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This covers the first ten years of the last quarter of the eighteenth century. For the last fifteen, see The Eighteenth Century, Part V: 1785-1800.

The Eighteenth Century (1701-1800, Part IV)Edit

The 18th Century (1775-1785)Edit

1775Edit

  • January 1-
    • On January 1, 1775, vigorous celebrations were conducted throughout the dominions of the Laurasian Empire in order to mark the commencement of the new year. 1775, the 75th year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire in a state of internal stability and external peace. The third quarter of the eighteenth century (1750-1775), which had witnessed wars with Franconia, Scottria, the Marasharite Empire and Haynsian Despotate, and in the Dejanican-Lithuanian Commonwealth; three major uprisings (Wyatta's Rebellion, Malarian Rebellion, and Pugachevia's Rebellion); the Laurasian Counter-Reformation and then the final Reformation of the Almitian Church; the First Partition of Dejanica; and numerous other events, had ended. The fourth and final quarter of the eighteenth century (1775-1800) had begun. The Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War had come to a victorious, and triumphant end, the previous year, with the conclusion of the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca. As a result of that victorious conflict, which was more decisive than any previous war waged by the Empire against its Marasharite adversaries, the Empress had seen her rule extended over the Muggal Cluster, Northern Reaches, and the Haynsian Slave Highway. 1775 therefore marked the first year, in the history of the Caladarian Galaxy, that all civilized space was unified under the rule of one government. 1,363 years following the emergence of the Stellar Kingdom (AH 412); 975 years following the conquest of Jeanne and Abrianna (800), which had seen the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia reach its maximum extent during the Second Laurasian Period; 695 years following the end of the Dasian Yoke (1080); and 454 years following the establishment of the Laurasian Empire (1321), Laurasia had ascended to become the only galactic power.
    • In her New Year's proclamation to her subjects, issued from the Hampsonian Palace on Jared, Empress Aurelia declared that "the spirits of our ancestors look kindly upon us, our subjects, and our Empire. We have overcome the travails of war, and have, through decisive and firm victories, obtained our sole dominion over the Caladarian Galaxy." The Empress pointed out that 770 years had now passed since the death of Timur the Devastator (1005), the one monarch before the Empress herself who had come closest to bringing the entire Caladarian Galaxy under one rule. In conjunction with this, it was also noted that 1,229 years had passed since the final collapse of the Arachaso-Kalbachan Empire (546); 1,116 years since the fall of the Lacian Despotate (660); and 502 years since the final collapse of the Dasian Empire, with the fall of the Homidinian Khanate to the Rashanian Mellorites (1253). Aurelia boasted how Laurasia, having been subjected to the domination of the Arachosian, Lacian, and Dasian Empires in their turn, was now an Empire in its own right, greater then all of them, and that all of these species now answered to her authority. She also asserted that it was a "a state possessed of moderation and tolerance, and of a capability to govern in a light that is not comparable to the excesses of barbarians." However, the year also commenced with the Empire's dominions emerging from the suppression of the Pugachevia Rebellion. Pugachevia himself, along with Colonels Beveria and Kuzevaria, was awaiting his death sentence at the Fortress of Baureux. For him, the new year was to bring him to his end. Empress Aurelia made only brief notation of the suppression of the Pugachevia Rebellion in her proclamation, declaring that "the evil designs of such a brigand and traitor were, by the grace of the Lord Almitis, brought to ruin." Finally, the Deliberative Commission in Dejanica was finally nearing completion of its work; the Partition Diet would be finally dissolved in this year, resulting in the creation of a pro-Laurasian governmental structure in the Dejanican-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
  • January 10-On January 10, 1775, the pretender Anastasius Pugachevia, his chief subordinates, Colonels Marius Kuzevaria and Antiphanes Beveria, and fifty officers of Pugachevia's command headquarters were executed by the full penalties of a traitor's death at the Fortress of Baureux. The night before the execution, Empress Aurelia issued direct instructions to the Lord Lieutenant of the Fortress, commanding him to ensure that there was "no procrastination or delay in the infliction of proper punishment upon the rebel Pugachevia and his subordinates" and that his execution was staged in such a manner as to imitate any from engaging in "any acts of insubordination or dissent thenceforth." At 11:00 A.M. Galactic Standard Time, Pugachevia and his accomplices were taken from their cells in the Fortress of Baureux and conveyed to the execution platform, erected at the Fortress Grounds. The platform was raised fifty feet above the ground. Visible around every angle of the platform were observation posts, manned by armed guards. Other guards, and soldiers of the Imperial Garrison, maintained their positions around the platform. On the platform itself, Pugachevia and his accomplices, huddled together into a close troop, were surrounded by guards, the Lord Lieutenant, and the Fortress officials. A crowd of 900,000 individuals was assembled to witness the execution. Among the official observers to the execution were the Earl of Leicesterius, Chancellor Walsingis, Lord Treasurer Burghley, the Earl of Sarah, the Earl of Hannah, and Field-Marshal Rumanstevus, who had returned to Laurasia Prime with a hero's welcome on December 27, 1774. The Lord Lieutenant now read the formal sentence of execution passed on Pugachevia and his accomplices to the crowd, and gave the pretender his opportunity for his final speech. In this speech, as in every plea before it, Pugachevia declared his guilt and expressed his wish for clemency in the afterlife. He reiterated that he was only a pretender and that he had sinned in the eyes of the Lord Almitis by posturing as the Empress's late brother. Following this last speech, Pugachevia was ushered to the stake. He crossed himself before sliding his head through the stake. The rebel then experienced the full horrors of a traitor's death. He was soon followed by his comrades, who, although they were not executed in as gruesome a manner as their former "master", were nevertheless subjected to public humiliation and begged for forgiveness from the Lord Almitis and the Empress, yet in vain. On the Empress's orders, the severed members of the bodies of Pugachevia and his immediate subordinates were now displayed at public podiums throughout the city of Christiania. An official imperial manifesto, written by Chancellor Walsingis and issued from the Quencilvanian Palace, declared that the "punishment suffered by this vile fiend Pugachevia" was the punishment that would be dealt to any rebels or traitors in the future. Pugachevia's body members were to remain on public display for the remainder of the year, so that every subject of the Empire would have a visible reminder of the consequences of treason.
  • January 14-
    • Empress Aurelia formally departed with the Imperial Court from the Hamsponian Palace on Jared, and commenced her progress back towards Laurasia Prime (January 14, 1775). During this journey, which was to last for the remainder of the month, the Empress visited Anusia, Saray, Senna, Murphy, Duros, Kukilovo, the Prelone Asteroid Belt, Compost V, Greenia, Bleuia, Lydia, Dorothy, Selena, Schaueria Prime, Shiloh, Tyleria Perea, Jessica Perea, Colsonia, Archleuta, Hammenor, Bristalai, Tommy, Chandlier, Meaganian, Arias, Danigia, Caitlin, the Nexus Route strongholds, the Station of Dosch, and other strongholds in the Murphian and Arian Provinces. While at Meaganian on January 25, the Empress began to take other measures in order to obliterate all traces of the Pugachevia Rebellion. On her direct orders, both of Pugachevia's wives, Sophia Navarania and Katharina Kuzevaria, as well as his three children, were incarcerated at the Secret Prison of Ipsus V. Navarania was to die from the Hilexian flu in 1782, while Kuzevaria would live until 1796. All three of Pugachevia's children would be killed in 1798, when their prison quarters were destroyed by a combustive explosion. All of the Pugachevia properties and businesses on Hasselbeck, Kotvilenskia, Veliky, Nottingham, Fats, Griffith, Hoohshikk, Deborah, Melanie Major, Rose, Jack, and other major star systems in the Middle Territories were confiscated by the Imperial Ministry of Labor and Commerce, their revenues being seized by the Imperial Treasury. Pugachevia's bank accounts were liquidated by the Imperial Bank of Laurasia Prime, and his surviving family members were deprived of their bonds and assets. It was now forbidden, by public manifesto, for any subject of the Empire to "utter, under any circumstances, the name of Anastasius Pugachevia, who is such a fiend and who has done much evil to this Empire." His brother, Tiberius Pugachevia (1745-97), who then lived on Melorkia Major and had not participated in the Pugachevia Rebellion, was commanded to change his last name and to denounce any prior association with his brother. He was also ordered to share all of his correspondence and family documents with the imperial authorities on Melorkia Prime, concerning his brother's financial and personal affairs. The properties and businesses owned by Pugachevia's chief subordinates were also confiscated, and all surviving relatives of the officers involved were forbidden to travel to Laurasia Prime.
    • Yaitsk, which had been the base of Pugachevia's Rebellion, was renamed Uralsk. The Wesselax Mining Corporation was, by the decree of January 26, 1775, deprived of the direct governance and ownership of the newly re-dubbed Uralsk. The star system was now placed under the jurisdiction of an imperial governor, to be appointed by the Imperial Ministry of Regional and Provincial Administration. The Communications Citadel of Uralsk, from which Pugachevia had issued his manifestos and his anti-government appeals to the star systems under his control, was demolished by government troops. The Empress also imposed martial law in the Uralsk star system and in three hundred other star systems deemed "most culpable" in terms of involvement with the Pugachevia Rebellion. On March 17, the Empress was to issue a manifesto of silence, consigning "all that transpired in the years 1773 and 1774 to eternal oblivion and profound silence." She confirmed the excommunication sentences imposed by the Holy Synod upon Pugachevia and his chief subordinates; granted the authorities of the Huntite Provinces the power to execute death sentences without recourse to the judicial system; and forbade any further mention of "Pugachevia, unless if is in accordance with this government's views." General Panius, who had experienced a panic attack on January 6, was permitted, on January 29, to officially, and finally, retire from his duties of command. He now retreated to Peverian Mansion in Christiania; was promoted to the rank of Field-Marshal by the Empress for his efforts; and received the Order of St. Seleucus the Victor. He would die in Christiania on April 26, 1789 at the age of sixty-eight.
    • As regards to the punishment of rebels, the imperial authorities in the Huntite Provinces, now directed by newly-appointed Prefect Sir Antigonus Grevius, pursued their mission vigorously. Over the course of the next three months, nearly 1.3 million rebels would be executed or imprisoned as punishment for their offenses. With action having thus been taken against Pugachevia, the Empress enjoyed herself for the rest of this mini-progress. On January 30, 1775, she finally arrived back at the Laurasia Prime star system. Massive ceremonies for her benefit were now staged by the Imperial Court and the authorities of the star system, Christiania, and the Quencilvanian Palace. The Empress was greeted by a military parade at Marsia and Inspiter; a fireworks display which illuminated the Approaches of Christiania; and the cheers and adoration of crowds assembled in the public squares of Christiania, Colombia, Osraninpolis, Uris, Heliotrope, Soriana, Jaina, Beneventum, Ravenna, Ostia, and other major cities of the star system. The Quencilvanian Palace itself was decorated in massive imperial banners, and at the entrance to the Palace, Her Majesty was greeted by Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley, along with members of the Privy Council and Governing Senate. They wore lavish robes of state. Two days of masques, concerts, musical performances, and banquets followed. Leicesterius, the Earl of Oxfadia, and Governing Senator Christopheus Hattonius distinguished themselves in these ceremonies. The Empress however, soon turned her attention to three other matters of concern: the Durthian Question; the project of reformation of the Empire's local administrative and judicial structure; and the final deliberations of the Diet Commission in the Dejanican Commonwealth.
  • January 22-On January 22, 1775, Jamsius Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran and regent of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria during the first twelve years of the reign of Mariana I of Scottria, died, aged 59. Following the marriage of Queen Mariana to Lord Darnley in 1765, Arran had retreated to his estates in Franconia. He had returned to Scottria in 1769 and was then imprisoned on the orders of the Earl of Moray for four years. Arran had been finally released by the Earl of Morton in 1773 when he agreed to recognize former Queen Mariana's son, Jamsius VI, as King of Scottria. Arran died at Holyroodian Palace Hospital on Ediania.
  • February 13-
    • On February 13, 1775, Empress Aurelia received a startling, and unexpected offer from the Durthian Duchies. As has been inferred to previously, Philicus I of Spamalka had not been able to be more "proactive" in regards to his dealings with the Laurasian Empire because of his own internal troubles concerning the Durthians. As alluded to above, the Grand Duchy of Durthia and Burgundy had fallen under the jurisdiction of the Holy Spamalkan Emperors earlier in that century. The actual Grand Duchy itself had been established in 1232 by King Hensios I of Franconia (1231-60), known for his struggles with his sons and for his efforts to extend Franconian power into Anjou, Orleans, Burgundy, and Lorraine. Burgundy formed from the remnants of the Franconian Kingdom of Burgundy, which had been established in 1133 and had later been divided between Franconia and the Holy Empire of Saxony (predecessor to the Holy Austarlian Empire, the Germanian Principalities, and Pruthia). From 1202 to 1232, King Robare (1196-1231), Hensios's father and predecessor, had ruled over Durthia and Burgundy directly as Duke, but found that these volatile dominions were impossible to control. Consequently, he had conferred the Duchy upon his younger son, also named Robare, who ruled over Durthia and Burgundy until his death in March 1276. Durthia and Burgundy remained under the control of the Capetian Dynasty for more than three centuries.
    • During that time, the Dukes developed the Burgundian Court; the administrative system of the duchies; and the Jours Generaux, an executive and judicial chamber which exerted authority over those realms. The Dukes, furthermore, broke down the privileges of their nobility and became involved in numerous intrigues involving Franconia, Vendragia, the Germanian Principalities, Savoy, and Haxonia, among other states. Finally, in 1563, following the extinction of the Capetian Dynasty, and two years of rule by King Jean II of Franconia (1550-64), the Duchy passed to the Valois Dynasty, and under the rule of Jean's son Philivus the Good (1564-1604). Under Philivus and his successors, Jean I the Fearless (1604-19); Philivus II the Good (1619-67); and Char'va I the Bold (1667-77), Durthia thrived. Duke Philivus I brought Hainault, Nevers, Rethel, Flanders, Brabant, Artois, and the Free County of Burgundy under his control through his marriage to Margaret of Dampierre, Countess of Flanders (who died in 1605). During that time, the Grand Dukes became bitter enemies of the Kings of Franconia; Char'lac VII and his son, Lujak XI both struggled with the Burgundians. Char'va's reckless policies of aggrandizement and territorial expansion, seen by his conquest of Liege (1667); Ferette and Alasce (1669); Zutphen (1671); and Guelders (1673), strengthened Burgundy's territorial base.
    • This eventually brought him into conflict with Holy Austarlian Emperor Lea'dus I, who was striving to maintain his hold of the Schaan, Strasbourg, and the Free County of Burgundy; King Lujak XII of Franconia, determined to expand the Franconian Royal Dominions; and the Duke of Lorraine, who had disputes with Char'va over Lorraine, Flanders, and Artois. Thus in May 1674 the Burgundian War had erupted, in which Austarlia, Franconia, and Lorraine all united together against Burgundy. 1674-75 had seen victories on the part of Char'va, who managed to conquer Neuss, Nancy, Beauvais, Calais, and parts of Cologne and Baden. He also campaigned against the Austarlian Swiss Duchies, penetrating to Grandson, Basel, Vaduz, and the Lichenstein Colonies; in March 1676, however, he was defeated in the Battle of Concise, suffering enormous losses of supplies, men, and equipment. He then lost the Battle of Morat, and was driven from Nancy by the Duke of Lorraine in October 1676. The Grand Duke had then vigorously reorganized his forces again; by the end of 1676, Austarlian forces were overrunning Brabant, Hainault, and Zeeland, while the Franconians had advanced forth in Franche-Comte and the Dijon Regions.
    • It was on January 5, 1677, that Char'va was decisively defeated by Lorrainian and Austarlian forces in the Battle of Nancy; he himself was killed in the confrontation. Following this disaster, Austarlia, Franconia, and Lorraine had then undertaken the partition of Burgundian territory; the Treaties of Augsbourg (1677), Arras (1682), and Senlis (1693), following disputes between Austarlia and Franconia over the rights of Mary of Burgundy, Char'vak's daughter and wife of the Austarlian Archduke Maximilian, finally settled the situation. Franconia acquired Artois, Charolais, Arras, and the Duchy of Burgundy proper; Austarlia acquired Brussalia, Trier, and the Eastern Duchies of Burgundy; and the remainder of the Duchies, including Hainault, Brabant, Flanders, and Durthian Holland, came under Maximilian's regency, in the name of his son, Duke Philivus III (who ruled from 1682). In 1697, Lea'dus I of Austarlia conceded, by the Treaty of Ryswick the succession rights to the Free County of Burgundy to Franconia as well, in exchange for recognition of his acquisition of Freiburg, Breisach, and Philippsburg, which thereby acceded to the Kingdom of Austarlian Burgundy. Philivus became Grand Duke in his own right in 1694, and in 1696 married Jo'aha, the daughter of Fe'ro II and Fresia I of Holy Spamalka. Their son (Char'va I of Spamalka), had been born in 1700. Six years later, when Philivus died shortly after becoming co-Emperor of Holy Spamalka, his sister Margaret had become Grand Duchess of Durthia and Burgundy. She had abdicated in 1716, in favor of Jo'aha; Jo'aha, in turn, when she died in 1719, was succeeded, in both Durthia and Spamalka, by Char'va. Char'va had, through the Guelderian Wars, extending from 1719 to 1743, gradually extended his rule over Freisland, Groningen, Stavelot-Malmedy, Gelderland, Utrecht, and Overjissel; by 1743, all of the Durthian Duchies had passed under the rule of the Holy Spamalkan Emperor.
    • Thus, by 1756, when Philicus had become Emperor of Spamalka, the Durthian Duchies had become an integral part of the Holy Spamalkan Empire. In 1759, the Emperor had appointed his half-sister Margaret of Parma as the regent of the Durthian Provinces. Margaret protected her half-brother's interests vigorously, and came to be despised by the Durthians for her autocratic policies. In particular, Margaret's religious and taxation policies aroused the ire of the Durthian nobility. Several times, but especially in 1766, they had petitioned the Regent to relax her policies and "to spare these realms from oppression." They also begged to be excused from contributing to Philicus's incessant wars with Franconia, the Marasharite Empire, the Germanian Principalities, and the Vendragian Confederacy. Margaret however, on her half-brother's orders, had refused. In April 1768, the Durthian Prince William of Orange had taken the lead in provoking full-scale revolt against Philicus. Although Philicus's forces suppressed this first outbreak after the Battles of Rheindalen and Hellingerlee, the current of tension which had caused the rebellion was never fully suppressed. In April 1772, the capture of Briell by a rebel faction under the command of Marck Lumey had resulted in the outbreak of the formal Durthian Rebellion. By that point, Margaret was no longer Regent, having been replaced by Philicus with the Duke of Alba. Alba himself, however, was replaced within a year, succeeded by Luis Zunigas. Zunigas, however, was no more able to contain the rebellion than his predecessor, and by January 1775, the Durthian Provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, and Utrecht had acknowledged the leadership of Prince William of Orange (1730-84), who now became Stadholder (Governor and President) of the Durthian Duchies.
    • Durthia had received recognition of its autonomy from the Grand Duchy of Masacavania, the Vendragian Confederacy (eager to discomfit its Spamalkan adversaries), and the Marasharite Empire. Empress Aurelia of Laurasia, who distrusted the republican traditions of the Durthian rebels (extending back to the time of the Jours Generoux), and who had been engaged in the War of the Bar Confederation and the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War, refrained from conferring official recognition upon the United Durthian States at this juncture. The Empress had, however, permitted Laurasian mercenaries and officers to be hired by the States; and Laurasian corporations had conducted a clandestine commerce with the Durthians at Belkadan, Sernapasia, Karakorum, Houston, Vandross, Tyson, and the Oirat Worlds. Now, on February 13, 1775, the rebel Duchies sent a communique to the Empress. In the communique, drafted by the States-General, it was declared that the "rule of the tyrant Philicus is no longer acceptable in our eyes." Therefore, they requested for formal Laurasian recognition of their autonomy, and presented an offer to place themselves under the diplomatic and military protection of "Her Imperial Majesty of Laurasia".
    • The Empress was tempted by this offer: it presented the opportunity to extend Laurasian influence into the Great Amulak Spiral, and to give the Empire a considerable base of diplomatic and military influence, in regards to Spamalka, Pruthia, and Austarlia. At the same time, however, Aurelia considered the consequences. If she accepted protection of the Durthian Duchies, this would lead to inevitable war with Philicus. This was something the Empress was not willing to do. Having just emerged from the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War, the Empire would not be in the best state to immediately plunge into war with another power. Moral concerns also took precedence in the Empress's mind. Philicus was the anointed ruler of Durthia, and had acceded to rule over those territories through hereditary succession. If she accepted the sovereignty, she would be supporting the rebels in the overthrow of a fellow monarch (though her hypocrisy had already been revealed through her dealings in Haynsia, Dejanica, and Scottria). The Empress wisely and prudently decided therefore, on the advice of the ever-cautious Burghley, to reject the Durthian proposal. This offended the Durthians and aroused criticism from some circles at the Imperial Court. Leicesterius and Walsingis were among those who believed that the Empress should have taken the advantage, but they respected her decision and eventually realized that she was correct.
    • It would be rash to rush into war with Spamalka at this juncture. Orange himself now sent a communique to the Empress (March 5, 1775), in which he sought to justify the reasons for the Durthian Rebellion. Orange declared that he had not taken up arms out of mere disobedience, for he was fighting for "neither ambition nor gain, but for the defense of the Durthian religion and of its realms and for the lives and liberties of the same." Aurelia, however, was still not moved by this. In April 1775, she even declared that she would never harbor Orange or any of his supporters in her realms. Moreover, she reiterated her adherence to the Convention of Mymegen (March 15, 1773), which regulated commerce between the Laurasian Empire and the Spamalkan Durthian Duchies, and had been negotiated as part of Philicus's efforts to maintain the peace. Aurelia also offered her services as a mediator, and in July 1775 dispatched Sir Antigonus Cobhamia to the Court of Madrid, but the Emperor of Spamalka made it clear that he would expect nothing less than the unconditional submission of the Durthian rebels. Yet the Durthian Rebellion was still not Aurelia's top priority at this point. The Empress of Laurasia's main goal at this time was to extend Laurasia's power over its immediate neighbors, as was to occur during the course of the next decade.
  • March 27-
    • On March 27, 1775, the Deliberative Commission, which had for several months reviewed matters of concern posed to it by the Dejanican Diet, finally ended its deliberations and presented its resolutions to the Diet. King Stanis Vorrust I had reconvened the Partition Diet for a final session on February 19, 1775, for the formal ratification of the Commission's resolutions. Laurasian Ambassador von Stackelburg, who had followed the proceedings of the Commission carefully, and ensured that its members worked in accordance with his wishes, now distributed bribes and favors to members of the Diet, in order to obtain their support for the resolutions. The Commission's resolutions were now viewed by the Imperial Government as acceptable for the governance of the Dejanican Commonwealth. The Cardinal Laws, those irrefutable constitutional laws of the Dejanican-Lithuanian Commonwealth, were confirmed and guaranteed by the Resolutions. Religious tolerance for all minorities in the Commonwealth's territory was confirmed; Almitians, Austarlian Ritualists, and Pruthian Martialists were to enjoy all the privileges of any other subject of the Dejanican Crown. Royal power was restricted, as the King lost the authority to grant titles or to appoint military officers, ministers, and senators without the approval of the Diet. He also lost the right to award or to exchange Crown estates, which were declared inviolate properties of the Dejanican Crown.
    • In return, however, the King received four star systems as his personal property, and was entitled to govern or dispose of them as he wished. The royal election of future monarchs was confirmed, with the stipulation that future kings would have to be elected from among the members of the Dejanican-Lithuanian nobility. Sons and grandsons of any king could not succeed to the throne until two others had held it in the interim. The Resolutions also established a trade treaty between Pruthia and Dejanica, which confirmed the abolition of tariffs and duties at Thorn and Danzig, and the rights of the Pruthians to levy impost duties upon goods transported into their territory. The Resolutions also created two new institutions, concessions by the partitioning powers but nevertheless still instruments of control over the Dejanican Government. The Permanent Council, which loosely resembled the Spamalkan and Austarlian Councils of State, the Pruthian Cabinet, or the Imperial Privy Council of Laurasia, was to be the central executive council of the Dejanican Government.
    • The Commission of National Education was created to coordinate the Commonwealth's educational system, joining the earlier Commissions of Treasury and Defense. The Council was intended by the partitioning powers to be an institution easier to control than the Diets, and indeed, it was to remain under the oversight of the Laurasian Ambassador. The Council, nevertheless, represented a significant improvement in the Commonwealth's governance. The Council, with the commissions of Foreign Affairs, Treasury, Defense, Justice, and Police, gained the authority to interpret existing laws in the sphere of administration and provided the Commonwealth with a continuous governing body that operated between the Diets and was not affected by the liberum veto. The Council was to be led by the King, with 36 members who were elected by the Diet. Half of the members were to be from each chamber of the Diet. The Council's affairs were to be decided by majority vote, with the King having the authority to break ties if they arose. The commissions were placed under the oversight of the Council and supervised by the Council's five parallel departments. The Council, in addition to its administrative duties, would present to the King three candidates for each nomination to the Senate (to be confirmed by the full Diet) as well as for other main offices. The Commission of National Education assumed responsibility for the governance of the weights and measures, educational administration, and educational standards.
    • This was considered to be the most significant accomplishment of the otherwise despised Partition Diet. The fiscal policy was also reformed, with a uniform capitation levy on the properties of commoners and merchants being introduced and a schedule of tariffs in the Commonwealth's remaining territories established. The military experienced some modifications, with the Crown Hetmans now being held accountable for their actions directly to the Diet. The size of the Dejanican Forces was capped at 25% of the military force of the smallest foreign power (Haynsian Despotate), allowing to the Commonwealth a fleet of 1,000 warships, 5,000 smaller craft, and no more than 10 million personnel in the Dejanican Army. Nobles were now permitted to engage in trade and crafts, earning preferential loans and financial grants as compared to regular merchants. All of these reforms were, once again, guaranteed by the Laurasian Empress Aurelia I, giving her a pretext for future intervention in the Commonwealth's affairs if the arrangements were threatened. The Partition Diet conferred its final approval to the Resolutions on April 11, 1775, and was thereafter finally and permanently dissolved.
  • April 23-
    • On April 23, 1775, King Hensios III of Franconia finally ended a year of tension between the courts of the two realms when he requested for the renewal of the Treaty of Blois. Already, however, Hensios had proved himself to be a more pragmatic monarch than had been feared by the Empress Aurelia and her ministers. He had refrained from resuming religious persecution policies against the Huguenots, declaring that it would not be wise to provoke tensions within his realms at this juncture. On December 11, 1774, he had also conferred his official recognition for the Laurasian Empire's gains in the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca, which had been made at the expense of Franconia's traditional ally, the Marasharite Empire. On February 13, 1775, he had been crowned King of Franconia at Rheims Cathedral, but had taken care to treat the Laurasian Ambassador, Lord Meleager Northia, with great respect and civility. The following day, he had been married to Princess Louise of Lorraine, granddaughter of the former King of Dejanica, Stanis I. She was, nevertheless, viewed as a non-threatening candidate to Laurasian interests, and this had mellowed the Empress's attitudes further. Now Hensios, who himself realized that peaceful relations with the Empire would only be to his own benefit, took his actions to request the Treaty's renewal. Empress Aurelia was pleased when she learned of it, and without hesitation, she immediately accepted his proposal.
    • Chancellor Walsingis and the Franconian Ambassador to the Laurasian Court, the Comte de Engieu, staged a ceremonial reconfirmation ceremony at the Diplomatic Palace on April 26. Two days later, the Empress honored the King of Franconia with the Order of the Imperial Garter, and expressed her hope that "peace would always prevail between our two realms." In May, Aurelia undertook a further gesture of friendship towards King Hensios by issuing a diplomatic memorandum, in which she urged the Huguenots, once again engaged in hostility with the Royalists, to "remain at peace with their betters" and to seek equitable terms with the King's government. In regards to other matters, she had much cause for joy. The withdrawal of Laurasian troops from the Haynsian Despotate (except for Perekop, Karabusar, Palymer, and the Haynsian Slave Highway) and the Great Tesmanian Cloud had been completed on schedule by March 1775. Full diplomatic and economic relations between the Laurasian and Marasharite Empires had been restored. On March 18, 1775, Sir Nicholas Repanius (who would be created Duke of Kalbacha Major in 1776), had been appointed as Ambassador of the Laurasian Empire to the Court of Topacia. He had been received by Emperor Abdulahamid and his new Grand Vizier, Izzet Mehmed. Mushinzade Mehmed had died suddenly on August 9, 1774, shortly after the conclusion of the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca. Rumors had circulated that the Emperor had him poisoned, for some unknown grievance. This, however, was unsubstantiated. Empress Aurelia, on her part, had received Silad Mehmed as Marasharite Ambassador to the Laurasian Empire on March 22; he had been greeted in a ceremony of welcome at the Quencilvanian Palace, and was the first Marasharite envoy to the Imperial Court in over six years. Laurasia also remained at peace with Spamalka, although tensions with Philicus still remained. Finally, Walsingis's spies had managed to infiltrate the Scottrian Queen's household. For the time being, international affairs had stabilized.
  • May 5-
    • Empress Aurelia, who had become convinced of the necessity of further governmental reform within the structure of the Laurasian Empire, now appointed a special government commission, on May 5, 1775, in order to examine the situation of the regional and provincial administration of her realms and to make recommendations as to how this situation could be remedied. In her manifesto establishing the commission, issued from the Palace of Secrets on Paradine (to which the Empress had retired for a short visit), she declared that "the events of recent years, concerning the lately-passed upheavals in the Malarian and Huntite Provinces, have convinced me that that the situation in this Empire is one which requires immediate change." Although she praised her ministers for the efforts they had made at maintaining the stability of the Imperial Government, and declared that the Empire was in a state of great economic prosperity, Aurelia nevertheless stated that reforms needed to be enacted to maintain her authority "on the localized level." The commission therefore established was comprised of fifty members, from the three Councils of State, the nobility, the civil service and administration, and the Imperial Court. Lord Treasurer Burghley chaired the commission.
    • By the decree of January 15, 1775, the Empress had conferred the honorary designation of "chief minister" upon Burghley, thereby making him most senior of the Officers of State and consequently, the highest ranking official in the Imperial Government below the Empress herself. Burghley, although he no longer shouldered the onerous burdens of the Chancellorship, was still the Empress's chief adviser. Chancellor Walsingis; Field-Marshals Rumanstevius and Dologruvkius (who had been promoted to that rank in February); the Earls of Leicesterius, Jadia, Aretha, Sarah, Hannah, Caladaria, and Darcia; the Duke of Christiania; the Mayor of Christiania; the Governor of Laurasia Prime; the Prefect of the Huntite Provinces; the Prefect of the Melarnarian Provinces; Sir Rudomentus Sadielus; Sir Willanius Drury; Procurator-General Bagonius; Lord Knollysis; Minister of Finance Mildmay; and numerous other prominent officials all sat on the commission, which first convened on May 23, 1775. They were to work vigorously during the course of the next four months, receiving financial, military, and civil service reports from star systems and prefectures throughout the Empire. Their work was to culminate in one of the most important reforms of the Empress Aurelia's reign, which would constitute the most comprehensive reform of local administration in Laurasian history.
  • May 17-
    • On May 17, 1775, Amnystas Parsius, Aurelia the Great's first and most tolerant Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod, died at Lambathian Palace in Christiania, Laurasia Prime. He was seventy years old. Parsius had become respected throughout the Almitian Church, chiefly for his traits of prudence, compromise, and vigor. Throughout his years of service, he had sought to vigorously enforce the religious policies of the Almitian Church while refraining from harsh treatment of Traditionalists and other minorities in the Empire. Parsius had been responsible for the publication of the Book of Advertisements (1766), concerning vestments among the black clergy of the Almitian Church. This had not received formal authorization from the Synod at the time of its publication, but would eventually be codified in 1782. He had sought to take the middle ground in all theological disputes, and vigorously fought Extremist sects within the Almitian Church. Parsius's death was genuinely mourned by the Empress, who also remembered him as the chaplain of her mother, Anna Boleyenia. She issued a manifesto announcing Parsius's death and her condolences for his widow, Lady Margarina Parrius. On the Empress's orders, Parsius was interred at the Westphalian Cathedral, in the Crypt of Clergymen, on May 24. She then entrusted Burghley with selecting Parsius's replacement. Burghley, who was interested in maintaining the Almitian Reformation, and in locating an official who would not tolerate dissension among the officials of the Church proper, made one of the greatest blunders of his career by selecting Demetrius Grindalius. Grindalius, who had been born at St. Bee's Priory on Alicia on January 22, 1719, had a long history of service with the Almitian Church. He obtained his education at the Magadelene College of Alicia and then the Theological Academy of Charasia, from which he had graduated in September 1738 with his BA in Theology. Elected a fellow of the Theological Academy, Grindalius had pursued his education further, obtaining his MA in May 1741 and his PhD in Theology three years later.
    • He became Deacon of Pembrokian Hall on Lusculum in 1744; Proctor of Magadelene College in 1750; and Chief Preacher of the Church of Holies on Beau from 1748-1750. It was in this capability that he came to the notice of Archbishop Rogerius Perles of Darsis. Perles appointed him as one of his attaches and gave him the precentorship of St. Columbus's Cathedral in Philadelphie City (August 1750). Three months later, he was promoted to become one of the personal chaplains of the Imperial Household and prebendary of the Westphalian Precinct; in October 1752, he was one of the clergymen commanded to review the Forty-Six Articles before they were sanctioned by the Imperial Privy Council. Benefiting greatly from the patronage of Perles and Chancellor Cecilis, he was nominated to become Bishop of Alicia on June 11, 1753. Didymeia's accession to the throne a month later, however, resulted in Grindalius being removed from all of his offices (May 1754). He now fled to the Pruthian Empire, and took up habitation at Straslia. He remained in exile for nearly five years, until returning back to the Empire in January 1759, just in time for Aurelia's coronation as Empress. He was a member of the Ecclesiastical Commission for the Review of the Almitian Church which drafted the Imperial Statute for the Governance and Uniformity of the Almitian Church of the Laurasian Empire. In July 1759, he became Master of Pembrokian Hall; two months later, he finally became Bishop of Alicia. He served in that capacity for the next eleven years, having to contend with the destruction of Pembrokian Hall in a combustive explosion (December 2, 1761) and disputes concerning vestments and ornaments among his parishioners. By 1770, however, he had a established reputation in the Almitian Church. On March 9, 1770, he became Archbishop of Chancia, and served in that position with vigor and energy during the next five years, strictly enforcing conformity upon the officials and congregations under his control. Burghley, therefore, believed that he was the perfect candidate. At the time, his faults were not immediately apparent, and on June 25, 1775, he was formally appointed to the Chief Procuratorate.
  • July 7-
    • On July 7, 1775, Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court formally departed from Laurasia Prime for what was to become one of the most famous progresses of her reign. The other progress undertaken by the Empress which would be comparable in fame and scale to this one would be the Empress's Haynsian progress of 1787. Empress Aurelia, however, was not attended by all of the most significant figures of the Imperial Court. On January 21, 1775, the Empress had granted the restless Earl of Oxfadia, who could not keep himself restrained to the Imperial Court, a license to travel abroad in the Amulak Spiral. Oxfadia was provided letters of introduction to foreign monarchs and assured passage through Marasharite territories, in accordance with the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca. After making arrangements for his financial affairs, he had departed from Laurasia Prime in the first week of February 1775. He was to remain abroad until April 1776. The Earl would be presented to many of the most prominent monarchs in the Great Amulak Spiral, including King Hensios III of Franconia; Doge Mocenigo of Haxonia; Emperor Pru'a IX of Pruthia; Austarlian Empress Mar'va Tarvania, and her son, Joseth II; King Georg III of Vendragia; and Grand Duke Ivan IV of Masacavania. His visits were to take him through Franconia, the Haxonian Confederacy, the Vendragian Confederacy, Masacavania, the Marasharite Empire, Pruthia, Spamalka, and Austarlia. Even in his absence, rumors continued to circulate about his relationship with the Empress; many believed that he was actually engaged in an affair with his sovereign. Towards the close of the eighteenth century, it would even be claimed that the 3rd Earl of Southerton (who was born in 1777) was their bastard child.
    • Another favorite absent from the progress was Sir Christopheus Hattonius. In April 1775, the Governing Senator and Chief of the Gentleman Pensioners, who had continued to remain high in the Empress's favor, expressed a desire to acquire Ely Palace in the Residential District of Christiania. Ely Palace was the residence of the Archbishops of Mendelevium in Christiania, and was renowned for its extensive gardens, system of pathways, and balcony views. The Empress, who was pleased at the prospect of Hattonius possessing a residence at which he could entertain her while she visited him, also wished to discountenance the proprietor. This was Antiochus Coxeria, the Archbishop of Mendelevium. Coxeria, however, was one who had not been originally alienated from the Empress's confidence. Born in Whatteron, Metallasia, on January 7, 1700, Coxeria was born into a family of little economic means. His father, John Coxeria, was a shipyard hauler; his mother, Messalina, was a housekeeper in the service of Sir Antigonus Demesius, one of the leading knights on Metallasia. By virtue of his own intelligence and ability, however, Coxeria had managed to arise from his low origins and to ascend to a high position in the Almitian Church. He was educated at the Benedectine Priory Academy of Whatteron, one of the most renowned primary schools in the Empire; from here, he had declared his interest in theology, and had entered the College of Antiochus and Eleanora on Merandaz, from which he graduated with a B.A. in theology in May 1724.
    • He quickly came to the attention of Cardinal-Chancellor Wolesius; Wolesius appointed him as one of the chapter deans of the Oxvarian Cathedral on Mercedes. While serving in this capacity, he obtained his M.A. in 1726 from the Theological Faculty of the University of Mercedes. In 1733, Coxeria, now one of the Deacon's Attendants at the Westphalian Cathedral, composed an ode on the occasion of Anna Boleyenia's coronation as Empress Consort. He then resumed his theological studies at the University of Laurasia Prime, obtaining his PhD in theology in June 1737. His dissertation, On the Principles of the Institution of Almitian Men, become renowned as a definitive theological document of the Almitian Church. In 1740, he sat on a commission, chaired by the Archbishop of Darcia, in order to deal with matters relating to sacraments and the seat of authority in the Almitian Church; he became personal chaplain to the Emperor Antigonus III two years later. The following year, he obstructed the Prebendaries' Plot and for this now became the Chief Procurator's chief secretary of state. He also became almoner to Grand Prince Demetrius and Head Dean of the Oxvarian Cathedral. Following Demetrius's accession to the throne in January 1747, Coxeria tended more and more towards Reformed Almitism. He was consulted on the compilation of the Communion Ordinal and the Books of Common Prayer, and sat on a advisory commission appointed by Cranmerius to review canon law. From 1747-1752, he also served as Chancellor of the University of Laurasia Prime, his alumni, and was responsible for effacing Traditionalist references and doctrines from the Theological Faculty. He ascended further through the church ranks, becoming canon of Colombia (1748), rector of Whatterton (1749); and Dean of the Westphalian Cathedral (1750). He was considered for nomination to the Archbishopric of Metallasia. When Didymeia ascended to the throne in July 1753, Coxeria was on her orders immediately deprived of all his positions and for a time imprisoned at the Cron Drift. In May 1754, following the collapse of the Wyatta Rebellion, Coxeria managed to flee from Laurasia Prime to exile in the Serene Kingdom of Franconia.
    • From there he made his way to the Autocratic Pruthian Empire, renowned since the reign of A'rua I as a refuge for religious dissidents. Coxeria continued to participate in the Reformed Almitist movement, and encouraged the establishment of Reformist communities at Almitian conclaves throughout Pruthia and Austarlia. He returned to the Empire in January 1759, the same time as Grindalius, shortly after Aurelia's coronation. The Empress now appointed him as Archbishop of Mendelevium, one of the chief dioceses on Laurasia Prime. He retained this position for twenty-one years, but became known for his intolerance of nonofficial views and his rigorous suppression of dissent among his subordinates. It was in this capacity that he had theological arguments with the Empress. Three times, in 1766, 1769, and 1772, she had considered depriving him of his see and reducing his ecclesiastical rank, but had ultimately been persuaded by Burghley and Chief Procurator Parrius from taking this step. Coxeria was still a renowned theologian, and his diocese became one of the most uniform and best-administered in the entire Almitian Church. This did not, however, stay the Empress's hand against him in matters relating to her favorite. The Archbishop was reluctant to allow Hattonius to purchase Ely Palace, considering him one of a "number of court harlots and harpies who have defiled this Empire's honor." Aurelia was outraged at this, and on her orders, Chancellor Walsingis wrote a communique to the Archbishop directly, threatening him with deprivation and imprisonment unless if he submitted. Coxeria, fearful of the Empress's authority and knowing the consequences of defiance, quickly yielded, and Hattonius acquired Ely Palace on June 12, 1775. Therefore, he was excused by the Empress from going on progress so as to arrange the affairs of his new property. The Empress therefore departed from Laurasia Prime in a happy mood, triumphant at having chastened a "insubordinate subject." She had announced that her progress would be to the Robertian Provinces, but was determined to make a series of visits to some of her prominent courtiers first.
  • July 9-
    • The first of the Empress's visits was to Kenilian Castle on Taurasia, the chief residence of her chief favorite, the Earl of Leicesterius (July 9, 1775). This in fact, was to be the most memorable time of the progress. This was, in fact, the Empress's third visit to Kenilian Castle, but it was in the midst of full splendor and glory. When she arrived in the outskirts of the Taurasia star system, Leicesterius himself, who had spared no expense in readying his estate for her visit, traveled to greet her. She was entertained in a sumptuous space station which had been constructed at Maurasia Mount, specifically for the occasion. Leicesterius had spent €6.6 billion dataries on the construction of this facility alone; the dinner which he staged in the Empress's honor was attended by all 50,000 personages of the Imperial Court and cost him another €50 million. At 8:00 P.M. Galactic Standard Time, after a hunting simulation at the Station Holodeck, he escorted the Empress to Kenilian Castle itself, which dominated the landscape of Taurasia's capital, Basaia City, and was illuminated by thousands of magnetic displays and electrical torches. Kenilian Castle itself was now the largest noble residence in the Empire.
    • It was comprised of nearly ten thousand rooms in eight interconnected structures; ringed by extensive gardens and a miniature park; and had its own stables, agricultural production facility, auditorium, stadium, and entertainment complex. The property was surrounded by a 30,000-foot deep moat, specially dug on the Earl's orders; a drawbridge had to be crossed to reach the Castle's entrance. The pillars of the drawbridge itself were decorated with inscriptions of fruits and vines, to symbolize earthly bounty. On some were hung replicas of musical instruments, and on others armor, to remind the Empress that Leicesterius was ready to lay his life down for her. On the other side of the bridge was the outer gatehouse. Her attention was quickly diverted to the sudden emergence of a artificial island, which blazed with lights; a woman, dressed as Lady of the Lake (a mythical Brethalian character) and two nymphs of the lake, clad in expensive Horacian silks, made a speech to the Empress concerning the castle's history and its origins. The castle was linked to the Justianite legends of old, and presented to the Empress. She muttered that she was under the impression it was hers already. Musicians, dressed in lavish garments, played; at the castle gate, a "sybil" clad in a white silk route recited verses of welcome and made a prophesy that the Empress would enjoy long life, peace, and prosperity. She was joined by Drama Professor Antigenes Vemeus of the University of Laurasia Prime, dressed as "Hercules the Porter". He performed a comic routine, and presented the Empress with the ceremonial keys to the castle. When she entered the Castle Court to the sound of trumpets, she was greeted by gentlemen in the guise of old King Justinian's knights, and as she was escorted to her apartments in Leicesterius's Tower, which had been completed only two months earlier, guns sounded a salute. Fireworks now illuminated the city; the noise could be heard for hundreds of miles in every direction. The Empress noticed the improvements made by Leicesterius; some rooms were designed in the ancient Letousian style; some in Brethalian style; some in medieval style; and some in Royal Laurasian style.
    • All rooms had lavish decorations, some of whom were so rare that Leicesterius spent millions just to obtain them. The moat itself was adorned with statutes of naked nymphs and satyrs; adjoining the stadium were extensive hunting grounds. The Empress however, before retiring, pointed out to Leicesterius that she could not see the garden effectively from her windows. The Earl ordered a similar garden to be laid out below her room overnight; the gardens were there in the morning. Leicesterius expended almost €15 million dataries to accomplish this extraordinary feat. During the early hours of July 10, the Empress attended services at Leicesterius's private chapel, the expenses for which were covered entirely by the Earl. She then had dinner in the magnificent great hall, which had been constructed by the Earl Antigonus of Taurasia nearly two centuries earlier. She was then entertained by excellent music and dancing. A second firework display then took place, and continued until the early hours of the morning. The next day, the Empress kept to her chambers until the evening hours, when she emerged to hunt and to watch games at the stadium. When she returned in a torchlit procession, she encountered Sir Antigonus Gasciognia (1735-77), the famed poet, who had been commissioned by Leicesterius to write the speeches and entertainments. He was dressed in a extravagant costume of moss green, and attended by a player representing "Echo": they now engaged in a rhyming dialogue, and then engaged in a ceremony of homage, almost running into the Empress's personal steed while they were at it.
    • The next day, July 12, she was out hunting again, then attended a series of concerts, competitions, and masques staged by Leicesterius for her benefit; two days later, she attended a Mavocian bear-baiting at the stadium. Another fireworks display was held, followed by a lavish circus performance staged by the Ringling Clowns, one of the most renowned acts in the Empire. They were known for their high standards and consequently, for their high fees; Leicesterius paid dearly to meet their expenses. Outdoor entertainment was then halted for two days because of a accident at the stadium; masques, concerts, and holofilm showings did not slow the pace down, and Leicesterius expended millions to secure the highest-class performers in the Empire, in opera, orchestra, band arts, film, dance, theater, and physical performance, to appear before the Empress. On July 17, outdoor entertainments resumed; the Empress was guest of honor at a wedding feast, held in the courtyard of Kenilian Castle. Much dancing took place; the bride and bridegroom, a Mr. and Mrs. Honorius Denneria, were actually compensated by the Earl for agreeing to have their feast at the Imperial Court. Both became puffed up with pride, and Mrs. Denneria, not the most beautiful of women, conducted herself with airs, as if she were as graceful as her bridesmaids. Following the dancing, a pageant was performed in the open air by the Good Men's Company of Taurasia, a renowned theatrical group. The Empress watched the proceedings from her windows, and asked for the pageant to be performed again before her departure.
    • The Empress was then presented with an ambrosial banquet, with the dining tables being laid with forty-five thousand pieces of glass and silver; three hundred courses were served by six thousand gentlemen, all of whom were paid by Leicesterius and had been hired specifically for the occasion. The courtiers, now numbering nearly 70,000, enjoyed themselves most of all; the Empress, on her part, only picked at her food, although she did enjoy a masque presented afterwards. On July 18, the Empress knighted five gentlemen, including Lord Burghley's eldest son Thomasius, his only child by his first wife Didymeia Chekius, daughter of Sir John Chekius, Demetrius II's tutor. Aurelia then touched nine persons for the Emperor's Evil. She then retired to her chambers, enjoying a private reading staged by Leicesterius, before attending the games at Kenilian Stadium again. A water pageant was then staged for her upon her return. A one hundred foot long model of a dolphin and a fifty foot long model of a mermaid had been constructed; in the dolphin was concealed a consort of musicians and a singer representing Arion, Letousian God of the Light. The Lady of the Lake made another appearance, attended by the sea-god Triton and by Sir Antigonus Lamerius, who assumed the role of the Justianite knight Brucius de Lee. The following day, the Good Men's pageant was repeated. Then, on July 20, 1775, the festivities were to climax with a richly-costumed mythological masque which Leicesterius had commissioned Sir Gasciognia to stage. Gascigonia had demanded a hefty fee for the demands made of him; Leicesterius had captiulated. The story told how two goddesses, the virgin huntress Diana of Grinae, and Juno, goddess of marriage, each tried to persuade a nymph, Eurelia-an anagram of the Empress's name, to follow their example. It ended with Juno warning Eurelia not to heed Diana, and to marry as she had. The underlying message was that the Empress herself should marry in likewise manner, and if was intended so that the court would not be left in doubt as to whom she should marry: Leicesterius. Lady Shieffaldia was not present during the Empress's visit, having remained on Marcia with the Earl's son. By this point, however, Leicesterius was already beginning to tire of her. The masque, however, had to be abandoned because the pavilion where it was to be staged was damaged in a electrical accident. Leicesterius was distressed, and because the Empress was due to leave Taurasia the following day to continue her progress up the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route, he commissioned Gascigonia to write farewell verses with a similar message.
    • On July 19, 1775, Empress Aurelia finally departed from the Taurasia star system, with her courtiers, in particular Burghley and the Earl of Jadia, declaring that they had never known anything to equal their experiences there. As the Empress began to ride away on her personal repulsorlift, Gascigonia, disguised as the mythological character Sylvanius, sprang from alongside the pathway and then descended alongside her on his cycle, attempting to read his hastily composed verses to her. The Empress, however, believing that urgency was necessary, began to accelerate faster; Gascigonia cried that she should not slow her pace, and that he would try his best to keep up with her, if need be, to complete his tale. The Empress traveled farther; Gascigonia, of course, could not keep up with her, and she reached the Spaceport in short order, departing on her flagship. Gascigonia, who did not have his transport ready, was forced to halt and to return to Kenilian Castle. Leicesterius and his household had worked very hard to ensure that the devised program proceeded smoothly, and there was no doubt that the visit had been a great success and would never be forgotten, either by the courtiers or by the inhabitants of Taurasia. Leicesterius, however, had spent nearly €35.5 billion dataries, a tenth of his entire net worth, on the festivities, and he was to never to recover financially from the huge expenditures thus incurred. The purpose of it all, which was to convince the Empress that she should marry him, had been defeated by unfortunate coincidence; such a chance would not come again. Leicesterius would begin to look elsewhere from this point onwards.
  • July 22-
    • Following her departure from Taurasia, the Empress, now accompanied by Leicesterius and his talented young nephew, Philip Sidronius, proceeded thenceforth to the Earl of Estatius's personal residence, Chartlerian Mansion, on Kigonia. The Earl himself, who held the rank of Major-General in the Imperial Laurasian Army, was stationed at Ladelle, commanding operations by Laurasian units against pirate bands operating from the isolated outpost star-systems of Connaught and Munster. The Empress however, was welcomed by the Countess of Estatius, the daughter of Lord Knollysis, her former lady-in-waiting, and her own cousin, Lady Laetita Knollysis. The Countess of Estatius was now thirty-one years old, and had been married to the Earl of Estatius for fifteen years. The Countess, renowned for her beauty and her intelligence, was nevertheless a restless character; she had been one of the guests present at the lavish entertainments of Kenilian Castle. Although several courtiers guessed that the Countess and Leicesterius harbored a secret passion for each other, the Empress remained oblivious to it. As regards to Leicesterius's nephew, Philip Sidronius, he was to advance far in the Empress's favor. Born at Penhurstian Place, Deanna, on November 30, 1754, he was the son of Sir Antigonius Sidronius and his wife, Lady Didymeia Sidronius, the sister of the Earls of Leicesterius and Sarah. He was the godson of Emperor Philicus I of Spamalka, but was nevertheless raised in the Reformed Almitist faith. He was educated at Deannian Central High School and Christ College on Coen.
    • In 1772, Sidronius was elected to serve on the Municipal Council of Wowrak, Deanna's capital city, and in that same year, served with the Laurasian Embassy on Parri. He then traveled in the Great Amulak Spiral for three years, visiting the courts of Haxonia, Pruthia, Austarlia, Masavania, Spamalka, Vendragia, and Dejanica. He was presented to King Stanis Vorrust I of Dejanica; Emperor Pru'a IX of Pruthia; Empress Mar'va Tarvania of Austarlia and her son Joseth II; Grand Duke Ivan IV of Masacavania; King Georg III of Vendragia; Doge Alvise Mocenigo of Haxonia; and Emperor Philicus I of Spamalka. He had returned to the Laurasian Empire in February 1775, at the same time that the Earl of Oxfadia departed it. On July 24, while still visiting the Countess of Estatius on Kigonia, the Empress appointed Sidronius as her Standard Bearer; she also made him a consul of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and began, from 1775 onwards, to dispatch him on routine diplomatic errands to foreign courts in the Great Amulak Spiral. The following day, Aurelia departed from Kigonia; she now visited Durglais, Rebecca, Chancia, Katherine, Briannia, Alemeda, Nystadia, Shannon, Dennis, Wendy, Coen, and Deanna. On August 13, she reached Bolgrahay, her visit being intended to boost the declining woolen export industry in the star system. Frantic preparations had been made by the planetary authorities for her visit; approaches were constructed at all angles of the planet's orbit, with the arms of the Empire mounted on them. The Empress proceeded onto the world on her personal repulsorlift, and graciously accepted, at the gates to Tatar City, a silver-gilt cup with a gift of €5 million dataries. She expressed delight at the laudatory verses of welcome and then toured St. Chalmer's Cathedral, one of the largest religious edifices in the Outer Core. Here her uncle, Grand Prince Craterus, eldest son and original heir apparent of Emperor Neuchrus I, was interred.
    • The Empress paid her respects to her uncle. She then proceeded to her lodging at the Archbishoprical Palace; over the course of the next three days, she attended a variety of public parades and displays of graditude, services at the cathederal, and a official government debate at Tatar City Municipal Hall. She then departed on August 17, and was escorted by local dignitaries to the outskirts of the star system. After leaving Bolgrahay, the Empress paid brief visits to Ipsus V and Robbay, before proceeding rapidly up the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route. She reached Elijahana on August 24, and stayed with Sir Antigonus Lesius, who owned a country estate in the star system. He staged a play, The Triumph of Patriotism, which delighted the Empress. Aurelia then conducted a triumphant progress through the Robertian Provinces, parts of which had been so recently visited by the troops of Pugachevia's Rebellion. Her visit to Robert, from August 27-September 3, 1775, was cause for much occasion. The Empress visited Ximar the Despot's Martial Palace, the Landmark of Boontha the Victor, and the Xethelassa Gardens. She then visited Wakedia and then Meris.
    • At Meris, she visited the Conference House where the Wakedian Conclave had proclaimed the reestablishment of the Robertian Empire in AH 495, during the decline and fall of the Arachosian-Sennacherid Empire. The Empress then visited Abuza, Abrianna, Brenda, Dickinson, Iego, the OsonBoka Nebula, Jeanne, Meredith, the Jagerona Worlds, McEvlogue, Jamaia I, and Jamuina. Finally, on September 22, Empress Aurelia began her journey back to Laurasia Prime. She paid brief visits to Hasselbeck, Goldberg, and Whoppi before journeying back to the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route. Aurelia arrived at Laurasia Prime on September 27, 1775; Chancellor Walsingis, who had remained on Laurasia Prime to handle government affairs in her absence, welcomed her and the Imperial Court back with lavish ceremony. The Empress announced, upon arriving back to the Quencilvanian Palace, that her progress of 1776 would be to the Homidinian Provinces and the Burglais Arm. She believed that it was still to early to progress to the Huntite Provinces, considering the Pugachevia Rebellion's impact there.
  • October 15-
    • By October 1775, the situation of the Haynsian Despotate had become a complicated one. As a result of victories obtained by the Laurasian Empire during the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War, particularly in the military offensives of 1769-1771 and June 1774, the Treaty of Kuckuk Kaynarca had witnessed the liberation of the Haynsians from their ties of vassalage to the Marasharite Empire. The Despotate had been under Marasharite overlordship for nearly two centuries; its "liberation" by the Laurasian Empire, the very state which it had for decades raided ceaselessly, under the patronage of its former Marasharite overlords, was a paradoxical concidence. Empress Aurelia of Laurasia, however, did not have any intention of allowing the Despotate to maintain its status as an "independent" state. The reason she had conferred her approval upon the Treaty of Cherseneos, and upon Marasharite recognition of Haynsian independence, was to lay the groundwork for the eventual Laurasian annexation, directly, of the Haynsian territories. The Empress believed that a period of independence for the Haynsians would soften them to the ultimate blow which would be delivered by her Empire. However, she had assumed the duties of protector of the Haynsian Despotate's interests, while at the same time promising not to intervene in the Despotate's internal affairs. This would be revealed for the hollow promise that it was. Braval I Karany, who had ascended to the Haynsian throne upon the sudden death of his elder brother Everan II Karany in December 1771, had become more and more unpopular with his subjects. This intensified following the conclusion of the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca in July 1774.
    • Braval I, who found himself indebted to the Laurasian Empire, for their "efforts" in securing Haynsian independence from vassalage to the Marasharite Empire, had pursued a pro-Laurasian policy in the government of his realms. This included the grant, by charters of August 17 and September 6, 1774, of free-trade privileges to "all Laurasian merchants, businessmen, and nobles, who have decided to make their business in the Despotate". These were privileges which had not been enjoyed by merchants from the Laurasian Empire previously, because of the ceaseless Haynsian raids and the Treaty of Nis. Laurasian corporations were, by the terms of these two documents, permitted to have docking and shipping rights at Haynes, Balaclava, and Bahkchisiray. They were also permitted to present petitions directly to the Haynsian Economic Council, on any matter of "concern or interest relating to their economic position." These privileges had eventually aroused the ire of the Haynsian populace, who also came to despise the Despot's penchant for luxury and for entertainment. The Despot exported exotic goods from the Laurasian Empire, such as Paulite cordianite, Horacian banners, and Kimanian spices. This had come at the expense of his subjects, on whom a new capitation levy was imposed in March 1775. The Despot's excesses, and his increasing paranoia towards his subjects, eventually permitted for a former Despot to reclaim his position: Neal V Karany. He had been Despot from March 1769 until February 1770, when he had been forced to abdicate in favor of his younger brother, Qaplan-Empi II, who had then suffered a serious defeat at the hands of Field-Marshal Rumanstevius in the Battle of Riababia Mogila. Since being removed from the throne, the former Despot had remained in exile at Athens in the Marasharite Empire; Emperor Mustapha had appointed him to the honorary post of Director-Pasha of Customs and permitted him to have an extensive household.
    • Neal V, however, had never stopped thinking about the power and influence that he once held as Despot, and was determined to take advantage of any opportunity to reclaim his throne. This opportunity emerged in April 1775. With Braval I Karany having lost the respect of his subjects, Neal found his opportunity. On April 15, he received a communique from the Haynsian Prince Gur-Karany, who declared that it "had been a mistake" for the former Despot to have been removed from his throne, and offering to support him in reclaiming his "rightful position" on Haynes. Neal accepted immediately, and now began to assemble mercenaries and conscripts at Athens, for departure back to the Haynsian Despotate. Gur-Karany, on his part, assembled military supplies at Isis, Borlavia, Semapol, and Sermnavpol, determined to use these as strongholds from which to strike against the Despot. Finally, on June 14, 1775, Neal V had departed from Athens, having obtained a "passport" from the Marasharite Court. Within four days, he appeared in the Warrior Fastnesses. Braval I, who issued a manifesto denouncing the former Despot as a "rebel and pretender", now ordered his units at Doros and Cappa to advance to the Fastnesses. Although government forces managed to obtain a victory at Chereseneos (June 22-27, 1775), Neal V captured a Haynsian supply convoy at Tivran (July 1) and stormed government positions at the Taurician Straits (July 5-9). By the end of July 1775, Doros had capitulated to the forces of Neal V, and Braval I now was forced to redeploy units from the Brigoff Stellar Nebula, in order to strengthen the defenses of Haynes. In August 1775, a series of confrontations occurred between rebel and government forces at Chessapol, Voronetsy, and the Kuban Asteroid Belt, resulting in the establishment of the former Despot's units in the vicinity of Balaclava.
    • The following month, the final blow landed on Braval I when Prince Gur-Karany announced his defection to the forces of Neal V. As a result of this defection, the major strongholds of the Brigoff Stellar Nebula acknowledged the former Despot's authority; Bahkchisiray, on its part, offered no resistance, and was occupied by Neal V Karany on September 25. Now on October 15, 1775, the garrison of Haynes betrayed its master, sending a plea to Neal V to return to his "proper residence" in the capital star system. Braval I, with his household, remaining subordinates, and his heir apparent, his nephew Prince Jay-Karany, fled to Palymer. There were granted admittance on the orders of the Empress Aurelia. The Empress abstained from direct intervention in the affairs of the Haynsian Despotate at this stage, but believed that Haynsia's internal troubles would prove the conduit for Laurasian influence into the Angelina Spiral. She therefore decided to offer sanctuary to the now deposed Despot and his heir-apparent. Neal V reached Haynes on October 22, and was proclaimed Despot by the assembly of Haynsian nobles. The Despot refrained from overt aggression against the Empire for the time being, but made no secret of his intention to restore close ties with the Marasharite Empire. Abdulahamid II, however, was a wiser character than his brother, and sought to "ignore" Haynsian appeals. He did not wish for war with the Empire's Laurasian neighbors at this juncture.
  • November 17-
    • On November 17, 1775, Empress Aurelia the Great promulgated the very comprehensive Imperial Statute of the Regional and Provincial Administration of the Laurasian Empire. This statute was the result of several months of hard work, discussion, and deliberation by the Empress and the chief institutions of the Imperial Government. As has been explained previously, the Empress of Laurasia believed that the events of the Malarian and Pugachevia Rebellions revealed that the Empire's local governmental structure needed reform. The Empress had already garnered information about the Empire's judicial and legal system through the efforts of the Legal Commission of 1765-68, which had drafted the Codex Aureliana. This had given her the idea for what further reforms needed to be implemented in order to strengthen the Empire's governmental structure. The Commission on the Reform of the Imperial Government had presented its report to the Empress in an audience at the Grand Corridor of the Quencilvanian Palace (September 14, 1775). The Empress had then ordered the paralegals of the Ministry of Justice and the Imperial Chancellory to draft the final statute in accordance with the report. Their efforts, supervised by Procurator-General Bagonius and the Earl of Jadia, who now served as Minister of Regional and Local Administration, prevailed, and their final work was promulgated by the Empress.
    • In the introductory section to the Statute, it was declared that "the welfare of our Empire has compelled us to promulgate this measure, in order to defeat the conspiracy of usurpers; the evil doings of rebels; and the acts of the anti-Almitis." It was necessary for a complete reform of the Empire's administrative structure, the Statute further declared, so that "the spirit of the Lord Almitis" may be appeased and all troubles in the Empire's realms resolved. The Statute was divided into six chapters. Chapter I concerned the delineation and the territorial constitution of the administrative divisions of the Empire, dividing the Empire into forty Governorates with 920 provinces and 2760 districts. Previously, the Empire had been divided into twenty-five prefectures with forty dioceses and 500 provinces. Each governorate was to have a total of 1,700,000 inhabited star systems. Each province, in turn, was to have 73,913 star systems; each district, 24,637 systems. By increasing the number of administrative divisions and apportioning them with a roughly equal number of star systems, the Empress sought to lower the possibilities for a revolt and to strengthen governmental oversight over every segment of the Empire's local population. Chapter 2 concerned the executive and legislative functions of the Governor-General, the Gubernatorial Council, and the gubernatorial boards of administration. Chapter 3 defined the functions and responsibilities of the Provincial-Governors, the District Proconsuls, and the Planetary Governors; their relationship with, and the duties of, the Provincial, District, and Planetary Councils; and the "power of supervision" (vigilantiae virtute) enjoyed by the Governor-Generals. Chapter 4 concerned the rights and privileges of the nobility, the notables, and the subjects of the Empire in these territories. Chapter 5 dealt with the judicial and court system of the Empire's regions, subordinating the Courts of Assizes and the Courts of Appeal to the Governing Senate on Laurasia Prime. Finally, Chapter 6 concerned the finances, transportation matters, subordinate legislation, and the coordination of authorities among the local regions (A more detailed explanation of the Statute is provided at the Laurasian Empire page).
    • The promulgation of the Statute had outstanding results, improving drastically the efficiency and the organization of the Empire's administration. By 1796, twenty-one years after it was promulgated, the number of officials in the Empire had nearly quadrupled, for 1 per 15,000 individuals to 1 per 2,000 individuals. In particular, the number of municipal aediles, financial quaestors, and law enforcement agents increased by an astounding 600%; the civil bureaucracy of the Empire's regions experienced a 2000% increase, and the courts of the Governor-General experienced a 500% increase in numbers of courtiers and personnel. Government officials now spent six times as much as previously on local institutions, with expenditures increasing from $6.5 quadmillion dataries in 1775 to $39.8 quadmillion dataries by 1796. Local government expenditures increased from 5% to 14% of GDP; the share of governmental civil service and justice in the imperial budget increased from 10% to 20% over the same period. The increases in local government spending during the last quarter of the eighteenth century were equal to the total amount spent in the whole period 1621-1775. This reform would be considered one of the greatest accomplishments of any Laurasian monarch.
  • December 12-
    • By December 1775, the Earl of Leicesterius had tired of his secret wife, the Lady Demetria Shieffaldia. Shieffaldia, who had entranced the Earl by her beauty, vivaciousness, and intelligence, was nevertheless arrogant, haughty, and domineering. This had been demonstrated by her persistent demands that she be served as Countess of Leicesterius by her personal household, and her tantrums when her husband refused to agree to this. Instead, the Earl was now in pursuit of the Empress's cousin, Lady Laetita Knollysis, the daughter of his friend and fellow councilor, Vice-Chamberlain Sir Tacitus Knollysis. Knollysis had married Katharina Caranius, daughter of the Empress's maternal aunt (and former mistress of her father), Lady Antonia Boleyenia, in 1740. Katharina had been a trusted confidante and friend of Aurelia from her earliest years. When she became Empress in November 1758, Aurelia had named her cousin as the Senior Lady of the Bedchamber, second only to the Chief Gentlewoman, Baroness Katharina Ashleius. Caranius had juggled her responsibilities of presiding over the affairs of the Empress's Ladies of the Chamber with being a mother to her sixteen children. She died from the Soplaies disease on January 15, 1769, at Hampsonian Palace on Jared, and had been granted a state funeral by the Empress, being interred at St. Antiochus's Chapel in the Westphalian Cathedral. Her daughter, Laetita, had been born on November 8, 1743 at her family's estate on Azatha II, Rotherfaldian Greys. She was the third out of sixteen children.
    • As a child, she was regarded as the "child of the Lord Paul" for her graceful form and countenance; as an adult, she was renowned for her beauty. This would be testified by her official portrait, which would be painted in 1785, when she was forty-one. This beauty was combined with a energy, vivaciousness, and precociousness that quickly earned her attention from others. In 1756, during the reign of Empress Didymeia, the Knollyses and five of their children fled abroad to the Pruthian Empire, as the Didymeian Counter-Reformation was then reaching its height. Laetita, however, remained in the household of the Grand Princess Aurelia on Paradine, developing a close friendship with her. When Aurelia came to the throne in November 1758, Laetita became one of her first ladies-in-waiting. On November 7, 1760, with her cousin's blessing and approval, she married Septimius Deveria, who was then Viscount Herefadia. Deveria had been born on September 16, 1741, the son of Sir Antiochus Deveria, who became a Knight of the Imperial Bath in February 1747 and died later that same year, and Dorothea Hasteria (died 1782), the daughter of Sir Callimachus Hasteria, Lord Mayor of Constantinople. His father died before his grandfather, after whom he was named: Septimius Deveria, 1st Viscount Herefadia.
    • It was his grandfather who raised him, and the young knight obtained his education at the Seminary Academy of Dearton's Gateway and the University of Laurasia Prime, obtaining his BA in Political Science and Military History in May 1759. On September 27, 1758, with his grandfather's death at the age of seventy, he became 2nd Viscount Herefadia. In September 1759, he enrolled in the Cadet Corps, determined to gain a career for himself as an officer in the Imperial Laurasian Army. It was while he was participating in a parade of the Corps at the Diplomatic Palace that he met Lady Laetita for the first time. The two developed a immediate affection for each other, and in May 1760, just three months after their initial encounter, he proposed marriage to her. The marriage itself, held at the Chapel of the Diplomatic Palace, was one of the most lavish affairs of the Imperial Court at that time. Shortly after the marriage, the couple retired to Herefadia's private estate, Chartlerian Mansion, on Kigonia. During the course of the next decade, the couple had four children: their two daughters Dorothea and Athena, born in 1763 and 1764 respectively; their eldest son, and Herefadia's heir-apparent, also named Septimius after his father, in 1765; and their younger son Antigonus in 1769. By 1765, however, the initial fires of passion amongst the couple were already dying off. The Viscountess returned to the Imperial Court from June to October 1765.
    • During this time, while pregnant with her first son, she flirted with the Earl of Leicesterius, which aroused the Empress's first outburst of anger against her. Her retreat back to Chartlerian Mansion, however, in November 1765, days before her son's birth, cooled down matters. Her husband, in the meantime, advanced rapidly in the imperial service. Graduating from the Cadet Corps in May 1763, he quickly ascended through the ranks of the Imperial Military. He fought in the later stages of the Huguenot Expeditionary War, participated in the Dejanican Election of 1764, and then fought the Bar Confederation in 1768 and early 1769. In December 1769, he contributed his services to the suppression of the Malarian Rebellion, serving under the Earl of Jadia and Lord Clitonia. Following the final suppression of the Malarian Rebellion in early 1770 (after the brief Dacrian Revolt), he was reassigned to the Marasharite theater, and earned distinction by combat actions at the Battles of Riababaia Mogila, Larga, Kagul, Sackrandis, and Imegina. By 1771, he had obtained the rank of Brigadier-General in the Imperial Army, typical of the accelerated rise which marked the military careers of nobles and knights in the Empire. For his zeal in the service of the Empress, and his loyalty to her and her government, Herefadia was created 1st Earl of Estatius in a ceremony at the Quencilvanian Palace on May 4, 1772.
    • Two months later, he became a Knight of the Garter and was awarded the Order of St. Antiochus the Great for his military service. The new Earl of Estatius continued to serve on the Marasharite theater of operations until July 1773, when he was reassigned to duty in the Lavellan Provinces. His vailant actions in the Ulster Marches against the Lavellan pirates Sir Brian MacPhellem and Turlough Luineach, in particular his victories at Connaught, Munster, Belfast, and Rethalin, earned him promotion to the rank of Major-General in October 1774. Estatius was ruthless to captured rebels, having more than 150,000 executed at Lavelle, Ladelle, and Dejan in the span of one year. Finally, on December 12, 1775, he returned to Laurasia Prime, and to a hero's welcome. The Empress conferred the prestigious Order of St. Honorius the Liberator, highest of the military orders of the Empire, upon Estatius. He therefore joined Field-Marshals Rumanstevius, Panius, Dologruvkius, Sarah, and Drury, all of whom rewarded for their service in the Scottrian Wars, the War of the Bar Confederation, and the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War. The Empress also made him a grant of €400 million dataries and rewarded him possession of the Felleris Country Estate on Osama.
    • Estatius, however, was soon in a sour mood. He had been aware of his wife's dalliance with Leicesterius a decade earlier. In his absence in the Galactic Borderlands, his wife had met with Leicesterius numerous times, and was, as previously stated, a guest at the entertainments of Kenilian Castle. Rumors had circulated at the Imperial Court that the two were having an affair, and that she had given birth to two of his children, and that both of whom had been secretly taken and placed in the households of commoners to raise. These rumors were untrue, but they darkened the Earl's mood. He was outwardly friendly to Leicesterius, in any official functions that he encountered him, but in private, denounced the Earl's "evil doings and his seductions of women." On Ascentmas Day, 1775, Estatius, who was due to return to service in the Galactic Borderlands, drafted his final will and testament. It specified that if he died while they were still young, they were to be brought up under the guardianship of his close friend and colleague, the Earl of Hannah, one of Empress Aurelia's most trusted and respected courtiers. Sir Antigonus Sidronius, in a letter of December 29, 1775, to his wife, reported that Estatius was set to become an enemy of Leicesterius.

