This is the Timeline of the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia, which serves as a resumption of the General History of Laurasia, Part VII. It covers the history of the Stellar Kingdom from 1230, shortly after the birth of King Artabanus, to the eve of the Laurasian Empire's establishment, and the end of the Great Briannian War (1320).
Timeline of the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia (1230-1320)Edit
13th century (1201-1300)Edit
The thirteenth century commenced on January 1, 1201, and ended on December 31, 1300, of the Hyperdrive Era system.
- Following the birth of Grand Prince Artabanus in March 1229, celebrations had ensued at the Royal Court, on Laurasia Prime, and in other important star systems of the Stellar Kingdom. As had been noted in the General History, King Leonidas greeted the birth of his son with much joy, believing that he had ensured the continuing existence of the Leonidian Dynasty. Pope Filaret and Abbess-General Martha, the Grand Prince's grandparents, had extended their blessings to him; the Pope, moreover, had presided over his baptism ceremony. Indeed, during the course of the next three years, the Kingdom's dominions continued to reside in a general state of peace and prosperity, continuing their recovery from the travails of the Time of Troubles. In July 1229, King Leonidas and Queen Valeria embarked upon a progress from Laurasia Prime, and through the strongholds of the Laurasian Purse Region. Charasia, Americana, Taurasia, Vetta, Volta, Sarai, Lusculum, Tusculum, Oxia Vixius, Augis V, Apathama Vixius, Janesia, Maroni, Dearton's Gateway, and the strongholds of the Constantine Cluster were among the worlds visited by Their Majesties, over a progress which continued until their return to Laurasia Prime on October 1. The King then commissioned the construction of the Leonidian Obelisk in the City of Christiania; construction on it began in November 1229, and was to finish in January 1231. In January 1230, King Leonidas embarked upon another progress, this time to Darcia, where he presided over the dedication of St. Suthulmus's Cathedral in Corcae City.
- By that point, Queen-Consort Valeria was pregnant once more, this being announced on Ascentmas Eve, 1229. The Queen's pregnancy proceeded with little complication, and at Fortunata Mansion on Darsis (July 14, 1230), she gave birth to their fourth child, who was christened Anna. Leonidas had hoped for the birth of another son, to provide another sibling for Artabanus, and more insurance for his dynasty. However, he decided to accept the fact of Anna's birth, and ordered for lavish celebrations to be held to mark the occasion. In August 1230, the King embarked upon another progress, this time into the Malarian Provinces; his visit to Malaria Prime, conducted from August 29-September 7, was particularly notable. During these months, moreover, Pope Filaret and the Royal Council continued to implement a series of policies beneficial to the Royal Laurasian Government. In November 1229, the Pope ordered for the establishment of a legal commission to review all orders, regulations, and manifestos issued relating to military tenancy, the apportionment of military obligations upon noble and ecclesiastical estates, and the levying system employed in the Purse Region. This commission, which had begun its work on December 11 of that year, continued to meet until April 14, 1230, when it produced its final report for the Council. The King, acting on his father's persuasion, then convened a session of the Aristocratic Duma (June 1, 1230), and ordered them to prepare a new and uniform military obligations code.
- The Duma proceeded to its work, and after some effort, the Uniform Code of Military Obligations and Tenure appeared (September 19, 1230). This code compiled all laws, regulations, and statutes relating to military tenancy, obligations, and levies; established an Office of Military Provision, in the Royal Chancellory, to take charge of all future reports and disputes concerning military appropriations; and mandated an annual accounting of military obligations by the Duma, so as to determine noble responsibilities in regards to levying and conscription for the forces. The Uniform Code served to improve the efficiency and professionalism of the Laurasian armed forces. In October 1230, the Pope sponsored the establishment of the Papal Archives of Colombia, which was to become one of the chief academic centers of learning on Laurasia Prime. Two months later, by the decree of December 7, 1230, the Ecclesiastical Chancellory was reorganized, with the Pope and his secretariat gaining additional responsibilities over wills, probates, heresy, sexual deviancy, and other moral cases. The Chancellory was now organized into four departments: Judiciary, Civil, Treasury, and Palace. The first became responsible for the affairs of all ecclesiastical courts; the second took charge for the affairs of "the church decorum"; the third became responsible for all clerical taxes, obligations, tithes, and offerings; and the fourth became responsible for the management of all papal estates, chantries, monasteries, and landholdings. In January 1231, moreover, Filaret was to order for the compilation of a uniform inventory on all ecclesiastical properties, and in 1232, he would revise the Charters of Monasterial Administration, redefining land claims, service terms, and economic activity rights by the Carthusian, Cistercian, and Augustinian Orders.
- King Leonidas and Pope Filaret were both, however, now dealt a personal blow. On January 27, 1231, the King's mother, Abbess-General Martha, Duchess of Cassanova, died at the Vemay Monastery on Jenny, aged 70. When Leonidas was informed, at the Celestial Palace, of his mother's death, he was sent into a fit of bewailment, and had to be comforted by Prince Pozharkius, who had been made Mayor of Christiania and Commander of the Celestial Palace Control in November 1228, in recognition of his earlier services during the Time of Troubles. The Pope took the news much more calmly, and ordered for a solemn mass to be conducted in his wife's memory. The Abbess-General would be buried at the Vemay Monastery on March 8, 1231, in a ceremony attended by the King and Queen, along with Grand Prince Artabanus and the magnates of the Royal Court, and presided over by the Pope. In April 1231, Filaret reshuffled the positions on the Royal Council. He now appointed Theodosius Licharia (1181-1236), as the new Secretary of the Royal Chancellory, and placed him in charge of the Bureaus of Correspondence and Foreign Affairs. Licharia, however, would fall out of favor with the Pope in due course, and in January 1232, he in turn would be replaced with Honorius Grazania (1187-1234), who was more supportive of his policies.
- Indeed, by September 1231, Filaret was engaged in preparations for renewed war with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth. Ever since the conclusion of the Treaty of Deulino in 1218, the recovery of the Central Core had been a major goal of the Royal Laurasian Government. Filaret believed that the concession of that region to Polonian authority was only temporary, and that to restore the Stellar Kingdom's prestige, it would be necessary to drive the Polonians out. Consequently, he embarked upon a major expansion and revitalization of Laurasian military ranks; continued with his administrative innovations, and in a speech of September 27, 1231, to the Duma and Royal Council, declared that unless action were taken against Polonia, the "spirits of the ancestors of Our Lords would never be appeased." In November, the Pope conducted a tour of Maroni, Janesia, and Dearton's Gateway, overseeing the re-mobilization of Laurasian military forces at that strongholds. And on December 12, he issued instructions to the Royal Headquarters, ordering for the drafting of plans for campaigns into the Clancian Provinces.
- The Pope was now further encouraged in his schemes by the declining health of King Sigis'ac of Polonia-Donguaria. The King, who had once held such high ambitions in Laurasian territory, and had acclimated himself to the loss of his hereditary Briannian Crown, spent the last years of his reign focusing on the affairs of his personal household, on the patronage of the arts and sciences in his dominions, and on securing the succession for his son, Prince Wladyslaw. The King continued to clash with the Polonian Parliament, and in November 1230, he was forbidden by the Parliament to implement any future executive directives relating to royal estates, honors, or orders without first obtaining consent from the Magisterial Court. Nevertheless, Sigis'ac was able to maintain a modicum of respect with the Polonian-Donguarian nobility, and all of his actions were pursued in their interests. On July 10, 1231, Queen-Consort Constarra of Donguaria, to whom Sigis'ac had been married for twenty-six years, died. The death of Constarra greatly affected the King, and his health now began to enter a general decline. The King now experienced severe psychological and mental problems, and in September 1231, suffered a attack of nervous prostration on Polonia Minor. He now delegated most of his governing responsibilities to his son, though in October 1231, the Parliament refused to offer a guarantee of the Prince's election to succeed his father during his lifetime. In January 1232, Sigis'ac returned to Polonia Major for the last time, and now retreated to the Royal Palace.
- On April 23, he suffered a major heart attack in his private quarters, and was now rushed to the Royal Hospital of Polonia. The King's physicians failed to restore his condition, and he fell into a rapid coma. Finally, on April 30, 1232, Sigis'ac II Vasa, King-Emperor of the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, and formerly King of Briannia, died at the Royal Hospital in Warsanian City, Polonia Major. He was sixty-five years old, and had reigned over the Commonwealth for forty-four years, which was to be the longest reign in the Commonwealth's history. At the time of his death, he was the most senior monarch in the Caladarian Galaxy, having held that status since the death of Theodoric the Great in August 1226. Condolences for Sigis'ac's death came from many of his fellow monarchs; Gu'starai Adolphus of Briannia, then engaged in the War of the Manorsian Succession, along with Queen Mother Christana of Venasia, Solidaritan Sultan Chosroes II, and King Theudis of Ashlgothia all sent communiques, lamenting the Polonian King's death. King Leonidas of Laurasia too, sent his respects, though they were less genuine than those of other monarchs. Indeed, his father's preparations for renewed war with the Commonwealth continued to proceed apace. Within Polonia itself, the process for the election of a new sovereign now got underway. The Primate of Polonia, Jan Wezyk (1175-1238), now assumed his position as Interrex, and presided, on May 17, 1232, over Sigis'ac's burial at the Vault of Polonian Kings.
- Then on June 22, 1232, the Interrex summoned a Convocation Parliament. This Parliament met until August 17 of that year. Prince Krzyzstof Radziwill, who had been one of Sigis'ac's leading military commanders during the wars with Briannia, was made Marshal of the Parliament. Radziwill advocated for the extension of greater rights to the Polonian nobility and for measures of religious toleration. He was supported by the magnate Boguslaw Lesczynski (1214-59), but was opposed by the Voivode of Galich Major, Tomasz Zamoyski (1194-1238). Nevertheless, it was clear from the beginning that Prince Wladyslaw was the leading candidate for the throne. Some of the Commonwealth's magnates and clergy did favor his younger brother, Jan Kazimierz. He, however, had less support than Wladyslaw, and his candidacy was never officially posed. The King of Briannia did not pose a candidate, nor did the Queen Mother of Venasia; Laurasia, as mentioned above, was secretly preparing for war with the Commonwealth, and therefore did not present a candidate. By August 1232, therefore, it was clear that Wladyslaw was completely unopposed.
- The actual Election Parliament convened at Wronzaz on September 27, 1232, in order to consider the royal election and various legislative items. The indecisiveness which now marked the Polonian Orderlist faction now allowed for Prince Wladyslaw to align himself with the Galician Heretics and the Zesian Cultists, thereby obtaining their support. At the same time, his evident religious tolerance did not lose him the support of his Orderlist supporters. Nor did his breaking custom to go to Polonia Major during the election arouse noticeable disapproval. The Prince also took part in the drafting of "Measures for the Appeasement of People of the Almitian Faith who live in the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth", by which Almitian prelates were granted additional, legal jurisdiction. Wladyslaw, furthermore, was lobbied by the Almitian Archbishop of Goldaria, Peter Mogila (1196-1247), and the Parliament guaranteed the right of the Royal Almitian Church to its own hierarchs, subject to the candidates' confirmation by the government. The religious freedoms which had been established by the Polonia Major Confederation in 1173 were reaffirmed, and a new tax was adopted, the kwarta, exacted from 1/4 of the starostowo's (Polonian colonial) revenues, and sending these to the Commonwealth Treasury. It was decided to fortify Puck, which had been colonized in 1176, and to create a new naval starbase for the Commonwealth Navy. The Ivorian delegation's proposal for increased funding and a Ivorian register was rejected; similarly, requests from the Polonian Royal Army were rejected. Some of the Diet's requests were rejected by the Magisterial Court.
- On November 8, 1232, the Parliament formally elected Prince Wladyslaw as King-Emperor of the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth. His pacta conventa, which was now drafted, was officially announced on November 13. In this document, which the Prince signed the following day, pledges were made to expand the military education system; to provide funds for the Commonwealth Navy, which was undergoing a major program of expansion and modernization; to maintain all current treaties and alliances; not to raise forces; give offices or military ranks to foreigners; to not negotiate peace treaties or declare war without the Parliament's approval; not to marry without the Court's approval; to convince his brothers to swear an oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth; and to transfer all the profits of the Royal Mint to the Commonwealth Treasury, rather than a private treasury. Wladyslaw also signed the Hensioran Articles, which had been required of every new Polonian sovereign since 1173. Thus, his election as King-Emperor was now confirmed.
- Yet even before the end of the election process, the tensions between Laurasia and Polonia finally exploded into full-scale war. On October 9, 1232, King Leonidas had issued a formal declaration of war from the Celestial Palace. In this proclamation, the King of Laurasia decried the actions of his Polonian counterpart, declared his attention to redress the insult to his dominions and to the honor of his ancestors, and asserted that his moves were meant to preserve the "galactic balance of power." Laurasian forces were now placed under the operational command of the hero of Goldaria, Prince Michaelius Shetius, who had since his release from captivity in 1219, rendered loyal service to the Royal Laurasian Government. Shetius now directed a series of offensives in the Clancian Worlds. Brithium was the first to fall (October 9-11, 1232), being followed by Reoyania (October 13); Condtella (October 16); and Dramis (October 19-21). On October 22, 1232, Shetius obtained a victory over a Polonian defensive convoy in the Battle of Antennes. From Antennes, Treosha fell into Laurasian hands (October 25, 1232). Three days later, the Prince began the siege of Clancia.
- The Laurasian force which approached Clancia was comprised of the 2nd and 4th Royal Laurasian Fleets, in conjunction with the 3rd Royal Laurasian Army, which included a contigent of Malarian, Metallasian, and Gordianite conscripts. All told, it had some four million soldiers and personnel, along with sixty warships and a complement of 2,300 starfighters. The Laurasians therefore outnumbered the Polonian garrison of the star system. That garrison was comprised of the 22nd Commonwealth Army, the northernmost military force stationed in the Commonwealth, along with six orbital defensive outposts and the Clancian Task Fleet, with thirty warships and 500 starfighters. The garrison of Clancia was commanded by the Deputy Voivode of the region, Samuel Drucki-Sokoliński (1196-1259). Shetius, understanding that it would be unwise to launch a direct assault against the star system, now settled for a siege. His units now established a line of circumvallation around the star system, preventing all traffic to and from Clancia.
- Using corvettes, turbocannons, and hyper-charges, his forces harried the orbital defensive garrisons, inflicted damage upon Clancia's shields, and penetrated to the very orbit of Clancia itself. In December 1232, Laurasian heavy artillery was bolstered with the arrival of 50 new Camanius-class units, which fired 35-ton projectiles at a rate of one every two minutes. Further reinforcements would arrive, in the form of 25,000 Royal Guards and a set of frigates, in March 1233. Shetius also pushed Laurasian forces beyond Clancia, seeking to gain advantage elsewhere. Risa I was stormed by the Laurasians (November 1-9, 1232); from Risa I, the Prince's forces drove through Gatty, Nurdas, and Narisces, securing control of all these strongholds by the end of November 1232. On December 7, 1232, Shetius obtained a further victory in the Battle of the Drixus Nebula, 130 years after Laurasian forces had stormed the region, in the midst of the Honorian Clancian War. Harmony and Tunga fell into the hands of Laurasian forces on Ascentmas Day, 1232, thereby capping off this year's offensives. Indeed, as 1232 ended, the Laurasians were confident that they would be able to move farther into the Central Core. These hopes, however, were to be disappointed.
