Honorverse concepts and terminology

Honorverse concepts and terminology

This article covers various concepts and terminology related to Honorverse, a series of military science-fiction novels written by American author David Weber, which feature Honor Harrington as its main character.



Beowulf Code

The Beowulf Code is a code of ethics for medical practictioners within the Honorverse (the setting of many science fiction stories by David Weber). It is similar to the Hippocratic Oath.

The "Beowulf Code" originated on the planet Beowulf, in the Sigma Draconis system. The planet is renown for its medical establishment. Its practictioners developed a code of ethics in the wake of Earth's Final War. It supplants the "Hippocratic Oath" in the Honor Harrington universe.

One of the provisions of the code is Practitioner-Patient Confidentiality. However this clause has stipulations on circumstances where Confidentiality can be involuntarily violated, or can be waived by one party without consent of the other party.

Cherwell Convention

In David Weber's Honorverse, the Cherwell Convention is an agreement outlawing slavery in the space controlled by signatory nations. Almost all major star nations are signatories, though that does not prevent many from ignoring the provisions of the Convention when it suits them. Historically, the star nations that most reliably enforce the Convention over their spheres of control are the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the (People's) Republic of Haven. On the other hand, the Silesian Confederacy and Solarian League have often suffered from deep corruption on the issue, despite the fact that they are official signatories of the Convention.

The conflict between the slave-breeders Manpower Incorporated of Mesa on one hand and the Manticorans and Havenites on the other has led to a great deal of conflict over the centuries, and a wave of assassinations carried out by Manpower in an attempt to prolong the current war between Manticore and Haven.

One notable provision of the Cherwell Convention is its equipment clause, which states that possession of equipment that can be used to contain or transport slaves is a violation of the convention, even if the equipment is not being used to hold slaves at the time of its seizure. Not all signatories of the Convention support this clause (most notably Solarians and Silesians), but Manticoran and Havenite navies enforced it strictly since its very inception.

Code duello

The Duellists Code, or Code Duello, is the legal convention used in the Star Kingdom of Manticore for legal duelling using duelists pistols, in the Honorverse fictional universe.

The Duellists Code contains two duelling protocols.

Ellington Protocol

The Ellington Protocol represents the "master's" set of rules in the Duelists Code, and many lawmakers have long sought for it to be outlawed in the Star Kingdom. However it remains that any man or woman of the Star Kingdom "who is challenged" may choose this set before they meet their adversary on the Landing City Dueling Grounds.

Under this particular set of rules each opponent faces each other at a distance of forty meters and upon the command of the Master of the Field may fire at a sustained rate until one of three results:

* The opponent is killed.
* The opponent drops his/her weapon in surrender.
* All twenty rounds between the two combatants are exhausted.

Dreyfus Protocol

The Dreyfus Protocol represents the "journeyman's" set of rules in the Duelists Code. Any man or woman of the Star Kingdom challenged may choose this set before they meet their adversary on the Landing City Dueling Grounds. This set of rules is preferred by lawmakers in the SKM as its rules serve the function of limiting the mortality rate of such duels.

To start with each duelist is limited to only five rounds each and may fire only single shots. Unlike the Ellington protocol which is set at forty meters and starts on a signal, the Dreyfus Protocol commences with the opponents standing back-to-back. At the Master of the Field's command of "Walk" the two duelists will each take thirty paces and stop. Upon the command of "Turn" the two will each turn and fire one shot only and return their weapons to their sides at which time, if neither adversary has been hit, the Master of the Field "must" ask if honor has been satified. If one or both duelists reply "Yes", the duel is over. If honor has not been satisfied then at the command of "Walk" the duelists will take two steps forward and wait for the command of "Fire" before they may fire again. This procedure is repeated until the duel is over which occurs:
* At first blood, regardless of whether the duelist is killed or not.
* The honor of either duelist is satisfied at any point in the duration of the duel.
* One duelist is killed.
* All ten rounds between the two combatants is exhausted.

One caveat is that if the command of "Turn" or "Fire" has been made and you have fired a shot, then dropping your weapon will "not" save you as it would in the Ellington Protocol. You must await the opponents return shot "before" you can surrender the duel.

