The Empire of Isles is a constitutional monarchy in Dishonored that is ruled by an Emperor or Empress, with a parliamentary government as its legislature. In the absence of a royal head of state, a Lord Regent may rule the Empire until a new Emperor or Empress is crowned.
The Empire encompasses four large islands and several small ones, which make up the Isles. The four main islands are Tyvia, Morley, Gristol, and Serkonos, with Gristol acting as the head state of the Empire.
At an indeterminate time, Gristol conquered its surrounding nations to form the Empire of Isles, with Morley being its latest addition. The Morley Insurrection occurred some years after its annexation, a conflict that ended in favor of the Empire; many Morley citizens still hold separatist sentiments.
The Empire has repeatedly tried to colonize the Pandyssian continent, attempting to build a port city there to rival Dunwall. Despite these efforts, all colonization ventures have failed. Anton Sokolov led an expedition to Pandyssia while trying to avoid pirates on the Serkonan archipelago. During this expedition, the majority of the crew members died before reaching the continent, and Sokolov himself had to lead it after the captain perished. The expedition of Vera Moray and her husband predates Sokolov's by an unknown number of years.
While Gristol is the heart of the Empire, the remaining islands are mostly autonomous, with their own heads of state.
Officially, the Emperor (or Empress) is the Head of State and government of the Empire, holding a great array of political power. However, the actual influence and power of the Emperor (although great) is limited to the island of Gristol only. The current ruling dynasty are the Kaldwins, and over the course of Dishonored two Empresses hold power: Jessamine Kaldwin, and her daughter, Emily Kaldwin. In situations where a ruler is too young to assume the throne, or a proper successor cannot be determined, a Lord Regent may act as a temporary Head of State.
The legislature of the Empire is the Parliament, which the Emperor or Empress is dependent upon to pursue his or her government policies.
The Imperial Navy was used to protect the port cities of Gristol during the Morley Insurrection, as well as to ward pirates away from seafaring vessels. The Empire also maintains an army, which is commanded by a general, and its soldiers patrol the streets as the City Watch. The Overseers of the Abbey of the Everyman also serve in a military capacity under Hiram Burrows, but are a separate group, and neither the army nor the Overseers care for one another professionally.
During the events of Dishonored, Dunwall is ruled over by martial law: curfews are strictly enforced, nearly all supplies are rationed on pain of death, and the City Watch acts with impunity when enforcing the Lord Regent's decrees. In The Knife of Dunwall, it is also revealed that hampering production in "critical industries" (such as the whaling industry) is a high crime under Burrows' government.
In addition to secular law, the citizenry must abide by the state-sanctioned religious laws of the Abbey.
The Empire's state religion is the Abbey of the Everyman, run by the High Overseer. Under Burrows, the Overseers have the judicial right to arrest and prosecute any citizen accused of worshiping the Outsider or participating in other occult practices, such as collecting runes or bone charms. Followers abide by seven core tenets, called the Seven Strictures, and draw teachings from their holy text, Litany on the White Cliff.