- 1233, the 33rd year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia and the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth now engaged in the Clancian War, fought in the Northern Central Core. As 1233 began, Laurasian forces obtained some further successes against their Polonian adversaries. On January 7, 1233, the Battle of Pramis ended in a victory for Prince Shetius's subordinate, Major-General Carolus Bransaeta (1192-1256), who captured 75,000 Donguarian troops and disrupted Polonian strategic positions in that star system. Goss Beacon then fell to a Laurasian expeditionary force (January 18-29, 1233), and Laurasian expeditions penetrated to Haudjrau, Hydapses, and Taxiles the Great. By this point however, the Laurasian momentum was fraying. On February 5, 1233, King Wladyslaw was formally crowned on Polonia Major. The King now convened a emergency session of the Parliament. The Parliament now decided to sanction a formal declaration of war against Laurasia (February 11, 1233) and authorized a large payment (6.5 trillion Polonian zlotys) to the King, to conscript additional units for campaigns against Laurasia. Moreover, the King was granted the authority to impose marital law in the Clancian Provinces, to use "all measures necessary to repel the Laurasian invaders from our realms", to quarter on properties and businesses in the affected regions, and to confiscate the "necessary" resources, for use in the conflict. On March 1, 1233, the King would be given a patent of authorization by the Magisterial Court, allowing for him to take direct command of Polonian forces in the field, and to delegate government on Polonia Major to his Council of State for the duration of his absence.
- Wladyslaw now exploited his mandate to the full, and during the next several months, he would be engaged in vigorous preparations on Polonia Major. The King also took more direct measures to stymie and reverse the Laurasian offensives. With the approval of the Court, he now charged the Donguarian Field Hetman, Prince Radzwill, with the responsibility of relieving the Siege of Clancia. Radziwill was partnered with the Viceroy of Clancia, Alexander Gosiewski (1186-1239), who had been away from the star system at the commencement of the siege. Radziwill and Gosiewski combined their forces together at Constancia on February 24, and began their advance from there on March 5. They now halted a Laurasian expedition against Daala (March 5-12, 1233), defeated Bransaeta in the Battle of Williams (March 19), and on March 22, drove Laurasian units from Hydapses and Taxiles the Great. On April 5, Bransaeta was forced to retreat from Goss Beacon; Radziwill now established a new operational headquarters in the star system, and by April 14, he stormed the colonies of Basow and Krajne, which had fallen into Laurasian hands earlier. By June 1233, they had assumed command of the 7th and 14th Royal Armies, and on June 15 of that year, Radziwill and Gosiewski advanced to the outskirts of the Clancia star system. They harassed the strategic positions of the Laurasian forces, broke through their lines on numerous occasions, and provided supplies, reinforcements, and communications to the garrison of Clancia.
- On July 7, Condtella fell back into Polonian hands; Dramis was also recovered by the Commonwealth's forces. Then on July 22, King Wladyslaw finally departed from Polonia Major, and proceeded with his forces up into the Central Core. These forces included substantial Donguarian, Polonian, and Galician reinforcements. The King was then forced to suppress a series of uprisings and social revolts at Ivoria, Maschinga, and in the Goldarian Shadow Worlds, which kept him occupied until August 10. But finally, on August 16, the King moved to Orsha, located eight light-years to the northwest of Clancia. He dispatched expeditionary forces against Depp, Oxia Vixius, Wroona, and Fitzsimmons (August 27-27, 1233), hoping to disorient Laurasian supply lines, and to put their forces off balance. Then on September 5, the King's forces approached the outskirts of Clancia. They numbered three million personnel, and their arrival gave the Polonians a slight numerical advantage over the Laurasians. It was only when Ivorian reinforcements, led by Master Timofiy Orendarenko, numbering two million personnel and one hundred warships, along with a complement of specialized Ivorian troops, arrived (September 17, 1233), that the Polonians gained a definitive numerical and tactical advantage.
- The Ivorians, commanded by Orendarenko and his associate, Galician Prince Macin Kazanowski (1166-1236), raided the Laurasian rear lines, freeing the main forces under Radziwill and Gosiewski to join the King's effort to break the Siege. The King's brother, Joh'saw Casimir, commanded one of the wings in the Polonian forces. The King himself, who was an advocate for the expansion and modernization of the Commonwealth's military forces, proved to be a good tactician, and his innovative use of artillery, the Winged Hussars, and the Polonian starfighter corps proved critical to his ultimate success. The Hussars in particular, significantly restricted Laurasian mobility, hampering their movements. In a series of fierce engagements in the Clancia star system, Commonwealth forces gradually outran the Laurasian field fortifications, and by late September 1233, the Siege was reaching its final stages. On September 28, the Commonwealth's forces penetrated the main supply points of the Imperial Laurasian Navy.
- The morale of the Laurasian forces was now driven down further by an event on Laurasia Prime. On October 1, 1233, at the Old Royal Palace in Christiania, Pope Filaret (formerly Theodosius Cassanova), Duke of Cassanova, father of Leonidas I, and brother of the late Queen-Consort Anastasia Cassanova, died, aged 80. The Pope had, for fourteen years, been the chief influence in the Royal Laurasian Government. King Leonidas saluted his father in a manifesto, declaring that he would now be "joined to the embrace of the Lord Almitis", and that his example was one to be emulated in the future. On his orders, the deceased Pope was laid out in state at the Old Westphalian Cathedral; he remained there for over a month. On November 6, he was interred there. For that month, a period of mourning was observed at the Royal Court. Just three days after the Pope's demise (October 4, 1233), Prince Shetius was forced to terminate the Siege of Clancia, and the system was now secured once again by the Commonwealth.
- Shetius's forces were now pursued to its original headquarters at Maroni, which was besieged by the Polonian forces, beginning on October 18, 1233. The Siege of Maroni therefore, represented a renewed Polonian thrust into Laurasian territory. The besieged Laurasians now sought relief, but none arrived, as the forces of Prince Radziwill and Ivorian Master Orendarenko harried their supply and communications lines. During the last months of 1233, while Shetius was bottled up at Maroni, the Polonians made other advances. Janesia fell to Viceroy Gosiewski (October 22-27, 1233), followed by Depp (November 2), Chesrone (November 6), Chesham's Star (November 11-14), and on November 22, Dearton's Gateway. By December 8, Polonian expeditions had also sacked Kelby, Chloe, Merandaz, and Mercedes, and were threatening the defenses of the Station of Dosch, Katie, and Lusculum. On Ascentmas Day, 1233, Gosiewski defeated a Laurasian task force under the Prince of Arias in the Battle of Lalna, capturing 200,000 Laurasian troops. 1233 ended therefore with the advantage having shifted to the Commonwealth.
- 1234, the 34th year of the thirteenth century, began with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth's forces continuing their advance into the Laurasia Prime Purse Region. On January 8, 1234, Wes was overrun by Viceroy Gosiewski's forces. From Wes, his units besieged Rainnan and Ietas, inflicting further damage upon Laurasian military forces (January 11-22), although Laurasian forces ultimately retained control of both strongholds. But by the middle of January 1234, it had become obvious to King Leonidas and the Royal Laurasian Government that no further benefit could be derived from this conflict. Leonidas was now looking to extricate himself from this conflict. Thus, on January 25, 1234, he communicated, through Shetius, an armistice offer to King Wladyslaw. Wladyslaw himself, entertaining ambitions of a war against Briannia to reconquer the Duchy of Schaueria Prime, and also seeking to turn his attention to affairs on Polonia Major, decided to accept this offer. The Armistice of Osama was signed on February 15, 1234, thereby suspending hostilities between the forces of the Kingdom and the Commonwealth. On February 28, General Radziwill withdrew from the Siege of Maroni, thereby freeing up Shetius's forces. Polonian forces, however, continued to occupy their relevant strongholds in the Purse Region.
- A diplomatic conference was not opened until April 30, 1234, when delegations from the two governments convened at Polyanovka, a Polonian colony thirty light years northeast of Lublin. The conference lasted for over a month, culminating in the conclusion of the Treaty of Polyanovka (June 10, 1234). By the terms of this treaty, the territorial status quo ante bellum was restored between Laurasia and Polonia. Polonia agreed to evacuate all strongholds it had occupied in the Purse Region, to reaffirm Laurasian jurisdiction over the Malarian Provinces, and to acknowledge Laurasian rights of campaign in the Wild Marshes. In exchange, King Leonidas agreed to reconfirm the terms of the Treaty of Deulino, recognizing Polonian authority over the whole of the Central Core. He also agreed to pay a war indemnity of $6.5 trillion Laurasian denarii, in order to compensate the Commonwealth for the expenses incurred in the Siege of Clancia.
- All prisoners of war were to be exchanged, and the two governments agreed to the conclusion of new trade arrangements, with "most favored nation" status assured for the merchants, navigators, and starhoppers of each respective side. And finally, in what was the most important provision of the Treaty, King-Emperor Wladyslaw formally, and finally, renounced his claim to the Royal Laurasian Crown. This occurred twenty-one years after the end of the Time of Troubles. Wladyslaw also agreed to restore all insignia and honors which he had been granted by the Aristocratic Duma, back in 1210, to the custody of the King of Laurasia, and to abjure the claims of any who would challenge the authority of Leonidas. Thus, the legitimacy of the Leonidian Dynasty received a further boost, and the King's position was strengthened immeasurably. Wladyslaw agreed to this renunciation in the hope that it would lure Laurasia into an anti-Briannian alliance. Those plans, however, would come to nought; the Polonian Parliament was totally opposed to the resumption of hostilities with Briannia, while the Laurasians themselves were not in favor of military alliance with the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, the Treaty did further stabilize relations between Laurasia and Polonia.
- The Treaty of Polyanovka was ratified by King Leonidas on the day that it was signed, and by the Polonian Parliament (then in plenary session), on June 12. On June 14, 1234, in a ceremony at Natasi, King Wladyslaw formally divested of his claims to the Royal Laurasian Crown, and arranged for the transfer of the relevant insignia back to Laurasia Prime. By the end of August 1234, all Polonian forces had withdrawn from the Purse Region, and the diplomatic situation had stabilized. The conclusion of the Treaty of Polyanovka thereby ended the almost continuous series of wars which had embroiled the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth since the commencement of the thirteenth century. Laurasia and Polonia would not go to war again for twenty years (that is, until 1254). King Leonidas, on his part, now turned his attention to internal affairs. With the death of his father, he was now advised once again by Theodosius Licharia, who was Chief Secretary of the Royal Chancellory and Correspondence, and by his cousin, Prince Honorius Cherkassia of Taurasia (1180-1242), who had charge of the Royal Guards, Personal Secretariat, and Treasury Departments. Acting on their advice, the King implemented a new Code of Conduct in September 1234, relating to the servants and servitors of the Royal Household, and he ordered a revision of all accounts, obligations, and liens on the Royal Estates (this survey was completed in July 1237). The King also established three new regiments of the Royal Guards, and he reformed the municipal administration of Christiania, creating a greatly expanded Public Services and Security Bureaucracy.
- Leonidas also turned to the matter of his father's successor, as Pope of the Royal Almitian Church. On February 6, 1234, the Archbishop of Christiania and the Metropolitan of Laurasia Prime, Joasaphus (1175-1240), was formally nominated and elevated as Pope, in a ceremony at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. Joasaphus, who was one of the most respected and intellectual clergymen in the Stellar Kingdom, had been recommended for the position to Leonidas by Pope Filaret, shortly before his death. The new Pope received, as was custom, his mitier, cross, and staff of authority from the hands of the King himself. One of Joasaphus's first deeds upon assuming the papal dignity was to order for the punishment of the Archbishop of Colombia, Josephus Kutzverania (1188-1251), for his indecent behavior. The Archbishop was compelled to engage in a series of penance rituals at the Monasteries of Jenny, Windowia Photis, and Sarah, and he was also obliged to pay an extensive indemnity on the revenues of his see. This was in accordance with the Pope's drive to maintain conformity, moral standards, and unity among the clergymen of the Church.
- In 1236, he composed the Memo, issued to all clerics and subordinates in the Church throughout the Galaxy, in which he expounded the obligations expected of them, and emphasized the settlement of all discords. This was followed by his Treatise on the Hierarchy of Power, published that same year, in which Joasaphus explained the hierarchy of Almitian prelates and functionaries during divine services and church councils. In 1238, he sponsored the publication of a New Almitian Ordinal for the liturgy, and ordered for the compilation of all of his predecessor's decrees, sermons, and bulls (this appeared in 1242, after his death). Moreover, Joasaphus sought to expand the Church's educational system, sponsoring the establishment of a new Papal Communications and Training Center on Heupdermia, centralizing academic curriculum, and issuing charters to the Cistercians, Augustinians, and Carthusians to establish new academies, institutes of learning, and private schools.
- As Pope, Joasaphus devoted all of his time and effort to his duties in the Almitian Church, refraining from interference with state policy. He aimed for the effective implementation of the resolutions of the Council of the Hundred Chapters, which had been convened under Honorius the Terrible in 1150-51, and whose Church Code had since that time served as a general compilation of church procedures, beliefs, and practices. The Pope regulated arrangement of worship in accordance with its provisions, forbade the custom of simultaneous execution of worship passages and prayers in the service, and prosecuted those suspected of proselytizing, which he viewed as being in contravention of Almitian dictates. In this, he anticipated the great drive against proselytizing which was undertaken by Aurelia the Great more than five centuries later, and which lead her into a great dispute with Chief Procurator Demetrius Grindalius. The Pope's efforts, therefore, served to strengthen the position of the Almitian Church. In October 1234, King Leonidas presided over the dedication of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Osraninpolis, a ceremony also attended by the Pope. He also conducted a tour of the cities of Laurasia Prime, its moons, and its outposts. As 1234 ended, Laurasia continued to remain at peace. This, however, would not last for long.
- 1235, the 35th year of the thirteenth century, began with the dominions of the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia residing in peace, with the end of the abortive Clancian War. King Leonidas, who continued to hold a position of high regard with his subjects, presided over affairs at the Royal Laurasian Court with his customary vigor. Yet during the early months of the year, the King, Prince Cherkassia, and his other ministers were engaged in vigorous preparations for the planned invasion of the Kelvanian and Morganian Provinces. Those territories, renowned for their mythological histories, their strategic value, and their extensive natural resources, were to be an easy target of Laurasian expansion. This was due to the circumstances in the Galactic Borderlands, affecting the Amelianian kingdoms, which are now to be explained in short order below.
- Following the death of Attila in May 1153, the Brestord Kingdom had undergone the civil struggle between his sons Ellac, Dengizich, and Ernakh, which had then been followed by the successful revolt of the Armanes and Halegothicans in 1154 (culminating in the Battle of Nedao, which had seen the destruction of Brestord military power), who had established their independent kingdoms in the northern Outer Borderlands. The Brestord Kingdom had then lingered on, through civil conflict and a ruinous war with the Solidaritan Sultanate, before it eventually succumbed to the Neo-Xilanian Empire (1169). At the same time of the Succession Civil War and the Barbarian Rebellion, King Penda of Marcia, still the most powerful sovereign in the Galactic Borderlands, had focused his efforts upon the recovery of Donna, Billy, Latrice, and the Tof Borderlands from the Brestords. By June 1155, he had accomplished his goal, and those territories had been restored to Marcian authority. Penda had then become engrossed in a struggle with King Oswiu of Nordania (r. 1142-59), who sought to gain revenge for the death of his brother Oswald a decade earlier. Oswiu aligned himself with King Cenwalh of Amelianian Cordania and Hengist, who sought to recover the Hypasian Provinces from the Marcians; Penda, on his part, was supported by his vassal, King Ethelware of Amelianian Lavella, who had succeeded Anna upon his death in October 1154.