A second caveat is that if either party violates the specific terms of engagement under either protocol, that the life of the offending party is forfeit, usually by means of a pulser dart from the Master of the Field. In the novel "Field of Dishonor" an instance of violation of the Dreyfus Protocol and the aforementioned response by the Master of the Field can be seen.

Deneb Accords

In David Weber's science fiction novels set in the Honorverse, the Deneb Accords are the generally accepted rules of war. They were sponsored by the Solarian League at Deneb.

The "Deneb Accords" are similar to the Geneva Conventions in that they are meant to protect the rights of military personnel in times of war, defending them from abuse and torture. The Accords regulate, among many other things, the exchange of prisoners of war between belligerent parties, the supervision and inspection of POW and internment camps by neutral third parties (usually the Solarian League).

The Accords also forbid the trial of captured enemy military personnel during wartime, except on cases which the defendants were accused of violating their own nations' code of conduct.

A notable provision of the Accords is Section Twenty-Seven, which prohibits any trial of enemy personnel in time or war. There are two subsections that are known, Subsection Forty-One and Subsection Forty-Two. Subsection Forty-One provides that the Accords' protections and safeguards would not apply to captured combatants who were also convicted criminals prior to the outbreak of hostilities, allowing the capturing party to treat them as criminals. This was one of the first major amendments to the accords, following the abuse of the Accords by using freed criminals to prosecute wars against the nations which had convicted them. Subsection Forty-Two specifically provided for wartime trials of individuals for alleged violation of local laws (example is the tribunal of captured State Security forces on the prison planet Hades in the Cerberus system (referred to as Hell by the prisoners) by the Peeps' own Uniform Code of Conduct, since Hell had been sovereign territory of the People's Republic of Haven at the time) predating their capture, but prohibiting "ex post facto" trials under the municipal law of whoever captured them.

Subsection Forty-One's most infamous use was to justify Honor Harrington's planned execution by using a trumped-up "in absentia" death conviction for allegedly destroying an unarmed merchant vessel (actually a Havenite Q-Ship engaged in hostile actions against Manticore).

Eridani Edict

The Eridani Edict is a military convention and rule of war featured in the fictional Honorverse novels and stories originally by David Weber.

In the Honorverse, the Eridani Edict is one of the most important and observed conventions of interstellar warfare. The Edict is intended to outlaw and penalize indiscriminate orbital bombardment of a populated world, or any form of bombardment against a planetary population which had not first been requested to surrender, as well as the use of weapons of mass destruction. Under the Eridani Edict, relativistic kill vehicles are considered weapons of mass destruction, and even an accidental and unintended impact on a planetary surface by an anti-ship missile (which in the Honorverse usually travels at relativistic speeds) is considered an Eridani violation.

The Solarian League is the primary enforcer of the Edict, taking into itself the responsibility of dealing with Eridani violations. The usual penalty is unrestricted military intervention and open war by the Solarian League Navy resulting in the destruction of the offending nation or party. In fact, enforcement of the Eridani Edict is the only issue that may not be subject to vote by the Solarian League's Assembly, and the Edict is actually written into the League's Constitution to ensure immediate enforcement.

As the Solarian League is the most powerful star association in the Honorverse, with a military power so great in comparison with the rest of the political confederations that any hope of standing up to it is unreasonable, belligerent parties are usually extremely careful of doing anything that may result in even an unintentional violation of the Edict. The Edict is also taken into account in naval engagements which take place in the vicinity of an inhabited world; fleet commanders are usually wary of launching missiles too close to the planet for fear that one of them may go astray and impact the surface.

The Eridani Edict is named after an incident known as the "Epsilon Eridani Massacre". During a military conflict, the Solarian League-member world of Epsilon Eridani suffered a massive planetary bombardment by enemy forces which resulted in the death of over seven billion of its inhabitants. This took place some five hundred years before the events of the Honorverse stories.

