Here’s the third entry in our series on monarchy in Star Wars! On Monday, Bria and I discussed why Star Wars had so many monarchies. On Tuesday, we took a trip to idyllic Naboo and tried to make sense of their political system. Today, we’re visiting the EU and looking at the very strange place (even by Star Wars standards!) known as the Hapan Consortium. We may have had a little too much fun with this one, but we have no regrets.
Bria: So you’re going to start this by softly singing ‘Hapes Hapes Hapes’, right?
Jay: I’m not sure what that is, and if I’m singing anything it’s gonna be a Disney song… which is entirely appropriate I think. Although we’re not quite at a matriarchal Disney princess movie yet.
Bria: Someone needs to go back and reread Courtship of Princess Leia. That’s what all the pretty people are singing when the Hapan delegation arrives to offer Isolder as tribute uhh I mean husband to Princess Leia.
Jay: And here I thought Mon Mothma was selling Leia for the good of the Republic! But honestly, I do need to re-read it. For all the (occasionally justified!) crap CoPL gets, the politics are intriguing.
Bria: Yeah, without CoPL, we never get Hapes or Dathomir or Tenel Ka of House Djo, First of Her Name and Queen Mother of the Hapes Consortium.
Jay:…I just now noticed that Consortium contains the word “consort” and may just be a huge pun on the Hapan matriarchy.
Bria: That’s something I would not put past Dave Wolverton. But let’s talk about their form of monarchy because, to be honest, it’s somehow simultaneously very traditional with a unique spin on it given that they are, as you pointed out, a matriarchy.
Jay: Right. So the traditional part is that it’s a hereditary monarchy, with a system of primogeniture where the first-born inherits. But the twist is that it’s a matriarchy, so the ruler is not just “Queen” but “Queen Mother” (as in mother and queen, and not mother of the queen). Descent passes enatically (matrilineally, but to the exclusion of males) except where there is no female heir, in which case the spouse of the eldest male becomes the Queen Mother and descent continues in her line. It is pretty much an exact flip on Earth’s “Salic law” of male-only inheritance.
Bria: Which is totally fascinating to me especially since Earth history is so peppered with all these Henry VIII situations. It always surprised me that Ta’a Chume was (originally) willing to let Isolder marry Leia because that right there completely dilutes the bloodline. He’s not just marrying outside the family… he’s not even marrying a Hapan.
Jay: I always laugh at Henry VIII because despite everything, he was succeeded by two equally famous queens. He didn’t even need to make such a fuss about male heirs. But yeah, the Hapan system is even more extreme because at least Mary and Elizabeth could rule in their own right, Isolder wouldn’t even get that. It would be the inverse of the jure uxoris (where a title-holding female’s husband runs her holdings for her), a… jure viri? There isn’t even a good Latin term for it.
Bria: No one’s going to critique your Latin, Jay.
Jay: I mean more that the situation is so unlike our historical expectations that there’s not even a proper term for it. It’s very unique, and it does mean that sometimes the ramifications are hard to think about. For example, I never once considered your point that if Leia had indeed married Isolder, it would be an Alderaanian royal ruling Hapes. We all know the sheer horror that monarchies had of foreign lines usurping their kingdoms (or queendoms, in this case).
Bria: And Hapes still ended up with a “foreign” queen with Teneniel who, I think we can both agree, was an even worse choice in Ta’a Chume’s eyes.
Jay: Though to be fair to Teneniel, I think that anybody, ever, would fail to live up to Leia.
Bria: Who Ta’a Chume also tried to kill which I’m now seeing as I flip through my copy of CoPL. Apparently she just faked being okay with it which makes me wonder how other Hapans reacted to the news originally.
Jay: I have to imagine there must’ve been some sort of PR benefit or the deal wouldn’t have been entered into. It’s sort of a weird one, with Hapes ending its isolationism for the dubious benefit of being ruled by a foreign queen. I don’t see much of an upside for them, actually.
Bria: From a completely neutral Hapan point of view, the start of a new dynasty from within actually sounds like their best option. If that was the case though, what characteristics do you think a Hapan would deem most fit for their Queen Mother? This isn’t a society like Naboo that prizes intellect over all else. They like their people pretty.
Jay: I’m wondering if they picked Leia precisely to avoid that outcome, since maybe there wasn’t a safe way to pick one family over any others… you know how Hapans prize their intrigue. And on that note, I’d say that Hapes always reminded me of ancien regime France: a lot of glamour, beauty, but also wit and intrigue. They don’t value intellect for its own sake, but I think that the Queen Mother would either have to be a schemer or related to someone who does. I mean, Ta’a Chume alone… yikes.
Bria: Hapes stomps all over France and England put together when it comes to court intrigue. Leia wasn’t acceptable enough to Ta’a Chume because she was a pacifist.
Jay: They’re certainly something special — they remind me of an anecdote in Sei Shonagun’s Pillow Book (whose depiction of female court intrigue fits remarkably well), where the rivalry at court extended to rivalry between the emperor’s pet dogs and cats! I could see Hapans taking sides over different pets and/or poisoning animals, even. Yeesh, we’re not making them look too good, are we?
Bria: Haha, not very, no. They’re incredibly cut throat but I think that’s what makes them so interesting. (Insert my anguish about Blood Oath being cancelled here.) Obviously, we see other sorts of strong, hereditary monarchies in the galaxy but none go quite to these extremes. Sure, some people have killed each other for the crown on Onderon and sure, there are matriarchies in less developed societies like Dathomir but you don’t see it all tied up into one big package like this.