- The ensuing war, which had begun in July of that year, witnessed a series of military campaigns among Marcia, Northania, Hengist-Cordania, and Amelianian Lavella, focused upon the Eastern Kalbachan Provinces, in Kania, and in Rhedita. On November 15, 1155, the Battle of the Winwaed, which was fought at Winwaed Nebula, located eight light years to the north of Deira, had ended in a decisive victory for Oswiu and Cenwalh; King Penda was seriously wounded, and died at the end of the battle, while Ethelware was slain during the battle. For a time thereafter, Nordania and Hengist-Cordania had enjoyed a period of resurgence. Penda was succeeded to the Marcian throne by his son Peada, who struggled to repel coalition counteroffensives, suffering defeats at Teller, Imegina, Karlong, Kumong, Sherry, Seeben, Bane, and Cognus (November 1155-March 1156). On April 10, 1156, Peada himself was assassinated by his wife, Celadfleda. He was then succeeded to the throne by his wife's paramour, his cousin Wulfhere. Wulfhere oversaw a great revival in Marcian fortunes, and over the course of the next year, he instigated a drive back into Nordanian and Cordanian territories. He forced Cenwalh to terms in the Treaty of Zannah (November 9, 1156), confirming the Marcian conquest of the Hypasian Provinces, and in February 1157, received another oath of allegiance from King Ethelwold of Amelianian Lavella, who conceded Dejan, Carrie, Fisher, Sissy, and Spacek as a token of his submission. Finally, on May 4, 1157, Wulfhere and Oswiu came to terms in the Treaty of Lenderia, which restored the status quo ante bellum between them; Oswiu, however, did grant another acknowledgement of Wulfhere's supreme position in the Galactic Borderlands.
- On June 2, 1157, Wulfhere was assassinated at Kennedy by some of his personal bodyguards, and he was now succeeded to the throne by his cousin and chief chamberlain, Offa. Offa was the nephew of the late King Penda. Twenty-seven years old at the time of his accession to the throne, King Offa reigned for thirty-nine years (1157-96). His reign saw the Marcian Empire, as it became informally known, consolidate its position of ascendancy in the Galactic Borderlands, and come close to being the only Amelianian state. Between 1157 and 1164, Offa focused his efforts on repelling Brestord and Solidaritan raiding expeditions and reconnaissance parties in the Donnian and Billian Provinces; reorganizing his chancellory and civil service on Marcia Prime (Arachosia Prime); and reasserting his supremacy over the Melanite dependencies of Fraiser, McFadden, Wesley, Crusher, Janeway, and Wheaton, establishing a uniform Amelianian administration in those star systems. In 1163, Offa also compelled the concession of Summers, Vargara, and Sofia from Nordania. After 1164, the King's attention turned to the affairs of the subordinate Amelianian kingdoms. Hengist and Cordania were once again under the rule of different monarchs. King Cenwalh's death in September 1157 had left a complicated situation in those two kingdoms: his sons Etherbertht and Eadeberht became joint Kings of Hengist, still confined only to the Muggal Cluster, while his nephew Cynewulf became King of Cordania. Etherbertht and Eadeberht had clashed constantly over the affairs of government, and in June 1162, Etherbertht was assassinated by his brother's agents at Crimea. Eadeberht himself was then poisoned by his son, Eardwulf, in October 1162. Eardwulf held on to the throne for just over a year, until he died on Kagul of natural causes in January 1164. Offa now intervened.
- He installed Eardwulf's chief military commander, Sigered, as King of Hengist, and compelled the concession of Pyongyang, Dilojong, Sackrandis, and Ayensdord to Marcia. Sigered, however, conspired against his new overlord, and on June 7 of that year, he was deposed by Offa, who had him exiled to Kylantha (where he died in April 1165). Offa then installed Eanmund on the throne. Eanmund, however, lasted just over two months, and he was killed by Torfian pirates at Chardis (August 19, 1164). Heahberht was then confirmed as King, and in November 1164, he paid a visit to Offa at Vector Prime. Heahberht died of natural causes in June 1165, and Offa then installed Ecgberht on the Hengistan throne. For eleven years, Ecgberht was a Marcian vassal; in April 1167, he signed the Treaty of Kalbacha Minor with Offa, granting him military transit, free trade, and intelligence privileges in his dominions. Between 1170 and 1174, Offa intervened numerous times into Hengist's affairs, suppressing anti-Marcian revolts on Karlong, Seoul, and the Stations of Ung, and destroying the Hulagian Pirates of Riababia Mogila. But in November 1175, Ecgberht, receiving support from King Cynewulf of Cordania, erupted in revolt against Offa. The Ecgberhian Revolt proved successful, and culminated with a Hengistan victory at Otford in July 1176, with Offa suffering severe losses. In January 1177, after a series of successful moves by Ecgberht against Donna, Billy, Kia, Sly James, and Pelaski, Offa recognized Hengistan independence in the Treaty of Meneia.
- This proved to be only a temporary reverse, however. Ecgberht continued to reign as King of Hengist until his death in August 1179. He was then succeeded to the throne by his son Eahlmund. Eahlmund contended with a series of constant Torfian revolts, social unrest on Imegina, economic decline, and in 1182-83, with the conspiracy of Orthat. All of these tensions were aided and abetted by King Offa, who sought to gradually recover Marcian predominance in the Donnian Provinces, and his own jurisdiction over Hengist. Eahlmund held on until his assassination in March 1184 by the agents of Prince Beaeonred, who had long been opposed to his authority. Beaeonred then proclaimed himself King, but in August of that year, Offa, having made extensive military preparations, launched a vigorous invasion of Hengist. The ensuing Hengistan War lasted for three years; vigorous battles, operations, and raids were waged at all of the Torfian Throne Worlds. The war ended with the conquest of Imegina by Offa in November 1187; Beaeonred himself was killed in the final confrontation. Offa then proceeded to directly incorporate Hengist into the Marcian Empire, and in 1190, he assumed the title of "King of Hengist" for himself. Hengist remained under Marcian rule through the end of his reign, though he was faced with an uprising of Torfians and Amelianians at Seoul and Sackrandis (1195), which he suppressed.
- As regards to Kthexox, Offa extended Marcian authority over that realm at a much earlier date. Ecgberht of Ivanna, who had been installed by King Oswald of Nordania in July 1142, continued to rule over Kthexox until his death in 1166. Already in 1159, the Treaty of Camerania had been signed by Ecgberht and Offa, by which the King of Kthexox pledged himself as a vassal to Marcia in exchange for Offa's guarantee of the continuance of his sovereignty and for protection against outside threats. Offa then, in 1163, 1165, and 1168, launched expeditions against Angela Masia, Tiesting, and the worlds of western Hospallia, repelling expeditions by the Kingdom of Alexandria into Kthexox, and suppressing challenges to the authority of his vassal. Ecgberht, upon his death from natural causes in July 1166, had been succeeded by his son Oswald. Oswald, however, entertained ambitions of his own against Marcia, and he now negotiated with King Cynewulf of Cordania, seeking a common alliance against Marcia (1169). In April 1171, Offa, seeking to forestall this threat, declared Oswald contumacious, and launched an invasion of Kthexox. Marcian forces defeated the Kthexoxians at Hastings (May 19, 1171), and on June 6, Lwheek fell to them. By June 1172, when Oswald was captured by Marcian troops at Ivanna, the whole of Kthexox was under Marcian rule. Offa, proclaiming himself King of Kthexox, now installed his counts and representatives throughout those territories, the most notable of whom became Ealdwulf, who represented him from 1175 until his death in July 1191. From 1176, the Kthexoxian patriots Oslac and Elfwald waged a guerilla war from Destina against King Offa, but they were ultimately defeated and killed at Cierce by Count Ealdwulf in July 1185. Offa retained control of Kthexox to the end of his reign.
- Amelianian Lavella too, fell under the direct sway of the Marcian Empire. King Ethelwold of Amelianian Lavella died in September 1158, and was succeeded by his son Beonna. Beonna pledged a renewed oath of allegiance to Offa at Ladelle in March 1159, and he named his brothers Alberht and Hun as his co-regents. Beonna died in November 1160, after reigning for just over two years, and was succeeded by Alberht. Alberht died in May 1161, and Hun, taking the name of Ethelred I, became King. Ethelred reigned until his death in March 1179. Throughout his reign, he continued to remain a vassal to Offa, paying him homage in ceremonies at Ompus Septimia, Neustron, and Jadaurine in 1166, 1169, and 1174. Following his death, his son Ethelberht II became King of Amelianian Lavella, and in 1182, he paid homage to Offa at Washington. In 1186, he married Offa's daughter, Elthyfryth, a union in which Offa's wife, the formidable Queen-Consort Cynethryth (1136-98), played a major role. Yet as the years passed, Offa intervened more and more into the affairs of Amelianian Lavella; in 1187, he took control of the newly established colonies of Orion, Ernie, and McIntyre, and in 1189, he intervened on Flournoy, suppressing a rebellion against his overlordship there. In April 1190, Offa even proclaimed himself King of Amelianian Lavella, demoting Ethelberht to the status of a co-regent.
- Ethelberht, who found himself pressed by his nobles, under surveillance from the King of Marcia, and his independence curtailed, began plotting rebellion in December 1191. During 1192 and 1193, he continued to build up his military resources. Offa, however, was aware of his plans, and he now used his daughter, Elthyfryth, as well as his intelligence agents at the Court of Lavella Major, to his advantage. Finally, in January 1194, Ethelberht erupted in formal rebellion against his Marcian overlord; he briefly managed to recover control of Carrie, Sissie, Spacek, Ernie, and Orion, and besieged Flournoy. On May 20, 1194, however, he was assassinated on King Offa's orders at Black-Chandlier. Following Ethelberht's death, Lavellan resistance collapsed; Offa, now sole King of Amelianian Lavella, occupied Lavella Major in July 1194 and proclaimed the Kingdom's annexation into Marcia. He directly ruled Amelianian Lavella for the last two years of his reign. Now, as to Amelianian Cordania, Cynewulf's accession to the throne in September 1157 has already been noted. Cynewulf, from the beginning of his reign, was hostile to Offa, and much conflict ensued between them. The two Kings fought three wars (1164-68, 1172-74, and 1176-79), waged primarily in the Hypasian and Eastern Kalbachan Provinces. Cynewulf also provoked rebellion against Offa in Kthexox, Hengist, and Amelianian Lavella. In August 1179, Offa decisively defeated Cynewulf in the Battle of Bensrangia, and annexed the Immortalized Cluster, Angelica Major, and the worlds of the Priestest. In 1183, the two monarchs came to terms in the Treaty of Etienne, and Cynewulf recognized Offa as his overlord. Cynewulf, however, maintained hostile views about Marcia, and in 1185, failed in a conspiracy to assassinate his overlord. The following year, in October 1186, Cynewulf was murdered at Mordan by his steward, Prince Beorthic, who was supported by Offa. In September 1187, Beorthic paid homage to Offa at Hypasia Minor; Offa returned the Priestest to Cordania, but annexed Corfu, Prima, and Iverman in recompense. In 1189, Berorthic married Offa's daughter, Eadburh, and in 1191, agreed to a new commercial treaty with his overlord. Cordania remained under Marcian domination until Offa's death.
- And finally, Offa exerted his jurisdiction over Nordania as well. Oswiu, who had challenged the power of King Penda, and been checked by Wulfhere, was assassinated by disgruntled courtiers in July 1159. He was now succeeded to the throne by his former Chief Guardsman, Ethelwald Moll, who had no hereditary claim to the Northanian throne. Ethelwald Moll reigned until his deposition from the throne in October 1165. During that time, he had peaceful relations with King Offa, signing the Treaty of Garancia with him, regulating diplomatic and commercial intercourse between their two realms. Ethelwold, after being deposed from the throne, was forced to take Amelianian orders, dying at the God's Establishment on Bernicia in 1171. He was then succeeded by Oswiu's son-in-law, Alhred. Alhred reigned until his own deposition in April 1174, and in 1168, he recognized Offa's dominant status by the Treaty of Francia. Ironically, however, it was Offa who sponsored Alhred's overthrow. Alhred was assassinated three months after his deposition, and Ethelwold's son, Ethelred, became King (r. 1174-79, 1190-96). Ethelred, unlike his father, was hostile to Marcia, and in 1176-77, the two powers engaged in territorial disputes over Nagosh, Rhedita, and the Tashian dominions. Ethelred was then deposed by Elfwald in May 1179. He now fled to Arachosia Prime; in a twist of irony, Offa, seeking to take advantage of his predicament, granted him sanctuary, and refused to recognize Elfwald's regime. Elfwald and Offa remained at loggerheads until the former's death in April 1188, at Deira. His first cousin Osred then became King, but in July 1189, Ethelred and Offa launched a joint invasion of Nordania. In February 1190, Osred was deposed as King of Nordania, and Ethelred reclaimed his throne. Osred would eventually be murdered on Ethelred's orders in April 1192. That same year, in September, he married Offa's daughter, Elfaeed, and recognized Offa as his overlord. Ethelred was assassinated, however (April 18, 1196), by some of his nobles. His chief ealdorman Osbald became King, but he died less than a month later, on May 14, 1196. His assassin and successor, Eardwulf, reconfirmed all existing treaties with Offa, though he had opposed Ethelred in the past.
- As mentioned above, Offa engaged in expeditionary wars against the Kingdom of Alexandria, the Brestord Kingdom (before 1169), the Neo-Xilanian Empire, and the Solidaritan Sultanate throughout his reign. His most persistent adversary was Ashlgothia, ruled in turn by Theodoric II, Euric, and Alaric II during his reign; in 1160, the Amelianians and Ashlgothians waged a short conflict at Hermenia, and the King of Marcia engaged in hostilities with them over the possession of Nicole, Redia, and Sejucia in 1178, 1184, and 1196. However, the Marcian Empire did not engage in any consistent conflicts outside of the Galactic Borderlands, and Offa remained at peace with most monarchs. He negotiated commercial treaties with Theodoric the Great of Halegothica in 1184 and 1189, and in 1190, was one of the first monarchs to recognize his claim to rule over the former territories of the Huntite Khanate. He exchanged embassies with Honorius the Terrible of Laurasia (whom he succeeded as senior monarch upon his death in March 1184), and with Honorius's son and successor, Theodosius I; in 1181, the Treaty of Sauvania formalized navigation, transportation, and other privileges along the Metallasian Trade Corridor, and in 1194, Offa negotiated a border settlement between Cordania and Laurasia in the Wild Marshes.
- In 1191, the Treaty of Massanay with the Solidaritan Sultanate under Malik-Shah solved all outstanding territorial disputes in Angelica and Hypasia between the two states. And between 1189 and 1196, he exchanged correspondence with the Homidinian Khans Biligtu and Shidebala. But during the last years of Offa's reign, a new force emerged, which was to eventually pose a major threat to the Amelianians; the Donathians. The Donathians, who hailed from the Sombrero Galaxy, were among the last of the barbarian peoples to migrate to the Caladarian Galaxy, arriving in the Galactic Void in 1172. During the next two decades, they had conducted numerous expeditions through the Void and into the Angelina Spiral. Then in July 1193, they launched their first recorded raid into the Galactic Borderlands, sacking Onasi, Dehner, and Waxefield. This was followed by an assault upon Kathy Minor in 1194 and a more serious assault against Bucharina, recently colonized by the Amelianians, in 1195. In May 1196, a Donathian expedition harried Marson, Kerch, and the northern outskirts of the Muggal Cluster. Offa was forced to divert more forces to those regions, and to sponsor a fortifications program in the Galactic Barrier.
