The symbol of the Protector was a sword and bible; his office was known as the "Sword".
The Protector started out as "first among equals", as the interface between the Church and the Conclave of Steadholders, he was the leader of the Steadholders, but not their superior. As the position was an appointment by Conclave to any direct male descendent of Oliver Mayhew I, the Protector was frequently chosen on the basis of lack of ability and frequently distanced from the current Steadholder Mayhew.
This continued until Grayson's Civil War, where Benjamin the Great took absolute power in the course of crushing the armies of the Faithful, which had wiped out every steadholder, including his own father. In order to ensure nothing of the sort would ever happen again, he formed a military which swore allegiance to the Protector, reduced the household troops of steadholders to fifty personal liegemen, and wrote a Constitution which applied to the previously sovereign steadholders. In addition, he made the oldest son of the Protector inherit, rather than allowing the Conclave of Steadholders to choose the weakest heir, in addition, the position of Steadholder Mayhew was vested in the Protector's heir. As a symbol of his strength, he replaced the patriarch's key of a steadholder with a Bible and sword, showing the steadholders that the Protector, not they, ruled Grayson.
Over the 19th century PD, the Council of Elders cut back on the Protector's constitutional authority. Still, the Protector had the power to intervene in governmental affairs in accordance with the Grayson Constitution. The Constitution, since it was written by an absolute monarch, gave the Protector far more power in theory than he enjoyed in fact. The true power in Grayson once again rested with the Conclave, which divided up control of government ministries among the most powerful steadholders.
The office of the Protector had its own council to advise the Protector on most issues. Over the last six Protectors before Benjamin IX, their power had been waning, and been taken over by the Chancellor. (HH2)
In 1903 PD, the reigning Protector was Benjamin Mayhew IX. When he formally announced that he, not they, would decide to meet Honor Harrington, he took the first step towards making the Protector the true ruler of Grayson. The enforcement of the Constitution, the First Havenite-Manticoran War, and the death and public disgrace of steadholders such as Lord Burdette and Lord Mueller all helped him regain his powers over the steadholders. (HH2)
The first (and usually senior) wife of the Protector was known as the First Lady of Grayson. (HH11)
The most recent recipient of the Star of Grayson was automatically appointed as the Protector's Champion, who carried the Grayson Sword of State and fought for the Protector in the case a trial by sword was demanded. (HH5)
List of known Protectors
- Oliver I
- Benjamin II
- Oliver IV
- Bernard III
- Cyrus I "the Weak"
- John II ( - 1337 PD)
- Benjamin IV "the Great" (1337 - 1397 PD)
- Caleb ( - 1418 PD)
- Thomas II "the Usurper" (1418 - 1424 PD)
- Bernard V (1424 - )
- Bernard VI (1569 PD - )
- Benjamin VII ( - 1655 PD)
- Adrian (1655 - 1681 PD)
- Bernard VII (~1704 PD)
- Michael II ( - 1753 PD)
- Robert I (1753 - 1766 PD)
- Robert II (1766 PD - )
- Benjamin IX (1898 PD – )
- Much like the Manticoran monarch was known as the "Crown".