The Empire of Austenasia claims to be a continuation of the Christian Roman Empire. Austenasia and several other small nations – Rhomania, Imvrassia, the Holy Roman Empire, etc. – recognise each other as being independently ruled parts of the perpetual and indivisible Roman Empire, each with its own independently ruling emperor, caesar, or other independent monarch, cf. the Tetrarchy.
The Imperium doctrine is the term given to the worldview held by the Empire of Austenasia and many of its allies, based on the following concepts:
- The title Emperor is the highest ranking in the world, and as such cannot be assumed unilaterally.
- As it was originally a Roman title, the only legitimate Emperors are those who are in succession to the Roman Empire.
- Monarchies which claim the rank of Emperor are legitimised in doing so by recognition from empires which have already been recognised as such, in a chain of succession stretching back to the Roman Empire.
- Austenasia is in succession to Rome due to the recognition of the imperial rank of its Throne by the German Emperor in 2011; the German Emperors were recognised by the Austrian and the Russian Emperors, both of which were recognised by the Holy Roman Emperors, which were recognised by the “Byzantine/Eastern” Roman Emperors.
- The Roman Empire, according to its own political theory, holds an inalienable right to all the lands which have ever been under its control. This right is considered to be imperium, which is the right to apportion and bestow sovereignty.
The idea of imperium and the claim that the Emperor of Austenasia is in some way in succession to the Roman Emperors therefore provides legitimization for the annexation of territory to Austenasia which would otherwise be legally problematic. Most new expansions of Austenasia take place in land which was at some point under the control of Rome or its successors, meaning that the Emperor has the right to reassume sovereignty over it (an exception occurs in regards to North America, but Austenasian expansion there did not begin for some years after the Imperium doctrine had been formulated).
The Imperium doctrine arose during the reign of Emperor Esmond III (2010-11), who came to the Throne as a relative outsider to Austenasia and its political culture. Esmond III and his courtiers, when thinking of the terms “emperor” and “empire”, envisaged not the Westminster-esque constitutional monarchy which had so far prevailed in Austenasia, but rather the glory of Rome. The Austenasian Civil War, fought between March and May 2010, provided a further incentive for Esmond III and his supporters to re-examine the nature and symbolism of the office of Emperor, in order to stress his right to it.
Looking back through history, it was found that when emperors in the past had attempted to prove their right to the title, they had appealed to recognition from other, already established emperors. Charlemagne and Otto I sought recognition from the “Byzantine” Emperors – receiving it in 812 and 972 respectively – and when Peter I of Russia declared that his title of tsar should be translated as emperor, he appealed to a letter received by a former tsar in 1514 wherein they were addressed with that title by the Holy Roman Emperor.
A plan known as “Project Imperium” was therefore devised by the government during the civil war, in which letters were sent to the Emperor of Japan and to various heads of former imperial houses such as Otto von Habsburg, aiming to have the recipient reply addressing Esmond III as “Emperor”. This was ultimately unsuccessful, but did not stop Esmond III from assuming the title “rightful Emperor of the West” (with “rightful” being almost immediately dropped).
The view developed that just as during the Tetrarchy and after the death of Theodosius I, the Roman Empire had a western and an eastern part, it was “natural” for the world to have a Western and an Eastern empire. With the Emperor of Japan reigning in the East, that left Esmond III as the de facto Western Emperor (a title retained by the Austenasian Throne until October 2015, when the idea of Austenasia being a solely “western” empire was dropped upon the annexation of land in India).
On 28 May 2011, Sebastian Linden – a descendant of the House of Hohenzollern – asserted control over a part of Germany and claimed the title of German Emperor, effectively re-establishing the German Empire over a small part of its former territories. This act had genuine legal significance, firstly due to a house law of the Hohenzollerns permitting a more distant relation to claim the throne should the true heir refrain from doing so, and secondly due to various issues surrounding the legitimacy of the post-Second World War government of Germany which make the German Empire, in the eyes of some experts*, technically still the legal government of the country. Further legitimacy was gained for Sebastian I’s German Empire when it gained diplomatic recognition from Austenasia and several other small nations, fully establishing it under the constitutive theory of statehood.
On 16 July 2011, Sebastian I relinquished his sovereignty over the territory he had taken control over, and on 17 September 2013 relinquished his claim to the German throne altogether. However, prior to this, on 4 June 2011 he had issued a formal decree recognising the Austenasian Emperors, Esmond III and his by then co-emperor Declan I, as legitimate Emperors holding the full imperial rank of Augustus. 4 June has been henceforth celebrated as a public holiday in Austenasia as Imperium Day, the anniversary of the Austenasian claim to imperial rank being recognised and thus legitimised by another emperor.
The Austenasian Throne currently recognises the emperors of Japan, the reconstituted Holy Roman Empire, Adammia, and Imvrassia as holding imperium alongside itself, the latter three having been recognised by Emperor Jonathan I in September 2016, January 2020 and October 2020 respectively. The monarch of the Reylan Imperial Triumvirate was also recognised as an emperor from 2013 until 2019, when he voluntarily relinquished his status as a recognised Augustus. The holders of imperium are used to demarcate historical eras used in ceremonial contexts within Austenasia. The imperium eras from 4 June 2011 to the present are as follows:
- 4 June 2011 – 16 July 2011: The imperium of Akihito, Sebastian I, Esmond III and Declan I
- 16 July 2011 – 20 September 2011: The imperium of Akihito, Esmond III and Declan I
- 20 September 2011 – 20 January 2013: The imperium of Akihito and Declan I
- 20 January 2013 – 23 February 2013: The imperium of Akihito and Jonathan I
- 23 February 2013 – 21 September 2016: The imperium of Akihito, Jonathan I and Taeglan I Nihilus
- 21 September 2016 – 30 April 2019: The imperium of Akihito, Jonathan I, Taeglan I Nihilus and Quentin I
- 1 May 2019 – 1 October 2019: The imperium of Jonathan I, Taeglan I Nihilus, Quentin I and Naruhito
- 1 October 2019 – 31 December 2019: The imperium of Jonathan I, Quentin I and Naruhito
- 1 January 2020 – 23 October 2020: The imperium of Jonathan I, Quentin I, Naruhito and Adam I
- 23 October 2020 – 21 December 2020: The imperium of Jonathan I, Quentin I, Naruhito, Adam I, Aikaterini I and Stamatios I
- 21 December 2020 – present: The imperium of Jonathan I, Quentin I, Naruhito, Adam I, Aggelos I, Aikaterini I and Stamatios I
Although the concept of imperium provides a useful means of ideologically justifying territorial expansion, at least within the lands of former empires, it has also influenced the culture and identity of Austenasia. From the reign of Esmond III onwards, Austenasia has increasingly implemented elements aimed at emulating Rome, from two annually-appointed Consuls to the institution of a Senate. In January 2018, voters in a referendum decided to add an clause to the Austenasian Constitution officially claiming Austenasia to be a successor state to the Roman Empire.
*See, for example, “Legal Problems of the German Ostpolitik” (1974) by J. Frowein in International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 23 (1), as well as BGB 1. II 1990 s.1274 ff