- Offa died on July 29, 1196 at Arachosia Prime, after a reign of thirty-nine years, and as the most powerful King of the Amelianians ever to reign. At his death, the Marcian Empire encompassed virtually the entire Galactic Borderlands, having directly incorporated Kthexox, Hengist, and Amelianian Lavella. Cordania and Nordania were both its vassals. He was succeeded by his son Ecgfrith, who was forty-two at the time of his accession to the throne. Ecgfrith however, died on December 8, 1196, after a reign of barely four months. He was in turn succeeded by his cousin and brother-in-law Coenwulf, who now became King of Marcia. Coenwulf proved to have less of the capability of Offa, and the early years of his reign saw a reduction in Marcian power, territory, and influence. In July 1197, after a series of uprisings on Lavella Major, La'delle, Dequan, Denizel, and Washington, Eaedwald became King of Amelianian Lavella. He ruled for just over a year until his death from the Angrames malady in August 1198. Coenwulf then reasserted control over Lavella, but from 1202 to 1205, and again from 1211 to 1214, was forced to contend with the rebel Beowulf, who posed a substantial challenge to his authority, and held control of the Lavellan Borderlands for much of that time. In August 1196, Eadberht had proclaimed himself King of Hengist, and by June of the following year, had taken control of the Muggal Cluster, taking advantage of a series of revolts against Marcian garrisons, and their weakened supply lines. Coenwulf now engaged in a vigorous struggle with Eadeberht, beginning in July 1197, and lasting for more than a year. In September 1198, he was finally defeated at Rimjang by Coenwulf and captured; he would die in exile at Kalbacha Minor in 1205. Coenwulf then installed his brother Cuthred as client King of Hengist; Cuthred then ruled over Hengist until his death in May 1207, at which time Coenwulf re-assumed direct control, and held it until his death.
- King Beothric of Amelianian Cordania rejected Marcian overlordship in July 1200, and in May 1201, he aligned himself with King Eardwulf of Nordania, who had likewise renounced Coenwulf's dominance. From June 1201 to August 1204, Coenwulf engaged in a bitter struggle with Nordania and Cordania. Beothric died in March 1202, and was succeeded to the throne by Prince Egbert, whom he had earlier forced into exile. Egbert intensified the war against Marcia, and he succeeded in recovering full control of the Immortalized Cluster, Corfu, Prima, and Iverman. The war ended with these gains recognized by Coenwulf. But tensions between Marcia and Nordania persisted, and in May 1206, Coenwulf provoked Eardwulf's deposition from the throne. Eardwulf fled into exile at the Cordanian court on Angelica Major, and was briefly succeeded by Elfwald, who recognized, in December 1206, renewed Marcian overlordship. This made him unpopular with his subjects, and Eardwulf, with Egbert's assistance, ultimately recovered his throne in July 1208, defeating and killing Elfwald at Paecia. He and Coenwulf then engaged in another armed struggle, which ended in October 1212 with the Treaty of the Iswill, which acknowledged the status quo ante bellum. From 1213 to 1221, Coenwulf was distracted by Donathian expeditions in the Galactic Barrier and Northern Reaches, by the domestic affairs of his household, and by the rebellion of the Kthexoxian noble Culf, who was finally defeated and killed at Essie in November 1220.
- King Coenwulf died on June 17, 1221, as the last powerful monarch of the Marcian Empire, which, by the time of his death, was already gravely weakened. He was succeeded by his brother Ceolwulf, who ruled as King of Marcia, Kthexox, and Amelianian Lavella until his own death just two years later (October 2, 1223). Boernwulf then became King of Marcia and Amelianian Lavella, but failed to maintain control of Kthexox, which broke away in July 1224, with the assistance of Egbert and Eardwulf, under the leadership of Balred. Egbert and Eardwulf were now planning a second conflict against Marcia, suffering from economic decline, constant Donathian raids, and overextension of its military and diplomatic resources. War finally began in September 1224, and saw a series of decisive Cordanian and Nordanian campaigns into Marcian territory. Boernwulf lost control of the Hypasian and Eastern Kalbachan Provinces, including Bane, Cognus, Zannah, Seeben, Sabinia, and the Iswill Colonies, to Egbert, and of Kylantha, Essie, Jadaurine, and Jacquentha to Nordania.
- Then on July 26, 1225, he was decisively defeated by the allies in the Battle of Ellandun. As a result of this loss, the Marcian Empire lost its supremacy. In November 1225, Boernwulf was forced to terms in the Treaty of Rasdalla Minor; he now conceded Garama, Kathy Minor, Rasdalla Minor, Jakarta, and parts of the Gate Solarian Cluster to Nordania, and all of Lavella, Donna, Billy, Latrice, Hypasia, and Eastern Kalbacha to Cordania. In May 1226, Beornwulf was assassinated, and was succeeded as King of Marcia by Ludega. In Amelianian Lavella, Ethelstan seized the throne. Ludega attempted to subdue him, but in July 1227, he was defeated by Ethelstan in the Battle of Shashanaya, and was killed in a starship collision shortly afterwards. Ludega was then succeeded by Wiglaf, who was forced to terms (September 5, 1227) with Ethelstan at Irving. Wiglaf then suppressed a series of uprisings at Arachosia Prime and Vector Prime during 1228. In January 1229, Egbert invaded Marcia again, seeking to take advantage of Wiglaf's weakness. He secured a series of swift victories, captured Kalbacha Prime on May 15, and in the Battle of Rhedita Major (June 22, 1229), inflicted a decisive defeat upon Wiglaf. Wiglaf was forced to flee to Partsia, and Arachosia Prime was conquered by Egbert, who proclaimed himself King of Marcia in September 1229. Egbert also consolidated his control over Kthexox, where he had, in September 1226, deposed Balred. But by December 1229, the tide was turning.
- Egbert himself had dealt with continual revolts in Kelvania and in Angelica; with Donathian incursions into his dominions, beginning in 1214; and with conspiracies on Angelica Major. And he found himself unable to keep control of all of his Marcian conquests. In July 1230, Wiglaf won back control of Arachosia Prime, and then cleared Cordanian units from his central territories. After another two years of struggle, Egbert was forced to acknowledge Wiglaf's continued independence by the Traty of Barching (August 19, 1232), but secured recognition of his full control over Hengist. In 1233-34, he faced a further series of nationalist uprisings by the Angelicans, which weakened his position to a greater extent than before. And in Nordania, Eardwulf had died in November 1230, and been succeeded by his son Eanred. Eanred contended with his own financial difficulties, and with increasing Donathian raids, directed especially against Deira, Essie, and Camerania. By 1235, there were four remaining Amelianian kingdoms: Amelianian Cordania, ruled by Egbert, the most senior of the Amelianian sovereigns; Nordania, ruled by Eanred; Amelianian Lavella, ruled by Ethelstan; and Marcia, ruled by Wigulf.
- Circumstances were now ripe for an intervention. Ever since the conquest of Malaria in 1182-98, it had been a goal of the Royal Laurasian Government to engineer the further expansion of the Kingdom's dominions into the Wild Marshes. Until now, due to the Time of Troubles and to other distractions, that had not been possible. King Leonidas, however, now sought to take advantage of the opportunity. The first task which confronted Leonidas was to choose the commander-in-chief of the planned military operations. He now found that commander in Prince Arasces Butalarania (1191-1254), of Capital. Prince Butalarania was a veteran of the Polonian-Laurasian War of 1210-18 and of the Clancian War, and had also, from 1221 to 1226, commanded government forces in the Maluyta Operations, directed against the Maluyta Pirates, who resisted Laurasian authority in Malaria. Due to his prior military experience, his declared devotion to the Kingdom, and his perceived strategic tact, he was the perfect choice for Leonidas. On January 14, 1235, in a formal ceremony at the Diplomatic Palace, the King formally announced his elevation of Butalarania to the rank of High-General of the Royal Laurasian Forces, and entrusted him with responsibility over command of the 5th and 6th Malarian Royal Armies, along with their associated flets. Butalarania was then briefed by the Royal General Headquarters, and received his instructions from the Aristocratic Duma in February 1235. Then on March 8, he made his leave from Laurasia Prime, and proceeded rapidly to Malaria Prime, arriving there two days later.
- Butalarania now took more direct oversight of the military preparations being conducted in the Malarian Provinces, and he launched a series of reconnaissance expeditions into Kelvania, seeking to obtain more information about Amelianian resources, garrisons, and strategic positions. He was also helped in this by the efforts of the King's Intelligence Bureau, and by the information provided, from Kalbacha Prime itself, of the situation within Amelianian Cordania. By June 1235, Laurasian forces were finally prepared, and poised, for a direct military intervention. On June 16, King Leonidas issued a manifesto from Caladaria, declaring that the "will of the Lord Almitis has not yet been satisfied", and that this could only be done through territorial aggrandizement. Ten days later, he dispatched a ultimatum to King Egbert, demanding for the concession of Kanjur, Mordan, Kelvania Minor, and the Rojani Colonies to the authority of the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia. Egbert, whose attention was now fixed upon rebel tensions in Kalbacha (which were to soon usher in the Villhadian Rebellion), and by intensified Donathian raiding expeditions into the outskirts of the Galactic Borderlands, did not respond to the ultimatum. He also neglected to shore up the defenses of Kelvania and Morgania, a decision which would have consequences for him.
- Thus it was that on July 14, 1235, Leonidas issued an official declaration of war against the Amelianian Kingdom of Cordania, and Laurasian forces, under Prince Butalarania, now launched a series of striking offensives forth into Kelvania. The Kelvanian colony of Bouchet was the first to fall into Laurasian hands (July 15-19), and was followed by Barbara (July 22), Lielle (July 26-August 3), and Parkins (August 5). On August 12, 1235, the Amelianian General Ethelwald, seeking to arrest the further advance of the Kingdom's forces, intercepted Butalarania at Rojia. The ensuing Battle of Rojia, which lasted for four days, ultimately ended in a strategic stalemate, as neither Amelianian nor Laurasian units could gain a definitive advantage over the other. As a result of this confrontation, Butalarania was forced to retreat from Parkins, and on September 2, 1235, a Laurasian offensive against Anjun failed in the Battle of Parkas. September 1235 saw Amelianian forces attempting a series of counteroffensives against Siri, Acabania, Takrania, the Narvet Corridor, Ettleman, and Evans in the Malarian Provinces; none of these bore any fruit. On October 5, however, Ethelwald and Butalarania clashed again in the Battle of Clarence; this time, the battle ended in a decisive Laurasian victory, with nearly 200,000 Amelianian troops and personnel dying, and with Ethelwald himself barely evading capture. Parkins then fell into Laurasian hands again (October 9-15, 1235); Rojia followed on October 22, and on November 1, 1235, the Battle of Parlan ended in another victory for Prince Butalarania. By November 17, Mordan was under threat by Laurasian forces, who then focused on subduing the colonies of Loegria, Kambria, and Orius III. It was on December 8, 1235, that the Siege of Mordan was instigated by General Butalarania. Laurasian forces installed a series of stockades around the star system, cut off its communication lines, and harried the orbital defensive garrisons. Ethelwald now launched a series of counteroffensives, aiming to disrupt the Laurasian momentum. His efforts failed, but the Siege was to continue into the following year.
- 1236, the 36th year of the thirteenth century, was dominated by the continuation of the First Laurasian-Amelianian War, as this conflict would become known in later centuries. It was marked, first of all, by the Siege of Mordan. On January 19, 1236, Amelianian General Ethelwald, seeking to once again disrupt Laurasian efforts in that star system, launched a major offensive against Bouchet, Barbara, and Malaria Outer. Although he briefly recovered Bouchet (January 19-24), he was hampered by a Laurasian starfighter squadron, under the command of Fleet Captain Titus Andrescae (1200-71), at Rielle (January 29, 1236). Ridley and Sorina became scenes, in February 1236, of further Amelianian defeats. On March 9, Ethelwald was forced to yield Bouchet, and on March 18, Andrescae's forces defeated his chief subordinate, Oglald, at the Straits of Felicity. Then on March 29, 1236, Mordan finally capitulated to the forces of Prince Butalarania. From Mordan, Butalarania proceeded to the subjection of Kelvania Minor (April 5-14), and then besieged Kanjur, beginning on April 22, 1236. King Egbert, who continued to struggle with the forces of Kalbachan Prince Villhad at Seeeben, Sabinia, Kalbacha Minor, and Cognus, was now contemplating reshuffling command responsibilities, and himself taking command of the effort against Laurasia. In May 1236, however, at Onasi, Waxefield, and Kane, Donathian forces under the command of Rag, the first Donathian warlord of note to appear within the confines of the Caladarian Galaxy, launched a penetrative offensive into Cordanian territory. McFadden, Wesley, Crusher, Janeway, Barching, and the Bereoyeze Asteroids all fell before the Donathians. Egbert, therefore, had another, more serious threat to contemplate. And this allowed for the Laurasians to make yet more advances.
- On June 8, 1236, Kanjur fell to Prince Butalarania's forces. He treated the conquered Kelvanian and Morganian inhabitants of the star system with much generosity, but ordered for all of the officers and surviving personnel of the Amelianian garrison to be kept under imprisonment. Butalarania then proceeded to the main task: the conquest of Kelvania Major. Defeating Amelianian forces in successive confrontations at Ranjun, Kelvin, and Melvin (June 10-17, 1236), the Prince then moved to within range of the Kelvania Major star system. General Ethelwald now launched another offensive, in his effort to halt this latest Laurasian advance. He now cut off Butalarania's advance squadrons at Jessmaine (June 24, 1236). At first, Ethelwald enjoyed some success; he damaged or otherwise disabled seventy of the Royal Laurasian Navy's Circus-class transports, captured 50,000 Laurasian troops, and hampered its communications with the newly-established headquarters on Kanjur. Butalarania, however, had a reserve force in place at Welch, Johnald, Odika, and White, under the command of Admiral Aeneas Totnaria (1195-1253). He now, on July 4, ordered Totnaria to proceed post haste to Kelvania Major, bypassing the Amelianian forces at Jessmaine. Totnaria did as ordered, and his appearance in the chief Kelvanian star system (July 7, 1236), caught the Amelianians completely off guard.
- Ethelwald was now confronted with a choice: either he complete the elimination of the Laurasian forces at Jessmaine, or he relieve the defenses of Kelvania Major. He now chose the later option. On July 12, the Amelianian General's forces appeared at Kelvania Major, and in a series of running engagements, his earldormen and jarls (Marines), managed to push Totnaria back through the Kelvanian Outskirts. However, this move worked in Butalarania's forces. Breaking the token forces left at Jessmaine by Ethewald, Butalarania now moved up to the south vector of Kelvania Major (July 19, 1236). Totnaria, who was now reinforced by several of the advance squadrons, then turned back and confronted Ethelwald from the Northern Vector. Kelvania Major was now completely enclosed by Laurasian forces, and Ethelwald found himself completely surrounded. The Amelianian General now attempted to call for reinforcements, and he launched a series of desperate offensives against the Laurasian operational lines, seeking to break out from his predicament. These offensives failed, causing the loss of more then 75,000 Amelianian troops, including most of his jarls.
