Klingon High Council
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|Base of operations||Great Hall of the First City|
In the fictional Star Trek universe the Klingon High Council (in Klingon tlhIngan yejquv) is the supreme ruling body of the Klingon Empire. The council meets at the Great Hall of the First City of the Klingon Empire on the planet Qo'noS (also known as Kronos in Federation Standard).
The High Council is presided over by the Chancellor, and is composed of a loosely faction-based, informal cabinet. Prominent members are generally leaders of one of the various Houses of the Empire – most of the seats are hereditary and some are conferred on distinguished figures, as with the House of Lords, the exact number of council members is not known. The Chancellor sits in an elevated chair at the front of the room, and the other council members surround him in a semicircle. A large Klingon insignia hangs on the wall at the front of the room, which is located behind the council members.
The council directs the political, diplomatic, military, and internal matters of state. The Chancellor is empowered to enter into treaties on behalf of the council and the people, and has general executive power, although he is considered a primus inter pares subordinate to the Emperor. They also provide overall strategic direction on military matters, but in practice tactical and logistical matters are left to the battlefield commanders.
The council is also the final Court of Appeal, deciding matters pertaining to the various Klingon Houses. One example would be granting dispensation to allow a woman to rule over a house if her husband died in unusual circumstances and they had no sons (The House of Quark, DS9). If one of the Houses falls and another makes a claim to the lands and property of the House, the council will judge the validity of the claim.
The council acts as all three branches of government - executive, legislative, and judicial. For crimes committed against the Empire, the council can judge the guilt of an individual Klingon and his entire family. If the Klingon is found guilty of a crime, he and his entire family will suffer the consequences of the crime. For example, treason causes the family to lose their honor for seven generations.
It appears that the members of the council serve at the pleasure of the Chancellor. This is the reason that Worf's brother Kurn was granted a seat on the council after the 2367 civil war, and was later taken from Kurn when Worf refused Gowron's orders to turn against the Federation in 2372.
The Chancellor has, at various times, been informally referred to as "leader" of the High Council (TNG's "Unification I"). Formally, however, the role also carries the title of "Klingon supreme commander" (TNG's "Reunion"), which presumably means commander-in-chief of the military.
The means of choosing the Chancellor vary. One way would be challenging the Chancellor to a fight to the death. If the challenger was victorious, the old Chancellor would be dead, and the challenger would usually take the role of Chancellor for himself, or in rare cases bestow the role to another. If a Chancellor died of natural causes or not as a result of direct combat, an Arbiter of Succession would be named. The Arbiter would designate the strongest challengers, who would then fight each other to the death for the office. There is one known time when a Chancellor named his own successor - shortly after the Praxis explosion Chancellor Gorkon named his daughter Azetbur as Chancellor in the event of his death.
For at least 300 years prior to the events of Star Trek: The Next Generation the Klingon Empire had been ruled by the High Council. The various High Councils during this time had to deal with monumental events in the history of the Klingon race and the galaxy at large, such as first contact with the humans, years of armed conflict with the Federation, the explosion of Praxis, the Federation alliance, and the Dominion War.
Prior to the mid-21st century, an Emperor presided over the Klingon Empire. Whether the High Council existed or not is open to debate; as is what role, if any, the High Council played. The Klingon translation of Hamlet suggests that the Emperor from "First Among Equals" in Klingon politics - but this may not be the generally accepted view in the Star Trek universe. From about the mid 21st century to 2369 there was no Emperor.
In 2369 Kahless the Unforgettable apparently reappeared on the planet Boreth; upon which the original Kahless said he would one day return. It was later revealed that the monks living there had created a clone of Kahless because they felt Klingon society was on the decline, and that only Kahless could bring them back to their former glory. Though the deception was soon revealed, Worf felt that the clone could still play a valuable role in Klingon society. Worf managed to convince Gowron to accept Kahless as Emperor. Rather than serve as an absolute monarch, as previous emperors had done, the Emperor would be a spiritual figurehead of national identity, similar to the Japanese Emperor, while the actual power would still rest with the Chancellor and the High Council. The Klingon people were told not that this new Kahless was a clone, but that he was an heir to the original Kahless and the throne. Emperor Kahless II was installed soon afterwards.
Known Chancellors of the High Council
- Chancellor Mow'ga (2nd Empire - approximate Earth dates not known)
- Chancellor M'Rek (c. 2154)
- Chancellor Gorkon (? - 2293) - Began the peace process with the Federation after the explosion of Praxis. Assassinated by Federation and Klingon officials opposed to the peace process.
- Chancellor Azetbur (2293 - ?) - The daughter of Gorkon, named Chancellor after Gorkon's assassination.
- Chancellor K'mpec (? - 2367) - The longest serving Chancellor.
- Chancellor Gowron (2367-2375) - Killed in a duel by Worf. The council members wanted him to become Chancellor, but Worf proclaimed Martok the new Chancellor.
- Chancellor Martok (beginning 2375)