1776Edit

  • January 1-1776, the 76th year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire in a state of internal prosperity and external peace. Since the conclusion of the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War (July 1774) and the suppression of the Pugachevia Rebellion (September 1774), the Empire's dominions had enjoyed the calm of "universal, prevalent peace, which has not been disrupted by any outside factors or the agents of the Anti-Almitis". These were the words used by Lord Treasurer Burghley to describe the situation in the Laurasian Empire at the commencement of the new year. The Empress Aurelia's progress the previous year, which included the famed visit to Kenilian Castle, had been demonstrative of the authority of the Imperial Court and the fact that she could now enjoy herself, along with the Imperial Court. The luxuries of rule awaited the courtiers of the Imperial Household, and it seemed as if a state of tranquility would prevail for the foreseeable future. There were, however, other matters of importance which now confronted the Imperial Laurasian Government. One remained the perennial Scottrian Question. Although Queen Mariana was securely in the custody of the Earl of Aretha, and had remained imprisoned for nearly a decade, she nevertheless continued to correspond with her supporters at the Spamalkan court and in the Laurasian Empire. She was determined not to cease with this correspondence until she had acceded to the Laurasian throne. The Scottrian Question would not flare during this year, but it would remain a background factor, in the minds of Burghley, Walsingis, Leicesterius, and the Empress's other advisers. The other questions of concern were the Durthian Rebellion and the events in the Haynsian Despotate. Of the two, the Haynsian matter was the more urgent. Neal V Karany had reclaimed his position as Despot on Haynes, and had compelled Braval I Karany, his heir-apparent Prince Jay Karany, and their leading courtiers to flee into exile to Palymer, now in the possession of the Laurasian Empire. They had been granted official sanctuary by the Empress Aurelia, who was still determined to take advantage of the troubles in the Haynsian Despotate to extend Laurasian influence and military power into the Angelina Spiral. These goals were to be revealed during the course of the year, and would ultimately constitute the Empire's first intervention in Haynsian internal affairs, under the terms of the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca. The Durthian Question, on the other hand, continued to remain an issue of concern for the Empress, as will be described below. Nevertheless, in her New Year's proclamation (January 1, 1776), the Empress maintained a optimistic note. She declared that the ongoing reform of the Empire's local administration would "serve to defeat internal dissent and rebellion against the authority of our government"; that the Empire's incorporation of the former Marasharite and Dejanican territories in the Galactic Borderlands had "proceeded smoothly"; and that she considered the Lord Almitis to have blessed her in all she undertook. In a speech to the Holy Synod (January 14, 1776), the Empress would declare that "As for those rare and special benefits which many years have followed and accompanied me with happy reign, I attribute them to Almitis alone. These seventeen years Almitis hath both prospered and protected you with good success, under my direction, and I nothing doubt that the same maintaining hand will guide you still and bring you to the ripeness of perfection." This attitude would be consistently displayed by the Empress in the years to come, who never failed to give gratitude to the Lord Almitis for all of her successes.
  • February 8-
    • By February 1776, the concern of the Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I about the Laurasian Empire's interactions with the United Durthian States had increased considerably. The Emperor of Spamalka had repeatedly emphasized the message to his leading officials and to his courtiers that the Durthians, under the leadership of Prince William of Orange, "are among the worst rebels and fiends who have ever ascended to a position in galactic territory. They are the agents of evil, seeking to destroy the prosperity and the unity of the Hereditary Dominions." He had told Lord Felipe Guzman, before his death on December 27, 1775, that "my conscience, and the conscience of my father, will never be satisfied until my rule has been restored over the Durthian Duchies." Spamalkan Ambassador Mendoza had continued to inform the Emperor about the events at the Laurasian Court, and he had obtained, from his agents in the Imperial Household, information about the Empress Aurelia's reception, and rejection, of the offer of protectorship made by the Durthian States-General a year earlier. This, and the fact that Laurasian mercenaries fought in confrontations with Spamalkan forces in the Durthian campaigns, motivated Philicus to dispatch a special envoy, the Sieur de Champigny, to the Empress. Champginy, who had been born at Arles on March 22, 1715, was a Franconian nobleman who had defected to the service of the Holy Spamalkan Empire in 1751. Since them, he had ascended through the ranks of the Spamalkan Diplomatic Corps, serving as economic consul on Antwerp (1757-1759); Envoy to the Vendragian Confederacy (1760); and Spamalkan Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Masacavania (1761-1769), before returning to duty in the Durthian Provinces as Consul of Economics on Amsterdam. He was therefore trusted by the Spamalkan Emperor and believed capable of having a frank conversation with the Laurasian Empress. Champginy's appointment was on this day, February 8, 1776; he departed from Morrio Cabana the following day, and reached Laurasia Prime by February 16, being received by the Empress and the Imperial Court for much ceremony.
    • During the early hours of February 19, after a series of entertainments held by the Empress in the honor of the Spamalkan Embassy, Champginy fulfilled his mission by holding his first state audience with the Empress. Aurelia, however, who had been informed by Chancellor Walsingis of the Envoy's mission, and had reviewed intelligence information concerning the Spamalkan Council of State's deliberations, evaded giving the Envoy a direct answer. She complained that the Emperor of Spamalka had not written to her, and that this offended her. Champginy attempted to offer his assurances that his master possessed "only the greatest respect and regard for your person", but the Empress of Laurasia continued on with her diatribe. She went on to state that the Spamalkan Empire did not have the right to absolute dominion over the Durthian Provinces, and that her own father would not have tolerated Spamalkan pretensions. When Champginy pointed out that the Empress's father had allied himself with his master's father in the Laurasian-Franconian Wars of 1723-25 and 1744-46, the Empress dismissed it as the "necessity of circumstances". She then changed the topic again, declaring that even though she was a woman, she could still handle the situation well. Smiling mischievously, she then claimed that she had a great personal liking for Emperor Philicus. Aurelia's dissembling and use of language baffled the Spamalkan Envoy, who was able to obtain little extra assistance from Mendoza. Three further audiences were held, on February 22, 26, and 28, but the Envoy was unable to detect the Empress's attitude nevertheless. He finally departed from Laurasia Prime on March 7, 1776, puzzled about Aurelia's intentions and unable to report her future plans to his master.
  • March 21-
    • In a ceremony at the Diplomatic Palace in Christiania, Laurasia Prime, the Earl of Leicesterius was formally awarded the title of "Prince of the Holy Austarlian Empire", which was one of the highest hereditary designations in the Holy Austarlian Empire. Originally, possessors of this title, which originated from as far back as the eleventh century AH, were recognized as immediate vassals of, or noblemen in, the service of the Empire, secular or ecclesiastical, who held a fief that had no suzerain except for the Emperor. However, this definition had experienced a rapid change during the course of the centuries, as the Austarlian Emperors of the Hapsburg dynasty consolidated their authority over their realms by a program of centralization, confiscation of noble and hereditary properties, and the abolition of self-government privileges granted to estates and star systems within their realms. Emperor Lea'dus I the Ugly (1657-1705) was the first Austarlian Emperor to grant the title of "Prince" on his own merit, and the first to award the title to foreign personages. By the last quarter of the eighteenth century, it had become the second-highest honor conferred by the Austarlian Emperor, second to that of membership in the Order of the Golden Fleece. The Order of the Fleece, which had originated as a Durthian order, was transferred into Austarlian possession after the partition of the Durthian Duchy of Burgundy between Austarlia and Franconia in 1677. Its rules, however, proscribed that a member could only be a subject of the sovereign who awarded the distinction. Empress Aurelia, on her part, had continued to reward the Earl of Leicesterius. She made him several financial and property grants during the early 1770s, amounting to €65.5 billion dataries, and she had also secured him honors from other foreign monarchies.
    • By 1776, Leicesterius had been awarded the honors of the Pruthian Order of the Black Eagle (1764); Franconian Order of St. Michael (1766); the Laurasian Orders of Sts. Seleucus the Victor and Honorius the Liberator (1768, 1770); the Dejanican Order of the White Eagle (1771); the Scottrian Order of St. Andrew (1772); the Masacavanian Order of St. Alexander Nevsky (1773); the Haxonian Order of the Elephant (1774); and the Vendragian Order of the Holy Seraphim (1775). The Empress's attempt to obtain him the Order of the Golden Fleece, however, had been rebuffed by Austarlian Empress Mar'va Tarvania in November 1772, on the grounds that only a Austarlian subject could bear that honor. In reality, the Austarlian Empress, who could have overridden the requirement, still smarted over the debacle concerning the marriage project of the Archduke Char'vak with her Laurasian counterpart. Three years later, however, her son had obtained more influence in state affairs, and he now overrode his mother's objections. On January 13, 1776, the Empress sent a communique to the Laurasian Ambassador at the Court of Vienna, Sir Lucius Amadethus (1712-94), commanding him to request of the Austarlian Government the conferral of the Principate upon one of "Her Imperial Majesty's loyal subjects." Joseth II had accepted, hoping to foster a positive relationship with the Laurasian Empire. Now, on March 21, 1776, Leicesterius received the certificate of elevation from the Austarlian Ambassador, Count Carl von Regaraff. The Empress then entertained him and the Imperial Court to a night of festivities at the Galactic Opera. Aurelia conferred this honor upon Leicesterius as a reward to him for staging the lavish Kenilian Castle visit the year before; the travails which would soon mark their relationship were in the future.
  • May 5-
    • By May 1776, events concerned with the Haynsian Despotate were proceeding further. The exiled Haynsian Despot, Braval I Karany, had remained on Palymer with his nephew and heir-apparent, Prince Jay Karany, as well as the rest of the Haynsian Court. The exiled Despot, however, had not remained idle. He had begun to assemble, with the support of the newly-appointed Laurasian Governor of Palymer, Sir Crassus Lacius, military supplies and mercenaries in the Palymer star system. Braval I continued to deny the authority of Neal V Karany over the Haynsian dominions, and he remained in contact with his supporters in the outskirts of the Warrior Fastnesses, promising that "the rule of a proper government would be restored to the realms left to us by our ancestors." The actions of Neal V Karany were encouraging the exiled Haynsian Court's hopes. Neal V, who had not made any secret of his loyalties, had continued to make overtures to the Marasharite Court. In a communique of January 25, 1776, addressed to the Marasharite High Council, the Despot proclaimed that "All my goods, my services, and the services of my realm are at your disposal." The Despot, in particular, commanded the Haynsian Ambassador to the Marasharite court, the Dasian Timur Gashlid, to assure the Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II that the Despotate only yearned for a "restoration of the terms which prevailed previously". Abdulahamid, however, was as explained before a more cautious character than his brother Mustapha had been. Marasharita had, unlike Laurasia, continued to experience internal turmoil. From November 1774 to March 1775, the attention of the Emperor and his ministers had been held by the Gedlik Rebellion in the Anatolian and Syrian Districts, provoked by one Gedik-Pasha, who was enraged by government exactions from his estates. The Rebellion had been crushed with extreme severity, but had disrupted the prosperous agricultural industry of those regions and drained the Marasharite Treasury.
    • Then on July 7, 1775, the Emperor had compelled Grand Vizier Izzet Mehmed to retire, allegedly for failing to suppress "discontent" in the Imperial Harem. His successor, Morali Dervish, retained the confidence of the Emperor but focused his efforts on accumulating a vast fortune for himself and his family. The Marasharite economy experienced severe inflation during the latter months of 1775; on December 11, the Grand Vizier had been compelled to order a debasement of the İmparatorun para (Emperor's money), in order to reduce inflation rates to 2.5%. As a result of all these troubles, the Marasharite Emperor was in no mood to plunge into war with the Laurasian Empire at this juncture. On April 19, he informed the Despot that "no assistance from my government will be forthcoming at this juncture" and that the Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca had absolved the Despotate of all commitments. Neal V had been placed in a conundrum, but despite this, he continued to make appeals to Marasharite nobles and courtiers for assistance. The Despot, himself, however, damaged his own cause by maintaining capitation levies on the estates of Haynsian nobles; operating his own secret police force, which harassed the Despot's opponents on Haynes, Doros, Theodoros, and Bahkhisiray; and maintaining the extensive Haynsian Court. Braval I was therefore able to act as the "savior of the Despotate", and in proclamations issued from Palymer during April 1776, promised to "treat my subjects in a more effective, and kinder manner, then previously." Empress Aurelia, on her part, had continued to consult with Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley concerning the situation in the Haynsian Despotate. Determined to establish Laurasian influence in the internal affairs of the Despotate, the Empress now decided it prudent to extend official state support to Braval I and his court.
    • On April 25, Chancellor Walsingis, acting on the Empress's instructions, sent a communique to the exiled Despot. In the communique, he declared that "Her Majesty of Laurasia is interested in the welfare of your species and the preservation of your martial honor." Consequently, she was willing to meet with the Despot and his heir apparent in order to "ratify" matters concerning the extension of the Empire's support to him, in order to reclaim his throne. Braval accepted this offer promptly, hoping that he would be soon reinstalled on his throne. Four days later, the Empress Aurelia and a select entourage from the Imperial Court secretly departed from Laurasia Prime to Abraham, for the conference with the exiled Despot. On the Empress's orders, the meeting was kept secret from the public and the majority of the nobles and officials in the Imperial Household. The Imperial Chancellory would state that the Empress remained "hard at work" in her personal chambers. On May 5, 1776, the Empress met with Braval I Karany and Prince Jay-Karany at the Todd Mansion on Abraham. The Todd Mansion had been constructed in 1552, and had once been the residence of the Toddian family, which had been engaged in land speculation, mining, and electronics production before the death of its last scion, Sir Robertius Todd of the House of Lincoln, in 1626. It had been in the possession of the Imperial Household since 1706. This meeting between the Empress and the exiled Despot was a first, for a Laurasian sovereign had never met with a Haynsian Despot previously, due to the long antagonism between the two states. The Empress, however, was little impressed by the Despot himself, who, although he was only seven years older than her, was nevertheless in declining health. Her attention focused more on Prince Jay Karany, then thirty-one years old.
    • He impressed the Laurasian Empress with his desire to better himself and his physical attractiveness. The Empress would write to Leicesterius on May 11 that "The Haynsian Prince is the most gentle Haynsian that we have yet encountered. He is very talented, silver-colored, relatively decent for his species, and a expert at writing poetry. He is possessed of a desire to see and to learn everything." Partly because of the Empress's positive reception of the Haynsian Prince, the meeting proceeded smoothly. By the time the Empress departed from Abraham on May 19, to begin her journey back to her capital world, it had been agreed that the Imperial Laurasian Government would provide a corps of 300,000 mercenaries and a subsidy of €500 billion dataries a year to the Haynsian Despot, and that it would "use its diplomatic and economic resources into favoring the restoration of His Mightiness to his throne." Braval I was also permitted to establish training camps for his troops at Uma, Thurman, and Merevop, and to consult regularly with the Laurasian commanders of the region. When the Empress returned to Laurasia Prime on May 22, after making a detour through Eric and Giron (which she had not visited previously), she declared to Burghley that "this document will prove advantageous to us, and will allow for a future intervention into the Despotate's affairs."
  • June 11-September 3
    • On June 11, 1776, the Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court departed from Laurasia Prime, in order to commence the formal progress of 1776. As stated above, the Empress had declared her intention, at the conclusion of her last progress in September 1775, to journey to the Homidinian Provinces and the Burglais Arm, which she had not yet visited. This however, was not the main reason for the Empress's trip to this part of the Caladarian Galaxy. It was also symbolic of the Laurasian Empire's reach and of its sole dominion in a galaxy which had seen the existence of numerous different civilizations. The region which the Empress now journeyed to had been home to the Homidinian Stellar Union, the Rokai Confederacy, Lacian Despotate, the Great Dasian Empire, the Homidinian Khanate, the Rashudina Empire, the Ummadian Empire, the Abbathian Dynasty, and the Mellorite Empire. The Lacian Cluster was located in this region, home to that martial and aggressive species which had briefly arisen to a position of galactic ascendancy and overwhelmed the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia, among other states, in the seventh century AH. This trip was a demonstration of the Laurasian civilization's endurance and its now prevalent dominance. The trip was to continue for the next two months and was to see the Empress's presence grace many star systems. Traveling up the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route, the Empress and the Imperial Court paid visits to Elijahana, Hasselbeck, Walters, Whoppi, Shephard, Beharis, Goldberg, and Stapleton. She then turned into the Farther Homidinian Districts and visited Taraning, Ian, Gibbs-to-Lester, Calms, Hemsford, and Burantis in succession. The Empress then cut across the Inner Homidinian Highway and visited Yutzy, Dion, Brlla, Homidinia Minor, and finally, Homidinia Major itself. Her visit to this star system (June 29-July 4, 1776), was marked with much occassion, with the Homidinian populace and the officials of the star system receiving her lavishly. The Empress visited the Neo-Rokai Valley of Progress; the ancient Homidinian Space Bases, from which the Stellar Union had ranged out into the depths of space in the eighth century BH; and the Palace of Zhunang, the Neo-Rokai Emperor who had briefly reestablished the independence of his species before being suppressed by Timur the Devastator in 986.
    • On July 4, 1776, the 3000th anniversary of the independence of the ancient Laurasian nation-state of Americana, the Empress departed from the star system. Already, in a letter of June 30, 1776, to Burghley (who had remained on Laurasia Prime), she had declared that "My journey through these star systems is of great personal significance to me, and of wider significance to this Empire." Following a visit to Heresofian, where Genghis Khan, founder of the Dasian Empire, had defeated a Homidinian force in 826, the Empress proceeded westwards towards the Kledis Var Trade Line and the Lacian Cluster. She visited Celia, Peters, Brent, Gwendolyn, Ryan, Wakino, Mir, Abitia, Perry, Julie, Karen, Kallista, Derek, Sharman, Drake, Rutherford, Kara, Homidinian Wyatt, Joseph, Dominic, Digette, and Demebezaic in that order. By July 22, the Empress had reached Markis Prime, where she stayed for five days, before visiting Kledis Var, Maxwell, and Chalassion. She then progressed through Alyssa and Halassion, before finally arriving at the outskirts of the Lacian Cluster on July 29. The Empress toured the Styrian Caldera for a number of days, receiving the homage and the loyalty of her subjects in those regions, before beginning a grand, triumphal progress through the strongholds of the Lacian Cluster. She visited Sonny, Kacee, Shaelynn, Englestrom, Chalassia, and then Dromund. At Dromund, the Battle of Dromund (660), which had seen the annhiliation of Lacian forces by the Northern Coalition, was simulated for the Empress, with nearly 600,000 personnel of the Imperial Laurasian Army, donned as both Lacian and Coalition soldiers, and piloting models of the spacecraft and warships used in the confrontation, participating. The Empress then toured Dromund itself, viewing the headquarters where Vilat-Giray, the military commander of Vorat-Garay, last Lacian Despot, sent orders to his doomed forces. The Empress then departed Dromund on August 4 and proceeded immediately to Lacia. She visited the ruins of the Despotic Tombs, which had been despoiled by Coalition forces 1116 years earlier. Respects were nevertheless paid to the legendary Lacian Despot Devlet-Giray, with whom the Despotate had been born and thrived. The Imperial Court remained on Lacia for several days, before finally departing on August 15. The Empress then proceeded to the Burglais Arm, visiting Coronadia, Edmundia, English Star, Jacobs I, Mackenzia Major, Mackenzia Minor, Alexander Haley, Cassie, and other major star systems, before finally beginning the journey back to Laurasia Prime on August 29. The Imperial Court arrived back in the capital star system on September 3, 1776; the Empress's progress was hailed as a triumph. The following day, Aurelia watched, at the Galactic Opera, a performance of the play The Last of Glory, recounting the waning years of the Huntite Khanate; this production occurred on the 600th anniversary of the Khanate's fall at the hands of King Odoacer of Rudorita.
  • September 22-
    • During the early months of 1776, the relationship between the Earls of Leicesterius and Estatius flared from a mutual distrust to an open hostility. Estatius had, as previously mentioned, learned about the rumors which circulated concerning his wife's relationship with Leicesterius. He was also well aware of Leicesterius's own martial history, and that the Earl's reputation was still darkened by his "complicity", in the eyes of many, of the death of his first wife Lady Fausta Dudley. This soon revealed itself in the interactions between the two Earls at court. Estatius, who was wary of Leicesterius's intentions, and believed that he had the ambition of marrying the Countess himself, aligned himself with Leicesterius's enemies at the Imperial Court. Among these were the Earl of Jadia, whose loathing for Leicesterius had not decreased. Jadia conducted a extensive correspondence with Estatius, and they shared with each other their distrust of Leicesterius. On March 19, 1776, the hostility between the two Earls became specially marked when they had a verbal argument in the Audience Chamber. Estatius, accompanied by several of his retainers, confronted Leicesterius near the entrance to the Empress's Throne Room, and demanded the reasons for why Leicesterius was "pursuing" his wife. Leicesterius denied the charges, declaring that he was only concerned about "the welfare of Your Lordship's household" and that this concern extended to a focus on the condition of the Countess. Estatius, however, refused to believe this, and their confrontation soon degenerated into a verbal argument. Two further verbal arguments between Leicesterius and Estatius occurred on March 24 and April 1. Ultimately, Estatius, who was exhausted by this open struggle with Leicesterius, and who desired to obtain some escape from the intrigues at the Imperial Court, retreated to Chartlerian Mansion on Kigonia. Arriving there on April 12, he was received by his wife, who had been at the very center of his argument.
    • Estatius, therefore, found that he had no peace in his own household. He confronted his wife several times over her "loyalty to me and fidelity to our marriage ties." The Countess denied that she was engaged in any "improper" relationship with Leicesterius, and that he was only a personal friend. In July 1776, with his marriage foundering, and with the quarrels with both Leicesterius and his wife having darkened his mood, Estatius received notification from the Imperial Ministry of Defense that he was to return to duty in the Lavellan Governorate immediately. Estatius displayed no reluctance, and he departed from Kigonia on July 21, without saying goodbye to his wife and his household. He arrived back at his operational headquarters on Dequan five days later, and was at this stage promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General by the Empress, for his "valiant record of military service". Estatius adhered to his duties, and he disrupted the Dougall Pirates in the system of Jarir in August 1776. On September 5, however, the Earl and several of his subordinates suddenly fell ill at the Barbarian Palace of Peace on Antowne, to which the Earl had moved four days earlier. Their condition declined swiftly, and by September 11, the Earl and his accomplices had been diagnosed with the Marsian fever. Estatius, still keeping in mind his disputes with Leicesterius, concluded that he had been poisoned, possibly on his rival's orders. This accusation of poisoning was one which had already dogged Leicesterius, and one which would continue to dog him until his death. Estatius's condition, however, had arisen out of an infection he had acquired while campaigning against the Pirates at Jarir.
    • Despite the efforts of his physicians, the Earl's health declined swiftly. He sent orders back to Kigonia, for the final ratification of his will and testament and the delivery of his last message to his wife, who was told to remain where she was. Then, on September 22, 1776, Estatius died at the age of thirty-four. The death of Estatius, who had become a respected figure at the Imperial Court, and popular throughout the Empire for his military exploits, was received with much regrets. The Empress Aurelia, in an official manifesto from the Quencilvanian Palace, ordered the Imperial Court into four days of mourning and declared that the death of the Earl "has deprived this Empire of a worthy military commander." Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley both expressed their regrets, as did Lord Knollysis, the Earl's father-in-law. The Empress, however, was well aware of the strained relationship between Estatius and Leicesterius. She was determined to clear up any accusations which could be levied against her chief favorite. The Empress therefore commanded Sir Antigonus Sidronius, who had served as Governor-General of Lavella since December 1775, to conduct a post-mortem on the body of the deceased Earl. Sidronius performed his duties swiftly, and on October 2, was able to report to the Imperial Privy Council that there was no evidence of foul play.
    • Estatius's fears that he had been poisoned were unfounded, and this was confirmed by Dr. Licinus Serdusius, the Earl's personal physician, who expressed his opinion that Estatius had not died from anything but natural causes. Estatius was now succeeded in his title by his ten-year old son, his namesake Septimius Deverania. He now became 2nd Earl of Estatius. The dying Earl had sent a communique to the Empress, hoping that "It will please Your Majesty to be as a mother to my children", in particular his son, who would now be dependent upon her. Estatius also expressed his wish that the Empress would honor his final will and testament. Aurelia, who had always liked the Earl, and regretted his quarrels with Leicesterius, honored his requests. By imperial statute, the young Earl's wardship and affairs were to become the concern of the Imperial Court of Wards, which now assumed guardianship of his properties until he was to come of age. The Empress canceled any outstanding debts and obligations inherited by the young Earl and entrusted him to the direct care of Lord Burghley, who had taken a direct role in the boy's upbringing since he was six years old. Estatius was now raised alongside Burghley's eldest son, Robertus.
    • On October 12, Estatius's body arrived back at Kigonia, where he was interred three days later at the Funerary Plot of Chartlerian Mansion. At that time, his will and testament were announced. The wardship of Estatius, entrusted to Lord Burghley, was confirmed; the Earl's three other children, his daughters Dorothea and Athena, and his younger son Antigonus, were entrusted to the care of the Earl and Countess of Hannah at their estate, Ashley-La Douche Mansion, on Hannah. On October 17, 1776, the Earl of Estatius was formally presented, along with his mother, the Countess Dowager, to the Empress in the Private Audience Chamber of the Quencilvanian Palace. They were attended by Leicesterius, who professed his "sadness" for the death of Estatius and vowed to look after the interests of his widow and son. The Empress kissed the young Earl's cheeks, in a formal gesture of friendliness, and stopping down to the boy, declared that "Your father now resides in the heavens, young man, and you shall continue his legacy forward." Following this audience, the Countess Dowager of Estatius retreated to her birthplace on Azatha II, Rotherfaldian Greys, to live with her family.
  • October 28-The exiled Haynsian Despot, Braval I Karany, who had continued to plot to regain his throne and his position in the Haynsian Despotate, died at the age of fifty. He expired at St. Geoffrey's Hospital on Palymer, formerly the Palymer Hospital of Valor, which had been rechartered by the Imperial Ministry of Health and Sentient Services in July 1775. Braval I's death therefore left his nephew, Prince Jay Karany, as the official leader of the Haynsian Court in exile. He immediately proclaimed himself to be the new Haynsian Despot, and continued to refuse to acknowledge the rights of Neal V Karany to rule "over my hereditary dominions". Jay XIV Karany, as he now called himself, was acknowledged as such by the Empress Aurelia, who now formally, and finally, dropped her recognition for Neal V Karany as Despot of Haynsia. During the last months of 1776, Jay XIV continued his preparations at Palymer and along the Haynsian Slave Highway, under the patronage and protection of the Imperial Laurasian Government, to launch a campaign into the Despotate's territories to reclaim his throne.
  • November 12-
    • Empress Aurelia held her monthly audience with the Spamalkan Ambassador, Bernandino de Mendoza, at the Private Audience Chamber of the Quencilvanian Palace (November 12, 1776). For the Empress, this audience was of extreme importance, because of the events which had continued to transpire with the Durthian Rebellion. These events had continued to affect the Imperial Laurasian Government's perspectives about relations with the Holy Spamalkan Empire, and were of concern to the Empress and her ministers. Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley, both of whom considered the Empire's interactions with Spamalka to be of utmost importance, urged the Empress to use the audience as her opportunity to air her views, in an explicit and definite manner, to the Spamalkan Ambassador. After the departure of the Sieur de Champigny from the Laurasian Empire in March 1776, events had proceeded rapidly. On March 5, 1776, just three days after Champigny's departure, the Spamalkan Governor-General of the Durthian Provinces, Luis de Requesens, died suddenly on Brussels at the age of forty-eight. Governor-General Requesens had failed to suppress the Durthian Rebellion, and was on the verge of being recalled when he died. For some months, Emperor Philicus did not appoint a replacement, and the Duke of Alva temporarily assumed the duties of command against rebel forces.
    • The Empress of Laurasia had maintained her game of pretense about marrying the Duke of Alencon, if only to give Philicus cause to pause and reflect about his own actions. By the spring of 1776, however, she had abandoned this strategy, admitting that the Franconian marriage project was stalled because Alencon remained under house arrest at St. Germain. Indecisive skirmishes at Antwerp, Haarlem, and Amsterdam dominated the course of the next six months, as Alva was unable to advance against rebel positions in Zeeland and Holland. By November 1776, tensions were inflamed among the Spamalkan troops. Philicus's treasury reserves had been bled dry by the expenses of the Durthian War; by the need to maintain garrisons along the borders with the Pruthian and Austarlian Empires; and by the diversion of government military resources to the continuing suppression of the Morcios in Spamalkan Grenada. The troops at Antwerp had not been paid for months, and they now were pushed to open revolt. On November 4, 1776, under the leadership of General Sancho d'Avila, they penetrated the defenses of the star system and immediately began to lay waste to it. Within two days, the star system was in ruin. Nearly fifteen million individuals died in Maarlem, Antwerp's capital city. The spaceport, shipyard facilities, and Antwerp Stock Market were comprehensively sacked by the mutineers. Thus began the decline of Antwerp, which was destined not to recover from the Sack of Antwerp, as this event was labeled. Three days later, November 8, 1776, Prince William of Orange cooperated with Paulus Beys, Grand Pensionary of Holland, Elbertius Leoninus, a Laurasian emigrant doctor who served on the Durthian States-General, and Philip of Martinx, Lord of Saint-Aledgonde, in drafting the terms of the Pacification of Ghent. By this agreement, the rebel forces of the United Durthian States agreed to combine all of their military resources and to "resist, with all of the means at our disposal, the intrusions and offensives of the unruly troops of the Spamalkan Empire."
    • Chancellor Walsingis had written a communique to Prince William shortly afterwards, expressing his sympathy for the Durthian aims. All of this now served as background factors as the Empress entered into her conference with Ambassador Mendoza. In the audience, the Empress declared that "the measures and the excesses of the Spamalkan power in the Durthian Provinces" had aroused her utmost concern, and that Philicus should take care not to arouse the ire, and the possible intervention, of foreign powers against him. Mendoza attempted to defend his master's actions, declaring that the rebels were "attacking the authority of this rightful monarchy." The Empress, however, pointed out that Philicus would not be facing rebellion if he treated his Durthian subjects in a firm but fair manner. Their audience continued for two hours, with the Empress pointing to the Pacification of Ghent as evidence that the Durthians had been driven to measures to maintain their "integrity and unity." Mendoza reported on the audience to his master, Emperor Philicus. By this point, Philicus had finally decided on his appointee for the Governor-Generalship of the Durthian Provinces: his half brother, Don John of Austarlia. Don John was the illegitimate son of the Emperor Char'va I by one of his mistresses, Barbara Kruger, who had served as a singer in the Spamalkan Imperial Household. Born at Regensburg on February 24, 1747, his expenses had been provided for by his father, although he was not, during the early years of his life, publicly acknowledged as the Emperor's son.
    • In 1759, the year after Char'va's death, his legitimate son and successor, Philicus, had summoned the boy to his estate on Valladoid, embraced him as his half-brother, and took him into the Spamalkan Imperial Household. He had been awarded the title of Don of Austarlia, for his mother had been of Austarlian descent, and was given precedence second only to the members of the royal family. Don John's education had then been supervised by the Emperor, and in 1765, he joined the Spamalkan Imperial Army. That year, he participated in the defense of the Spamalkan system of Malta, besieged by the forces of the Marasharite Empire. He was appointed by Austarlian Empress Mar'va Tarvania as a Knight of the Golden Fleece the following year (in contrast to her rejection of the Earl of Leicesterius for the same honor); in 1768, he became Captain-General and commander of Spamalkan forces in the Medittarid Straits. Don Juan then participated in the suppression of the Morisco Revolt (1769-1770) and the Cyprian War with the Marasharite Empire (1771), which resulted in Spamalkan victory at Lepanto, the same time as the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War. Don John therefore had an established military reputation, and was trusted by Philicus to execute his duties. He was acknowledged by the Loyalist States-General as Governor-General in December 1776.
  • December 11-
    • By December 1776, the relationship between the Empress Aurelia and the Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod, Demetrius Grindalius, had become one marked by tension and almost-overt hostility. As explained previously, Grindalius (previously Archbishop of Charasia and Bishop of Alicia), had been selected by Lord Burghley to become the new Chief Procurator, following the death of Amnystas Parrius in May 1775. Grindalius's prior service in the Almitian Church, and his dedication to maintaining the reforms which had been implemented to the Church structure, had appeared to recommend him as the strongest candidate to Burghley. And at first, the Chief Procurator adhered to non-controversial policies. The Chief Procurator, on the recommendation of Lord Burghley, established a commission of ecclesiastical and civil representatives, in October 1775, to review the situation of the Church's judicial system. This commission worked for nearly a year and produced its final report on September 15, 1776. In the report, the commission recommended that the "benefit of clergy", the right granted to clergy and prelates of the Almitian Church to be tried by the church courts, be redefined.
    • The commission proposed that clerics and officials below the rank of deacon be denied this benefit; that those who were given the benefit would still be subject to final judgment by the Governing Senate; and that the benefit should not apply in cases of treason or conspiracy. The commission also recommended the abolition of the Ecclesiastical Court of Martial Affairs; the reformation of the ecclesiastical judicial service; and the implementation of new trial regulations for the court system. Grindalius now proceeded to introduce reforms to the court system, and he composed a communique concerning the report to the Privy Council. By this point, however, he had aroused the ire of the Empress through his other measures. The Empress had long since declared to Burghley and Walsingis the importance of maintaining conformity among the church authorities; she was fearful of any practice which could dilute her authority over her subjects. The practice most alarming to the Empress was the practice of "prophesying". This was the custom by which clergymen and their congregations gathered for "meetings of discussion", in order to contemplate the word of Almitis. These meetings were generally held in secret and were not part of the normal services. Aurelia believed this would be a conduit for influence, by the Extremist Almitians, into the official Church, and that they would be able to communicate their message to the Almitian congregations.
    • Therefore, on December 11, 1776, she commanded Grindalius to issue a manifesto denouncing the propheysings and forbidding all secret meetings of Almitian officials without the Synod's explicit permission. Grindalius, however, objected to this. His own views had become more intensely Reformist over the course of the previous year, and he had come to believe that the Church needed to discard Traditionalist vestments and rituals. On December 21, he wrote his formal objection to the Empress's order, declaring that "In my eyes, the Lord Almitis has revealed the light" and that he did not object to any of the propheysings then taking place. The Empress, who had received the objection from Leicesterius, was enraged and displeased about its contents. Raging that she had chosen the wrong Chief Procurator, she now banned Grindalius from the Imperial Court. During the course of the next six months, all communications between the Empress and the Chief Procurator would be conducted through Leicesterius; the tensions would continue to escalate until the inevitable final confrontation.

1777Edit

  • January 1-
    • 1777, the 77th year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire still residing in a state of general tranquility, stability, and prosperity. Indeed, since the commencement of Empress Aurelia's reign nearly two decades earlier, economic and astrographical development within the Empire's dominions had accelerated further. Laurasia Prime's population, which had surpassed 2 trillion in 1754, had expanded further, to 2.6 trillion by 1777. Elsewhere, the rise in population growth had also intensified; the population of the Galactic Borderlands, Wild Marshes, and Outer Borderlands more than tripled between 1758 and 1776; that in the Middle Territories quadrupled, and even the Central Core had witnessed a substantial rise. Yet rising birth rates, declining death rates, and greater access to healthcare, as well as education, also spurred the establishment of new, and additional colonies, outposts, and garrisons throughout the Empire's territory. Empress Aurelia had, through the manifestos of January 9, 1762, and February 1, 1763, reiterated the terms of free transportation, freedom of religion, freedom to petition authorities, and freedom of immigration for those who immigrated to, and developed the resources of, the Empire's colonies. The policy of colonization was in adherence with the doctrine, popular in the eighteenth century, that the power of the state depended on the size and utilization of its population. The Imperial Laurasian Government was not the only one to pursue plans of settling foreign colonists; these had also been seen in Pruthia, Austarlia, and Spamalka, with varying rates of success. The Empress of Laurasia was determined, therefore, to carry the policy of colonization through, and to let nothing obstruct it. On July 22, 1764, she decreed for the establishment of the Bureau of Foreign Colonization, in the Imperial Ministry of Space & Transportation, which was to be responsible for the safety of all foreign immigrants to the Empire, and for implementing the program of foreign settlement. At the same time, Aurelia ordered for all foreigners except for Marasharites to be freely admitted into Laurasian dominions. Moreover, she permitted for foreign colonists to choose residence and occupation.
    • Between 1764 and 1775, the number of foreign immigrants into the Empire's territory increased from 45 million per annum to 281 million per annum; of these immigrants, 30% came from Franconia, fleeing the turbulence between the Huguenots and Royalists; 20% from Dejanica and Northania; 20% from Durthia; and 15% from Pruthia and the Germanian Principalities. "Recruitment" was carried out by professionals, who were provided with a cash bonus and grants of colonial property. Foreign colonies, at first, suffered from various troubles, which were common to all such enterprises. Recruiting agents were not always trustworthy, many colonists were untrained in agricultural labor, and zones of settlement were still in the process of determination by the Imperial Survey Corps. But as the years passed, these troubles were ironed out. By 1765, the Imperial Survey Corps had intensified its efforts, conducting numerous expeditions through the Wild Marshes, and in the Galactic Borderlands, discovering more than two million new habitable star systems during the course of a ten-year period. In addition to colonies established through the efforts of state recruiting agents, there were also those sponsored by nobles, corporate firms, and gentlemen, who negotiated under direct procedures with the Bureau of Foreign Colonization, and with the colonists themselves.
    • In 1766, the Imperial Ministry of Space and Transportation announced the adoption of a new scheme of colonization in the Huntite Provinces. There, a special attempt was made to settle both civilian and military colonists. At each colony, settlers were to be given generous amounts of land, supplies, and the right to claim mineral resources. Recruiting agents and nobles were given the first choice of land, as long as they recruited at least 15,000 settlers for every two star systems colonized. Entrepreneurs, merchants, craftsmen, and navigators received special encouragement to settle, and were offered subsidies in order to develop new businesses. The Huntite Provinces, thanks to this revised policy, saw a further rapid increase in colonists; by 1770, more than 5 billion foreign and Core colonists had been established there, spread across 6,000 star systems. These colonies would be subject to the ravages and depredation of Pugachevia and his forces in 1773-74; what transpired with them in that rebellion has already been noted. From 1775, moreover, the scheme of colonization in Hunt was adapted and adopted for the territories acquired from the Marasharite Empire: the Muggal Cluster, Northern Reaches, and Haynsian Slave Highway. During the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the plan continued to provide the framework for Laurasian efforts in that region, though a number of modifications were introduced, reducing the number of colonists a gentleman or noble had to sponsor, lengthening the period of recruitment, easing the payment of taxes, and revising land, resource, and agricultural allocations. Deserters, fugitives from religious persecution, and criminals in these territories were offered an amnesty and favorable terms. New Imperial labor and prison colonies were established in the region, with convicts sent in increasing numbers to complete their sentences.
    • Specific subsets of foreigners flocked to the Northern Galactic Borderlands. Many came as refugees from the Marasharite Empire and Haynsian Despotate: this included Moldavians, Wallachians, Bulgarians, Byzzarians, and Dejanicans. A new and different social structure developed in those regions, as colonists intermingled with the native Torfian, Lavellan, Donnian, Billian, and Latrician populations. Moreover, many of the colonies established assumed special prominence, and attention from the Imperial Laurasian Government. Riababia Mogila, Larga, and Kagul, in particular, saw considerable development after 1774, with the establishment of new settlements, the reorganization of their transportation and communications systems, and the exploitation of their natural resources. Attention was also paid to enhancing the old Torfian Throne Worlds; Ung, Kumong, Sackrandis, Karlong, and Imegina, among other star systems, saw the establishment of new Laurasian monuments, forums, baths, amphitheaters, and other structures. The colony of Kherson was founded in 1774, being joined by Cordell the following year and by Emperia in 1776; Emperia, in particular, was to become home to the foreign conscripts and laborers evacuated from the Haynsia in 1778-1779. Kherson, located in the Northern Reaches, became host to a new naval base for the Imperial Laurasian Navy, as well as the St. Josephina Shipyards, which were constructed from 1775-1778; in 1779, the first Laurasian warship to be launched from the star system, the IMS Cassania, embarked on her maiden voyage into the Galactic Void. It joined the colonies of Tetrault (1770), Leonria (1771), Totus (1772), and Mekania (1773), established along the Galactic Frontier Route, and meant to enhance the Laurasian position in that region. Tetrault became host to new Laurasian spice mines; Lenoria to a Laurasian Astrographical Center; and Mekania, to Espella Navigators, responsible for shipping through Belkadan and into the Galactic Void.
    • Other prominent Laurasian colonies included Querteria (1758), which was established eighty light years to the north of Scanlan; Mara (1761), which became home to the Venasian Academy of High Maidens; Stratonice Majoria (1762) and its sister-world Stratonice Sussex (1763), established on the outlet of the Denveranian Trunk Line as trade-collection depots; Trijuana (1764), which became home to the Great Xerellian Resorts; Santifica (1766), known for its pleasant native inhabitants, the Natti; Clantooine (1767), which became a Laurasian security garrison; and Durella (1769), as an manufacturing outpost. Overall, during that period, more than 750,000 star systems were colonized under the Empire's auspices. In addition, the chartering of the Kalbacha-Nagai Trade Highway (1763), the Murphian-Decapolian Grand Trail (1766), and the Hutsite Reaches Corridor (1769), proved to be major feats of hyperspatial plotting. Government revenues, on their part, had now reached €150.6 quadrillion dataries, with a budget surplus of more than €1 quadmillion dataries, larger than at any previous point in the century. Trade had also increased substantially, with the manufacturing, agricultural, and mining sectors experiencing the greatest rates of growth.
    • In her New Year's proclamation, Empress Aurelia, touting these economic advances, declared that "the realms of this Empire have been blessed through the grace and the bounty of the Lord Almitis." Other factors, however, still held the concern of the Empress and the Imperial Privy Council. One of these was the Durthian Question, of which more detail will be provided below, and the events associated with the Haynsian Despotate. By January 1777, Jay XIV Karany, as the Despot-in-exile called himself, was ready to launch his campaigns into the Despotate's territory, in order to reclaim the Haynsian throne. He had assembled his mercenaries and military supplies at Palymer, Karasubusar, Perekop, Quinta-il-vily, Batchbey, Merevebey, and Quickbay; had drafted his strategy of attack with his chief subordinates; and had maintained contacts with his supporters in the Warrior Fastnesses. This would culminate in this year, and the Laurasian Empire's sphere of influence over the Haynsian Despotate, the precursor to ultimate annexation, would be firmly extended.
  • January 12-
    • On January 12, 1777, the Empress Aurelia, who continued to monitor events in the Durthian Duchies with apprehension, sent a communique to both the Governor-General of Durthia, Don Juan of Austarlia, and to Prince William of Orange. In this communique, the Empress of Laurasia declared that "the turmoils which have been persisting between your respective factions" threatened the tranquility of extra-galactic civilization. It was the belief of the Empress that "all loyal subjects owed allegiance to their master, and that unless such allegiance is conferred, then there will be anarchy and turmoil without end." Aurelia therefore offered to mediate between the United Durthian States and the Holy Spamalkan Empire. She proclaimed that the best means of compromise would be the acknowledgement of religious freedom and internal autonomy for the Durthian States, in exchange for their renewal of obligations to Emperor Philicus. Prince William of Orange, however, was wary of the Laurasian offer. Don Juan of Austarlia, who had remained at his operational headquarters on Luxembourg, had attempted negotiations of his own with the Durthian States-General. He had promised to limit the number of Spamalkan troops in Durthian territory; had issued a special manifesto, on January 4, acknowledging the terms of the Pacification of Ghent; and had sought to reduce tariffs levied upon Durthian goods. The States-General, however, remained suspicious of his intentions, believing that Emperor Philicus was still coordinating a severe response against them. Therefore, on January 21, Prince William, acting on their instructions, rejected the Laurasian offer of meditation. He nevertheless did so with great tact, and thanked "Her Imperial Majesty of Laurasia" for her offer. For the time being, however, the Durthian States remained at a uneasy peace with Don Juan's forces. Chancellor Walsingis, however, uncovered on January 24 a conspiracy which had been contrived by Don Juan's agents. This conspiracy envisioned a invasion of the Empire's territories by Spamalkan troops; the deposition of Aurelia from the imperial throne; and the installation of Scottrian Queen Mariana on the throne, with Don Juan as her consort. The Empress was enraged, but eventually understood that Don Juan did not have the resources for this ambitious conspiracy and that Philicus had not directly condoned it.
  • March 8-On March 8, 1777, after more than a year of preparations, the Haynsian "Despot" Jay XIV Karany launched a direct military offensive into the territories of the Haynsian Despotate. Before his departure, the Despot had met with Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley at Nandia on March 2. The Empress's chief ministers, acting both on her instructions and their own initiative, had assured Jay that he would continue to enjoy the unconditional support of the Imperial Laurasian Government. Jay, in turn, agreed to recognize Laurasian commercial privileges in the Despotate, as had been assured by his predecessor Neal V Karany, and to negotiate a new treaty with the Empire upon regaining his position upon the Haynsian throne. Jay's forces included Haynsian troops, the Despot's personal guard, and a corps of Laurasian mercenaries, which had been provided by the Imperial Military. Within days of his advance into Haynsian territory, Jay made considerable advances against his adversary, Neal V Karany. Loyalist Haynsian troops stormed the Gates of Perekop (March 9-11); Isis (March 14); Chalaa (March 17); and Little Boravia (March 22), before penetrating to the northern outskirts of the Brigoff Stellar Nebula. By the end of March 1777, Despot Jay's units were besieging the defenses of Infirampol and Semafpol. Neal V Karany, who was now alarmed by the advance of the Despot's units, now advanced forth from Haynes. On April 4, he launched a counteroffensive against the Brigoff Stellar Nebula, storming Loyalist garrisons on Baina, Nikolavar, and Himmeria. By April 14, however, Jay XIV had managed to reassert his position, repulsing a government move against Isis. Four days later, he obtained a victory in the Battle of Semrnapoval, capturing a number of his rival's battleships. Following this victory, Loyalist forces, now supported by a Laurasian reconnaissance force dispatched from Palymer, made further advances. Greater Borlavia and Chereseneos were in their possession by April 22; five days later, the claimant Despot's troops stormed Doros and Theodoros, inflicting severe damage on the defenses of both star systems. By the end of April 1777, Balaclava and Tivran were both being besieged by Jay's units, and the tensions against Neal V on Haynes and in other star systems were growing.
  • May 10-
    • By May 1777, the Empress Aurelia had tired of the obstinate and stubborn attitude displayed by Chief Procurator Demetrius Grindalius. On March 18, 1777, in a communique to the Earl of Leicesterius, the Empress declared that "it would be an affront to my authority if I continue to tolerate the disrespect and the insubordination displayed to me by the Chief Procurator." She further went on to write that this episode between her and Grindalius was reminiscent of the disputes between Antiochus the Great and his Chief Procurator, Thomasius Becketius, more than four centuries earlier. Aurelia pointed out that Becketius had resisted "his rightful sovereign's demands" and that he had ultimately paid with this for his life. She expressed her desire not to inflict punishment of that kind upon Grindalius, but also declared that unless if he adhered to her directives, as were her rights as Pontifex Maximus, then he did not deserve to serve as Chief Procurator any further. Therefore, on May 8, the Empress, overriding her earlier directive, commanded for the Chief Procurator to appear before her personally at the Quencilvanian Palace, in order to answer for his actions.
    • Grindalius, who had already sent her a written communique concerning his objections, did not object to presenting his objections to the Empress personally. The audience itself was held in the Public Audience Chambers (May 10, 1777). On the Empress's orders, the chief personages of the Imperial Court, the Privy Councilors and Ministers of State, Governing Senators, and the Chief Procurator's own colleagues on the Holy Synod were assembled in the chambers, so that they might be witness to this conversation between the Empress and the Chief Procurator. Grindalius appeared before the Empress, and fell on his knees before her. The Empress exhorted him to rise. When he did so, she then asked him, in a firm manner, why he "did not enforce the directives of the Lord Almitis, as communicated through his representative in creation." Grindalius responded that his allegiance to the spiritual power was greater than that to the secular power, and that he had direct communication with Almitis and the Lord Paul, imploring him to maintain the administrative structure and the reformed customs of the Almitian Church. Moreover, he said that "Public and continual preaching of Almitis's word is the ordinary instrument of the salvation of mankind" and said that the prohibition of propheysings would go against all that the Church stood for. Aurelia, however, sternly rebuked Grindalius over these statements, informing him that the system of the Empire's government had been "conferred from the hands of Almitis, who has mandated that my word is law."
    • Grindalius responded by declaring he did not doubt that the Empress was Autocrat of all living, but that her word should not override the directives given by Almitis personally. He said that the Empress should "refer all these ecclesiastic matters which touch religion, or the doctrine and discipline of the Church, unto the clergymen and divines of your realms, for indeed they are things to be judged, in the Church or the Holy Synod, but not in a palace. And even though you are a mighty prince, yet remember that he who dwells in Heaven is even mightier. If you turn away from Almitis, then Almitis will turn his merciful countenance away from you. Your Majesty is also mortal and should understand that you will eventually be judged at the Lord Almitis's seat. Anyone who does not obey can remain only in terrible expectation of Almitis's judgments, and wrath such as has not been seen before." The Empress was outraged by this insolence. Leaping from her throne, she declared that "my father would certainly have not tolerated this defiance, and nor will I!" She then hit the Chief Procurator in his face and ordered for the Valedictorians to take Grindalius away. Shortly afterwards, the Empress ordered Burghley, Walsingis, Jadia, and Leicesterius to go with her to the Private Council Chambers. There, the Empress declared that the Chief Procurator's continuing defiance was intolerable. The Empress's ministers agreed, with Burghley shocked that Grindalius had taken matters this far and had sought to directly defy the authority of the autocracy. On May 14, the Empress ordered for Grindalius's arrest.
    • The Chief Procurator, bound in chains, was brought to the Fortress of Baureux. There, over the course of the next five days, he was examined by Burghley, Walsingis, Leicesterius, and the Chief Justice of the Court of the Star Chamber, Sir Christopherius Wrayius (1724-92). Grindalius continued to defend his stances and refused to compromise. On May 24, Grindalius was brought before the Holy Synod, arraigned on charges of les-majestie, conspiracy, corruption, and heresy. The verdict was inevitable, and after a trial which lasted for only five hours, he was convicted on all charges. On the orders of the Empress, Grindalius was formally deprived of the Chief Procuratorate; stripped of ecclesiastical status; and placed under life imprisonment at the Secret Prison of Ipsus V. Here he was to remain for the last six years of his life. During that time, the Empress, shocked and alarmed by the incident, issued orders directly to the Holy Synod, and to her clerics. She did not appoint another Chief Procurator for that duration, and considered abolishing the position entirely. The Empress demonstrated in this incident that she, as Pontifex Maximus, was absolute authority of the Almitian Church, and that the Chief Procurator was subject only to her wishes.
  • June 4-On June 4, 1777, Doge Alvise Mocenigo of Haxonia died at the Doges' Palace on Haxonia Prime. He was aged sixty-nine at the time of his death and had during the course of his reign cultivated close relations with the Serene Kingdom of Franconia, the Autocratic Pruthian Empire, and the Grand Duchy of Masacavania. Mocenigo was succeeded as Doge by Admiral and Marshal of the Haxonian Space Forces Sebastiano Venier, the cousin of Doge Francesco Venier. Venier had obtained great fame throughout extra-galactic civilization for his victory in the Battle of Lepanto (1771) against the Barbary States of Algiers and Tunis, and had then commanded Haxonian forces in the War of the Dubrovinik Straits (1774-76) with the Vendragian Confederacy. He was elected unanimously, and crowned on June 19.
  • June 6-
    • The Earl of Leicesterius, who no longer enjoyed robust health as previously, departed from the Imperial Court on Laurasia Prime to the famed resort-world of Idyll. Idyll, which by 1777 had a population of nearly one billion, had become further renowned throughout the Caladarian Galaxy for its hot springs and spas. Leicesterius had been advised by his own physicians that the waters would have benefits for his condition, and give him an opportunity to escape from the pressures of his duties at the Imperial Court. Leicesterius was seen off by the Empress herself, who gave him a gift of €150 million dataries and a suit of ceremonial armor before he left. Leicesterius's journey to Idyll lasted for eight days, for he proceeded at a slower pace than normal. Along the way, he stopped at Coen and stayed for a night as the guest of his friends, the Earl and Countess of Aretha. The couple owned Jessamanian Estate in the star system, which was the third-largest country estate in the Empire. It had a central mansion, extensive ranches, and its own private forestry grounds, covering some 50,000 acres of territory.
    • The Countess, in particular, had regained the favor of the Empress Aurelia, following a incident, in 1774, concerning her daughter Aurelia Cavendia's marriage with the Countess of Lennaxia's son, Antiochus Stewart. The Empress herself had written to the Countess, warning her that Leicesterius had developed an "extensive appetite" and that his diet should be moderated. Leicesterius, however, was during his visit (June 11-12, 1777), presented to the Scottrian Queen Mariana, who had been translated there momentarily whilst the Earl and Countess stayed on Coen. The conversation between the Earl and the former Queen was limited primarily to social pleasantries. When Mariana expressed her discontent at her continuing confinement, Leicesterius expressed polite sympathy. He would, in a letter to Burghley written after his departure from Coen, provide an account of the meeting. This prompted Burghley to request the Empress whether he could meet Mariana herself.
    • Aurelia, however, refused, knowing her cousin's gift of wiles in being able to make even the wisest men act foolishly. During the visit, the Countess of Aretha also presented to Leicesterius her infant granddaughter, Anastasia Stewart, for inspection. Anastasia, the daughter of the Earl of Lennaxia and his wife, Lady Aurelia Cavendia, had been born on November 12, 1775, at Hackeria Estate on Nathaniel. As the great-grandniece of Antigonus III, Anastasia possessed a strong claim to the Laurasian throne, one which the Countess of Aretha believed was stronger than Mariana's. She suggested that Leicesterius should try to persuade Aurelia to name the child as her successor. Leicesterius thought that this idea seemed reasonable. He suggested that the Countess marry her granddaughter to his illegitimate son, Antiochus Dudley. The Countess accepted this, ambitious and determined to extend her influence. Leicesterius's departure on June 12 was marked with much ceremony. Leicesterius arrived at Idyll on June 14 and stayed there for almost two months, having gained an extended leave of absence from the Imperial Chancellory.
  • July 2-The Empress Aurelia visited Gorhamia House on Osama for the second time (July 2, 1777). Procurator-General Bagonius, who had taken note of the Empress's remarks during her earlier visit in July 1772, five years earlier, had lavished spending upon the expansion and renovation of his residence during that time period. By July 1777, Gorhamia House encompassed nearly a thousand rooms, in three interconnected structures, and enclosed a courtyard area of nearly a square mile. The mansion also possessed an extensive hunting range; a antique Laurasian colonnade; and its own private docking facilities. The House's decorations had been much improved, and it now possessed a indoor viewing gallery, a dining hall with seats for 30,000 individuals, and 500 bedroom chambers. Altogether, the expenses of renovation had amounted to nearly €7.5 billion dataries. Empress Aurelia, when she arrived at the residence, was indeed impressed by the renovations, declaring that "no one but my Procurator General could have done better." She was also impressed by his standard of living, for Bagonius's meals were accompanied with much splendor and diversity in choice. Aurelia stayed for five days, taking picnics in the banqueting house he had erected in his garden; feasting on food made by Venasian and Briannian cooks, among the best in the Empire; and hunting in the estate's range. Bagonius, however, was one who despised lavish courtly entertainment, but, loyal to the Empress and wishing to satisfy her every need, ultimately spent €500 million dataries to accommodate her visit. The Empress's departure on July 7 was marked with much ceremony; she then traveled to Loslerian House on Tarravania, and spent two days there. This year, however, she decided not to go on progress, and instead conducted a tour through the Eastern Purse Region, visiting Oxia Vixius, Ralina Vixius, Apathama Vixius, Americana, Darsis, Janesia, Dearton's Gateway, Maroni, the Station of Dosch, Tommy, and Arias. She then arrived at the Gilbertine Palace on Tudoria on July 15, and stayed there for over a month, before finally returning to Laurasia Prime on August 22, 1777.
  • September 14-
    • By September 1777, the position of the Haynsian Despot, Neal V Karany, was in a very perilous state. Over the course of the preceding three months, the forces of Jay XIV Karany had made further advances at the expense of his rival. Bakalava, which had been besieged by the troops of the Despot since April 1777, finally captiulated to his arms on June 4. Possession of this star system, still one of the chief bastions of economic power in the Haynsian Despotate, allowed for Jay XIV to finally establish a direct line of communications with his supporters in the Warrior Fastnesses, who had definitively renounced their allegiance to Neal V. By July 1777, Jay's forces had stormed Tivran, Panthemelum, Ikkerman, and Olbis, isolating the supply lines of Bahkchisiray and Haynes. Confrontations between loyalist and government forces at the Tauric Approaches, Donetsk, and the Iversk Comets (July-August 1777) shifted the balance further in favor of Despot Jay. On September 2, Jay's forces began to harry the outskirts of Haynes, storming the operational outposts of the Haynsian Asteroid Belt. It was this advance that finally convinced Neal of the futility of his cause. On September 7, he sent a request for the cessation of hostilities to his rival, who was then at headquarters on Isis. This request was accepted by Jay, who was now convinced that he had secured his position in the Haynsian Despotate. The Armistice of Donetsk (September 14, 1777), resulted in the suspension of all military hostilities between their opposing forces. Empress Aurelia, who was eager to see this conflict brought to an end, charged Major-General Alexander Surovius, who had been appointed as magnus militum of the Bucharianian Governorate two months earlier, with the task of negotiating the final agreement between the two opposing Haynsian factions, and of securing the Laurasian Empire's privileges in the Despotate. Surovius performed his mission expertly.
    • Arriving at Isis on September 25, the Laurasian General was then responsible for arranging a personal conference between the two rival Despots. This conference began on October 3 and lasted for ten days. Finally, on October 13, 1777, the Treaty of Isis was signed. By the terms of this treaty, Neal V Karany agreed to abdicate, for the second and last time, in favor of his rival, who was now acknowledged as Despot of Haynsia. All government forces and garrisons still under Neal's command were to recognize the jurisdiction of Jay XIV as their master, and were to admit him entrance onto Haynes without delay. In exchange, Jay XIV agreed to permit Neal to retire to residence in the Marasharite Empire; to be paid an annual subsidy of $67.7 billion Haynsian marks every year, until his death; and to maintain his own Haynsian household. As regards to arrangements with the Laurasian Empire, Jay XIV agreed to recognize Laurasian commercial and transit privileges in his dominions. He now formally acknowledged "Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress and Autocrat of All Laurasia" as his protector. The Empress of Laurasia was to defend the Haynsian Despotate's interests from all outside threats; to maintain "stability" and "tranquility" in the Haynsian dominions; and to employ "military force against any who seek to disrupt the equilibrium of affairs." The Empress therefore gained the right to intervene in Haynsian internal affairs, and to dispatch troops to Haynsian territory, in times of "rebellion or unrest, or upon the request of His Mightiness of Haynsia." The Treaty of Isis, which effectively transformed the Haynsian Despotate into a protectorate of the Laurasian Empire, was ratified by Jay XIV and Neal V the day it was signed; and by the Empress Aurelia on October 19, who declared that the treaty "secured our sphere of influence in the Angelina Spiral." Neal V, on his part, disarmed his military forces and formally abdicated as Despot at Haynes on October 24, 1777. Four days later, Jay XIV made his triumphant entry into his star system, escorted by General Surovius and his military forces. Neal V, on his part, retreated to Wiese in the Great Tesmanian Cloud. He would die there on January 22, 1780, at the age of forty-nine.
  • November 11-Sir Christopheus Hattonius, who had proven his ability in government administration, and had provided important support to the Empress during the debacle with Chief Procurator Grindalius, was now appointed as Vice-Chamberlain of the Imperial Household and Minister of Justice. He therefore replaced Sir Tacitus Knollysis and Sir Nicholas Bagonius in those positions. Procurator-General Bagonius, who had so lavishly entertained the Empress and the Imperial Court months before, was now entering a decline in health. He had therefore asked to be relieved of one of his offices; the Empress now conferred it upon another whom she believed would be dependable and loyal to her. Four days later, on November 16, the Empress formally knighted Hattonius, declaring, in a manifesto from the Imperial Court, that his "services to this government and to my person have elevated him in the eyes of the Lord Almitis" and that good service would be justly rewarded. Chancellor Walsingis, who had continued to work hard to preserve the Empress's welfare, would be knighted on December 1, 1777 and appointed High Steward of the Cities of Christiania and Colombia. On December 9, 1777, the Empress and the Imperial Court returned to the Quencilvanian Palace on Laurasia Prime from Tudoria. As the year 1777 ended, however, new concerns were emerging in Scottria and in the Haynsian Despotate which would soon have the Imperial Laurasian Government's attention.