- On July 24, the defensive perimeter of Kelvania Major was broken, and the world was now subjected to a full-scale onslaught from Laurasian troops. General Ethelwald himself led the final defense of the stronghold against the invading force,s but all of his efforts proved to be in vain. On August 5, 1236, the Siege of Kelvania Major was concluded, and the system now fell entirely into the hands of the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia. Ethelwald died during the final offensives, by the Royal Laurasian Army, against the Citadel of Panjun, which had been constructed in the ninth century AH and had since then, served as the world's chief defensive headquarters. With the fall of Kelvania Major, the greater part of the Kelvanian Provinces had fallen under Laurasian general. Prince Butalarania now directed his efforts into Morgania, which was to prove to be a tougher, more arduous conquest. Goneril fell under assault from Laurasian forces (August 19, 1236). The garrison of that star system was commanded by Amelianian Prince Wehha, who had been Ethelwald's son-in-law. Wehha was determined to leave nothing to chance, and he now waged a vigorous defense of the star system.
- The Siege of Goneril continued throughout September and October 1236, as Laurasian and Amelianian forces clashed ceaselessly in the star system, at the neighboring colonies of Gorbudia, Belenda, and Karlind, and also at Kanjur, as the Amelianians fought, in vain, to regain a stronghold in Kelvania. Yet Butalarania again displayed his skills of command, not yielding with his pressure upon the garrison of Goneril, carefully coordinating his forces, and remaining in constant communications with the King and his Royal Council. On November 5, 1236, he launched a final, decisive offensive against the star system. Within two hours, Goneril Outpost had been stormed by Laurasian troops, and Butalarania now staged a series of landing on the planet's surface. The cities of Gloucester and Worchester were overrun, and the defenses which had been erected across the Low Valley were destroyed by a series of turbolaser and ion orbital attacks. Wehha suffered the same fate as Ethelwald, falling in battle with the enemy. By the end of the day, Goneril was in Laurasian hands. Within a short time, Butalarania subdued Cordelia and Regan (November 9-17, 1236), and on November 24, won the Battle of Maldroon. On December 5, Lancelot fell under siege by the Kingdom's forces; it's fall on Ascentmas Day, 1236, highlighted the continued success of Laurasian forces.
- The years 1237 and 1238 saw the gradual subjection of the Morganian Provinces to Laurasian authority and efforts by Butalarania's forces to also maintain control in Kelvania. In January 1237, King Leonidas, at the Celestial Palace, ordered for his subjects to celebrate the victories being obtained by his military commanders in the Wild Marshes. Moreover, the King issued new instructions through the Aristocratic Duma to Prince Butalarania, ordering for him to consolidate the Laurasian hold of the Morganian Sister Worlds by clearing out all Amelianian forces, criminal bands, and other units from their vicinity. Butalarania did as commanded. He now defeated Amelianian garrisons in successive confrontations at Krasknia, Yerkeril, and Nekrania (January 8-19, 1237), and on January 23, 1237, won the Battle of Lear. On January 26, Amelianian General Edmund Pasarcae was defeated in the Battle of Curan; captured by Laurasian troops, he was presented before Butalarania, who ordered for his life to be spared, and for him to be deported to imprisonment at the Jar Asteroids. The fall of Curan yielded the Morganian colonies of Caius, Leir, and Dalmutio to the Laurasians (February 1237). On March 8, 1237, Gunevere was besieged by Prince Butalarania's forces; in spite of the efforts of the Amelianian Earl of Mercia, Eorpwald, and of his subordinate Ethelhere, the stronghold fell into Laurasian hands ten days later. Butalarania defeated Eorpwald and Ethelhere again at Mordred (March 25, 1237), and in April 1237, cleared Amelianian units from the Outposts of Eair Star.
- Culwich and Waleran fell in May 1237, and on June 7 of that year, Butalarania obtained another victory in the Battle of Camelot. Arthur was then assaulted (June 16, 1237). Eorpwald, however, managed to repel this first Laurasian offensive, and he even briefly reconquered both Lancelot and Gunevere (June 22-July 1). On July 8, Eorpwald also dispatched a raiding expedition which sacked the Laurasian defenses erected at Goneril and Cordelia. On July 15, however, Butalarania turned his counteroffensive back at Hoel; then on July 22, he destroyed Eorpwald's auxiliary force of jarls in the Battle of Sagramore. Lancelot and Gunevere were back in Laurasian hands by the end of August 1237, and on September 7, Merlin was blockaded. Twelve days later, after subduing Amelianian bases at Bedivere, Breunor, and Bers, Butalarania launched a renewed assault upon Arthur's defenses. The Second Siege of Arthur, as it became known, lasted until October 15, 1237, when the stronghold finally fell to the Laurasians. On November 5, Merlin too buckled; its conquest was a source of major pride to Leonidas, who took credit for the victories earned by his commanders. The Morganian worlds of Gawain, Galahad, and Gaheris were then subdued (November 9-24, 1237), and in December 1237, Camelot was conquered.
- On January 7, 1238, Prince Butalarania commenced his offensive against Morgania Minor. He overcame Amelianian defenses at Excalibur, and on January 15, defeated Eorpwald in the Battle of Kent, inflicting serious damage upon his supply lines. Laurasian forces then cleared the Amelianians from Edgar, Edmund, and Cornwall (February 1238). Finally, on March 1, Morgania Minor itself fell under siege. Eorpwald's forces now engaged in a "guerrilla" strategy of sorts, hacking through Butalarania's transports and Malarian conscripts; penetrating out to the outposts of Meleagant and Uther Pendragon; and laying counter-mines to stall the enemy advance. As a result of these efforts, Morgania Minor held out for over two months. Its final conquest (May 15, 1238), was a major blow to Amelianian Cordania. Morgania Major then became the next target of the Laurasians; it was not finally subdued until August 28, 1238. By October 1238, Laurasian forces had subdued the Morganian colonies of Eric, Lionel, and Feirefiz, and were at the boundary of the Galactic Borderlands. King Egbert, who had won a major victory at Hingston Down (July 1238), at the Galactic Barrier, over the Donathians and Kalbachan rebels, nevertheless realized that he would drain his military resources with a renewed struggle in the Wild Marshes. He still had to contend with rebellion in Kalbacha and with the disputes concerning Wiglaf of Marcia. Consequently, on November 9, 1238, he requested for an armistice, and for negotiations to begin. Leonidas accepted, and the Armistice of Agravain was signed (November 24, 1238). On December 9, a conference opened at Kamachina for the conclusion of a formal treaty. This conference lasted into the following year.
- 1239, the 39th year of the thirteenth century, opened with the First Laurasian-Amelianian War coming to an end, as negotiations were underway on Agravain. The Royal Laurasian Government was represented by Pope Joasaphus, Prince Cherkassia, and Prince Butalarania; Amelianian Cordanian interests were represented by the King's Chancellor, Eadbald of Bane, by General Eorpwald, and by the six chief magnates of the Cordanian Witan. It was on February 19, 1239, that negotiations reached their conclusion, and the Treaty of Agravain was signed. By the terms of this treaty, the Amelianian Kingdom of Cordania made territorial concessions to the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia in the Wild Marshes. Laurasia now obtained possession of the Kelvanian Provinces; this included Kelvania Major, Kelvania Minor, Anjun, Rojia, Barbara, Bouchet, Parkins, Kanjur, and Mordan. King Leonidas, in return, agreed to restore the Morganian Provinces to the authority of Amelianian Cordania; to recognize Amelianian possession of the Kalbachan Worlds; and to refrain from any further aggressive territorial endeavors in the future. All prisoners and captives of war were to be exchanged, and diplomatic, as well as economic, relations restored. No side was to pay a financial indemnity. All Laurasian military forces were to withdraw from Morgania by no later than December 1, 1240. The Treaty of Agravain was ratified by King Egbert on March 7, and by King Leonidas on March 22.
- Egbert did not have much longer to live following the conclusion of peace. He died at Kalbacha Prime on April 15, 1239, after having reigned for thirty-seven years. He was now succeeded to the throne of Amelianian Cordania by his son, who became Ethelwulf I of Amelianian Cordania. Ethelwulf had served as his father's Governor of Kthexox (1231-39), and had gained much practical experience in this position. He would later attempt the recovery of the Kelvanian Provinces from Laurasia, but would also be confronted with a yet more vigorous Donathian challenge, both at the Galactic Barrier and in the Northern Reaches. As for Leonidas, he and his Court continued to celebrate the exploits of their military commanders. Butalarania, when he returned to Laurasia Prime (June 8, 1239), was greeted with much ceremony, at the moons and in the cities of the capital world. A mass was sung in honor of his successes at the Old Westphalian Cathedral, and at the Diplomatic Palace, he was congratulated by the assembled nobles and gentlemen of the Kingdom. The King conferred upon him the Order of Valor (July 1239), awarded him estates and annuities throughout the Purse Region, and had his portrait mounted in the Stall of Heroes.
- During the remainder of 1239, Leonidas focused his efforts on beginning the development of the Kelvanian territories now won by Laurasia. In June 1239, he issued a series of decrees, reiterating the rights of freedom of transportation, freedom of assembly, freedom of petition, and freedom of religion, granted to all who colonized or otherwise moved to star systems in Kelvania. The King encouraged the Stroganias and other Laurasian nobles to invest money, resources, and time into nurturing the mineral, agricultural, and industrial wealth of the Kelvanian star systems. Between July 1239 and April 1241, more then 25,000 star systems would be colonized in Kelvania, on the initiative of the Royal Laurasian Government. These included Tetskia, Kekhskia, Omohska, and Naryania. The King's Bureau of Space and Transport would sponsor the chartering of the Kelvania Major-Melarnarian Trade Highway (August 1239), a realignment of the Metallasian Trade Corridor in those regions, and the creation of a new centralized hyperspace travel hub at Kelvania Minor. In October 1239, the King divided the region into districts and viceroyalities, in accordance with the Laurasian administrative model, and he encouraged the immigration of nobles and gentlemen to those territories. He also established six new Almitian dioceses in Kelvania, including that of Rojia (December 7, 1239). By the end of 1239, therefore, Laurasian efforts in Kelvania were fully underway.
- 1240, the 40th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia, having succeeded in accomplishing the conquest of the Kelvanian Provinces, having returned to a condition of overall peace, in regards to the Wild Marshes. King Leonidas, whose military forces had been frustrated by the unsuccessful endeavors of the Clancian War, and had gained renewed vigor and reputation, in the eyes of his subjects, by its successful campaigns against Amelianian Cordania, was still held in high regard by his subjects, and continued to look after their welfare. The King was determined to continue with the reorganization of the state bureaucracy and of the Royal Household which had been begun by his father. In February 1240, he decreed the establishment of a common Hereditary Exchequer, which now assumed responsibility for the financial administration and jurisdiction of all royal estates, patrimonies, and other properties in the realm. Two months later (decree of April 16, 1240), Leonidas created an Office of Budget and Management, subordinated to the Aristocratic Duma, which became responsible for the annual production, revision, and distribution of all state financial reports, surveys, and analyzes. The Office also assumed responsibility over the organization and proposal of an annual budget, which was to remain within the King's purview to approve and to promulgate. In August, the King, on the advice of Prince Cherkassia, abolished a series of mundane taxes which had been imposed on agricultural seed, steeds, and fisheries, thereby alleviating burdens upon the Kingdom's agricultural and manufacturing industries. This would be followed by the manifesto of September 12, 1240, which pegged all municipal and colonial bonds, loans, and tax obligations in accordance with a common schedule published by the Office of Budget and Management. The Office also gained authority over the Bureaus of State Income and State Expenditure, both of which were now required to issue annual reports to the Hereditary Exchequer and to the Duma. All of these moves served to improve the financial administration of the Kingdom.
- At the Royal Court, Leonidas and his wife, Queen Consort Valeria Flacca, continued to reside in a state of domestic tranquility and happiness. By this point, Leonidas had four surviving children: Artabanus, Irina, Anna, and Octavia. Octavia (1236-1306) had been born at the Diplomatic Palace in Christiania, Laurasia Prime, on January 5, 1236. Artabanus, his father's only son, was continually groomed by the King in the responsibilities of state. In April 1236, the King had appointed Count Seleucus Ansaries (1188-1252), as his son's chief tutor. Count Ansaries, who was the Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Laurasia Prime, and renowned for his Muses on the Galactic Mind (1230), considered to be a milestone of Laurasian scholarship, assumed his duties eagerly and faithfully. Under his direction, Artabanus gained a firm grasp of six languages, including besides Laurasian, High Galactic Standard, Solidaritan, Dasian, Arachosian, and Briannian. He also gained a great passion for history, archaeology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and theology. Artabanus also became a master of the physical arts, excelling in hawking, track, and shockball, among other sports. He was, however, known for his docile nature and kindness to others, though this would by no means preclude him from, as King, exerting his autocratic authority when he deemed it necessary. From October 1240 onwards, King Artabanus would have his son sit in at sessions of the Council and Duma, and would entrust him secretarial responsibilities, so that he could gain a better understanding of the affairs of state.
- The last notable event of the year was the death in Mendelevium, on November 28, 1240, of Pope Joasaphus. Joasaphus's health, following the conclusion of the Treaty of Kamachina in February 1239, had entered a steep decline. In July 1239, while visiting the Peschenga Monastery on Sarah, the Pope had suffered a major heart attack. He had been rushed to treatment in the Monasterial Hospital, and a emergency artery surgery saved his life. Joasaphus was then advised to rest, to exercise, and to limit the extent of his duties by his physicians. He did so, though in October 1239, he did deliver a speech to the Conference of Almitian Prelates, and ordered for the composition of a new memorandum relating to monasterial-community relations. In July 1240, he also ordered for an investigation of the Carthusian Order, and established a commission to strike against sexual and monetary abuses among the clergy. Joasaphus's death, therefore, was in some ways expected, but was still received with the due lamentations at the Royal Court. Leonidas ordered a period of mourning for the prelate, and had him displayed in state at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. He would be buried there on New Year's Eve, 1240, in a funeral service attended by the King personally. For more than a year, however, the King would leave the Papacy vacant.
- 1241, the 41st year of the thirteenth century, commenced with Laurasia still in a state of peace. In January 1241, King Leonidas conducted a tour of Caladaria, Chancia, Americana, Charasia, Osama, Apathama Vixius, Oxia Vixius, Ralina Vixius, and Augis V, hoping to demonstrate the continued unity and tranquility which pervaded his dominions. Laurasia, at this time, was to now be brought to the brink of military conflict with the Solidaritan Sultanate, with which it had managed to remain at peace since the close of the previous century. Solidarita itself had undergone many tribulations over the course of the preceding two decades. In 1221-23, Sultan Chosroes had continued to launch a series of vigorous offensives into the Lacian Cluster; Sonny, Kacee, Englestrom, Shaelynn, and Dromund fell under the control of Solidaritan forces during that time. Solidaritan expeditions blockaded Halassion and continued to harry Alyssa, Chalassion, and Chalassia, seeking in vain to break through these strongholds, which would have spelled the death knell of the Homidinian Khanate. Khan Ambaghai, however, had continued to place all of his might into resisting the Solidaritan offensives; reorganizing his military forces; and extorting as much from the financial resources of his realms as he possibly could. He also managed to maintain control of Homidinia Major, and was able to prevent the Armanes of King Trascerius, who had been forced out by Solidarita, from joining the conflict on Solidarita's side.