Amendment Ninety-Seven of the Solarian League Constitution, commonly referred to as the Eridani Edict, unilaterally declared that any power carrying out wholesale and wanton slaughter of civilian populations using "any" weapon of mass destruction is subject to punitive attack. The Solarian League Navy is under standing orders to "destroy" any government, star-nation or mercenary outfit which carries out such indiscriminate attacks. The Edict is, perhaps, the only matter which the Solarian League has which even bears a remote resemblance to a unified foreign policy. Provisions are made that allow for the restricted use of orbital bombardment strikes against discrete surface military targets once an attacker controls near-orbit space and the defenders have refused a summons to surrender.

This principle was a direct result of the aftermath of the Epsilon Eridani Massacre, an attack upon a Solarian League world which caused the deaths of seven billion people.

The so-called Eridani Edict has been implemented by the League Navy five times since 1410PD.

Final War

The Final War or Earth's Final Wars are about a conflict that nearly wiped out human life on Earth in the Honorverse.

The Final War was a war fought by genetic supermen using viral technology as one of its apocalyptic weapons. A group of genetically enhanced humans, the Ukrainian Supermen, launched a war of conquest, and used biotech diseases as one of its weapons. As the conflict was launched after many offworld and interstellar colonies were already established, and colony ships to others launched, the devastated Earth was helped to recover by its colonies. Particularly, the planet Beowulf provided medical technology to stem the tide of disease, from which it gets its reputation as the premiere medical world. This conflict also provides the aversion to human genetic engineering prevalent throughout the Honorverse, and the sense that "genie"s (genetically engineered humans) are dangerous. It may also part of the author's method of sidestepping a technological singularity.

Neue-Stil Handgemenge

"Neue-Stil Handgemenge" is a fictional martial art practiced by several characters in David Weber's Honor Harrington series of science fiction novels, most notably Helen Zilwicki.

Like Karate or Coup de vitesse, "Neue-Stil Handgemenge" is an offensive, hard style of unarmed combat.

"Coup de Vitesse" is another fictional martial art from the series and is much more frequently mentioned. It is unclear which of the two arts is more broadly studied outside of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, but both are taught at the Saganami Naval Academy. "Neue-Stil Handgemenge" appears to be more formal and with deeper formal roots in real-world oriental martial arts, and appears to be more common in the Solarian League than in Manticore.

"Neue-Stil Handgemenge" can be roughly translated from German as "new hand-to-hand fighting style".

Operation Thunderbolt

Operation Thunderbolt is a fictional military operation in the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. It is detailed in his book War of Honor.

Launched on November 10, 1919 P.D., Operation Thunderbolt reopened hostilities between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and its allies and the Republic of Haven. Technically, it either continued the First Havenite War or started the Second.

Thunderbolt was conceived in part by Thomas Theisman and Lester Tourville. It was a multi-pronged assault that was highly successful in some areas, namely the destruction of a great number of Manticoran shipyards and partially-built warships, but failed in other respects, primarily in the attempted destruction of Honor Harrington's fleet at Sidemore Station.

North Hollow Files

In the Honorverse fictional universe, the North Hollow Files refer to a database of blackmail material on various members of both houses of parliament. The files, compiled by Dimitri Young, 9th Earl North Hollow, were used by him, his sons Pavel Young, and Stefan Young (10th and 11th Earls of North Hollow) before being destroyed by Stefan’s wife, Lady Georgia Young, Countess of North Hollow after Catherine Montaigne, and Anton Zilwicki found information identifying Lady Young as actually being Elaine Komandorski, a former genetic slave who bought her freedom by selling out other escaped slaves. Even after their destruction, fear of the possibility the files were still intact allowed Stefan to continue to hold power in the Conservative Association but for how long remains to be seen.

Post Diaspora

Post Diaspora (PD) is the dating scheme used by most of the planets in David Weber's Honor Harrington science fiction series. Most planets also use a local calendar based upon the orbit of the planet around its star, which often uses the date of landing on the planet as its beginning year. The year 2103 AD is equal to the year 1 PD. On September 30 of that year, the first interstellar ship, "Prometheus", departed the Sol system, beginning the era of sublight colonization.




Regions of space

hips and spacecraft


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