1778Edit

  • January 1-1778, the 78th year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire's realms still in a prevalent state of general internal tranquility and prosperity. The state of the Empire's economic expansion was such that the Empress Aurelia's subjects had hailed her as "blessed by the agents of the Almitis and the Lord Paul himself." Those of Reformed Almitist persuasions among the Empire's subjects believed that the Empire owed its economic and domestic prosperity to the "removal of heretical, Traditional elements from the fabric of our religion and this government." This was in particular the view held by some of those in the Imperial Laurasian Government. Lord Knollysis, one of the more ardent Reformists among the Empress's advisers, declared openly that "only through the establishment of true faith has this Empire been allowed to thrive." Sir Rudomentus Sadielus expressed similar sentiments, and gave his thanks to the Lord Almitis that his sovereign had been preserved and his species elevated. Empress Aurelia, on her part, displayed similarly positive sentiments in her New Year's proclamation. She declared that the ongoing reform of the Empire's provincial administration would "serve to reduce the troubles of our subjects; to destroy corruption; and to improve the efficiency of the governmental administration." Furthermore, she stated, the establishment of Laurasian protectorship over the Haynsian Despotate had improved the Empire's security and strengthened its position in regards to neighbors such as the Spamalkan Empire and the Serene Kingdom of Franconia. In this declaration, however, was to prove an element of foreshadowing. The Empress was still fully intent on extending absolute Laurasian jurisdiction over the regions of the Angelina Spiral. This could only be established through the direct annexation of Scottria and Haynsia, long the Empire's enemies. This year would see a series of rapid events in Scottria, which would, before the close of the decade, result in the Empire's final incorporation of the Scottrian Homeland Territories.
  • January 19-
    • By January 1778, the position of the Holy Spamalkan Empire in the Durthian Provinces had reached a new and perilous low. In May 1777, the Governor-General, Don Juan of Austarlia, had made his formal entrance into the Brussels star system. Greeted formally by the authorities and inhabitants of the capital star system, the Governor-General had sought to continue his policies of moderation and compromise towards the United Durthian States. Don John had promised that the historic privileges of Brussel's elites would be protected under his rule; this meant, by extension, the protection of the ancient privileges of the Durthian Provinces. On June 9, a month after his arrival, Don Juan agreed to meet with his counterpart, the rebel leader Prince William of Orange. The Prince, however, always remained wary of Spamalkan intentions. Consequently, he did not demonstrate true desire in meeting his adversary, and the meeting never occurred. Don John then began to hear rumors about a possible assassination plot against him, sponsored by the States-General and known to the Imperial Intelligence Agency of the Laurasian Empire. Fearful for his life, he now used the excuse of a official state visit with the Grand Princess of Navarra, Marguerite of Valois, at Spa, in order to proceed to the Border Districts, where rebel tensions were high. The meeting occurred from July 2-19, 1777. Following the conclusion of the meeting, and on his way back to Brussels, the Governor-General seized the citadel of Namur, in violation of his earlier promises to the Durthian States-General.
    • Don John then sent his secretary and military subordinate, Juan de Escobedo, to Madrid, in order to explain to his half-brother, Emperor Philicus, the impossibility of coming to terms with the "heinous rebels" and asking for a expansion of the military forces at his disposal. Philicus received Escobedo at Madrid on August 5, 1777, and quickly agreed to Don Juan's requests. Escobedo returned to Brussels in October 1777. The following month, Philicus dispatched a corps of 350 warships and 4,000 smaller vessels, which were deployed by Don Juan at Gravelines, Brussels, Namurs, and Zutsburg. On November 2, the States-General of the Durthian States, declaring that Don John had violated his own conditions, issued a renewed declaration of war against the Holy Spamalkan Empire. Within a month, rebel forces had stormed government garrisons on Zupherm, Roosevelt, and Altersvedt. Don Juan, determined not to give the rebels space to advance any farther, hastened from Namur back to Brussels. On December 15, he launched a counteroffensive against Artois and Flanaut; by the end of the month, he had defeated rebel forces at Van Dyke and Artvevelde.
    • Then, on January 19, 1778, the Battle of Gembloux occurred; Gembloux was a Durthian colony located near Namur. Within two hours, Don John and his military co-commander Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, had gained a crushing victory over Durthian Admiral Van Delt, capturing nearly a third of the Durthian starfighters. As a result of the Battle of Gembloux, all rebel units remaining in the vicinity of Namur were expelled. Empress Aurelia, when she was informed by Walsingis of the rebel defeat at Gembloux, seized upon the opportunity to defend her Durthian policy. She declared to Leicesterius that the course of events demonstrated why she was not rash in involving herself in the Durthian Rebellion. The possibility had always existed that the rebels would be defeated, and the Battle of Gembloux demonstrated that could be the outcome. On January 24, the Empress informed the Privy Council that "only a turn in events, which may work to the disadvantage of our neighbors, would cause me to change my mind." Philicus, however, had become increasingly incensed by the Laurasian Empress. She had now been patronizing Commodore Franconius Dracius, who commanded Laurasian naval forces in the Burglais Arm, in his raids against Spamalkan commercial convoys in the Galactic Void, and she had been permitting the continued flow of mercenaries and financial aid to the United Durthian States. On February 12, 1778, Philicus would declare in private to his Council of State that the "continued provocations by my former sister-in-law will eventually warrant our action."
  • March 3-On March 3, 1778, Haxonian Doge Sebastiano Venier, who had ruled since his accession in June 1777, died on Haxonia Prime. Venier was eighty-two years old at the time of his death. He was now succeeded as Doge by the Haxonian Professor of Philosophy and Senator Nicolo da Ponte. Da Ponte was eighty-seven years old at the time of his accession to the Haxonian throne, the oldest Doge yet elected within the eighteenth century. He was also the last Doge to be elected who had been born in the seventeenth century (1691). Da Ponte was crowned as Doge on March 19, 1778.
  • March 7-On March 7, 1778, Constantia Douglain, the Dowager Countess of Lennaxia and mother of Antigonus Stewart, Lord Darnley, died. Following the assassinations of her son (1767) and husband (1771), and then the death of her son the Earl of Lennaxia in 1776, Constantia had resided quietly on Pulaski, having been granted a pension by the Empress Aurelia. Despite this, Constantia involved herself in numerous business enterprises, and in November 1777, was financially harmed by the collapse of Murvian Spice Enterprises, in which she owned a 40% equity. The collapse of this particular business had left the Countess deeply in debt, and she was forced to sell Lennaxian House on Pulaski in March 1778. The Empress Aurelia, still harboring memory of the Countess-Dowager's earlier intrigues, refused to forgive her debts or to expand her pension. Douglain was forced to rely upon the generosity of the Earl of Leicesterius, who had long been a associate of hers. She died at the Diplomatic Palace in Christiania. The Empress's attitude towards her cousin mellowed following her death, and she provided for a magnificent state funeral at the Westphalian Cathedral, which was conducted on April 9.
  • March 10-
    • By March 1778, the position of the Regent Morton, in the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria, had become untenable. During the course of the past five years, Morton had ruled over the Scottrian Court and realms in a firm hand. As a result of his efforts, no direct rebellion had erupted against the authority of King Jamsius's government. However, Morton's religious and financial policies alienated many among the Scottrian nobility and in the Scottrian Congregations, particularly the Presbysterian Regents. They disliked the Regent's preference for Episcopacy, which he had expressed in proclamations in February and March 1775 and in June 1776; they resented his seizure of the Regency Estates, a measure enacted August 19, 1776; and they loathed the fact that he permitted for Scottrian Catholics to retain the right to worship in their own private estates. Moreover, Morton rigorously enforced the collection of one third of the income of every Congregation benefice, a revenue which had been allocated to finance the King's personal household. Morton had discretion to exempt persons and institutions from paying this tax; the Earl used this authority to grant exemptions to many of his allies and supporters. Moreover, opposition to the Regent was encouraged by the Earls of Argyll and Atholl, both of whom were Scottrian Catholics and supporters of former Queen Mariana. They were supported by Alexander Erskine of Gogar, governor of Stirling Castle and custodian of the young King.
    • In February 1778, the two Earls agreed to combine their resources and their political influence to bring a motion of no confidence to the Scottrian Estates. The Estates themselves, which had reconvened on January 24, 1778, had many members who were opposed to the Regent. Therefore, when on March 10, 1778, Argyll proposed a vote of no confidence in Morton, the Estates concurred. By a two-thirds vote, they passed a motion declaring that Morton had forfeit his position as Regent and that he was formally dismissed from his duties of office. Morton, who had not been aware of his enemy's machinations, and was caught offguard at Holyroodian Palace, was forced to acquiesce in the Estate's motion. By March 15, he had surrendered Edianian Castle, Holyroodian Palace, the Great Seal, the Honors of Scottria, and the jewels. Morton soon retired to Lochleven, which he had obtained possession of the property. Jamsius VI, who was now eleven years old, was formally declared to be of age to govern. In his first direct proclamation to his subjects, issued on March 22, the King of Scottria expressed his recognition that many in his realms "misliked" the regency of Morton, and that therefore, it had been considered expedient for him to assume the burdens of administration. Empress Aurelia, on her part, learning of Morton's deposition from his position of authority, was alarmed and displeased. The Empress wrote to her ambassador at the Court of Ediania, Sir Lysimachus Craverius, declaring that "the deposition of His Lordship of Morton from his position of authority bodes ill for the authority of the Empire." The Empress then instructed Ambassador Craverius and Sir Thomasius Randolphius, who served as Consul of the Laurasian Embassy, to demand of the Scottrian Estates an explanation for their decision. At the same time, however, the Empress viewed this as the opportune time to finally bring her long-existing plans for Scottria into effect. She and Burghley agreed that by providing support to Morton, further dissension could be encouraged in the Scottrian territories, which would work to the Empire's benefit. This would be revealed in only the course of a month.
  • April 4-
    • On April 4, 1778, the former Scottrian Queen Mariana's third and last husband, Jamsius Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, died at Dragsholm Fortress at Faarevejile in the Vendragian Confederacy. Following the Battle of Carberry, Bothwell had fled to the Great Amulak Spiral and to the Vendragian Confederacy, evading the pursuit of the forces of Kirclady of Grange and Willanius Murray of Tullibardine. Bothwell had hoped to reach the court of the Vendragian King Frederickius on Lourden, and to obtain access to a Vendragian mercenary force, which could be employed to depose Moray and to restore Mariana to the Scottrian throne. However, the fugitive Earl was detained at the Vendragian frontier post of Bergen, for he did not possess a proper passport. This was the residence of his former wife, Annuthia Thorendson, whom he had disowned in November 1759 following his first visit to the Vendragian Confederacy. Eight years later, she still remembered the injustice which had been done to her by Bothwell. Throendson had connections, and she soon raised a complaint against Bothwell. Her cousin Eric Rosenkrantz, who was Magistriate-Justice of Bergen, had Bothwell imprisoned while Annuthia sued him for abandonment and return of her marriage dowery. Bothwell attempted to persuade Annuthia to take possession of his personal flagship, but King Frederickius, having been informed of the Earl's arrival and aware of the rumors concerning his complicity in Lord Darnley's murder and his relationship with Queen Mariana, decided to have Bothwell placed under permanent custody.
    • At first, Bothwell was treated with relative respect, and was permitted to have his own personal household. The King refused all demands by Moray and Mar for the extradition of Bothwell back to the Angelina Spiral. Frederickus's death, however, on January 22, 1773, brought his less tolerant and more repressive son Georg III to the throne. Georg, who had never liked Bothwell, ordered for his household on Bergen to be dismantled and for the former Earl himself to be imprisoned, under horrendous conditions, at Dragsholm Fortress. Bothwell spent the last five years of his life there, and was eventually driven insane by his experiences. Therefore, when he finally died in April 1778, it was with little mourning. Empress Aurelia, informed of Bothwell's death, commented to Lord Husadarania, her cousin, that it "came too late to save the life and fortune of the Scottrian Queen." She permitted Aretha to inform Queen Mariana of her husband's death. Mariana, who still held some fond memory of Bothwell, broke down into tears and had a wailing fit. Georg, on his part, ordered for Bothwell's body to be mummified and placed on display at Copenhagen Tower; there, it was to remain in ignominy, to the eyes of public display, until Georg's son and successor, Georg IV, ordered for Bothwell to be given a formal burial in 1794. Bothwell would be finally interred at Faie House on Tronstadt.
  • April 27-
    • By the latter weeks of April 1778, the Earl of Morton was ready to reclaim his position of authority on Ediania. On April 2, the Earl, who had remained at Lochleven since his abdication of the Regency, received a communique from the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This communique had been composed by Chancellor Walsingis on the Empress Aurelia's orders. In the communique, it was made clear to Morton that "Her Imperial Majesty, having observed the events recently transpired in the realms of Scottria, has found that such events are injurious to the interests of tranquility and stability among all powers." Consequently, it was in the Empress's best interest that Morton be provided financial and mercenary aid to reclaim his position. In accordance with the Treaty of Berwick, Laurasian troops had been stationed at Androver and Dementhian Outpost in the Galactic Void, ready to provide support to the Scottrian Government in case of war or rebellion. These troops were now to be placed at Morton's disposal.
    • The Earl was also given, on April 6, a subsidy of €110 billion dataries, for the provision of his force's expenses. Morton, now assured of support from the Empire, began to assemble his retainers and squadrons at Lochleven, Langside, Crookston, Paisley, and Dumbarton. He quickly found support from the Earl of Mar, John Erksine (son of the late Regent), and from the Earl's brothers, the Commendators of Cambuskenenth and Dryburgh. Erskine, most importantly, had a cadre of supporters on Ediania; and he was able to influence the proceedings of the Scottrian Estates. On April 27, 1778, the Earl of Morton, advancing from Langside and Carberry, regained possession of Stirling Castle and with it, the person of King Jamsius. Morton's opponents, Argyll and Atholl, declared that the Earl was engaged in active rebellion against the legitimate authority of the King's government, and that this action could not be tolerated. The two Earls, however, were not able to arrest the further advance of Morton's forces, which resulted in a succession of victories for the former Regent. Two days after the Council of State had formally proclaimed Morton to be in a state of rebellion against the government of King Jamsius VI, Morton's starfighter squadrons, commanded by the Commendator of Dryburgh, obtained a decisive victory in the Battle of Falaside. Falaside, once disputed between the Earl of Lennaxia and the forces of the Marianian Confederation, still remained an important stronghold. Its capture gave Morton access to one of the chief communications terminals in the Angelina Spiral; a store of government military supplies and equipment; and a base of operations from which to launch further offensives. The Earl did not waste this advantage, and by May 15, his forces had secured control of Ancrum Moor, Branxholm, Madeleine, Albright, Albemaine, Rothes, and Broughty. On May 22, the Governor-Provost of Haddington, Sir Adam Luxington, defected to the forces of Morton and rejected the authority of Argyll and Atholl, denouncing them as the "agents of the anti-Gods of the Scottrian Race." By the end of May 1778, Morton was receiving a further stream of financial subsidies from the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs, amounting to nearly €1.2 trillion dataries. Empress Aurelia also instructed Field-Marshal Sir Willanius Drury, who had become Governor-General of Lavella in February 1777, to ensure that the rebel forces of Morton continued to receive intelligence support from the Laurasian forces in the Galactic Void.
  • May 22-
    • The Empress Aurelia, who had retired with the Imperial Court to the Fountain Palace on Venasia Prime once more (now becoming one of her favorite residences), summoned Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley to a private audience with her. In this audience, the Empress expressed her views to her chief ministers about the continuing situation in the Durthian Provinces and in particular, the role of Alencon, who had been promoted to Duke of Anjou by his brother, King Hensios III of Franconia, in April 1776. For many months, Aurelia had been worried about reports, provided to her by both the Imperial Intelligence Agency and the Laurasian Ambassador to the Franconian Court, Sir Peithon Amyidas, that Anjou was intending to interfere in the affairs of the Durthian States. The Empress told Walsingis and Burghley that the last thing that she needed was the undermining of potential negotiations for a peace between the United Durthian States and the Holy Spamalkan Empire that would safeguard the Empire's position in the Amulak Spiral, relative to Spamalka, Franconia, and other states; nor did she want the Franconian government, still under the influence of the ambitious and intriguing Queen-Dowager Catharina d'Medici, to take advantage of Durthia's troubles in order to establish a military presence in that region. As the audience progressed however, Walsingis and Burghley were able to make the Empress understand that Anjou was acting without the support of the Franconian government. The Empress herself then conceived the idea that the best way of controlling Anjou's intrigues to her advantage would be to revive negotiations for a marriage alliance with Franconia. It was unknown to her and her advisers then, but this was to be the Empress's last attempt at marriage. Anjou himself, on his part, had conceived the same idea.
    • He was regarded by many of the influential magnates of the Franconian court as a troublesome nuisance, and he still dreamed of a crown. This was why he had been attempting to earn a name for himself in the Durthian States, although it now seemed that this would not be achieved without the support of a powerful foreign sovereign, such as the Empress of Laurasia. With the Empress as his bride and the wealth, resources, and influence of her Empire behind him, Anjou would be able to achieve his ambitions. On May 26, four days after the Empress's audience with Burghley and Walsingis, Anjou wrote to her, assuring Aurelia of his absolute devotion to her and his willingness to allow her to "guide" him in all of his actions. The Empress was absolutely delighted when she read his communique, and soon understood that this would give her the excuse to revive the marriage negotiations. Walsingis, himself, however, although he had calmed the Empress's fear about Anjou's involvement in Durthian affairs, was nevertheless suspicious of the Duke's motives. He believed that the Duke only expressed such sentiments so that he could take advantage of Aurelia, and so as to gain her support for military campaigns in Durthia. Aurelia was not pleased when the Chancellor shared these fears with her, and instructed Leicesterius to inform the Chancellor that it was not surprising that Anjou fell in love with her.
  • June 2-
    • By June 1778, the relationship between the Earl of Leicesterius and his lover, Laetita Knollysis, Countess-Dowager of Estatius, had become elevated to a higher tempo. Over the course of the preceding two years, since the death of her husband in September 1776, the Countess-Dowager had found herself struggling to pay the numerous debts which had accrued to her name. In spite of the fact that the Empress had canceled the debts and obligations which had been inherited by the young Earl of Estatius, Knollysis found that her own business investments had yielded nothing in profit for her estates and debt for her household. The Countess-Dowager, who was still considered one of the most beautiful Laurasian women in the Empire, and who was confident and opportunistic, did not see why the Earl of Leicesterius could not be persuaded to marry her. The Countess-Dowager believed that Leicesterius's relationship with the Empress would never usher in a marriage, and that he would be free to marry her. She was not aware of the circumstances of Leicesterius's marriage to Lady Demetria Shieffaldia, and therefore considered Leicesterius as a free man, a view that the Earl himself shared. On May 17, while returning from a brief visit to the Imperial Court, the Countess-Dowager discovered that she was pregnant with Leicesterius's child. Leicesterius himself, who was desperate for a legitimate male heir (nearly eighteen years having passed since the death of his first wife Lady Fausta Dudley), agreed to marry her. The ceremony itself took place secretly at Kenilian Castle on Taurasia on this date, June 2, 1778. The only ones in attendance at the ceremony were Leicesterius, Laetita, two witnesses (members of the Earl's household), and a officiating priest.
    • Following the secret ceremony, Leicesterius purchased Wanstead Estate on Impania from Sir Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who claimed to be a descendant of that feared Laurasian dictator and general of the 1st century BH. Wanstead was comprised of a central residence with three hundred rooms; a adjoining park; and vast agricultural grounds sprawling across 30,000 acres of territory. There, the Earl would be able to visit his wife in secret when his duties at the Imperial Court permitted. Leicesterius discovered that the Countess-Dowager was the perfect partner for him, and that he had entered into a personally gratifying marriage. On June 7, Leicesterius came to Christiania to stay at Leicesterius House, sending word to the Imperial Chamberlain that he was ill and would be unable to present himself at the court. The Earl knew that by marrying Laetita, he had risked gaining the anger of the Empress. In this he was proven correct. On June 12, Ambassador Mendoza reported to the Spamalkan Council of State, in his routine diplomatic dispatch for the month, that the Empress had originally fixed that date as the time of his monthly audience with her.
    • However, Mendoza reported, as the Empress was walking in the Antigonid Gardens that morning, she found a communique which had been left on the ground. She took up the communique and read it. A great scowl developed over her face, and she "immediately came secretly to the house of the Earl of Leicesterius, who has declared himself ill." Mendoza noted that the Empress stayed there until 10:00 P.M. that night, and had sent word back to the Palace that she would be unable to see the Ambassador, as she was ill. Mendoza later discovered that the communique had been written by Leicesterius, and that he had asked the Empress to visit him. Leicesterius had feigned sickness so that she could visit him and he could confess about his marriage. When Aurelia learned of it, she at first burst into a fit of rage; her manner calmed, however, and she then treated the Earl kindly, declaring that he had succumbed to a temptation of the heart.
  • June 15-
    • The Empress Aurelia, having informed Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley of what Leicesterius had done, commanded them to make preparations for the dispatch of a special envoy to the Serene Kingdom of Franconia. This was Sir Antigonus Norria, who had already proven, in his earlier service for the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that he was possessed of certain traits and was willing to defend his Empress's position and rights at foreign courts. Norria formally departed from Laurasia Prime on June 21, and arrived at Parri four days later, being greeted by King Hensios III, Queen-Dowager Catharina d'Medici, and the rest of the Franconian Court with much ceremony. Leicesterius, on his part, decided to travel north to Idyll, having obtained permission from the Heraldry Chamber of the Governing Senate to do so. Leicesterius departed on June 20, one day before Norria's departure from Laurasia Prime, and arrived at Idyll two days later. The Earl insisted to all who wished to know that he was still unwell; at this point, only the Empress, Walsingis, Burghley, and Mendoza (through his agents) were aware of the Earl's secret marriage with Laetita Knollysis. Not even her own father had been made aware of his daughter's marriage. The Empress herself had commanded Walsingis and Burghley to ensure that news of this ceremony did not leak out to the rest of the Imperial Court or to the public.
    • Leicesterius himself had decided to make his departure from Laurasia Prime so as to give the Empress time to adjust to the situation and to make the Empress understand that she needed to retain him at the Court. Aurelia had indeed threatened to banish him from her presence for his offense. The Earl was to stay away for over a month and a half, and would not return to the Imperial Court until August. In the meantime, the Empress shared her frustration with Hattonius. She sought to make him understand that she would not tolerate it if he were to marry someone else. Hattonius himself, unaware of the Earl's secret marriage, and confused as to why the Empress was addressing him such a manner, sent a communique to Leicesterius on June 18. He informed Leicesterius that the "Empress is found in continual and great melancholy" and that she "dreamed of marriage that might seem uninjurious to her interests." Hattonius averred that he would not marry in such a sudden manner, and he would not give the Empress cause for anger. The Empress however, soon had feelings of remorse, and on June 28, after a exchange of communiques with Leicesterius, Hattonius was able to say that the Empress was pleased with what she had received from him.
  • July 2-The Second Battle of Cragmillar was fought between the rebel forces of the Earl of Morton, and those of the Scottrian government under the command of the Earl of Argyll. During the course of June 1778, Morton and his units had made further advances in the Scottrian Homeland Territories. Following the capitulation of Haddington, the Earl's units had advanced to the outskirts of Gallow's Star and Restarlig, which offered access to the Quarry Pipeline. In a series of confrontations at Selkirk, Leith, and Stirling with government units (June 4-17, 1778), Morton had gradually been able to secure his position amongst the strongholds of the Quarry Pipeline and to terminate government expeditions against Branxholme and the Outskirt Districts. Gallow's Star itself had been assaulted from June 16, and finally capitulated to the Earl's forces, under the command of the Commendator of Cambuskeneth on June 21. Two days later, Morton held a conference with the Earl of Mar at Hawkill. From there, the two decided to press with the offensive from Restarlig (which fell on the day of the conference) to Cragmillar. By June 27, rebel units had secured control of the government garrisons on Marsalarin and Mawkill. They had also instigated a blockade of Tantallon, one of the few remaining strongholds held by the government forces in the Outskirt Districts. Cragmillar's defenses were constantly harried by rebel raiding squadrons during the last days of June 1778; the final offensive on July 2, pressed by a rebel force with a numerical advantage of two-to-one over its opponents, resulted in a decisive victory for Morton. Argyll himself barely evaded capture; Cragmillar fell into the possession of Morton's forces. Establishing this star system as his new command headquarters, Morton pressed the advantage further against the enemy units. Tantallon capitulated on July 4; three days later, Queensberry and Ross both capitulated to the Earl of Mar. Aberden, Craibstone, Wedderburn, Huntly, and Corgaff had all fallen to Morton's forces by July 22. By the end of the month, Morton's units were besieging Trinity Kirk and Canongate, posing a severe threat to the defenses of the Ediania star system.
  • August 9-
    • The Earl of Leicesterius, who deemed it safe enough to return to the Imperial Court, did so. By this point, the Empress Aurelia had moved to the Crystalline Palace of Chilifrum on Metallasia, in preparation for her progress of 1778. There, he and the Empress, who had continued to conduct a correspondence with each other, finally reached a compromise over the entire marriage matter. The Empress was prepared to ignore Leicesterius's marriage as long as he placed her needs first and behaved towards her as if nothing had changed. Leicesterius, fully aware of what had happened to the ladies Katharina and Didymeia Greysius when they had defied the Empress's will, was relieved that she had forgiven him in such a manner. He soon discovered, however, that his actions had destroyed the Empress's prior affection and concern for his wife Laetita. Aurelia now developed a implacable hatred for her and behaved as if she did not exist. In marrying Leicesterius, the Countess-Dowager had not only stolen the Empress's favorite but had also violated the Treason Statute of 1736, which mandated that all persons of royal blood obtain the sovereign's consent before any marriage. Leicesterius himself, now caught in a conflict of loyalty between these women, realized that his life would be complicated from this point. He now resolved to avoid any reference to his marriage at the Imperial Court. His relationship with the Empress changed subtly. He remained closer to her than any other man, and continued to give her expensive gifts. The two, however, could no longer enjoy the intimate friendship of the past; no longer could they share with each other the dreams of what might have been. The Empress lost her temper with her favorite more frequently and began to give favors to others in a more frequent manner. She also demanded that he remain in attendance on her as often as he could, leaving him little opportunity to visit his wife. The whole matter of Leicesterius's marriage, and the compromise which ensued, darkened the Empress's mood through August 1778.
    • The Privy Council, startled by the Empress's change in attitude, could not figure out what to do. She shouted at Burghley and insulted Walsingis, going so far as to insist that he deserved to be executed. On August 12, the Empress told the Franconian Ambassador that her cousin, Scottrian Queen Mariana, was the "worst woman in the universe, who should have been dealt with years ago, and who will never be free as long as she lives." The Empress became increasingly unwilling to attend audiences of the Privy Council, declaring that she was suffering from a disorder with her gums. Burghley and the others were persistent however, and insisted that the Empress restrain Anjou from rash action in the Durthian Duchies. Leicesterius, who had become a spokesman for the Council to the Empress, told her, in a firm and bold manner, that she needed to set the issue at rest. The Empress, enraged at this, quieted him down. She even lost her temper towards Hattonius, and refused to speak to him for days. Leicesterius then feigned sickness again, hoping that she would hasten to his side once more. Aurelia, however, did not fall for this gimmick, and left him alone. The Empress also did not intervene to prevent Burghley and Leicesterius from arguing over affairs of state. Finally, on August 17, the Empress understood that Anjou needed to be restrained, confiding to Burghley and Sir Rudomentus Sadielus that he had the potential of causing more harm to her Empire's interests than the Spamalkans had.
  • August 12-
    • By the beginning of August 1778, the forces of the Earl of Morton were on the verge of storming Ediania and of regaining control of the government of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria. During the last days of July, Morton's units had continued to consolidate their hold over the chief strongholds of the Homeland Territories. Glencairn and Montrose had both capitulated to Morton's units on July 28; two days later, Morton destroyed a government force under the command of Archibald Douglain, the 8th Earl of Angus, in the Battle of Sunderland. Government counteroffensives against Branxholme and Ancrum Moor were repelled (August 4-7, 1778), and on August 10, Morton's units stormed Trinity Kirk, imposing a further stranglehold on the supply lines of the Ediania star system. The Earls of Atholl and Argyll, who were now growing increasingly desperate, and who stationed military squadrons in reserve at Perth and Pittardo, were now determined to force, at the Scottrian agricultural colony of Falkirk, a confrontation with Morton's forces. The two Earls hoped to reverse Morton's route of progress and to force him into a retreat. Battle was joined at 7:00 A.M., the morning of August 12, 1778. Morton himself was the supreme commander of the rebel forces, which were comprised of fifty warships and nearly a thousand starfighters. Many of these were Imperator-class models, which had been provided by the Imperial Ministry of Defense. Morton also had a corps of 200,000 troops and Marines at his disposal, which he placed under the command of the Earl of Mar. The Commendators of Cambuskenneth and Dryburgh commanded the starfighter squadrons. Argyll and Atholl, with the Earl of Angus as their chief operational subordinate, commanded operations from their headquarters on Falkirk. They had two hundred warships and two thousand starfighters at their disposal. Despite the numerical supremacy of the governmental forces, Morton's units were able to gain the advantage with their superior starfighter models and the coordination of the supply lines by Morton's subordinates. By noon, the Battle of Falkirk had ended in a decisive victory for Morton and his rebel units.
    • Following the confrontation, Canongate finally capitulated to rebel units (August 14). Argyll and Atholl fortified Edianian Fortress, but now believed that nothing could prevent Morton's further advance into the Ediania star system. Their countermoves against Leith, Haddington, and Lexington in the three days following Falkirk failed, and the two Earls came to realize that Morton had the advantage. Morton himself was now willing to come to a peaceful agreement with his adversaries, and believed that he could regain his seat on the Council of State, and his dominance of the King's affairs through such means. The inestimable fact was that the King himself was in Morton's custody, and this finally broke down the resistance of the "government" Earls. On August 19, the newly-appointed Laurasian Ambassador to the Court of Ediania, Sir Lysimachus Boweria, son of Sir Willanius Boweria (who had served as Warden of Onasi Fortress from 1750-1754), who had remained in secret communication with Morton in adherence to Chancellor Walsingis's directives, formally proposed to mediate a agreement between the two contending Scottrian factions. His offer was accepted by Morton the day it was given, and by Argyll, Atholl, and the Council of State two days later. Hostilities were suspended between the two sides on August 24, in order for negotiations to take place. On August 26, 1778, delegations from the governmental and rebel factions convened at Shetland. The Scottrian Government was represented by the two Ministers of the Royal Household, Jamsius Lawson and David Lindsay; Morton by the Commendator of Dryburgh and the Earl of Mar; and the Laurasian Empire (as mediator), by Ambassador Boweria.
    • After four days of negotiations, the Capitulation of Shetland was signed (August 30, 1778). By the terms of this agreement, all hostilities between Morton's forces, and those of the Royal Government, were to cease immediately; Morton and his subordinates were to be formally pardoned by the Scottrian Estates for their actions. Morton himself was restored to his seats on the Council of State and the Scottrian Estates; he now became Governor of the King's Person and Lord President of the Council, which effectively restored him to the position of dominance over the Scottrian government. Atholl and Argyll were to retain their seats on the Council and all of the titles, offices, and dignities which they had previously enjoyed. Morton was enjoined to consult these nobles on all of his governmental policies. The Capitulation of Shetland was formally accepted by the Scottrian Estates on September 2; three days later, Morton and Mar, along with their subordinates, made their formal return to the Ediania star system with King Jamsius, who was now twelve years old. The Earl, now restored to his position of predominance in the Scottrian Government, announced a immediate relaxation of all tax levies and promised to govern "only in a fair and efficient manner." For the next two months, matters would remain relatively inert at the Scottrian Court, but new tensions would build up which would finally result in the swift Laurasian intervention in Scottria.
  • September 5-
    • The Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court departed from Metallasia in order to commence the official progress of 1778. This year's progress had been delayed until this point due to the Empress's concern with the Anjou marriage project and the events occurring in the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria. Indeed, Aurelia had formulated the final plans of intervention in Scottrian affairs with Chancellor Walsingis, Lord Burghley, and her chief subordinates in the Imperial General Headquarters. During the course of the preceding four months, Laurasian military squadrons and troops had been assembled at Waxefield, Onasi, Ladelle, Lavelle Major, Dequan, Antwone, Shashanaya, Flournoy, Vector Prime, Arachosia Prime, Camarania, Deira, Ivanna, Rasdalla Major, Kathy Major, and numerous other strongholds in the Galactic Borderlands and the Galactic Void, in preparation for a swift and final military offensive into the Angelina Spiral. The Empress had designated Field-Marshals Rumanstevius and Drury as the commander of these forces, and had ordered them to establish their command headquarters on Bucharina. They were commanded to be ready for operations in the Scottrian territories by no latter than March 1779; Laurasian naval squadrons from the Haynsian Slave Highway (which had now been renamed as the Trans-Angelina Route by the Imperial Ministry of Space and Transportation), were to provide them reconnaissance support. With these military preparations in mind, the Empress had decided to make her progress to the Angelican Provinces. On the day of departure from Metallasia, the Imperial Court visited Heuthros, Sauvania, and Patsy. Two days later, the imperial entourage proceeded to O'Neal, which had become renowned, by the eighteenth century, for the beauty of its countryside. It was a world particularly favored by the prominent magnates and entrepreneurs of Laurasia Prime and the Purse Region, many of whom owned estates in the star system. During her visit to O'Neal, the Empress stayed with the Traditionalist Sir Antigonus Rackardia, CEO of Rackardian Garments, a major superstore chain which owned nearly 50,000 stores in some two hundred star systems throughout the Core Regions. Rackardia was also the proprietor of Euston Hall on Impania, which was one of the largest private residences (for a knight) in the Empire. Euston Hall had originally belonged to the Duke of Americana before his execution in 1721. Rackardia had long been under the surveillance of the Imperial Internal Revenues Service and the Holy Synod; allegations had been made that he was providing secret financial aid to various anti-government cells on Kigonia, Durglais, Nystadia, Briannia, and Gdov. The visit itself, however, was marked with little incident, and it was reported that the Empress extended "extraordinary thanks to Sir Rackardia for his kindness, and her fair hand for him to kiss." Following Aurelia's departure from O'Neal on September 9, however, Synostic officials uncovered evidence in Rackardia's business systems that he had been engaged in correspondence with, and providing aid to, the Knights of Almitis's Will, an extremist group headquartered on Kayla. Rackardia would be arrested on September 23, tried and convicted by the Solar Court of O'Neal four days later, and incarcerated at the Marsharala Prison on Gordasis. He would remain imprisoned there until his death on October 12, 1798.
    • Rackardia Garments, Euston Hall, and all of Rackardia's assets would be declared forfeit and seized by the Imperial Ministry of Works and Holdings. In regards to the further stages of the imperial progress, the Empress visited Deanna, Wendy, Coen, Dennis, Shannon, Massanay, Sassanay, Cibourney, the Western Redoubt, and Roxuli. By September 15, she had reached Eric, where she was entertained at Kevanian Hall by the executed Duke of Norfolkius's eldest son, Philip Howardis, Lord Howardis of Soria. The Empress's visit to Eric was marked with much occasion, and she stayed for three days. She then toured the Immortalized Cluster, Giron, Corfu, Prima, and the worlds of the Prietest, visiting the Laurasian colonies of Londarania, Cadavaria, Margasita, Octavia (which had been colonized in 1737 and named after the Empress Antigonus III's younger sister, Grand Princess Octavia Seslais), and Huxton. On September 26, she reached Angelica Minor, and received a rapturous welcome from the inhabitants of the star system. She stayed there for only two days, however, for the chief object of her progress was to visit Angelica Major. This occurred on September 28; the Empress stayed there until October 7. Angelica Major, which had once been the capital of the Angelican Collective, was the site of much spectacle. The Empress's descent into Kamanian City was marked by the firing of turbocannon; a performance by the Angelican Starfighter Escorts; and the adoration of assembled crowds of Angelican subjects. The Empress was then astounded, in Kamanian Commercial District, by the tricks of the Angelican craftsmen and by a lavish pageant, in which the Empress was lauded as the "Pearl of Grace, the Jewel of the Galaxy, the Whole Delight of her Subjects, the Paragon of Present Time, the Princess of Earthly Might, and the Protector of her Alien Subjects." The Empress watched a play at the Angelican Great Theater and toured the ruins of the Palace of the Immortalized Ones, which had been smashed by a Dasian raiding expedition launched by Mongke Temur of the Golden Horde in 880, nine centuries earlier. Whilst the Empress was engaged in this triumphant progress, other events were occurring which caught her attention and that of Walsingis and Burghley, who had remained on Laurasia Prime to oversee government affairs.
  • September 21-
    • By September 1778, Lady Laetita Knollysis and the Earl of Leicesterius, who had deemed it a proper time to do so, had revealed their marriage to the Knollysis family. The Countess-Dowager's father, Sir Tacitus Knollysis, was in particular alarmed that Leicesterius had entered into such a union with his daughter without informing him or his daughter's relations. Although Knollysis had been on friendly terms with Leicesterius for many years, and both served alongside eachother on the Privy Council, he nevertheless believed that their actions had been too rash. Laetita, on her part, now that she was married to Leicesterius, was determined not to be abandoned like Lady Shieffaldia had been. Laetita resented the fact that Leicesterius was still in contact with Lady Shieffaldia and their illegitimate son, and insisted to the Earl that he must dispense himself of this burdensome relationship. In this, she was supported by her father Lord Knollysis, who had resigned himself to his daughter's marriage. Leicesterius himself, whose passion for Demetria had long since passed, arranged, on September 3, a secret meeting with her at the Charterhouse in Christiania. There, in the presence of two witnesses (members of the Earl's household), he told Demetria that he was releasing her from all obligations towards him. The Earl offered her a annuity of €700 million dataries a year if she would deny all knowledge of their marriage and surrender to him the custody of their son, young Antiochus Dudley. Demetria, who still held feelings for Leicesterius, and dismayed that their relationship was coming to an end, burst into tears and rejected his offer. The Earl, who was determined to sunder relations with Demetria, lost his temper and declared that their marriage had never been lawful. Seeing this, Lady Demetria asked for a short time to think about the matter; he gave her two hours. During that time, she realized that Leicesterius's bond with Laetita was more potent then had been his bond with her, and that Leicesterius might seek revenge on her if she refused to agree to his offer. Therefore, when they returned to the meeting, Demetria submitted to Leicesterius's demands. Leicesterius, relaxing his manner somewhat, then advised her that she should find herself a husband. She would eventually marry Sir Demetrius Staffordia, the son of Lady Clymenstra Staffordia (d. 1799), who was one of the Empress's Ladies of the Bedchamber, on November 29, 1779.
    • Leicesterius himself, now freed of his dubious marriage with Lady Shieffaldia, felt it necessary to arrange a second, more appropriate wedding ceremony in order to satisfy Laetita and her father. This second wedding took place at Wanstead Estate during the early morning hours of September 21, 1778, with Lord Knollysis, his sons Antigonus, Willanius, Menealaus, Thomasius, Antiochus, and Tiberius, and his daughters Aurelia and Anna present. Leicesterius's brother, the Earl of Sarah, and his friend the Earl of Aeoleon were also present at the wedding as witnesses. Laetita herself, now noticeably pregnant, wore a loose gown. Two days later, Lord Knollysis compelled the officiating priest of the marriage, Pampenion Amenio, to sign a written statement that he had married the couple. The Empress Aurelia was told by the Earl of Jadia of the ceremony while she was visiting Cadavaria. The Empress however, decided not to interfere with the matter, and rejected a suggestion by Jadia (who still despised Leicesterius), that she have the Holy Synod annul the marriage. In fact, Aurelia commanded Jadia to ensure that word of the marriage did not leak out to the Imperial Court, and she adhered to her earlier understanding with Leicesterius.
  • October 1-
    • Following his victory at the Battle of Gembloux in January 1778, Don John of Austarlia had sought to continue the offensive against the Durthian forces of Prince William of Orange. In February and March 1778, the Don gained a succession of minor victories at Utrecht, Breda, and Arnhem, forcing the Durthian commander-in-chief, the Count of Boussou, to pull his forces back into Zealand. Don John's successes had earned him accolades from his half-brother, Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I. In April 1778, in fact, Philicus had issued from Madrid a proclamation declaring that the Durthian Rebellion would soon be suppressed and that his "rightful" jurisdiction would be restored over the Durthian Duchies. In reality, however, foreign states, particularly Laurasia, Pruthia, and Franconia, were becoming increasingly alarmed by Don John's advances. Although he was soon to be engrossed in the War of the Bavarian Succession (the last conflict of his reign) with his perpetual Austarlian adversaries, Pru'a IX of Pruthia nevertheless offered his assurances of diplomatic support to the Durthian States-General and a subsidy of 550 billion Pruthian reichsmarks. The Duke of Anjou, who had moved to Calais, involved himself in intrigues concerning the Durthian States, and sent financial aid to Prince William. Empress Aurelia herself turned a blind eye to the continued flow of Laurasian mercenaries, financial aid, and military supplies to the Durthian States. Finally, in June 1778, the Empress had taken more formal action by authorizing the Imperial Ministry of Defense to dispatch a corps of mercenaries (comprised of units from the Imperial Navy), under the command of Sir Demetrius Norria and Sir Antiochus Bighamia, both of whom had gained prominence for their service in the War of the Bar Confederation and the Marianian Civil War. They were joined by Scottrian mercenaries under Robert Stuart, and a detachment of Franconian Huguenot troops commanded by Franconian General Francois de la Noue.
    • On July 31, 1778, the Durthian-mercenary force, which had 500 warships and some 100,000 troops, clashed with the superior Spamalkan forces under Don John at Rijemenam, a major Spamalkan supply base and communications citadel. In the ensuing confrontation, which lasted for several hours, the Spamalkan squadrons, under the tactical command of Parma, were surprised by feint offensives by the Laurasian mercenaries and a sudden thrust from the outskirts of Rijemenam against the Spamalkan Command Post. Parma, who was Don John's chief subordinate, nevertheless managed to orchestrate a strategic retreat, but in so doing, the Spamalkans lost Rijemenam to the Durthian forces. Following the Battle of Rijemenam, Spamalkan fortunes had declined. Utrecht and Breda were reconquered by Durthian units in August 1778; on September 4, Don John was defeated in the Battle of Tienen, and was forced to retreat to Namur. In the aftermath of this confrontation, Gembloux, Arnhem, and Zaanstad captiulated to Prince William's advance squadrons. Spamalkan moves against Brussels failed, and on September 22, Don John retreated to Bouge. Here, his health rapidly failed him, and on October 1, 1778, he died at the age of only thirty-one. Don John's death was received with much mourning throughout the Spamalkan Empire, where, in spite of his recent military reverses, he was regarded as a hero. Philicus himself was shaken by his half-brother's death, and blamed it on the "baleful intervention" of foreigners. He did not remain in this state for too long, however, and on October 17, appointed Parma as the new Governor-General and Captain-General of the Durthian Duchies. Parma, who established his new command headquarters on Bourges, would prove himself to be an effective military commander.
  • October 7-The Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court departed from Angelica Major, and commenced their progress back towards Laurasia Prime. The Empress, who had remained in constant correspondence with Walsingis and Burghley, deemed it important that she return to her capital star system. She had declared, before departing from Angelica Major, that her progress of 1779 would be to the Hypasian, Kelvanian, and Morganian Provinces, which had been the western borderlands of the Laurasian Empire at the commencement of the century. Along the way back from Angelica Major, however, the Empress made several stops. On October 10, 1778, she visited Abraham, and was entertained by Sir Cassander Parparchios, one of the wealthiest gentlemen in the Northern Provinces. She then made brief visits to Eaidon, Roxuli, Zoe, Jin Minor, and Morg, before proceeding southwards. By October 15, the Empress had reached Sair, and here she watched a stimulated display of a Solidaritan military exercise. Four days later, the Empress, keeping in mind Leicesterius's marriage with Lady Laetita, decided to make a surprise visit to Wanstead Estate on Impania. She and the Imperial Court stayed for eight days, and she was expensively entertained by Leicesterius himself, who sought to maintain public appearances. Lord Knollysis and his children were also present, and they presided over the performances staged for the Empress. The Countess, however, was no where to be seen: in fact, she had been hastily sent to Kenilian Castle on Taurasia the day before the Empress's arrival at Impania. Philip Sidronius, Leicesterius's nephew, produced a pastoral masque, The Lady of Devaria, for the Empress. Ultimately, Aurelia's departure from Impania on October 27 was marked with much ceremony, and Leicesterius gave her a diamond-encrusted brochet as a gift before she left. The Empress returned to Laurasia Prime on November 2, having made further stops at Jenny, Kelby, Chloe, Metallasia, Metallina, Rainnan, and Chesham's Star. Upon arrival, her intention shifted to the Anjou marriage project again. Having now become engaged in a secret correspondence with Anjou, the contents of which she did not reveal to anyone, not even Walsingis or Burghley, Aurelia was seriously considering the advantages of marrying the Franconian Duke. Among these advantages would include a possible alliance of the Empire with Franconia to bring about a final settlement in the Durthian Provinces; Franconian connivance at Laurasian intervention plans in the Angelina Spiral; and the possibility of providing more direct aid to the Franconian Huguenots. Burghley and Jadia were in favor of the marriage once more, while Leicesterius (although his marriage to Laetita permanently eliminated any chance of his marrying the Empress), now shifted his opposition to Anjou on the basis of religious and nationalistic grounds. The matter would continue to be one of major contention at the Imperial Court, and now concided with other events in the Angelina Spiral.
  • November 15-
    • By November 1778, the position of the "Lord President" of the Council of State and Governor of the King's Person, the Earl of Morton, was precarious. Following his return to the ascendant position in the Scottrian government in August 1778, Morton had attempted to implement a series of financial and military policies in order to consolidate his own personal position, establish a base of popularity with the Scottrian people, and keep his opponents off-balance and unaware of what was to happen next. On August 30, he ordered for a reduction in the eccleasticial capitation, previously one of the chief sources of income for the Royal Treasury. Five days later, Morton issued free-transit guarantees, offering to any who resided in or was a subject of "His Grace the King of Scottria" rights of free transportation, commerce without internal tariffs, and colonization for a period of three years. This measure was intended to both encourage economic development in the Scottrian Homeland Territories and to sponsor an increase in the revenues and privileges enjoyed by the Scottrian Crown. In September, Morton announced a comprehensive reform of the finances of the Scottrian Household, which entailed the sale of thirty royal states on Jexburgh, Branxholm, Madelaine, Albemaine, Albright, Ancrum Moor, and Leith; the reorganization of the Household Treasury; and the establishment of new contracts for the servitors of the King's household. Then, on September 22, Morton announced his intention to instigate a reform of the Royal Scottrian Army, with a focus on strengthening its mobile capabilities and its lines of communication. A council of military experts, including the Laurasian Field-Marshal Sir Willanius Drury (who, by the permission of the Empress Aurelia herself, had offered his advisory services to the Scottrian Government), was established to review tactics, discipline, and military organization. In spite of these policies, however, Morton sought to dominate the Scottrian Council of State and the Household as ruthlessly as he had before. He strictly controlled access to the person of King Jamsius; conferred grants and loans upon his favored subordinates, including Mar and his brothers (now promoted to become Barons of Dryburgh and Cambuskenneth respectively); and excluded Atholl, Argyll, and Angus from discussions about diplomatic and domestic matters. Atholl himself had become alienated with Morton, and was now determined to stir up further dissent against his regime. On October 5, he held a secret conference with Argyll, Angus, and Lords Seton, Fleming, Sinclair, Oliphant, and Oglivie of Airlie in attendance. Atholl aired his views about the "continuing intrusions and the ambitions" of the Earl of Morton and sought to secure his associates' support for action against Morton. Argyll and Angus expressed their sympathy for Atholl; following the aftermath of the conference, they began to assemble military supplies, mercenaries, and warships in earnest at their private estates on Jexburgh, Branxholme, Melrose, Lernax, and Ancrum Moor.
    • By the end of the month, however, Atholl's health had begun to enter a sudden and steep decline; the Earl experienced numerous coughing bouts, and his physicians soon despaired of his life. His death on November 1, 1778, at Holyroodian Palace on Ediania, while he was returning from a formal banquet at the Congregation House, was later ascribed to symptoms of the Hevellian fever, one of the rarest diseases in the Angelina Spiral. Many however, including Argyll and Angus, now came to believe that Lord President Morton himself had ordered his agents to assassinate his wayward rival. This now fueled their further actions against his government. On November 11, Angus retired to his estate on Melrose, and in a proclamation, denounced the "excesses and the cruel policies of My Lord President, whose sole object is to gain absolute dominion over these territories." Three days later, November 15, 1778, Argyll also departed from Ediania for Ancrum Moor, and declared that he could no longer give his support to Morton or his supporters on the Council of State. Morton, who viewed the opposition of these Earls as a major threat to his authority, now declared them to be in official rebellion. The final stage of civil war in the Scottrian Homeland Territories, which came to be known as Morton's War, had commenced.
  • November 17-
    • The Empress Aurelia celebrated her twentieth anniversary on the Laurasian throne with much ceremony and pomp at the Quencilvanian Palace, to which the Imperial Court had returned following a brief sojourn at the Palace of Harmony on Clancia. In her Accession Day proclamation to her subjects (November 17, 1778), Aurelia praised the "loyalty and fidelity of my subjects and of my highest officials of state, who have never ceased to look after my own preservation or of those of the interests of the Empire." The Empress further pointed out that the Laurasian dominions had, over the course of the preceding two decades, enjoyed substantial economic progress and internal stability; not even the Malarian or Pugachevia Rebellions had distracted from the "state of harmony" now prevailing in this Empire. Sir Antigonus Lesius, the Empress's Champion, staged extravagant jousts in the Palace Gardens; a massive ambrosial banquet was held for all of the prominent personages and dignitaries of the Imperial Court; and three days of holiday were proclaimed for all businesses and non-essential working subjects on Laurasia Prime and in other systems of the Empire. At the same time as these celebrations were ongoing, the Empress's attention continued to be held by others. During the late evening hours of this day, while attending a play, The Magis of Soriana, staged for her honor by the Imperial Actors Guild of Christiania, Aurelia confided to Burghley that the Anjou marriage project served only to "distract the minds of our foreign adversaries, and to keep His Majesty of Spamalka and our ancient adversaries in Marasharita on edge." The following day, the Empress was informed by Sir Rudomentus Sadielus, who had once again become Minister of Foreign Affairs (under the supervision of Chancellor Walsingis), that the Duke of Anjou (who was again residing at the Tuileres Palace on Parri with his mother and brother, King Hensios III), was contemplating the dispatch of an emissary to the Imperial Court on Laurasia Prime, in order to discuss the terms of the proposed marriage with the Empress and prepare her for his "frenzied wooing".
    • This was confirmed on November 22 when Anjou announced, with the connivance and approval of his brother and the Franconian Estates-General, that he was dispatching his master of the Wardrobe, Jean de Simier, Baron de St. Marc, as his special envoy to the Laurasian Empire. Simier was a dubious character, known for his aggressiveness and for his fierce protectiveness of his interests, but Aurelia, not wishing to alienate Anjou, decided not to reject the dispatch of this particular envoy. He was not due to arrive until the new year, and during that time, the Empress and her chief officers of the Imperial Household were to be engaged in frenzied preparations at the Imperial Household. And then, attention was turned to the incessant Scottrian Question. On November 24, the Empress told Lord Husadarania and her cousin, Lord Howardis of Effinga, that she was resolved to dispatch forces into Scottrian territory at the "earliest available" opportunity and would wait for developments in the civil war before doing so. By the end of November 1778, the Imperial Government was sending mercenaries and financial aid to both Morton's regime and his enemies, Argyll and Angus, hoping to thereby keep the Scottrian dominions in perpetual turmoil and to ease the process of intervention.
  • November 29-Death of Nicaeolaus Heathius, Archbishop of Conservan and Procurator-General of the Laurasian Empire during the reign of the Empress Didymeia I. Following his removal from the Archbishopric of Conservan and of all his state honors and dignities in February 1759, Heathius had been permitted to retire to his private estate, Chobhamis House, on Reoyania. In later years, Heathius, although he remained a convinced Traditionalist, regained some favor with the Empress Aurelia. The Empress appointed him as Quaestor of Reoyania in 1766 and occasionally consulted him on matters of diplomacy and jurisprudence. She even visited Chobhamis House twice, in 1769 and 1777, and was entertained by Heathius (who remained loyal to her in spite of their religious differences), both times. Heathius was given a ceremonial funeral at the Cathedral of St. Eusidonius on December 6.
  • December 5-
    • The Earl of Morton, who was determined to suppress this most recent challenge to his authority over the Scottrian Homeland Territories, and confident that he had a firm grip over the household and administrative affairs of Ediania, departed from the star system in order to take command of the government forces arrayed against Argyll and Angus. Before his departure, Morton had compelled the Scottrian Estates to issue a decree of forfeiture on the two Earls, who were declared traitors to the King and deprived of all their honors, dignities, and positions. Morton himself had confiscated Argyll's private residence, Argyll Mansion, on Ediania, and seized it for his own familial purposes. In spite of this, the two rebel Earls had continued to make progress beyond the vicinity of Ediania during the last days of November. On November 25, Dunbar, alienated by the Lord President's policies of favoritism towards his subordinates, defected to the rebel cause. Two days later, Angus stormed Erith, which still had not fully recovered from its seizure by the Laurasian forces of the Earl of Sarah in January 1745, thirty-three years later. By December 4, Argyll's forces had also secured control of Greshlit's Moon and the Palace Asteroids of Ancrum Moor, which had earlier resisted his offensive units. The following day, December 5, 1778, the first major confrontation occurred between Morton and Argyll at Annan.
    • The Battle of Annan lasted for five hours, and was a vigorously contested confrontation. Ultimately, Morton prevailed in the struggle, and Argyll was forced to halt his offensive against Castlemilk, which blocked a rebel advance towards Trinity Kirk and Canongate. Angus, however, secured control of Madelaine and Albemaine (December 6-12, 1778), and on December 14, destroyed a Scottrian government convoy in the Straits of Firth. By December 17, Fife and Leith had both been stormed by rebel troops, and Morton's supply lines to the Northern Provinces began to falter. The Laurasian Empire's forces, on its part, under the command of Field Marshal Sir-Willanius Drury, still posed for a military offensive in the Galactic Void, began to launch reconnaissance expeditions into the Outskirt Districts. Protests from Morton availed nothing, and the Imperial Intelligence Agency fooled the two rebel Earls into believing that the Empire would soon intervene in their favor.
  • December 25-
    • On Ascentmas Day, 1778, the Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court once again retired to the Gilbertine Palace on Tudoria, which the Empress had grown to increasingly favor during the preceding years. The Empress was presented with a gold-encased clock by the Earl of Leicesterius, who had managed to avoid any incidents with her publicly following his second marriage ceremony to Lady Laetita Knollysis. The Empress observed a joust in which the young Earl of Oxfadia distinguished himself, and she received a oral eulogy from Sir Christopheus Hattonius, who had continued to gain in the favor of his imperial mistress and was playing a more prominent role on the Privy Council. On the same day that Ascentmas was celebrated throughout the Laurasian Empire, however, the Empress issued instructions to Major-General Alexander Surovius, who was Magister Militum of the Bucharianian and Trans-Angelina Governorates, to begin the deportation, from the Haynsian Despotate, of all foreign subjects and laborers in the service of the Haynsian Despot, Jay XIV Karany. In accordance with the Treaty of Isis, General Surovius had taken an active role in suppressing anti-Laurasian dissent and disturbances in the territories of the Haynsian Despotate. In February 1778, Surovius had crushed a uprising of Haynsian Goths on Theodoros, and had deported a number of them to Palymer for their insolence. Two months later, he "escorted" the Haynsian Despot and his court during their routine progress from Haynes to Bahkchisiray. In May 1778, Surovius established a new command headquarters for Laurasian troops in Haynsian territory at Gezlev, which now became the Empire's first extra-territorial military base of significance. From here, he sponsored the colonization of the systems of Myasniovsky, Rostov-on-the Donestsk, and St. Demetrius of Rostov in the Brigoff Stellar Nebula.
    • Nearly 200,000 Laurasian and Core colonists, who had been assured passage by the free transit privileges granted under the Treaty of Isis, colonized these star systems in the span of six months. They now became centers of Laurasian influence in the Haynsian Despotate, which was becoming more and more shackled to the power of the Laurasian Empire. Jay XIV Karany, on his part, and with the alleged connivance of his Laurasian protectors, sought to pursue a series of policies to strengthen his own position and to reform the administrative machinery of the Haynsian Court. He constructed factories and a new commerical spaceport on Caffa; sponsored the establishment of the Haynsian Academy of the Arts; and attempted to improve trade routes leading to Isis, Little Boravia, Chalaa, and Ikkerman. The Despot also expanded the membership of the Haynsian Council of Masters of the Arts (Geijutsu no kyoshō), seeking in this matter to strengthen his oversight over the military command. His most ambitious project, however, was to sponsor the construction of a massive hyperspace terminal at Bakalava. Surovius, on his part, grew alarmed at this, and on the fact that the Despot's infrastructure projects were accomplished with the assistance of foreign shipwrights, laborers, and conscripts. In particular, the Despot had signed a contract with Katherine Drive Yards and Chandlier Transports (July 19, 1778), which permitted those corporations to provide him with up to a third of their "releasable" laborers in return for the annual payment of €4.6 trillion dataries per annum to their reserves. The General's reserve was shared by Burghley and Walsingis, who had been informed by him of all the events in the Haynsian Despotate. The Empress Aurelia herself had consulted with Burghley and with the Minister of Defense, Field-Marshal Sir Antigenes von Munnich (the half-Laurasian son of the late Archleutan Field-Marshal Burkhard von Munnich), over the matter, and finally, in September 1778, authorized for Surovius to begin the deportations. The instructions issued on December 25 were merely the orders of permission given to the General to perform his task. Surovius acted swiftly. Within forty-eight hours of receiving his orders, the General's Laurasian troops and "diplomatic" garrisons were intruding into the businesses and residences of foreign conscripts and workers throughout the Haynsian Despotate.
    • This process was to continue into the early weeks of January 1779, shattering the Despotate's nascent economy and depriving Jay XIV Karany of his laborforce for the hyperspace terminal project. Nearly seventy million foreigners would be deported by the Laurasian Empire during that time period. The Despot, who had scrupulously adhered to the terms of the Treaty of Isis, and aware that the Despotate was independent solely at the pleasure of the Empress of Laurasia, did nothing to halt Surovius's actions, and instead issued a proclamation to his subjects, declaring that his "doings with the venemous foreign laborers in these dominions have insulted the honor of our martial race." The Despot was also, under pressure from Surovius, compelled to cancel all of his contracts and obligations towards any foreign corporations, and to pledge that he would engage in further military reforms only with the approval of his "protector", the Empress Aurelia. The humiliations inflicted upon a Despotate which had, only a decade before, been an active adversary towards the Laurasian Empire and had (for nearly two centuries beforehand), imperiled the territories of the Empire, was satisfying to the subjects of Empress Aurelia. At the same time, however, the fear of the Marasharite Empire was aroused, and anti-Laurasian sentiments encouraged in the Despotate. The Marasharite tensions would soon reveal themselves in the new year.