- In April 1222, the Khan finally departed from Chalassion with his military forces, and launched a series of vigorous counteroffensives to the Kledis Var Trade Line, Maxwell, and Markis Prime. But he also sought the support of the Neo-Xilanian Empire, which was then under the rule of Uthari II (1219-25, 1229-36). Emperor Uthari had remained neutral in the conflict up to to this point, but he now saw it as an opportunity to expand Xilanian power at the expense of the Sultanate. In September, Uthari had issued a declaration of war against Sultan Chosroes, and he now launched his own offensives to the Dali Trade Run. Roxuli, Abraham, Zoe, Skyler, Eaidon, Koniak, and Iphsilion had all fallen into Xilanian hands by the end of the year; in conjunction with this, Kledis Var, Markis Prime, Maxwell, Kara, Perry, and Wakino, along with their associated colonies, were recovered by the forces of Khan Ambaghai. Between January 1223 and July 1225, the allied offensives had continued, with the Xilanians and the Dasian Homidinians both making substantial gains against Chosroes and his Solidaritans. The Battle of Dara (April 15, 1223), was particularly notable, and saw the destruction of an entire Solidaritan force under Shahrbaraz, who had continued to remain Chosroes' chief military subordinate. Ambaghai also defeated the Sultan's other military commanders, Generals Shahin and Sharaplakan, in confrontations at Abitia, Mir, Derek, Drake, Rutherford, and Dromund, and cleared Solidaritan forces from the Lacian Cluster. The Xilanians, on their part, ranged as far as Massanay, Sassanay, and the Western Redoubt, poising a serious threat to the integrity of the Solidaritan realms.
- But from July 1223, Chosroes had been in contact with the Rashanian Mellorites in the Galactic Void. The Mellorites were among the last of the extra-galactic alien species to enter and settle in the Caladarian Galaxy. They followed the Arachosians of the third century; the Torfians of the fourth; the Tofs of the seventh; the Dasians of the eighth; the Amelianians, Melanites, Devianiani, Alexandrians, Jageronians, Ashlgothians, and Melorkians of the eleventh; and the Halegothicans, Rudorites, Jarjanicans, Brestords, Brentarks, Solidaritans, Armanes, and Hortons of the twelfth. They also followed upon the Donathians, who began their entry into the Galaxy in the 1190s. The Mellorites, originating from the Whirlpool Galaxy, had arrived in the Northern Galactic Void in 1214, but had operated primarily from their headquarters at Bessarabia in the Great Tesmanian Cloud. Since June 1222, the Rashanian bands had been under the control of Emir Muhammad (1170-1232). Muhammad, who was an ambitious and intriguing figure, was determined to carve a place for his marital, war-like species within the confines of the Caladarian Galaxy. He saw an alliance with the Solidaritans, to whom his own species had a distant genetic relation, as the best means of accomplishing this goal. Chosroes, on his part, believed that the Mellorites would serve as a means of speeding up the dissolution of the Homidinian Khanate. In November 1224, the two monarchs had come to an agreement in the Treaty of Pashtun. By the terms of this treaty, Muhammad agreed to ally himself with Chosroes against Xilania and Homidinia. In exchange, Chosroes promised to secure for the Mellorites their own territory along the Larkian Way; specifically, Felix, Sierra, Glassia, and the strongholds of the lower Corporate Trade Corridor. The two monarchs also agreed to a future partition of Xilanian and Homidinian territories, once the war had been concluded. It was in June 1225 that Muhammad's forces pushed into the Caladarian Galaxy, and that he announced his declaration of war against Xilania and Homidinia. Xilanian Emperor Uthari had been overthrown at Jin Minor (May 19, 1225), and his predecessor, Maulgaria, had reclaimed the throne. Maulgaria, however, had continued to contend with challenges to his power.
- Homidinian Khan Ambaghai was also faced by the overextension of his military resources, and by disputes within his royal household, as his wife and consort Morte clashed with his chief religious adviser, Dasian High Priest Talaghai, on Chalassion. As a result of these varied troubles, the advantage now swung to the Solidaritans and to the war-like Mellorites, who proved themselves ferocious, dedicated, and vicious in battle. Mellorite forces quickly overran Nandia, Calrissian, Varta, and the Marauder Colonies, and from thence penetrated into the Xilanian Worlds (November 1225). By January 1226, Xilania Minoria, Xilania Secondary, Ursula, Guin, Jin Major, Jin Minor, Juxles, Bingley, Orkhan, King, and Morg were all within the Mellorite power. Mellorite and Solidaritan forces also combined to drive the Xilanians from their conquests at Massanay, Sassanay, the Western Redoubt, and along Dali (August 1225-February 1226). By March, the Homidinians were in head-long retreat from Abithia, Wakino, Perry, and Drake, and on April 5 of that year, a joint Solidaritan-Mellorite force penetrated to and besieged Chalassia. The Siege of Chalassia, which imperiled the Homidinian Khanate's very existence, lasted for over four months. Khan Ambaghai however, had placed his chief lieutenant Ogul in charge of his forces at Kledis Var, and Ogul now defeated Shahin in the Battle of Daxwell (July 14, 1226). This, compounded with the failure of Solidaritan moves against Homidinia Minor, Gibbs-to-Lester, and Calms, led to the termination of the Siege of Chalassia on August 7. Throughout the remainder of 1226, enemy and Homidinian-Xilanian forces continued to clash in the Lacian Cluster, along the Larkian Way, and in the Xilanian Home Worlds, with the conflict settling into a general stalemate.
- In January 1227, Ambaghai was able to lure King Trascerius of Armania into repudiating the terms of the Treaty of Tyson, and to reenter the war effort against the Solidaritans. Armanian forces now clashed with the Solidaritans at Felix, Glassia, Syr-Daria, and along the Corporate Trade Corridor, and also lent assistance to the Homidinians and Xilanians fighting at Charlie, Norah, King, and in the Home Worlds. Morg, Bingley, Orkhan, and Juxles were back in allied hands by April 1227. Then in July 1227, after Ogul secured a series of further victories at Ryan, Gwendolyn, Brent, Demebezaic, Digette, Dominic, and Homidinian Wyatt, Chosroes was confronted by the outbreak of rebellion on Vindictoria, Big Twinny, and Frederickslandia, by the Vindictorian patriot Qamalis. As a result of this, Ambaghai now, from the Satian Provinces, launched a daring and penetrating offensive into the Istantius Home Region, aiming for the quick end of the war. Homidinian and Xilanian forces, moving through Massanay, Sassanay, Cibourney, the Western Redoubt, and to Dennis, reached Sair towards the end of November. On December 5, 1227, the Battle of Sair ended in a decisive victory for the Khan. Following this battle, his forces overran Dennis, Shannon, Rastaborn, Turnquist, Virginia, Wendy, and Coen, and even threatened Impania.
- It was this, along with the general exhaustion which afflicted both sides, after nearly two decades of almost continuous conflict, that drove Chosroes to begin negotiations. In January 1228, the Truce of Berhamia suspended military hostilities. But on February 25, 1228, at Istantius, Chosroes was deposed from the Solidaritan throne by his own son, Prince Nizim, who had been imprisoned by his father at Sheryl for three years. Chosroes was then taken to the Belts of Mantin for imprisonment, but he died on March 5, allegedly of injuries which he had sustained in battle. In reality, Nizim had ordered for his father to be strangled by the guards accompanying him. With the deposition and death of Chosroes, negotiations to end the war now came to a speedy conclusion. On May 19, 1228, the Treaty of Zoe had been agreed. By its terms, the territorial status quo ante bellum was restored among the Solidaritan Sultanate, Homidinian Khanate, Neo-Xilanian Empire, and Kingdom of Armania. However, Sultan Nizim agreed to restore all plunder and captives captured by his forces during the military conflicts; to pay a major financial indemnity to Homidinia and Xilania; and to agree to a general demobilization of his military forces. Moreover, the Rashanian Mellorites of Emir Muhammad were now granted the Oirat Complex, Glassia, Houston, and Tyson, as their territories to rule. Thus, the guarantees for territorial gain, made to them by Chosroes, were borne out.
- Nizim I himself ruled over Solidarita only until his death, from an outbreak of Merhedian plague, on Istantius (September 6, 1228). He was then succeeded to the Solidaritan throne by his son Mahmud II. Mahumd, only seven years old at the time of his accession, was dominated by his Grand Vizier, Mah-Adhur Gushnasp, who had served in the Solidaritan Court since 1222, and been one of Chosroes' trusted subordinates in his later years. Grand Vizier Gushnasp, however, was unpopular, and Istantius, Sair, Berhamia, Solidaritan Doris, and the other worlds of the Istantius Capital Region continued to suffer from further outbreaks of the Merhedian plague. Moreover, General Shahrbaraz, who still had a high reputation with his fellow military commanders and among the magnates of the Solidaritan Court, was determined to assert himself. In January 1229, from his headquarters at Canterwell, he announced his rebellion against Gushnasp, and allying himself with Piruz Khorsow, one of the Subordinate Viziers of Istantius, he made swift progress, overrunning Candlewell, Thompson, Sheryl, Laronn, Methusalah, the Belts of Mantin, and Deanna by April 1229. He also completed the suppression of the Vindictorian Revolt in Eastern Solidarita. On April 27, 1229, the General besieged Istantius itself. With the assistance of Khorsow and of Admiral Nahmdar Jushinas, he captured the capital world. On his orders, Mahumd II, Grand Vizier Gushnasp, and Prince Kardarigan, who had been a supporter of the youthful Sultan, were all killed. He then took the name of Suleiman II, but ruled only until June 9 of that year, when he was assassinated during a public audience at the Palace of the Sultans.
- The Solidaritan Princess Soran was then elevated to the throne as Sultana Regent (June 17, 1229), becoming the only female ruler of the Solidaritan Sultanate in its history. She managed to hold on to the throne for just over three years. Throughout that time, the Solidaritan realms were ravaged by further rebellious outbursts at Vindictoria, along the upper Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route, and at Patsy. But finally, on September 12, 1232, she was assassinated at Eaidon, and was replaced on the Solidaritan throne by Chosroes II, nephew of his namesake (r. 1232-40). Chosroes, who was an energetic, vigorous, but cautious and realistically-minded ruler, threw his efforts into the recovery of the Solidaritan Sultanate's dominions from Chosroes' Homidinian War. Suppressing renewed disturbances in Vindictoria and at Patsy, he, in 1234-36, embarked upon major efforts to reorganize the Solidaritan bureaucracy, redefine the responsibilities of the Grand Council, to encourage economic development in the Home Region, and to expand his military forces. By the middle of the decade, with Homidinia faced with a more menacing threat from the Mellorites, Chosroes was able to renounce all indemnity payments to the Khanate, and ordered the occupation of Kara, Perry, and Dara (June 1235). He also launched a brief expeditionary war against Xilania (July 1236-January 1237), compelling the concession of Charlie, O'Donnell, and Gayle to the authority of the Sultanate. But in April 1237, Patsy, O'Neal, and the Solidaritan colony of Azov fell under attack from the Metallasian Cossacks. The Cossacks were a mercenary and piracy force, who had been operating at the Laurasian-Solidaritan boundary since 1145. They controlled their own base at Voronezh, in the outskirts of Angelica, a region vaguely under Amelianian authority. At times, they allied themselves with the Royal Laurasian Government, such as at the Battle of Molodi (1172). In 1174, 1192, 1220, and 1226, they launched their own offensives against Azov, seeking to gain control of the colony, but each of these assaults, instigated without Laurasian support, had failed. This one too, launched by the Cossack leader, Vaarg (1182-1244), was also without the aid of King Leonidas. This time, however, the Cossacks had succeeded, taking advantage of Solidarita's still-ongoing recovery from the Homidinian War.
- For more than four years, the Cossacks were able to maintain possession of the Patsian Worlds, as they were known. But throughout that entire time, Sultan Chosroes, who had continued to be engaged in efforts to strengthen his government, and to maintain the Sultanate's position vis-à-vis the Neo-Xilanian Empire, the Amelianian Kingdom of Cordania, and the Homidinian Khanate, had also been engaged in plans to expel the Cossacks. To Chosroes, and then his successor Nizim II (r. 1240-48), who succeeded him upon his death in February 1240, allowing them to retain control of those Worlds would be an insult to his honor, and a danger to his position. It was on June 9, 1241, that the Sultan, announcing his intention to drive the Cossacks from the Patsian Worlds, ordered the Deli of Massanay, Hassan, to take advantage of the offensives. Pasha, assembling his forces at Massanay, Sassanay, Cibourney, Virginia, and Dennis, began his advance on June 17. He defeated a Cossack force under the command of Tarrg in the Battle of the Straits of the Don (June 22-29, 1241), and on July 5, won the Battle of Charlee. From thence, O'Neal was besieged by Solidaritan forces, beginning on July 17, 1241. The Siege of O'Neal lasted for over a month before coming to a successful conclusion on August 18. Two days later (August 20, 1241), Solidaritan forces moved against Azov directly. It was in September 1241, which Solidaritan efforts at that star system were ongoing, that the Cossacks sent a formal request for assistance to King Leonidas on Laurasia Prime. In this request, Ataman Vaarg pledged to recognize the authority of the King of Laurasia, and to swear a formal oath of allegiance to the Royal Laurasian Government. In exchange, he asked for the King to dispatch reinforcements to shore up his position in the Patsian Worlds, and to consider the commencement of hostilities against Solidarita.
- Leonidas, however, was wary about the prospect of embarking on war with the Sultanate. He still wished to consolidate Laurasian rule over the Kelvanian Provinces, and did not want to get bogged down in conflict due to some border strongholds. The King now decided to turn to the Consultative Assembly, which had been assembled at the Diplomatic Palace since March 1241, and had been called by Leonidas to tender him advice on reforms in the military and in the tax collection system. The Assembly received its formal orders on October 9, 1241, and was commanded to take a motion on whether or not Laurasia would derive benefit from entering the war. It did so on October 24, deciding, by a overwhelming two-thirds majority, that Leonidas should refrain from any entanglements that could lead to war with Solidarita. Leonidas decided to now take their advice into consideration, and on November 4, he responded to Vaarg's request, formally rejecting it and declaring that he would not aid or abet the Cossacks in any form. The King, moreover, sent a note to Sultan Nizim (November 15, 1241), denying any association with the Cossacks. Nizim, assured that the Laurasians would do nothing, now decided to make a swift end of the Cossack threat. Azov was again assaulted (December 9, 1241), by the forces of Deli Hassan. The Siege continued through the end of the year.
- 1242, the 42nd year of the thirteenth century, commenced with Solidaritan campaigns against the Metallasian Cossacks coming to a swift conclusion. On January 9, 1242, Azov's defenses, after over a month of blockade, were breached by the forces of Deli Hassan of Massanay. He now led his troops in a series of armed operations on the planetary surface, recovering the Azov Command Citadel and capturing more than 75,000 Cossack Warriors. From Azov, Solidaritan forces subdued Patsy (February 11, 1242), and then overran Maykop (February 19-22). On February 28, Voronezh, headquarters of the Solidaritan Cossacks, was besieged by the Deli's forces. In spite of the efforts of Ataman Vaarg and of General Tarrg, the world ultimately yielded before the superior Solidaritan power. It was on March 7, 1242, that Voronezh was captured by the Solidaritan Sultanate. With the fall of Voronezh, the Metallasian Cossacks had effectively been crushed. Vaarg and Taarg would be captured by Deli Hassan's forces in September 1242. On the orders of Sultan Nizim, they would be blinded, bound in chains, and deported to Zoe, where they would both die in March 1243, overworked at the world's chief prison, Hamain Fortress.
