. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pgs. 8, 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition), pg. 59
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pgs. 10, 30
Several feuding candidates, claimants and pretenders 1547 -2303 The self
proclaimed Wolf Emperors escalate the civil war into an Age of Three Emperors.
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pg. 8, 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition), pg. 59
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pgs. 10, 31
Warhammer Armies: Beasts of Chaos (6th edition), pg. 11
Magnus the Pious 2304
2369
A noble of Nuln, saves and re-unites the Empire. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pg. 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition), pgs. 59, 76
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pgs. 14, 31
Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172
Leopold 2369 - ? Count of Stirland, grandfather of Dieter IV. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pgs. 10, 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pgs. 15, 31
Dieter IV 2411 - 2429 Count of Stirland, fails to defend The Empire from Waaagh! Grom. Receives a bribe in exchange for the independence of Marienburg; was later deposed by the Electors. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pgs. 10, 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pgs. 15, 31
Warhammer Armies: Orcs & Goblins (8th Edition), pg. 21
Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172
Wilhelm III 2429 - ? Count of Reikland, cousin of Dieter IV, the Imperial throne has remained in his family until today. outdated sources name him Wilhelm II
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pgs. 10, 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pgs. 15, 31
Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172
An unknown number of emperors All Counts of Reikland. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pg. 15
Mattheus II ? Karl Franz's Grandfather The Enemy Within, pg. 14
Luitpold ? - 2502 Count of Reikland, father of Karl Franz. Drachenfels (novel), Act One, chapter XI
Warhammer Companion, pg. 75
Karl Franz 2502 - present Count of Reikland. Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition), pg. 11
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition), pg. 60
Warhammer Armies: The Empire (7th Edition), pgs. 15, 31
Warhammer (7th Edition Rulebook), pg. 172

Others

Little is known about several other Emperors and Empresses of the Empire, other than their names and titles only; the years of their reigns are not recorded.

unknown Emperors & Empresses
name reign notes sources
Agnetha unknown possibly the wife of a ruling Emperor, founded the first colleges of Nuln Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st Edition), pg. 285
Hjalmar the Tyrannical unknown Elected by the Electors, probably during the Age of Three Emperors. Had no children and was assassinated (skewered through the eye with a tent peg?). Drachenfels (novel), Act One, Chapter III; Act Four, Chapter II
Didrick the Unjust unknown Elected by the Electors, probably during the Age of Three Emperors Drachenfels (novel), Act One, Chapter III
Bloody Beatrice the Monumentally Cruel unknown elected by the Electors, probably during the Age of Three Emperors Drachenfels (novel), Act One, Chapter III
Albrecht the Wise unknown His hair turned white before he was 30 as he saw a daemon dressed in the uniform of the Imperial Guard. Drachenfels (novel), Act Three, Chapter II
Carolus unclear, 19?? married to Empress Irina, victims of the poison feast Drachenfels (novel), Prologue, Chapter III[**]
Eberhardt the Just unclear, around 2243 (perhaps not canon) founded the Great Hospice of Frederheim, near Altdorf Warhammer Companion, pg. 83

See also

Notes

*: It must be noted that the canonicity of this information is unclear. AFAIK this name doesn't appear anywhere else.
**Luitpold was still the ruling emperor (i.e.: before 2502) when Oswald describes the poison feast, which was "nearly six centuries ago".

Sources