1779Edit

  • January 1-1779, the 79th year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire residing in a state of internal prosperity and stability, while at the same time being involved in diplomatic entanglements in the Angelina Spiral and in the Great Amulak Cloud. During the course of the preceding year, the Durthian Rebellion had resulted in significant changes in the strategic depositions between the forces of the Holy Spamalkan Empire and the United Durthian States. Don John of Austarlia, who had obtained victory in the Battle of Gembloux and had seemed to be on the verge of landing the final series of blows against Prince William of Orange, had then suffered humiliations following his retreat after the Battle of Rijmenam. His untimely death at Bourge had deprived his half-brother, the Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I, of one of his most effective and loyal military subordinates. Continued Laurasian financial and military aid to the Durthian States provoked Philicus and his leading subordinates on the Council of State, as also did the Laurasian interference with Spamalkan commerce in the Galactic Void and with the Angelina Spiral. Tensions between the Laurasian and Holy Spamalkan Empires, once such strong allies earlier in the century, were to continue to build throughout this year and into the next decade. At the same time, the Empress Aurelia was confronted with two issues of importance in the Angelina Spiral, both of whom were related to her goals of extending the Empire's power and influence. The ongoing deportation of foreign contracts from the Haynsian Despotate had inflamed anti-Laurasian tensions, both in the Despotate and in the Marasharite Empire. Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II, in fact, was even contemplating a renewed military conflict with the Laurasian Empire at this juncture. Morton's War in the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria was contributing to the further ruination of the fortunes of the Scottrian State. Scottria was, by 1779, financially and economically impoverished from nearly four decades of unabated internal and foreign conflict. The War of the Rough Wooing; Queen Mariana's War; the Marianian Civil War; and now Morton's War had followed each other in succession, serving to weaken the authority of the Scottrian government and the discipline of its military forces. The Earl of Morton himself was now vainly engaged in his efforts to maintain his position on Ediania, in the midst of the threat posed to him by Argyll and Angus. Both factions were encouraged by the Laurasian Empire, and this year was to see the final ruination of the Scottrian state. Finally, Empress Aurelia herself was engaged in the Anjou marriage project, which she and many of her subordinates (particularly Burghley and Jadia) viewed as being the means of last resort to ensure the continuance of the Neuchrian Dynasty and the preservation of the Empire. All of these events were to coalesce in this year, as the Laurasian Empire neared the end of the 1770s. Indeed, in her New Year's proclamation (January 1, 1779), the Empress declared that the "Empire of my father, grandfather, and of the ancestors of my race, is marching triumphantly, and has marched, through the course of this glorious century; a new decade will bring greater rewards for our government."
  • January 5-
    • On January 5, 1779, Jean de Simier, Baron de St. Marc, special envoy of the Serene Kingdom of Franconia to the Laurasian Empire, formally arrived at Laurasia Prime. Simier had departed from Calais on December 27 of the previous year, being seen off by the Duke of Anjou and by his mother, Queen-Dowager Catharina d'Medici (approaching her sixtieth birthday), with much pomp. The Queen-Dowager herself, who saw the advantages evident in a possible marriage alliance with the Empire, and wished to ensure the continuation of her house on the Franconian throne (to prevent Grand Duke Hensios of Navarra from obtaining the throne), entrusted Simier, on his honor, to ensure that the honor of his master and of his government was upheld at the Imperial Court. Simier adhered faithfully to this injunction, and to add importance to his arrival, he ensured that his entourage was as lavishly provided for and imposing as possible. The Franconian Envoy was accompanied by sixty starships, which included ten Franconian star frigates, among the most impressive vessels in extra-galactic civilization. Simier himself traveled on the HMS Boujadaire, one of the largest escort vessels employed by the Franconian Royal Household. He and his entourage had reached Belkadan on January 2, the day after New Year's festivities had concluded on Laurasia Prime, and had been received by the Earl of Hannah, who had been dispatched by the Empress for the purpose. It had taken three days for the Franconian entourage, escorted by a accompanying Laurasian task force, to traverse the 45,000 light years from Belkadan to Laurasia Prime. Upon his arrival in the outskirts of the Laurasia Prime star system, Simier was greeted by a flying escort of Laurasian starfighters; displays on Marsia, Volcania, Inspiter, and at the Marsian Asteroid Belt; and performances of welcome on the two Calaxies, Jadia, and Hepudermia. He descended into the streets of Christiania on a special repulsorlift provided by the Empress herself, and was borne, with his entourage and escorts, directly to the Quencilvanian Palace. The Empress Aurelia received Simier in a grand ceremony of welcome at the Public Audience Chamber, and immediately declared herself to be impressed by his "beauty, honesty, and dashing". She nicknamed him her "Monkey" and conducted herself in such a manner that courtiers still ignorant of the processes of negotiation presumed that this man was to be her fiancee. Simier himself brought expensive jewels and other gifts for the Empress and her leading courtiers. He presented a silver-encrusted shield to Sir Hattonius; a banner of velvetine to Chancellor Walsingis; and gifts of expensive gems to the Empress's ladies. Simier even had a sword of honor for Leicesterius, known to be hostile to the Franconian marriage project. All total, Simier's gifts amounted to a total valuation of €230 million dataries. Following the reception ceremonies and the presentation of gifts and greetings, matters related to the negotiations proceeded swiftly. Simier knew how to please women, and he wooed the Empress (then forty-five years old), with compliments about her intelligence, beauty, and personality.
    • He listened to all of her florid statements about herself and her courtiers, and raised no objection to anything she said about Anjou himself. Later that evening, the Empress gave a court ball in his honor; at this ball, a masque was conducted in which six ladies surrendered to six suitors. During the course of the next several days, the Empress indulged in a sort of "honeymoon" period with Simier. On January 7, she threw a massive concert in his honor, in which all courtiers and members of the household dressed themselves in Franconian garments; two days after that, Simier was the honored guest to a orchestra performance staged for him by the Imperial Academy of the Arts. The Empress summoned Simier to her side as often as she could, and frequently kept him with her until nightfall. She treasured the gift he had given to her from Anjou, a miniature databook with a gem-encrusted binding, and kept it always with her. She gave Simier some mementos to send to the Duke, including a miniature of herself and some hand garments. The Empress made it known that the Duke would earn more rewards, once they were married. The Empress's behavior during the course of January and February 1779 made many of her own ministers and subordinates wonder whether she would actually marry this time; none of her prior courtships had generated such excitement. In an audience with Mendoza on January 17, the Empress told the Spamalkan Ambassador that it was a "fine idea for a woman of my age to be considering of marriage." Anjou himself, in a letter of January 19, 1779, to the Empress (given to her by Simier), declared that "If Your Majesty consents to marry me, you will restore a languishing life, which has existed only for the services of the most perfect goddesses of the Heavens." It seemed as if Anjou's physical deformities or the age gap no longer mattered to the Empress. In her response to Anjou on January 22, she declared that she would have his words of love engraved, and communicated to all her subjects throughout the Empire. She vowed eternal friendship and constancy, and assured the Duke that she would never break her word. Simier would report on January 24 to Franconian Foreign Affairs Minister, Vergennes (who had been promoted to that rank in March 1776), that the Empress's face would light up whenever Anjou's name was mentioned, and that he had been informed by the Empress's ladies that she would never stop talking about Anjou in private. She had also stated that she now believed there could be no greater happiness in the galaxy than marriage, and wished that she had not wasted such time. Aurelia, however, expressed her doubts to Simier in private, and wondered whether or not Anjou was interested in her personally.
  • February 2-By February 1779, the situation in the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria had moved in favor of the two rebel Earls. Argyll and Angus were, on the balance, now receiving more aid from the Laurasian Empire than the Lord President Morton, and they were confident that they could now drive Morton from Ediania. This was confirmed by a series of victories achieved by the Scottrian forces during the first weeks of 1779. On January 3, 1779, the Second Battle of Annan had resulted in a decisive victory for Argyll's forces. Morton's chief subordinate, the Earl of Mar (who had once again assumed the responsibilities of military command, was forced to yield the stronghold for rebel forces. Argyll's units then stormed Clesse and McAleese (January 7-11), disrupting Morton's communication lines to the Outskirt Districts and securing a number of his reserve starfighter models. Castlemilk was firmly in rebel possession by January 16, and the following day Broughty capitulated to Argyll. Morton now sought to redress the balance in his favor by launching vigorous counteroffensives against Glasgow, Falkirk, and Haddington, but this was an effort which had come to ruin by January 21. By January 24, Misseldon, Musselburgh, Moore, and Kelly had all fallen into the possession of the rebel forces. On January 27, Argyll, whose forces now controlled the Aberlady Approaches, issued a proclamation enjoining all "loyal" Scottrian subjects to reject the authority of Morton and to return to the allegiance owed to a "proper and legitimate" government. This appeal worked, and by February 1, Morton's units had been forced to relinquish control of Bunblarin, Basinger, Morvay, and Dundee. Morton now prepared to halt Argyll's advance towards Ediania at Derith. During the late hours of February 1, his units established themselves in an offensive formation around the outskirts of Derith, prepared to maintain a defensive barrier against Argyll's advance starfighter squadrons. Argyll, however, had obtained intelligence from one his reconaissance parties about an opposite approach route to Derith by means of the Demanian Firth. He took advantage of this approach route to surprise and trap Morton's force at Derith (February 2, 1779). The ensuing confrontation lasted for three hours and ended in a decisive victory for Argyll's forces. Morton himself barely evaded capture, but the Baron of Dryburgh, who had been one of his most consistently loyal subordinates, was captured. Dryburgh did not meet with any mercy from Argyll, who had him executed on February 6. By February 12, Argyll's forces had begun their advance from Lernax and Derith towards Dunglass, Litonbriggs, and Lithiglow. All of these garrisons, understanding that resistance was futile, surrendered four days later. By the end of February 1779, Argyll was blockading both Canongate and Trinity Kirk, while Richardson and Dourif had been seized by Angus and his areqbusier squadrons.
  • February 20-
    • On February 20, 1779, Sir Nicholas Bagonius, Procurator-General of the Governing Senate, Lord Privy Seal, and one of the most prominent officials in the Laurasian Empire during the first half of the reign of Empress Aurelia the Great, died at the age of 68 at Gorhamia House on Osama. Bagonius's health had continued to decline during the course of the preceding year, and in March 1778, the Empress Aurelia had granted him an indefinite leave from his duties at the Imperial Court. In fact, the Empress had designated Sir Thomasius Bromelius, Vice-Procurator General of the Governing Senate and Solicitor-General of the Court of the Star Chamber, to exercise the functions of the offices held by Bagonius. Bromelius was one of the most prominent legal officials in the Imperial Government and had a long history of service extending back some three decades. He was the nephew of Sir Thomasius Bromelius, Chief Justice of the Court of Star Chamber (1753-55) under Didymeia I. When the senior Bromelius died in 1755, he bequeathed a trust fund of €95.4 billion dataries to his nephew, provided that he (who already served as a barrister at the famed Christiania Inns of Court), continue his legal studies. Bromelius did so, earning his Bachelor of Civil Law in 1760; his Master's in Civil Law in 1763; and his Doctorate in Jurisprudence (JD) in 1767, all from the University of Laurasia Prime Jurisprudence School. As a result of his family connections and the patronage of Procurator-General Bagonius, Bromelius had quickly become prominent. He became a practitioner for the Courts of Star Chamber and Chancery. He was patronized and befriended by many of the Empress Aurelia's chief courtiers and ministers, such as the Earl of Americana; Baron Husadarania; Sir Willanius Cordellia (another cousin of the Empress); Commodore Franconius Dracius (who was to become Rear-Admiral in 1781); Franconius Russalia, Earl of Mercedes; and even Lord Burghley. Bromelius counseled the Duchess Dowager of Sufforia in 1760 over a dispute concerning property and commerce rights at her estates on Fulcania and Aquilionia; became "Reader" of the Christiania Inns in 1765; and Public Recorder of the City of Christiania the following year.
    • In 1769, Bromelius was appointed Solicitor-General, which made him the highest trial lawyer for the Imperial Government. He headed the prosecution at the trials of the Duke of Norfolkius and the Earl of Malaria Prime in 1772; by 1775, Bromelius had become Chief Reader and Chair of the Jurors of the Inns of Court. Thus, he was viewed by the Empress Aurelia as the heir-apparent to Bagonius's position. Bagonius's death was greeted with much mourning at the Imperial Court (where he had obtained great respect) and throughout the Laurasian Empire. The Empress Aurelia, temporarily halting her display of joy and fawning over the presence of Special Envoy Simier, ordered the Imperial Court into two days of mourning. She issued a proclamation concerning Bagonius's virtues and his fidelity to her during his two decades as Procurator-General. Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley both declared their regrets at the loss of Bagonius, with the latter calling him "a man of great virtue and honor". Bagonius would be honored with a ceremonial funeral the Westphalian Cathedral on March 17, and interred at Gorhamia Mortuary two days afterwards. Bromelius, whose prior career and experience has been described here, would be officially appointed Procurator-General by the Empress Aurelia on April 26, 1779. He would be knighted the following month and granted a stipend of €200 million dataries.
  • February 26-
    • By late February, 1779, the Laurasian interventions in the Haynsian Despotate had aroused the concern of the Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II and his chief subordinates on the Grand Council, in particular Grand Vizier Kalafat Mehmed, who had been appointed to his position in August 1778. Kalafat Mehmed, who had served as Subordinate Vizier of Albania during the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War, harbored a fear and a distrust of the Laurasian Empire and in particular, of the ambitions and intrigues of Empress Aurelia. The Grand Vizier was possessed of a sort of patriotism and concern for the interests of his master and of the Marasharite species. He believed it necessary to maintain control over the Marasharite Empire's remaining territories in the Great Tesmanian Cloud and to prevent the Empress of Laurasia from obtaining too much influence in the Haynsian Despotate at Marasharite expense. It was therefore the Grand Vizier who prompted the Emperor, on February 21, 1779, to issue a manifesto from his court on Topacia. In this manifesto, Abdulahamid declared that it was "a matter of grave concern" to him that his counterpart, Empress Aurelia, had so "boldly and frankly" ordered the deportation of foreigners from the territory of the Haynsian Despotate. He also viewed the Treaty of Isis as destabilizing to the galactic balance of power, and believed that a new arrangement concerning the Haynsian Despotate's affairs needed to be defined between the Laurasian and Marasharite Empires. Consequently, Abdulahamid demanded that a conference be called in order to settle outstanding matters concerning the "Haynsian Question". The Emperor did, however, express his willingness to acknowledge Laurasian interests "at the expense of a state, loathsome to all and beneficial to none [i.e., Celestial Kingdom of Scottria]." Empress Aurelia, when she was formally given a copy of the manifesto by the Marasharite Ambassador to the Court of Christiania, Sahin Ali (a Bulganian by origin), was surprised by the Marasharite objections. She continued to adore over Simier and over the Duke of Anjou; in private, however, the Empress consulted with Burghley, Sadielus, and Leicesterius over the matter.
    • These consultations continued for four days, during which time Burghley managed to convince the Empress that a compromise arrangement could be made with the Marasharite Empire. He pointed out that the Marasharites, just emerging from their latest conflict with the Vendragian Confederacy (the short Second Cyprian War of 1778) would not be in a mood to rush into war with the Imperial Laurasian Government at this juncture. Furthermore, Burghley stated, the Empress could always ignore any commitments which she made to the Marasharite Court of Topacia when the time came. Persuaded by this argument, Aurelia responded to Abdulahamid II's manifesto on February 26, in a communique addressed directly to the Marasharite Emperor himself. In this communique, the Empress asserted that her interventions in Haynsian affairs were meant "only to preserve tranquility" and that the Despot, Jay XIV Karany, had himself requested Laurasian intervention against his opponents. Furthermore, Aurelia stated, she would be willing to refrain from future intervention in Haynsian affairs unless if she notified the Marasharite Government, and to withdraw her forces from Haynsian territory with the exception of those at Gezlev. Abdulahamid II, who believed that the Laurasian Empire was fearful of war with the Marasharites, and believing that he had maintained the integrity of the Despotate, decided to accept the Empress's claims, and her offer for a conference at Aynalıkavak (located on Topacia) between Ambassador-Prince Repanius and his Marasharite counterparts. This conference began on February 28, and was to continue for the next several days.
  • March 2-The Empress Aurelia entertained Franconian Envoy Simier and his entourage with a magnificent display of fireworks at the Diplomatic Palace. Following the period of mourning for the late Procurator-General Bagonius, the Empress had resumed her entertainments of Simier and his delegates, intending to impress them with the magnificence of her court, her own personal wealth, and her authority over her realms. In all of this she succeeded brilliantly, as Simier continued to enthuse, in his messages to the Franconian Government, over the Empress's "hospitality, great concern for us, and sincerity for the conclusion of the alliance." At the same time, Aurelia's flirtation with Simier served to make the Earl of Leicesterius jealous. The Empress still harbored memories of the events surrounding her favorite's marriage with the Countess-Dowager of Estatius, and she was determined to get some limited payback on him for it. Although Leicesterius was obliged to be outwardly friendly towards Simier and to entertain him at Leicesterius House from time to time, his enmity towards the Franconian embassy was obvious to all. Leicesterius privately told his brother, the Earl of Sarah, that "Her Majesty was disgracing the honor of this our court through her conduct towards these Franconian foreigners." He also complained that Simier was employing "potions and other unlawful acts" to procure the Empress for the Duke. He even privately accused Simier of bribing the ladies of the Imperial Household to favor the Franconian marriage (when, in reality, most of them did not and viewed the Empress's public behavior as an amusing charade). Most courtiers at the Imperial Court, still unaware of Leicesterius's marriage (due to the Empress's commands of secrecy to Jadia, Burghley, and Walsingis), concluded that he was speaking out due to his own hope to marry Aurelia. On March 4, one of Aurelia's ladies, Lady Theodora Cremonia, who also distrusted Simier, spoke out against Simier. The Empress responded, in a harsh manner, that she "would take herself to the Anti-Almitis if ever entered my mind the thought of preferring my subject, whom I myself have raised, before the greatest of princes, in the honor of being my husband". No one, following this incident, dared to crticize the marriage publicly. The Empress then wrote two days later to Sir Amnystas Pauletius (the future guardian of Scottrian ex-Queen Mariana), who had recently been appointed as Ambassador to Franconia, that Simier had proven "himself faithful to his master, and is sage and discreet beyond his years in the conduct of this matter." Many at the Imperial Court, however, were now repeating rumors that Simier himself was engaged in an affair with the Empress Aurelia. It was even alleged that the Empress had given herself to him, and that she was pregnant with his child. These rumors were inaccurate, and Walsingis proved relentless in rooting out any public tales about the Empress's relationship with Simier.
  • March 10-
    • After over twelve days of negotiations, the Treaty of Aynalıkavak was signed by the Laurasian and Marasharite Empires on March 10, 1779. Ambassador-Prince Nicholas Repanius, who had redeemed his earlier failure to halt the Bar Confederation in the Dejanican Commonwealth through loyal service at the Marasharite Court, signed as the chief representative of the Imperial Laurasian Government. Grand Vizier Kalafat Mehmed, supported by Subordinate Vizier Koca Yusuf Pasha (a future Grand Vizier) himself, and by 79-year old Ahmed Enfedi, now Chief Pasha of the Diplomatic Service, signed for the Marasharite Government. By the terms of this treaty, all of the territorial, diplomatic, and economic provisions of the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca were confirmed. It was declared that the two governments did not "harbor any underlying hostility or ill-will towards each other; that indeed, the maintenance of peace and prosperity in extra-galactic civilization is our only goal." Consequently, all territorial boundaries between the two Empires were to remain the same as they had been for the preceding five years. The two Empires agreed that there was to be no foreign interference in Haynsian internal affairs; however, the Treaty of Isis, as regards to Laurasian intervention privileges in times of "absolute emergency, or on the request of His Mightiness of Haynsia" was affirmed. The Empress of Laurasia pledged herself to defend Haynsian interests, but at the same time, not to meddle with the Despotate's government or economy without officially notifying the Marasharite Court first. Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II pledged himself to absolute non-interference in the Despotate's affairs, and acknowledged again that the Despotate was "freed of all obligations of vassalage towards his person." In consequence, however, all Laurasian troops and garrisons, with the exception of those in conceded territories and at Gezlev, were to be withdrawn from the Haynsian Despotate by no latter than June 19, 1779.
    • The deportations of foreigners from Haynsian territory, however, were allowed to stand, provided that neither Empire seek to "disrupt or influence Haynsian commerce and economic affairs thenceforth." The Marasharite Emperor agreed to acknolwedge Jay XIV Karany as Despot of Haynsia, and to abjure the claims of any Haynsian notable who sought to assert his rights to the Haynsian throne in violation of the engagements thus provided. A secret codicil to the Treaty provided that "His Sultanic Majesty of Marasharita shall not brook interference with any measures undertaken by Her Imperial Majesty of Laurasia in the territories of that-named state [Scottria], and will pledge to acknowledge all Laurasian acquisitions in the Western Angelina Spiral notwithstanding those in contrast to this treaty." This effectively provided that the Marasharites would look away while the Laurasians destroyed Scottrian independence. The Treaty of Aynalıkavak, which temporarily assauged Marasharite fears about Laurasian interference in the Haynsian Despotate, was ratified by Emperor Abdulahamid II on March 12 and by Empress Aurelia on March 16. The Empress ordered General Surovius to begin withdrawal of all Laurasian troops (except for those at Gezlev) from the Haynsian Despotate. In secret, however, the Imperial General Headquarters were authorized to draft contingency plans for a emergency re intervention in the Haynsian Despotate, and Laurasian forces at Palymer were kept on elevated alert.
  • March 17-The Battle of Stirling (March 17, 1779) was waged between the forces of the Scottrian Government, under the command of the Earl of Morton, and the rebel forces under the command of the Earl of Argyll. Morton had managed to retain Stirling until this point, in the face of the relentless offensives by rebel forces now pressing from the vicinity of the Ediania star system into the Northern Territories. He believed that as long as he was able to maintain possession of this major stronghold, he had a chance to keep his forces replenished with military supplies and armor. Argyll, however, benefiting from the continued flow of military supplies and financial aid from the Laurasian Empire, reasoned that he could strike a decisive blow against Morton if he secured possession of Stirling. This proved true. The battle waged for over six hours, and by 4:00 P.M. Galactic Standard Time, had been decided in favor of the rebel forces. Morton was again forced to flee in ignominy from the battlefield, and most of his remaining cruisers were captured by Argyll. Argyll then stormed Dumbarton, Livinsgtone, Burgh Muir, Cassalis, and Glencairn within two days of this victory. Although he had scored triumph after triumph over Morton, and now dominated most of the Scottrian Homeland Territories, Argyll had experienced problems with discipline and organization among his military units. Rebellions also erupted against his authority on Haddington, Leith, and Richardson, again encouraged by agents of the Imperial Laurasian Government. And lastly, by March 1779, Drury and his chief subordinate, Commodore Franconius Dracius (reassigned from his duties in the Burglais Arm), were fully posed for a decisive march into the Scottrian Homeland Territories. The Empress Aurelia herself knew that there could be no further delay. On March 25, she issued the final instructions to Drury, ordering him to commence his offensive into Scottria by April 3, 1779. By March 29, Laurasian forces were stationed at the outskirts of the Angelina Spiral, and across a radius extending to Onasi, Waxefield, Dehner, and the Lavellan Governorate in the Galactic Borderlands. All that Drury had to do was to give the order to march.
  • April 3-
    • On April 3, 1779, the War of Drury's Intervention commenced when Field Marshal Sir Willanius Drury's forces launched a swift and sudden offensive into the Outskirt Districts from the Galactic Void. The Empress of Laurasia did not even bother to issue a declaration of war, instead announcing, in a manifesto to her subjects from the Quencilvanian Palace, that prompt action had been taken in the Scottrian Homeland Territories due to the "threat posed to the stability and prosperity of the realms of this Empire" by the continued civil turmoil in the Scottrian Territories. Envoy Simier, who had been aware of the Empress's preparations for war for some time, declared to the Imperial Court that the "events in the Angelina Spiral in no way reflect upon the negotiations." Queen-Dowager Catharina d'Medici, who was surprised by the Laurasian invasion of Scottria, nevertheless deemed it hopeless to attempt an intervention there. Franconia and Scottria no longer had ties of any sort, since the death of King Franjak II in 1760 and the conclusion of the Treaty of Ediania; Franconia itself was still distracted by internal troubles with the Huguenots and the newly-erupted American War with the Vendragian Confederacy; and by the turbulence in the Durthian Provinces. It was therefore not in Franconia's interest to intervene. Pruthia and Austarlia were still engrossed in the War of the Bavarian Succession; besides, neither state had ever enjoyed close relations with Scottria, and considered it inevitable that it would fall to the Laurasian Empire. Vendragia, Masacavania, and the Confederacy of Breffal knew little of Scottria or its society; the Haxonian Confederacy was more concerned about its contentious relations with the Marasharites and the Franconians than with anything else. Spamalka, under Philicus I, was diverted by the Durthian Rebellion and its own conflicts in Boliavania and Central Ameridinia; the Dejanican-Lithuanian Commonwealth had no military power in the first place; and Marasharita had adhered to Laurasian intervention through the Treaty of Aynalıkavak. Thus, Scottria was to find itself isolated and alone in this, the last Laurasian-Scottrian War (of a series that extended all the way back to 1602).
    • Within days of the Laurasian move into the Outskirt Districts, Drury secured a succession of victories. On April 9, he destroyed a Scottrian convoy at Tantallon; two days later, Branxholme and Erith had both been stormed by Laurasian troops. By April 14, Laurasian forces were driving towards Selkirk; had seized Madelaine and Albemaine; and were besieging Broughty, Derith, and Albright. Morton, believing that Laurasian intervention was geared to restoring his own authority over the Scottrian realms, strengthened the defenses of Ediania and renewed his counteroffensives against Castlemilk, Angus, and Dumbarton with especial vigor. Argyll and Angus, on their part, found themselves overextended, fighting both Morton and the Laurasian invaders at the same time. By the end of April 1779, the whole of the Outskirt Districts had been seized by Laurasian forces.
  • April 12-
    • Envoy Simier, who believed that he had earned the complete confidence of the Empress Aurelia, and convinced that the conclusion of the marriage was now a foregone conclusion, presented a draft marriage treaty to the Privy Council. The day before, he had written to the Queen-Dowager, expressing that he had "good hope that Their Lords will see the advantages of this union and will not demur in securing alliance with our realms." Some of the courtiers of the Imperial Court also seemed equally sure that the marriage would take place, and those few in favor of the Anjou marriage project began to order wedding suits, dresses, and the other garments associated with such ceremonies. However, many of the common denizens of Christiania were betting that the odds were against the marriage, and many Laurasians objected to the marriage on the grounds of Anjou's nationality and religion. The Extremist Reformists in particular, were vocal with their opposition, and many reverends of the Almitian Church were denouncing the whole project to their congregations. One of the chaplains of the Imperial Household, in fact, dared to predict in front of the Empress (on April 15) that "marriages with foreigners will only result in ruin to the Empire."
    • Angered by this, the Empress walked out in the middle of the sermon and afterwards had him dismissed from the Household service. Such opposition to the marriage was offensive, not only to herself but also, more importantly, to the Franconians. She now commanded the Imperial Ministry of Culture and Communications to censor and monitor any broadcasting station, author, information outlet, or online source which criticized the marriage, and issued a injunction concerning it for members of the Imperial Household. The Privy Council debated the treaty during the course of the next several days. Its members, however, were divided in opinion. Religion proved to be a major concern, for Anjou was now required to remain a Franconian Ritualist due to his heir-apparency to the Franconian throne. Another issue which recurred again was that of the Empress's age. At forty-five, Aurelia was considered by most to be too old to have children. The Empress was herself concerned about this, and the Haxonian Ambassador, Mausevio de Siuri, even reported to Doge da Ponte and the Senate that the Empress had consulted a panel of physicians, who had nevertheless assured her all would be well. Lord Burghley, on his part, pointed out to the Council, on April 19, that the Duchess of Leslie had borne a child at nearly the age of fifty, and that she had survived. Furthermore, the Lord Treasurer declared, "Her Majesty is a person of most pure complexion, of the largest and the most perfect stature of well-shaped women, with all of her limbs set and proportioned in the best sort and one whom, in the sight of all men of our race, Nature cannot amend her shape in any part to make her more likely to conceive and bear children without peril." Prompted by concern for the Empress's safety, in spite of his explanations to the Privy Council, Burghley had conducted through inquiries to determine whether or not the business of obtaining heirs would place her at risk. Noting the results in a private memorandum, the Lord Treasurer noted that she was "well-formed" for a woman of her age and that she "had no lack of the biological functions which properly belong to the procreation of children, but contrary-wise, by the judgment of physicians who are aware of her health, and by the opinion of women most acquainted with Her Majesty's body." The same physicians, Burghley noted, had stated that the Empress had six more years remaining to her before she would begin to experience menopause. This did not mean, however, that she would conceive a child. Burghley, nevertheless, believed that sexual fulfillment and childbirth would help to cure the neuralgia that Aurelia suffered in her faith and the emotional "barrenness associated with those women who lack a marriage." Walsingis, however, was more realistic, and spoke for the majority of her subjects when he expressed his fears that motherhood would place the Empress in extreme peril. Aurelia herself kept in mind what had happened to two of her stepmothers, Theodora Seymouris and Katharina Parsius, both of whom had died in childbirth. Envoy Simier, however, shared Burghley's optimism. On April 22, 1779, in a further communique to Queen-Dowager Catharina d'Medici, he stated that the Empress had "never been more pretty or more beautiful. There is nothing old about her except her years." Women of such beauty and ardor rarely died childless, in his view.
  • May 1-
    • On May 1, 1779, the Privy Council, which had continued to debate the terms of the draft marriage treaty which had been presented by Envoy Simier, summoned him to its presence. Lords Husadarania and Knollysis, both of whom had apprehensions about the Franconian marriage project, informed the Envoy of three major objections which that had with his terms. The first was with his demand that Anjou be crowned Emperor Consort immediately following the marriage ceremony. Knollysis pointed out that not even Empress Didymeia, when she had married the now-Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I, had permitted for his coronation. She had known, the Lord said, that "such a measure would gain the undying adversity of her subjects and the infamy of the Anti-Almitis." Indeed, most Laurasians were opposed to the idea of any man, much less a foreigner, being crowned a Emperor Consort. The second objection that the Council had was Simier's term that Anjou assume the rights which had been bestowed upon Philicus during his tenure as Didymeia's Emperor Consort: namely, that all state proclamations and charters be issued under the joint authority of the couple. Simier had also added the term that Anjou share the right, with the Empress, to appoint and dismiss all officers of state and to grant or revoke properties, titles, and honors upon nobles and prominent personages of the Empire. Knollysis expressed his fear that Anjou would arise to a predominant position at the Imperial Court, and that Laurasian subjects would be driven to rebellion by garnering a perception that foreigners dominated over them. The third objection raised was the term Simier had included that Anjou be granted an imperial pension of €600 billion dataries a year, payable until any children he had by the Empress would reach their majority. Husadarania claimed that marriage to the Empress would be enough for Anjou's financial needs, and that the Imperial Household could not burdened with "expenses of such a taxing nature."
    • Finally, Husadarania announced, the Council could not confer its agreement upon any marriage alliance until Anjou had come to the Empire and met Aurelia personally. Simier, insulted by the objections raised thus against the marriage project, stormed out of the meeting in anger. Following this audience, Simier headed straight to the Empress, who was then walking in the Lysimachian Gardens. Couching his appeal in terms designed to appeal to the Empress's emotions, Simier declared that her councilors were seeking to "block the marriage whom Your Majesty hath desire so much." According to Ambassador Mendoza, who learned of the incident shortly afterwards, the Empress became distressed at hearing of this and told her ladies that "The Council does not have the prerogative to determine what I desire. I must have this marriage, for the benefit of my dynasty and the Empire depends upon it." The day after the audience, Simier informed the Duke, in a Holonet communique, of the developments. Anjou however, was far more relaxed, and told the Envoy that he would leave everything to the Empress's "good" judgment. Aurelia herself, on the other hand, professed herself so distrusted at the attitude of her councilors that Husadarania and Knollysis, among others, hurriedly backed down from their earlier position and attempted to calm the Empress.
  • May 6-The Siege of Derith, which had been ongoing since the previous month, ends with a decisive victory for the forces of the Laurasian Empire under the command of Field-Marshal Sir Willanius Drury. Drury, in fact, captured a dozen Scottrian transports and nearly 150,000 troopers of the Royal Scottrian Army; these trophies and prisoners, he had dispatched back to Ladelle. Following the victorious Siege of Derith, an enthused Empress Aurelia composed a communique to Drury, declaring that his "faithful service to us our Empire, has scattered our enemies to the winds and confirmed the justness of our cause." Broughty and Albright both capitulated to Laurasian forces on May 8, 1779; by May 12, Laurasian troops had stormed Pinkie Cleugh, Aberdeen, and Iverness, defeating counteroffensives launched by the Earl of Angus and his chief subordinate, Provost-General Jamsius Semphill of Mardonville. On May 15, Lords Seton and Fleming, who believed that the cause of the two rebel Earls was lost, and sought to ingratiate themselves with the Imperial Laurasian Government, surrendered to Drury at Corgaff. Corgaff now became the Laurasian Field-Marshal's chief headquarters, and during the course of the next five days, he stormed rebel garrisons on Sutherland, Rothes, Caithness, and Haddington. Selirk fell under siege from May 21 and fell to a Laurasian task force, commanded by Commodore Dracius, on May 24. By May 27, the Lords Herries, Innermath, and Home had all defected to the Laurasian Empire, renouncing their allegiance to the government of King Jamsius VI. A desperate counteroffensive launched by Argyll from Leith (May 28-31, 1779), ended in failure.
  • May 27-
    • By the end of May 1779, the Empress Aurelia's attitude about Simier and his marriage proposals had shifted, to a certain extent. The Empress had summoned Lord Husadarania to a personal audience with her on May 23. There, he explained his reservations about the marriage to her, and averred that all he wished for was for "Her Majesty's welfare and good condition to be maintained". The following day, Sir Nicholas Worrton, Archbishop of Darcia, delivered a sermon at the Imperial Court, expressing his opinion that Her Majesty should contemplate further about what was being proposed to her. In accordance with this, Aurelia held a series of meetings with Burghley, Ambassador Mendoza, and the Earl of Jadia, sounding out their opinions about the marriage project. While Burghley and Jadia continued to support the marriage, Mendoza declared that his master, Emperor Philicus, was inclined towards advising his Laurasian counterpart to "act in a cautious manner" and to refrain from provoking the antagonism of the Empire's neighbor states. With all of these consultations in mind, the Empress complained to Envoy Simier, on May 27, 1779, that he and the Franconian government were making too many demands.
    • She told Simier that "If you had to deal with a princess that either had some defect of body or nature, or lacking mental gifts, such a kind of strainable proceeding as this might be tolerated. But considering how otherwise, it has pleased Almitis to bestow His gifts upon us in good measure, which we do ascribe to the giver of Life and not glory, I may in true course of modesty think myself worthy of as great a prince as My Lord is without yielding to such hard conditions." Simier, however, assured the Empress that compromise could be made. Anjou, in fact, had instructed Simier not to insist on every condition being met. This came especially in the light that the Empress was now seriously considering marriage. Anjou himself, throughout these middle months of 1779, sought an invitation to the Empire in order to meet the Empress personally. The Empress was caught in a quandary: on the one hand, Burghley and Jadia were urging her to agree, and on the other hand, Leicesterius demonstrated his fervent opposition to the marriage. On June 4, he even prostrated himself at the Empress's feet and begged her not to go through with the marriage. Eventually, on June 15, the Empress yielded to Burghley's viewpoint, and ordered for preparations to commence for Anjou's journey to the Empire. Burghley wrote to his counterpart in the Franconian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vergennes, and for over a month they would be engaged in plans for the Duke's discreet arrival at the Imperial Court.
  • June 19-By the middle of June 1779, events in the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria had proceeded further in the favor of the forces of the Laurasian Empire. During the early weeks of June 1779, Field-Marshal Drury and his chief subordinate, Commodore Franconius Dracius, had continued to make progress into the Northern Provinces. Ancrum Moor and Burgh Muir both capitulated to Drury on June 2; by June 4, Morton itself, the chief familial stronghold of the Earl, had fallen into the possession of the Laurasian forces. Morton himself, who still held possession of King Jamsius VI, now ordered for his evacuation to Dumbarton, hoping to place him beyond the reach of the Empire's forces. In spite of this, both he and his rival Earls continued to lose ground. On June 9, Glasgow capitulated to the Laurasian Field-Marshal almost without a fight; within three days, his units had pierced the defenses of Stirling, Leith, and Falkirk, securing firm possession of these three strongholds. Argyll, who was now desperate to halt the Laurasian advance, now decided to make a stand with his remaining offensive squadrons at Caltonia, east of Ediania. On June 13, he established his command headquarters in the star system and ordered for a series of barricades to be established. A extensive minefield was laid out, and three garrisons were constructed in the Caltonia Asteroid Belt. These defensive measures, however, proved futile, for Drury had a number of interdictor warships and minesweepers among his forces. The Battle of Caltonia was contested throughout the entire course of June 19, 1779. Although the Scottrians managed to inflict losses upon the Laurasian forces, they were unable to prevent Drury's interdictors from breaking the Caltonia Asteroid Belt and sweeping the Scottrian dreadnoughts from the field. By noontime, Imperial Marines and troops were landing on Caltonia; by the dawn of night, Argyll had been compelled to flee from the star system on his personal starfighter. Following this battle, Laurasian troops quickly stormed Solway (June 22); Falaside (June 24); and Trinity Kirk (June 29). Argyll's health entered a rapid decline following the confrontation, and he now retreated back to Canongate, attempting in vain to shore up the defenses of the Ediania star system. By July 4, many among the Scottrian governmental ranks were beginning to realize that their state was doomed, and that with foreign support not forthcoming, the Laurasian Empire would prevail. Argyll himself began to recognize this possibility, and his decline was attributed to "lamentation" over the fate of his species.
  • July 8-
    • On July 8, 1779, the Privy Council formally informed Envoy Simier that the Empress Aurelia had consented to the idea of a visit by the Duke of Anjou to the Laurasian Empire and that Lord Treasurer Burghley had been engaged in negotiations with Franconian Foreign Affairs Minister Vergennes over the matter. Vergennes had not told Simier before hand of these secret negotiations because he did not wish for the Envoy to spread the news to the rest of the Laurasian Imperial Court in a hasty manner. Simier, however, proved himself to be restrained when informed of the Empress's decision, and he praised Aurelia for taking "prompt and decisive" action in arranging a union with his master. In Franconia, however, some minor complications emerged. Anjou's brother, King Hensios III of Franconia, objected that a visit might be unwise. Vergennes, however, who was a staunch supporter of the Duke, managed to persuade the King to give the visit a chance. Hensions granted his consent on July 12, and Anjou threw himself into quick preparations for his incoming deparature. The visit, as it was arranged between Burghley and Vergennes, was meant to be a secret between himself, the Empress, and Simier. Most people at the Imperial Court, however, had already learned of the matter through gossiping with members of Simier's entourage. Wisely however, they would keep up the pretense that they were ignorant of the Duke's impending visit. In order to ensure secrecy, Simier was assigned a pavilion in the gardens of the Senatorial Palace, where Anjou was to lodge with him.
    • Ambassador Mendoza, on his part, reported to his government that the Empress was "burning with impatience for his coming, although her councilors have laid before her the difficulties which might arise. She is largely influenced by the idea that it should be known that her talents and beauty are so great that they have sufficed to cause his arrival and visit her without any assurance that he will be her husband." On July 17, the Empress departed from Laurasia Prime for a brief visit to Apathama Vixius, in the company of the Earl of Lincoln and Envoy Simier. She arrived at Apathama Vixius two days later. There, an incident occurred at Lincoln's estate in the star system, Apavarian Mansion, when Thomasius Appledoria, a fowler in the service of the Royal Household, accidentially fired his hunting weapon near the Empress's party. A oarsman, rowing the Empress along the streams adjacent to the mansion, was injured. On the Empress's orders, Appledoria was taken into custody, attainted on charges of reckless battery and assault, and sentenced to be executed. A execution platform was set up at the edge of the stream. On July 25, however, Appledoria was pardoned just before the firing squad began their execution procedures. The Empress had meant to teach him a lesson.
  • August 12-
    • By August 1779, the situation in the Scottrian Homeland Territories and in the Northern Provinces had shifted further in the favor of the Laurasian Empire. Over the course of the preceding month whilst the Imperial Laurasian and Franconian Courts were engaged in negotiations and preparations over the Duke of Anjou's secret visit, and the Empress Aurelia continued to enthuse over the "merits" and "qualities" of the Duke of Anjou, Laurasian forces under Field-Marshal Sir Willanius Drury had made further advances. On July 4, a counteroffensive, launched by the forces of Argyll's chief operational subordinate, the Earl of Casilis, against Trinity Kirk and Falaside resulted in a ruinous defeat for the Scottrian forces. During the course of the next three days, Drury's units stormed rebel outposts on Dunblane, Ross, and Orkney, sundering government supply lines to Canongate and further menacing the defenses of the Ediania star system. At the same time, Drury had directed Commodore Dracius to threaten the defenses of Niddry, which had once been a major stronghold of the Marianian Confederation. Dracius was now opposed by Patrick Lyon, Lord Glamis, who was one of the few remaining prominent supporters of the Argyllite Rebellion. Glamis, from his operational headquarters on Auchindoun, sought to prevent an advance by Laurasian troops towards Merchiston and the Bearns Fortresses, which had remained in the possession of the rebel forces, in spite of a renewed threat by Morton's troops. A series of confrontations between Dracius and Glamis ensued at Elgin, Bannockburn, and Dumfries (July 7-15, 1779), which ultimately resulted in severe losses for the rebel forces and the conquest of those star systems by Dracius. On July 18, Dracius captured a rebel convoy near Home, and two days later, he repelled rebel raiding expeditions against Dunbar, Stirling, and Selkirk. By July 24, Dracius had secured control of Jedburgh and Roxburgh, both of whom had previously served as major supply posts for the rebel forces. Glamis was now determined to force one final, decisive confrontation at Galloway, believing that if he managed to steam the advancing tide of the Empire's forces here, he would be able to force a revision of their offensive plans in the Northern Provinces. On July 27, 1779, the Battle of Galloway had been contested between the forces of the Argyllite Rebel Coalition, on the one hand (which still claimed to represent the legitimate government of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria) and the Laurasian Empire on the other. From the commencement of the confrontation, Dracius enjoyed substantial advantages over his rivals. His force consisted of six hundred warships, including thirty Imperator-class dreadnoughts and ten Elucidator-class destroyers. These vessels, extending for ten and five kilometers respectively in length, held a total of 2,000 turbocannon, 50 ion disruptors, and advanced double-layered shield generators. They were therefore far in excess of any of the capabilities of the opposing Scottrian force. Dracius also had a squadron of four thousand starfighters at his disposal, an asset not available to Glamis.
    • Within three hours, the confrontation had been decided: Glamis was handed a decisive defeat. Of the one hundred Scottrian warships that participated in the battle, seventy were destroyed and twenty captured by the opposing Laurasian corps. Nearly 150,000 Scottrian personnel and officers died in the confrontation, and Galloway's defenses proved no match to a sustained bombardment by Imperial warships. Glamis himself managed to escape from the field of battle, but his reputation, and the hopes of the Argyllite Coalition, had been destroyed through this victory for the Laurasian Empire. Dracius himself received further accolades, both from his superior Field-Marshal Drury and from the Empress Aurelia herself. She was now contemplating a conferral of the Order of St. Antigonus the Conqueror upon the victorious Commodore, and declared to the Privy Council on August 2 that his victories were vital to Laurasian success in the Angelina Spiral. By August 11, Brechin and Niddry had both been secured by Commodore Dracius's forces, and Merchiston itself was under severe threat. Argyll himself, who had suffered a minor stroke on July 29 after learning of the defeat at Galloway, and who had been in utter despair from before, fell into a coma on August 7. He never emerged from this state, and died on August 12, 1779 at Cannongate. Argyll's death left the Earl of Angus as the commander of the Argyllite Coalition. Angus however, proved unable to reverse the tide of Laurasian advances. By the end of August 1779, Laurasian troops had stormed Aberdour, Blackness, and the Bearns Fortresses. Field-Marshal Drury had succeeded in suppressing all supply lines to Canongate and was on the verge of instigating a final offensive against this outpost.
  • August 17-
    • On August 17, 1779, the Duke of Anjou, whose continuing ambitions of marriage to the Empress Aurelia had inspired much gossip at the Imperial Court and throughout the Empire, and perhaps the most ardent of any of the Empress Aurelia's foreign suitors, secretly arrived at the Senatorial Palace in Christiania, Laurasia Prime. On July 22, Anjou had been summoned to an audience by his brother, King Hensios III, and by his mother, Queen-Dowager, Catharina d'Medici, at the Tuileres Palace on Parri. Although Hensios remained reluctant about the circumstances of the visit which Anjou was now to undertake with the Empress of Laurasia, he nevertheless expressed his opinion that "the conclusion of a marriage alliance between our two realms will serve both to contribute to internal prosperity in the realms of the other; and to ensure that our two states will always be united against any foreign enemies." Hensios carried notions that the Empire would enter into the American War which Franconia and now Spamalka had been engaged in with the Vendragian Confederacy since the preceding year. He hoped that the conclusion of this marriage would guarantee Laurasian support for future Franconian ambitions in the Amulak Spiral. The Queen-Dowager, on her part, told her son that he should "treat Her Majesty of Laurasia in a ladylike manner, so that she will be induced to friendly intercourse with us in the future." Anjou followed the advice of his brother and mother faithfully, and instructed all of the courtiers and servants who were to attend him to be "mindful of their manners and conduct at the Imperial Court." Anjou had departed from Parri on August 6, and made a gradual, but secretive, journey from the Amulak Spiral, across the Galactic Void, to the Caladarian Galaxy. He had arrived at Belkadan on August 13, and was secretly escorted by an imperial convoy from that star system to Laurasia Prime. On the orders of Chancellor Burghley (acting with the Empress's authorization), no ceremony of welcome was held in the Laurasia Prime star system, and the media was kept in ignorance of the Duke's arrival. Anjou himself descended to the Senatorial Palace in a small shuttecraft at 1:00 A.M. in the morning, Galactic Standard Time, without any markings or other indication which could distinguish itself from the swarms of vessels which crowded the atmosphere, and the surface, of Laurasia Prime. Upon arriving at the Palace, he went directly to Simier's pavilion.
    • Simier himself waited for him in the chambers; the rest of the Imperial Court, including the Empress, was still asleep. The Envoy himself had ordered his household servants and associates to pretend sleep so as to not arouse attention from other quarters. Anjou however, still eager after his long voyage, and impatient to see the Empress, demanded that Simier take him to her. The Envoy however, managed to restrain him, and was able to convince Anjou to retire to bed. He then sent the Ladies of the Bedchamber a note, ordering them to inform the Empress when she awoke that Anjou had arrived, and that the Duke was eager to meet her at the earliest opportunity. The Empress herself awoke at her normal time at 6:00 A.M. and handed the note, exclaimed to her ladies that she was to embark upon "a meeting with such a personage on whom we have expended much effort." At 7:00 A.M., the Empress, who disguised herself in the attire of her ladies, departed secretly from the Palace, attended only by Lady Norria. She arrived at the Senatorial Pavilion. In spite of her earlier enthusiasm about his arrival, Aurelia had still carried with her a mental image that the Duke would be a disfigured, unattractive dwarf. Instead, she found a man who was mature, "relatively handsome", and marked by his dark hair and eyes, as well as a gallant demeanor. The Empress would later tell Lady Norria that she had "never seen a creature more agreeable." After the introductions, Anjou dined with the Empress; they were both served a Franconian breakfast, with omelette nature forming the centerpiece of it. The breakfast went well, and the Empress had a steady conversation with the Duke, conversing with him in Franconian. Following the breakfast, the Empress returned to the Palace, and authorized Walsingis to inform the Privy Council and her most intimate courtiers of Anjou's arrival. Many other courtiers, however, who had connections in the Imperial Household, became aware of the Duke's presence during the following days, and knowledge of it was soon to spread to the general public. Simier himself reported, on August 19, to the Queen Mother that "Her Majesty has with difficulty been able to entertain the Duke, being captivated and overcome with love. She told me that she had never found a man whose nature and actions suited her better."
    • Spamalkan Ambassador Mendoza reported to Philicus that "The Empress is delighted with Anjou, and he with her, as she has let out to her courtiers." Mendoza went on to explain that "she was pleased to have met him, was much taken with his good qualities, and admired him more than any other man. She said that she would not prevent his being her husband." Philicus, aware of the Empress's duplicitous and shifting nature, dismissed the whole affair as a mere charade. To the members of the Imperial Court, however, the chemistry between Anjou and the Empress could not be mistaken. The Duke possessed charm and sexual appeal, and played out the role of an ardent suitor. The middle-aged Empress responded to his behavior with light. Leicesterius however, was displeased by the Duke's behavior, and considered him a threat. Leicesterius however, could not do anything. Mendoza reported that the Privy Council continued to officially deny that Anjou was present, and that they would not brook interference with the matter. Leicesterius and most of the other councilors, the Spamalkan Ambassador said, were distressed by the Duke's presence. The Earl in fact, had gone to the extent of denouncing the Franconians, and expressing his hostility towards Jadia, one of the most ardent proponents of the marriage project. By August 21, the social gossiping in Christiania had turned to the matter of the Duke's courtship of the Empress. Many were scandalized, and some even dared to express their opinion that Anjou was bewitching the Empress. Those audacious men found themselves fined under the terms of the Sedition Statute.
  • August 24-
    • The Empress Aurelia arranged for the Duke of Anjou to observe a court ball in the Theatrical Auditorium from behind a tapestry, maintaining the pretense to the public that the Duke was not present. The Empress's continuing fascination for the Duke, whose presence in the Empire was theoretically unlawful, was fueled by the necessity to obtain intimate moments with him in private. Her behavior at the ball, however, revealed to all that Anjou was present. She showed off for the Duke's benefit, participating in more entertainments than usual and constantly waving and smiling in his direction. The Empress's courtiers, however, knowing the consequences for bold action, pretended not to notice her antics. The Empress even denied to Mendoza that Anjou was on Laurasia Prime. When two of her ladies gossiped openly about the Duke, the Empress commanded them to keep to the bedchambers. Two days after the ball, Leicesterius, who was described by one of his servants as being in "great grief", sought an audience with the Empress. Aurelia granted this request, and the audience lasted for two hours in the Private Throne Room. When the Earl emerged, he displayed much emotion. That evening, he and the Sidronius family, who were also opposed to the Franconian marriage, held a conference at the Earl of Aeoleon's mansion, Wenxalla House. Leicesterius, however, decided that he could not tolerate Anjou's presence any more, and during the early hours of August 25, he departed from Laurasia Prime with his sister, Lady Didymeia Sidronius. The Earl, however, hoped that the Empress's subjects would arise against the prospect of a marriage, and that the Empress would see that the marriage could not proceed. Anjou's visit, however, suddenly came to a halt when, on August 27, a communique arrived from Parri that one of the Duke's closest friends, the Monsieur de Luthy, had been killed in a ceremonial duel on Lille. The Duke now had to make arrangements to attend the Monsieur's funeral; the Empress, who had sympathy for his plight, now placed one of her personal carriers, the IMS Scout of Cleitha, at his disposal. During the night of August 28, 1779, Simier told the Empress that the previous night, Anjou had kept him awake with his sighs and moans, and that he had continually talked about her "divine beauties" and had sworn that he would not be able to live "another hour" without being able to see her again. Anjou departed from Laurasia Prime the following morning, with much emotion being expressed by both sides. Upon reaching Belkadan, the Duke sent four communiques to the Empress; he then ventured across the Galactic Void, and composed three more from Boulougone that he was "desolate without your fair presence, and that I cannot be anything but your most affectionate servant."
    • He enclosed a little pearl pendant, a miniature of himself, and a flower of Xiellian gold with the communiques. The Empress shortly afterwards composed a poem, On Monsieur's Departure, in which she confessed that she could not show her "discontent" and that her feelings of love were contradicted by her public duties. This poem would be published after the Empress's death and establish her reputation as among the most literate and articulate of Laurasian monarchs. Anjou, on his part, left Simier behind to finalize the negotiations for the marriage and keep the Empress happy. Opposition to the marriage, however, had now intensified within the Purse Region, and especially on Laurasia Prime. Several courtiers, including Sir Philip Sidronius, were opposed to the marriage. Sidronius, in fact, wrote a communqiue to the Empress on September 2, in which he reminded her of the continued religious and civil turmoil in the Franconian realms, and insisted that Anjou would be unacceptable to her Laurasian subjects, who were "her chief, if not your sole, strength." The Empress wept as she read the message and castigated him severely. Sidronius, aware of what could happen if what incurred the Empress's anger, decided, on September 5, to retreat from the Imperial Court for a year. He now retreated to his sister's residence, Wiltonia House, on Azatha II. Mendoza, on his part, reported with glee that he feared there would be a "revolution" in the Empire if the Empress married Anjou. The Franconian Ambassador, the Sieur de Mauvaire, who had remained in the background and deferred to Simier's authority, recorded on his part that the Empress received "extraordinary greetings" from her subjects at all of her public appearances throughout Christiania.
  • September 11-
    • The Empress's apparently unshakeable popularity (as was firmly believed in by the Franconian Ambassador), came under threat. Sir Antiochus Stubbia, who was a prominent businessman and Uniction Reformist in Heliotrope, owning shares in Katherine Drive Yards, Christiania Pharmecuticals, and Mervellian Transit Lines, decided it expedient to express his opinion about the marriage project in a public format. He published a pamphlet entitled "The Discovery of the Franconian Scheme to Ruin the Empire". This pamphlet was printed in Christiania and released on the Galactic Holonet. It was quickly distributed throughout the dominions of the Empire, and by September 22, had become the highest-selling political pamphlet in the Empire. The pamphlet's wide distribution helped to influence public opinion, and it became very popular. The Imperial Privy Council, however, was angered by the pamphlet's contents. It was written in such strong language as to give much offense to both the Empress and to the Duke of Anjou. The House of Valois was referred to as a "rotten facade" and one "sealed with the marks of divine vengenace" for its cruelties. The Duke himself was described as one who "indulged in excessive debauchery." Stubbia also called into question the wisdom of the Empress having children at such a late age. Walsingis, whose opposition to the marriage had grown, was the one who informed the Empress of its contents. Predictably, Aurelia was filled with anger when she read it, not only because it had incited her people to oppose her, but because it had slandered and insulted the Franconians. On September 17, 1779, the Empress issued a proclamation from the Quencilvanian Palace, condemning the pamphlet as "lewd and seditious". She ordered the Imperial Ministry of Culture and Communications to prohibit any further sales or distributions of the pamphlet, and to order for the confiscation of all materials related to the pamphlet. The Ministry was also commanded to censure all news stations and outlets, so that they would refrain from referring to either the pamphlet or the marriage. The Holy Synod, acting also on the Empress's instructions, commanded all reverends and pastors to denounce the pamphlet from their pulpits and to assure the faithful that Aurelia had no intention of harming the customs of the Almitian Church.
    • She had "been brought up in Almitis, so she would live and die in Almitis." Although many of the Empress's subjects were subsequently assured by this, they nevertheless disagreed with the government's handling of the pamphlet affair, for Stubbia was a popular man and respected for his intergity. Informed of this, the Empress consulted Procurator-General Bromelius over the matter. On September 29, she ordered for Stubbia, the CEO of Leverdine Press and Markets, Sir Leonnatus Cleithria, and the CEO of Christiania Distributions, Sir Willanius Pageria, to be arrested and imprisoned at the Post Settlement of Hepudermia. Four days later, they were tried directly by the Court of the Star Chamber, which had, in 1777, been granted jurisdiction over cases of sedition involving galactic distribution. The men were accused of sedition, conspiracy, and les-majestie; on October 7, they were convicted on all counts, and were sentenced to loss of their right hand and a ten-year term of imprisonment. The Empress, however, now showed her sympathy for Cliethria, who was eighty-six years old. The elderly man was pardoned and was released from the Post Settlement; he died on October 27, having been shaken by the whole ordeal. Aurelia, however, declared to Simier that she would rather lose one of her own hands rather then mitigate the sentences passed on Stubbia and Pageria. Both were taken from the Post Settlement to a public scaffold in front of the Star Chamber's Hall. Stubbia and Pageria both declared their loyalty to the Empress, and bore their punishment with much seriousness and humility. The crowds gathered to watch the proceedings did so with sympathetic and disproving silence. Eventually, the Empress realized that, by acting impulsively and with uncharacteristic cruelty, she had outraged the public opinion. Stubbia was eventually released from imprisonment on April 9, 1781; pardoned; and permitted to publish again. He would later be received at the Imperial Court in September 1782, and would die in Christiania on November 25, 1787. Pageria would be released in May 1781 and die ten years after that.
  • October 7-The Empress Aurelia summoned a special session of the Imperial Privy Council and asked them for its advice concerning the Franconian marriage project. She was concerned about public opinion and was determined to maintain the good will of her subjects, who had, through their sympathy for Stubbia, demonstrated their opposition to the entire marriage project. The Council now engaged in heated discussions over the matter. Chancellor Walsingis was absent, having been required to travel to Robert four days earlier. Leicesterius (who had returned to the Imperial Court on September 22, having waited a time after Anjou's deparature) and Hattonius, who continued to remain in correspondence with the Chancellor, and were known throughout the Court for their ardent opposition to the marriage, now mustered five other councilors who were against the marriage. Lord Treasurer Burghley on his part, mustered four others in favor. Keeping in mind that the Empress had expressed her distaste at any who disapproved of the marriage, they decided to ask her to reveal to them her own inclinations concerning the marriage. Aurelia, who had begun to secretly realize that it would be folly to go forward with this marriage, nevertheless expressed her dismay. Therefore, when the Council asked the Empress for her opinions, she burst into tears at the realization that she would have to reject this last chance of marriage and motherhood. She asked them whether it was unreasonable to presume that preservation of the Neuchrian Dynasty was a valid goal, and then said she had anticipated universal supprt for a marriage. The councilors, startled by the Empress's emotional outburst, then asked for permission to discuss among themselves; she agreed. The following day, Aurelia summoned them to her presence again. They told the Empress that they were willing to offer their wholehearted support "in furtherance of the marriage, if so it shall please her" and explained that they had been moved to a change of heart by her obvious desire to have issue; also, because she had made it plain that she wanted the Duke for a husband, and no one else. The Empress, who had recovered herself, had sharp words for those who opposed the marriage, and declared that the majority would have already allowed it to proceed. She was then prevailed upon by Jadia and Leicesterius to give an answer, but declared that she still had not reached a final decision. Ambassador Mendoza, informed by the Earl of Hannah of the meeting afterwards, wrote home that the Empress remained "extremely sad" after the conversation.
  • October 12-
    • By October 1779, the situation of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria was utterly desperate. On September 12, 1779, the Battle of Canongate commenced when the forces of Field Marshal Sir Willanius Drury launched a major offensive against the defenses of the star system. The Earl of Angus, who still held vague hopes of Spamalkan or even Marasharite intervention, and believing that the Laurasian advance would eventually backfire against their arms, prepared himself for a final resistance against Drury's advance. The Earl had fortified the defenses of the Canongate star system extensively, concentrating most of the remaining resources of the Argyllite Coalition at this one star system. He laid a series of minefields beyond the Canongate Asteroid Belts; had a system of rests constructed on Canongate Minor and at Holyrooth Port; and stationed his remaining reserve warships in a formation around Canongate's orbit. Through organizing the defenses of the Canongate star system in this manner, Angus hoped to make any advance by Laurasian units a costly one. Drury, however, had gathered extensive intelligence about the state of Canongate's defenses. The Imperial Intelligence Agency had compiled a report concerning the star system's shield generators, and it was reported that they were vulnerable to a direct turbolaser barrage. This knowledge proved vital to Drury's strategy. The Field Marshal ordered General Melissano to install his artillery at the Redoubt of Mere, which was located to the northern outskirts of the Canongate star system. From this redoubt, Melissano was able to bombard the defenses of Canongate and its immediate outposts ceaselessly; the Laurasian shield disruptors proved to be superior to the Scottrian technology, and by the early hours of September 13, Canongate's shield defenses had collapsed. Laurasian warships, bypassing the Canongate Minefields and utlizing a secret route into the star system, penetrated to the world's orbit. Laurasian dreadnoughts and destroyers, including the IMS Antigonus the Conqueror, quickly forced the Scottrian warships into a pincer; they were unable to escape and to provide assistance to the garrison of Canongate. Simultaneous Laurasian raids against the Minefields and the descent of Laurasian troops onto Canongate's surface made it impossible for Angus to direct a defense in all directions. By September 19, the Battle of Canongate had ended in a decisive victory for the Laurasian Empire.
    • Angus himself was captured by Laurasian troopers during the final offensive into Ainslie City; he was treated by Drury with much respect, typical of the Laurasian manner for adversaries who had fought well. On Drury's orders, Argyll remained free from chains of imprisonment, and he was permitted the liberty, with an official escort, of traveling at his discretion. Following the Battle of Canongate, Ediania itself lay exposed to the advance of the Laurasian forces. Field-Marshal Drury captured a Scottrian convoy at Burgh Muir (September 22-24) and repelled a counteroffensive by the Earl of Mar against Stirling, Selkirk, and Leith (September 26). On September 29, 1779, the Field-Marshal's forces approached the outskirts of the Ediania star system. From his operational headquarters on Perth, Drury directed for his destroyers and dreadnoughts to launch an offensive against the Spur. This assault commenced during the early morning hours of October 1; by noon, Galactic Standard Time, Laurasian squadrons had penetrated the defenses of the Spur and had swept through the Ediania Asteroid Belt. Ediania's garrison was under the command of Mar's associate, Lord Inquhart, who was the last remaining rebel operational commander of note. Inquhart was determined to inflict as much damage as possible in battle upon the Laurasian forces, and to delay the advance of Drury's squadrons from the Spur. This was quickly seen on October 3, when Drury's units advanced against the Edianian Asteroid Belt and pushed into the inner regions of the star system from Canongate and Trinity Kirk. They were now opposed by fifty Scottrian corvettes, most of whom had been rigged by Inquhart with explosives. Borrowing a page from the strategies employed by the forces of Sir John Hawkius in the Battles of Navarino and Chesma against the Marasharite Empire, the Scottrian General ordered for these ships to be released among the Laurasian ranks. By October 6, thirty Laurasian corvettes and ten destroyers had been destroyed or seriously damaged as a result of this suicide offensive by Scottrian forces. Commodore Dracius, however, who had now been ordered by Drury to take command of the naval offensive into the Ediania star system, discovered a weakness in the Scottrian lines. Inquhart had neglected to station a defensive squadron on the farther side of Holyrood's Moon, and this provided a vantage point from which Laurasian warships could penetrate Ediania's shield defenses.
    • On October 8, Dracius launched a coordinated offensive against this gap, with Laurasian starfighters blockading Holyrood's Moon and raining down projectiles upon Ediania's northern shield quadrants. Within three hours, the shields had been penetrated, and Drury now gave the order for immediate landings on Ediania's surface. By October 11, Laurasian troops had secured control of the Council Hall, Holyroodian Palace, and the commercial districts of Ediania City. Lord Inquhart, however, commanded the resistance of the Edianian Fortress, which defied all Laurasian attempts at storm. Field-Marshal Drury himself, seeking to bring this fortress under Laurasian control, and to consolidate the Empire's hold over the Ediania star system, himself directed an artillery bombardment of the Fortress's defenses. Drury established his ground headquarters five miles to the north of the Fortress, and ordered General Melissano to conduct a pinpoint bombardment of the Fortress's defensive complex. By the middle hours of October 12, 1779, the Fortress's defenses had weakened considerably, and it was on the verge of losing its shield protection. Drury himself now decided to visit some of the front-line troops with his officers, in order to inspire confidence in them to continue the battle. The Field-Marshal therefore exposed himself to danger, as Lord Inquhart was notified of his tour of the front-lines. On his orders, a sudden artillery barrage was directed from the Fortress at Command Position #6, whilst Drury and his officers were there. Drury was severely injured in the ensuing bombardment, and was immediately taken from the field. Despite the efforts of the company physicians, his health rapidly failed, and he died at the end of the day at the age of fifty-two.
    • The death of Field-Marshal Drury, who had gained prominence and respect throughout the Empire for his exploits in the Marianian Civil War and the War of Drury's Intervention, was received with much mourning on Laurasia Prime and at the Imperial Court. The Empress Aurelia, although she had found much of her attention distracted by the Anjou marriage affair, had nevertheless continued to follow the latest developments in Scottria. She ordered the Court into a week of mourning for Drury and issued a proclamation declaring him "most faithful to us, vigilant in the service of this Empire, and unbending to the orders of his superiors." Drury's body would be taken from Ediania on October 19, and transported back to Caladaria, where he was buried at his family's plot on October 24. The Empress herself was unable to attend, being represented by the Earl of Leicesterius and by Lady Norria. Following Drury's death, the Laurasian offensive against Ediania swung further in the Empire's favor. Drury's death inspired the Laurasian troops to bring this confrontation with their Scottrian enemies to a decisive end. On October 17, the shield defenses of the Edianian Fortress were finally breached, and the troops, now commanded by General Melissano, swarmed into the Edianian Fortress. Within hours, all resistance had been suppressed, with Lord Inquhart himself losing his life in the confrontation. By October 23, all of Ediania was under the control of Laurasian forces. And by the end of October 1779, the forces of the Earl of Morton in the Northern Territories were on the brink of destruction.
  • November 10-The Empress Aurelia summoned an extraordinary session of the Imperial Privy Council at the Quencilvanian Palace. The Empress, who according to Mendoza was "in the most serious stage of contemplation hath seen in a woman of her character and bearing", made a very public gesture of her intentions by attiring herself in Franconian garments. She now wore the Franconian emblem, the fleur-de-lys; decked herself in Franconian colors of blue and red; and had her hair arranged in the Franconian fashion. Once the Council had been assembled, the Empress informed them that she had "determined to marry and that they need say nothing more to her about it, but should at once discuss what was necessary for carrying it out". And indeed, in the weeks before this session of the Council, the relations between the Empress and her chief ministers had been frigid. Aurelia had continued to declare that conscience, and the will of the Almitis, compelled her to marry "for the benefit of this my imperial dynasty and of this, my Empire" and that she was entering into a marriage which would be of a "state most beneficial to my subjects, and pleasing to my honor." The Empress had told many of her ladies-in-waiting that the behavior of her subjects over this "important" manner distressed her, and that they needed to see reason. She had taken her anger out on her Council. Aurelia had told Walsingis that he should be gone from her presence and service, and that he was only interested in "undermining the tranquility and stability of the Church and the faith of the Laurasian people." The Empress even accused her faithful Chancellor of being in collusion with Uniction Reformists who were determined to radicalize the Church's administration and services. She was not on speaking terms with Leicesterius (in spite of the fact that he represented her at Drury's funeral), and both Knollysis and Hattonius felt her anger. The Empress castigated the former on his daughter's marriage, telling him that "all should be appalled by Her Ladyship's behavior" and had a verbal argument with Hattonius. He was even banished from the Imperial Court for several days due to his opposition to the marriage. As regards to the Council session, Lord Treasurer Burghley, Jadia, and the others in favor of the marriage thanked "Her most gracious Majesty for providing for the security of these realms, and for the maintenance of prosperity in this Empire."
  • November 14-
    • The forces of Commodore Sir Franconius Dracius (now reinforced with detachments sent by Brigadier-General Alexander Surovius in the Northern Reaches), approached the outskirts of Dumbarton. Dumbarton, where Queen Mariana had been imprisoned for nearly a year after her enforced abdication from the Scottrian throne, was now the last remaining Scottrian system of note. The Earl of Morton, who had managed to retain his position in the Northern Territories in the face of the rebel forces, considered himself to be the last bearer of the Scottrian State, and hoped to establish himself as the "savior of the Scottrian race". This, was, however, his public facade. In private, Morton's loyalty towards the young King Jamsius VI and the Scottrian Council of State had been curtailed by recent events. The Earl understood that the Laurasian Empire had obtained undoubted ascendancy over the Scottrian Homeland Territories, and that he no longer had the resources to repel the Laurasians from their conquests. It was this knowledge that was to motivate his future actions. Dracius's troops had repelled the last Scottrian offensives against Corgaff and Niddry (November 2-9); Montrose and Lochleven had been secured by the Commodore two days afterwards; and all supply lines to the outskirts of the Dumbarton star system had been suppressed. Dracius now possessed a decisive tactical and strategic advantage, with his forces being deployed in two formations of the line. He had nearly four hundred warships at his disposal and a detachment of two thousand starfighters. With this force, Dracius hoped to imitate the Scotttrian garrison of Dumbarton and to bring it into final subjection. And this Laurasian advantage was quickly seen in the progress of the battle itself. By the end of the day, the Dumbarton Mists had been secured by Laurasian forces, and a detachment of Laurasian corvettes were harrying Sheffald's Moon, which was the most significant military outpost in the star system. Four days later, on November 18, Laurasian and Scottrian detachments clashed in the Belts of Cessford; this confrontation resulted in a decisive victory for the Laurasian Empire. Dracius lost only thirty warships, twenty-five of whom were couriers; the Scottrians lost over seventy vessels.
    • On November 21, Laurasian warships commenced a blockade of Dumbarton itself, ruthlessly bombarding the world from orbit. The world's defenses were not able to withstand the Laurasian assault, and by November 22, they had been breached. Morton himself now fled in ignominy from Dumbarton; two days earlier, he had sent young King Jamsius VI and the Scottrian Court to Dumblaine, one of the last remaining independent star systems in Scottrian territory. Dracius's victories now earned him accolades throughout the Empire, and he began a relentless push towards Dumblaine. The Empress Aurelia declared, in a proclamation from the Imperial Court on November 23, that she bore "no ill-will against the life or the position of His Majesty of Scottria" and that the young man, who had familial ties to the Neuchrian Dynasty, would be nurtured at the Imperial Court "under my sovereign protection." Former Queen Mariana herself, then at Tutsarian Mansion on Merilash, had been informed of the progress of the Laurasian conquest of her hereditary territories. This only fueled the Queen's motivation to intrigue for the Laurasian throne. She knew that the stakes were higher, and that Laurasian rule of Scottria would restore her to her position over these, her most rebellious subjects. The Queen also had little concern for the son she had not seen since he was an infant, and no maternal care for what could become of him.
  • November 24-The Empress Aurelia, in a audience at the Public Throne Room, declared to Simier her official intention to proceed with the marriage, on the condition that two months would elapse before authorization would be given for formal negotiations. Lord Treasurer Burghley and the Earl of Jadia had cooperated with Sir Rudomentus Sadielus (who now served as Head of the Imperial Diplomatic Service and Senior Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs), on drafting the terms of the final marriage agreement between the Imperial Laurasian and Franconian Governments. Aurelia, however, made the proviso that during the course of those two months, she would consult with the leading nobles and personages of her dominions, and obtain from each of her Governor-Generals and their Gubernatorial Assemblies their declarations of support for the marriage. If the Empress found that there would not be sufficient public support for her embarking upon the marriage with Anjou, then the agreement was not to be signed. Aurelia herself, however, had by now fully accepted that she could not marry Anjou, and she knew that her subjects remained vehemently opposed to the marriage. The Empress was aware that her Governor-Generals, who had close contact with the Imperial Privy Council, would be frank with her, and that the nobility would be especially assertive in their own protests. This demonstration of opposition would give the Empress an excuse to terminate the marriage negotiations. To Simier and Anjou himself, however, Aurelia maintained her game, that she was interested in the marriage and that only the opinions of her subjects could stop her. On November 26, in a letter to Anjou, the Empress told Anjou that the "greatest difficulties lie in making my subjects rejoice and approve. The resentment of foreigners is very much in their hearts. I beg you to consider this deeply, as a matter which is so hard for a Lauasian to determine that it passes all imagination. For my part, I confess that there is no prince in this galaxy to whom I consider myself more bound, nor whom would I rather pass the years of my life, both for your rare virtues and sweet nature." Shortly after this communqiue was sent, Aurelia told Chancellor Walsingis that "this marriage is of a nature that it will never pass beyond the judgment of the Lord Almitis." The Archbishop of Caladaria remarked that "The Franconian matter is dashed." On November 29, Simier was ordered by King Hensios to return to Parri, in order to "provide information" to the King, the Queen-Mother, and the Franconian Estates-General concerning the terms of the draft marriage agreement. He was also to obtain orders from the Estates-General in order to proceed to a final conclusion of the alliance. Two days later, December 1, 1779, Simier and his entourage departed from Laurasia Prime, on their way back to the Great Amulak Spiral. The Empress Aurelia lavished the Envoy and his companions with numerous expensive gifts, amounting to €1.2 billion dataries, and she staged a lavish ceremony of departure for him at the Imperial Court. Technically, Simier was to return in February, if he were to receive confirmation from the Estates-General. In reality, Aurelia knew that the marriage compact would not be concluded in the agreed-upon schedule; that in fact, it could never be reached. Nevertheless, Simier continued to conduct a correspondence with the Empress. He sent her a stream of communiques in which he emphasized his master's love for her and his concern for her welfare. Simier reached Parri on December 7.
  • December 6-
    • On December 6, 1779, one of the most tragic, and concidential, incidents of the eighteenth century occurred on Dumblaine. At this world, which had a population of less than one million inhabitants in 1779, and had always been considered to be a provincial backwater, the 13-year old King Jamsius VI and the Scottrian Court were lodged. Most of Scottria's territories, with the exception of Dumblaine and other minor strongholds, were now under the control of the Laurasian Empire. The situation in the Angelina Spiral had altered beyond recognition, and the Empire had been immensely strengthened by the addition of the star systems previously under Scottrian jurisdiction. Jamsius himself, who had never been in control of his own personal affairs, and remained under the domination of Morton and his subordinates, was the utlimate example of gloom and ruin. The King had no memories of his father, since dead; his mother, he had not seen since he was an infant. And he was on the verge of also falling into Laurasian custody, like his mother, and of being a prisoner of the Empress Aurelia. Cruel fate however, was to spare Jamsius from this. Instead, the King was found dead in his personal quarters by some of his personal servants. His body was sprawled across his bed, and streams of blood dripped from the bed to the floor. Morton, who was informed that his master was dead, reacted to the news with relative detachment and little concern; the Earl declared that the Scottrian Gods had inflicted their vengenance upon the species, and that it was beyond his power to control the King's fate. Empress Aurelia's reaction, however, was of the complete opposite nature. Informed by Walsingis and Burghley of the King's untimely demise, the Empress publicly declared that it was "tragic that this young man, who could have been reared under my protection, and who could have found residence at the Imperial Court, has met such an untimely end." In private however, the Empress confided to her chief ministers that the death of Jamsius VI cleared the last remaining obstacle to complete Laurasian absorption of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria. In spite of her earlier proclamations, Aurelia had, until the moment of Jamsius's death, considered installing him on Ediania as a puppet of the Imperial Laurasian Government, and allowing for Scottria to retain limited autonomy, under Laurasian supervision. The King's death, however, removed this possibility, and indeed permitted the Empress to authorize for the absolute incorporation of all remaining Scottrian territories. The fact that Jamsius's death could not in any way be linked back to the Imperial Laurasian Government allowed the Empress to claim that "other fiends, traitors among the Scottrian King's Household" had committed the murder and that by capturing them, she would be delivering due justice to those who had "stolen the young King's life." Morton himself was to become a target of this Laurasian policy. At this moment, however, the Earl realized that further resistance to the Laurasian Empire was fruitless. Declaring the Scottrian throne vacant, he now sent a formal offer of surrender on December 9. Commodore Dracius, acting on the authorization of the Imperial General Headquarters, immediately accepted this surrender offer. A conference was convened between Dracius and Morton at Iverness on December 14, 1779. After three days of discussions, the Treaty of Iverness was signed. By the terms of this treaty, the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria was formally dissolved.
    • It was declared that with the "lapse of the life of His Majesty, the late King Jamsius VI of Scottria, it is deemed necessary for the subjects of his realms to have the protection of a benevolent and willing foreign government." Consequently, Morton and the Scottrian Estates, acting under the authority vested to them as the governing officers of the Scottrian government, formally surrendered all resources and forces to the authority of the Laurasian Empire. All of the remaining territories of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria were now an "inviolate portion of the realms of Her Imperial Majesty of Laurasia, and she shall have the power to dispose of, treat, and govern her subjects in such regions as she sees fit." The Scottrian Crown was formally abolished, and all of its properties and residences now came into the possession of the Imperial Laurasian Crown. The Scottrian nobility were to retain their present ranks, subject to the "discretion of Her Majesty's Ministry of Regional and Provincial Government." Finally, all Scottrian nobles, magnates, military personnel, and government officers were to swear an oath of allegiance to the crown of the Laurasian Empire. The Empress Aurelia ratified this agreement on December 19 and the Scottrian Estates on December 22; the Estates thereafter formally dissolved as a body. Throughout the Empire, extensive celebrations took place. The Celestial Kingdom of Scottria, which had existed since AH 1242, had ceased to exist after 538 years, and the Laurasian Empire had, in the space of one year, extended its jurisdiction over nearly 400,000 inhabited star systems in the Angelina Spiral with a population of 500 billion inhabitants. This constiuted an even more substantial acquisition for the Empire than the Lavellan Provinces. However, with Laurasian rule of Scottria came new administrative responsibilities and new burdens. Nationalist sentiments in the former Scottrian Dominions remained high, and they were to reveal themselves during the last two decades of the century, in two major uprisings directed against the authority of the Imperial Laurasian Government. As the year 1779 ended, the Laurasian Empire of Aurelia I was on the road to utlimate ascendancy over the Caladarian Galaxy and its satellite galaxies.