Jay: KOTOR2 still on the brain, I see. But yes — the politics of Hapes are extremely cut-throat, and I wonder why that is. A lot of the Core World monarchies are very big on democracy and public service, but Hapes has such a zero-sum view on power that they’re positively Imperial. And that’s actually not a compliment! The strange thing is why, and I wonder if their origins as a group raided by pirates and subsequent isolation has anything to do with it.
Bria: You just brought up a really great point about their pirate origins because it’s almost a tale of empowerment? These women are abducted by pirates, dumped on a planet, left to fend on their own except for (and let’s be blunt here) breeding purposes, and then they ironically gain their freedom thanks to the Jedi killing the pirates. Their society is founded on the mantra of not being controlled by men ever again.
Jay: Yeah, that’s very true. It’s a conscious rejection of what happened before, and very much a “never again.” So they’re ruled by this unifying mother figure, and they have this absolute monarchy: but it’s a rule that has caused them to prosper rather than regress. I wonder if their choice of an absolute monarchy as a system of government has to do with the idea of the monarchy working for the communal good rather than maybe the more individualistic take of the democracy of the Old Republic, which would’ve been their other model? I worry that verges on stereotypes of nurturing females or whatnot though, but it’s a thought.
Bria: Maybe at the very start of their society but I certainly wouldn’t call their society 4000 years later nurturing.
Jay: …yeah you got me there. Actually, I just had a thought, speaking about stereotypes and Hapan society. It just occurred to me that Hapes could actually have — and I’m having trouble containing my laughter as I type this — honest to god Men’s Rights Activists. Like, oh man.
Bria: NOT ALL WOMEN, JAY
Jay: I am slain. This concept… how has nobody written this? Is there a fanfic of this, because it needs to happen right now.
Bria: I think you need to write it. Like, right now. Buff Hapan men picketing for their right to express their thoughts and the Hapan women telling them to hush their pretty little mouths and go fetch them more grapes.
Jay: I wonder if Hapan society had an equivalent to fedoras… perhaps we can call them, fascinators? Seems like it would work, with Hapes. Wonder how they’d go about dealing with those ever annoying Hapan men.
Bria: I can’t imagine that those would tip very well and besides, it’s already canon that a lot of Hapan women wear veils (which I totally love, by the way.) Of course, veils don’t really tip either… maybe the handful of women who treat the men halfway decently and call them gentlemen do some sort of sultry eyebrow raise while expecting those men to in turn fall at their feet.
Jay: Perhaps they call them beaus in an almost condescending tone, belittling them while getting outraged when the men aren’t all grateful about it. But who decided it was a good idea to let men have a voice in these things anyway? They don’t know what they’re talking about. Best not to worry their handsome empty heads about it.
Bria: I bet they have unrealistic beauty standards that they have to achieve in order to get any sort of “respect” from the noblewomen.
Jay: The ones who do can advance a little bit in government and business… not too far mind you, but you know what a pair of broad shoulders can get you during an interview.
Bria: It’s true. That’s a great indication of all the muscles you have which is in turn a great indication of what fantastic body guard eye candy you’ll make and how pretty you’ll look if you die in the line of duty.
Jay: Of course, some of these men very vociferously defend this practice. It makes perfect sense — a handsome bodyguard will get other important ladies to take you seriously, and besides the bodyguard benefits handsomely by fair treatment and his association with someone so important. It’s probably what he wanted to be growing up, watching all those holodramas about the chiseled, totally statuesque silent warrior. Obviously those sad few activists who disagree are just jealous that nobody would want them for eye candy.
Bria: If they really want to aim for the stars, they can hope to end up as a bodyguard for the Queen Mother and perhaps one day *ahem* entertain her. Vigorously.
Jay: Think of the poor prince consort though! I don’t know if his fragile male self-image could handle that. I mean, if he doesn’t have his role as the Queen Mother’s spouse, what good is he? It’s not like he has any meaningful role.
Bria: Whoa there. Who said anything about marriage? The Queen Mother has options, Jay. She’s going to play use the field a bit.
Jay: Check your privilege, ladies. You think a man could be employable if he acted like a total alley cat? His rep would be ruined.
Bria: I’m tapping out. I can’t stop laughing now.
Jay: This take on Hapes as a satirical mirror universe almost writes itself. The concept is hilarious but the scary part is I almost think that it could make a good point and get some dudes to realize what it’s like being a woman and asking for a little bit of respect. Lack of empathy means you can only understand if it affects you. The thing that scares me is that Swiftian satire could so easily backfire and people would take it straight, as a “poor men” thing which is NOT what we had in mind guys. Not that any of our readers would make that assumption.
Bria: We can only hope so because wow. While we’ve been simultaneously amusing and scaring ourselves, it’s gotten me thinking that Courtship of Princess Leia, Dark Journey, and Hapes in general probably deserve more consideration and thought than much of the fandom have given them in the past. There is some good food for thought hidden within that delicious court intrigue.
Jay: Absolutely — one shouldn’t get too hung up on how alien and different the Hapan experience is from our world, because it’s a mirror in many ways. And the strangeness and contrasts of Hapan society can tell us truths about our own ways of viewing power, privilege, and people. The Hapans seem progressive in some ways and utterly superficial and vain in others… sound familiar?
So, that was fun! Join us tomorrow at Tosche Station for the last discussion in our series on monarchy in Star Wars: the almost painfully beautiful world of Alderaan!