- King Leonidas, though discomfited by the ruthless methods employed by the Solidaritans against the Metallasian Cossacks, was nevertheless still of the opinion that war with the Sultanate would not be a wise move at this juncture. And indeed, he now shifted his attention to an internal matter: filling the vacancy in the Almitian Papacy. On March 20, 1242, the Dean of St. Katherine's Monastery on Laurasia Prime and Archbishop of Christiania, Callixtus (1180-1252), was elected Pope by the Conference of Almitian Prelates at the Old Westphalian Cathedral, in accordance with the instructions of King Leonidas. Seven days later, he was formally enthroned as Pope, receiving, like his predecessors before him, his mitier, cross, and staff of authority from the hands of the King directly. Callixtus, who was known for his conservative theological beliefs, his loyalty to the King and the Royal Government, and his religious devotion, proved a moderate pontiff during his ten years on the papal throne. He continued with the reform and codification policies of his predecessor, Pope Joasaphus. The Pope supported the practice of academic debates on theological matters at the Cathedral and at the University of Laurasia Prime; in 1250, he was to issue a decree mandating that every year, a theological "discussion" be organized among the Conference of Prelates, in order to resolve discrepancies over the liturgy and interpretation of the Almitian Scriptures, books, and orders among members of the clergy. Callixtus poured vast sums of church wealth into the expansion of its educational and training institutes; he sponsored the founding of a new Learning Academy for Almitism at the Cron Drift (1249), encouraged the publication of all future church works in High Laurasian, and ordered, in 1251, for the establishment of a Church Office on Archeological Discoveries, aiming to provide more support for scientific research. The Pope's reign, oversaw, saw an intensification of the Church's publishing and proselytizing activity. The Pope also mandated, from 1245 to 1248, the compilation of new manuals, to be issued in all dioceses, concerning the psalms, psalters, breviaries, and primers utilized within the Church service.
- He was also concerned about the beautification and the glorification of the Almitian Church's chief edifices. Between 1244 and 1246, he conducted a renovation of the Old Westphalian Cathedral, convinced the King to issue a new mandate for church and monastery construction in Kelvania and Malaria, and in 1250, was present at the dedication of St. Asterius's Cathedral on Malaria Outer. The Pope also provided, in July 1245, for the publication of new instructions to all priests, deacons, deans, and reverends, concerning the recitation of adverbial singing, the use of sacred vestments in the services, and of dedication rituals. He made a habit of making an annual speech to all lay subjects of the Kingdom, to keep them informed of their religious obligations, whether under Almitis or the gods to which they adhered. And in April 1249, the Pope, acting on the instructions of Leonidas's son and successor, convened a general Church Council in Christiania, which issued the Code of Liturgy, making further regulations in regards to singing, reading, and canon rituals performed during church services, ceremonies, and festivals. All of his reforms laid the groundwork for those conducted under his successor, Nikon, during the 1250s. Besides the elevation of Callixtus to the papal throne, Laurasia also dealt with the death of a national hero. Prince Demetrius Pozkharius, who had been one of the Kingdom's "saviors" against the Polonians during the Time of Troubles, died at his estate on Tarravania (April 30, 1242). The Prince's death was received with much lamentation on Laurasia Prime and throughout the Purse Region. King Leonidas ordered for a period of mourning. On his orders, Pozkharius was given a formal state service at the Old Westphalian Cathedral in May 1242, though he was ultimately interred on Osama. Eighty years after his death, in July 1322, he would be re-interred at the Old Westphalian Cathedral on the orders of Leonidas' grandson, Seleucus I.
- In October 1242, Leonidas was confronted by the outbreak of a renewed conflict with Amelianian Cordania, as it sought to regain control of the Kelvanian Provinces. King Ethelwulf, during the first three years of his reign, had sought the consolidation of his rule over Cordania and Kthexox. In October 1239, King Wiglaf of Marcia had died on Arachosia Prime, and been succeeded to the throne of Marcia by his son Berthwulf. Berthwulf recognized the value of maintaining positive relations with Cordania, and in July 1241, he had agreed to the Treaty of Neustron with Ethelwulf, by which a definitive border settlement was agreed upon between the two states. Kalbacha, the McFadden Dependencies, and Hypasia remained under Cordanian control; Marcia held Kania, Onasi, Rhedita, and Arachosia Suprema. Friendly relations between Marcia and Cordania were to persist for the remainder of the decade. A series of further Donathian raiding expeditions, in the Northern Reaches, Tof Borderlands, and the Muggal Cluster, held Ethelwald's attention through January 1242. But now, the King, who felt confident in his position, and secure in his rear with both Marcia and Nordania, sought a resumption of military hostilities against Laurasia. He was determined to recover Kelvania, and to reverse the humiliations suffered by his father Egbert in that region. On October 17, the King of Amelianian Cordania issued a ultimatum to Leonidas, then with his court on Laurasia Prime. In this ultimatum, he demanded the restoration of all the Kelvanian territories to Amelianian Cordania; for the Royal Laurasian Government to pay a substantial royal indemnity; and for Leonidas to agree to recognize Cordanian dominance in the Galactic Borderlands. Leonidas, who was alarmed by these terms, refused to respond to them.
- Thus it was on November 1, 1242, that Ethelwulf issued a declaration of war against the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia and launched his forces into Kelvania. During the last months of 1242, Amelianian forces, commanded by the King's eldest son, Ethelstan, Governor of Morgania and Eastern Kalbacha, made some headway against their Laurasian adversaries. Kanjur fell into Amelianian hands (November 2-9, 1242), being followed in short order by Mordan (November 14), Rielle (November 16), Ridley (November 22-December 2), and Bouchet (December 7). The Battle of Rojia (December 18, 1242), ended in another victory for the Amelianian Prince. Yet Amelianian forces were already overextending themselves. King Leonidas once again assigned Prince-General Butalarania to take command of the Kingdom's offensive moves in the Wild Marshes, and he issued a series of instructions through the Aristocratic Duma, calling for the complete subjugation of the Morganian Provinces. On Ascentmas Day, 1242, Butalarania humiliated Ethelstan in the Battle of Michael. By the end of the year, the momentum was again swinging in the direction of the Laurasians. Leonidas, however, had been affected by Prince Cherkassia's death on April 4, 1242. Cherkassia had been succeeded in his position as the King's leading minister (with control of Correspondence, Chancellory, and the Treasury), by Prince Theodosius Sheremovia (1170-1250). Sheremovia was to hold the predominant position in the King's service until the end of Leonidas' reign.
- 1243, the 43rd year of the thirteenth century, was marked by the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia gaining the advantage in the Second Laurasian-Amelianian War, as this conflict became termed, and with Laurasian forces once again conquering the Morganian Provinces. This was aided by another Donathian invasion effort, launched in the Northern Reaches and through the Muggal Cluster, which for the first time established a definite territorial sphere for the Donathians within the Caladarian Galaxy. On January 7, 1243, Prince-General Butalarania defeated Prince Ethelstan in the Battle of Wauking, capturing 40,000 Amelianian jarls and over a third of the Amelianian war-craft. From Wauking, Rielle and Ridley were both reconquered by Butalarania's forces, and by the end of February 1243, he had also recovered Bouchet. On February 18, 1243, Butalarania launched a decisive offensive against Kanjur; his victory at Bach proved especially decisive. Ethelstan's attempt to halt the thrust of his general offensive met failure again at Inguheria (March 9, 1243), and on March 19, Mordan and Rojia fell back into Laurasian hands. By April 1243, Laurasian forces were crossing the boundary into Morgania again. On April 9, 1243, Maleagant fell to General Butalarania's forces. During the course of the next two months, he defeated Ethelstan in successive confrontations at Gorbudia, Belenda, Goneril, and Karlind, inflicting one humiliation after the other upon overstretched and strained Amelianian units. Regan then fell to him (June 10, 1243); Cordelia followed on June 16. On June 22, 1243, the Siege of Merlin commenced.
- That world too, proved no match to the Laurasian onslaught, and its fall on July 7 was a major humiliation for King Ethelwulf. Lancelot, Gunevere, and Arthur were all in Laurasian hands by the end of July 1243. On August 9, Ethelwulf suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Donathian Warlord Gudfred in the Battle of Carmponia, fought near Bucharina. Two days later, Morgania Minor fell into Laurasian possession, and on August 14, Prince Ethelstan was crushed by General Butalarania in the Battle of Lear. Caius, Leir, and Dalmutio fell (August 16-22, 1243), followed by Curan (August 26); Mordred (September 7-18); and Gawain (September 25-29). The Battle of Excalibur (October 9-14, 1243), represented another unsuccessful effort on the part of the Amelianians to halt the Laurasian momentum; Galahad and Gaheris fell in November 1243. Finally, on December 1, 1243, the day that Amelianian forces were annihilated at Karlong by Warlord Gudfred, Morgania Major fell under the Laurasian hammer. The Siege of Morgania Major lasted for more than a month, as Laurasian forces successfully repelled all of Ethelstan's varied attempts to reverse their offensive and dislodge them from their positions.
- 1244, the 44th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with Laurasia having once again having occupied virtually the whole of the Morganian Provinces. On January 18, 1244, Morgania Major fell to the forces of Prince-General Butalarania. With the fall of Morgania Major, Laurasian triumph in the Wild Marshes had received a new height. King Ethelwulf, still engaged in a vicious struggle in the Muggal Cluster and Tof Borderlands against the Donathians, and also confronted by yet another outbreak of nationalist sentiment on Kalbacha Prime, decided to extricate himself from this latest conflict in the Wild Marshes. On February 8, he sent a armistice request to King Leonidas. Leonidas, who had then moved to Vetta with his Court, and pleased that, having avoided a tough conflict with the Solidaritan Sultanate, his forces were obtaining easy successes against the Amelianians, decided to quickly accept this request. Ethelwulf now made it plain that he would recognize Laurasian jurisdiction over the whole of the Kelvanian and Morganian Provinces if in turn Laurasia agreed not to align itself with any of Cordania's enemies; to grant Cordanian merchants free-travel privileges through its territories; and to provide a financial subsidy to the Court of Angelica Major. Leonidas, viewing these terms as reasonable, and wishing a return to peace as soon as possible, decided to accept them.
- The Armistice of Lear was signed on February 22. Negotiations commenced at Cordelia in March 1244, and proceeded rapidly between the governments, with these terms providing the basic framework. They were finally enshrined in the Treaty of Cordelia (April 19, 1244), which brought the Second Laurasian-Amelianian War to a close. By the terms of this treaty, Amelianian Cordania now conceded both Kelvania and Morgania to the authority of the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia. These territories, which had never been directly subdued by the Dasian Golden Horde or its successor states, had now fallen under Laurasian jursidiction. The Stellar Kingdom's dominions, which now reached nearly 20,000 light years into the Wild Marshes, to the very boundaries of the Galactic Borderlands, and encompassed nearly a million settled star systems, had been further amplified as a result. All prisoners and captives of war were exchanged, and diplomatic relations restored. Laurasian and Amelianian merchants each gained free-trade privileges in the territories of the other, for a period of twenty years (to conclude May 1, 1264). Moreover, the King of Laurasia pledged to provide, for a term of five years, an annual subsidy of $2.1 trillion Laurasian denarius, to the support of the Royal Treasury of Cordania, and to refrain from signing any treaties or alliances with states hostile to Amelianian interests. The Treaty of Cordelia, ratified by both monarchs by the end of May 1244, marked a major success for Laurasia. Throughout the remainder of the century, Laurasia would be engaged in additional efforts to subsume its new, easily-won conquests in the Wild Marshes, and they were to provide a substantial base of manpower and resources which the Kingdom would utilize to its advantage during the War of the Polonian Deluge. Prince-General Butalarania returned to Laurasia Prime once again, on June 4, 1244, and received even greater praise from the Royal Court. King Leonidas now conducted another tour of the cities of Laurasia Prime; in September 1244, he made a pilgrimage to the Monastery of Windowia Photis, in order to offer his praise to the Lord Almitis for the victories obtained in the last two Amelianian Wars. In October, the King formally dissolved the Consultative Assembly; it would not be called again to meet for another decade. On December 9, in a ceremony at the Celestial Palace, he presented his son, Grand Prince Artabanus, to the assembled courtiers of the Royal Court, and confirmed him in his status as his heir-apparent. 1244 ended, therefore, with Laurasia restored to peace.
- 1245, the 45th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia, having emerged from the Second Laurasian-Amelianian War, still under the rule of King Leonidas. Yet Leonidas' reign was now reaching its conclusion. The King of Laurasia, who had been so energetic, alert, and vigorous during the early years of his reign, had over the course of time experienced a gradual decline in his physical condition. This had accelerated following the death of his father, Pope Filaret, in October 1233. In May 1236, at Lusculum, the King had suffered the first of a series of panic attacks. The most serious of these occurred while he was visiting Aquilionia, in August 1242, and had aroused the concern of many of his courtiers. Headaches, heat strokes, and back pains now compounded his earlier troubles, and in July 1244, Leonidas had been forced to seek treatment at the Royal Hospital. Then, on January 20, 1245, the King suffered a major fall in his quarters at the Celestial Palace, as he was attempting to descend the stairs connecting his bedroom with his private entertainment complex. This fall rendered the King immobile in both of his legs, and confined him to a mobile chair, whilst preparations were made for an extensive bone operation to repair his injuries. In March 1245, Leonidas suffered another panic attack, and he now refused to allow for the surgery to proceed, declaring that he would instead find comfort in the arms of the Lord Almitis, and did not need any other operations.
- On April 12, 1245, Leonidas made his last public appearance, at a dedication ceremony held at the Post Settlement of Hepudermia. He then retired for good to his quarters at the Celestial Palace, refusing to show his face before his subjects any further. His other health issues now intensified, and the King of Laurasia wallowed in great pain. By May 25, when Leonidas made his final will and testament, it was clear that his death was fast approaching. In his will, the King enjoyed his son and soon-to-be successor, Grand Prince Artabanus, to look after the concerns of the Laurasian State, and to refrain from neglecting the welfare of his subjects. Moreover, he entrusted his son to the care of his new tutor, Count Boethius Morovinus (1190-1261), who had assumed his position in November 1244, and been appointed to the Royal Bureau of Correspondence and Petitions in February 1245. On July 1, after over a month of agony in his quarters, the King was moved to the Royal Hospital. It was there that he died on July 13, 1245. Leonidas was only forty-nine years old at the time of his death, but he had reigned over Laurasia for thirty-three years, the second-longest reign of any Laurasian sovereign since Honorius the Liberator, during the Third Laurasian Period (later to be surpassed by his grandson, Seleucus the Victor). His reign, which had ended the Time of Troubles, had seen the restoration of peace and internal prosperity to the Laurasian realms; its further expansion into the Wild Realms; and further beneficial reforms to both church and state.