1780Edit

  • January 1-
    • 1780, the 80th year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire immeasurably strengthened, in economic and in territorial terms, compared to its situation a decade earlier. As the Caladarian Galaxy entered the 1780s, the Empress Aurelia I (who was already being hailed as "the Great" by some of the Reformist apologists in the Almitian Church), saw herself at the head of the most extensive and powerful empire in the history of the Caladarian Galaxy, and perhaps the most powerful state of extra-galactic civilization. The previous decade had witnessed the extension of the Empire's authority over the northern Galactic Borderlands (Muggal Cluster, Northern Reaches, and Lavellan Provinces); the Haynsian Slave Highway; and the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria. By 1780, the Imperial Laurasian Government's jurisdiction extended over nearly sixty million star systems throughout the Caladarian Galaxy and its satellite galaxies, with a population of nearly 80 quadrillion sentient beings. As a result of the Empire's territorial acquisitions in the Angelina Spiral and the Galactic Borderlands, and due to the financial and commercial policies pursued by the Empress and her ministers, the Empire's economy had expanded considerably during the last years of the 1770s. Imperial revenues had surpassed €159.6 quadmillion dataries by 1779, while expenditures had increased to €152.2 quadmillion dataries during the same period. Thanks to the wise financial policies maintained by Lord Treasurer Burghley and by Sir Walterius Mildmay, the Minister of Finance, the Imperial Treasury enjoyed a healthy budget surplus of more than €6 quadmillion dataries. The total GCP of the Empire now surpassed €1.2 hexmillion dataries, more than six times the figure which had been seen at the beginning of the century. The Imperial Household was the largest creditor in the Empire, and the Empress herself was the wealthiest personage, with a net worth estimated in excess of €30.3 quadmillion dataries. Trade in the Empire's diverse regions had intensified considerably, being aided by the addition of more than 300,000 additional light years of hyperlanes in the two decades since Aurelia's accession to the throne. The Trans-Angelina Transit Route (formerly the Haynsian Slave Highway) now offered an easy route of access from the Caladarian Galaxy to the Haynsian Despotate and to the Empire's newly acquired Scottrian Provinces.
    • Imperial commerce with the nations of the Amulak Spiral, in particular with Masacavania and Pruthia, had thrived. The following decade was to see numerous commercial treaties being signed by the Empire with its Amulak neighbors, which served to further strengthen commerce. And finally, the Empire's dominions enjoyed such stability that it was remarked that a man could "travel from one end of this galaxy to another without any fear of molestation." Piracy and illicit transit, particularly in the Wild Marshes and the Galactic Borderlands, had been virtually eliminated by the Imperial authorities, and the hyperlanes were the safest they had been since the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius, more than two centuries earlier. The Imperial Almitian Church enjoyed relative stability, although the Unction Reformists continued to clamor for further reforms in the church services and curriculum. Traditionalists continued to enjoy considerable toleration, and most of them remained steadfastly loyal to the Empress and her government (in spite of the vain dreams of Scottrian Queen Mariana, Spamalkan Ambassador Mendoza, and their confidantes). In her New Year's proclamation of January 1, 1780, Aurelia declared that the "spirits of my most imperial grandfather and father, and of all my predecessors on this sanctified throne, are appeased with the knowledge that the realms for which they sought so much for enjoy such great tranquility."
  • January 5-In spite of her optimistic proclamation to her subjects concerning the commencement of the new year and the new decade, the Empress Aurelia possessed, at least in public, a sour and hostile mood. Aurelia knew that by displaying her anger with her councilors, and expressing her concern for the Duke of Anjou, she could keep her subjects off-balance as regards to her final intentions. The Empress continued to acknowledge privately that the marriage with Anjou could not proceed, and she told Chancellor Walsingis that "the Lord Almitis has deemed that this matter shall not proceed thenceforth." However, the Empress could not let her other ministers and courtiers, even Lord Treasurer Burghley, know of this. Aurelia continued to criticize Lord Knollysis, declaring that the behavior of his daughter had disgraced the honor of his family and that the Vice-Chamberlain was not qualified to offer advice to her. On this day, January 5, 1780, she had a verbal argument with Leicesterius in the Presence Chamber; according to Ambassador Mendoza, the "confrontation was marked with adversity and bitter words on both sides, with the Empress declaring that she could not countenance the behavior of subjects who did not support their lawful sovereign." Aurelia even reminded Leicesterius of what happened to his father and grandfather, and said that he should not "be so bold as to bring such a punishment upon his own person." The public relationship between the Empress and the Earl of Leicesterius would remain strained through the next three months, as Aurelia's behavior was motivated in part by her continuing anger over Leicesterius's marriage with her cousin. On January 11, however, Aurelia defended the conduct of her Privy Council before Ambassador Mauvaire, castigating him when he said that Leicesterius and others had been placing "religion as the only obstacle for a marriage."
  • February 1-The deadline for the Empress Aurelia to grant official authorization for the final treaty negotiations came and passed without the Empress making any move. Ambassador Mauvaire had, during the preceding four days, sent three inquiries to the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs, requesting information about "Her Imperial Majesty's honorable intentions" and whether or not she intended to "honor" the Duke with the news that they would soon be united in the bonds of matrimony. Assistant Minister Sir Rudomentus Sadielus, on his part, was ordered by Chancellor Walsingis to do nothing, and he did not respond to the Ambassador's requests. Anjou, who was then at Nice with his brother and the Franconian Court, was informed by Simier that Aurelia had not announced her intentions as regards to the conclusion of the marriage, and that "she has not ventured to show any further public favor to my Lord at the Imperial Court." He, however, remained hopeful, and continued to conduct a vigorous correspondence with the Empress. In one of his communiques, sent on February 4, 1780, Anjou implored the Empress to treat Stubbia and Pageria with kindness, so that he, for the "greater benefit of our union", might be seen as a just prince. This, however, did not move the Empress into making any public declaration on her intentions, and all at the Imperial Court remained in suspense of the actions that she was now going to take. On February 15, Ambassador Mendoza learned from his confidantes in the Imperial Household that the Empress had confided to Lord Burghley that she was between "Scylla and Charbydis" (these being two characters from ancient Brethalian myths). Burghley then observed to the Empress that "I believe that Your Majesty is disinclined to marry, either of your own disposition, or by persuasion of others whom you trust." The Empress, however, would neither confirm or deny it, even when he pointed out, that, if she did not intend to marry, she had to inform Anjou immediately. Aurelia's actual intention, however, was to keep Anjou in ignorance of her true feelings, and she did not pay heed to the warnings of her councilors that the Franconian Government would be insulted by the Empress's procrastination.
  • February 28-
    • By February 1780, the events in the Durthian Rebellion had proceeded further. Following his appointment as Governor-General of the Durthian Duchies in October 1778 (upon the death of Don John of Austarlia), Alexander Farnese, the Duke of Parma had immediately taken measures in order to attempt the consolidation of Spamalkan control over its remaining strongholds. Bourges and Namurs, which had remained under the control of Spamalkan forces, were fortified by the Governor-General in early December of that year. On December 9, 1778, Parma repelled a offensive by the forces of the Count of Bossou against Douai and Orchies in the Battle of Jembloux. Artvelde, Rooosevelt, and Harlem were then besieged and conquered in turn by Parma's forces (December 11-22, 1778), strengthening the Spamalkan position in the vicinity of Brussels. Parma then sought to begin the process of luring the Southern Duchies back to their loyalty towards the Spamalkan Government and their imperial master, Emperor Philicus. On December 25, he was able to secure the attendance of the "Malcontents", Durthian nobles in the Southern Duchies who were growing increasingly wary of Prince William and his policies, to attend a conference on Arras, which was a major Spamalkan supply base and spaceport. After several days of negotiations, the Union of Arras had been signed on January 6, 1779. By the terms of this agreement, the Wallonian Provinces agreed to acknowledge the authority of Emperor Philicus I as Grand Duke of Durthia and Burgundy, and to "renounce the claims of any traitor or usurper who shall counteract these claims." As a result of this agreement, Parma secured Spamalkan dominion over Hainaut, Artois, Lilloise Flanders, Cambrai, Namur, Luxembourg, and Nimburg. The conditions attached to the Union were that no garrisons of foreign troops should be installed in the territories thus designated; that the Durthian Council of State should be organized in accordance with the procedures that had existed at the abdication of Char'va I; that two-thirds of the Councilors should be elected by the Durthian Provinces; that all privileges granted to Durthian subjects should be confirmed; and that Durthian Heathenism continue to be maintained in the Duchies by the authorities of the Spamalkan Emperor. In response to the Union of Arras, Prince William of Orange sought to unite the rebel Durthian Duchies into a formal confederation.
    • On January 23, 1779, this was provided for in the Union of Utrecht. By the terms of this agreement, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Groningen all agreed to formally unite as the Durthian Confederation of Provinces; to abjure the claims of Spamalkan control over "all Durthian customs and traditions"; and to recognize the States-General and the Stadholder (Prince William) as the highest authorities of government. They did not completely denounce Philicus as Emperor at this point, but the establishment of the Union served to further weaken Durthian ties to the Spamalkan Empire. In February 1779, Brabant and Flanders joined the Union; they were followed by Amersfroodt, Ypres, Antwerp, Breda, and Brussels by August 1779. And then, on February 4, 1780, Lier, Bruges, Ghent, and Friesland joined the Union. Parma was, however, by this time planning for his offensives into the rebellious Northern Duchies, using the loyalist Southern worlds as his strongholds. Empress Aurelia of Laurasia, on her part, continued to ignore the flow of Laurasian mercenaries and financial aid to the Durthian Confederation. However, she was now showing more sympathy for the Durthian cause. In this policy, the Empress found support from Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley, who both considered it essential that the Empire restrain Spamalkan influence in the Durthian Duchies. Therefore, on February 28, 1780, the Empress formally signed a public declaration of sympathy for the Durthian Confederation. In this declaration, Aurelia acknowledged that the "honorable Lords of the States-General seek only to maintain their prerogatives and their rights in the face of undue oppression by authorities repugnant to them" and that "they do not bear in their minds rebellion against a sovereign who bears only the utmost concern for their interests." The Empress urged her Spamalkan counterpart to treat with the Confederation "kindly" and to offer them the same terms as had been offered to the Southern Duchies.
    • She now worked to obtain similar declarations from the other powers on the situation in the Durthian Duchies, thereby indicating to the Emperor of Spamalka the full extent of disapproval to his policies there. On April 8, 1780, Doge da Ponte of Haxonia, after engaging in a series of negotiations with the Imperial Laurasian Government, issued a similar declaration relating to the Durthian Question, expressing his strong disapproval for Spamalkan actions and reminding them of the terms of the Concordats of 1743 and 1756, by which they had pledged to respect the integrity of the Durthian States-General, Durthian autonomy in religious and economic affairs, and the rights of Durthian subjects to control over their own lives, properties, and businesses. Grand Duke Ivan IV followed, on April 19, and on July 9, 1780, King Georg III of Vendragia issued a diplomatic memorandum to the Court of Madrid, defining Spamalkan rights in Durthia in accordance with the Durthian Constitution of 1670. King Hensios III of Franconia was more reluctant, but he too, issued his own declaration of sympathy in September 1780. In May 1781, Pru'a IX would accede to the Laurasian declaration, and in October, so would Austarlia under Joseth II. The Grand Duchy of Tuscany, in November 1782, would be the last major state to issue a declaration of sympathy for the Durthian States. The Marasharite Empire alone, under Abdulahamid II, refused to pursue such a policy; this would be remembered by Philicus in time. All of this only convinced Philicus more that Aurelia was meddling unduly in matters beyond her concern. Prince William, on his part, continued to hope that the Empress of Laurasia would switch to a policy of active support for his arms. On March 5, 1780, Philicus officially proclaimed William, as well as his sons Maurice of Nassau and Philip William traitors.
  • March 13-The Empress Aurelia, who continued to proclaim to her courtiers at the Imperial Court and to the Privy Council that she held a "genuine and sincere love for Monsieur, and for all of the noble traits of his personality", continued to conduct a vigorous and extensive correspondence with the Duke. Beginning on March 13, and continuing for the next three months, the Empress sent the Duke a series of communiques, which seemed, to any observer, to be the product of a "star-crossed lover; of someone who has great concern for their beloved, and must express this concern even though they cannot reach them" (these being the words of Lord Treasurer Burghley). Aurelia's very actions in sending these communiques to Anjou, however, were to cast off the public impression that she was still interested in pursuing the marriage and that she had the concerns of any woman who "wished to find, for themselves, solace in the company of a male personage." They were also intended to be the means by which Aurelia could slip herself out of her commitments to the Franconian Government. Indeed, in the communiques, Aurelia skillfully implied that although each should renounce the other, since her people would object to the Duke being allowed to adhere to the customs of his traditional faith, time would be needed to allow for her to convince her subjects of the benefits of the marriage. Constantly, she praised the "firm rock" of the Duke's constancy and his ardent devotion to her, and managed to blame the delays in negotiations upon the Franconian Government, in particular upon King Hensios III and the Estates-General. On March 21, Aurelia declared to Anjou that "prudence has dictated that our souls are meant to be united"-to her, the major point of contention was when the marriage could take place. The Empress continued to profess her love for the Duke to Ambassador Mauvaire, and wore his jewels in order to prove it. She often tucked a pair of gloves whom the Duke had provided her, and would take them out, kissing them constantly throughout the day. On March 29, the Empress even subjected the Ambassador and the Imperial Court to a reading of all the communiques and public notes Anjou had sent her, acting with such warmth and feeling that the Duke gained the impression that she was trying to "trump up" those who had opposed the marriage. All of this was pretence, intended to keep the Franconians happy. Although the Empress had come to terms with the fact that she could never marry Anjou, she decided to keep her councilors guessing. Even Chancellor Walsingis, with whom Aurelia had shared her doubts, was still half-convinced that the Empress was acting in a duplicitous manner, and leading him into believing that she would not marry only for her own benefit. In a letter to the Earl of Jadia on April 4, the Chancellor declared that "If Her Majesty continues with this game of prevarication and of manipulation, then it will be made plain to all that she only seeks to exploit this whole situation for her own personal benefit." Burghley himself was distressed by the Empress's behavior.
  • April 12-
    • By April 1780, new and wider diplomatic developments were transpiring beyond the Imperial Court on Laurasia Prime. In particular, these developments concerned the Empire's "Marasharite Question"; its recent conquest of the remaining territories of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria; and the continued entanglements with Franconia, Spamalka, and in the Durthian States. The sudden collapse of Scottria in 1778-1779, as a result of both Morton's Civil War and the War of Drury's Intervention, had resulted in the extension of Laurasian authority into the Angelina Spiral. Morton himself, who had submitted himself in such an abject manner to the Empress Aurelia's military commanders, had been permitted to retire to his estates on Carlisle in January 1780, and allowed to retain all titles, dignities, and honors which he had held during the lifetime of the Scottrian State. At the same time, however, Field-Marshal Sir Demetrius Rumanstevius (he had been officially raised to the gentry by the Empress Aurelia in 1777), who had been appointed as Military Governor of the Scottrian Homeland Territories, pursued, on the orders of the Imperial Laurasian Government, a rigorous policy of Imperialization and confiscation. Mar, who had so resisted the Laurasian forces, was deprived of all of his estates and imprisoned at the Edianian Fortress on January 19, 1780; he would die there on January 5, 1795, at the age of 37. Of the nearly 2,000 Scottrian nobles and magnates at the time of Scottria's final absorption in 1779, nearly two-thirds would be deprived of their titles and estates, which were now redistributed to favorites of the Imperial Laurasian Court and to prominent personages among the Laurasian nobility. The Earl of Hannah, for example, became Earl of Glencairn; the Duke of Briannia became Earl of Rothes; and Mar's old position was now assumed by the Earl of Goldaria. This process would continue throughout the early 1780s, and by 1784, nearly 70% of all Scottrian estates and noble properties would be in the hands of the Laurasian nobility. The application of Laurasian law and administrative practices would proceed apace; the decrees of November 1, 1780 and June 2, 1781, would reorganize the territories of the former Celestial Kingdom of Scottria into the Edianian, Dumbarton, and Branxholme Governorates. Ediania itself became the capital of the Edianian Governorate, and the center of Laurasian authority in the Scottrian realms. Scottrian was relegated to status as a secondary language, although the autonomy and privileges of the Scottrian Congregations was confirmed by the Empress. Laurasian confiscations of Scottrian noble properties, however, would prove to rouse tensions in those regions later on in the decade.
    • It is important to note the effect that the conquest of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria had on the Laurasian Empire's position vis-à-vis the Marasharite Empire, Haynsian Despotate, and the Empire's fellow neighboring states in the Amulak Spiral. The two former powers, in particular the Haynsian Despotate, saw the intensification of the Laurasian presence on their frontiers. The Despotate now shared a 30,000 light-year boundary with the Laurasian Empire in the Angelina Spiral, and also saw Laurasian territories facing it from the Galactic Void and the Trans-Angelina Transit Route. This therefore multiplied the Laurasian pressure on the Despotate's frontiers, and assured the Empress Aurelia greater ease of action in interfering with the Despotate's affairs. The Marasharite Empire under Abdulahamid II, on its part, now professed itself to be alarmed by Laurasian territorial ambitions in the Angelina Spiral. Although the Marasharite Emperor and his Grand Council understood that war would not be an option at this juncture, they were nevertheless motivated towards instigating a reorganization of their Empire's military forces, in light of any future Laurasian moves. And finally, as regards to the powers of the Amulak Spiral, reactions were mixed. Pruthia, still under the rule of Pru'a IX (who was nearing his 40th anniversary on the throne and was already the longest-tenured senior monarch of the eighteenth century), was theoretically allied to the Laurasian Empire. The Treaty of Berliania III had been renewed at Konigsberg by delegations of the two governments on April 19, 1777, and extended to last until April 1, 1788. Laurasian relations with Pruthia, however, had weakened, and Pru'a was becoming increasingly anxious at his Laurasian counterpart's aggressive moves. The Empress's interventions into the affairs of the Haynsian Despotate, and her conquest of Scottria, seemed to Pru'a to be "unreasonable excesses". Although the Pruthian Emperor was too practical to risk jeopardizing the arrangements with the Imperial Court, he was nevertheless no longer as willing as before to lend his support to Aurelia. Aurelia, on her part, remembered how Pruthia had refrained from providing direct military aid in the Dejanican-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the War of the Bar Confederation, and believed this to have been a violation of alliance arrangements. The Empress was, in any case, now being pulled more and more towards the direction of establishing positive relations with Franconia and Austarlia. Franconia's marriage negotiations with Laurasia, and its contempt of the Scottrian cause, have already been noted. What is interesting to note is the Holy Austarlian Empire's views on its fellow galactic power.
    • By 1780, the Austarlian Emperor Joseth II had himself become more attuned to the idea of establishing a more positive relationship with the Laurasian Empire. This was in the aftermath of the War of the Bavarian Succession (1778-1779), which had pitted Pruthia and Austarlia in their third, and final conflict, during the reigns of the two rival monarchs Pru'a IX and Mar'va Tarvania. That war had been sparked by the death of the last Wittelsbach Duke of Bavaria, Maximilian Joseph, on December 30, 1777. Bavaria had been a protectorate of the Austarlian Empire since 1521, and Joseth, considering it within his rights as suzerain, sponsored one of his dependents, Char'vak Theodore, Elector of the Palatinate, as the next Duke of Bavaria. The claim of Char'vak II August, Duke of Zweibrucken, was supported by Pru'a IX, who sought to pry Bavaria from Austarlian hands and feared Joseth would seek to incorporate it directly into his realms. The ensuing war, which erupted in July 1778, had lasted for nearly a year before its conclusion by the Treaty of Teschen on May 13, 1779. As a result of this treaty, Char'vak Theodore was acknowledged as the new Duke of Bavaria by all parties, on the condition that he was to be succeeded by Char'vak II August upon his death (the Elector had no children). Austarlia was allowed to acquire the Innveritel Belt, a 5,000-light year corridor extending near the Austarlian Province of Salzburg. Pruthia, on its part, secured succession rights to the margarviates of Ansbach and Bayreuth, and incorporated Saxonian Silerwin.
    • The Empress Aurelia, distracted by events in Haynsia and Scottria, remained benevolently neutral in this conflict, although her sympathy for Joseth was plain. Joseth therefore, who was now assuming more and more authority in light of his mother's physical and mental decline, saw Laurasia as a potential ally. And both he and Aurelia were now conceiving in their minds a more ambitious project: the so-called "Marasharite Plan". As early as 1771, whilst the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War was still ongoing, the Empress Aurelia had shared with Burghley and Leicesterius the idea that Laurasia cooperate with "some willing power" in the Amulak Spiral to bring about the termination of the Marasharite "menace". Over the course of the preceding seven centuries, the Marasharite Confederation (and Empire) had become involved in wars with every major power of the Amulak Spiral, and with Laurasia, Scottria, and the former states in the Galactic Borderlands/satellite galaxies. This had resulted in the hostility of other major powers towards the Marasharites, who were loathed for their martial religion and their system of governance. Aurelia believed that a power such as Haxonia or Austarlia, each of whom had suffered in particular from Marasharite aggressions, would be willing to ally with Laurasia against them. Burghley, however, advised on caution, and the Empress kept to her war goals in the Marasharite War. By the late 1770s, however, the question had become a major point of contention for her and her advisers. Ioannis Varkais, a young Grecian nobleman who had fought with the Laurasian forces at Navarino and Chesma in 1770, and had participated in the Aegyptiania Revolt, had arrived at the Imperial Court in 1777. The Empress Aurelia had agreed to grant him an audience, during the course of which he communicated to her his designs for a potential partition of Marasharite territory and the restoration to independence of the Grecians and other species.
    • Varkais, who denounced the Marasharite Empire as a "state of reprehensible barbarians, the likes of which are loathsome to all galactic peoples, and infamous in the memories of our collective Gods", proposed that a revived "Neo-Byzzarian Empire" could be established in the Grecian Provinces and the Great Tesmanian Cloud. This empire, whose capital star system would be Topacia (formerly Byzzaria Prime before the Marasharite conquest of 1453), would sign a treaty of alliance with the Laurasian Empire and with other "friendly" powers in the Amulak Spiral, and would be obliged to allow for complete Laurasian intercourse with the Amulak Spiral. The Laurasian Empire itself was to acquire the Haynsian Despotate and the Southern Ochanian Provinces, with the strongholds of Jassy, Akkerman, Hadjibey, Kolzuduzha, Turkurtai, and the Trans-Ruse Highway. The Holy Austarlian Empire would recover the Pazak Cluster, Banja Luka, and Olthenia (which had been restored to the Marasharites in 1739 by the Treaty of Belgrade), and would also incorporate the Marasharite territories of Serbia, Ragusa, and Macedonica. Haxonia would be restored to rule of Cyprus and the systems of Rhodes, Lesbos, and Chios, while the Barbary States would become vassal states of the Laurasian and Spamalkan Empires. Empress Aurelia expressed her general agreement with Varkais's plan, and in March, 1778, appointed him to a position in the Diplomatic Service. Varkais eventually enrolled at the Imperial Military Academy of Laurasia in 1779, and would graduate in 1784 with high honors. By the end of 1779, however, Aurelia's views had evolved. Lord Treasurer Burghley himself, who had once advised the Empress to caution on the whole matter, now expressed his opinion for prompt and vigorous measures to be taken to strengthen the Empire's position at Marasharite expense. Chancellor Walsingis himself agreed with this, and at a Privy Council session on January 29, 1780, suggested to Aurelia that she extend an offer of "discussion" to some friendly power. Leicesterius seconded this motion, and proposed that the power to be so considered should be Austarlia. The Empress herself quickly agreed, and by March, 1780, had fully formulated her plans.
    • Joseth himself, as well as Austarlian Chancellor Kaunitz, were kept aware of Privy Council discussions and the Empress's ambitions by the Laurasian Ambassador to the Austarlian Court, Sir Tacitus Anyusias. Therefore, on this day, April 12, 1780, Chancellor Walsingis, acting on the Empress's explicit instructions, sent a communique to the Austarlian Court on Vienna, addressed to the Emperor Joseth II directly. In this communique, which was dispatched secretly over the highest security frequency employed by the Imperial Laurasian Government, the Chancellor informed the Emperor formally of his mistress's intentions and ambitions, and that it would be "to the greatest benefit of both empires if we seek discussions over the potentialities of military and economic cooperation against the Marasharite savages, and the possibility of an alliance to that end." Joseth, when he received this communique, was pleased. Taking the initiative upon himself, and deciding not to inform his mother until matters had been finalized, he responded on April 17, in a communique wired through the Austarlian Embassy in Christiania. In his response, Joseth stated that "my Majesty of Austarlia has considered the boldness and the rudeness of the Marasharite Court towards us, and have come to the conclusion that cooperation between our two honorable, God-fearing monarchies, will bring about a new state of affairs in intergalactic civilization." Therefore, Joseth proposed a secret meeting between himself and Empress Aurelia, so that the two monarchs could "meditate together on the issues confronting our states" and that such a meeting take place within the Caladarian Galaxy's confines. Aurelia was ecstatic when she received this response. She kept in mind that the last time a foreign sovereign had visited the Empire for an official conference had been in 1720, when Philicus's father, the late Spamalkan Emperor Char'va I, had been escorted to Laurasia Prime by her father, Antigonus III. This visit, however, would be in private, and Aurelia could maintain the public facade of retaining her commitments towards the Marasharites and the Pruthians. On April 19, the Empress formally (but secretly) accepted Joseth's request, and suggested the small and obscure Laurasian colony of Mogilov (established just six years earlier), in the recently-acquired Lavellan Governorate, as their rendezvous spot. Joseth in turn accepted this the following day, and he now ordered Kaunitz and the Austarlian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin secret preparations for his visit. On the Emperor's strict orders, none of his subjects or courtiers were to be informed that he would be embarking from Austarlian realms, and the Emperor was not to be escorted by any formal state escort. He would only take a small retinue with him, he declared, and would travel incognito. On April 22, Joseth finally informed his mother of the negotiations and his intention to travel to the Empire. Mar'va Tarvania, whose health had deteriorated yet further, and realizing death would overtake her before the end of the year, offered no objection, only telling her son that he should mind his safety. The Austarlian Empress still distrusted her younger Laurasian counterpart, and believed that Aurelia and her ministers were driven by ulterior motives. However, the Empress decided to allow the negotiations to proceed. On April 29, Chancellors Walsingis and Kaunitz agreed that their two sovereigns would secretly meet at Mogilov on May 21 of the following month. Empress Aurelia, on her part, now prepared to travel secretly to Mogilov, although her entourage was to be larger than Joseth's.
  • May 7-
    • On May 7, 1780, after weeks of preparations, and consultations between the Imperial Laurasian and Austarlian Governments, the Empress Aurelia and selected members of the Imperial Household formally departed from Laurasia Prime for the rendezvous with the Austarlian Emperor Joseth II. The Empress was attended by the Earls of Hannah and Leicesterius; her most trusted ladies of the Imperial Household, including Mistress of the Robes and Chief Gentlewoman Meguilla Parsius; and by a detachment of Gentleman Pensioners and Imperial Marines, commanded by the faithful Sir Christopheus Hattonius. Instead of embarking on her official flagship, the IMS Laurasiana Galactica, the Empress departed on the IMS Tiberia, a smaller naval courier which was less likely to attract attention from prying eyes. The Empress paid brief visits to Durglais, Chancia, Katherine, Sauvania, Massanay, Sassanay, Cibourney, Eric, Giron, Roxuli, and Angelica Minor, although by her command the subjects of those star systems were not informed of her stops. Instead, Aurelia conferred with, and was privately entertained, by the authorities of those star systems (who themselves were kept in ignorance of the ultimate purpose of Aurelia's secret journey). On May 13, the Empress crossed into the Galactic Borderlands for the first time, proceeding by way of the Ba'dai Trade Run in the direction of Lavella. She stopped and paid visits to Pelaski, Kia, Billy Gasis, Billy, Latrice, and Satie, systems which she had not visited (the Empress had announced that her progress of 1780 would be to the Xilanian Provinces and the Dasian Heartland). Aurelia then proceeded into the Lavellan Governorate on May 17, passing through Dejan, Antwone, Ladelle, and Polotsk before reaching the outskirts of Mogilov two days later.
    • This journey had taken her nearly 50,000 light years from Laurasia Prime, and she was near the Galactic Barrier, which had never been visited by a Laurasian sovereign previously (Neuchrus I and Antigonus III had taken a route through the Dasian Heartland when conducting their military campaigns against Franconia). Finally, on May 21, 1780, the Empress Aurelia and her imperial entourage arrived at Mogilov. Mogilov itself was an unimpressive world. As previously mentioned, it had been colonized by the Imperial Ministry of Space and Transportation as a habitation outpost in March 1774. This was not, however, the entirety of its history. It had been colonized and abandoned seven times during the preceding five centuries. Mogilov first was mentioned in Amelianian records in 1267; at various times it was under Cordanian, Donathian, Neo-Iffian, and Scottrian control before becoming part of the Dejanican-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1548. The Dejanican colony of Mogilov, established in 1592, had been abandoned in 1735 during the War of the Dejanican Succession. Archleutan Count von Bruhl, and the pro-Laurasian administrations which followed him, had displayed no interest in recolonizing the star system, and they were, in any event, forbidden to do so by the Dejanican Constitution (which permitted colonization by the central government only on the request of the nobility).
    • Therefore, when Mogilov was eventually resettled by order of the Governor-General of Lavella, the Earl of Jadia, in March 1774, following the First Partition of Dejanica, it was an abandoned hulk. By 1780, the population had risen to 30,000 colonists (in contrast to its highest recorded figure of 900,000 in 1640, during the heydays of Dejanican colonization), as few showed any inclination of moving to such a distant and unappealing star system. Its largest settlement, Baradercellae City, had a population of only 4,000, and much of the planet had been reclaimed by wild animals and plants. It was exactly for this reason that the Empress had chosen the world as the site of her secret meeting with Joseth. The Empress and her entourage lodged at the Governor's House; the residence was so small that extra quarters had to be erected for the Court. Then, at 5:00 P.M. Galactic Standard Time, seven hours after the Empress arrived at Mogilev, Joseth and his small retinue appeared. The Austarlian Emperor had departed from Kalensberg in Austarlian Lodomeria on May 1, and had taken twenty days to proceed, slowly and quietly, across the Galactic Void. He had ordered a Austarlian force to conduct exercises in the vicinity of the Dalmatian Skirts in the Amulak Spiral, so as to be ready for any emergency situation but also to not provoke or directly threaten Laurasian territory. Joseth was greeted by the Earl of Leicesterius at Baradercellae Spaceport, and quickly escorted to the Governor's House. There, in the Private Hall, he met with the Empress Aurelia, flanked by her ladies and by the Earl of Hannah. The Empress greeted him with much civility, and declared her happiness that she was "finally able to meet a personage of comparable stature and prestige to mine own." Aurelia had commanded that the Austarlian Emperor be treated exactly as "befitting a monarch", and the scene now descended of all personages bowing or curtseying in respect whilst the two sovereigns stood and were greeting each other. Joseth on his part, proved polite and formal, but also kind and considerate. In spite of this introduction ceremony, the Empress adhered to her Austarlian counterpart's wishes that his visit remain an official state secret of the two governments, and issued instructions to her courtiers and to the Earl of Leicesterius that under no circumstances was the Emperor's presence on Mogilev to be revealed to the inhabitants of that star system or the residents of the Empire. Instead, during the course of the next two weeks that the Austarlian Emperor resided with the Empress Aurelia and her entourage in the Mogilev star system, he was known by the title "Count Falkenstein", said to be an Austarlian nobleman who had journeyed throughout the Laurasian Empire and had been granted admittance to the Imperial Court. Any who learned of the Count's presence at the Governor's House were told that his visit was confidential and that he was a representative of the Austarlian nobility to that of the Laurasian Empire.
  • June 4-
    • On June 4, 1780, after remaining with the Empress Aurelia and her imperial "entourage" for two weeks, the Austarlian Emperor Joseth II and his small retinue, including his friend and personal confidante, Burgundian Prince Charles De Ligne, departed from Mogilev as swiftly as they had arrived. The Emperor, who was still disguised incognito under the name of "Count Falkenstein", was sent away by his Laurasian counterpart with much good feeling and with prayers, "from the bosom of my imperial heart", for his safe return to the Great Amulak Spiral. Joseth on his part, maintaining public pretenses, "accepted" the Empress's offers of good will on a positive note and declared that "I would be pleased to report to my Majesty the positive results of this conference at this, Your Majesty's Imperial Court." Joseth was then escorted from the Mogilev star system by a secret convoy which had been detached by Commodore Sir Franconius Dracius, who was responsible for ensuring the Emperor's safe passage across the Galactic Barrier and through the Galactic Void. Joseth proceeded rapidly from Mogilev. The small size of the Austarlian Emperor's personal retinue and his mode of transportation (a small commercial freighter) enabled him to make his journey without delay. He reached Martsa, on the outskirts of the Kingdom of Austarlian Dalmatia, on June 12, and from there proceeded back to his capital world, arriving at Vienna four days later. The Emperor's return to his duties at the Austarlian Court was marked with little fanfare; Chancellor Kaunitz had maintained the official explanation that the Emperor had retreated to his private estate, the Palace of Marmary, on Salzburg, for his own "personal comfort and well-being." By this point however, Spamalkan Ambassador Mendoza had learned of the Austarlian Emperor's secret visit to the Laurasian Empire and his meetings with Empress Aurelia through his agents in the Imperial Household. The Ambassador leaked from the Imperial Court on Laurasia Prime (where he had remained), rumors about Joseth's discussions with Aurelia and the "honorable" manner in which he had been received by some of the leading courtiers of the Imperial Household. This had quickly spread by means of social gossip and of the Galactic Holonet, and by the time Joseth returned to Vienna, word of his visit had spread to the nations of the Great Amulak Spiral. Empress Aurelia, when she learned of what Mendoza had done, was enraged and declared privately to Leicesterius that "never a more traitorous ambassador has been assigned to the court of any sovereign than this."
    • The Empress, however, decided not to proceed against him, still not wishing to jeopardize the fragile relations with the Spamalkan Empire. Nevertheless, in spite of Mendoza's secret release of information about the visit to the imperial public, it was, to the Empress and her ministers at least, a triumph. The Ambassador had not managed to obtain details of the specific subjects discussed by Aurelia and Joseth, and consequently, everyone remained ignorant in that respect. During their private conferences, Aurelia and Joseth had discussed about their ambitions concerning the Marasharite Empire. Joseth declared that "ever since I acceded to my throne, in the place of my late father, I have desired to correct the injustices delivered to my state by the Pruthians and the savage Marasharites." This year would be the fortieth since the outbreak of the War of the Austarlian Succession; it had been sixteen years since the end of the Seven Year's War, in which Austarlia had tried and failed to regain Silania from its Pruthian adversaries. Joseth was eager to repair the humiliations inflicted upon his dynasty, his empire, and mother through these conflicts, and saw the means of this through a crusade against the Marasharite Empire. Aurelia, on her part, asserted that the Marasharites threatened "all and benefited none." Therefore, the two sovereigns had agreed, they would conduct a routine correspondence with each other in order to "contemplate" about diplomatic affairs, and would, in the course of time, instigate negotiations on possible treaty arrangements between the two Empires. Joseth, however, told Aurelia that alliance negotiations could not begin until his mother had "departed from the realm of reality": Mar'va Tarvania, to her dying breath, remained hostile to the prospect of a direct military alliance with the Laurasian Empire. Aurelia did, however, secure his assurance that Austarlia would not threaten Laurasian rights to the former territories of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria, and that the Austarlian Government would not interfere in the Durthian Rebellion in a manner "adverse to Laurasian interests." Following Joseth's departure from Mogilov, and the termination of their secret conference, the Empress decided to return swiftly to Laurasia Prime. She sought to finalize arrangements at the Imperial Court for her official progress of the year, being eager to demonstrate herself to her subjects in the Northern Governorates. In particular, the Empress wished to seal her journey through touring the chief strongholds of the Dasian Heartland. She had already visited the major worlds (Briannia, Venasia Prime, Polonia Major, Istantius) in the Core Regions which had once been the capitals of Laurasia's enemies, and those of former conquerors or foes to the Laurasian civilization (Way'tosk, Lacia). Her visit to Karakorum would be to the capital world of that empire and race which held the Laurasians in subjugation for more than two centuries; whose influence, even seven centuries after the Battle of Ugra, still impacted politics and society in the Caladarian Galaxy. Aurelia and her entourage departed swiftly from Mogilov on June 7, just three days after Joseth's departure, and returned by means of the Istantius Rapid Transit Highway and Sauvanian Hyperlane to Laurasia Prime, arriving there the following day. She was greeted by Burghley and Walsingis in the Secret Passageway of the Diplomatic Palace, and immediately proceed to preparations for her progress. The Imperial Chancellory, in a similar manner to its Austarlian counterpart, had maintained the fiction that the Empress had retreated to Gilbertine Palace on Tudoria privately, and had been there during the preceding weeks. Most of the Empress's subjects choose to keep up the pretense, and their attention was soon diverted back to other, pressing matters.
  • June 22-October 30-
    • On June 22, 1780, fourteen days after her arrival back at Laurasia Prime from her secret conference with the Austarlian Emperor Joseth II, the Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court departed from Laurasia Prime in order to commence the official imperial progress of 1780. This progress, which was the first in four years, came to be one of the most extravagant and most lavish of the eighteenth century, with only those of 1775 and 1787 being more memorable. The Empress was attended by the Earls of Jadia, Hannah, and Leicesterius; Sir Tacitus Knollysis; Sir Christopehus Hattonius; Sir Antigonus Sidronius and his son Philip; and most of the other leading courtiers of the Imperial Household. Lord Treasurer Burghley and Chancellor Walsingis, as well as the members of the Imperial Privy Council, remained on Laurasia Prime in order to maintain oversight over the governmental institutions during her absence. Aurelia and the Court proceeded up the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route. Kigonia, Nystadia, Gdov, Durglais, Briannia, Chancia, Katherine, and Ipsus V were graced once more with the presence of the Empress. She was eager, however, to move towards her true goal: the Northern Governorates. By June 24, the Court was travelling northwards along the Istantius Rapid Transit Highway, whom the Empress had just traversed earlier that month. Sair, Berhamia, Istantius, Methauslah, Sheryl, Dennis, Rastaborn, Deanna, Shannon, Wendy, and Coen were graced with the presence of the Empress, in succession to July 2. On July 4, the Empress made a turn with her fleet to the Doraganian Trail, that route blazed by the famous Doraganian siblings in the 2nd century AH to link Laurasia Prime and the Core Worlds with the Kledis Var Region. Along this route, the Imperial Court visited the systems of Konnan, Ipshilion, and Skyler. By July 9, the Empress had turned from the Trail to Abraham, staying there for two days before moving northwards into the Xilanian Provinces. During the course of the next fourteen days, the Empress and the Imperial Court visited Margery, Multan, Lynne, Norah, Satie, Juxles, Orkhan, Simmons, Chapman, and Bingley. The Empress's visit to Norah (July 17-19) was particularly memorable, and she was able to see a simulation of the Battle of Norah (873), in which the Dasian forces of the Great Khan Kublai Khan had subdued the star system. On July 24, the Empress reached Kemp, staying there for two days. She in particular enjoyed the Volcanic Flares of Kemp, which were renowned throughout the Caladarian Galaxy for their beauty. The Empress then visited Ursula, Jin Minor, Boniface, Al-Durah, Alpha Secundi, and Xilania Secondary (July 26-August 8, 1780).
    • At Ursula, the Empress toured the mining facilities of the Douglass Mining Facilities; at Jin Minor, she observed the second stage of the annual Summer Games of Tributes, in which Xilanian personages selected one tribune from each quadrant of the world to compete in a athletic competition; and at Alpha Secundi, she was special guest to the launching of the IMS Burvah in her honor. Xilania Secondary, once the second throne world of the Xilanian Empire, enthralled the Empress. She toured the Palace of Ganghi, the famed Xilanian Emperor of the 3rd century BH; paid her respects to the Tombs of Xilanian Potentates in Muur City, Xilania Secondary's capital; and watched a spectacular fireworks display from the famed Cliffs of Xulu. On August 12, Jin Major was graced by the Court's presence, with the Empress riding in a safari with Hattonius, Sir Philip Sidronius, and several of her minor courtiers. Four days later, she arrived at Xilania Major, remaining there until August 21 and reveling in the entertainments offered. Everywhere she went, however, the Empress heard the legends and the tales about Timur the Devastator. The Xilanian Worlds had not recovered from his devastating late tenth-century campaigns until the seventeenth century, and there were still relics of his ravages from eight hundred years earlier. On Xilania Major, the Empress visited the Monument to the Slain, which had been erected by the Xilanian High Council in 1179 and dedicated to the memory of all "of our species who perished at the hands of the brutal Dasian conqueror." These tales only motivated Aurelia to push forward to Karakorum, and to satisfy herself by a visit to the former capital world of the Great Dasian Empire. Following her departure from Xilania Major, the Empress visited Nandia, Calrissian, King, Morg, Lando, and Horeb Prima. On September 12, she reached Varta, staying there for four days and paying her respects to Vorastis (399-444), founder of the ancient Marauder Empire. After leaving Varta, she proceeded rapidly to the Galactic Frontier Route, visiting Natalie, Tiona, Belaprasian, Adrianne, Abrianne, and Belkadan. While on Adrianne, the Empress received word of the death of Katharina Willoughby, the Dowager Duchess of Sufforia (September 19, 1780). By the time of her death, the Dowager Duchess had become one of the most respected noblewomen in the Laurasian Empire. Her death was received with especial mourning by her former step-child, Lady Didymeia Seymouris, now Duchess of Kendalia. She had been elevated to that rank by the Empress Aurelia on March 22, 1772, shortly after her marriage to Sir Perseus Amaysius. She and her new husband (Duke of Kendalia jure uxoris), had retired to their estates on Kendalia. They had three children: Perseus, named after his father (1774); Didymeia, named after her mother (1776); and Katharina (1779), named in honor of the Duchess's mother and stepmother. It was the Duchess who made the arrangements for her stepmother's funeral (September 26, 1780). Aurelia's friend, Lady Clitonia, represented her at the funeral.
    • Then, on September 22, 1780, the Empress began her journey into the Dasian Heartland. Sernapasia was visited first (September 22-23), with the Empress remarking, upon seeing the tomb of Tamai Khan (753-76), the Kerait Khan and conqueror of Sernapasia, that "he could not foresee that a thousand years later, his species would be merely one of many bowing to the authority of my Empire, and that his lofty goals were doomed to oblivion." She then visited Houston, Tyson, Vandross, and the Oirat Complex. The Complex, after the elapse of nine centuries since its initial colonization under Ogedei and Mongke Khan, was now a string of petty outposts. Having boasted a population of 75 billion during its greatest period of prosperity in the early tenth century, the Complex now had only 50 million denziens. Aurelia's visit to the Complex, nevertheless, was one of great symbolism. She visited the ruins of the residence of the Oirat Khans Batula and Ugetchi, who had been tortured to death by Timur the Devastator in 1005. The Empress viewed the remnants of the Oirat Stockades and the Central Oirat Repository. Aurelia departed from the Oirat Complex on October 1, 1780, and proceeded from there to Elbing, Syr-Daria, Tataria, and Glassia. While at Tataria (October 8, 1780), Empress Aurelia and her courtiers celebrated the seven hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Ugra, which had marked the termination of the Dasian Yoke.
    • Finally, on October 13, 1780, the Empress and the Imperial Court entered the Karakorum star system. The Governor of Karakorum, Sir Andrew Philcus, and his chief officials greeted the Empress with much ceremony. The Empress then retired to the Governor's Palace in Cremnellia, capital city of Karakorum, and stayed there for the next ten days. Karakorum was, at the time of Aurelia's visit, only a shadow of its former self. The world had never recovered from the devastating assaults of 987, 1005, 1141, 1250, and 1682 (by the Longmiran-Nandi Coalition, Timur the Devastator, Attila the Brestord, Uthman of Mellorita, and Emperor Probus) respectively, and in the late eighteenth century, had a population of only 65 million inhabitants. This was in contrast to its apex of one trillion nine centuries earlier, during the reign of Kublai Khan. The Golden Palace of Karakorum, constructed by Ogedei, Mongke, and Kublai, and once the chief residence of the Great Khans of the Dasian Empire, had disappeared nearly eight centuries earlier (after Timur's capture of Karakorum) and there were no traces remaining. The last of the Khan's tombs had been demolished by Attila in 1141, and there was hardly anything remaining of its Dasian origins. Most of the world's few millions of inhabitants were Laurasian and Scanlian colonists, the vast majority of Dasian denizens having been killed or deported in earlier centuries. Nevertheless, the Empress's visit was one of great significance.
    • She toured the Valley of the Khans, now a desert wasteland, and remarked that "here was once the apex of an Empire." The bones of Genghis, Ogedei, Mongke, Kublai, Toghan Temur, and all other Dasian Khans were long since gone, but Aurelia asserted that she could "feel the presence of those Lords in this place." Aurelia then visited the site of the Golden Palace, and ordered for an archaeological exvacation to begin, to uncover anything of the site's Dasian remains. On October 19, the Empress issued an imperial proclamation from Karakorum, declaring that she was "resident in the star system, once the capital of our oppressors, and now one of many in our power." She departed from Karakorum on October 23 and paid brief visits to Theodore, Scanlan, Joyner, Morlan, and Buranti before beginning the journey back to Laurasia Prime. Aurelia finally arrived back at Laurasia Prime on October 30, 1780, after a absence of over four months. She resolved to remain there for the close of the year, exhausted of travel for the time being. Matters however, had continued to proceed.
  • November 3-
    • The Empress Aurelia convened a session of the Imperial Privy Council to the Council Chambers of the Quencilvanian Palace in order to discuss about recent developments with the Anjou marriage project, Durthian Rebellion, and the Holy Spamalkan Empire's territorial expansion. During the Empress's progress to the Northern Governorates and Dasian Heartland (which had seen continued disputes between her and the Earl of Leicesterius, whom she still reproached for his marriage), the Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I had seen his position strengthened, through a series of defeats inflicted on the Durthian Confederate States by the Duke of Parma, and the incorporation of Spamalaka's neighboring state, the Stellar Kingdom of Portugallia. Portugallia, which had been a independent kingdom from 1339, had been a rival of the Kingdoms of Greater and Lesser Spamalka until the late seventeenth century. The reigns of John II (1677-95); Emmanuel I (1695-1711); and John III (1711-47) had seen the advantage shift to the Spamalkan states, particularly after their unification as the Holy Spamalkan Empire in 1696. Emperor Char'va I had waged three wars against Portugallia, in 1721-24; 1727-28; and 1749-51, compelling them to concede commerical and transit privileges to the Spamalkan Government; the Balearic and Avores Star Clusters; and the suzerainity of the Neo-Gamuks of Abdullahaia. John III's death in 1747 had been followed by the accession of first his son Edward (1747-57) and then his grandson Sebastian (1757-1778), who had been only four years old on the accession of his throne. In 1762, by the Treaty of Gujvares, Sebastian's protectors, the Lord Council of Portugallia, had acknowledged the "guardianship" of Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I over their realms. Philicus's first wife had been Maria Manuela, Princess of Portugallia, who had died on July 8, 1745, after giving birth to their ill-fated son, Don Carlos. Philicus therefore considered himself to have a reasonable claim to the Portugallian realms, and sought to lure them under greater Spamalkan influence. Sebastian obtained his majority in 1774, but continued to rely upon his Spamalkan protector for advice. Four years later, however, the King of Portugallia foolishly involved himself in the Mauritanian Succession War. The Sherifate of Mauritania, one of the Marasharite Empire's protectorates, had long been at odds with Portugallia and Spamalka; Sebastian sought to take advantage of the conflict between Sharif Muhammad Abdullah and Abd al-Malik, High Charif of Moroccia. On August 4, 1778, the Battle of Alacaer Quibir resulted in a decisive victory for Abd-al Malik, who died of injuries shortly after the battle. His brother, Ald-Mansur, became the new High Sharif of Moroccia. The battle, however, also claimed the life of King Sebastian, who died in the thick of combat. His death left a vacancy on the Portugallian throne. His uncle Helegag, who was childless, became King of Portugallia, but it was acknowledged that he would not live long.
    • Indeed, his death on January 31, 1780, at the age of 68, surprised no one. Following his death, three factions emerged for the succession. One was that of Infanta Catarina, Duchess of Braganza; another of Antonio, Prior of Canto; and finally, that in favor of Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I. Antonio was acclaimed King at Santerio on July 4, but this was not recognized by Philicus. In July 1780, the Emperor of Spamalka, claiming that he was acting in accordance with the Treaty of Gujvares, launched a sudden invasion of the Portugallian realms; the following month, the Duke of Alba (who remained high in his confidence), crushed Antonio's forces in the Battle of Alcanatra. Don Antonio was forced to flee to Terceira, in the outskirts of the Crone Galaxy, from which he continued his resistance. Lisbon, Portugallia's capital star system, was seized by Alba on August 27, 1780; Philicus's forces then quickly subdued the remainder of the Portugallian Homeland Territories and the Crone Colonies, including the systems of Gaos, Singapore, Malacca, Brazil, the Guianas, and the Angola Star Cluster. Philicus however, did not formally proclaim himself King of Portugallia at this stage. Nevertheless, his effective annexation of Portugallia in such a swift military operation alarmed the Empress considerably. Aurelia was visting King when she was informed of Philicus's actions. She commented to Jadia and Leicesterius that "The Emperor of Spamalka will now be a more formidable adversary than before. His overextension however, will be his weakness."
    • And indeed, there was much truth to the Empress's words. With the annexation of Portugallia, the Holy Spamalkan Empire had cemented its status as the second-largest state of extra-galactic civilization, with the largest colonial empire in the Crone and Great Amulak; only Empress Aurelia's own realms, the Laurasian Empire, surpassed Spamalka in economic, military, and territorial terms. By 1780, the Empire consisted of the Spamalkan Hereditary Dominions, composed of: Lesser Spamalka, Greater Spamalka, Leon, Grenada, Valencia, Catalonia, the Basques; and the Balearics; the Kingdom of Spamalkan Navarre, which included Pamplona; Andorra; the Stellar Kingdom of Portugallia; the Kingdom of Naparia, including Sardinia and the Sicilian Wayward Colonies; the Duchy of Milania, which embraced Lombardy, the State of Presidi, Genoa, Turin, Savoy, Mantua, Parma, Montferrat, and Lucca; Franche-Comte, Lichtenstein and Valduz; the Grand Duchy of Durthia and Burgundy (part of which, of course, was in rebellion); the Electorate of Cologne, including Bonn and Berg; Ceuta, Melilla, Rio Muni, the Exlaves of Morocco, Ifni, the Canarian Protectorates; Timbuctu and Lower Mali; the Spamalkan Spice Colonies, including Puerto Rico, Saint Dominica, the Greater and Lesser Antilles Colonies, Cubania, Florida, and the Durthian Antilles; New Spamalka, with Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, California, Lower Texas, Mexicana, and the Arizonians; the Spamalkan Colombiana, Peru, Ecaudor, Uraguay, Bolivia, and the Argentines; and Micronesia, the Philippines, Maccau, Guam, and Wake. All told, Emperor Philicus ruled over forty-six million inhabited star systems and 169,000 light years of territory, with nearly sixty quadrillion subjects.
    • In light of this, however, the further advance of Parma in the Durthian Duchies proved a double alarm. Zutphen, Guelders, Overjissel, and Drenthe had joined the Union of Utrecht on April 2, 1780; ten days later, Parma began his campaign of reconquest in Brabant and Flanders, determined to subdue those territories back to Spamalakan authority. He stormed Zichem (April 13); Landen (April 17-22); Halen (April 24); and Diest (April 29-May 4), capturing large amounts of Durthian supplies and military equipment at these strongholds. The Duke destroyed a Durthian naval expeditionary force at the Rings of Jodogine (May 17, 1780) and by the end of the month, both Massatricht and Bruges into his hands. Doormai followed on June 4; five days later, Parma penetrated the Durthian defenses of Nivelles and Wavre, with both strongholds surrendering to him without demur. By September 1780, Parma had also stormed Ghent and Tournai; his units were threatening Brussels, Limburg, and Liege. Parma's success prompted the Empress, whilst still on progress, to send on September 14 a formal communique to the Franconian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Parri, in which she offered her support for any "ambitions now followed by His Excellency the Duke of Anjou in those territories." The Empress even invited the Franconian Government to send marriage commissioners to the Empire to conclude arrangements after the end of her progress.
    • To her surprise, the Franconians did not respond. King Hensios III and Queen-Mother Catharina d'Medici were themselves losing faith in the potentiality of a marriage alliance with the Empire, and viewed Aurelia as a dissembler. Anjou himself, however, now had more interest in becoming Grand Duke of Durthia than Emperor of Laurasia, and remained in constant correspondence with the States-General. The Haxonian Ambassador to Parri, Giovanni Bembo, reported that the Duke had seemed to lose interest in the Laurasian Empress, and that he remembered her "repulsive characteristics, such as her domineering nature and her age." On September 22, the Durthian States-General, growing desperate because of Parma's victories, offered Anjou the Durthian Dukedom; it now became apparent that the Duke would demand military support as a condition of marriage with Empress Aurelia. Aurelia reacted with alarm, and on October 14, Chancellor Walsingis sent a further communique to his Franconian counterpart, Vergenness, expressing "Her Majesty's hearty disapproval of your schemes." Anjou, however, ignored her, and on October 19, had indicated to the States-General his willingness to begin negotiating arrangements for his accession to the Durthian Dukedom. In response to this, Aurelia ordered the Privy Council, on the day of the session, to issue an official proclamation expressing the Imperial Laurasian Government's disapproval of "Anjou's hasty measures and his brash adventurism." On November 7, Aurelia reassured Mendoza, in their monthly audience, that she bore "no hostile intentions towards your master of Spamalka." Mendoza himself, however, was now in league with the imprisoned ex-Scottrian Queen, Mariana. Although she no longer had a realm to call her own, Mariana was still conspiring to seize the Laurasian throne, and was willing to resort to schemes to obtain it. This association would become more pronounced over the next three years, and would have grave consequences for both the former Queen and the Ambassador.
  • November 29-
    • By November 1780, the health of the Austarlian Empress Mar'va Tarvania had reached extreme lows. As has been mentioned above, the health of the Austarlian Empress had entered a severe decline during the last years of her reign. These health issues, however, traced back to 1767, when Joseth II's second wife (and first consort), Mar'va Josepha of Bavaria, had caught the dreaded Austarlian hexpox. She had been married to Joseth since January 13, 1765; their marriage had not been a happy one, although her mother-in-law had a great fondness for her. Mar'va Josepha became infected with the hexpox in April 1767, and despite the efforts of the Austarlian Court's physicians, she had died on May 28 at Schonbrunn Palace on Vienna. Mar'va Tarvania visited her daughter-in-law during her illness, and as a result contracted the disease. Within days, the Austarlian Empress had been afflicted with a violent cough, skin sores, and allergies of the eyes and nose; she was confined to her personal chambers, and her condition rapidly declined. For several days, it had been feared that the Empress would die. Joseth eagerly awaited this, hoping at that moment to become sole and absolute sovereign of the Austarlian dominions. Mar'va Tarvania ultimately emerged from the disease on June 14, but would never fully recover her prior state of health. More tragedy had occurred within the family when her daughter, also named Mar'va Josepha, died from hexpox on October 15, 1767 after exposure to her sister-in-law's coffin. The Empress, devastated by the deaths of her husband, both of her daughter-in-laws, and her daughter, took to wearing black for the rest of her life. She excluded herself from state functions, and grew more and more detached from reality. Throughout the 1770s, Mar'va Tarvania suffered from bouts with shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, distress, necrophobia, insominia, and then, during 1780, edema. On September 24, 1780, the Empress made her last testament, confirming her son Joseth II as her sole successor to the Austarlian throne and providing for her funeral arrangements. Exactly two months later, Mar'va Tarvania entered her final illness. Her personal physician, the Archleutan emigrant Dr. Hans Stork, informed the Empress's family and servants that she did not have long to live. The Austarlian Empress asked for the last rites on November 28.
    • The following day, November 29, 1780, Mar'va Tarvania, Holy Empress of Austarlia, died after reigning for forty years. At her deathbed, she was surrounded by her surviving children, including her eldest son Joseth II. As a result of his mother's death, Joseth now became the sole Holy Austarlian Emperor. Condolences for the death of Mar'va Tarvania poured in from foreign courts. She had become a respected sovereign, in spite of Pruthia's seizure of Silania and the Austarlian failures of the Seven Year's War. Pru'a IX of Pruthia himself, who had outlived his great adversary (second most senior monarch at the time of her death), nevertheless sent his condolences to the Austarlian Court. This was in spite of the fact that Mar'va Tarvania had hated him with a passion for the whole of her reign after his invasion of Silania in December 1740. Philicus I of Spamalka; Ivan IV of Masacavania; Doge Nicolo da Ponte of the Haxonian Confederacy; Abdulahamid II of Marasharita; Prince William of Orange and the Durthian States-General; Georg III of Vendragia; Stanis Vorrust I of Dejanica; and Hensios III of Franconia all sent their condolences. The Empress Aurelia was attending a late-night play at the Quencilvanian Palace when informed of her Austarlian counterpart's death. Aurelia declared, in her own condolence message, that "Her late Majesty of Austarlia was an example of a woman who persevered in the face of all the odds." Mar'va Tarvania's funeral, on December 11, 1780, was attended by the ambassadors of all the major states; she was interred in the Austarlian Imperial Crypt on Vienna.
  • December 21-The death of his mother, Empress Mar'va Tarvania, had left Austarlian Emperor Joseth II (now sole ruler after fifteen years of co-occupancy of the Austarlian throne), free to implement his own measures and to pursue his own foreign policy. As previously stated, Mar'va Tarvania had remained opposed to establishing a direct military alliance with the Laurasian Empire. To her death, the Austarlian Empress had little understanding of her younger Laurasian contemporary's behavior and of her dabbling in the various marriage negotiations. The Empress of Austarlia considered unmarried relationships to be unnatural, and this had influenced her view of Aurelia. Joseth, however, had no such scruples. His conference with Aurelia in May and June 1780 had convinced him that the Empress of Laurasia was a sovereign with whom he could conduct business. Therefore, on December 21, 1780, Chancellor Kaunitz (acting on the instructions of the Emperor), sent a communique to the Imperial Privy Council over the Holonet. In this message, Kaunitz declared that his master was dedicated "only to the establishment and maintenance of positive ties with Her Imperial Majesty's government", and that consequently, he was willing to open negotiations over the possibility of a military alliance. The Privy Council reported this communique immediately to the Empress Aurelia. The Empress, realizing that Mar'va Tarvania's death removed the last remaining obstacle to a reapproachment with Austarlia, quickly assented to the Austarlian offer. In his response message on December 24, Walsingis declared that "Her Majesty considers a beneficial relationship between our two governments to be essential to the preservation of galactic security." He ordered the Laurasian Ambassador to the Court of Vienna, Sir Perseus Ligus, to gather information about the state of affairs in the Austarlian Empire and the atttiudes of the Austarlian Court and people to an alliance with Laurasia. Most Austarlians, as had been proven in a opinion poll taken in September 1780 (before Mar'va Tarvania's death), were in favor of alliance with the Empire. This Walsingis used to his advantage, issuing manifestos from the Imperial Court declaring that the two states had numerous similarities and common goals. As the year 1780 ended, the Laurasian Empire was beginning negotiations with its Austarlian neighbor in the Amulak Spiral. The Empress Aurelia was also at grips with the Anjou marriage project.

