Haven is introduced as the antagonist nation of the eponymous character Harrington's native Star Kingdom of Manticore, and the ongoing Haven-Manticore war serves as the backdrop for the novels' story.
Within the fictional universe depicted in the novels, the formal name of Haven used to be the People's Republic of Haven until Admiral Thomas Theisman overthrew the government and reestablished the planet's original Constitution.
The Republic of Haven is a multi-system star nation governed from the planet Haven, built after a long campaign of military conquest. During most of the Honor Harrington saga, Haven serves as the main enemy; in later novels, many Havenite characters are depicted as honorable and noble, and the role of main antagonist of the saga is being passed to Mesa, an unscrupulous slaver world.
A popular in-universe nickname for a native of Haven, especially during the People's Republic era, but not so much following the Theisman coup, is "Peep" (plural "Peeps").
Most of the known history of Haven is explored in a background essay written by David Weber and which is a part of More than Honor, the first anthology of stories set in the Honorverse.
Despite being located more than one hundred and fifty light years further from Earth, Haven was settled over a century before Manticore thanks to the development of the Warshawski sail, the primary means for faster-than-light travel in the Honorverse. Haven was exceptionally suited to human life, a fact which coupled with the financial support of a joint venture of eleven Solarian League-based corporate sponsors that funded the original colony mission, ensured an incredibly fast growth rate for the new colony.
During its first centuries of existence, the Republic of Haven was one of the most prosperous human worlds in the galaxy, and was viewed as a sort of "interstellar Athens." Considering the poverty of its less favored citizens an aberration in light of Haven's prosperity, the Havenite government launched welfare measures which, after a few centuries, became a caricature of a welfare state where citizens were entitled without exception to a specified standard of living adjusted for inflation. It did not matter whether these citizens wanted to work or not, and by the time of the First Haven-Manticore War, more than half of Haven's population was on the dole; these were the so-called "Dolists".
A breed of machine politicians, called Dolist Managers, emerged as kingmakers, being able to deliver the votes of millions of Dolists to the candidates (called Legislaturalists) of their choosing. The Havenite democracy disappeared, and power was concentrated within the Legislaturalist families, who established a number of secret police organizations to maintain control over the renamed People's Republic of Haven. The original Havenite Constitution was replaced by a new document which enshrined Legislaturalist rule. This Constitution was the first step of the so-called "DuQuesne Plan", named after the Havenite politician that proposed it.
To support its welfare state, the government spent at a deficit for over 200 years. To sustain its economy, it needed to conquer weaker planets—the second step of the DuQuesne Plan—and plunder them. Eventually, it built up an empire of over a hundred worlds. Unfortunately, this caused imperial overreach: Haven could not support the economies of so many planets—whose inhabitants eventually fell into the Havenite economic system—without continuous conquest.
As Haven began to expand, the Star Kingdom of Manticore took notice and began to prepare for future conflict. In the fifty years prior to the First Haven-Manticore War, Manticore built up its navy, hoping to deter or prevent Haven from conquering them. While some Manticoran politicians felt that the war was unwinnable, the first phase proved otherwise. Manticore managed to beat back the entire first wave of Havenite attacks, including the total defeat of a Havenite fleet at the Third Battle of Yeltsin and the First Battle of Hancock Station. Haven, having entered the war expecting a quick victory, was thrown into chaos, as Manticoran fleets began to advance into their territory.
Within the Dolists was a terrorist organization known as the Citizen Rights Union (CRU) and further subdivided into a multitude of subgroups including the "Aprilists" and "Citizen Rights Party".
Shortly after the start of the Haven-Manticore War, the CRU assassinated almost every member of every Legislaturist family in a plot masterminded by Quorem Leader Rob Pierre. Pierre created a new government called the Committee of Public Safety that was composed of Quorum Members, CRU cell leaders, and Oscar Saint-Just, the head of the security service and the sole surviving member of the Legislaturist government. Saint-Just headed up the Office of State Security, former CRU cell leader Cordelia Ransom was placed in charge of Public Information, and Pierre himself was the Committee's chairman.
