The haut were the ruling and highest class aristocracy of the Cetagandan Empire. While they did not control the military directly, they controlled the ghem-lords that did run the army. They were genetically engineered as part of a large-scale project to perfect humanity.
Sexual politics were a strong factor in Cetagandan society, and the haut took it to the point of actual castes between male and female. The haut considered the ghem half-breeds, while non-Cetagandans were considered barbarians and outworlders or outlanders. All Cetagandan births among ghem and haut were done via uterine replicators.
The word "haut" was used as an adjective rather than noun.
- "She was not one of the lower classes, but haut."
- When referring to a haut Lord (or Lady) by name, a Cetagandan would say, "That is the haut Lord Kety."
The male haut were called haut Lords.
There were eight planets that comprised the Cetagandan Empire. Each planet was ruled by a haut Governor. These positions were rotated around in five year terms to prevent the governors from developing a power base.
- "No. The consorts do not belong to them. They belong to us."
"Them. The men. Us. The women. Right?"
- ―Rian Degtiar and Miles Vorkosigan[src]
The authority and jurisdiction of the haut Ladies was completely distinct from the haut Lords. The lords ran the Empire, the ladies the haut genome. It was their duty to ensure the genetic progress and biological good of the haut.
The haut ladies were considered the most strikingly beautiful creatures in known galactic space. One of their trademarks was the extreme length of their hair; haut women never cut their hair. However, most haut Ladies were hidden from public view through the use of floating force bubbles, which were impenetrable to all fire save ship-mounted ordnance. Few non-aristocratic ghem, let alone outlanders, ever saw haut women outside of their bubble.
- "Miles suddenly doubted his initial perception of gender issues on Eta Ceta. What if Fletchir Giaja was haut first, and male second, and the consorts too were haut first, female second... Who was in charge here, when Fletchir Giaja knew himself as a product of his mother's high art?"
- ―Miles continues to learn haut gender politics[src]
Haut wives, by contrast, were used as double-edged prizes to the most successful ghem-Lords. Their primary role was to introduce new genetic traits to the ghem race. Haut wives no longer had the privilege of their force bubble; the most polite way of addressing them was not to do so at all; good manners involved pretending they still were in their bubble, and never addressing them directly, or even looking at them.
- Main article: Star Crèche
The Star Crèche was the most exclusive haut governmental department, in which human genetic experimentation went on, in what one might call "a giant eugenics project." The Empress of Cetaganda was responsible for directing the evolution of the Cetagandan race, using the ba as live experimentation. Within the Crèche grounds, haut ladies did not need the use of their force bubbles.
This was the female counterpart to the Satrap Governors, though their appointments were lifelong instead of every five years. Their titles were the "Consort" of their planet, instead of to the governor, indicating that they did not serve the governor but rather the planet's haut. They were charged with facilitating contracts for the creation of the haut children for their planets, acting as intermediaries between the haut lords and the Empress and supervision of the yearly shipment of haut fetuses who were created at the Celestial Garden on Eta Ceta, and sent to each planetary satrapy, gestating during the trip.