The Lyran Commonwealth is a large Inner Sphere Successor State in the BattleTech universe. The Lyran state is located in the coreward, anti-spinward region of space relative to Terra. For the majority of its history, the Lyran capital was located at the Triad on the icy world of Tharkad. While the Commonwealth was the realm of House Steiner.
The Lyran Commonwealth is renowned for its strong economy, powerful nobility, and its military policy of promotion based on pedigree as well as talent. Unfortunately for the Lyran state, the promotion of so-called “social generals” has resulted in a military of varied capabilities. Even though incompetent “social generals” are not the rule, the prevalence of many poor officers has hindered the Lyran state throughout its history. Additionally, the Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces (LCAF) tend to fight defensive campaigns with heavier BattleMechs.
Though the military history of the Commonwealth is filled with missteps, the Lyran state has endured for many hundreds of years based on the capabilities of its industrial base and by the merits of the rare, capable officers produced by the system.
History of the Lyran Commonwealth
The Lyran Commonwealth was formed in 2341 as a merger between three mercantile alliances, the Protectorate of Donegal, Federation of Skye, and Tamar Pact. The founding charter called for nine “Archons” to rule to nation, but the impracticality of this system led to a coup by the leader of Donegal, Robert Marsden, who declared himself Archon Basileus in August 2375. An invasion by the Draconis Combine in 2407 resulted in the death of then-Archon Alistair Marsden, brother of Robert, in 2408. Rule fell to his wife, Katherine Steiner, safely ensconced on the new capital of Tharkad. The reign of House Steiner had begun.
The Lyrans lost territory to their neighbors, but the tide turned when a 2455 commando raid gave House Steiner plans for powerful new war machines, BattleMechs. The Age of War gave way to the golden era of mankind, watched over by the Star League, which the Steiners pledged to join in 2558. The Commonwealth economy prospered during this era, but it did not last. The Amaris Civil War laid waste to many worlds in the Terran Hegemony, though the Commonwealth was enlarged when it absorbed many Rim Worlds Republic systems.
The First Succession War between the remaining five Great Houses broke out in 2785. The 1st and 2nd Wars blasted the Inner Sphere back into the industrial age as total war resulted in the deaths of millions, cities were destroyed, and JumpShips annihilated. The 3rd War lasted generations, but saw a return to the Ares Conventions that limited the collateral damage. The Commonwealth traded worlds with the Free Worlds League, but steadily lost ground to the Combine.
In 3020, the waning years of the Third Succession War, Archon Katrina Steiner circulated a peace proposal to the other Great House rulers. Though they all rebuffed her, First Prince Hanse Davion of the Federated Suns was intrigued and the duo began a dialogue that resulted in an alliance the betrothed Hanse to Katrina’s daughter and heir, Archon-designate Melissa Steiner. Coinciding with their marriage ceremony on Terra in 3028, the two nations launched invasions of their neighbors. The Commonwealth used Rasalhagian revolutionaries to their advantage during the Fourth Succession War, taking many systems away from the Combine. These gains were neutralized when Theodore Kurita recognized their independence in 3034, forcing the Lyrans to give up their hard-won planets to the nascent Free Rasalhague Republic. The abortive War of 3039 was intended as a full-scale invasion of the Combine, but the surprising strength of House Kurita caused the allied nations to rethink their intentions, calling off the attack in short order. The two nations merged together more closely after the failed war, resulting in the informal creation of the Federated Commonwealth.
Since the fall of the Star League, the Lyran Commonwealth’s High Command had a reputation for being bloated, inept, and ineffective. Early in its existence, the Commonwealth created the title of “Social General” for those important individuals who lacked other titles. Social generals are not unique to the Lyrans, but there is a preponderance of them compared to other nations. These individuals are officers (not necessarily high-ranking, despite the term) who received their position through networking as opposed to martial talent. These social generals decided in time that they possessed military authority and began overseeing actual military operations. Rank and awards were handed out like so many party favors and the structure soon became top-heavy. The incompetent leadership of the Lyran military has been responsible for many a bad decision, and poor leadership has reflected in the performance of their troops.
To compensate for the shortcomings or their High Command, the Lyrans are known for their use of large ’Mechs. Using their well-established industrial base, the LCAF fields a higher ratio of Assault ’Mechs than any other nation in the Inner Sphere. This has not always been a boon, however, as their enemies have been able to use more balanced forces to outmaneuver and defeat the Lyrans on many occasions.
The problems with the Lyran military only began to be reduced during the Archonship of Katrina Steiner, but even then, the command structure was often distrusted by the regular troops that engaged in battle. During the Third Succession War, the Commonwealth lost several worlds to the Draconis Combine due to poor planning, logistics, and support by the Lyran command structure despite strong commitment by ground forces
Recruits can enter the Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces (LCAF) at the age of sixteen. The LCAF has and does implement drafts to bolster unit strengths, especially in periods of intense warfare (such as the start of the Fourth Succession War in 3028)
The Lyran Commonwealth was basically a feudal monarchy with an assembly that served in a largely advisory capacity. This does not mean, however, that the people do not have rights and freedoms. The Steiner Archons have traditionally been rather liberal rulers, allowing their people the right to assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. Indeed, occasions in which these rights were taken away have been cause for crisis in and of themselves.
The Archon is the head-of-state of the Lyran Commonwealth. He or she is also the commander-in-chief of the Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces and has the authority to make any and all decisions relating to domestic and foreign policy.
The Lyran nobility is very powerful. For instance, in the time of the Lyran Alliance, the state was divided into five provinces named for their capital worlds, Alarion, Bolan, Coventry, Donegal, and Skye. The rulers of these planets hold the title Duke or Duchess, and also serve as provincial rulers for those areas. They could essentially serve as head of state in their province so long as they did not override the authority the Archon. Indeed, some of these rulers were powerful enough to challenge the central authority.
Other noble rulers existed at every possible spectrum. Some ruled multiple worlds, while others ruled a city or tract of land. For every layer of nobility, a ruler could exercise his or her authority so long as he or she did not infringe upon the rights of the people or go against what a higher authority decreed.
The Estates General was integrated into the governance of the Federated Commonwealth rather than subsumed. The Estates General is an assembly that meets on Tharkad and is theoretically composed of one individual from each world in the Lyran state, but in fact the least populous worlds are not represented. A member of the Estates General is elected to a six-year term and cannot hold a title more powerful than Baron.
The primary function of the Estates General is confirming the Archon, though this is often little more than a rubber stamp that grants legitimacy to House Steiner. In fact, it was originally created in 2376 by Robert Marsden in order to grant his coup legitimacy. Despite its origins, the Estates General has taken a leading role in determining who holds position of Archon, as it did in 3007 when it voted no-confidence in Alessandro Steiner, paving the way for his niece Katrina to take power