The first serious challenge to the Committee's power came about seven years after coup. A splinter group of anarchists called "LeBoeuf's Levellers" attempted to overthrow the Committee. Unusually enough for a group of anarchists, they were very well organized. They managed to pull together a large, well trained, well armed fighting force, and arranged for a massive generalized riot to flare up within the city's population. They also succeeded in taking over the net, effectively ruining communication lines between the government and the military. Last but not least, they timed their attack to take place during one of the rare meetings of the entire Committee of Public Safety. The attack would have succeeded had it not been for Admiral Esther McQueen who dropped cluster bombs onto the rioters. As a reward for her quick thinking and loyalty, Esther McQueen was offered a place on the Committee as the Secretary of War, a position that she accepted readily.
After Honor Harrington escaped from the main prison planet of the People's Republic, known as Hades, Pierre and Saint-Just pressured Admiral McQueen into turning up the pressure on the Manticorans. This McQueen was reluctant to do, and her reluctance caused Saint-Just to doubt her loyalty to the People. Saint-Just's suspicions caused McQueen to fear for her life, and she attempted to overthrow the government. Her attempt might have succeeded had it not been for a concealed nuclear bomb hidden in the basement of the Octagon (the main military command center of the People's Republic). Saint-Just detonated the bomb, destroying the Octagon, and killing every member of the Committee except himself.
Less than a year later, the military, led by Admiral Thomas Theisman, successfully revolted against the Committee and destroyed what was left of it after ten years of dictatorship. Theisman reinstated the nation's original Constitution, and handed the reins of power over to Eloise Pritchard.
The original government of the Republic of Haven was very similar to that of the United States; separation of powers, a President and a bicameral Congress. The two houses of Congress were the Senate and the House of Legislators. The concentration of power into the hands of the House of Legislators led to the later Legislaturalist regime.
Under the Legislaturalists, power was concentrated into the hands of the Legislaturalist clans, which made all the decisions under a façade of democracy. The executive power was vested upon a Hereditary President and a Cabinet. The regime was supported by the military, the secret police agencies and the "Dolist managers"; machine politicians which controlled the Dolist votes. The People's Quorum, a special body formed by the Dolist Managers was incorporated into the Legislative branch.
By the time of On Basilisk Station, the PRH is led by Hereditary President Sidney Harris, the People's Republic of Haven is the fastest expanding star nation. His prominent staff members included Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ronald Bergren, Secretary of War Elaine Dumarest, and Secretary of Economy Walter Frankel. Frankel had recently put to the cabinet the idea that the current form of government was doomed and that for Haven to survive it would have to reform its economic system.
The overthrow of the Legislaturalists saw the ascension of Pierre's "temporary" Committee of Public Safety, which was to govern the People's Republic until order was restored and the war with Manticore was won. The Committee appeared to include the Cabinet into itself, as Cabinet secretaries are referred to as "Citizen Committeeman" or "Citizen Committeewoman". The Committee was led by a Chairman, which effectively wielded the power of the old Hereditary Presidents (and greatly expanded upon it).
The new government that emerged after Admiral Theisman's coup restored the original Constitution of the Republic of Haven, albeit the new Congress is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The capital of the People's Republic is the city of Nouveau Paris, home to thirty-six million inhabitants.
The Havenite currency is a system of electronic credits tied to a person's identity chip. A credit is divided into one hundred centicredits.
Perhaps the only item on which Manticore and Haven completely agree is the opposition to genetic slavery, which makes both nations sworn enemies of Mesa and its commercial interests.