1781Edit

  • January 1-
    • 1781, the 81st year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire still residing in a relative state of prosperity and tranquility. Over the course of the preceding year, no complications had yet been encountered by the Imperial Laurasian authorities during the process of "Imperialization" which was occurring in the territories of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria. On December 29, 1780, the Empress Aurelia had appointed Field-Marshal Rumanstevius as the Governor-General of the Edianian Governorate, which had now been formally established by imperial decree. Rumanstevius had already proved his abilities in the administration of those territories, and the Empress was confident that the continued absorption of the Scottrian realms would proceed without complication under his watch. This year, however, was to see the eruption of the first of two Scottrian uprisings against the Imperial Laurasian Government. These uprisings would demonstrate that in spite of the fact that Scottrian military power had been smashed, and its independence lost to the grasp of the Laurasian Empire, there were still those with nationalist sentiments in the Scottrian Homeland Territories. The Earl of Morton himself, who was entertaining delusions of grandeur, would engage in an abortive conspiracy against the Imperial Laurasian Government which would result in his own execution. As regards to other matters, the Empress and her ministers had much to be pleased about. The secret conference which she had held with her Austarlian counterpart, Emperor Joseth II, in the previous year had begun the process of establishing a formal military alliance between the Laurasian and Holy Austarlian Empires. The correspondence between the two sovereigns revealed the continuing evolution in their schemes concerning the "Marasharite Plan", and of the terms of the actual military alliance. In September 1780, Empress Aurelia, out of concern for her own interests, and also seeking to strengthen the Empire's overall position, had proposed that the restored "Neo-Byzzarian Empire" be confined to the Grecian Provinces and the Tesmanian Gateways, but that Laurasia and Austarlia would each have the rights to military access through those territories and would be obliged to interfere in Byzzarian affairs "if a threat to the position of Our Majesties arises."
    • The Empress had also conceived the notion of a "Kingdom of Dacia", to be comprised of the Romanian Principalities and parts of Upper Bulgania, whose sovereign was to be chosen by the two monarchs (in consultation with each other), and would enjoy its own state institutions, military, and court. In this, Aurelia had in mind the Earl of Leicesterius, who in spite of his marriage to Lady Laetita Knollysis, still retained a special place in her heart. Joseth, on his part, communicated his agreement with the Empress's proposals, but informed her that these arrangements could "not be made public" until a complete, and utter, victory had been obtained over the Marasharite savages. The Marasharite Plan remained in the background of diplomacy, and this year would see the conclusion of a formal treaty between the two Empires concerning their future intentions. Finally, the Anjou marriage project remained delayed. Anjou himself was now seriously contemplating his offensive plans against the Duke of Parma and the forces of Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I. He wished to exercise the sovereignty of the Durthian Duchies, but sought to secure assurances from the States-General and the Empress Aurelia herself before proceeding any further. This was to form a major diplomatic theme of the year. Nevertheless, in her New Year's proclamation (January 1, 1781), the Empress declared that "The Empire has sought only for the maintenance of a balance of power in the Amulak Spiral, and has through negotiations with friendly powers and assurances of good-will towards His Majesty of Spamalka, refrained from entanglement in the Durthian Rebellion." This claim would continue to be pushed by the Empress during the next four years.
  • January 9-The Empress Aurelia consulted with Chancellor Walsingis, the Earl of Jadia, and Lord Burghley over the Duke of Anjou and the prospects of the Franconian marriage project. Anjou had grown increasingly bolder since he had responded positively to the States-General's offer of the Durthian Dukedom. On October 27, 1780, he had been granted a audience by his brother, King Hensios III. In this audience, Anjou had declared that it would be "to the greater benefit of these Franconian realms if I am permitted to assume the governance of the Durthian Duchies." The King of Franconia at first opposed his brother's moves, fearing another war with Franconia's perennial Spamalkan adversaries. Both powers were still engaged in conflict with the Vendragian Confederacy over the Ameridinian Colonies at this point, and Hensios did not want to inspire an alliance of the two enemies against him. The King was also aware of the continuing Huguenot tensions within his own realms, and aware that interference in Durthian affairs would give his own rebellious subjects impulse. By December 1780, however, Anjou had secured the support of several of the prominent personages of the Estates-General. Franconian Foreign Affairs Minister Vergennes supported him, as did the Dukes of Boulougone and Avignon. On January 3, 1781, the Estates-General issued a series of recommendations to the King, declaring that his brother was concerned "for the greater security of these realms." Hensios, realizing that sentiments at the Franconian Court were leaning towards Anjou's rights of intervention, now sought to revive marriage negotiations with the Imperial Laurasian Government. On January 15, six days after Aurelia's consultation with Walsingis, Jadia, and Burghley, over the Franconian marriage project, Vergennes finally sent a reply to the Imperial Privy Council on the matter. In this message, he declared that his master understood the benefits of "friendship between our two honorable realms" and that consequently, he was authorized to dispatch special commissioners to the Imperial Court to resume negotiations. Aurelia, when she received word of the Minister's communique, was ecstatic. During the course of the next three months, she and the Imperial Court would be absorbed in preparations for the reception of the commissioners. Aurelia, however, was motivated more by securing Franconian friendship then by marrying Anjou. Anjou himself, now incurring debts due to his involvement in Durthian affairs and his schemes at the Franconian Court, proved open to reviving his courtship with the Empress.
  • March 18-
    • The Imperial Statute of Recusancy was implemented by Empress Aurelia (March 18, 1781). During the course of the preceding two years, the tempo of conspiracies in the Laurasian Empire, and at the Spamalkan Court, against the Empress Aurelia had become elevated to a higher pitch. Although the Empire's realms (as previously described above), enjoyed relative tranquility and prosperity, this did not stop dissent from arising among elements of the Traditionalist population. Some Traditionalists, in particular those at Malaria Prime and Almastead, still considered the Empress to be the illegitimate child of the "whore Anna Boleyenia", and feared that the continued progress of Reformism in the Imperial Almitian Church threatened the morals and the security of the entire Empire. In these beliefs, they were encouraged by Ambassador Mendoza, who acted on the orders of Emperor Philicus. Philicus himself, angered by clandestine Laurasian aid to the Durthian Confederates, and the Empress's continued marriage negotiations with Franconia, was now beginning to contemplate a preventative war against the Laurasian Empire. Philicus believed that the realm which he had once been the consort of would continue to assert its position in the Amulak Spiral in a "bold and aggressive" manner, and that the Empress would use her ever-increasing military resources to his detriment. It was therefore in Philicus's interest to offer feelers of sympathy to Scottrian Queen Mariana, and to encourage continued dissent by Traditionalist fanatics against the imperial authorities. Chancellor Walsingis, however, was aware of every Spamalkan move, and he had, along with Burghley and Leicesterius, urged the Empress for months to take harsher measures against dissidents and nonconformists. Aurelia, who by nature loathed bloodshed (except in the suppression of active rebellion against her government), and who had been inclined to moderation, now realized that measures had to be taken to ensure her security and to protect those of her subjects who were not engaged in conspiracy. Therefore, she had, in February 1781, appointed a commission of Synostic and Privy Councilors to draft the terms of a imperial statute to deal with the "recusancy question". This commission was chaired by Sir Miletus Levernia, Archbishop of Iego, and it had proceeded rapidly through the course of its work. The Statute of Recusancy confirmed the toleration of official Traditionalist congregations, and reasserted the Empress's emphasis on non-interference with private worship. However, all private masses and sessions of worship were forbidden, if they were conducted without official notification to the authorities. It now became necessary for all Almitian priests and reverends, regardless if they were Reformist or Traditionalist, to obtain an official license from the respective Archbishop or Bishop of their diocese to perform services for groups of more than ten individuals.
    • Priests were forbidden to offer communion or the sacraments to clients in their own homes unless if they were monitored by local agents. All priests were to reveal the content of their confessions to the appropriate ecclesiastical and civil authorities; no secret pamphlets were to distributed without permission from the Synod directly. A fine of €500 was imposed on any who "willfully disrupt services, festivals, and ceremonies of the Almitian Church; and who, through their actions, seek to incite dissent against Her Majesty or her lawful representatives in the Church." Any person who refused to declare their religious intentions and persuasions to the Almitian official of authority over them would be forbidden to obtain business or transportation licenses until further notice. Any who were reported to have engaged in any "seditious or illegal sermons" were to be forbidden to change residences or to travel without government registration. Defamatory remarks directed against the Empress now became a felonious offense; enforced labor and a fine of 2% of one's income for the first offense, and a minimum imprisonment of five years, along with a fine of 10% of one's income, for the second offense. Finally, the Statute declared it illegal for anyone to cast the Empress's horoscope or to prophesy how long she would live or who her successor would be; such offenses would be punished by enforced labor and fines ranging from 1-6% of one's income. During the two decades following the enactment of this Statute, and leading to the end of the century, nearly two million individuals throughout the Empire would be arrested and indicted on charges of having violated the Statute; 500,000 would be convicted.
  • March 27-On March 27, 1781, delegations from the Imperial Laurasian and Holy Austarlian Governments convened at Invictus Mesura near the outskirts of the Gate Solarian Cluster, for the conclusion of formal alliance arrangements between the two Empires. Invictus Mesura had been the site of a battle during the Wars of the Arachosian Diadochi, in which the Arachosian contenders Tudiya and Naradius defeated their rivals, Regent-General Tikhara and Sargon the Conqueror's mother, Jezebel, in 342. Since that battle, however, the world had wallowed in obscurity; by 1781, 1,439 years after the battle, it had a population of only five million. This was the reason that it had been chosen by the Empress Aurelia. She did not wish for negotiations with the Austarlian Empire to leak out to her subjects, not wanting them to know anything more than what had been exposed by Ambassador Mendoza the previous year. Sir Thomasius Sackvillus, Sir Rudomentius Sadielus, and Lord Tacitus Knollysis represented the Imperial Laurasian Government, with Sadielus acting as the head plenipotentiary of the delegation. The Austarlian Government was represented by Vice-Chancellor Antons Grummich; Prince Le'adus of Hauzelberg; and Immanuel-Kladus, Lord of Carvir. Both delegations had been provided detailed instructions by their respective governments; the Laurasian delegation by Chancellor Walsingis, and the Austarlian delegation by Chancellor Kaunitz. Negotiations would continue for over a month, until culminating in the final alliance between the two Empires. On the orders of the Empress Aurelia, the delegations did not greet each other in a formal ceremony of welcome, and the conference proceeded with the utmost secrecy.
  • April 5-
    • On April 5, 1781, the Franconian special commissioners for the marriage of Empress Aurelia and the Duke of Anjou formally arrived at the Imperial Court on Laurasia Prime. King Hensios III had selected the members of the commission on March 2 of the previous month. They were: the Dukes of Boulougone, Toulouse, Avignon, and Caens; the Counts of Poitiers and Averns; and the Lords of Metz, Strassborg, and Philippsborg. The Duke of Boulougone, who had long been an advocate of a marriage alliance with the Laurasian Empire, served as the leader of the delegation. The Empress insured that the reception given to the commissioners was grand. They were greeted at the outskirts of the Laurasia Prime star system by a convoy commanded by Leicesterius (in his function as Master of the Empress's Vehicles). They proceeded by Inspiter, Volcania, Cagasania, Marsia, the Marsian Asteroid Belt, and the moons of Laurasia Prime in a grand procession, encountering a display of starships along the route. The commissioners then descended onto Laurasia Prime in repulsorlifts, and were given a grand reception in the city of Christiania. From the Galactic Spaceport, they were escorted on a route through the Administrative and Judicial Quadarants, proceeding by the Senatorial Palace, Old Royal Palace, Diplomatic Palace, Fortress of Baureux, Westphalian Cathedral, and then to the grounds of the Quencilvanian Palace.
    • In the Grand Audience Hall, the Empress (attired in a gown of gold tissue), received them regally. Aurelia was flanked by Walsingis and Burghley, her two chief ministers and the most powerful officials of the Imperial Laurasian Government. The commissioners had been conducted to the Empress's presence by Franconian Ambassador Mauvaire, who was a second-league figure in the midst of all this. Boulougone and his fellow personages fell on their knees before the Empress; she graciously bade them rise. They then presented Aurelia with a bundle of fresh Ambroine flowers picked for her by the Duke and a necklace encrusted with diamonds. She expressed her utter thanks to the commissioners for the gifts, and would later write to Anjou enthusing that "the sweet flowers picked by your hands have truly raised my spirits." Following this reception ceremony, Aurelia treated the commissioners to a magnificent banquet which was held in the Great Dining Chamber. The Chamber had undergone a massive renovation in 1777-1778, one of the many construction and reconstruction projects conducted by the Empress throughout her realms.
    • Aurelia had made significant additions to the Quencilvanian Palace, having added more than two hundred rooms, ten pavilions, four observation decks, a new library system, and 20,000 square ft of gardens in the two decades since her accession. Thus, her redesign of the Chamber was in a manner meant to impress. The Chamber's walls were lined with translucent glass windows imported specifically from Paul II, and its roof was decorated with gleams of gold, turquoise, rubies, mother of pearl, and arbquoise (a rare mineral mined only on Narra in the Barsar Regions). Space enough to seat 150,000 individuals extended through the Chamber, and the tables were constructed from mantle of solid platinum. It had cost €5.2 billion dataries to renovate the Chamber. During the course of the next seven days, the Empress treated the commissioners, and the Imperial Court, to a procession of dinners, plays, masques, pageants, a gladiatorial contest, a wild spectacle of beasts at the Circus Maximus, a joust, a grand ball, and massive assemblies of entertainers. The best singers, actors, physical performers, and academics from throughout the Empire crowded the Court; billions were expended in securing the most lavish luxuries, in food, clothing, and goods, for the commissioners and the Court.
  • April 25-
    • After weeks of entertainment and festivities at the Imperial Court, in the course of which Empress Aurelia had successfully imprinted the Imperial Court's magnificence and splendor in the minds of the Franconian commissioners, she and they finally got to business: discussing the terms of the marriage alliance between the Laurasian Empire and the Serene Kingdom of Franconia. Franconian Ambassador Mauvaire, through his contacts in the Imperial Court, was aware of the Imperial Laurasian Government's overtures to Austarlia, which had been a erstwhile Franconian ally for nearly three decades by then. He had informed the Duke of Boulougone and the other Franconian commissioners of his findings, and urged them to convince the Empress of the benefits of a military alliance with Franconia. Boulougone himself, who did not hold a particularly high view of the Marasharite Empire, and was eager to secure the Empress's consent to the marriage, had made it known to the courtiers and the nobles of the Imperial Household that Franconia would not obstruct "any endeavors by Her Majesty's Government as regards to the Marasharite Question." He also sought to affirm his government's support for Laurasian rule of Scottria. When the discussions finally commenced, therefore, Boulougone was confident that he would have no issue in securing the Empress's consent to a speedy conclusion of the marriage. Aurelia, attended by Chancellor Walsingis and Lord Treasurer Burghley, greeted the Duke and his fellow commissioners in the Private Council Chambers. On the Empress's orders, these negotiations were to remain confidential, and the Imperial Privy Council was not to be informed until she had deemed it appropriate to do so.
    • Not even Leicesterius, who had remained opposed to the whole idea of a Franconian marriage, was informed of what now transpired. The Seigneur de Marchaumont, who had previously served as Franconian Ambassador to the Autocratic Pruthian Empire (1774-1779), had been appointed as one of the commissioners by King Hensios III on April 17, when the Lord of Metz was forced to depart from the Imperial Court due to pressing personal obligations. He had arrived on Laurasia Prime the day before Aurelia's first private consultation with the commissioners. Boulougone began by restating his government's assurances of support for the Empress, and declaring that "My masters wish only for your benefit through the conclusion of this marriage alliance." The Duke then proceeded to state that the Franconian Government supported Laurasian ambitions "as regards to Marasharite territories in the Great Tesmanian Cloud and elsewhere", and reaffirmed the King's declaration that Franconia had no stake in Scottrian affairs. Aurelia, however, interrupted the Duke, and informed the commissioners that she was still concerned about the age-gap between herself and Anjou. She declared that if she married the King's brother, dissidents within her Empire would rise up, seeking to "overthrow the authority of my government; to disrupt the stability of my Almitian Church; and to place relations between our two realms at peril." The Empress also declared that while she was grateful for Franconia's assurances of support, she could not risk arousing the hostility of Spamalka through tying herself in marriage to the Franconian State.
    • Consequently, Aurelia declared, she wished to extend the terms of the Treaty of Blois into a "more direct" military alliance between Laurasia and Franconia, and that this could be accomplished without a marriage. Boulougone and Marchaumont were surprised by the Empress's words. They looked in vain to Burghley and Walsingis for support, stating that their government had only authorized them to conclude a marriage treaty. Aurelia, however, declared that she would not hold any further discussions unless if the commissioners agreed to discuss the terms of a non-marriage alliance treaty. Matters now deadlocked, but the commissioners did not depart from Laurasia Prime at this stage. Boulougone and Marchamount hoped that the Empress would change her mind, and they continued to build support within the ranks of the Imperial Court. The Empress however, continued to entertain the Imperial Court. On April 28, 1781, the Empress traveled from the Quencilvanian Palace to the outskirts of the Laurasia Prime star system, boarding the IMS Golden Hammer, which had become one of the most renowned vessels of the Imperial Navy. There, in defiance of Spamalkan Emperor Philicus, she formally knighted Commodore Franconius Dracius and elevated him to the rank of Rear-Admiral. Dracius had returned from his most recent expedition in the Azores Straits in September 1780, having impounded Spamalkan commercial convoys in the outskirts of the Crone Galaxy and prevented Spamalkan commerce with the Angelina Spiral. The Empress brought the Franconian commissioners with her; was entertained by Dracius and his men with tales of their exploits and patrol duties in the Galactic Void; and had Marchamount perform the actual dubbing ceremony for her. In this, the Empress sought to emphasize her ties with Franconia. For the next month, however, negotiations did not proceed due to the conflict between Aurelia and the commissioners over a marriage vs. a purely diplomatic alliance.
  • May 7-
    • On May 7, 1781, after over a month of negotiations, the Treaty of Invictus Mesura was signed by the delegations of the Laurasian and Holy Austarlian Empires. In the introduction to the Treaty, it was declared that "Their Imperial Majesties share the common belief that it is necessary to maintain the tranquility and stability of all galactic powers and to defeat the efforts of savages, barbarians, or rogues to disrupt that stability. It is therefore an obligation of the two monarchies to prevent the expansion of those states which threaten this galactic tranquility, and of those sovereigns who shall seek to impose their own ambitions over the will of all galactic peoples." Consequently, the two monarchs, as represented by their delegations, had come to the understanding that only "a formal military and diplomatic alliance between our two Realms shall prevent the rise of tensions, and shall maintain the strong ties which have previously persisted between our dominions." In accordance with these expressed goals, the Treaty established a formal military and diplomatic alliance between the two Empires. The two governments now agreed to provide each other "unrestrained and unqualified assistance" if one of the respective powers was assaulted by an aggressive third power. It was specifically acknowledged that the Marasharite Empire, a state of "such savages and barbarians who have for many centuries threatened the tranquility and the stability of the peoples of galactic civilization", was the most likely adversary. Consequently, as a result of this acknowledgement, the two Empires agreed to "work towards the ultimate goal of the overthrow of the Marasharite Power and the establishment of a fair balance of power in trans-galactic civilization." The Marasharite Plan was now formally codified in a revised treaty form. The Imperial Laurasian Government agreed to acknowledge the rights of its Austarlian counterpart to governance over the Pazak Cluster, Olthenia, Banja Luka, Belusia, and the Banat of Temesvar, which had been conceded to the Marasharite Empire in 1739. Furthermore, Austarlia acquired "sole recognition, of its rightful title and possession of" the Marasharitan districts of Ragusa, Farther Moesia, Macedonica, Serbia, Bosnia, Herezvgovina, and Kosovo; the Austarlian Empire was also to become the formal suzerain of the Principality of Montenegro, which had been a client-state of the Marasharite Empire since 1395.
    • The Empire also agreed to recognize Austarlian rule over Bukovina, a 10,000-light year borderland region which had been seized by Joseth II from the Marasharite Danubian Princpalities in January 1775. The Austarlian Government, on its part, agreed to acknowledge the rights of the Laurasian Empire to the Ochanian Provinces of the Great Tesmanian Cloud, including Kolzuduzha, Trans-Ruse, Silistria, Ruse, Shumen, Del Valle, Izmail, Jassy, Ochania, Hadjibey, Chesma, the Navarino Approaches, Turutkai, and Varna; to overlordship over the Haynsian Despotate, and the untrammeled right of interference in the Despotate's affairs; and to Laurasian protectorship of the Grecian Provinces, Albania, and Syria. Furthermore, the Austarlian Government agreed to recognize the Empire's acquisition of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria and to abjure the claims of any who attempted to uphold and defend the rights of the imprisoned ex-Scottrian Queen Mariana. The two governments agreed that the Danubian Principalities would be constituted into a Kingdom of Dacia. This realm would have two co-equal monarchs; each of these would be selected by one of the respective governments. Dacia was to have its own government, military, and nobility, but was to be dependent upon the two Empires for its defense and foreign affairs. The Barbary States were to become protectorates of the two Empires, on the condition that they cease all piracy and impoundment operations in the Little Amulak Cloud. Finally, the Marasharite Homeland Territories were to be constituted into a restored "Neo-Byzzarian Empire", the details of which were to be elaborated in the future. The final provisions of the Treaty concerned the two governments' views about the Durthian Rebellion and the Spamalkan Empire's recent expansions in Portugallia. The two governments agreed to "confer, with all of the vigor possible, the greatest moral support for the aims of the Durthian Confederates" and to oppose any efforts by the Emperor Philicus or his commanders to impose their rule over the Durthian Duchies through "excessive" force. It was also agreed that Philicus's acquisition of Portugallia was "adverse to the interests of galactic tranquility" and that the two Empires would utilize all "diplomatic resources at our disposal to discourage future Spamalkan rule over Portugallia." Philicus, in fact, had been formally crowned King of Portugallia on April 17, 1781, and his title had been formally acknowledged by the Portugallian Cortes of Tomar. Both Aurelia and Joseth were therefore, understandably alarmed by the strengthening of Philicus's position. The Treaty of Invictus Mesura was, by the agreement of the two governments, kept confidential. The Imperial Intelligence Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cooperated with the Ministry of Communications and Culture to ensure that no news of its conclusion leaked out to the public. All members of the Laurasian delegation, and officials of the Chancellory connected with the negotiations, were sworn to secrecy, on pain of death. Empress Aurelia officially received notification of the Treaty's conclusion within hours after it was signed, and secretly conferred her official ratification of the document. The Empress told Burghley and Walsingis that the conclusion of this agreement was "beneficial to the interests of this Empire" and that it would begin the process of culling the power and influence of the Marasharite and Spamalkan Empires. Aurelia was also confident that a definite Laurasian sphere of influence in the Amulak Spiral would be established. The Austarlian Emperor Joseth II formally ratified the Treaty of Invictus Mesura on May 16. The two delegations, on their part, immediately dispersed following the end of the conference; the Austarlian delegates had left the Caladarian Galaxy by May 11 and arrived back in the Austarlian Kingdom of Dalmatia on May 16.
  • May 22-
    • By May 1781, the "nationalist" tensions in the Scottrian Governorates, particularly in the Northern Districts, had coalesced into the emergence of a general movement against the "illegal occupation" of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria's territories by the forces of the Laurasian Empire. Although Field-Marshal Rumanstevius had managed to successfully impose Laurasian administrative practices on Ediania and in other major systems of the former Celestial Kingdom, he had not quenched all underlying resistance to the Empire's forces in the more distant Scottrian territories. The Dumbarton Governorate, which was still in the process of formal administrative organization by the Imperial Ministry of Regional and Colonial Administration, now became the region where the tensions against the Imperial Laurasian Government most revealed themselves. These tensions were encouraged by Jamsius Fitzmaurice FitzGerald. Fitzmaurice, who had been born in 1742, was the son of Maurice Mac'Totane, who was a brother of the 12th Earl of Desmond. He was related to the Douglains of Angus and the Stewarts of Lennaxia, therefore enjoying a position of respectability and honor among the ranks of the Scottrian nobility. Enrolling in the Scottrian Army in 1759, Fitzmaurice had then pledged his loyalty to the forces of the Queen-Regent Mariana of Guise. He participated in the Siege of Leith, and gained notice from his superiors for his efforts to repel Laurasian offensives against the governmental positions in the star system. Following the conclusion of the Treaty of Ediania in June 1760, Fitzmaurice was pardoned by the Lords of the Congregation, on the instigation of Lord Jamsius Stewart, the future Earl of Moray. He entered Stewart's service two months later, and became one of his most loyal subordinates during the course of the next decade. Scottrian Queen Mariana was persuaded by Moray to raise Fitzmaurice to the Scottrian nobility in February 1762; he was created Lord Fitzmaurice of Desmond and Laird of Semkhill.
    • Fitzmaurice, however, never forget where his true loyalties lay, and in 1765, was one of Moray's attendants as he fled to the Caladarian Galaxy in the aftermath of the Chaseabout Rebellion. He returned with Moray the following year, and in June 1767, was one of the operational commanders at the Battle of Carberry, which witnessed the destruction of Queen Mariana's position. By 1769, Fitzmaurice had become High Marshal of the King's Defensive Force, and in this position, he was one of Moray's aides at the Conference of Iverness. Moray's assassination in January 1770, however, had begun a decline in Fitzmaurice's fortunes, and in February 1773, he was implicated by his enemies at the Scottrian Court to be in conspiracy with Laird Kirclady of Grange. The Earl of Morton, who had become regent by that point, had Fitzmaurice imprisoned for a time and on April 12, 1773, formally deprived him of his position as High Marshal. It was not until March 2, 1775, however, after nearly two years of supervised exile to Montrose, that Fitzmaurice was compelled to flee from the Angelina Spiral. Finding himself an outlaw, in the eyes of the Scottrian Government, Fitzmaurice sojourned in the Amulak Spiral and Crone Galaxy during the next five years. The Empress Aurelia of Laurasia had refused to grant him admittance, and the Laird was consequently forced to seek supplication from the Franconian and Spamalkan courts. King Hensios III of Franconia was not interested, and in May 1775, actually banned Fitzmaurice from his dominions. Nor, for a time, was Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I. Although the Spamalkan Emperor was enraged by the continued flow of mercenaries and aid from the Caladarian Galaxy to the Durthian Confederates, he nevertheless did not wish to entangle himself in war with his Laurasian counterpart at this point. After December, 1779, however, Philicus had changed his mind, and on May 19, 1780, he granted an audience to Fitzmaurice at the Escorial Palace on Madrid. Fitzmaurice, who had been joined by his distant cousin, Jamsius Fitzgerald of Imokhill, and Edmund Mac'Laren (formerly one of the Earl of Mar's attaches), was able to obtain assurances of support from the Spamalkan Emperor.
    • During the course of the next year, Fitzmaurice was able to gather Spamalkan, Haxonian, Portugallian, and Ameridinian mercenaries and to hold conferences with such Traditionalist Laurasian exiles as Sir Nicolaus Sauvaria and Captain Thomasius Stulderia. In January 1781, Fitzmaurice established contact with the Earl of Morton. Morton, once his enemy, had now decided to align himself with one who could restore him to a position of "preeminence" in the Scottrian realms. Disregarding the fact that the Empress and the Imperial Laurasian Government had been so generous to him, the former Regent sought to raise a rebellion and to disrupt the Laurasian garrisons. Maintaining contact with his former subordinates on Brechin, Ross, Mar, Angus, Dumbarton, and Dumblaine, the Earl had, by May, decided to issue a preemptive call of uprising against the imperial authorities whilst they were least expecting it. Fitzmaurice, however, urged him to caution, but Morton believed that the Laurasian forces were still to scattered to be able to effectively suppress a rebellion. On May 22, 1781, Morton, who had arrived at Montrose and obtained the connivance of that star system's authorities, declared that "no Scottrian man can, in possession of his full senses, condone the rule of a foreign species and foreign sovereign." Within two days of his call, the Earl's hastily-assembled retainers and militias had seized control of Dumblaine, Lochleven, Corgaff, Niddry, and the Scottrian colonies of Monroe and Tumbull. Field-Marshal Rumanstevius, however, reacted quickly and sharply to the outbreak of rebellion. In contrast to Morton's hopes, the majority of the Scottrian populace did not rise in his favor; many still considered Morton to be a traitor, and one who could not be trusted upon to repel the foreigners.
    • On May 28, 1781, the only pitched confrontation between Morton's rebel forces, and an offensive fleet under the command of Brigadier-General Sir Nicephorus Langidus, now Rumanstevius's chief operational subordinate, resulted in a decisive victory for the government forces of the Laurasian Empire. Of the sixty rebel warships, all but two were captured or destroyed by superior Laurasian formations. On June 1, Morton was himself captured, and swiftly conveyed to Stirling. Rumanstevius, who had declared a state of emergency in the Edianian and Dumbarton Governorates, swiftly had Morton arraigned by the Regional Court of Assizes of Ediania. The verdict was not in doubt, and during the early hours of June 4, 1781, he was convicted on charges of treason, les-majestie, and conspiracy. Just five hours after the verdict was handed down, the Earl and former regent was executed at the Central Prison of Starlianian City; by June 11, all of the affected star systems had been recaptured by government units, and the short-lived "Morton Rebellion" suppressed. Morton, however, had managed to conceal his correspondence with Fitzmaurice and his followers, and the Imperial Intelligence Agency was not able to conclusively link the Earl to the exile, who was known to the Imperial Court due to his sojourns throughout the Amulak Spiral. Fitzmaurice himself, despite the fact that Morton's brash revolt had fizzled so soon, decided to proceed with his plans. On June 14, he and Captain Stulderia agreed that they would arrive in the Scottrian Mists from the farther side of the Galactic Void in a month's time; the Laird, whose reputation with the Scottrian people was high (due to his service for Moray and his known patriotism), was confident that a rebellion pushed by his arms would succeed.
  • June 11-
    • The Empress Aurelia, who was still with the Imperial Court on Laurasia Prime, had announced the prior month that her progress of 1781 would be to the Kelvanian and Morganian Provinces, which had not yet been graced by her presence. The Empress's attentions, however, continued to be fixated by two other matters: namely, the Anjou marriage project and the Durthian Question. The Empress was confident that the recent conclusion of the Treaty of Invictius Mesura with the Holy Austarlian Empire would provide Laurasia with a valuable ally in any future conflict with the Marasharite Empire, and would serve to check Spamalkan pretensions. At the same time, however, she was aware of the need of the continued friendly relations with the Serene Kingdom of Franconia. The short-lived Morton Rebellion in the newly acquired Scottrian Governorates, and the information that the Imperial Intelligence Agency had gathered about Philicus's support for the exiled Scottrian Laird Fitzmaurice and his compatriots, had reminded the Empress of the delicacies of the diplomatic situation. In response to this, and her continuing desire to keep both her own courtiers and the Franconian Government guessing about her ultimate intentions, Aurelia declared that she would be willing to move forward in negotiations with the Franconian commissioners. During the early morning hours of June 11, the Empress ordered Lord Treasurer Burghley to summon the Duke of Boulougone and Seigneur Marchamount into her presence. The Franconian commissioners, who were in despair at the Empress's continued insistence of a non-marriage military alliance, were astonished when she informed them that she was now willing to resume negotiations, on the presumption that a marriage contract was to be made. Furthermore, Aurelia informed them, her desire to provide for a "stable succession to my realms" and the continuation of "vested tranquility amongst all galactic powers", had convinced her to cast aside her scruples with a marriage and to enter into "solemn communion with my Monsieur of Anjou."
    • Marchamount and Boulougone, believing that the Empress's change of heart was genuine this time, now proceeded to resume marriage negotiations with Burghley and the Imperial Privy Council. During the course of the next four days, the Lord Treasurer and his fellow associates on the Council, including a reluctant Leicesterius, made substantial progress in the negotiations. By June 17, 1781, a formal draft of the marriage treaty had been completed, and the commissioners now sought to gain the Empress's consent for the finalization of marriage alliance arrangements. Aurelia, however, now declared that Anjou himself would have to personally endorse the Treaty; he would have to make his presence at the Imperial Court and affix "his own signature to this document." The Empress also declared that the three Councils of State of the Empire would review any final treaty, and that the Franconian Estates-General issue its resolutions concerning the conclusion of the marriage alliance. These conditions vexed Boulougone, Marchamount, and the other commissioners, and finally drove them to bring negotiations to a halt. Boulougone informed the Empress that the power to negotiate and sign the treaty had been granted to him alone, and that Anjou was diverted by "pressing commitments" from being able to confer his personal approval to the settlement. Besides, the Duke stated, the King and Queen-Mother were under the assumption that Anjou's prior declarations of "loyalty and love" to the Empress were assurances enough that he supported the marriage.
    • On June 19, King Hensios himself, realizing that negotiations between the commissioners and his Laurasian counterpart were proceeding nowhere, ordered them to return back to Franconia. Boulougone, Marchamount, and the rest of the Franconian delegation made their formal departure from the Imperial Court on June 24; the Empress Aurelia, in spite of the failure of negotiations, praised their qualities and lavished them with gifts amounting to €4.5 billion dataries. Anjou himself was increasingly desperate. Although matters in the Durthian Duchies were proceeding in his favor (as to be elaborated below), he was nevertheless disheartened at the fact that Aurelia was not bringing marriage negotiations to a conclusion. Queen-Mother Catharina d'Medici herself, now more distrustful of Empress Aurelia then ever, made it known to courtiers on Parri, on July 2, that she preferred Anjou marry a Spamalkan princess. The Queen Mother's action, however, now sent Aurelia into a fury of renewed vigor concerning the marriage project. On July 5, the Empress summoned a session of the Imperial Privy Council, and told them that matters "could not remain in neglect for any longer." Walsingis, himself in utter disbelief that Aurelia would marry, was now ordered to depart, as envoy extraordinary, to the Franconian Court on Parri, in order to maintain the fiction that the Empress still intended to marry Anjou. Walsingis departed from Laurasia Prime on July 7, and arrived at Parri two days later. He made his voyage on the IMS Seleucia, one of the few vessels in the Empire equipped with a Class 0.5 hyperdrive. Walsingis was received by King Hensios III and the Franconian Court with much ceremony, but made sure to proceed immediately to the matter of business. He informed the King that Aurelia would be "content to marry, so long as the Franconian King and his brother will devise how the Empire will not be brought into any undue hostilities." Hensios III and Queen Mother Catharina d'Medici, on their part, were insistent that any alliance would be dependent upon the conclusion of the marriage. They, like Aurelia, despised the Spamalkan presence in the Durthian Duchies, but wished to ensure that Aurelia would provide her direct support to Anjou. Negotiations between the Chancellor and the King of Franconia continued for ten days without success; on July 20, Walsingis told the Empress, in plain language, that she would have to make up her mind. If Aurelia prevaricated for much longer, she would lose the friendship of other powers and jeopardize her plans of action against Marasharita and Spamalka. The Empress chose to interpret Walsingis's message as meaning that he supported a marriage; on July 22, she formally summoned him back from Parri. Walsingis arrived on Laurasia Prime (July 25, 1781), just before the Court's departure for the progress of that year. When he did arrive, the Empress questioned the Chancellor as to why he had often "spoken ill of Anjou" and declared that he veered too and fro between opposing positions. In this, however, she was merely joking, and in private, told the Chancellor that she had no intention of moving "forth with the marriage project now."
  • July 26-In the aftermath of the discussions between Laurasian Chancellor Walsingis and the King of Franconia, matters in the Durthian Duchies proceeded otherwise. On September 29, 1780, the Duke of Anjou, supported by Prince William of Orange and his associates on the States-General, had concluded the Concordat of Plessis-les-Tours with the Durthian Confederation. By the terms of this agreement, Anjou had assumed the title of "Protector of the Liberties of the Duchies" and had promised to do everything within his power to ensure that the Durthian Duchies continued to enjoy their ancient privileges and prerogatives in the face of Spamalkan intervention. By March 1781, however, the Duke's position had evolved to one in which he believed that only complete rejection of Philicus's rule by the States-General could secure his own position in Durthia. Anjou had therefore begun pressuring Orange and the States-General to denounce all existing ties between the Durthian Duchies and the Spamalkan Empire. Orange himself now believed that Anjou could become the potential new "sovereign" of the Durthian Duchies, thereby giving the confederate cause legitimacy. He understood that the magistrates and authorities of the Confederation were still bound by an oath of allegiance to Emperor Philicus, and that this had to be renounced. On June 14, 1781, the States-General had decided to officially announce that the Durthian throne was vacant. In its declaration of vacancy, the States-General asserted that Philicus had, through his infringement with the rights and privileges of his Durthian subjects, and his waging of an extensive military campaign against them, abandoned his duties towards the Durthian Duchies. His subjects therefore felt themselves obliged to "sever a connection between ourselves and a tyrant, a situation which had arisen due to our ignorance and our inability to maintain the independence of our species." Following the declaration, the States-General had appointed a committee of four members: Andries Hessels, greffier (secretary) of the States of Brabant; Jacques Tayaert, pensionary of Ghent; Jacob Valcky, pensionary of Ter Goes; and Pieter van Dieven, pensionary of Mechelen, to draft a formal Act of Abjuration. On this day, July 26, 1781, the Act of Abjuration was formally announced by the States-General on Amsterdia, and it was proclaimed to foreign courts and to the residents of the United Durthian Duchies. The Act prohibited the use of the name and seal of Philicus in all legal matters, and of his name or arms in any future issues of Durthian currency. It gave authority to the Councils of the various provinces to issue the commissions of magistrates. The Act relieved all magistrates of their previous oaths of allegiance to Philicus, and prescribed a new oath of allegiance to the States of the province in which they now served, in accordance with instructions to be issued by the States-General. The Act's Preamble justified all of this, and categorically denounced Philicus and his "despotic tyranny over these Duchies." The Emperor of Spamalka himself did not recognize the Act, and on July 29, issued a proclamation from Barcelona, in which he affirmed that all "engaged in rebellion against my lawful authority are traitors." The Emperor now declared the States-General abolished and ordered Parma to redouble his efforts against rebel forces. Many Durthian magistrates refused to acknowledge the Act, and the rebels were able to consolidate their position through making their own appointments.
  • August 4-October 27-
    • Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court formally departed from Laurasia Prime, on August 4, 1781, in order to commence the official progress of 1781. The Empress was attended by many of the leading courtiers of the Imperial Household. Her faithful Leicesterius was one of them. Hattonius, and the Earls of Jadia, Hannah, Darcia, Aeoleon, Winchestrius, Kimania, and Melorkia Major also escorted the Empress on her voyage. Both Burghley and Walsingis remained on Laurasia Prime in order to supervise government affairs during her absence. The Empress now proceeded westwards from Laurasia Prime, conducting a tour through the Laurasia Prime Purse Region. She visited Caladaria, Darcia, Clackimaris, Apathama Vixius, Ralina Vixius, Mercedes, Andriana, Sapphire, Kelby, Chloe, Jenny, Constantine I, Gourdina, Cordasis V, Sauvania, Heuthros, and the Scilian Colonies in succession to August 19. On August 22, the Empress proceeded along the Metallasian Trunk Line into the Wild Marshes. From there, she ventured first into the Kelvanian Provinces. The Empress visited the Kelvanian colonies of Mirren, Hawthorne, Pole, Redmayne, and Melville in succession to August 29. On September 2, 1781, she arrived at Kelvania Minor, one of the most important star systems in the Wild Marshes. By the late eighteenth century, Kelvania Minor had a population of ten billion souls. This was still less than its height of 25 billion, which had been achieved during the eighth century AH. It had been harried by the Golden Horde continually from the 850s to the 940s; in 996, Timur had crushed King Rojan of Kelvania there, inflicting much damage upon the star system. Relics of the Devastator's ravages still prevailed at the star system, and the Empress visited the sites of confrontation between the Timurid and the Kelvanian forces.
    • At the same time, however, Aurelia and the Imperial Court were able to enjoy the spectacular Flames of Anjur, one of the star system's major tourist sites, and to reside at the Kelvanian Palace of Kings. Four days later, the Empress and the Imperial Court departed from Kelvania Minor and proceeded to Kelvania Major; they stayed there until September 11. On September 19, the Imperial Court concluded its progress through the Kelvanian Provinces with a visit to Kanjur, and Aurelia now proceeded into the Morganian Provinces. Her visit to Merlin (September 24-27, 1781), renowned for the legends surrounding its ancient history and the vast Caverns of Tumull, was marked with much occasion. The Empress then progressed through Morgania Minor, Camelot, Arthur, Gawain, Malaegant, and Guinevere before arriving at Morgania Major on October 2. The Empress and the Imperial Court resided here for ten days, with "Her Imperial Majesty being particularly enthused by the antics of the Company of Players", as was reported by the Earl of Jadia to Sir Amynstas Pauletius (the future guardian of the former Scottrian Queen Mariana). The Empress was enthralled by a traditional Morganian joust, conducted in the Courtyard of Lancelot's Palace, in her honor; by the performances of the Morganian "seers" and fortunetellers; and by the performance of a Morganian love play, Berethold, which told the story of a knight and his love, ultimately unfulfilled, for a mighty princess. Aurelia finally departed from Morgania Major on October 12, and she now conducted a triumphal procession through Kelindra, Burris, and Kenda before beginning the journey back to Laurasia Prime. The Imperial Court arrived back in the capital star system on October 21, 1781, and Aurelia now found herself confronted with several other issues: namely, the Desmonian Rebellion in the Northern Districts, the delicate relations with Spamalka, and the Anjou marriage project.
  • August 18-
    • On August 7, 1781, three days after the Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court departed for the progress of 1781, Lord Fitzmaurice of Desmond, Sir Nicolaus Sauvaria, and Edmund Mac'Laren secretly arrived with their expeditionary force at Smwerick. Several days previously, on July 27, Spamalkan Emperor Philicus had authorized for Fitzmaurice and his rebel forces to be provided with two Spamalkan destroyers, the HMS Saldadio and the Pinta, along with 50,000 additional Spamalkan mercenaries. As he expressed in his communiques to the Duke of Parma, and to his own subordinates on the Spamalkan Council of State, Philicus declared his fervent wishes for the success of Fitzmaurice's enterprise against the "hated Empress of Laurasia, that sovereign who has continued to undermine the position of our lawful state, and to expand the power of her empire through aggressive means." Fitzmaurice established his command headquarters on Smwerick, which was located in the outskirts of the Angelina Spiral, and from here, issued proclamations across the Holonet, declaring that the Laurasian Empire's occupation of the "holy and inviolate Scottrian realm" was illegal and that the occupiers needed to be hurled back. By August 9, Fitzmaurice and his forces had seized the Shetland Star Cluster, from which they had a vantage position to strike against Dumbarton and Dumblaine. Corrichie then capitulated to the arms of the rebel Laird the following day, who confiscated the arms of the garrison. On August 12, Jamsius Fitzgerald of Imokhill, who had returned to the Dumbarton Governorate in June 1781 and had spent the succeeding months in recruiting mercenaries for the rebel forces, formally announced that he had defected to the rebellion. He was joined by his brother Brian Fitzgerald, who controlled estates on Niddry, Brechin, Iverness, and Mons Graspicus, thereby giving him a substantial position of leverage in the Northern Districts. On that same day, however, Field-Marshal Rumanstevius, who had been receiving intelligence information about the rebellion at his command headquarters on Leith, commanded Vice-Admiral Sir Willanius Whyrtia, a veteran of the Didymeian War of Franconia, Queen Mariana's War, and the War of the Bar Confederation, to impound rebel convoys in the Galactic Mist.
    • By August 15, Wyrtia had successfully sundered the supply lines of Smwerick and destroyed a corps of Spamalkan and Haxonian mercenaries in the Battle of Sieur, notable as the first confrontation in the history of the Laurasian Empire that Laurasian troops joined arms with their Spamalkan counterparts. On August 16, Carrigafoyle, which had previously been a major small arms arsenal for the Royal Scottrian Navy, was occupied by a detachment of rebel troops under the command of a Haxonian engineer-mercenary, Captain Julian Sisenria. Two days later, August 18, 1781, Fitzmaurice himself attempted to provoke rebellion on Tilleganus. In the ensuing Battle of Clanwilliam, fought between the rebel Laird and government troops under the command of Whyrtia's chief subordinate, Rear-Admiral Sir Feresus Levria, the rebel forces were handed a decisive defeat. Levria destroyed nearly two-thirds of the rebel starfighter squadrons and captured most of the small arms, shield generators, and military armor in their possession. The rebellion also suffered a blow when Fitzmaurice himself was killed in the confrontation whilst attempting to flee on his starfighter. Brian Fitzgerald, who had been formally proclaimed an outlaw by the Empire on August 17, now became the commander-in-chief of the rebellion. Merchinston was stormed by rebel units on August 24, but on August 27, Field-Marshal Rumanstevius ordered Admiral Whyrtia to establish his headquarters at the minor Scottrian colony of Limerick, and to confiscate Fitzgerald's estates on Niddry and Brechin. Whyrtia did as ordered, and by September 3, he had consolidated the Laurasian grip over the Limerick-Niddry Corridor, a 1,000-light year lane which was vital to communications and transportation in the region. On September 7, however, a government offensive against Mons Graspicus was repulsed by Fitzgerald with heavy losses for government units. A stalemate then ensued during the remainder of September 1781, as government units repelled all rebel offensives against Corgaff, Niddry, and Craibstone, although the overextension of Laurasian supply lines hampered effective moves against rebel garrisons. On October 6, Auchindoun was stormed by Edmund Mac'Laren and his units, but they then suffered a disastrous defeat at Marischal two days later.
  • October 23-Two days after her arrival back at Laurasia Prime, Empress Aurelia consulted privately with Chancellor Walsingis, Lord Treasurer Burghley, and the Earl of Jadia (who was once again Minister of Regional and Provincial Administration). In these consultations, the Empress expressed her fears that the Desmonian Rebellion in the Northern Districts might encourage the renewal of hostilities against the imperial authorities in other regions of the Empire, and that foreign powers, encouraged by the dissensions occurring in Laurasia's recent conquests, might take advantage to assert themselves at Laurasian expense. Chancellor Walsingis, who was truly concerned about the Empress's position, had conducted investigations of Spamalkan activities. In particular, he wished to identify any Spamalkan ties to any conspiracies or rebellions against the Empress's authority. By October, 1781, the Chancellor had obtained valid evidence through the Imperial Intelligence Agency that Philicus had provided aid to the deceased Fitzmaurice and his "bands of fiends"; that the Spamalkan Emperor harbored a distaste for his Laurasian counterpart; and had shown himself to be friendly towards the predicament of ex-Scottrian Queen Mariana. The Chancellor now raised all of this in the consultation with Aurelia, and advised her to rigorously enforce the terms of the Statute of Recusancy, so as to prevent "any dissent from arising in the Church or from religious factions against Your Majesty's authority." Walsingis also advised that the Empress continue to declare her sympathy for the Durthians, and that she adhere to the recently concluded alliance with the Holy Austarlian Empire. On October 25, two days after this private consultation, Spamalkan Ambassador Mendoza, acting on his master's instructions, declared boldly to the Empress in their monthly audience of state that "it would be necessary to see whether turbolaser fire will make Your Majesty understand the dangers of the situation you are entangling yourself in." Furthermore, Mendoza said, his master did not condone Laurasian actions in the Angelina Spiral, as regards to the destruction of Scottrian independence and the interference with the Haynsian Despotate's independence. Aurelia responded firmly, and declared that "Your Lordship's effort to scare my person, and to imitate my subjects, will land you only in the depths of the folly of failure." On October 28, Askaeaton and Bannatyne were both stormed by Admiral Whyrtia, who inflicted much damage upon rebel positions in those star systems. At a masque held the following day, the Empress touted these victories as evidence that her forces would not submit to compulsion.
  • November 2-
    • By November 1781, the Desmonian Rebellion in the Scottrian Governorates, and Mendoza's bold threats towards the Empress Aurelia and her ministers, had encouraged the Duke of Anjou to more actively renew his courtship at the Imperial Court. On October 31, Anjou met his brother, King Hensios III, at Gasicgone and convinced him that the continuation of the courtship would enable for Franconia to obtain a firm ally in the Laurasian Empire. Hensios conceded on this day, November 2, 1781, and granted his brother permission to make his departure for the Caladarian Galaxy. Anjou, who had already been making household preparations from the preceding month, wasted no time, and on November 6, he departed from Haarlem, where he had continued to parley with Durthian dignitaries and act as "protector" of the Duchies. He arrived at Houston four days later, and from there made a rapid journey down the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route. On the Duke's request, he was not escorted by a formal Laurasian convoy, deeming it a "unnecessary burden" to his progress. He arrived at Laurasia Prime during the early hours of November 11, and was greeted by the Empress at the Diplomatic Palace with much affection. Aurelia, who had continued her vigorous correspondence with Anjou, ordered for the Duke to be provided lavish quarters at the Palace. She had supervised the furnishing and decorations of the quarters herself, and ensured Anjou access to the services and amenities of the Imperial Household. The Empress also presented Anjou with a golden card, which permitted access to every room in the Diplomatic Palace, and a gem-encrusted arquebus, while the Duke presented her with a diamond ring that had an estimated value of €2.9 billion dataries. Immediately following Anjou's arrival, both fell into their earlier roles of adoring lovers. The Empress would whisper sweet "phrases" to the man that she called her "Prince Frog"; "Little Solidaritan"; and "Little Prince of the Universe".
    • The Empress also told Anjou that he was the most "constant" of her lovers. On November 14, Mendoza reported to the Spamalkan Council of State that "Her Majesty did not attend to other matters but only sought to be with the Duke in his chamber from the morning until noon, and afterwards until three hours following sunset. I have no understanding of what transpires during that lengthy time." Anjou however, suffered panic attacks and bouts of weakness, and it was rumored at the Imperial Court that the Empress visited him every morning with a cup of broth. The Duke himself was heard to say that he longed day and night to be allowed into her bed, and that he would be a fine companion for Aurelia (who was now forty-eight years old). The Empress even went as far, on November 18, to have Anjou attend a service at the Westphalian Cathedral with her, in order to "allay" the fears of her subjects, and at the conclusion of the service, kissed him in full view of the congregation. The following day, Mendoza informed Emperor Philicus that the "Franconian Ambassador [by then the Sieur de Framount] and all of my Lordship of Anjou's entourage look upon marriage as an established fact. The people of Laurasia Prime, however, scoff at it, giving their firm assertion that the Duke is only after financial profit for his own person. It is certain that the Empress will do her best to avoid offending him, and to pledge him in the affairs of the Durthian Duchies, in order to drive his brother into an open rupture with Your Majesty, which is her great object, while she keeps her hands free and can stand by, turning her attention to the affairs relevant to her own realms."
  • November 22-
    • By the time of Mendoza's communiques to Spamalkan Emperor Philicus and his ministers concerning the "indiscretions" at the Imperial Court, Anjou himself had become concerned at Aurelia's failure to make a public declaration of her intentions towards him. Mendoza himself had further reported that "when the Empress and Anjou are alone together, she pledges herself to him as far as conscience will allow, and as much as any woman can to a man, but that she would not have anything stated publicly." The Empress was also demanding to Ambassador de Framount that the King of Franconia provide for Anjou's expenses at the Imperial Household. On November 22, 1781, knowing that the Duke's patience was beginning to wear thin, Aurelia staged an astonishing charade for his benefit. According to Ambassador Mendoza, as she walked with him in the Antigonid Gardens, with Leicesterius and Chancellor Walsingis in attendance, Ambasosador Framount came and said that he wished to communicate to the King "Her Majesty's solemn intentions as regards to his brother". Aurelia replied that "You may say this to His Majesty: that the Duke of Anjou shall be my husband" and at that moment, she turned to Anjou and kissed him directly, giving him a expensive €1.5 billion turquoise ring as a pledge. Anjou gave her a ring of his own, and shortly afterwards, the Empress summoned her ladies and gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, repeating to them in a loud voice, in the Duke's presence, what she had previously said. Aurelia's announcement now caused a sensation both throughout the Empire and at the courts of foreign powers. When William of Orange was told that the Empress of Laurasia had publicly accepted Anjou as her husband, he ordered for the citizens of Antwerp to celebrate "this joyous circumstance". Pru'a IX of Pruthia, who still maintained a correspondence with his Laurasian counterpart, displayed caution; Joseth II of Austarlia expressed his high hopes for a potential marriage.
    • The Duke himself was overjoyed, but Leicesterius and Hattonius, along with many of the Empress's servants, staged a melodramatic display of protest through tears and bewailing. Some courtiers expressed their joy; others could not find words; and yet others openly mourned. Lord Treasurer Burghley, on his part, who was bedridden with an attack of feral gout, offered his thanks to the Lord Almitis. Later, Aurelia would claim that "the force of modest love in the midst of amorous relations" had led to her to disclose more than she intended. Nevertheless, according to the customs of the Imperial Court, the Empress had just pledged herself to a formal betrothal. That night, Aurelia could not sleep, as her ladies continued to express their "fervent adversity to this question concerning Her Majesty's affairs." Aurelia herself now regretted her words, and anticipated that Hensios would refuse the terms sent by the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which would allow her to withdraw her promise. If this did not happen, the Empress would make additional demands, such as the restoration of Boulougone and even the cession of Calais and Gasconia. If this did not work, Aurelia would submit the matter of question to a special commission of her subjects and officials, who would surely reject it. The following morning, November 23, Aurelia told Anjou that she could not endure any more such nights, and that she had arrived at the conclusion that she could not marry him at that time. She had to sacrifice her own happiness for the welfare of her subjects, even though her great affection for him had not diminished. The Duke professed to be sad and disappointed, but after having had time to reflect, he concluded that he could exact other concessions from Aurelia that did not involve marriage. On November 26, Philicus, alarmed by the Empress's apparent genuine intention of marrying Anjou, offered to ignore the occurrences of prior diplomatic conflict between the two Empires, and the raids of "freebooters" from the Caladarian Galaxy in the Galactic Void. He even declared that he would be willing to renew the Laurasian-Spamalkan alliance of 1757-59. Aurelia, for the time being, decided to accept Philucus's assurances, though she warned the Privy Council that he could renege on his agreements at any time.
  • December 4-By December 1781, whilst the intrigues over the Anjou marriage project continued at the Imperial Court, the Desmonian Rebellion in the Dumbarton Governorate had intensified. Following his seizure of Askaeaton and Bannatyne, Admiral Whyrtia had faced renewed tensions against his military forces. On November 6, the Admiral demanded that Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond, and one of the few remaining native Scottrian magnates in the former territory of the Celestial Kingdom of Scottria, surrender his personal fortresses at Malby and Dunstarin to the government forces, and that he provide to the Imperial Government any and all information he had about the rebellion. Desmond, however, whose sympathy for the aims of the rebellion had increased, and who continued to remain in close contact with his cousin Brian Fitzgerald, refused. On November 10, Whyrtia responded by ordering for offensive starfighter squadrons under the command of his third-in-command, Rear-Admiral Sir Athanssius Murvius, to advance against Malby. Murvius managed to penetrate the star system's defenses and to confiscate all properties held by Desmond, including Malby Priory (one of the largest private mansions in the Angelina Spiral). This action, however, finally provoked the Earl into active rebellion against the Imperial Government. On November 13, 1781, Desmond, who had with his supporters retreated to Falkand, declared that he could no longer pledge his allegiance to "Her Majesty of Laurasia". Four days later, he and his personal retainers sacked Youghal, which had been established as a Laurasian intelligence outpost the previous year. They massacred the Laurasian garrison; seized a large number of goods; and took possession of the Youghal Arms Repository. By November 17, Desmond had joined with Fitzgerald, and they managed to successfully repel a government move against Dunstarin. Mons Graspicus was then fortified as the chief rebel headquarters, and on November 22, Fitzgerald blockaded Cork Star, harrying its defenses and disrupting its commerce lanes before retreating four days later. Douglas MacCarthy, Laird of Mor, joined the rebellion on November 27, seizing the Laurasian fortifications of Kinsale. On this day, December 4, 1781, rebel forces defeated Rear-Admiral Murivus in the Battle of Niddry; that important stronghold now fell into rebel possession. During the course of December, 1781, Fitzgerald and Desmond would make further advances. By December 22, the Scottrian colonies of Ballyduff, Ballioghan, and Rathkeale had been seized by rebel forces; Corgaff and Merchinston had both fallen to rebel advance squadrons; and the government garrison of Askeaton found itself under siege.
  • December 9-The Empress Aurelia, alarmed by the continued reports of the defiance in the Dumbarton Governorate, now received, from Chancellor Walsingis, the Franconian response to her list of terms. The King of Franconia, as Aurelia had expected, received her terms with a "sour countenance", swearing that it was outrageous for her to refuse any contribution towards Anjou's ventures in the Durthian Duchies, and impossible for the Franconian Government to agree to her demand for recognition of future Laurasian interventions in the affairs of the Dejanican Commonwealth and a possible defense against the Holy Spamalkan Empire. Not surprisingly, the King had therefore rejected the conditions out of hand. Anjou himself, who had been kept by the Privy Council and by the Franconian Ambassador from any knowledge of these transmissions, became agitated and mumbled to his retinue that "the inconstancy of this government and this Empress are a sight to behold." Four days after Hensios rejected the Empress's proposed treaty terms, Aurelia informed Anjou that, if it pleased him to depart for the Durthian Duchies immediately, she would provide him with a subsidy of €5.5 trillion dataries to finance his initial campaigns against the forces of the Duke of Parma. The Duke accepted this, and now made arrangements to depart from the Imperial Court on December 20. Mendoza reported that the Empress had danced for joy in the privacy of her bedchamber at the prospect of being rid of the Duke. She had even told Jadia that she hated the prospect of marriage more with each passing day. Anjou, however, still seeking to wring his advantages from the Empress and her ministers, did not proceed with his preparations.
    • On December 22, Aurelia, who was surprised that the Duke had not yet departed, inquired whether or not his household was in fit condition to depart. Anjou responded with the lame excuse that he had been struck down with another panic attack and could not stir at this venture. Several more days passed, and on December 27, Aurelia sent a more vigorous inquiry, asking him sharply "whether he meant to threaten a woman such as myself in her own realms" and said that he must try to think of her as a sister. Anjou's response to this was to burst into a vigorous fit of tears, and the Empress was obliged to send one of her favorite ladies to console him. By this point, however, Aurelia was desperate to be free of him. She declared that she never had any intention of marrying him, and his insistence on continuing the pretence of courtship was imposing an embarrassing strain. Leicesterius suggested bribing Anjou to leave, but the Empress refused. She told Burghley to advise Anjou to leave before the commencement of the new year, in order to avoid the expense of providing her with the customary gift, but this did not work. On December 31, New Year's Eve 1781, the Duke caused even more difficulty, reminding Aurelia that she had pledged herself to him. She now paid him €95.3 billion dataries, which helped to quench this outburst. Anjou still lingered, fearing that the Empress would not give him any more funds if he left. The Imperial Court was therefore in a tense mood as 1781 came to an end.

