The Landsraad is an organization that features in Dune.
The predecessor to the Landsraad was the League of Nobles. The League was the system of government employed by the remaining free humans before and during the Butlerian Jihad; it was feudal at its core but slightly more democratic than the Landsraad, as the League members voted for which Viceroy they preferred to govern them. After the Jihad and the ascension of Faykan Corrino to the new Imperial throne, the Landsraad was formed by the League in order to keep the power of the Corrinos in check. The Landsraad, as a political body, predates the end of the Butlerian Jihad by approximately 2000 years. It was at some point referred to as the Landsraad League, and held influence over more than 13,300 worlds immediately after the Jihad. The organization plays a very important role in the political and economic power balance of the Empire, which is shared among the Landsraad, the Padishah Emperor, and the Spacing Guild (the Bene Gesserit prefer clandestine manipulation to overt action and therefore remain a "silent" fourth power in the Empire until the fall of Leto Atreides II). The Emperor's power derives from Imperial control of the seemingly undefeatable military forces of the Sardaukar, and of the planet Arrakis and its priceless melange, a source of endless wealth. The Landsraad represents the unification of all the other ruling families, known as Houses, to create a check against the individual power of the Emperor, a theoretically comparable force. Both the combined Houses and the Emperor are in turn dependent on the Guild for interstellar travel. This delicate balance of power initially serves to prevent any particularly ambitious or destructive faction or individual from upsetting the stability of society.
Shortly after the assassination of his father Duke Leto Atreides I and the Harkonnen/Corrino invasion of the planet Arrakis in Dune, Paul Atreides expresses a desire to put forward a Bill of Particulars to the Landsraad High Council to express his grievance and point out the laws that had been broken by this invasion. Paul believes that his grievance would be supported because the Great Houses would never support the Sardaukar eliminating them one-by-one (which was, of course, one of the principal reasons why the Landsraad existed to begin with).
The High Council is the inner circle of the Landsraad during the time of the Faufreluches, "the rigid rule of class distinction enforced by the Imperium." The Council is "empowered to act as supreme tribunal in House to House disputes."
A grievance is brought before the High Council in a Bill of Particulars.
It consisted of:
- Houses : idiomatic for Ruling Clan of a planet or planetary system.
- Houses Major : holders of planetary fiefs; interplanetary entrepreneurs.
- Houses Minor : planet-bound entrepreneur class.
In addition to the Imperial House Corrino, the primary major Houses featured in Herbert's original series are House Atreides and House Harkonnen. Individual Houses are in constant competition for fiefdoms, financial and political power, and Imperial favor.
The Judge of the Change is "an official appointed by the Landsraad High Council and the Emperor to monitor a change of fief, a kanly negotiation, or formal battle in a War of Assassins. The Judge's arbitral authority may be challenged only before the High Council with the Emperor present."
- The Landsraad featured in the setting of Dune and was created by Frank Herbert.
- The word Landsraad is a compound word meaning "council of the land" (the 's' indicates possessive case). The word exists in several Scandinavian languages but is now spelled Landsråd; until the spelling reform of 1948 it was still written as Landsraad in Danish. In Dutch or Afrikaans the word would also be Landsraad, but Herbert did borrow the word from Scandinavian. When queried, Frank Herbert said: "Well, Landsraad is an old Scandinavian word for an assembly of landowners. It's historically accurate in that it was an assembly and the first meetings of the legislative body — an early one, yes. The Landsraad — it's the landed gentry."
- According to the non-canon Dune Encyclopedia, the Landsraad's original structure was as a democratic body that existed to facilitate dispute resolution, and to aid in the regulation of international trade between what were largely independent governments. The body was overseen by a High Council, which was decided by the drawing of lots, and presiding officers, who were elected by the body at large. Votes were determined according to the population spoken for by member governments; meetings of the Landsraad occurred every five years, with sub-divisions meeting more frequently. With the advent of the Old Empire, this structure was preserved, requiring only slight modification. The High council was initially elected by the body at large, and new members were thereafter co-opted internally. The total number of votes allocated to the Landsraad was 1000: 100 for the Imperial house, 100 for the Guild, 400 for the Houses Major, and 400 for the Houses Minor. The Imperial representative received its 100 votes in addition to the votes given to it as a House Major. The votes given to the Minor houses were appointed per spacial regions, or 'Circles' with a representative for each Circle. The votes assigned to Major houses were allocated by the Guild according to each houses' relative standing among its peers, as an 'Impartial Observer'. Vote allocations were posted a year before each session of the Landsraad, and could be appealed within a certain time period. Each House Major was entitled to no less than one vote, and no more than 10; however, this number could be increased through proxy voting, which occurred frequently.