A land is reigned by a circle of powerful men who control every aspect of the citizen's life. This cabal changes members often. In reality, the spectres of a small necromantic covent possess and control the people in power. Since they simply possess the bodies, they can leave when old age overcomes their shells and possess a new up-and-coming noble.
Silk Armor? The Mongols wore silk undergarments under layers of leather armor. Why? Because silk is very strong. If an arrow hit them and made it through their armor, it would usually not have enough energy to puncture the silk. It could still enter their body but, because the silk would not break, the arrow's barbs could not do their work and the arrow could easily be removed leaving a relatively clean wound considering normal arrow wounds.