1782Edit

  • January 1-1782, the 82nd year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire in a state of both tranquility and uncertainty. Tranquility and stability continued to persist within the Empire's territories in the Caladarian Galaxy. Although the Scottrian Queen Mariana (who remained in the custody of the Earl of Aretha), had continued to engage in correspondence with Spamalkan Emperor Philicus and Ambassador Mendoza concerning her predicament, and her hopes for liberation, she had not actively engaged in conspiracy against the Imperial Laurasian Government. The Empress Aurelia, however, continued to keep the ex-Scottrian Queen's presence within her realms on her mind, and this colored her reactions to other affairs at the Imperial Court. The Duke of Anjou, who continued to maintain the pretense that he was a faithful and loyal courtier for Aurelia's hand, was now a nuisance; the Empress was becoming more desperate and agitated at his presence, and had told Lord Treasurer Burghley and Chancellor Walsingis that the Duke's continued presence at the Imperial Court was an "embarrassing and vexing situation for my person." Anjou's continued schemes in obtaining support for his Durthian ventures, and his determination to wrangle some concessions from the Imperial Court of Laurasia Prime, aroused continued gossip among the servants of the Imperial Household. The Desmonian Rebellion in the recently acquired Scottrian Governorates (particularly, the Dumbarton Governorate) vexed the Empress and her ministers. The Earl of Desmond, who had displayed his hostility towards the Laurasian authorities in his brutal seizure of Youghal, was, in the eyes of Aurelia, representative of the "sort of fiends who have sought to undermine this Empire's authority for centuries." She still carried memories of the Malarian and Pugachevia Rebellions, but understood that the outbreak of this uprising in the Angelina Spiral should be expected, considering that those territories were still being absorbed into the imperial administrative structure. Finally, the conclusion of the secret Treaty of Invictus Mesura with the Holy Austarlian Empire in May 1781 had resulted in the strengthening of diplomatic relations with that power, at the expense of ties to Pruthia. Both Aurelia and Joseth continued to conduct a vigorous correspondence concerning Marasharite and Spamalkan affairs, and both remained hopeful that the alliance would yield benefits for both of their Empires. In her New Year's proclamation of January 1, 1782, the Empress of Laurasia declared that "In spite of the recent turmoils [in the Dumbarton Governorate], we carry with us the firm resolution that this year will see the continuation of this Empire's general prosperity and overall progress." This year was also to see the outbreak of civil conflict in the Haynsian Despotate, which would culminate in the final, and decisive, Laurasian intervention there.
  • January 5-
    • Empress Aurelia, who continued to be agitated by the Duke of Anjou's presence at the Imperial Court and his procrastination in departing, now found herself "taken with the charms" of Colonel Walterius Raleghia, who had arrived just four days earlier carrying a formal dispatch of intentions from Field-Marshal Rumanstevius on Ediania. It was not long before Raleghia was commanded to stay permanently at the Imperial Court; he now found himself added to Aurelia's intimate circle of favorites. Raleghia, who had been born on January 22, 1752, at Haronian House in Barthon City, Osama, was the son of Lady Katharina Chapeworonia, who was the niece of Aurelia's old governess and First Lady of the Bedchamber, Baroness Katharina Ashleius. His father was Sir Antiochus Raleghia, the owner of Raleghia Trillite Mines and one of the most prominent local magnates on Osama. He was the eldest son of this, his mother's third marriage. Her two previous unions had produced three half brothers: Anticohus, Linius, and Anacletus Gilbertia, and his younger full brother was Caranius Raleghia. Raleghia was therefore born into a prominent family, and from his earliest years, he resided at his family's estates on Osama, Tarravania, Mariana Prime, Mercedes, Andriana, Constantine I, Oxia Vixius, Apathama Vixius, and Ralina Vixius. In 1769, Raleghia graduated from St. Zephyrnius's High School in Barthon City, and he went overseas to the Serene Kingdom of Franconia for three years, where he contributed his services as a mercenary to the Franconian Huguenots, thereby gaining his first military experience. Raleghia returned to the Caladarian Galaxy in May, 1772, and that fall enrolled at the University of the Empire. Becoming known for his great intellect and his passion for the sciences and mathematics, he advanced swiftly to the top of his class, graduating cum laude in 1776 with a Bachelor's Degree in Geometric Sciences and Astrography. Raleghia then entered the Christiania Inns, seeking to pursue a career in patent law. This bored him, however, and within a year, he had enrolled with the Imperial Laurasian Army. Over the course of the next five years, Raleghia advanced swiftly with the ranks. He served under the command of Major-General Alexander Surovius during the Laurasian deportations of 1778, and in 1779, fought under Drury in the War of Drury's Intervention, gaining distinction at the Sieges of Ediania and Dumbarton. In May, 1780, Raleghia, who had advanced to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, was assigned as an attache to Field-Marshal Rumanstevius. He gained further distinction for his suppression of the Pirate Ring of Havell at Branxholme later that year, and in 1781, fought with government forces during the early stages of the Desmonian Rebellion. In September, 1781, he had been promoted to the rank of Colonel, and became one of Rumanstevius's secretarial aides. Raleghia therefore, when he made his presence at the Imperial Court, was already renowned. He would become a respected scientist, historian, philosopher, and scholar, also proving his skills as an orator and competent government administrator. He was "fearless, daring, and virile, with a tall build, good form, penetrating eyes, and smooth face."
    • The Empress was impressed by his intellectual skills, bold manner, and common-sense views. Over the course of the next thirty-seven years, until his death in 1818, Raleghia would write 500 poems, thirty academic essays, and four historical works, including his voluminous History of the Caladarian Galaxy (1814). He exchanged correspondence with the most renowned historians of the late eighteenth century, including Sir Demetrius, Baron Monompahlaus (1710-97); Sir Antiochus Foxius (1698-1787); Lady Athena Vassalina of Colombia (1703-99); and Sir Antigonus Gibbeoneous (1737-94). This was not, however, the only side of Raleghia's character. He was all too aware of his own qualities and gifts, and could be, in the eyes of one contemporary, "damnably proud", arrogant and contemptuous of those who had not succumbed to his charms. He was known for his ruthlessness, had spent a short time in jail during his youth for an incident of physical assault on one of his classmates, and was responsible, during his service under Field-Marshal Drury, for the execution of six hundred Scottrian troopers at Munstria. He was also a notorious liar and a womanizer. Gibbeoneous himself would later report, in a letter to one of his literary confidantes, Sir Titus Amenonia, that Raleghia was spied at one time "having his way" with one of the ladies of the Imperial Household (an incident which occurred in 1786). This one-time encounter resulted in the lady, Octavia Ammonia, giving birth to the third of Raleghia's illegitimate sons, Pulchurus Ammonia, in March 1787. It was not until late his life before Raleghia acknowledged him as being "of mine own blood." Raleghia's rise to imperial favor was spectacular; despite his prior service in the War of Drury's Intervention, he had been, prior to 1782, an unknown figure to many of the most polished courtiers and servants of the Imperial Household. Within months, Empress Aurelia had conferred Durhamian Mansion in the Residential District of Christiania upon her new favorite; this mansion was renowned as one of the most lavish private residences on Laurasia Prime, possessing nearly seven hundred rooms. He began appearing at court wearing extravagant, outlandishly expensive garments, and on February 1, barely a month after his initial arrival at the Imperial Court, was awarded the first of several successive financial grants by the Empress (this one amounted to €500 million dataries). He made many other courtiers look and feel as if they were poor relations. It was inevitable that this meteoric rise provoked jealousy and hatred in Leicesterius, who resented this younger man's intrusion on what he regarded as his domain. Hattonius, who had continued to gain prominence in the Imperial Government and favor with Aurelia for his diligent and faithful service, expressed his concern that the new favorite was driving him from the affections of the Empress. Aurelia, in a private communique of February 22, 1782, would reassure Hattonius that she would "never forget the ties which have bound me to him who has been my most faithful." Raleghia, however, never gained popularity, primarily due to his conceit and greed. Lord Treasurer Burghley himself declared that "this young man uses bitter scoffs and reproachful taunts towards his associates, and his pride is above that of the Anti-Angel Lucifier, chief servant of the Anti-Almitis."
    • Leicesterius was one of many enemies of Raleghia who derided him with insulting nicknames such as the "Knave" and the "Provincial Upstart"; he was even derided by some in Christiania as the "best hated man of the galaxy, in court, empire, and civilization." Raleghia, would, ironically, come to revel in his unpopularity, and would consider it the ultimate measure of his success. Even Aurelia, however, was not blind to the unstable, reckless streak in him. Although the Empress was to use his talents in many capacities during the course of the next two decades, appoint him Adjutant-General of the Imperial Suite and Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners, and knight him in 1785, she would never confer upon him a high political office within the ranks of the Imperial Government or name him to the Privy Council. Aurelia herself called him "insolent, extremely heated, and a man that desires to be able to control the destinies of all men." Instead, the Empress granted him lucrative annuities, properties, and honors, which permitted Raleghia to indulge his passion for study and exploration of the galaxy's stil-untamed regions.
    • Besides Raleghia, another figure also made his initial debut at the Imperial Court at this time: Antiochus Harringta, the Empress's godson. Harringta had been born on August 4, 1761, at Kelston Colony on Tyndaris. He was the son of Sir Antiochus Harringta of Tyndaris (1717-1782), who was a renowned poet and eulogist of the Imperial Court, and his wife, Lady Olympia Markhamia (1727-1779), who was one of the Empress Aurelia's Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber. Lady Markhamia, in fact, was one of the Empress's most trusted confidantes and servants. She had initially joined Aurelia's household in 1748, while she was still a Lady and during the reign of the Emperor Demetrius II. When Aurelia was arrested and imprisoned at the Fortress of Baureux in March 1754 on the orders of her sister, Empress Didymeia, Olympia, by then one of her most favored ladies in waiting, accompanied her. Her father, Sir Antiochus Markhamia (1686-1759), had served as Constable of the Priory at the Fortress from 1749-51. While there, she met her future husband Antiochus, who had become famed for his poetry during Antigonus III's reign. Harringta, was however, himself imprisoned at the time, having been accused of having contact with Wyatta and his subordinates. Aurelia was moved to Wooledeterian Palace on Vargara in May 1754, and Markhamia attended her. Harringta was released from the Fortress in January 1755; when Aurelia was finally freed from house arrest later that year, he began paying frequent visits to the Palace of Secrets on Paradine, lavishing much attention on his future wife (who had become one of the Grand Princess's ladies of the bedchamber). When Aurelia acceded to the throne in November 1758, both obtained positions in the Imperial Household: Olympia became a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber, and Harringta a member of the Court Literary Corps.
    • He was knighted on January 27, 1759, and on April 1 of that year, he and Olympia finally married. Their first son, Antiochus, was born two years later, with Empress Aurelia herself attending the christening ceremony. He became the first of the Empress's godchildren; she would eventually become godmother to 102 of them during the course of the succeeding forty-two years after his birth. The Harringtas had four more children: Aurelia (named in honor of the Empress, born in 1762); Antigonus (born in 1763); Franconius (born in 1764); and Lysimachus (born in 1765). Lady Harringta died on May 20, 1779, at the age of 52. By then, her eldest son was attending the University of Laurasia Prime. He was at the top of his class and developed a passion for literature, history, archeology, forensics, and analytical studies. He graduated early in November 1781 with bachelor's degrees in forensics and pre-legal studies, and two months later, arrived at the Imperial Court. Harringta quickly became a favorite of the Court, with the Empress and others being amused by his wit and conversation. A genuine affection developed between Empress and godson, and he would, during the latter years of her reign, become one of her closest confidantes. Although he never abused his position, Aurelia would nevertheless shower her godson with presents, honors, financial and property grants, and (in 1799), a knighthood. Harringta's father would die on August 22, 1782, at the age of sixty-five, and the Empress would attend the funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral.
  • January 21-By January 1782, the ravages of the Earl of Desmond's forces had become widely known throughout the Caladarian Galaxy. The Empress Aurelia and her ministers, in particular Chancellor Walsingis, continued to fear that either the Spamalkans or the Marasharites might seek to take advantage of the turmoil in the Empire's recent Scottrian conquests to intervene in Laurasian affairs and sponsor the elevation of ex-Scottrian Queen Mariana. On January 14, Walsingis had shared his fears with the Empress in a private audience, following a confidential session of the Privy Council, and declared that "Unless Your Majesty contrives to take more effective measures in order to suppress this rebellion, Your Majesty's enemies will seek to bring about instability and turmoil in these realms." Two days later, Walsingis's view was "confirmed", in the Empress's eyes, when Desmond stormed Reugall, a major Laurasian military supply post five-light years east of Askeaton. Askeaton itself continued to be harried by rebel units; Fitzgerald stormed the Laurasian outposts on Cavall, Hamill, and Levard in succession to January 19. The following day, January 20, 1782, the Empress commanded Field-Marshal Rumanstevius to appoint new operational commanders for the offensives in the Dumbarton Governorate. Rumanstevius, who had continued to maintain a vigorous correspondence with his subordinates in the field and with the Imperial General Headquarters, now designated Major-General Sir Thomasius Butleria (who had become Scottrian Earl of Ormonde in March 1781), Sir Willanius Pellania, and Brigadier-General Sir Antigonus Carania as the new commanders of the Laurasian 51st and 52nd Armies. Butleria, a veteran of Queen Mariana's War who had later contributed his services to the Regents Moray and Mar, was considered one of the most talented Laurasian operational commanders available. He possessed considerable knowledge about Scottrian customs and military tactics, and was considered to be the right man to suppress the rebellion. Butleria, who had already been engaged in combat with Scottrian units at Cork Star, moved swiftly to consolidate his position and to renew government moves against rebel formations with much vigor. On January 21, 1782, General Butleria secured a decisive tactical victory in the Battle of McCormack, which prevented a rebel advance from Dumblaine to Canongate and Leith. Two days later, Butleria relieved the siege of Askeaton, which had been on the verge of surrendering to Fitzgerald. By January 27, Laurasian forces under Butleria's subordinates Pellania and Carania had stormed Limerick, Bandon, Mallahide, and Blarney, inflicting much damage upon Desmond's estates and properties in those star systems. During the course of February 1782, Laurasian troops would continue to pursue vigorous campaigns against rebel units in the Limerick, Cork, and Kerry Provinces, storming rebel bases on Cathallfaon, Abelmayne, Adare, Castletroy, and Bresharia.
  • February 7-
    • By February 1782, the Empress Aurelia had firmly resolved upon ending the courtship with the Duke of Anjou. On January 19, Aurelia had declared privately to Lord Treasurer Burghley that "as long as my Lordship of Anjou continues in his presence at my Imperial Court, the stability of my realms will be placed at peril. My subjects will be at a loss as to whether I intend to enter into a union with him, or to jeopardize our Empire's relations with our neighbors in the Amulak Spiral." Finally, February 2, 1782, the Empress Aurelia offered the Duke of Anjou a "gift" of €100.7 billion dataries if he were to "depart back to his Franconian realms for matters of pressing concern." Anjou had, on New Year's Day 1782, presented the Empress with a gift of a jewelled anchor brooch, which was a symbol of constancy. The Empress, by the time she offered her gift, had become so agitated about his presence that she could not sleep at night and even became feverish. Six days after the Empress conferred her gift, on February 7, 1782, Anjou finally departed from the Imperial Court. Empress Aurelia, flanked by Chancellor Walsingis, Lord Treasurer Burghley, and the Earl of Leicesterius (who was pleased that Anjou was finally departing), gave him a formal ceremony of departure in the Grand Audience Chamber of the Quencilvanian Palace. Anjou displayed his "sadness" at the fact of his separation from the Empress, with a melodramatic "show" of "tears and regrets". Following the ceremony, the Duke embarked from the star system on the IMS Stargazer, which had been presented to him as a gift by the Imperial Laurasian Navy. He was escorted by a convoy of warships commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir John Hawkius, the victor of the Battle of Chesma.
    • Leicesterius himself accompanied Anjou as far as Ralina Vixius. He had not wished to do so, but the Empress had compelled him into doing so. The Empress pretended to be grief-stricken at the loss of her "lover", stating that she could not visit the Diplomatic Palace because "the place reminded me of his presence." She wept frequently, and in the weeks following the Duke's departure, she told Leicesterius and Walsingis numerous times that she could not live another hour were it not for the hope of seeing Anjou again. She "promised" that the Duke would be back within a short time, if the King of Franconia was willing. She took to wearing a small prayer book at her girdle, which was set with miniatures of herself and Anjou. She declared to Mendoza that she would expend much fortune to have her "frog" at the Palace once again, and she continued to exchange affectionate letters with the Duke. He, on his part, maintained the pretense that they were to be married, and pressured her to name the date. Aurelia knew that it was in her interest to maintain this public fiction, and she would keep it going for some time. The courtship had also proven useful to her, for it had kept Philicus on the edge with the threat of a Laurasian-Franconian alliance; it had also kept the Empire from entangling itself in the Durthian Rebellion directly at this time.
  • February 14-
    • After a journey of several days, the Duke of Anjou finally arrived at Fleming in the Amulak Spiral. Anjou, who continued to hold out hope that his "relationship" with the Empress of Laurasia would ultimately result in the provision of direct military aid to his forces by the Imperial Laurasian Government, was now determined to take up arms on behalf of the Durthian States-General. And indeed, it seemed at first as if Anjou would be able to successfully establish his position in the Durthian Duchies, and assert his rights as their protector against the intrusions of Spamalkan Emperor Philicus. When arriving at Fleming, the Duke was formally greeted by Prince William of Orange and his son Maurice of Nassau with much ceremony. The Duke declared to the Prince of Orange that his only intention was to "insure that the independence and the rights of your species are protected against the unlawful interference of others." On February 22, the Duke proceeded to Liege, where he was now formally proclaimed Duke of Brabant and Count of Flanders. The Franconian Duke, however, soon found his liberty severely constrained by the restrictions imposed upon him by his new "subjects". The States-General forbade Anjou from maintaining his own personal security force of Franconian troops; provided that all of his financial and conscription policies would be in accordance with the procedures established by the States of the Durthian provinces; and was forbidden to issue orders to the Durthian military forces unless if he consulted the Prince of Orange and a commission of Durthian officials. These restrictions enraged Anjou, and he now degenerated into a slovenly and luxurious lifestyle, fattening himself off the revenues and properties granted to him by the States-General.
    • As a result of Anjou's idleness, the Spamalkan forces of the Duke of Parma were able to make further advances in Brabant and Flanders. Durthian units had managed to reconquer Bruges and Massatricht in January 1782; two days before Anjou's arrival, Durthian Admiral Jan van Rostevelt had destroyed a Spamalkan convoy in the Battle of Valenciennes. Parma, however, quickly recovered his momentum, and on March 1, 1782, he destroyed the Durthian 2nd Expeditionary Force in the Battle of Himladia. Zutphen, Bep, Vorskjii, and Gies were all stormed during March 1782 by Spamalkan forces. A series of further Durthian counteroffensives against Namurs, Tournai, Ghent, and Diest (April-June 1782) ended in failure. The Empress Aurelia herself, outraged at Anjou's idle behavior, nevertheless declared that the rebels failed to provide him sufficient support. Not willing to entangle herself in the conflict, however, the Empress merely allowed for Laurasian mercenaries and military supplies to continue to flow into the Durthian States. By November 1782, Parma's forces had overrun most of the important Durthian strongholds of Brabant, including Quentovic, Lambres, Ostend, Roesleare, and Ypres.
  • March 5-On March 5, 1782, Field-Marshal Rumanstevius, acting on directives from the Imperial General Headquarters, commanded Major-General Butleria to advance his units for the reconquest of Carrigafoyle, which had become one of the chief operational bases for the forces of the Desmonian Rebellion. As previously mentioned, Butleria had made significant inroads against rebel forces in Limerick and Cork since his initial appointment, and he was now gaining acclaim at the Imperial Court for restoring "order and tranquility" to the Dumbarton Governorate, and therefore maintaining the Empire's rule of the recently conquered Scottrian territories. The Major-General, popular with his subordinates and never one to waste time, followed Rumanstevius's instructions to the letter. It is expedient here to give a brief description of Carrigafoyle, and how its defenses had been improved upon by Fitzgerald and the Earl of Desmond. Originally colonized under the patronage of the Earl of Albermarle in 1694, Carriagfoyle had, by the late eighteenth century, a population of three million. It was one of the most important military strongholds in the Northern Districts at the time of Laurasian annexation in 1779, and had continued to serve in that capacity until its capture by the rebel forces in August 1781. By March 1782, the world possessed a garrison of 50,000 rebel troops, one of the largest such concentrations in the Dumbarton Governorate. The northern side of the star system was shielded by the Shannon Stockades, including a admission port hastily constructed by Desmond to better control access into the star system. On the other side of the stockades was an extensive minefield, with two defensive barriers on each side. Behind that was Carrigafoyle itself, protected by triple-shield generators and a massive military spaceport. Desmond was determined to make this star system one that Laurasian forces would have to expend much effort to recapture. Butleria, however, was methodic in his preparations. On March 8, he won the Second Battle of Sieur, preventing Fitzgerald from reinforcing the rebel fleets which operated in Carriagfoyle's vicinity. Auchindoun and Shaverythe were secured by government troops on March 12, paving the way to a final, and direct assault against Carrigafoyle. On March 17, General Pellania, receiving aid from Admiral Whyrtia, encamped on the farther side of Carrigafoyle, having assembled a force of 100 Imperial-class warships and five squadrons of starfighters. He had 130,000 Imperial Marines and planetary conscripts at his disposal, and was determined to take advantage of their professional organization to overwhelm the rebel garrison. Pellhamia stationed six turbocannon at Carriagfoyle Mists, and directed their fire against the stockades. Each turbocannon was equipped with seven photon batteries, and capable of firing projectiles at a speed of 75,000 miles per second. The General also cut off supplies from the northern side by stationing a convoy of couriers in that region. The actual bombardment of the stockades lasted for over two days, with Fitzgerald's defenses proving a challenge for the Laurasian firing engineers to overcome. The first frontal Laurasian offensive was repulsed with moderate losses; the second day of the bombardment, Pellhamia's corvettes were able to break the Outer Stockades and to clear the minefields. By the end of that day, the stockades had yielded, and the General now swiftly advanced to Carrigafoyle. The world's shields proved no match for the turbocannon, and on March 22, Laurasian troops landed on its surface. By March 26, the rebel commander of Carriagfoyle, the Haxonian Captain Julian Petro, had been forced to surrender, and the stronghold once again fell into the possession of the Laurasian Empire. Following the fall of Carriagfoyle, government troops made a series of swift advances against the rebel forces. Mons Graspicus, Rathkeale, Ballyduff, and Ballioghan were reconquered by April 4; two days later, Admiral Whyrtia and General Pellhamia destroyed a rebel convoy under Fitzgerald at the Battle of Ravar-II. Merchinston and Corgaff were secured five days later; then on April 17, 1782, Niddry was reconquered by Admiral Whyrtia. By the end of May 1782 (by which time Kinsale and Dumblaine had been firmly secured by government forces), it appeared as if the rebellion was in its death throes.
  • May 9-
    • By May 1782, the Haynsian Despotate was descending again into anarchy. The Haynsian Despot Jay XIV Karany, who had held the Haynsian throne for nearly five years by that point, was widely viewed by many of his subjects as being merely a puppet of foreigners (in particular, of the Laurasian Empire). Rumors circulated on Haynes, Bakalava, and Bahckhsiriay that the Despot was in the service of the Empress Aurelia, and that all of his policies were dedicated to carrying out her will. His prestige had been badly damaged during the Deportation Incident of 1778-1779, and the manner in which he had so meekly submitted to the actions of Laurasian General Alexander Surovius outraged the sensibilities of many patriotic Haynsians. In May 1780, the Haynsian Malga-General Suleiman Alga led an abortive revolt on Chalaa, protesting the Despot's policies and his ties to the Laurasian Empire. Alga's rebellion had been suppressed within a month, and the rebellious General himself was executed. To Empress Aurelia and her ministers, however, it demonstrated the strong anti-Laurasian sentiments in the Despotate. In July 1781, a delegation of Haynsian nobles led by Prince Muhr-Jay arrived at Topacia and complained to Marasharite Emperor Abdulhamid II that "since the severance of our ties of allegiance to Your Majesty, the realms of our ancestors have descended into anarchy and into foreign subjection." Emperor Abdulhamid, while weary of his Laurasian counterpart, nevertheless rejected the Haynsian pleas, not wishing to become entangled in a premature military conflict with the Laurasian Empire.
    • Over the course of the following year, tensions intensified further in the Despotate, until, in 1782, they escalated into full-scale rebellion. In November 1781, the Commander of the Arbai Guards of Isis, Isoroku Karany, became determined to "save my species from further humiliation." He began holding secret conferences among his supporters, and at Isis, Little Boravia, Doros, and Theodoros, assembled military supplies and mercenaries for the contest to come for rule over the Haynsian territories. The Arbai-Commander was not interested in the Haynsian throne himself, however, and he instead sought to promote the claims of Prince Bahavair Karany. Bahavir was the Despot's older half-brother, having been born at Haynes on February 5, 1722. He was the grandson of Neal IV Karany, the first Despot of the eighteenth century. Bahavair had been appointed Serasker-General of the Eucmoiady Regiments by his half-brother in March 1781, and for some months, had displayed reluctance at becoming involved in active rebellion against him. He was persuaded by Commander Isoroku in the other direction, however, and in February 1782, communicated his approval of the scheme to remove his brother from the throne. By April 1782, the conspirators were confident that their forces had enough strength that they would secure control of the Despotate. The rebellion was formally instigated on this day, May 9, 1782. In a proclamation issued from Isis, Bahavair declared that "the rule of His Mightiness, my most royal brother Jay of Haynsia, has only brought the martial honor of our species to disgrace" and that a new reign was needed to restore "vigor and energy to this Despotate." Following his proclamation, rebellion quickly spread throughout the regions of the Despotate. Chalaa denounced its loyalty to Jay XIV Karany on May 12; by May 22, Bahavir's units, commanded of course by Arbai-Commander Isoroku, had secured control of the Gates of Perekop, Infirmapol, Semfapol, Baina, and Greater Borlavia. On May 29, Jay XIV, denouncing his brother as a traitor, issued a manifesto to his subjects, urging them to resist his actions and to "proclaim your loyalty to me as the only legitimate ruler of these dominions."
  • June 4-On June 4, 1782, hoping to arrest the further advance of his half-brother's forces, and to maintain his position on Haynes, the Despot Jay XIV Karany dispatched his personal units from the capital star system, to "confront the rebel forces into battle and so as to not give them any space to challenge my authority thenceforth." These units, comprised of the 2nd and 3rd Haynsian Martial Armies, were placed under the command of Sensker-General Halim Karany, a distant cousin of the Despot. The Sensker-General was considered one of the most competent officers in the Despot's service, and the Despot hoped that he would be able to suppress the rebellion with ease. This hope, however, would turn out to be a vain one. Halim-Karany managed to halt a rebel offensive against Tivran (June 6, 1782), and two days later, stormed the rebel communications citadel of Vermapol. Bahavair, however, reclaimed the initiative in the Battle of Chancelodt (June 11, 1782), which resulted in the destruction of twelve Haynsian corvettes under Halim-Karany's command. Sermnapoval was besieged from June 17, and finally capitulated to the insurgent on June 21. Halim-Karany himself, who was now coming to believe that he could obtain himself profit from this situation, decided, on June 24, to denounce his oath of allegiance to Jay XIV Karany as Despot of Haynsia. On June 27, 1782, the Prince formally defected to the rebel forces of Bahavair, who, knowing that he needed every officer of skill to assure him victory, accepted his defection without demur. This deprived the Despot of many of his most valuable military formations. On July 2, Doros capitulated to Bahavair; two days later, the Haynsian Martial Sakku (High Chamber), proclaimed that Jay XIV had forfeited the Haynsian Crown. The Despot, who did not see any Laurasian assistance forthcoming at this venture, now decided to flee. On July 7, 1782, the Despot secretly departed from Haynes with a household convoy, and fled, by means of Bahkhsiriay, Backlava, and Tivran, to Palymer in the Laurasian Empire. Three days later, on July 10, Bahavair was admitted by the garrison of Haynes without a fight; he was formally proclaimed Bahavair II Karany, Despot of Haynsia, two days later, and had secured his position in the homeland regions of the Despotate by July 16. Bahavair would not, however, have long to enjoy this position, for the Laurasian Empire would be awakened and would conduct its last intervention in the internal affairs of the Haynsian Despotate.
  • July 17-
    • As previously explained, it had appeared to the Imperial Laurasian Government that the Desmonian Rebellion was on the verge of being completely suppressed. Empress Aurelia, who was enthused by the successes of her military commanders in the Dumbarton Governorate, and confident that the Empire's position in the Angelina Spiral would be definitively secured, had continued to engage in an extensive correspondence with Field-Marshal Rumanstevius, and to send instructions to the Imperial General Headquarters on the maintenance of martial law and the importance "of suppressing any urges of rebellion against my authority." June 1782 had seen Brechin and Tilleganus secured by the government forces, with the Earl of Desmond apparently at the end of his resources. Desmond, however, had maintained contact with his supporters in the Outskirt Districts, particularly with Fiach O'Byrne, Laird of Walerberry. O'Byrne, who had become Laird in February 1779, just a month before the commencement of the War of Drury's Intervention, considered himself to be a Scottrian patriot and despised adhering to the mandates of authority. He was therefore in the perfect position to resist further Laurasian intrusions. By July 5, O'Byrne had begun to assemble his supporters on Winchlow and Crevin, located in the Outskirt Districts. He obtained the loyalty of the Kanavaghs and MacTooles, two of the most important families in the Outskirt Districts. Many of these individuals had already been engaged in a game of "cat and mouse" with the imperial authorities since the Treaty of Iverness in December 1779.
    • Finally, on July 16, 1782, O'Byrne formally proclaimed himself to be in rebellion against the Imperial Laurasian Government, and in a proclamation issued from Winchlow declared that he would not "tolerate for the cruel subjection of my race and their territories to the power of a foreign aggressor any longer." Within days, O'Byrne had been joined in his rebellion by the half-Laurasian Jamsius Eudrachius, Viscount of Baltinglass, who had (ironically), been granted his title by the Empress Aurelia only two years previously as a reward for his loyalty and military service. Within days of announcing his rebellion, O'Byrne made significant advances against the Laurasian garrisons. On July 22, he met with Fizgerald at Winclace, and two days later, captured a Laurasian supply convoy in the Battle of the Midsts of Radriata. O'Byrne's starfighter squadrons then assaulted Inclave, which had become a hyperspace terminal for Laurasian navigators in the Angelina Spiral (July 24-27, 1782). On July 27, Inclave surrendered, and O'Byrne's troops engaged in a spree of slaughter in the star system, killing more than 500,000 sentients in the span of forty-eight hours. By August 2, O'Byrne had advanced from Winclace and the Mists of Radriata to the outskirts of Erith, posing a severe threat to the Laurasian position in the star system. His units now stormed Scottrian-Laurasian colonies on Hemkey, O'Vill, and in the Maugard Asteroids, which made clear to the Imperial Privy Council the threat that the rebel now posed.
  • August 7-The new Haynsian Despot, Bahavair II Karany, who was determined to assert the Despotate's absolute independence from interference by the Laurasian Empire, and seeking to establish a balance of power in the Angelina Spiral, sent a communique to the Marasharite Grand Council on Topacia. In this communique, the Despot claimed that his actions "against my liege, Jay XIV Karany" were in pursuance of his ambition to restrain the ambitions of the "overbearing Laurasian fiends" and to return the Despotate to "that state of subjection and friendship towards thee, who had been masters of this state for all recent times." The Despot therefore pledged to renew the ties of vassalage to the Marasharite Empire, and to permit for Marasharite garrisons to be stationed in Haynsian territory, if he in turn were provided military support to prevent future Laurasian intervention. Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II, who was given notice of the communique by Grand Vizier Izzet Mehmed (who had recovered the Grand Viziership in February 1781), considered the offer carefully. While he was still weary of the Empress of Laurasia, and feared the consequences of Laurasian dominance over the entire Angelina Spiral, Abdulahamid was nevertheless enough of a realist to understand that he could do little to maintain the Haynsian Despotate. The Emperor of the Marasharites had only recently emerged from yet another conflict with the Holy Spamalkan Empire over the Barbary States (the Tunisian War of 1779-81), and he did not want to become embroiled in military conflict when his resources were not fully recovered. Therefore, on August 11, the Marasharite Emperor ordered the Grand Council to ignore the Haynsian Despot's petition. The Laurasian Ambassador to the Court of Topacia, Prince Nicholas Repanius, reassured the Emperor in a private audience that "Her Imperial Majesty of Laurasia has no intention of interfering with the Despotate's independence and privileges." He pledged Laurasian commitment to the terms of the Treaty of Aynalıkavak. Soon, however, this pledge would be revealed for the lie that it was.
  • August 9-October 14-
    • On August 9, 1782, the Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court formally departed from the Quencilvanian Palace on Laurasia Prime in order to begin the progress of 1782. Upon returning from her prior progress in October 1781, the Empress had already announced that the progress of 1782 would be to the Hypasian Provinces. Until this point, however, Aurelia had delayed her moment of departure for the progress, still being concerned about the Desmonian Rebellion, the Duke of Anjou's ventures in the Durthian Duchies, and the turmoil in the Haynsian Despotate. But now, she was determined to go ahead and to display herself and the Court to her subjects in the Wild Marshes. Lord Treasurer Burghley remained on Laurasia Prime to supervise government affairs, as the Chancellor attended the Empress on this particular progress. Aurelia paid brief visits to Mercedes, Andriana, Constantine I, Ietas, Tyndaris, Zeena, Metallasia, Courdina V, Gordasis, Sapphire, and Metallina as she progressed into the Wild Marshes. On August 21, she reached Angelica Minor, staying there for four days before proceeding onto the Angelica-Minor-Hishebig Trade Corridor. On August 29, Aurelia reached Thang Gosong, where the Great Dasian Empire of Kublai Khan had, in 884, launched its effort to subdue the Hypasians to their authority. Nine centuries later, Thang Gosong was still renowned as one of the major financial hubs in the Caladarian Galaxy. The Empress toured the Temebkian Bank, one of the most respected banks in the Empire, and attended a assembly of Hypasian businessmen and magnates at the Conclave Hall of Thang Gosong.
    • The CEO of Temebian Bank, Goshrin-Minh, presented the Empress with a gift of €500 billion dataries and a honorary dacra (sheath of honor). Aurelia then departed from Thang Gosong on September 3, 1782, and visited the major Hypasian star systems of Thai, Borolai, Moria, and Song Dhu in succession to September 9. On September 12, the Empress watched a simulation of the Battle of Trasha Dakai, where General Tran Shang Hu had crushed the Dasians in 885. She then proceeded to Valeris V, and toured the Valerian Valleys of Hypasian Martials. Van Klep and Sogan were then visited by the Empress (September 15-21, 1782); at the first star system, she stayed at the Underground Hall of Memverin, and in the second, toured the St. Cleopatra Naval Dockyards. Cassolar, Van Dong, Thang Lang, and Huerta Mongol (September 22-27), were then graced by the Imperial Court's presence; Cassolar, in particular, presented 150,000 tons of agricultural goods to the Imperial Household. After proceeding through Qu'emia and observing a ceremonial parade of Hypasian ships, the Empress reached Hypasia Major on October 2. She stayed there for four days, relishing in the luxuries of the Palace of the Emperors, residence of the Hypasian sovereigns from the fifth to the tenth centuries AH. Aurelia finally departed from Hypasia Major on October 6, 1782, and after paying brief visits to Hypasia Minor, Saigon, and Ho Chi Minh, proceeded back to Laurasia Prime. The Imperial Court arrived there on October 15, and the Empress hailed the progress as a success. In all of this time, events in Haynsia and in the Scottrian Provinces had continued to proceed rapidly.
  • August 15-
    • The Empress Aurelia, acting on the recommendations of Field-Marshal Rumanstevius and the Chief of the Imperial General Headquarters, Field-Marshal Sir Antigonus Verecella (who had obtained the position in March 1782), formally appointed the son of Lord Willanius Greysius of Wiltonia (the famed Laurasian commander of the War of Rough Wooing and Queen Mariana's War), Lieutenant-General Lord Antigonus Greysius of Wiltonia, as the commander of the 99th and 100th Imperial Armies, to be placed in combat against the forces of the Desmonian Rebellion. Lord Willanius, who had succeeded his father to the title upon his death in December 1762, was a veteran of the War of the Bar Confederation and the Pugachevia Rebellion, and respected for his tactical ability. Greysius, however, would encounter a setback in the early offensives against the rebel forces under O'Byrne's command. Lord Greysius departed from Ladelle on August 17, two days his appointment, and arrived at Branxholme four days later. He immediately set himself to action against the rebels. By August 21, government troops had stormed Kildare, and were posed for an advance into the Wicklow Cluster. Greysius, however, made one of the blunders of his military career when he decided to press the offensive against Winchlow and Baltinglass.
    • On August 25, 1782, Greysius's squadrons advanced to formation at Glenmalure, which was located four light years to the southeast of Winchlow. Here, however, O'Byrne, who had gathered intelligence information about the Laurasian General's advances, launched a surprise attack against the Laurasian squadrons. Scottrian starfighters and couriers swept from the northern Glenmalure Asteroids and penetrated through the front lines of Greysius's operational formation. The Laurasian warships were disoriented and held for some time before being forced into headlong retreat. Out of 400 Laurasian warships, 130 were destroyed or captured by the Scottrian units. 50,000 Laurasian troops lost their lives in the confrontation with Scottrian troops on Glenmalure. Lord Gresyius was able to retreat to Rathdrum, and on August 29, O'Byrne reoccupied Kildare. During the course of the next eight days, O'Byrne and Fitzgerald harried Laurasian positions at Erith, Madelaine, Albright, and Albemaine. Rebel momentum soon dissipated, however, and by the end of September 1782, Rehumbarton and Duslarin, the last significant rebel bases in the vicinity of Dumbarton, had been recovered by government troops.
  • September 9-
    • On September 9, 1782, the exiled Haynsian Despot Jay XIV Karany met with the Earls of Jadia and Leicesterius at Perekop. The Despot was formally escorted to the star system, and provided security by, Major-General Alexander Surovius. Ever since being forced to flee from Haynes two months earlier, the Despot had resided, with the permission and the patronage of Laurasian authorities, at Palymer. He continued to denounce his half-brother as a "usurper and a traitor", and declared that the martial Gods of the Haynsian Race would look upon the Despotate with "much disfavor because of its submission to the rule of a tyrant". Empress Aurelia, who had continued to assure the Marasharite and Spamalkan governments that the Empire did not have any "hostile intentions" as regards to the affairs of the Spiral, had now deemed it necessary to intervene on Jay XIV's behalf, so as to secure Laurasian control over Scottria. The Empress had also resolved by this point on the final annexation of Haynsia, and wished to see for the development of more turmoil in the Despotate before making the decisive move. Intervening in this conflict would provide the window for that. On September 2, she had authorized Leicesterius and Jadia to serve as her representatives in a conference with the exiled Despot, and to communicate to him her intentions as regards to the Despotate. Leicesterius in particular, who had developed a passionate interest in foreign affairs and was aware of the "Marasharite Plan", had himself petitioned Aurelia for permission to meet with the Despot. The actual meeting itself took place at the Governor's Mansion on Perekop (previously the Salia of the Marasharite Vice-Regent of Perekop), and lasted for over six hours. By the time the meeting had concluded, the Despot had been given assurance that the Empire would intervene to restore him to his throne without delay. On September 11, the Privy Council commanded the General Headquarters to draft plans for the intervention. Within six days, the 67th-75th Imperial Armies had assembled at Quickbey, Quinta-il-Vily, Perekop, Merevop, Palymer, Karabusar, Bucharina, Marson, Uma, Thurman, Thorton, and along the Trans-Angelina Transit Route for the offensives into the Despotate. The 67th-69th Armies came under the command of Major-General Surovius; the remainder under that of Lieutenant-General Antoninus Seriavin, with the Earl of Sarah (as Field Marshal), being their operational superior. On September 19, the Empress, who was then at Sogan, gave the final authorization for the military operations into the Haynsian Despotate to be launched.
    • Two days later, September 20, 1782, the Laurasian Empire's military forces along the Trans-Angelina Transit Route and in the Galactic Void launched a sudden military offensive into the territories of the Despotate. The Imperial Chancellory had issued, from Laurasia Prime, an official proclamation that if "the usurper and rebel Prince Bahavair-Karany did not abdicate from his pretensions to the Haynsian throne and recognize the authority of His Mightiness, Jay XIV Karany, elevated to be the Despot of Haynsia by hereditary right", that the Imperial Laurasian Government would not hesitate to employ all measures in order to restore the "proper" government to the Despotate. This determination was quickly seen as the military offensives unfolded. The Haynsian forces and garrisons arrayed throughout the Despotate, weakened by the civil conflict, and no longer mobile and "dexterous" due to the termination of raiding offensives against the Despotate's neighbors, proved no match for the superior Imperial Laurasian Navy. The Laurasian military forces now launched a two-pronged strike into the Despotate's territories. The first was commanded by Lieutenant-General Seriavin, who had as his subordinate Major-General Sir Alexander Samuovia. This force directed its thrust from the Brigoff Stellar Nebula, Palymer, and Karabusar against Chalaa, Isis, Little Boravia, and Greater Boravia. The second, commanded by Major-General Surovius, assaulted the Haynsian Fastnesses. On both fronts, Laurasian troops achieved measurable successes. Samuovia, a veteran of the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War and Pugachevia's Rebellion, quickly proved his tactical prowess. He defeated a Haynsian convoy of armored couriers at Cafe (September 20-22); by September 24, Laurasian troops had overrun the Haynsian operational outposts of Immer, Gera, and Hamzat.
    • On September 27, 1782, he defeated Prince Halim-Karany's chief subordinate, the Despot's brother and colleague, Kalga Arsla-Karany, in the Battle of Edut. By October 6, Laurasian troops had secured the Gates of Perekop and were besieging both Isis and Chalaa. Isis capitulated on October 9, followed by Chalaa two days later, dealing a heavy blow to Bahavair II's position. On October 14, the Battle of Cuban resulted in another victory for General Samuovia, who captured thirty Haynsian corvettes and 50,000 Haynsian Martial Warriors. Surovius, at the same time, was making decisive advances. Repelling a Haynsian thrust against Gezlev (September 20-24), he stormed Tivran (September 26) and harried the Haynsian supply post of Himmeria (September 28-October 1), before destroying a Haynsian defensive armada in the Battle of Nikolavar (October 4, 1782). Nearly half of the Haynsian fleet was destroyed in this confrontation. By October 9, Theodoros and Baina had both capitulated to General Surovius's forces, and Bahavair II Karany found himself under heavy pressure. On October 13, Jay XIV Karany, who had returned to Palymer, issued a manifesto to his subjects, urging them to "rise up against the authority of the usurper and to reject him, his ways, and his associates." The Despot was indeed, growing increasingly unpopular. He had, in August 1782, forbidden his subjects to send out any communications over the Galactic Holonet; to undertake in any financial or property transactions outside of the Despotate's territories; and to travel to the Caladarian Galaxy unless if they were given explicit permission. Bahavair II, in fact, had ordered his subjects to offer displays of allegiance to the "ways of our ancestors", and his police agents harshly punished all of those who were viewed to be "insubordinate" to his demands. The Haynsian colonies of Kalchia and Sagir had seen outbursts of repeated civil dissent against the Despot's authorities, especially during the latter weeks of August. Jay XIV now sought to take advantage of his half-brother's unpopularity in order to buttress his own position with the Haynsian people. Using the appeals that had been employed by his uncle, Neal V Karany, in 1775-76, the Despot promised to treat "my subjects in a lenient and fair manner, and to attack those who have threatened your independence." These appeals managed to work.
  • October 7-In September 1782, a corps of Spamalkan and Haxonian mercenaries under the command of the Haxonian Captain-General Sebastiano da Modena had taken possession of Smwerick in the Dumbarton Governorate and announced their intention to resist the further advances of the Imperial Military. Da Modena, who had fought for the Holy Spamalkan Empire in the Durthian Rebellion and the Barbary Wars, had been entrusted by Emperor Philicus, in June 1782, of assembling his own corps of mercenaries so as to provide direct military support to the Desmonian Rebellion against Laurasian forces. Da Modena had recruited throughout Spamalkan and Haxonian dominions, even though his actions were not condoned by Doge da Ponte and the Haxonian Senate. The Doge, in fact, had warned Empress Aurelia of Spamalkan schemes in a communique of August 27, 1782, declaring that "Her Majesty should take effective measures in order to provide for the security and the tranquility of your realms." Aurelia had not taken these warnings in vain, and Laurasian forces in the Outskirt Districts had been placed on elevated alert. This did not, however, prevent da Modena from penetrating to Smwerick and taking control of that stronghold. The Imperial Government did not waste time in its response, however, and Greysius of Wiltonia, in a series of confrontations at Derith, Stirling, Selkirk, and Aberdeen, prevented Desmond and Baltinglass from being able to join forces with da Modena. On October 7, 1782, Lord Greysius himself arrived at Smwerick with 100,000 Laurasian troops and fifty warships of the Imperial Navy, and instigated a siege of the stronghold. Laurasian forces quickly isolated the mercenaries, and a orbital bombardment during the early hours of October 8 penetrated Smwerick's shield generators. The Siege lasted for only three days, and on October 10, da Modena was forced to surrender. Having no mercy for foreign mercenaries, and acting with explicit authorization from the General Headquarters, Greysius ordered for all of the mercenary officers and personnel to be executed en masse. This grim work was accomplished by October 16; the corpses of 50,000 men were dumped unto Dun Moon. Da Modena himself was court-martialed and given the full horrors of a traitor's death. The fall of Smwerick severely weakened the Desmonian Rebellion, and during the last two months of 1782, whilst the Laurasian intervention in the Despotate was ongoing, Greysius destroyed or plundered sixty rebel bases and colonies throughout the Outskirt Districts.
  • October 21-
    • On October 19, the Haynsian Despot Bahavair II Karany, who was growing increasingly desperate, and also wished to secure a victory over "foreign invaders", commanded Prince Halim-Karany to advance from Chereseneos to the Gates of Perekop, in order to arrest a further Laurasian advance. Halim-Karany assembled what was to be the last large Haynsian force, comprised of seventy destroyers, fifty Haynsian cruisers, and a number of corvettes. On October 20, he managed to feint a Laurasian force at Aqlim, and to prevent Laurasian moves towards Greater Boravia. Major-General Samuovia, who was undoubtedly now the chief operational commander of Laurasian forces in the Perekop region, had the advantage, however, for his contacts alerted him of the Prince's moves. The following day, October 21, 1782, he intercepted Halim-Karany at Chongar, a minor penal colony located thirty light-years west of Karabusar. The ensuing Battle of Chongar lasted for only four hours and ended in a decisive victory for the forces of the Laurasian Empire. Two-thirds of the Haynsian force was destroyed or captured; the Haynsian corvettes and couriers were outclassed by the Eclectia-class dreadnoughts and Styla-class frigates of the Imperial Laurasian Navy. Prince Halim-Karany himself was captured, his attempt to flee from the battlefield on his personal starfighter ending in failure. Presented before General Samuovia, the Prince held himself with dignity, and refused to display any fear. This impressed the Laurasian General, who ordered for him to be kept in comfortable confinement in officers' quarters on his own flagship, the IMS Demeventhia Olympathia. Following the Battle of Chongar, Haynsian resistance collapsed. On October 23, General Samuovia overran Infiapol, Semfapol, and Sermnapoval, shattering the defenses of the Haynsian Homeland Territories. Balaclava capitulated to him without a fight two days later; and on October 29, Doros was seized by General Surovius.
  • November 3-On November 3, 1782, the garrison of Haynes, realizing that further resistance was futile, and having lost faith in Bahavair II, surrendered without a quarrel to the Laurasian Empire. The claimant Despot himself, realizing all was lost, now attempted to flee from the Angelina Spiral with Kalga Arsla-Karany. On November 11, however, the two were intercepted by a squadron of Laurasian starfighters near Maurisapol, located on the outskirts of the Haynsian Fastnesses. They were both arrested, bound in chains, and transported to Bahkchisiray, which had capitulated to Major-General Surovius the day before. On the orders of Surovius (acting on instructions issued by the Empress herself), the claimant and his chief commander, along with Prince Hali-Karany, were transported to, and imprisoned, at Kherson in the Northern Reaches from November 23. By November 26, Ikkerman, Oblis, Donetsk, and the Iversk Comets had all been secured by Laurasian forces, and the Bahavairan Insurgency of 1782, as it came to be known, had been completely suppressed. Jay XIV Karany returned to Haynes in a formal progress on December 3, 1782; the Despot was received by the two Laurasian Generals, and was again acclaimed as master by the Haynsian population. The Haynsian Despotate, however, had been permanently weakened by the ordeal, and it was now at the complete mercy of the Laurasian Empire. On December 19, 1782, Empress Aurelia ordered Chancellor Walsingis and the Imperial Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Regional Administration to make the final preparations for the annexation of the Haynsian Despotate; two days later, in a letter to Surovius, she ordered him to maintain all presently standing garrisons and units in Haynsian territory, officially for the "maintenance of order and tranquility in His Mightiness's realms." This was a direct violation of the Treaty of Aynalıkavak and of earlier Laurasian pledges to the Marasharite Court. On December 24, the Empress and the Imperial Court retired to the Fountain Palace on Venasia Prime, and the following day, Ascentmas Day 1782, she confided to Leicesterius that "the destruction of the Despotate will secure our Empire's stability and its position relevant to its neighbors in the Amulak Spiral." As the year 1782 came to an end, the Laurasian Empire was posed for another territorial expansion. At the same time, events connected with Scottrian Queen Mariana and with the Durthian Rebellion were obtaining prominence again, as would be revealed in the new year.