During the centuries prior to the Harris Assassination, where the Committee for Public Safety took over by assassinating Hereditary President Sidney Harris, the People's Republic was ruled by a hereditary class of politicians known as the "Legislaturalists". This class of families descended from the legislators which established the People's Republic under the DuQuesne Plan. Two-thirds of the rest of Havenite society belonged to a class known as the "Dolists": unemployed, ill-educated yet franchised citizens which lived off a state-supplied Basic Living Stipend (BLS). The need to constantly raise and adjust the Basic Living Stipend to the rampant inflation (thus calming the Dolists' appetite) is the main drive of the Havenite expansion campaign.
The Legislaturalists were eradicated by the CRU in a plot masterminded by Quorem Leader Rob Pierre. Pierre and his chief co-conspirators Cordelia Ransom and Oscar Saint-Just formed a new government called the "Committee of Public Safety". The new government began incorporating the Dolists to the workforce, giving them technical training and taking them out of their stupor. The Committee attempted to eradicate "elitist" and "recidivist" forms of address, ordering that every Havenite be referred to as "Citizen (title)".
During the People's Republic the media was controlled by the powerful Office of Public Information (PubIn). This agency was in charge of censorship, propaganda and general truth distortion. The most famous head of PubIn was Citizen Committeewoman Cordelia Ransom. After the fall of the People's Republic, PubIn's vast media holding was privatized.
While the identity-tied credit was in use, many people used plates or smaller pieces of precious metals as a black market currency. In the period just before coup by McQueen, this currency was in some instances more common a currency than the credit, and it was said (privately of course) that perhaps the only person who did use it was Citizen Committeewoman Cordelia Ransom.
The Havenite space force is known as the People's Navy, being renamed after Admiral Theisman's coup as the Republican Navy. Due to the volume of space in need of policing and control, the People's Navy is considerably larger than the Royal Manticoran Navy and relies more upon conscript personnel to man its large fleet of warships. The combat effectiveness of the People's Navy was hampered by its comparatively lower technological development and by the pervasive effects of patronage, favoritism and political interference.
On the ground, the People's Navy is supported by the People's Marines, a dedicated ground combat force armed with tanks and power armor suits. The People's Marines also provide troop units onboard the ships of the People's Navy. The People's Army was mentioned briefly in On Basilisk Station stating that Colonel Westerfeldt was a full Colonel in the Republic's army. No additional information has given about the People's Army since.
During the rule of the Committee of Public Safety, the Office of State Security was allowed to arm its own fleet of warships and train ground troops. These forces, known as "State Security Naval Forces" and "State Security Ground Forces" were intended to fight only internal enemies of the People's Republic—both military and civilian. The commonly used abbreviation in the books of SS is almost certainly not a coincidence. After the fall of the Committee, StateSec's private military was dissolved and its elements reintegrated into the regular military.
When the Committee of Public Safety was installed into power, InSec, the MHP, NavSec and NavInt were combined into a single "Office of State Security", popularly known as StateSec. This agency, personally led by Oscar Saint-Just, became more brutal and repressive than any of its predecessors, crushing any perceived disloyalty to the new regime, especially within the military, which suffered endless purges. There was also a Public Order Police, responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of order.
In addition to the power which came with being the most powerful security agency of the People's Republic, StateSec was allowed to arm military forces of its own, and Saint-Just eventually planned to merge the Navy and Marines with StateSec. These plans were interrupted by Admiral Theisman's coup, after which StateSec was officially dissolved, even though several remnants of StateSec's private military resisted the new government for years.
The restored Republic of Haven established two separate agencies: the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS), responsible for foreign information gathering and espionage operations, and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), led by General Kevin Usher, which replaced StateSec in its internal security roles, albeit without its repressive elements. Naval Intelligence was resurrected and restored to the Navy's control.
Parts of Haven are analogous to the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or to France during the Revolution. For example, the Committee of Public Safety established by "Rob S. Pierre" and supported by Oscar "Saint-Just" is a clear analogue to Revolutionary France; the SS recalls the German group by that name, and the concept of "disappearing" individuals refers to similar policies under Soviet rule. However each incarnation of Haven can be seen as a different allegory with perhaps the newest being to the United States and the first to Revolutionary France.