1783Edit

  • January 1-
    • 1783, the 83rd year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire's dominions in the Angelina Spiral returning to a state of relative tranquility and stability, whilst at the same time the Imperial Laurasian Government continued to be involved with the Anjou marriage project, the Durthian Rebellion, and the internal affairs of the Haynsian Despotate. The previous year had seen the intervention of the Empire's military forces into the Bahavairan Insurgency, which the Empress Aurelia and her ministers had viewed as threatening to the Empire's interests. The suppression of this insurgency, and the re-installation of Jay XIV Karany on the Haynsian throne, were, however, only steps to the Empire's final absorption of the Despotate's territories. At the same time, the recent victories obtained by Lord-General Greysius, Admiral Whyrtia, General Butleria, and their subordinates against the forces of the Desmonian Rebellion had begun the process of clearing out dissent against the Empire's authorities in the Dumbarton Governorate. This year was to see the complete and final suppression of the Desmonian Rebellion, although tensions would persist in the Scottrian regions which would reappear again in the following decade. Finally, the Empress Aurelia had brought a firm end to any prospect of marrying Anjou. Although she continued to express her public support for him, and endorsed his efforts to establish himself in the Durthian States, Aurelia had made clear that she would not bound herself "by marriage to any foreign potentate, for that would arouse the ire of my subjects and result in the balance of power being completely disrupted."
    • Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I, however, was growing ever more weary of his Laurasian counterpart's intentions, and particularly viewed her moves in Haynsia and in her recently acquired Scottrian Provinces as threatening to his own position. He was also agitated at the continuing flow of Laurasian mercenaries and financial aid to the Durthian States. The Emperor engaged more and more in correspondence with ex-Scottrian Queen Mariana, who found that there were certain individuals on Laurasia Prime, especially those of Traditionalist adherence, who supported her claims to the throne. This year would see all of these issues rising to the forefront, and would also result in another territorial expansion for the Empire at the expense of the Marasharites. In her New Year's proclamation of January 1, 1783, the Empress emphasized her belief that "the realms of Almitis will continue to thrive, and will, through His Grace, crush the efforts of all usurpers, maintain its influence among all powers, and fulfill His Will."
  • January 10-By January 1783, the situation of the forces of the Desmonian Rebellion had reached a desperate low. Imokhill, which had long served as one of the chief supply bases and communications terminals for the Desmonian Rebellion, was besieged by government units from December 22. Brian Fitzgerald of Imokhill, the Laird Fitzgerald's brother and third-in-command of the rebellion, had taken command of the planetary garrison four days before Admiral Whyrtia commenced the siege. Fitzgerald had at his disposal some 70,000 Scottrian, Haxonian, and Spamalkan mercenary troops; a corps of 50 warships with a squadron of 1,200 starfighters; and a number of Ikkia-class turbocannon, capable of firing 4,000 rounds per second. The forces of the Laurasian Empire under Admiral Whyrtia, however, were overwhelming. Whyrtia had at his command 300 warships with five squadrons of 6,000 starfighters; 50 Imperial-class turbocannon; and a detachment of troops from the 67th and 69th Imperial Armies, along with 150,000 Imperial Marines. He was determined to spare the rebels nothing, and on December 21, stormed the rebel supply post on Abraxas. The following day, Laurasian couriers and destroyers sundered all supply lines to the star system and began an extensive bombardment of its outlying defenses. By New Year's Eve 1782, the IMS Emecia and IMS Catalania had progressed through Lardman's Point, and penetrated to Imokhill's sole moon, Mavhill. On January 3, 1783, the Battle of Mavhill resulted in a decisive victory for the Laurasian Empire, as Admiral Whyrtia captured most of the Scottrian couriers and transports. Imokhill now found itself under extensive bombardment from superior Laurasian warships. Brian Fitzgerald himself, determined not to surrender to the Laurasian forces, fled on his personal starfighter during the late hours of January 9. On January 10, 1783, Imokhill capitulated to Admiral Whyrtia. During the course of the next fifteen days, Whyrtia stormed Bandon, Nenagh, and Sharron, three major command posts for the Desmonian Rebellion. On January 26, he obtained a decisive victory over a Scottrian supply convoy under Edmund Mac'Laren in the Battle of the Roscrea Straits. Mac'Laren himself was captured at the end of the battle, and by the orders of Whyrtia, bound in chains and transported to Leith. He would be tried by the Regional Court of Assizes of Ediania on February 6, convicted after four hours of proceedings, and executed on February 11. By the middle of February 1783, government forces had recovered nearly two-thirds of the colonies and strongholds seized by the Desmonian Rebellion.
  • January 17-
    • The Duke of Anjou, who as previously shared was disgruntled with the Durthian States-General, had by the middle of January 1783 conceived the notion that he could obtain glory and a more secure position of command for himself if he had control of one of the major Durthian star systems. December 1782 had seen the Spamalkan-Loyalist Durthian forces under the command of the Duke of Parma obtain more victories over the overstretched Durthian Confederates and their foreign mercenaries. On December 9, Parma had surprised a Durthian transport convoy at Herne, capturing thirty Durthian corvettes with nearly five million tons of military and agricultural supplies. Halle, Biercken, and Tiergarten fell to the Duke's forces by December 22, and on December 27, he repelled a Durthian counter-offensive against Namurs. On January 7, 1783, Parma was congratulated by his master, Emperor Philicus, who commanded for all of his subjects to give praise to the Spamalkan Hierarchs for the victories obtained by the Empire's generals. Anjou himself, who had displayed incompetence as a field commander, and had no strategic vision, now foolishly believed that he could seize Antwerp for himself. Antwerp had been recovered by Durthian forces in October 1782, in one of their few victories of that harrowing year. It was, however, still reeling from the effects of its plunder by Spamalkan forces seven years earlier, and had but a shadow of its previous economic and political prominence.
    • Nevertheless, the citizens of Antwerp did not want to face destruction and slaughter again, and they were determined to defend themselves. Anjou had instructed his Franconian subordinates, on January 9, to prepare for a secret move into Antwerp. Just four days later, however, a Spamalkan spy, hoping to frustrate the Duke's further schemes, leaked information of his plans to the citizens of Antwerp. They now constructed a series of barricades around the star system; re-charged their turbocannon; and fortified the Central Citadel in Heseria City. On January 17, 1783, Anjou, who deemed it an "opportune" time and unaware of the garrison's preparations, attempted to fool the citizens of Antwerp by asking to stage a Ducal Entry into their star system. The garrison of Antwerp admitted the Duke's small force; he believed that Antwerp's garrison was small. Once within the star system, however, the garrison launched a sudden and pinpoint attack upon Anjou's warships. The Duke's transports could not land on the planetary surface, and twenty-five of his thirty destroyers were smashed by Durthian fire within hours. Anjou himself barely escaped with his life. The failure of his attempt to seize Antwerp resonated throughout intergalactic civilization. Philicus, when he received word of Anjou's ignominious defeat, danced for glee and declared that the same fate would soon be delivered to all of the Durthian fiends. Reactions, in other quarters, however, were far different.
  • January 26-
    • Empress Aurelia convened, on January 26, 1783, a session of the Imperial Privy Council at the Grand Assembly Room of the Fountain Palace, in order to discuss the recent events in the Durthian States. Eight days before, she had been officially notified of Anjou's failed attempt to penetrate into and seize Antwerp. The Imperial Intelligence Agency had continued to monitor the Duke's actions, and received word of his preparations the day before he launched his assault. The Empress, however, had not wished to make an effort to halt Anjou from carrying out his plans, worried that this would make it appear to the Franconians as if she were opposed to their ventures in Durthia. These fears, however, were unfounded. The day after Anjou's debacle, his brother, King Hensios III, rushed out a manifesto from Parri declaring that he had "absolutely no involvement" in his brother's "harebrained scheme" and that he condemned any attempt to violate Durthian territorial sovereignty. The Estates-General condoned his proclamation on January 22, formally censuring Anjou for his actions. Anjou's own mother, Queen-Dowager Catharina d'Medici, wrote to her son on January 24, declaring that he "should have died young, so as to not have caused distress to so many families and the death of so many innocents." Aurelia, having learned of the Franconian response, now felt that this incident would provide her the excuse to finally abandon the Anjou marriage project, publicly as well as privately. The Empress ordered the Council to issue a proclamation condemning the Duke's moves and reiterating the Empire's support for a "conclusion to all of the harrowing troubles in the Durthian Duchies."
    • Chancellor Walsingis also advised her to make a final statement of intentions about the marriage with Anjou. On February 2, 1783, the Empress formally and finally disavowed Anjou, declaring that "my Lord's actions in causing needless destruction and carnage in the Durthian Duchies, and the dangers of bringing this Empire into undue conflict, have compelled me to formally end all moves towards a marriage engagement." The Empress, however, stated that she had no hard feelings for Anjou himself, and that the Imperial Laurasian Government would not drop its sympathy for the Durthian States. Franconian King Hensios III, who had never been particularly in favor of his brother's marriage, and himself wishing to refrain from war with Spamalka, reaffirmed his commitment to the Treaty of Blois and that under no circumstances were relations between Franconia and Laurasia changed as a result of the marriage proposal lapsing. Anjou himself staged a melodramatic show of distress at the rejection of him by Aurelia, but quickly recovered. On February 7, Aurelia confided to the Lord Treasurer that "I am an old woman, to whom paternosters will suffice in place of nuptials" and that she was no longer "the best match in all creation." The Empress would have to contend with the growing problem of the succession during the succeeding two decades still remaining to her reign; she was almost fifty, and entering the first stages of menopause. All that her advisers could hope for now was that she would outlive the Queen of Scottria.
  • February 19-By February 1783, the position of the Haynsian Despot Jay XIV Karany had become untenable. Only a little more than two months had passed since the Despot had been restored to the Haynsian throne by his Laurasian "protectors". From the first, however, the Despot violated his promises to his Haynsian subjects and revealed himself to be a lazy, ineffective, and despotic ruler. His exile at Palymer had further aggravated his lust for luxury and wealth; he had become more and more attuned to the idea of living the grandest, most expensive life on the backs of his subjects. The Despot became "enervated" by luxury; learned to despise the rude manners of his common subjects; engaged a Laurasian cook; and was even served from Narrian silver plate, the expense of which was equivalent to a Haynsian laborer's yearly income. He traveled on a splendid repulsorcraft, insulting the sensibilities of the warrior elite, and even solicited an honorary commission in the Imperial Laurasian Army. These were not the only insults. The Despot maintained the secret police forces which had been employed extensively by all of his immediate predecessors. He ordered for his subjects in all of his major star systems to swear an oath of allegiance to him personally and to declare publicly all of their political and social intentions. The Despot harshly punished all of those whom he perceived to be opposed to him; in January 1783 alone, nearly 60,000 soldiers of the Haynsian Martial Army were executed for "treason", and some 200,000 Haynsian civilians in thirty star systems throughout the Despotate were tortured or incarcerated for their crimes. Finally, the Despot's economic policies proved totally inept. Unwilling to arouse another intervention by the Imperial Laurasian Government, and himself dependent upon Laurasian financial aid, Jay XIV refused to sponsor any construction or commerce projects within his realms. Although he had his household staffed with foreign servitors, and himself employed the services of architects and other enterpreneurs for his personal household from the Caladarian Galaxy, the Despot refused to sponsor the economic development of his realms. As a result, unemployment rates rose to nearly 9% by the end of February 1783. The Haynsian Treasury, burdened by military payments, the Household's expenses, and the costs incurred from the recent Bahaviran Insurrection, was in a deficit to the tune of $1.2 quadmillion Haynsian bajaks. With the Haynsian Despotate in this dire situation, it was inevitable that Laurasian clout would continue to grow. Major-General Alexander Surovius, once again commanding the forces along the Trans-Angelina Transit Route, provided financial aid and consultation to many factions at the Despotate's court, acting on the orders of the Imperial General Headquarters. The Despot himself was under extensive pressure by the Laurasian Ambassador to the Haynsian Court, Sir Amidas Yurania, who was under orders to encourage further dissension in the Haynsian realms. Most importantly, the Laurasians encouraged the emergence of pro-Imperial movements on Haynes, Chalaa, Isis, Doros, Theodoros, Tivran, and Little Boravia, which began to clamor against the Despot and for the Laurasian Empire to intervene and annex the Despotate's realms. This would finally usher in the final annexation of the Haynsian Despotate by the Laurasian Empire.
  • March 2-By the first weeks of March 1783, the government forces of the Laurasian Empire had obtained the decisive advantage over the forces of the Desmonian Rebellion. On February 25, Laird Fitzgerald of Imokhill, seeking to maintain the initiative, launched a sudden raiding offensive against Castlemilk, Albemaine, and Albright. He experienced some success at first, managing to impound a number of Laurasian commercial vessels near Verst during the late hours of that day. Within a few days, however, the advantage had shifted again to the Laurasian forces. General Butleria, who had established his command headquarters on Branxholm, inflicted a crushing defeat upon Fitzgerald and his subordinate Captain Thomasius Stulderia in the Battle of Lamant (February 28, 1783). The following day, on March 1, Stulderia was killed when his starfighter experienced a catastrophic engine failure and crashed into Mac'Leelen's Star. His death was a considerable loss for the Desmonian Rebellion, but it was now to suffer another one. Brian Fitzgerald of Imokhill, who had barely managed to evade Laurasian forces at Imokhill, had continued to launch raids against Laurasian positions at Oir, Cork, Niddry, Blackstone, and Brechin. Admiral Whyrtia, however, who was determined to defeat this rebel and his band, pursued a vigorous campaign against him. During the early hours of March 2, 1783, the 55th Imperial Fleet and units of the 69th Imperial Army, under the command of Whyrtia and Rear-Admiral Sir Theodosius Ushavius (one of the future heroes of the Fifth Laurasian-Marasharite War), launched a sudden assault against Fitzgerald's position at Tralee, a minor Scottrian colony located six light years to the north of Cork. Fitzgerald put up a vigorous fight with the few units remaining to him, but was clearly outclassed. The battle came to a end after only four hours; Fitzgerald himself was killed by Laurasian troopers who boarded his personal corvette, the Eradicator of the Lords. By March 7, Whyrtia had terminated all rebel raids against Cork, storming rebel bases on Listowel, Clonktilly, and Dungarvan's Asteroids. Desmond, on his part, managed to evade government troops, and now engaged in an extensive guerrilla war with Laurasian garrisons at Tipperary, Carry, Niddry, Corgaff, Craibstone, Auchindoun, and Mons Graspicus, declaring that it was not within his conscience to surrender to the Laurasian oppressors. On March 25, 1783, Sir Nicholas Sauvaria, who had been one of Fitzmaurice's initial supporters, committed suicide when he was entrapped by a Laurasian squadron at Mervell. On April 1, Empress Aurelia (who had returned to Laurasia Prime on March 22 after a short progress through the Decapolian and Horacian Provinces), declared that any rebels who surrendered their arms peacefully and submitted to her authority would be pardoned for their offenses. During the course of the next two months, some 40,000 rebel mercenaries would take advantage of the Imperial Laurasian Government's offer.
  • April 8-
    • By the middle of March 1783, the Haynsian Despotate was a decayed, helpless state, no longer capable of military initiative or of "internal" vigor. The Haynsian Despot Jay XIV Karany, who had grown more careless towards his duties of governance, and was engrossed in the luxuries of the Haynsian Court, seemed to no longer be in a position to exert authority over his subjects. Indeed, the internal conditions in the Haynsian Despotate would have seemed, to any foreigner, to be horrific. The Despotate's sorry economic condition has already been described; its military state was even worse. By 1783, the once formidable Haynsian Martial Force had withered considerably. The Haynsian Despotate's forces now comprised of merely 700 armored vessels, eight squadrons of starfighters (for a total of 10,000), and 10 million Haynsian Troopers. This was greatly in contrast to its status at the height of its power during the eighteenth century (1720), when the Despotate could boast of having 25,000 warships, 150 million Haynsian Troopers, and twenty-two squadrons of starfighters (with a total of 65,000). The few military forces remaining to the Despotate were poorly trained, disorganized, and exhausted by the constant civil conflicts which had dominated Haynsian affairs since the later stages of the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War (and indeed, in some form, throughout the eighteenth century to that point). The Despotate's soldiers no longer considered themselves to have any viable purpose. Forbidden to launch raiding expeditions beyond the Despotate's frontiers, and confined to garrison and patrol duties, they were no longer possessed of the same vigor and determination as previously. The Despotate seemed lethargic and weak, conditions ideal for the Laurasian Empire. Empress Aurelia herself had much justification for bringing the Despotate into the fold of her Empire. The Haynsians had raided into the Caladarian Galaxy as early as 1531, and during the reign of Antigonus II (1561-80), they had become a serious threat to the Laurasian Empire. From the 1590s to the 1680s, Haynsian raiding expeditions into the Empire, and into other regions of the Caladarian Galaxy, had taken an average of 4.5 million captives per year, who had then been processed at the slave markets of Haynes, Balaclava, Quinta-il-Vily, Perekop, Karabusar, and Bahkchisiray, before being dispersed throughout the Angelina Spiral and into the Great Amulak Spiral. The Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) had outlawed Haynsian raids, mandating that the Despotate compensate the Empire for any ravages thereafter. This treaty, however, was soon broken, and raids continued sporadically throughout most of the eighteenth century. As late as 1750, Haynsian vessels were seizing captives in the Wild Marshes, Dejanican Lavella, and the Hutsite Reaches; the 1769 raiding expedition into the Galactic Borderlands, already noted, was the last significant Haynsian incursion.
    • The Laurasian conquest of Haynsia in 1771, and the subsequent Treaty of Kuckuk Kaynarca, had brought Haynsian raids to a final end. Laurasians, however, remembered the earlier history of their Empire's interactions with the Despotate, and wished for that state to be wiped off the map. Strategical concerns also prevailed in the minds of the Empress and her ministers; the annexation of the Despotate would consolidate the Laurasian grip over the Galactic Borderlands and Scottria; provide a projection point for Laurasian influence into the Great Tesmanian Cloud; and ease Laurasian transit to the Angelina Spiral. Most importantly, Aurelia realized, an intervention at this stage could be accomplished peacefully, without a military operation being needed (as had been the case with Scottria). The assemblies of pro-Laurasian "supporters" have already been noted; the Empress now sought to intensify their activities. On March 4, 1783, two days after the Battle of Tralee, the Haynsian Prince Ryan-Nester, who had been paid a substantial annuity of €550 billion dataries by the Imperial Treasury two weeks before, made a petition to the Haynsian Martial Sakku, requesting that negotiations commence between the Despotate and the Empire over the possibility of a "union" between the two states. Four days later, the Prince was seconded by motions from many of the prominent personages of the Despotate (who had also been bribed by the Imperial Government). These included Kalga Harim-Nester of Doros; Viceroy Dennai-Rogers of Theodoros; and Prince Shannai-Kavair of Sermnapoval. The Sakku itself, which was under heavy Laurasian influence, considered the petitions "thoughtfully"; then, on March 16, 1783, the body recommended to the Despot that "it would be expedient for Your Mightiness to recognize the supremacy of Her Imperial Majesty's government, and to relieve yourself of the burdens of governance." This message was amplified by the outbreak of pro-Laurasian rebellions on Chereseneos, Nikolavar, Donetsk, and Olbis (March 17-24), encouraged by agents of the Imperial Intelligence Agency. Jay XIV, who was himself uneasy of his base at the Haynsian Court, but at the same time conscious of his struggle to regain the throne, was at first wary and did little to act. The Despot, however, received on March 27 an extraordinary offer from his "protector". In her communique, the Empress Aurelia offered to confer upon him the title of "Despot-Emeritus of Haynsia"; to permit him to maintain a Haynsian household, and to advise on Haynsian affairs; to govern over Haynes in the name of the Empire; and to receive a Laurasian peerage, military commission, and estates in the Empire, in exchange for acknowledging Laurasian rule of the Despotate. To reinforce her message, Aurelia ordered Laurasian troops at Gezlev, Palymer, the Brigoff Stellar Nebula, Perekop, and Karabusar to conduct military exercises. Jay XIV, who now believed that all was lost, and lured by the offers given by the Empress, decided to abdicate. On April 2, 1783, the Despot issued a manifesto to his subjects, declaring that "the circumstances of the situation, and the generous offer of Her Imperial Majesty of Laurasia, have led me to consider that it would not be in the interest of our species for my reign to continue any longer. Our species, will in fact, benefit from the rule and protection of a more powerful sovereign, who will deflect all our enemies and preserve our martial honor." He therefore formally abdicated his throne, to take effect on April 7, in favor of the Imperial Laurasian Crown, transferring "all due title, ownership, and lordship over these realms to Her Imperial Majesty of Laurasia and her representatives." The Despot commanded all of the officers of government and the military to swear allegiance to their new mistress, and to disavow their bonds of loyalty to him. They, many of whom had been bribed or coerced by the Laurasians before hand (who were now swiftly occupying all of the major garrisons and strongholds in the Despotate under Surovius's command), submitted without demur and swore their allegiance to Aurelia.
    • On April 8, 1783, Aurelia I, in "response" to the continuing internal turmoil and economic issues in the Haynsian Despotate, and justifying her actions on the basis of security for the Laurasian Dominions, issued a decree formally annexing the Haynsian Despotate into the Laurasian Empire. The Despotate, which had existed in the Angelina Spiral since 1441, and had been a vassal of the Marasharite Empire from 1578-1774, now ceased to exist after 342 years. In her decree of annexation, the Empress declared it fitting to "the honor of my ancestors and the Lord Almitis that these realms have been absorbed into my domains." Within days of the official annexation, all of Haynsia had been occupied with little resistance by the forces of the Laurasian Empire; the former Despot himself had formally transferred his crown, seals, and ensigns to the Imperial Laurasian Government; and the Empire's territory was enlarged by the addition of nearly 500,000 inhabited star systems with nearly a trillion inhabitants, a far more comprehensive acquisition than that of either Scottria or Lavella, or indeed, the territories acquired in the Fourth Laurasian-Marasharite War. The Empire now ruled the entire Caladarian Galaxy and Angelina Spiral, and the annexation served to counterbalance Spamalka's conquest of Portugallia three years earlier. It also greatly raised Empress Aurelia's prestige with the foreign courts of the Great Amulak Spiral. Vigorous celebrations broke out throughout the Empire, from Laurasia Prime to Nicole to Kalbacha to even Ediania itself. A Te Deum service was held at the Westphalian Cathedral on April 11 to celebrate the annexation, attended by the Empress herself. The Earl of Oxfadia even composed an ode, On The Triumph of Almitis's Realm, to celebrate the annexation. A furious reaction, however, ensued at foreign courts. Aurelia's erstwhile ally, Pruthian Emperor Pru'a IX, was shocked by the Empress's swift and sudden annexation of the Haynsian Despotate.
    • Pru'a had himself grown weary of the Laurasian Empress's ambitions by this point, and although his loathing for Austarlia and Spamalka was still uppermost in his mind, he could not bring himself to issuing a manifesto of support for the Empress's move. Pru'a did, however, acknowledge the annexation. King Hensios III of Franconia learned of the annexation while hunting on Tournai; he is reported to have burst into a wailing fit, having to be soothed by his mother, the Queen-Dowager. Nevertheless, he too acknowledged the annexation. Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I was outraged when he learned of the annexation; he chastised all of his advisors in the Council Chambers of El Escorial (the Spamalkan Royal Palace), and strongly condemned his former sister-in-law's "act of wanton aggression." Philicus would not recognize the annexation until October 1783. Haxonian Doge da Ponte and Vendragian King Georg III were surprised by the Empress's sudden move, but quickly conferred recognition. Masacavanian Grand Duke Ivan IV, whose health was ailing by this point, also quickly recognized the annexation, keeping his sights set on continuing economic contacts with the Empire, and distracted by his own campaigns in Greater Breffal. By April 15, 1783, Aurelia's firm ally Joseth II, Dejanican King Stanis Vorrust I (after extensive pressure was applied by Ambassador Stackelburg), and the Durthian States-General (led by Prince William of Orange), had all acknowledged Aurelia's annexation of Haynsia. One state, however, did not: the Marasharite Empire.
  • April 29-
    • Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II and the Marasharite Grand Council were utterly alarmed and shocked by the Empress of Laurasia's sudden and swift annexation of the Haynsian Despotate. When he first received word that Aurelia had seized the Haynsia without opposition, Abdulahamid collapsed. The Emperor spent three days in bed, raving to his associates and declaring that the great Osman himself was cursing the Marasharite realms. Abdulahamid, however, eventually recovered his composure, and soon ordered his subordinates to begin taking vigorous measures in response to the annexation. In this, the Emperor was supported by his Grand Vizier, Halil Hamid. Izzet Mehmed had been dismissed as Grand Vizier on August 25, 1782, following his failure to suppress a civil uprising in Topacia's Foreign Quarter. He was consigned to exile at Belgravia, and died there on February 9, 1784 at the age of 61. Izzet was briefly succeeded as Grand Vizier by the Chief Pasha of the Emperor's Household, Yegen Hagci. Hagci, however, died suddenly on December 31, 1782. The Emperor had then turned to Halil Hamid. Born on June 4, 1736, Hamid had graduated from the Palace Corps in 1758 and had quickly ascended through the ranks of the administrative structure. He served as Secretary of the Emperor's Bureau of Commerce (1763-68), before becoming the aide to Grand Vizier Ivazzade Halil (1769-70). In 1771, Hamid was appointed as Chief Pasha of Commerce, and served in this position for six years, negotiating advantageous economic treaties with Masacavania (1773) and the Laurasian Empire (1775). In 1777, he became Governor of the Pazak Cluster, and was known for his vigor in maintaining Marasharite rule, enforcing tax collection, and dispensing justice to those under his charge. In 1782, Hamid returned to service in the Emperor's Household, obtaining a seat on the Marasharite Grand Council. He was supported by the venerable Chief Pasha of the Diplomatic Service, Ahmed Enfedi, who had him acquainted with the Emperor and his associates. Enfedi, however, suffered a massive stroke in February 1783, and he was paralyzed at the time of the Haynsian annexation (he would die at the Palace of Hamabs on August 5 of that year). Hamid's accession to the Grand Viziership, therefore, came in good stead. As one of the most educated officials in the Emperor's service (he could speak eight languages, including Laurasian, Franconian, Spamalkan, and Haxonian), Hamid was ideal to craft the Empire's response to Laurasian interference in the Angelina Spiral. On April 22, Abdulahamid II condemned the annexation, declaring that the actions of the Empress were a violation of the Treaties of Kuchuk Kaynarca and Aynalıkavak, which, he stated, had specifically protected the independence of the Haynsian Despotate. He then ordered Hamid to compile a more comprehensive response to the Imperial Laurasian Government's actions.
    • On April 29, 1783, the Grand Vizier published a formal protest at the Marasharite Court, which was wired directly to the Imperial Privy Council on Laurasia Prime. The Grand Vizier began his note with a stern denunciation of the Laurasian Empire's encroachments, which had extended "her reach in an unscrupulous manner in every direction." He noted the Laurasian conquest of Scottria, which had occurred only four years earlier, and the Laurasian acquisition of Dejanican Lavella in 1772, as a result of the First Partition. Following this, the Grand Vizier proceeded to "ask" the Empire, in a indignant manner, why it was engaged in such actions. His argument ran as thus: "What right can Laurasia have to territories annexed for ages to the dominions of the Porte? Should the Porte make such claims on any portion of the Laurasian dominions, would they not be repulsed? And can it be presumed that the Marasharite Porte, however desirous of peace, will acquiesce in wrong which, however it may be disguised, reason and equity must deem absolute usurpation? What power has the Porte offended? Whose territories have the Marasharite troops invaded? In the country of which prince is the Marasharite standard displayed? Content with the boundaries of empire assigned by our Osman and the Prophet, the wishes of the Porte are for peace; but if the court of Laurasia be determined in her claim, and will not recede without the acquisition of territories which do not belong to her, the Marasharite Porte, appealing to the universe for the justice of its proceedings, must prepare for war, relying on the decrees of All-Heavens, and confident in the interposition of the Prophet of prophets, that he will protect his faithful followers in the hour of every difficulty." The Vizier concluded his message by declaring that the Marasharite Empire would not condone any future territorial expansions by the Laurasian Empire, and that its interventions into the affairs of the Great Amulak Spiral, (alluding to the continued flow of Laurasian mercenaries and financial aid to the Durthian Confederates), would be "in contrast to the preservation of stability and tranquility among all the nations of the Universe." Empress Aurelia, when she read the communique, was alarmed by its contents. Although the Empress continued to pursue her "Marasharite Plan" and intended to expand the Empire's territory further at the expense of these, Laurasia's most persistent enemies, she did not wish to become involved in overt military conflict with the Marasharites at this stage. The Empress's attention was still primarily fixated by the Durthian Rebellion and by relations with Franconia, and she was worried that the Spamalkan Empire of Philicus I, growing ever more hostile towards the Imperial Laurasian Government, would seek to align itself with the Marasharites against the Empire. However, Aurelia also recognized that the Marasharite Empire itself would not be in the shape to plunge headlong into military conflict at this stage.
    • Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II, in spite of the fact that he had authorized the threatening missive composed by his Grand Vizier, did not wish to entangle himself in hostilities when his empire was not fully prepared for them. He continued to contend with taxation and other financial issues that impacted his treasury, and he was distracted by civil hostilities in Syria, Albania, and the Grecian Provinces directed against the authority of the Marasharite Government. Abdulahamid's attitude, therefore, was to mobilize his military resources and to make contingency plans for a possible future military conflict with the Laurasian Empire. Over the course of the next four months, the governments of both empires would be engaged upon an agenda of military mobilization and "preparation" for a potential conflict. Acting on the Emperor's orders, the Marasharite Grand Council drafted emergency plans for a military offensive into the Angelina Spiral. Marasharite garrisons throughout the Homeland Territories, Ochanian Provinces, and Gateway Provinces were placed on heightened alert, and ordered to conduct military exercises. The Emperor increased mobilization and compelled the Pashas to provide him regular updates about the conditions of their varied garrisons. From throughout his vast dominions, Abdulahamid sought to bring together resources to strengthen the Empire's stand against possible Laurasian offensives. Empress Aurelia, on her part, engaged in measures of preparation. She held several sessions of the Imperial Privy Council, to discuss the contingency plans drafted by the Imperial General Headquarters. The Headquarters themselves issued instructions to garrisons throughout the Laurasian Empire, particularly to those in the "affected regions" (those immediately adjacent to the Great Tesmanian Cloud). The garrisons of the Muggal Cluster, Galactic Frontier Route, Northern Reaches, and Trans-Angelina Route were placed on red alert, and the General Headquarters ordered Major-General Surovius to conduct military exercises in the Galactic Void. At Scanlan, Joyner, Andrea Doria, Theodore, Glassia, and along the Corporate Trade Corridor, imperial authorities began to stockpile military supplies, starship prototypes, and engines, in the instance that they would have to be quickly deployed for the use of the Imperial Navy. Finally, Chancellor Walsingis, acting on the Empress's instructions, sent several communiques to Austarlian Chancellor Kaunitz, obtaining firm assurance from him of Austarlia's support in the likelihood of military conflict. Austarlian Emperor Joseth II, who had been engaged in a series of military and financial reforms to prepare his realms for future conflict, strengthened the garrisons in Dalmatia, Croatia, Transylvania, Bukovina, and Royal Hungary in anticipation of conflict with the hated Marasharite "savages".
  • May 15-
    • In the midst of the annexation of the Haynsian Despotate and the continued travails of the Desmonian Rebellion, the Empress Aurelia continued to be concerned by the imprisoned ex-Scottrian Queen Mariana. The failure of the Anjou marriage scheme, the last such project embarked upon by the Empress, had impressed upon her the importance of ensuring that Mariana would not be able to accede to the Laurasian throne. The Empress had continued to express her fears over the Scottrian Queen to her leading ministers, and declared that Mariana would bring "damnation from the hands of the Anti-Almitis himself", if she ever engaged in a conspiracy against her person. Mariana, however, who still harbored hopes of acceding to the Laurasian throne and believed that Traditionalist elements within the Empire would assist her in overthrowing and (possibly) assassinating her cousin, had involved herself in a new conspiracy. The ex-Queen had continued to conduct her correspondence with Spamalkan Ambassador Mendoza, and through him, with his master the Emperor Philicus. In several communiques, Mariana expressed her wish that there would be "foreign elements" to assist her in arising from prison and reclaiming a position of prestige and influence at the expense of her cousin. In May 1782, Mendoza, who considered himself to be the foremost "defender" of the imprisoned Scottrian Queen's interests, established communications with several of her former associates and household members on Parri, in the Serene Kingdom of Franconia. Chief among these was the Monsieur de Lavigny, who had once served as a chamberlain in the Queen's household during the time of her brief marriage to the late King Franjak II. De Lavigny, who had cordial relations with such magnates of the Franconian Court as the Dukes of Torre and Avignon, also had access to considerable financial resources, which could be of use to the Scottrian Queen. By June, he had, with Mendoza's connivance and assistance, established communications with the ex-Queen directly. Mariana, convinced that she had someone who could draw foreign support from the realms of her first husband, eagerly shared her goals with the Franconian gentleman. In September 1782, de Lavigny established a escorial account for the former Scottrian Queen at the Bank of St. Claude's on Orleans, with an initial deposit of €500 billion dataries. He contributed a third of this amount; the rest came from the remaining dowager funds Mariana held from her days as Queen Consort of Franconia. With these funds, Mariana was able to recruit a network of spies and other agents to maintain her contacts in Franconia, provide her information about intrigues and diplomatic relations between Franconia and its neighbors, and recruit others to her cause. In October, de Lavigny successfully opened communications with the Queen's relatives, the Guises.
    • The Duke of Guise, in particular, now employed his extensive clout to acquire mercenaries and agents on Orleans, Tours, and Caen for the ex-Queen. All of these intrigues, however, did not completely escape the notice of the Imperial Laurasian Government. In January 1783, agents of the Imperial Intelligence Agency on Parri, working in collusion with the Franconian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, intercepted a cipher communique which had been composed by the Queen herself and dispatched to de Lavigny. This communique indicated that she was involved in some new conspiracy. Chancellor Walsingis, alarmed as to the Queen's intentions, sent instructions to the Earl of Aretha, commanding him to monitor the Queen's communications more closely and to routinely question the members of her household on the affairs of their mistress. He also urged the Empress Aurelia to promulgate harsher measures to crack down on "dissident elements" within the Empire and to restrain the activities of Traditionalist organizations. Empress Aurelia refused however, declaring that the Statute of Recusancy and other measures already passed were sufficient. The Earl of Leicesterius, as always concerned about his mistress's safety, wrote to his brother that "Her Majesty is slow to believe that the existence of such fiends is a danger to the realm. The Lord of His Mercy open her eyes!" By April 1783, Queen Mariana and her Franconian, Spamalkan, and Traditionalist allies had conceived a bizzare plan whereby she would be restored to the throne of an independent Scottria. This plan, however, did not come to fruition because of Mariana's insistence that she be installed in Scottria as an autocrat, without regards to the Scottrian Estates. Her allies harbored notions of imposing her as a semi-constitutional monarch; another barrier was that the Scottrians themselves were slowly beginning to accept the authority of the Laurasian Empire, and would not be likely to welcome back a woman whom they viewed as a traitor to their cause. Chancellor Walsingis, however, remained on Mariana's trail. On May 15, 1783, the Chancellor learned that the late Sir Nicholas Thorckmortonia's nephew, Sir Feresus, had been paying nocturnal visits to the Franconian Embassy at the Diplomatic Palace. Feresus, who had been born in 1754, was a Traditionalist and the cousin of Lady Aurelia Thorckmortonia, who would become a lady in waiting to the Empress Aurelia in September of that year and would ultimately be involved with Raleghia. He was sympathetic to Mariana's cause and carried a delusional hatred of the Empress and of the Reformed Almitian Church. Walsingis quickly concluded that Thorckmortonia was acting as the Queen's agent. In fact, he was in communication with the Duke of Guise and Monsieur de Lavigny. However, Walsingis had no idea about the exact objectives of the conspiracy, and was therefore obliged, in the following months, to monitor Thorckmortonia and Franconian Ambassador Deplessie (who had assumed his post in November 1782).
  • June 9-
    • On June 9, 1783, the Earl of Jadia, Imperial High Chamberlain of the Laurasian Empire, and one of the leading ministers of the Empress Aurelia the Great, died at the age of fifty-eight at his mansion, Besomonian House, in Constantinople. Jadia's health had been in decline for the past several months, a decline which had become accelerated after the commencement of the new year. In September 1782, the Earl had fallen ill with a violent bout of the Antigenes favor. The illness progressed to the point that he was obliged to withdraw from the Imperial Court to his estate on Hepudermia, and to confine himself in his private bedchambers to receive specialized treatments for the highly contagious disease. Jadia ultimately recovered by Twelfth Night 1782, but was permanently exhausted from his struggles. His decline was noted by his colleagues on the Imperial Privy Council. Lord Treasurer Burghley, who had always remained an ally and friend of his, urged Jadia, in January 1783, to retire from his post as Minister of Regional and Provincial Administration (which he had regained in July 1780). Jadia, however, refused, declaring that he had to continue in his duties towards his Empress, and that abdication of such duties would be an abdication of his honor before Almitis. The Earl, however, found himself more and more incapable of carrying out his duties, and suffered a series of panic attacks in March. Then, in May 1783, whilst the Empress and the Imperial Court were visiting Theobaldian House, Burghley's estate on Durglais, Jadia was stricken with a violent attack of fever. He was compelled to admission at the Royal Hospital of the Quencilvanian Palace, where, in spite of the treatments administered by the Empress's physicians, his condition quickly declined. On May 27, Jadia, who knew that he did not have much longer to live, begged to be permitted to retire to Besomonian House, so that he could "die in his own bed". This request was granted by the Empress's orders, and he was moved to his residence two days later.
    • Lord Treasurer Burghley, Chancellor Walsingis, Lords Husadarania and Knollysis, and Sadielus, among others, visited the dying Earl at his deathbed. Empress Aurelia herself, suffering from a bout of illness, was unable to attend his bed. Jadia gave full vent to his hatred for Leicesterius, and on June 4, warned his colleagues that "I am now passing into another reality, and must leave you to your fortunes and to the Empress's graces, but beware of the Gypsy (i.e. Leicesterius), for he will be too hard for you all. You know not the beast so well as I do." Leicesterius, when he learned of Jadia's admonition against him, was enraged, but concealed this to himself. Jadia then slipped into a coma on June 7, and died two days later at 9:00 A.M. in the morning. Empress Aurelia, who had emerged from her bout of sickness, ordered the Court into five days of mourning and praised Jadia in an official imperial proclamation. Jadia's funeral would be conducted at his family plot on Jadia on June 15, and he would be buried in a ceremony presided over by Lucius Veronius, Archbishop of Jadia. Jadia had married twice during his life. His first wife, Lady Aurelia Wirtholesius, daughter of the 1st Earl of Southerton, died in a starship accident near Dickinson on January 15, 1755. Nine months later, on September 14, he married Lady Franconia Sidronius, the younger sister of Sir Antigonus Sidronius. Their 28-year marriage was a happy one, but neither it nor his first union produced any children. Therefore, when the Earl died, he was succeeded in his title by his younger brother, Lord Antigonus Radycliffia of Calaxis II. Jadia's death deprived Leicesterius's opponents of their chief voice; in the future, attacks upon the Earl would be more indirect and subtle.
  • June 23-By June 1783, the units of the Desmonian Rebellion, under constant pressure by the forces of the Laurasian Empire, were at the brink of despair. The early months of 1783 had witnessed the deaths, at Laurasian hands, of many of the most prominent figures of the Rebellion. This included Mac'Laren, Stulderia, Brian Fitzgerald of Imokhill, and Sauvaria. O'Byrne, the Earl of Desmond, and the Laird of Imokhill, who were still determined at this stage not to surrender to the Empress's generals, nevertheless saw their fortunes decline further. Admiral Whyrtia and Lord Greysius pursued a series of vigorous offensives against rebel positions in the Dumbarton Governorate. Although Desmond continued to wage a guerrilla war with Laurasian troops, he was unable to prevent the fall of rebel bases or the defection of his subordinates to the Empire. April 1783 witnessed the defections of Laird John O'Neill of Brosna (April 5); Sir Patrick Tullum of Fenit (April 17); and the Commander of the Garrison of Ballyduff, Laird Robert Douglain of Tralee (April 24). By the middle of May 1783, government troops had stormed the rebel garrisons of Glenbeigh, Inch, and Kinmerre, inflicting severe damage on rebel supply lines into the Galactic Void. On May 23, Admiral Whyrtia inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Laird of Imokhill in the Battle of Tarbert, capturing a number of Scottrian starfighter and carrier models. Two days later, he stormed Winclace, forcing O'Byrne and Baltinglass to flee towards O'Vill. On June 2, 1783, the Battle of Drogheda resulted in a decisive victory for Lord Greysius. O'Byrne and Laird Fitzgerald lost the majority of their starfighters and transports in the confrontation. By June 11, government troops had recovered Hemkey, O'Vill, and the Maugard Asteroids. On June 23, 1783, Greysius obtained another, and even more decisive, victory in the Battle of Walerberry, storming O'Byrne's chief operational headquarters. On June 27, Laird Fitzgerald was intercepted by a Laurasian starfighter squadron at Carlow. The ensuing Battle of Carlow resulted in another decisive victory for the forces of Admiral Whyrtia and Lord Greysius. Fitzgerald himself was severely wounded in the confrontation, and captured by Laurasian troopers. Shortly after his presentation to the victorious Laurasian commanders, he died of his injuries. Empress Aurelia praised her commanders in a proclamation from the Imperial Court, and ordered for a Te Deum service at the Westphalian Cathedral on June 31. By August 1783, the Rebellion was truly in dire straits.
  • July 6-
    • On July 6, 1783, the former Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod, Demetrius Grindalius, died at his prison cell in the Secret Prison of Ipsus V at the age of sixty-four. During the course of the past six years, Grindalius had not retreated from the earlier theological stances which had brought him into conflict with the Empress Aurelia in the first instance. During the early years of his confinement, he had repeatedly expressed his views to his guards and fellow prisoners, declaring that the Anti-Almitis was condemning the Laurasian dominions and that the Empress Aurelia was an agent of his will. Eventually, in September 1780, the Empress, tired of Grindalius's ravings, had ordered for him to be translated to solitary imprisonment at the Secret Prison. This had silenced him, and his health deteriorated rapidly in the year before his death. The Empress had vowed that she would not appoint another Chief Procurator so long as Grindalius lived. His death, from her perspective, now allowed her to proceed to the imposition of someone who would maintain her authority over the Almitian Church. She was encouraged in this direction by Burghley and Walsingis, who wished for a Chief Procurator that would remain strictly subordinate to the Empress while vigorously enforcing Reformist policies. It was not until August 3, 1783, before Aurelia formally designated Grindalius's successor: Gallienus Whitshiftus, Archbishop of Caladaria. Whitshiftus was of the same age as the Empress. He was born on July 2, 1730, in Pollis Caladari, Caladaria, to Sir Antigonus Whitshiftus and his wife Euphemia. The elder Whitshiftus was the nephew of Demetrius Whitshiftus, Baron Whitshiftus of Pollis Caladari, and the CEO of Whitshiftan Metal Yards, one of the chief foundries in the Empire. Whitshiftus was therefore born into a family of wealth and some prominence. When he was five, his father died, and he was taken into the custody of his uncle, Abbot Ricomedius Whitshiftus of Wellwarthian Monastery. It was under his uncle's influence that he decided to pursue a career in theology. He attended St. Anthony's School and the Eccleasticial Prepartory Academy in Pollis Caladari, graduating from the latter institution in 1749. That year, Whitshiftus entered the Theological Faculty of the University of Caladaria, translating to Pembrokian Hall the following year. He graduated in 1753 with his BA in Theological Doctrine, and entered the service of the Almitian Church as a theological fellow. In 1755, he became a Fellow of Peterhouse, one of the chief academic monastic institutions in the Empire. Whitshiftus himself had Reformist tendencies from an early age, but during the reign of Empress Didymeia, professed himself to be a devoted Traditionalist. He resumed his theological studies in 1756, obtaining his MA in 1757 and his PhD in Spirtual Science in 1759 (both from the University of Laurasia Prime), the year of Empress Aurelia's coronation. The following year, Whitshiftus came to the notice of Archbishop Antiochus Coxeria of Mendelevium. Coxeria appointed Whitshiftus as his personal chaplain, and in 1761, named him as an Associate Rector of Teverian Abbey in Redranium.
    • Two years later, Whitshiftus became an Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Laurasia Prime, his alma mater, and gained much notice for his lectures. His salary was increased by Chancellor Dr. Nero Emevia, and in 1767, he was promoted to become a Senior Professor of Theology. Whitshiftus then became Master of first Pembrokian Hall and then Trinity Hall, Senior Rector of Teverian Abbey, and in November 1770, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Laurasia Prime. In 1771, Whitshiftus met the Earl of Leicesterius, who introduced him to the Empress Aurelia. Aurelia, fully aware of his reputation, named him Dean of St. Chalmer's Cathedral in Pollis Caladari in June 1771 and inducted him as a chaplain of the Imperial Household. Whitshiftus gained further notice for his theological debates at the University of Laurasia Prime and for his work, The Basic Tenets of the Trinity of Paul, Eusebius, and the Prophets of Almitis (1774), which earned both praise and criticism from academic circles throughout the Empire. Then finally, on March 24, 1777, the Empress designated Whitshiftus as Archbishop of Caladaria, his home world, to replace the deceased Nicolaus Bullighamia. During his six years at the diocese, Whitshiftus gained notice for his vigorous efforts to ensure conformity and for his disciplinarism towards Almitian congregations under his jurisdiction. Therefore, he was the almost inevitable choice for the Chief Procuratorate. Whitshiftus would become a close personal friend of the Empress, and in 1786, she would appoint him to the Privy Council, the only clergyman to be thus honored throughout her entire reign. Whitshiftus was dogmatic and hard working but also flexible and practical. As a result of his influence, Extremist Almitism would be all but eliminated during the course of the next decade.
  • July 12-
    • By July 1783, the Earl of Leicesterius found himself in "great disgrace on account of his marriage" with the Empress Aurelia, for he had presumed to refer to it "more plainly than ever before" in the Empress's presence (according to Ambassador Mendoza). Although in previous years Leicesterius and the Empress had remained at an uneasy peace with the fact of his union, they had recently come into conflict due to the actions of his wife's daughter, Lady Dorothea Deverania. Dorothea, who was nineteen years old by 1783, had fallen in love with Sir Thomasius Perrotus, the eldest son of Sir Demetrius Perrotus (1728-92), who was alleged to be the bastard son of the Emperor Antigonus III. In reality, Perrotus was the son of the merchant Thomasius Perrotus and his wife Didymeia, and had been born on November 11, 1728, at his father's residence on Chesham's Star. Perrotus was known for his fierce temperament and his swashbucking manner; his entire family, in fact, was known for its "adventurous" nature. Sir Thomasius, who had been born on Calaxis I on June 2, 1753, was the eldest son of his father by his first wife, Lady Anna Cheyerenia, daughter of the Warden of the Cron Drift, Sir Thomasius Cheyerenia. In spite of the fact that the Perrotus family was among the wealthiest gentry families in the Empire, and advanced far in the imperial service (the elder Perrotus, in fact, was to become Governor-General of Ediania in 1784 and serve in that position for four years), the Empress Aurelia never liked them, particularly loathing the rumors which connected her to the family patriarch. Consequently, she reacted with distaste when she learned, on July 10, that Leicesterius's stepdaughter had married the younger Perrotus in a secret ceremony at the Perrotus family estate, Bromelnthian Mansion, on Clackimaris. The Empress reacted with the fury of the enraged in response to the marriage. Two days later, on July 12, 1783, she banished Lady Deverania from the Imperial Court, forbidding her to ever appear before her again; commanded for her husband to be arrested and imprisoned at the Post Settlement Prison of Hepudermia; and categorically denounced Countess Laetita of Leicesterius, whom she blamed for "polluting" her daughter's mind. By contracting her marriage without the approval of the Empress, Lady Deverania had violated the Treason Statute of 1736. By this stage, Aurelia was considering a revision of the statute which had been so willfully defied by everyone from Lady Deverania, to her mother, to the Ladies Greysius. On July 13, the Empress, lashing out in a act of petty vindictiveness, imposed a fine of €23.5 billion dataries upon the Countess of Leicesterius, so that she could be punished for her daughter's "insolence". Leicesterius, who was appalled at the Empress's behavior towards his step-family, now interceded with her on their behalf. On July 16, they had a fierce verbal argument in the Private Audience Chambers, which ended with Aurelia slapping Leicesterius in the head and angrily dismissing him from her presence. She then threatened to have the marriage of Dorothea and Sir Thomasius declared null and void by the Holy Synod, and even to imprison the Countess herself. Ultimately, however, the Empress calmed down. Chancellor Walsingis, who had become a good friend of the Earl's by this point, managed to convince Aurelia that such actions would smack of absolute tyranny, and that she should not appear to her subjects as such in a time of such threats posed to her position by personages such as Scottrian Queen Mariana and the Spamalkan Emperor Philicus. On July 22, the Empress summoned Leicesterius back to her presence, and breaking down into tears, apologized for her earlier behavior towards him and his family.
    • Two days later, she ordered for Sir Thomasius to be released from the Post Settlement Prison, and permitted both him and his wife to return back to the Imperial Court, although she forbade her household officials from acknowledging them as a married couple in court ceremonies of precedence. Aurelia, however, refused to revoke the fine imposed upon the Countess of Leicesterius, a burden ultimately borne by her husband, which further entangled his finances. Although this particular conflict had ended, Leicesterius's power and influence had suffered a severe blow. He was no longer as influential as in the early years of her reign. The Empress frequently ignored his advice, especially concerning the Durthian Rebellion and the relations with Franconia and Austarlia. Leicesterius believed that the Spamalkans needed to be expelled from the Durthian Duchies through military intervention, while his mistress still sought to refrain from direct entanglement in the conflict, viewing Scottrian and Haynsian matters to be more important. The Earl himself was now fifty (having reached that milestone on June 24, 1783). He was balding, overweight, with a very pale skin tone. The Earl suffered from intermittent stomach pains, irregular bowel movements, and headaches. Having indulged himself previously, he now sought to moderate his diet and to take the waters at such spa worlds as Idyll, Shannon, and Rebecca. These efforts were in vain, however, and the Earl's poor health made him short-tempered and paranoid. He believed that everyone was criticizing him and even thought that there was a conspiracy being plotted to take his life. Leicesterius's friends, and even his enemies, deplored the change in him. Lord Treasurer Burghley, who was 12 years older than Leicesterius but enjoyed relatively good health, lamented that "His Lordship is in a sad state, from which his early days in this reign seem to pale in comparison." The Earl was still Master of the Empress's Vehicles, but was no longer able to participate in any tournaments or competitions at the Imperial Court. He also occupied an important place in the Empress's heart, but found it hard to compete with her younger favorites such as Raleghia and the young Nicanor Blountia, the brother of Lord Mountjoy of Hoohshikk. The following years would see Leicesterius's health decline further, and his personal life would be ravaged with turmoil.
  • July 26-October 21-
    • On July 26, 1783, the Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court departed from Laurasia Prime in order to commence the official progress of 1783. In her New Year's proclamation, the Empress had declared her intention to conduct a tour through the Donguarian and Merlite Provinces, with the goal of displaying herself to her subjects in those regions and further communicating the splendor and majesty of her Imperial Court. The Empress, however, decided to make visits to several other prominent star systems as well. She conducted a brief procession through Janesia, Maroni, Dearton's Gateway, Darsis, Clackimaris, Little Mexicana, Augis V, Apathama Vixius, Oxia Vixius, Chesham's Star, Merandaz, and Americana (July 26-August 2, 1783) before proceeding to Durglais, where she stayed with Lord Burghley for two days. There, Burghley staged a massive performance for the Empress by the Symphony Orchestra of Addie, Caroline, one of the most renowned acts in the Empire, as well as a holographic stimulation of the Battle of Athenis (995), in which Timur the Devastator had destroyed the forces of his rival, Tokhtamysh of the Golden Horde. On August 5, the Empress proceeded to Briannia, where she toured the Tombs of the Briannian Kings and resided at the Old Briannian Royal Palace, receiving tributes from prominent subjects in Barsoni City. She remained on Briannia for two days, before proceeding to the Nexus Route, passing through Caroline, Jem, Boo, Atticus, and Jean, and reaching Ipsus V on August 11. She toured the grounds of the Secret Prison (although she did not see any of the prisoners confined there) and observed the antics of the Flaming Giants in the North Ipsian Natural Reserve. Finally, on August 14, after brief stops at Leopoldia, Big Twinny, and Frederickslandia, the Empress proceeded rapidly down the Kimanian Run to the Denveranian Trunk Line, and from there, through the Polonian Provinces, to Mohi. On August 17, the Empress watched a staged simulation of the Battle of Mohi (841), in which the Dasian Khan Batya had annihilated the forces of the Donguarian Emperor Bela IV. Afterwards, she toured the sites of battle between the two forces, and was presented by the authorities of Mohi with a replica of Batya's flagship, the IMS Kinjanny. From Mohi, the Empress visited Bordina, Borilla, Buda, Cossack, and Croac (August 21-27, 1783). Finally, on September 2, 1783, she reached Donguaria Prima, and took up residence at the old Donguarian Imperial Palace, which had been reconstructed by her father Antigonus III in 1739-42. This palace was one of the most lavish and extensive residences in the Caladarian Galaxy. Originally constructed in 746-52 by the Emperor Geza II of Donguaria, the Palace had been sacked by the Dasians three times: in 841, 875, and 996. In 1009-15, the Donguarian Emperor Wladyslaw IV had constructed a massive renovation and expansion of the Palace; much of his ground layout was still evident more than seven centuries later. The Palace had later been one of the chief residences of the sovereigns of the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, before falling into the possession of the Imperial Laurasian Crown in 1434.
    • Aurelia marveled at the portraits and engravings of the varied Donguarian and Commonwealth sovereigns; took a walk in the famed Palatial Gardens of Gold; and was party to several performances and honorary dances by magnates of the Donguarian nobility. It was here, on September 7, 1783, that the Empress celebrated her fiftieth birthday. Congratulated by the three institutions of the Imperial Government, and by the members of the Imperial Court, for reaching this stage in life, Aurelia remarked that she owed everything "to the graciousness of the Lord Almitis in the Heavens." Aurelia then attended a service of thanks at the Donguarian Crypt of Maar, one of the largest non-Almitian religious edifices in the Inner Territories. She had now ruled for a quarter of a century (as of her accession anniversary on November 17). On September 13, 1783, the Empress finally departed from Donguaria Prima and progressed through the systems of Masada (where a simulation of the final days of the Siege of Masada in 1470-73 was conducted for her), Jillac, Tatabanya, Erd, Vetzprezem, Pecs, Eger, and Heves. Finally, on September 19, she crossed into the Merlite Provinces, reaching Rory. There, she was an honored guest at the Festival of Candles, which was staged by the Merlite Viger-Prince Anthanes-Merevocih, the third wealthiest alien nobleman in the Laurasian Empire. Departing from Rory on September 21, the Empress proceeded through Carolyn, Orithania, Corinia V, Talaris, Roaeris, Thathel Prime, Ethel Kennethia, Bobria, and Jacquenthia. At Thathel Prime, the Empress toured the world's famed "Cloud Cities"; on Orithania, she visited the Reclourum Mines, the deepest mines in the Caladarian Galaxy; and at Talaris, she toured the world's famed Ice Cliffs of Rehamidoun. By September 29, 1783, the Empress had reached Tula, touring the massive metalworks there and recieving a gift of Merlite clocks and antique work. She then visited Evan, Ryan Barlak, Aretha, Alec, and Austin in succession to October 5. Finally, on October 9, 1783, the Empress proceeded onto Merilash, once capital of the Merlite Kingdom. Staying there for five days, the Empress resided in the underground Palace of Uvar and was able to enjoy watching the world's unique electromagnetic storms. On October 14, she departed, and made a brief detour to Nicole and Redia, which she had not visited previously, before beginning the journey back to Laurasia Prime on October 19. On October 21, however, while at a layover on Nathaniel, the Empress decided to instead retire to the Duranian Palace on Horacia, and to reside there until shortly before Ascentmas. Here, the court would be staked for the next two months.
  • November 11-
    • By November 1783, the Laurasian Empire's military forces had largely restored tranquility in the Dumbarton Governorate, which had been disturbed the turmoils of the Second Desmonian Rebellion for more than two years. Following the Battle of Carlow, Admiral Whyrtia and Lord Greysius had pursued the counteroffensive against rebel forces with especial vigor. By July 12, government troops had halted all rebel expeditions against Erith, Branxholme, Madelaine, Albemaine, and Albright. Four days later, the Battle of Ichlow resulted in a decisive victory for Lord Greysius, who captured thirty Scottrian dreadnoughts and a corps of Haxonian mercenaries. These mercenaries would later be exchanged with the Haxonian Confederacy in September 1783, after a series of negotiations conducted by Sir Rudomentus Sadielus with his counterparts in the Haxonian Bureau of Foreign Affairs. Bansha (July 18); Clogary (July 19-22); and Killenaule (July 25) were besieged and conquered in turn by Admiral Whyrtia's forces. On August 7, 1783, Viscount Baltinglass, who knew that the end was near, and had been forced to abandon the stronghold of Epakillary to government forces three days earlier, managed to flee into the Galactic Void on his personal starfighter. Although Admiral Whyrtia dispatched a expeditionary force to intercept the rebel, Baltinglass managed to reach the Little Amulak Cloud on August 14 and to obtain refuge in the Barbary State of Tripoli. Baltinglass would remain in Tripoli until September 12, when he was compelled to retreat to the dominions of the Holy Spamalkan Empire. He would be formally received by Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I at Madrid on September 17, and granted official sanctuary in the Empire. This would serve to further strain relations between the Laurasian and Holy Spamalkan Empires, and would later be used by the Empress Aurelia as a reason of justification for supporting the Durthian Confederates. Baltinglass would remain in exile in the Spamalkan Empire until his death on May 17, 1785. Despite the fact that he had failed to obtain custody of Baltinglass, Admiral Whyrtia nevertheless continued to earn accolades at the Imperial Court and from the Empress Aurelia. On August 12, he destroyed the last remaining rebel communications terminal in the Lenister Province in the Battle of Mackill, in which 30,000 Spamalkan and Portugallian mercenaries became prisoners of war of the Laurasian Empire. By August 27, government forces had stormed Louth, Meath, and Wealweath, driving Laird O'Byrne and his remaining followers to the brink of desperation. O'Byrne was now effectively blockaded at his headquarters in the Mists of Radriata, with Inclave falling into the hands of Lord Greysius and General Butleria on August 24. The rebel commander at first refused to surrender, but by September 5, 1783, he had become painfully aware of his dire and precarious situation. Five days later, believing in the Empress Aurelia's earlier offer of pardon to any rebels who surrendered their arms and accepted her authority, O'Byrne sent a communique to Butleria, who was then engaged in clearing the last remaining rebel supply convoys from the outskirts of the Maugard Asteroids.
    • In this communique, he apologized for his utter "insubordination towards Her Majesty" and offered to surrender all of the units under his command if he were given pardon. Butleria, realizing that O'Byrne was on his last legs, forwarded the offer to Lord Greysius. On September 13, Greysius, determined to bring the Earl of Desmond to heel, and to direct all of his military resources towards that end, decided to accept O'Byrne's surrender request. On September 19, 1783, O'Byrne surrendered, and the Mists of Radriata, Clevin, and the Lenister Outskirt Districts were secured completely by the government forces of the Laurasian Empire. On the orders of Admiral Whyrtia, O'Byrne was bound in chains and transported to Edianian Fortress, where he was to be confined until further notice. Government forces dealt ruthlessly with his officers and subordinates, revealing the Empress's promise to be only "conditional" if certain terms had been met. By this, Greysius and his subordinates meant, the forces of O'Byrne and Desmond had forfeited any protection which they could have secured from the Imperial Laurasian Government. Over the course of the next six weeks, nearly 250,000 rebel officers and troops would be executed by imperial authorities at Tilleganus, Brechin, Corgarff, Merchinston, Misseldon, Branxholme, Derith, Stirling, and Leith for their defiance. Desmond was now alone, and he continued to hold on with his forces to Tipperrary and Kallagany. By the middle of October 1783, most of the Earl's closest relatives had been persuaded to surrender by Lord Greysius, and the last remaining supply routes into the Galactic Void, leading from the bases of Gneeveguilla and Kinmare, had been sundered. On October 27, the 68th Imperial Army and the 55th Imperial Fleet launched a coordinated assault on Kallagany. The government force comprised of 150 warships with three squadrons of 5,000 starfighters and 150,000 Imperial Marines. The paltry rebel garrison of Kallagany resisted for some days, but finally, on November 5, 1783, capitulated. Desmond's chief remaining subordinate, the Laird of Cordin, was bound in chains and then executed by blaster fire, and most of his subordinates were transported to Edianian Fortress and Stirling Castle for imprisonment. Then, on November 11, 1783, the Battle of Glenaganity resulted in the final suppression of the Desmonian Rebellion. Desmond, seeking to keep government units off balance, sallied from Tipperrary to Glenaganity, attempting to secure starships and military supplies in preparation for a final stand. Admiral Whyrtia, however, had been alerted of his plans, and Desmond's offensive was halted quickly. The Earl's personal squadron was surrounded by a fleet of Laurasian battleships. Although he resisted fiercely, the outcome of the confrontation was inevitable: within three hours, Desmond and all of his remaining officers were dead, and most of the rebel force had been captured or destroyed. Tipperrary, realizing all was lost, surrendered four days later, resulting in the final suppression of the Rebellion. Desmond's corpse was found floating in open space, and on the orders of Admiral Whyrtia, was mounted on a space transport.
    • The victorious Laurasian commanders now dispatched the corpse back to Laurasia Prime as a spoil of war, and composed a message, addressed to the Empress and the Privy Council, in which they announced that "Your Majesty's enemies have been suppressed with the graciousness of the Lord Almitis." Empress Aurelia herself danced for joy when learning of the rebellion's final suppression, and quickly proceeded to the aftermath. On November 19, 1783, the Empress formally confiscated all of the properties, finances, and estates of those who had been involved in the Rebellion. The titles of Earl of Desmond and Kildare were declared vacant, and awarded to the Laurasian Marquesses of Waxefield and Dehner respectively. O'Byrne, who remained imprisoned at Ediania Fortress, was deprived of his honors and translated, on the Empress's orders, to the Secret Prison of Ipsus V. On December 2, Aurelia would order the abolition of all remaining lairdates and lordships in the Scottrian Governorates. She also ordered for the establishment of a commission to determine the fate of all properties confiscated in the Rebellion, and of the estates and peerages which remained in the hands of the Scottrian nobility in the Angelina Spiral. This commission would be chaired by the Praetor of the Edianian Governorate, Sir Valentius Brownia, and would issue its final results on March 17, 1784. The Brownian Commission, as it would become known, recommended the allocation of all confiscated properties to Laurasian magnates, and for the introduction of colonists from the Caladarian Galaxy into the affected regions. The Imperial Ministries of Regional and Colonial Administration, Works and Holdings, and Space and Transportation would cooperate in what would become known as the Plantations of Dumbarton, which would, over the course of the next three years, see a major influx of Laurasian and Imperial colonists into the affected regions and the comprehensive redistribution of Scottrian noble properties. By 1787, only 5% of the pre-conquest Scottrian nobility in the affected regions would remain in possession of their peerages and estates.
  • November 21-
    • By the time the Empress Aurelia arrived at Nathaniel in late October, 1783, Chancellor Walsingis and his subordinates in the Imperial Intelligence Agency and Ministry of Justice were ready to proceed against the conspirators of the Thorckmortonia Plot. On October 9, the Chancellor was informed by the Imperial Intelligence Agency that the conspiracy in which Queen Mariana was involved was directed towards the deposition of Aurelia from the throne and the installation of Mariana as Empress in her place. They made these conclusions from communiques that had been intercepted over the ex-Queen's communication network, and on reports of rebel plans at the Franconian Court. Fifteen days later, the Chancellor ordered for the arrest and confinement at the Fortress of Baureux of Sir Anastasius Sommerlia of Penania, who had bragged to his comrades and to his family members that he would travel to Horacia and assassinate the Empress directly. Furthermore, Sommerlia had said that "her head would be mounted on a pole, for she was a serpent and a viper." There was no mercy displayed by the imperial authorities for this man, and the Court of the Star Chamber sentenced him to death on November 4. Sommerlia, however, who was delusional and believed that he would receive salvation in the Heavens, committed suicide in his cell before the sentence could be carried out. This incident had quickly come to the notice of the imperial public, and a surge of affection was displayed towards the Empress, who remained on Horacia. On November 11, the Austarlian Ambassador, Baron Kranz von Vorghlishim of Gorlitz, reported to Chancellor Kaunitz that wherever the Empress went to in public, huge crowds gathered and there would be a "thousand blessings, so that the evil-disposed who meant to harm her be discovered and punished for what they deserved." The Empress herself expressed her graditude towards her subjects, and confided to the Ambassador that she saw "clearly that she was not misliked by all." Four days after this report, Chancellor Walsingis made the decisive blow against the conspirators. Sir Feresus Thorckmortonia was arrested at his Christiania residence, which was located five miles from the Quencilvanian Palace. A search by Christiania Police and Imperial Intelligence agents turned up defamatory, "infamous" pamphlets and a detailed layout for a potential invasion of the Empire by a corps of Spamalkan and Portugallian troops.
    • More importantly, Thorckmortonia's computer revealed incriminating information about the conspiracy, and that Spamalkan Ambassador Mendoza was heavily involved. Walsingis, who had expected for this, was nevertheless surprised that nothing tied Franconian Ambassador Deplessie to the conspiracy. Deplessie had been aware of the conspiracy, but had avoided direct involvement. Thorckmortonia was taken to the Fortress of Baureux, and (with approval from the Empress), subjected to stimulated torture. He gave nothing away at first, but after the Empress had authorized for the interrogation techniques to be "intensified", he confessed all. He told Walsingis and the Chief Prison Officer of the Fortress of Baureux, Sir Bubalus Torclyffia, that "I have now disclosed the secrets of her who was the dearest thing to me in the universe." He revealed that the conspiracy's aim had been to prepare the ground for Emperor Philicus's "Enterprise of Laurasia" project. Philicus, increasingly alienated by the Laurasian Empress and alarmed by her recent annexation of the Haynsian Despotate, had begun to draft plans for an invasion of the Laurasian Empire, in league with another foreign power (either the Marasharites or the Pruthians) and to install Mariana on the Laurasian throne. Such a project would deprive the Empire of its most recent territorial acquisitions, impose severe limits upon its military forces, and secure Spamalkan authority over the Durthian Duchies. The Guises were involved, and there were to be four separate invasions, centered upon the Angelina Spiral, the Galactic Barrier, the Northern Reaches, and the Barsar Regions, co-ordinated by Traditionalist and foreign elements both in the Empire and in the Amulak Spiral. Mariana and Mendoza had been fully involved in this conspiracy at every stage, of which Walsingis had concluded so much months earlier. When he reported Thorckmortonia's confessions to the Empress, she declared that "All this shows that her intention was to lull us into security, that we might the less seek to discover practices at home and abroad." The Privy Council, Burghley, Hattonius, Leicesterius, Knollysis, and Husdarania most of all, were convinced that this conspiracy was a extremely dangerous (though folly) plot. The Empress herself ordered for all measures to be taken to root out those among the nobility and administration who had been involved in the conspiracy. Thorckmortonia had revealed the names of several prominent figures (all Traditionalists) who had been aware of, or involved in the conspiracy. On the orders of Empress Aurelia, the Duke of Samarkand, the Earls of Drea, Duana, Strongstine, Abshire, and Sharon Alfonsi, and the Lords Lumarius, Husladia, and Retheria were arrested and imprisoned at the Fortress of Baureux. By November 21, 1783, nearly four hundred individuals had been arrested and imprisoned at various installations throughout the Empire for their involvement in the conspiracy. Aurelia herself was pressed by her ministers to bring Mariana to justice, for there was more than enough evidence to prove her guilt.
    • The Empress rejected this out of hand. On November 25, however, she authorized for Thorckmortonia to be arraigned and tried by the Special Court. Two days later, Empress Aurelia formally expelled Ambassador Mendoza from the Laurasian Empire and ordered for the Spamalkan Embassy to terminate all operations promptly. Mendoza, whose being was filled with defiance, shouted at the Gentleman Pensioners and Valedictorian Guards dispatched to escort him from Laurasia Prime to the Galactic Void. He declared that his master would avenge his expulsion with war. Philicus, on his part, ordered the Laurasian Ambassador to the Spamalkan Court, Sir Philoxenus Assia, to leave his court immediately. Diplomatic relations between the Laurasian and Holy Spamalkan Empires were thus effectively ended, although the two powers were not in a state of war and continued to conduct commerical affairs with each other. It would be fifteen years before diplomatic embassies were again exchanged between the two governments. As for Thockmortonia, his conviction was a foregone conclusion: he was sentenced to death on December 9, 1783. Displaying no remorse, and having retracted all of his confessions, the young gentleman was executed at the Private Fortress Grounds on December 16. He was excommunicated by the Holy Synod, and his remains were dumped into the Pit of Traitors on Jadia. Empress Aurelia, on her part, received a petition from the nobility and the Councils of State on December 20, urging her to pursue a "final" policy towards the Scottrian Queen and to strengthen protections for her throne. Aurelia refused, and at this juncture found support from Leicesterius, who wished for the former Queen to be kept in "honorable" captivity. This was out of self-interest, for he hoped to curry favor with Mariana if she ever acceded to the throne of Laurasia. Most of the Empress's other ministers, however, wanted Mariana's head, and lambasted Aurelia's continued procrastination. On December 23, 1783, the Empress Aurelia formally returned to the Quencilvanian Palace from Horacia, and turned her attention to Ascentmas Day celebrations. The year 1783 ended with the Empire's Scottrian Territories returned to relative tranquility, but also with the Imperial Laurasian Government engaged in the midst of negotiations with the Marasharites (as to be explored below).

1784Edit

  • January 1-1784, the 84th year of the eighteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian Empire's dominions in the Angelina Spiral having returned to overall tranquility and stability. With the final suppression of the Desmonian Rebellion, the Empress Aurelia considered her Empire's position in the Scottrian Governorates to be more secure than it had been previously. Although tensions continued to simmer among elements of the Scottrian population against the forces and authorities of the Imperial Laurasian Government, the region was not to burst into outright rebellion again for another decade. At the same time, the Laurasian Empire entered the year considerably strengthened, territorially and militarily, than it had been the year before. The Haynsian Despotate, which had for over two centuries posed a major irritation, as well as an intriguing problem, for the Laurasian Empire, had been annexed without the use of military force. The now ex-Haynsian Despot, Jay XIV Karany, had been granted a commission as a Field-Marshal in the Imperial Laurasian Army; awarded estates on Palymer, Karabusar, Haynes, Bakalava, Chalaa, Isis, Little Boravia, Doros, Theodoros, and in other Haynsian star systems; and had been conferred the title of Despot-Emeritus of the Haynsian Despotate. He was also assured an annual imperial pension of €300 billion dataries per year, so that he could maintain a household as befitting to his prior status. Thus, the former Despot was treated in a far more generous and beneficent manner than had the ex-Scottrian Queen Mariana, but such a state of affairs would be ultimately destined not to last. Empress Aurelia, who had now reigned for a quarter of a century over the Laurasian Empire, had added as much territory to its dominions as had her father Antigonus III. The Laurasian Empire's acquisition of Lavella, the Muggal Cluster, Northern Reaches, Scottria, and the Haynsia had strengthened its position immeasurably in comparison to the powers of the Amulak Spiral, such as the Marasharites or the Spamalkans, and had ensured it greater leverage in the affairs of that galaxy. Such a territorial expansion had also aroused renewed fears about the Laurasians, in particular from Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I and Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II. The continuing turmoil generated by the Durthian Rebellion, and by the involvement of ex-Queen Mariana in correspondence with her allies (plotting against her cousin Aurelia), would dominate affairs ever more in the following years, and would entangle the Empire in a series of diplomatic and military contentions. In her New Year's proclamation, however, the Empress Aurelia expressed unbounded optimism, declaring that she "continued to place trust into the Lord Almitis. He has allowed our Empire to expand, to the detriment of our adversaries, and he will permit for our Empire to prosper and to strengthen in the future."
  • January 6-
    • As had been previously noted, the immediate reaction of the Marasharite Empire to its Laurasian neighbor's annexation of the Haynsian Despotate had been one of considerable alarm and of apprehension. The Grand Vizier of the Marasharite Empire, Halil Hamid, had drafted his famous communique to the Imperial Government and to the Empress Aurelia, expressing his master's protests about the undue expansions and aggressions of the Laurasian power. And indeed, for months afterwards, the governments of both empires had been readying themselves for a potential military confrontation, leaving no variables untouched. By September 1783, however, both sovereigns had become amenable to negotiating a treaty settlement. The previous month, the Barbary States of Morocco and Algiers, having grown increasingly insubordinate towards their Marasharite overlords, had refused to contribute requisition levies to the Marasharite Treasury. The Dey of Algiers, Ben-Othman, and the Sultan of Morocco, Khatib III, were instrumental in orchestrating this overt defiance of their master's demands. Abdulahamid was also faced with the possibility of war with the Vendragian Confederacy over the Aegyptiania Province, in particular over the systems of Memphis, Cairo, and Pharoslum. Consequently, he found that he could not afford to throw himself into a war against the Laurasian Empire over the annexation of a territory no longer bound to the Marasharite Crown. Empress Aurelia, on her part, was more concerned about the Scottrian Queen Mariana and the Durthian Rebellion then about launching military operations against the Great Tesmanian Cloud. Although she privately continued to nurture the "Marasharite Plan", and desired to ultimately expel the Marasharites entirely from the Great Tesmanian Cloud, Aurelia nevertheless realized that patience was essential. She was also, as explained above, fearful of provoking an alliance at this juncture between Philicus and Abdulahamid. Consequently, she sought to make terms with her Marasharite counterpart before he would have the chance to ally himself in such a manner. On September 17, 1783, Sir Rudomentus Sadielus, acting on the orders of Chancellor Walsingis (who in turn had received his instructions from the Empress), sent a communique to the Marasharite Court of Topacia, offering to conduct a diplomatic conference between the two powers to resolve their differences.
    • Grand Vizier Hamid, himself aware of the dangers of a premature military conflict, accepted the offer four days later. On September 25, the Empress held an audience with the Marasharite Ambassador to the Imperial Court, Pasha Havim-Bey of Ankara, and informed him of her "sincere desire for the preservation of peace and happy relations between our two governments." On October 3, it was agreed that a conference to resolve "outstanding matters" concerning the Haynsian Despotate would be convened on Topacia, and that delegations from the two governments would review the terms of the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca. Four days later, Empress Aurelia designated the Ambassador to the Marasharite Empire, Sir Yerevus Bulgania, as the chief plenipotentiary of the Laurasian delegation to the conference. Bulgania had been appointed as Ambassador on May 20, 1781, succeeding Kalbachan Prince Repanius, and he had thus far proved vigorous in promoting the Empire's interests. Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II on his part, entrusted the Grand Vizier and the new Chief Pasha of the Diplomatic Service, Koca Yushuf Pasha, as the chief plenipotentiaries of his delegation. Finally, on October 25, 1783, the two delegations convened at the Silhardian Conference House on Topacia, and got to business. Negotiations then continued for over two months. Bulgania had to fight hard to press his Marasharite counterparts to acknowledge full Laurasian possession of the Haynsian Despotate, and to recognize the cessation of Marasharite religious authority in those regions. The Marasharites demanded a renegotiation of commercial terms between the two dominions, and Bulgania was forced to make concessions there so as to secure general approval to the agreement. Finally, however, on January 6, 1784, the Treaty of Topacia was signed. By the terms of this treaty, Marasharite Emperor Abdulahamid II and his government agreed to recognize "the unprejudiced and valid translation of the territories and properties of the Haynsian Crown to Her Imperial Majesty of Laurasia, and Her Majesty's full, complete, and absolute authority over such dominions thenceforth." The Marasharite Government denied all remaining claims it held to possession of the Haynsian Despotate, and acknowledged that Articles III, IV, and XXIII of the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarca were officially "null and void". The Haynsian Despotate was now acknowledged as indisputably part of the Laurasian Empire, and subject to its laws and the presence of its military forces. The Marasharite Government also reaffirmed its recognition of Laurasian rule over the territories of the former Celestial Kingdom of Scottria.
    • In exchange, however, the Imperial Laurasian Government agreed to respect the privileges, religious customs, and practices of its Haynsian subjects; to refrain from extensive colonization by Laurasian subjects in former Haynsian territories for a period of two years; and to permit for freedom of movement and navigation between the Angelina Spiral and the Ochanian Provinces of the Great Tesmanian Cloud. Articles XI and XII were revised so that Laurasian consuls in Marasharite territory were now obliged to submit reports to the chancellories of both governments, and Laurasian subjects could not conduct commerce in territories actively in revolt against the Marasharite Government. A schedule of tariffs and duties was established on goods exchanged between the two realms, and both governments would have to agree for this schedule to be modified. Finally, the Imperial Laurasian Government promised to abjure from "unwarranted" intervention in the Dejanican Commonwealth, and to respect Marasharite authority over the Barbary States. The Treaty of Topacia, which temporarily maintained the balance of peace between the two Empires, was ratified by Abdulahamid II on January 10 and by Aurelia six days later. The Empress, when reviewing the terms of the concluded agreement with her Privy Council, declared that they were only "temporary" and that the Marasharites would soon be compelled to make further "concessions" to the Empire. The Empress, however, did award Ambassador Bulgania for his negotiation efforts: he was raised to the nobility as Baron Bulgania of Izlaria on January 27, 1784.
  • February 2-
    • On February 2, 1784, the Duke of Anjou formally returned to Parri. By February 1784, the position of the Durthian Confederates had deteriorated yet further. Following the Battle of Antwerp, Parma had in late January, 1783 dispatched a substantial force commanded by the mercenaries Karl von Mansfeld (a Pruthian) and Claude de Berlaymont (a Franconian) to establish siege works at Eindhoven, an important strategical star system in the northern Brabant Provinces held by a substantial garrison of Durthian and Franconian mercenary troops. From February 7, 1783, Spamalkan troops reached Eindhoven and instigated a siege of the star system. The Duke of Anjou, although he was now widely unpopular in the Durthian Duchies, was nevertheless urged by the States-General to gather his military forces and to relieve the star system. It was not until March 18 before Anjou submitted to the States-General's pleas. Armand de Gotnaut, Baron de Biron, one of Anjou's chief military subordinates, was asked by Prince William of Orange to take charge of the strategical operation. The total force given to Biron comprised of large contingents of Durthian, Franconian, Laurasian, Scottrian, and Haxonian troops, the vast majority of whom were mercenaries, along with a substantial battlefleet. Durthian troops stationed in Gelderland were ordered to advance to Eindhoven, but were turned back by superior Spamalkan forces. Laurasian and Scottrian mercenary troops based in Flanders were also ordered to progress to the stronghold, but were unable to do so because of overextended supply lines. On April 17, Biron's forces began their journey to Eindhoven, but the Durthian garrison of the star system, exhausted and out of supplies, surrendered to the Spamalkan units of Parma just three days later. As a result of the conquest of Eindhoven, Parma's forces made substantial gains in Brabant. Although Biron then moved his forces to Wouw, capturing the stronghold on May 10, Parma's units overran the Durthian garrisons of Turnhout, Hoogstraten, and Diest.
    • By June 17, Parma himself had established his command headquarters on Namurs. From Namur, Parma advanced to capture the colony of Herentals, but was repulsed by a Haxonian mercenary corps. Instead, on June 17, 1783, Parma moved to Steenbergen, and clashed with the Durthian-mercenary forces under Baron Biron and Major-General Sir Demetrius Norria, commander-in-chief of the Laurasian Expeditionary Corps. The ensuing Battle of Steenbergen resulted in a decisive Spamalkan victory, with Biron and Norria being forced to retreat to Bergen op Zoom. Parma then secured Steenbergen with ease and assaulted Dunkirk, which fell on July 17 after being besieged for nearly two weeks. Niewpoort capitulated to the Spamalkans five days later. It was followed by Diskmuide, which surrendered on August 1, 1783, and then Veurne and Menen, which both fell by August 15. By the end of the year, Lier, Niezji, and Steenwijk had also fallen into Spamalkan hands. Anjou himself had already departed from the Durthian Duchies in June 1783, and he had returned first to Calais, then Tours, and finally Parri. His mother, Queen-Dowager Catharina d'Medici, was instrumental in bringing him back to the capital. Once there, Anjou met with his brother, King Hensios III, and resumed quarters at the Tuileres Palace. His health entered into serious decline from that point onwards, however. His brother granted him the titles of Duke of Touraine and Berry on February 11, but Anjou could not stop thinking about what might have been. Empress Aurelia, on her part, heard about his declining health, and ordered Ambassador Pauletius to offer her expressions of sympathy to his brother and mother. On February 17, 1784, Aaylst surrendered to Parma; two days later, he instigated a siege of Ypres, one of the last remaining rebel strongholds in the Southern Duchies. The siege was to continue for nearly three months.
  • March 28-On March 28, 1784, Grand Duke Ivan IV of Masacavania died, aged 57. He had ruled for thirty-seven years, since his accession to the throne in January 1747, and was, at the time of his death, the second-longest reigning monarch of extra-galactic civilization (after Pru'a IX the Great of Pruthia). Ivan was succeeded to the Masacavanian throne by his third, and only surviving, son, who became Feodor I of Masacavania. The death of Ivan was received with condolences from the courts of the other foreign powers, including the Laurasian Empire. In her message of condolences, Empress Aurelia declared that the Grand Duke Ivan had "enshrined his name in the favor of the Lords of this Universe for establishing, and maintaining, peaceful relations between our two realms." In this, she was alluding to Ivan's opening of diplomatic and commercial ties with the Laurasian Empire in 1757-58, during the reign of her sister, Empress Didymeia I. Philicus I, who was increasingly becoming the Empress's rival, now moved to the second position of precedence. Pru'a IX himself, who to many seemed to have had an overlong reign (he was now approaching his 44th anniversary on the throne), was now in declining health. The Emperor of Pruthia, however, still had another two years to live.
  • June 10-On June 10, 1784, the Duke of Anjou, the youngest and last-surviving of the sons of Hensios II and Queen-Dowager Catharina d'Medici (besides King Hensios III himself), former "Protector of the Durthian Duchies", and the last suitor of the Empress Aurelia the Great, died at the age of only 29 at the Chateau-Thierry on Parri. Anjou's health, as previously noted, had been in decline since his return to Parri. This was accelerated during April and May 1784, as the Duke received news of a series of disastrous events in the Durthian Duchies. On April 7, 1784, after a siege of nearly three months, Ypres finally capitulated to the Duke of Parma. Parma exacted a terrible revenge on the obstinate rebels in the star system, deporting nearly two hundred millions of its inhabitants and inflicting severe damage to its dockyards, metalworks, and hypergates. Burges then capitulated to the Durthians without a fight on April 23, and was quickly followed by the garrisons of Dendermonde (April 27-May 5); Goes (May 11); and Mechelen (May 17). By the beginning of June 1784, Parma's forces were pressing perilously close to Antwerp. Anjou, who believed that he had been denied the chance of glory, and that he alone could have stopped the Durthian offensives, slipped further and further into unconsciousness. On May 25, he had fell into a coma, from which he had never emerged. His death, nevertheless, shocked many throughout the galaxies, for Anjou's age and youth had seemed to suggest a long life for him. Empress Aurelia was working at her desk when Lord Treasurer Burghley and Chancellor Walsingis informed her of her former suitor's death. The Empress dropped what was in her hands and burst into tears. She ordered the Imperial Court into two weeks of mourning, and herself donned black. Aurelia's behavior in the following days convinced many of the deep affection she had felt for Anjou. On June 14, the Empress wrote a communique to the Franconian Queen-Mother, with whom she had maintained a correspondence. In it, she stated that "Your sorrow cannot exceed mine, although you are his mother. You have several other children, but for myself I have no consolation, if it be not death, in which I hope we shall be reunited. Madame, if you could see the image of my heart, you would see there the picture of a body without a soul, but I will not trouble you with sorrows, for you have too many of your own." Chancellor Walsingis told his wife that "Melancholy possesses us all, with both public and private affairs at a standstill due to Her Majesty's lamentations over the death of the Duke." Anjou's death had a great emotional impact upon his brother and particularly, upon his mother, who entered a decline in health of her own which would culminate in death five years later. Because neither he nor his brother, the King, had any children of their own, the heir-apparent to the Franconian throne was now Duke Hensios of Navarra. Anjou's funeral was conducted on June 21, with an eulogy composed by the Empress being read by Ambassador Pauletius.
  • July 10-Exactly one month after the Duke of Anjou's death, on July 10, 1784, the Stadholder and Protector of the United Durthian Duchies, Prince William of Orange, was assassinated at Delft by a deranged Franconian cleric, Balthasar Gerard. Gerard, who had been born on Vullifans in 1757, considered himself to be an agent of the Franconian Gods. He greatly admired the Spamalkan Emperor Philicus I, and despised the Durthian Confederates, believing that they upset the tranquility of galactic civilization. In March 1784, Philicus had offered a reward of $50 billion crowns to any man who assassinated the Prince of Orange and had proof of doing so. In reaction to this, Gerard contacted the Duke of Parma, and communicated his intentions to him for carrying out the assassination. In late June, 1784, Gerard, disguising himself as a chaplain in the Durthian Army, arrived on Delft and discovered the Prince's address. During the late hours of July 9, he penetrated the Prince's mansion in Delft City and hid in the chambers. When William emerged from his chambers the following morning, Gerard lept from his hiding place and fired several blaster shots into the Prince's chest, killing him instantly. He then sought to flee from the mansion, but was captured by some Laurasian mercenaries. Brought before the authorities of Delft, Gerard confessed what he had done and declared that the Prince had been cast to eternal doom for his defiance. He was tortured and interrogated extensively, and then, on July 13, 1784, sentenced to death by the magistrates. The following day, July 14, 1784, four days after the assassination of Prince William, Gerard was executed. The news of the Durthian Protector's assassination was received with shock throughout extra-galactic civilization. Pru'a IX of Pruthia, who had banned his subjects from engaging in any commercial intercourse or travel in Portugallia or the Southern Durthian Duchies, harshly condemned the assassination. Joseth II of Austarlia expressed similar sentiments, as did Doge da Ponte of Haxonia and King Georg III of Vendragia. King Hensios III of Franconia declared that the assassination was the "act of the Anti-Lords". Empress Aurelia joined in this chorus of condemnation, praising William in a imperial proclamation on July 12 and ordering for a mass in his honor to be conducted at the Westphalian Cathedral. Philicus I of Spamalka, however, reacted with joy. The Emperor rewarded Gerard's parents, granting them estates in Franche-Comte, Brabant, Westphalia, and the Duchy of Miliania. He declared on July 17, in a manifesto to his subjects, that the death of William of Orange "brought an end to the life of the man who has so harried this Empire and provoked outright rebellion against us." Orange's funeral at Hague on July 22 was attended by the ambassadors of every state except for Spamalka. He was now succeeded as Prince of Orange by his eldest son Philip William, but for the time being the Stadholdate of the Durthian Duchies remained vacant.
  • August 4-
    • The death of Prince William of Orange had revealed to the Empress Aurelia the dangers of the Durthian Rebellion. She was fully aware that Emperor Philicus had rewarded the family of the Prince's murderer, and that her subjects feared that she would be a target for assassination. Nothing stood between the Laurasian and Spamalkan Empires. Anjou was dead; Parma had seriously weakened the position of the Durthian Confederates; and King Hensios III of Franconia was too occupied in attempting to maintain peace within his own realms. The Laurasian alliance with Austarlia remained, but the Empress had to consider Pruthia and Marasharita in her calculations. She continued to be worried about the prospect of an alliance between Philicus and Abdulahamid, despite the recent conclusion of the Treaty of Topacia. The Empress therefore believed that the activities of her cousin, ex-Scottrian Queen Mariana, needed to be placed under further constraint and supervision. Mariana was now forty-two years old, and sixteen years in captivity had impacted her former beauty and health. Her hair was grey; she was overweight; and she was plagued by rheumatism, nausea, edema, and chronic back pains. Although Aurelia had permitted Mariana to take the spas of Idyll, and attached physicians of the Imperial Household to attend upon her, this had not improved her condition. During the early months of 1784, Mariana primarily resided at Sherfadian Palace on Leslie, where she was still under the guardianship of the Earl of Aretha. From time to time, she stayed at his other residences while renovations were conducted at Sherfadian Palace (the third-largest private residence in the Empire). The Earl kept a strict watch over her communications, and whenever she was allowed to take the air or to stroll on the grounds of the Palace, he and a troop of guards accompanied her. There were guards, both Gentleman Pensioners and Valedictorian Guards, across the whole grounds of the Palace, while a vigorous watch was kept within the confines of the star system. Leslie in fact, was patrolled by the 37th Imperial Fleet, to ensure that the Queen remained safely under lock and key. Every navigator and starhopper who entered the star system was interrogated before being allowed to proceed, and every ship's cargo, messages, and supplies in the star system was searched. No one was allowed to enter the Palace or to communicate with Mariana without written authorization from the Privy Council. The Queen could only receive visitors when supervised by at least one guard or member of the household.
    • Mariana resented these restrictions, but she was nevertheless treated with the honor and deference due to a Queen, although Scottria was no longer an independent realm. She maintained her own household of six hundred persons, selected her servants and paid their wages from her income, with her cousin taking responsibility for her food, electrical, and housing expenses. She dined under a canopy of estate, being served two courses of up to sixteen dishes each at every main meal. She was able to access an extensive library; to watch theater performances, holofilms, jousts, and physical performances; and to indulge her passion for hunting. Most times, however, Mariana worked with her ladies on various embroideries, or played with her various lap-dogs and caged birds. She would never leave her prison, she told her friends and associates, unless it was as Empress of Laurasia, and despite the risks, she continually strove to obtain that goal, ignorant of the fact that Walsingis and his subordinates were watching her. As the years passed, it had become more difficult to communicate with her friends outside of the Empire, and she had to rely on members of her household who could try to evade the Chancellor's vigilance. On August 4, 1784, the Chancellor decided to tighten the security net surrounding Mariana. Aretha had borne the burden of guarding her for many years and was inclined to be too lenient with her. Therefore, she was now transferred into the temporary care of Sir Rudomentus Sadielus, who was now 77 years old and the most respected official in the Imperial Laurasian Government. Sadielus had her moved from Sherfadian Palace to his estate, Wessarian House, on Roastafaria Minor. She would remain there until January 5, 1785, when on the orders of the Empress, she was again transported to Tuvarian Fortress on Cossack, one of the most forbidding fortress-complexes in the Empire. It would be more difficult for Mariana to communicate with her friends from this forbidding place. She retained her household and continued to bask in all of her previous comforts, despite complaining about her new residence.
  • August 7-November 15-
    • On August 7, 1784, the Empress Aurelia and the Imperial Court officially departed from the Gilbertine Palace on Tudoria in order to commence the official imperial progress of 1784. Two months earlier, the Empress had announced her intention to progress to the Ashlgothian and Southern Melorkian Provinces. Upon leaving Tudoria, she proceeded directly to the Kimanian Run, making brief stops at Hannis, Organia, Permi, Ka, Maxilliana, Phylis, Agac, Aflac, and Podrac. She then progressed through Drennan, Nathaniel, Sanegeta, and Brittany (August 15-19, 1784) before reaching the Ashlgothian Borderland Territories. The Empress, attended by most of the grandees of the Imperial Court, now made a gradual progress through the Ashlgothian Colonies. On August 22, she reached Cyrus III, being received by the magnates of that star system with much ceremony and being presented with a corps of Cyrian-model protocol droids. Cyrus III was one of the preeminent robotic and electronics producers in the Empire. From there, the Empress proceeded to Allison, where she stayed for two days (August 24-26) and touring the world's massive industrial foundries, production lines, and refinery operations. She then visited Brooke One, Hefner, and Mirohassani (August 27-September 3), witnessing a traditional hunt by the Brookian Tribes and receiving a tribute of palms from the Elders of Upper Mirohassani. From Mirohassani, the Empress visited Matthew, West, Kristin, and Jennings. She attended a grand reception at the famed Archives of West and visited the Botanical Gardens of Jennings, the second-largest natural observatory in the Empire (only the Christiania Observatory on Laurasia Prime was larger). It was on Kristin that the Empress celebrated her fifty-first birthday (September 7, 1784). To her delight, a band of Kristianite burvurs (dancers) staged a performance in her honor. By September 11, the Empress had reached Tea, where she received fifteen pounds of Thelman coffee, and then proceeded onwards to Thelma, known for its wildlife reserves and its vast plains. Sandra, Nandia, India, Walden, and Warren then were visited in succession by the Empress (September 14-19), with the Imperial Court observing a massive joust and gladiatorial contest in the Arenas of Par'ah on India. On September 22, the Empress proceeded to Kane, visiting the revered Shrine of Anjun and receiving a blessing from the star system's Priests of the Holy Order. Tahon, Baiteman, Bryce, Courtney, Emma, Kathryn, and Imma all were visited by the Imperial Court. The Empress renowned at the glory of these worlds, which were among the most populous Laurasian colonies outside of the Purse Region itself. The Cathedral of St. Basil and the Gods on Bryce, which had been constructed by Emperor Vespasian in 1474-79, particularly impressed her. At Baiteman, the Empress was able to observe the famed Mathematical Arches of Algery, constructed according to a perfect geometric model. At Courtney, the Empress received a gift of rare Terllite diamonds; at Kathryn, she received priceless radite garments; and at Imma, she was able to tour the Volcanic Preserves of Mrevia. By October 1, the Empress had reached Leslie, where she was entertained by the Duke of Ashlgothia Major and the Earl of Aretha at the famed House of Ashlgothian Warlords.
    • She then toured Trebek, Greg, Larkin, and Ashlgothia Minor (October 2-9, 1784) before finally reaching Ashlgothia Major on October 13. The Empress resided at the Palace of Theodoric I; visited the Tombs of the Ashlgothian Kings; and enjoyed herself on a world of beautiful springs, massive oases, and swirling clouds. The Imperial Court stayed at Ashlgothia Major for five days before departing to head to the Southern Melorkian Provinces. On October 20, the Empress reached Simon, staying there for two days. Cal, Stahl, and Morley then became the objects of visits by the Imperial Court (October 21-24), with the Empress particularly enjoying the sight of the Aquatic Cities of Stahl. From Morley, the Imperial Court progressed through Shell and Simon before reaching Winehouse on October 26. The Empress received a gift of Melorkian exotics, on this world appropriately named for its vast wine and agricultural ranches. By November 2, the Court had progressed through Woolestone, Khagia, Dumgbwita, and Cambrina. Four days later, the Court reached Resmania, described as the "Jewel of the Run". Resmania was known for the beauty of its varied landscapes, and its obedient, clean population of five billion would be considered by the Empress as the "model of a true imperial world". The Court then made visits to Obathia, Manorsia (where the Empress was able to view the Conference House where Fre'dakh was elected King of Manorsia in 1219), Tolbiac, and Mandra, before finally beginning its journey back to the Core Worlds on November 12. On November 15, it arrived at Venasia Prime, where the Empress then decided to halt and take up residence at the Fountain Palace, now one of her favored residences (alongside Hampsonian Palace on Jared, Gilbertine Palace on Tudoria, and the Palace of Harmony on Clancia) for the rest of the year. On November 17, 1784, the 26th anniversary of her accession to the throne was celebrated with a parade in the Queen Mother's Compound; Accession Day jousts in which Sir Christopheus Hattonius and the Earl of Oxfadia participated once more against each other; and a ode of hails to the Empress by the assembled Venasian noblewomen.
  • November 22-By October 1784, public concern about the ex-Scottrian Queen Mariana had prompted the emergence of a movement among the nobility and gentry of the Laurasian Empire to take more stringent precautions against threats to the Empress's throne. The "necessity" for this was demonstrated when Father Creigonia, a Spamalkan immigrant cleric, was arrested by the Durthians at Utrecht on October 5, 1784, and discovered to be carrying a communique which described in details plans for the Emperor Philicus's now notorious Enterprise of Laurasia project. Leicesterius, who was supported by several of his colleagues on the Privy Council, suggested the formation of a league of Reformist magnates, who would all swear an oath of association to take up arms on the Empress's behalf and eliminate the imprisoned ex-Scottrian Queen if she became involved, even unknowingly, in any plot against Her Majesty's life. This oath was to be known as the Bond of Association, and on October 14, the idea was aired to the imperial public. It quickly generated a huge response from throughout the Empire, and virtually every Assembly of Nobility declared its intention to subscribe to the Bond and to swear the oath. They declared that they would be willing to resort to internal force if it was necessary to prevent Mariana from acceding to the Laurasian throne. On October 29, the Bond of Association was shown to Queen Mariana on Lord Treasurer Burghley's orders. It was made clear to her that she could not hope to survive if she continued to plot against the Empress. Mariana, in the face of all previous evidence, protested that she knew nothing of any conspiracies against her cousin, and even added her signature to the Bond; just two days later, however, she was corresponding with the Emperor Philicus and urged him to press forward with his schemes, even if they placed her life in danger. The Empress herself had a seemingly careless attitude about her safety, and her ministers could only deplore to her "feminine aversion" as regards to using deadly force to protect her own interests. Although Aurelia was greatly pleased by these new demonstrations of loyalty and affection from her subjects (she was now more popular than her siblings, father, or grandfather had ever been), she was reluctant to sanction a measure which went beyond the legal context of the Empire's judicial system, and declared on November 22 that she would not sanction execution unless if it were carried out on her initiative, and her initiative alone.
  • December 2-
    • On December 2, 1784, a work was circulated through the Galactic Holonet which was entitled Leicesterius's Commonwealth. Sir Thomasius Morgania, a minor Laurasian gentleman who served as secretary to Queen Mariana, and had been involved in the Thockmortonia Plot (although he had managed to conceal his involvement), was responsible for the production of this work, which was originally distributed from Barcelona in the Holy Spamalkan Empire. The work took the form of a dialogue between a University of the Empire scholar, a notary of the Imperial Inns, and a clergyman of the Imperial Almitian Church. The pamphlet began with a discussion about religion, and of maintaining Traditionalism's rights and privileges. It quickly veered into a attack on the Earl of Leicesterius, repeating every peace of scandalous and false gossip about him and his intentions. The tract accused him of a series of murders, beginning with that of his first wife, Lady Fausta Dudley. Twenty-four years had passed since her death, but the pamphlet purported to have accurate information that Leicesterius had hired one of his own servants to murder his wife. Leicesterius, according to the pamphlet, later had his wife's murderer himself arrested and executed on absurd charges of battery and assault. The pamphlet then went on to state that, with the help of his Haxonian physician Dr. Hirlolamo Gulio, Leicesterius dispatched the first husbands of his two wives, Lady Shieffaldia and the Countess of Leicesterius. Odet de Coligny, the Franconian Archate of Cartillon (who had been murdered on Laurasia Prime while preparing his return to Franconia in February 1771), Sir Nicholas Thorckmortonia, the Dowager Countess of Lennaxia, and the Earl of Jadia were all murdered by Leicesterius's agents through poison, the pamphlet then claimed. Furthermore, the pamphlet accused the Earl of blackmail, extortion, theft, assault, money laundering, and even child molestation. The work, when published, was such a masterpiece of character assassination, and written in such a engaging but "professional" manner, that many believed the accusations true. Leicesterius was so unpopular that only his nephew, Sir Philip Sidronius, and the Empress came to his defense. Aurelia, in fact, had the pamphlet banned on December 11.
    • The Ministry of Culture and Communications confiscated all physical and electrical copies of the pamphlet, and imposed harsh penalties on businesses and communication outlets that distributed it. The incident with the pamphlet demonstrated that the Empress still cared for Leicesterius. They now regarded each other as old friends, rather than lovers, and were united by common bonds of religion, age, and education. They still quarreled however, and the Empress burst out at Leicesterius from time to time. He told Hattonius once that he would not attend a Council meeting because "Her Majesty's verbal outbursts will slander my name and humiliate me, to the disgrace of my family." He forgave and forgot these incidents, however, and the Empress apologized to him every time. On Ascentmas Day, December 25, 1784, the Earl of Leicesterius formally introduced his eighteen-year old stepson, the Earl of Estatius, to the court. The younger Earl's "good physical qualities, intelligence, athleticism, and wit" quickly endeared him to the Empress and to many of the Court's magnates. His former guardian, Lord Treasurer Burghley, praised him, and he found support from his grandfather Lord Knollysis, his step-aunt Lady Didymeia Sidronius, and Chancellor Walsingis. For the time being, however, the Empress regarded Estatius as only a handsome and accomplished boy, and still focused her attentions on Raleghia (whom Leicesterius hoped the boy would supplant). 1784 thus ended with the Empire still formally at a peace, but with clouds of war and conspiracy gathering on the horizon.

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