- King Artabanus, as he now was, ordered for his father's body to be laid in state at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. It remained so for over a month, while Pope Callixtus issued a series of injunctions and manifestos through the Royal Almitian Church, lamenting the death of the late monarch. He now became known to his subjects as the "Restorer", and his reputation was to remain high throughout the next five centuries. Leonidas was finally given a formal internment at the Old Westphalian Cathedral on August 29, 1245. Eleven days earlier, on August 18, Artabanus's mother, Queen-Dowager Valeria Flacca, had died on Calaxis II, just over a month following the death of her husband; she too, was now interred with him. On September 16, his son formally crowned himself King and Autocrat of All the Laurasians at the same edifice, with the Pope presiding. Artabanus, only sixteen years old at the time of his father's death, nevertheless proved himself to be a mature, humble, and capable monarch, much in the manner of his father, and dedicated to the service of the state. Adhering to the arrangements in his father's will, he listened to the advice of Morovinus, who now obtained the predominant position within the Royal Laurasian Government. In October 1245, Morovinus was made Chamberlain to the King, Chief Secretary of the Chancellery and Correspondence, and Adjunct of the Royal Guards. Laurasia continued to remain at peace throughout the last months of 1245, rapidly adjusting to the governance of its new master.
- The first years of King Artabanus's reign saw the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia continuing to reside in a state of peace and general tranquility. These years also saw the enactment of further military and financial reforms, meant to strengthen the position of the Royal Laurasian Government and to enhance the unity of the state. Some of these reforms, however, were to eventually lead to the outbreak of violence in the city of Christiania itself. In February 1246, Prince Sheremovia, who had already lost his position of predominance within the government with the rise of Morovinus, resigned from his position in the Bureau of the Royal Treasury; this office was now conferred upon Morovinus, who thereby accumulated more power and influence within the state. With the encouragement and guidance of Morovinus and of his associates, King Artabanus now proceeded to the enactment of that additional program of reform. In April 1246, the King issued instructions through the Census Bureau for the commencement of a general survey of all estates, landholdings, and other properties, both private and public, within the Kingdom, and in conjunction with this, a general census of all households. This census lasted until May 1247, and determined that within the Stellar Kingdom's dominions, there were nine hundred trillion sentient beings, spread across more than a million inhabited star systems. The total value of the Kingdom's economy was determined to be $1 quadmillion denarii, with the most economically productive zones to be found in the Eastern Purse Region and in the Malarian Provinces, both of which had escaped many of the ravages of the Time of Troubles.
- With this information in his hands, Artabanus then ordered Morovinus and the Chancellery to devise a new, uniform commodities tariff, in order to replace the varying charges and internal fees on spices, "livable" goods, and agricultural produce which had been levied previously. This tariff was published in the schedule of October 9, 1247, and mandated for a flat 20% rate on all agricultural, industrial, and mineral products of note produced and circulated within all Laurasian territories. This rate was meant to provide a more equitable revenue stream for the Royal Treasury, giving little regard to discrepancies in status or social condition, and it did lead to a sufficient increase in governmental income, but also aroused dissent among segments of the population, as noted below. In November 1247, a less controversial reform, relating to the differentiation of the public from the private state budget, was implemented. The motivation for these financial moves, from the view of Morovinus and his associates, was to provide a proper groundwork for further revitalization in the Kingdom's military structure. Deficiencies in the Royal Forces had been revealed by the Clancian War, and further underlined by the two Amelianian Wars, though, due to the distractions and over-extension of the Amelianian foe, Laurasia had been victorious in those conflicts.
- To Morovinus, it was essential that these deficiencies be corrected for Laurasia to be able to continue the extension of its influence; he was also thinking about the possibility of renewed war with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth. In May 1246, Artabanus ordered for the establishment of a commission in order to review the strategy, tactics, and organization of the Royal Forces. This commission, which was chaired by Prince-General Butalarania, produced its official recommendations in a report of January 7, 1247. The King now proceeded to enact these recommendations. In March 1247, he ordered for the revision of the Recruitment Charters, mandating that in the future, recruitment was to be based upon levy per household, rather than levy per property claim, as had been the prior basis. This change enabled for the number of conscripts to be greatly increased; between 1247 and 1254, the Royal Forces would experience a threefold increase in numbers of personnel. Two months later, the Royal Bureau of Defense published a series of new instruction manuals for the Royal Guards, the Army, and the Navy, which included many updates to the operational procedures, training drills, and exercises, bringing these more in accordance with Polonian, Briannian, and Melorkian practice. The cap on use of alien and foreign conscripts was raised; the Guards underwent another expansion of their ranks; and in September 1247, the administrations of all officers' institutes and training academies in the Kingdom were reorganized. Artabanus also ordered for the establishment of new arms factories on Kamachina, Melarnaria, N'zoth, and Williams, and ordered for an increase in the level of funding devoted to military equipment. He also sponsored the creation of a uniform Strategic Planning and Coordination Board, which assumed responsibility for incorporating technological innovations into the forces. In January 1248, the Army was reorganized into divisions, regiments, and squadrons; naval and army officers were given separate chains of command; and the General Headquarters' staff was streamlined, with a decentralized command model emphasized to improve flexibility in the battlefield.
- As a result of all these innovations, Laurasia would find itself far more prepared for the military conflicts that were to come. But by early 1248, Morovinus was seeking to gain yet more influence over the affairs of King and Court. He now saw that the best means of obtaining this additional influence would be to procure for the King a wife who would be under his influence. One of the Prince's associates was Lord Numerian Marcella (1194-1268) of Tusculum, who was a respected gentleman at the Royal Laurasian Court. Lord Marcella served in the Diplomatic Service, and had already been dispatched on missions to Solidarita, Polonia, and Venasia during the course of the preceding twenty years. He was also a man of some wealth, owning estates throughout the Purse Region, and having a stake in Christiania Colonization Firms, one of the chief corporations responsible for the ongoing development efforts in the Wild Marshes. Marcella's wife was Katharina (1201-65), who was herself the heiress of Lord Nicaeolaus Narvarina (1175-1244), the founder of Narvanian Cybernetics. The Marcellas had two daughters: Claudia (1225-69) and Anna (1227-72). It was Morovinus's intention that the King would marry Lady Claudia, while he himself would marry Lady Anna. Through this, therefore, he would become Artabanus's brother-in-law. Through his new wife, he would be able to influence her sister, the Queen. The Marcella family would believe themselves indebted to him, and consequently would not challenge his authority. Morovinus now had the two sisters included in the bevy of ladies who were gathered from throughout the Kingdom, in accordance with the traditional bride-selection process. This process began in August 1247 and concluded on December 9. Ten days later, two hundred select noble and gentle ladies were gathered at the Celestial Palace in Christiania.
- All of the ladies were "decorated" so as to make an impressive display of their qualities to the King. King Artabanus, who was now eighteen years old, did not, however, have the same intentions in mind as his chief minister. He now presented his favors (a handkerchief and a ring), to Lady Euphemia Varania (1230-57), indicating that he had selected her to be his future bride. Morovinus, however, was determined to let nothing get in the way of his schemes. Consequently, he bribed a courtier, Anacletus Sarus (1204-59), to make the Lady faint, and then had one of the royal physicians, Dr. Marcellinus Resius (1195-1274), diagnose the Lady with "random" epilepsy. She was subsequently deemed physically unfit, and was therefore disqualified from becoming a fiancee to the King. Lady Varania and her father, Lord Marcellus Varania (1201-62), were moreover banished from the Royal Court and exiled to Jenny, accused of having deceived the King as to her physical condition. With Morovinus's encouragement, therefore, Artabanus now selected Lady Claudia Marcella as his second choice to become his wife. Lady Marcella was by all accounts, a beautiful woman, and after a short examination, was declared perfectly healthy by Dr. Resius. Within a short time, the two had fallen in love, and there proved to be no difficulty to hasten their marital union along. They were formally betrothed on December 28, 1247.
- On January 16, 1248, Artabanus and Lady Claudia were married in a formal service at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. Pope Callixtus presided over the ceremony, and conducted the exchange of the vows. Vigorous celebrations were held in the city of Christiania, in the other cities and moons of Laurasia Prime, and at prominent public locations throughout the Kingdom. Numerous gifts were bestowed upon the Marcella family; Lord Marcella himself was made Prince of Tusculum, and awarded a seat on the Royal Council, in addition to being made President of the Aristocratic Duma. Prayers were said in all of the cathedrals and churches of Laurasia Prime to celebrate the wedding. On January 26, Morovinus himself married Lady Anna, thereby marking the supreme fulfillment of his plans. On February 11, King Artabanus crowned himself and his wife at the Old Westphalian Cathedral; the coronation ceremony had been deferred until after he had been married. During the course of the next four months, Morovinus continued to preside over the affairs of Laurasia Prime, supervising the enforcement of the military and financial reforms already implemented. But tensions continued to build during that entire time.
- Indeed, the inhabitants of Laurasia Prime became exasperated by the perceived haugtiness and insolence of Morovinus, Prince Marcella, and their associates, and eventually decided to take action. On June 1, 1248, the King, accompanied by his wife, Queen-Consort Claudia, by Pope Callixtus, and the chief figures of the Royal Laurasian Court, went in procession to St. Katherine's Monastery in Christiania. Many of the inhabitants of the City assembled to see him pass. At the Monastery, the King spoke with the monks and friars mendicant, had lunch with the Abbott, Eleuterus Searis (1184-1272), and participated in the worship services, dedicating a set of new sacred tombs. On his way back from the Monastery, after these ceremonies were concluded, the assembled crowds (estimated to number over 100,000 individuals), broke through the ranks of the Royal Guards surrounding the Court, came upon the King's personal repulsorlift, and entreated him to listen to their complaints concerning the outrages perpetuated by his advisers. Artabanus, alarmed by this outbreak of insolence, now listened impatiently to their requests. The crowds protested the implementation of the uniform commodity tariff, denounced the greed and exactions of the Mayor of Christiania, Count Sabinian Plescheria (1205-48), and proclaimed that Morovinus was "turning Your Royal Majesty against his subjects, and your subjects against Your Royal Majesty." They resented Morovinus for having, in their view, usurped power from the King and thereby upset the divinely appointed system of autocracy.
- Artabanus, hoping to break up the crowds, now promised to satisfy all of their complaints. They professed themselves pleased, and began to disperse when some of the King's court servants and Guards rode among them in their repulsorlifts and honorary steeds, assailing them with abusive language, preventing their easy passage, and even striking at them with their electrowhips and blaster handles. The populace, incensed, began to pelt them with whatever objects they had at hand. The officials were barely able to escape with their lives, being rescued by some of the King's regiments. The crowds were now thoroughly aroused. With more and more people joining them (the crowd now numbered more than 500,000), they now rushed to Morovinus's private residence, Morovinus Estate, in the Residential Quadrants. They burst through its defenses, comprehensively looted it of all its possessions, and then set it ablaze, leaving it a smouldering ruin. From thence, they proceeded to Marcella Palace; that residence, too, was sacked and destroyed. More then one thousand servitors and servants of Morovinus and the Marcella family were killed or seriously injured during the course of these attacks.
- Throughout the remainder of that day, the mobs rampaged through the thoroughfares and neighborhoods of Christiania, sacking, damaging, or threatening hundreds of noble, gentle, government, and ecclesiastical buildings, residences, and fortified places. The Christiania Police Force and the Royal Guards found themselves hard-pressed to maintain order, and civil disorder dominated the city. The King, who was startled, and found himself incapable of stirring up to crush the challenge, remained within his private quarters, quaking with fear. He entreated his servants and subordinates to strengthen the palatial defenses and to secure the Celestial Palace from the rampaging crowds. During the early hours of June 2, the King sent one of his officers, General Cornelius Fusco (1208-48), out to restrain the crowds, assuring them that the injustices of which they complained would be speedily corrected. The crowds, however, now surged to the outskirts of the Palace. They now demanded that Morovinus and his two chief subordinates, Seleucus Takarania (1202-48), Head of the Palace Guard, and the Chief Clerk of the Aristocratic Duma, Count Nicanor Stranius (1199-1248), be handed over to them. They also wanted Mayor Plescheria, who had taken refuge in the Palace. Morovinus now ordered the Royal Guards to drive the rioters away from the Palace, but they, in an act of insubordination, now refused.
- The Guards, sympathetic to the crowds' anger with Plescheria, decided not to "work against their interests". The King, finding that he had no choice, surrendered Takarania, Stranius, and Plescheria to the crowds early on the following day (June 3, 1248). In their fervor, the crowds did not wait for these officials to be executed, instead taking them, stripping them of their clothes and belongings, and them torturing them to death with electrically-charged stakes. They then sacked the surrounding Palatial Gardens and the Nobles' Courtyard; more than 10,000 structures were destroyed during the course of the next three days, and another 100,000 individuals were killed or injured. On June 6, Artabanus was able to finally get the Guards to desist by promising to increase their salary. Then on June 11, he managed to convince the crowds to allow Morovinus to be exiled to the Monastery of Windowia Photis. The riots now gradually dissipated, and gradually the authorities took back control; by June 19, the Morovinian Rebellion of 1248 was officially over. Yet nobles, and many of the chief personages of the Laurasia Prime Purse Region, now petitioned the King to summon the Consultative Assembly, in order to discuss salary distribution, punishment of criminals, and matters related to the commodities tariff. They could not, however, articulate common goals, and Artabanus refused to summon the Assembly.
- Morovinus was now placed into custody, chained, and transported to his place of exile at Windowia Photis (July 1248). He was deprived of all his dignities and offices; his wife, Lady Anna, was ordered to remain on her father's estates at Dearton's Gateway, Janesia, and Maroni. The King now appointed Prince Constantine Cherkassia and Count Sergius Cassanova (1207-54), the King's cousin, as his two chief advisors; Cherkassia became Secretary of Chancellery and the Correspondence; Cassanova took charge of the Guards and the Treasury. With their firm backing, Artabanus now proceeded to harshly punish the ringleaders and chief actors in the Morivnian Revolt. On July 12, 1248, the King issued a manifesto from the Celestial Palace, declaring that all who had participated in the Rebellion would be liable to punishment unless if they swore a renewed, direct oath of allegiance to him and his government, received absolution from the Church, and did penance for their sins. Of more than 500,000 individuals, only thirty did not take advantage of this amnesty. Those thirty were tried by the Aristocratic Duma, convicted of treason, conspiracy, and les-majestie, and in August 1248, executed at the High Tower of Christiania. Artabanus also conducted a purge of the Guards, ordering for more than 25,000 officers to be fined, dismissed from the service, and replaced with new recruits from the Royal Army. He also implemented new disciplinary and surveillance regulations for the Guards in September 1248. Then on October 22, Morovinus was pardoned, allowed to return back to Laurasia Prime, and resumed his old posts within the Royal Laurasian Government. He was also reunited with his wife. Thus, all that the rebellion had sought to accomplish was effectively reversed. On Morovinus's urging, King Artabanus reversed himself, and on November 9, 1248, issued orders for the convocation of a new Consultative Assembly.
- The Assembly met in Christiania on December 7. The King himself now addressed it, and announced his intention for the compilation and promulgation of a new uniform legal code. The Codex Honourisus of 1150, implemented by Honorius the Terrible, was now outdated, and Artabanus believed that the legal and judicial innovations of the preceding decades, since the end of the Time of Troubles, needed to be laid down in a new, revised form. In fact, during the years 1213-1248, more than 40,000 decrees, statutes, edicts, and charters had been issued, contributing to the growth in bureaucratization within the state. Many of these laws contradicted each other, and were obsolete. This chaos was intensified by the scattering of normative acts through the various bureaus, as well as the Aristocratic Duma, the Royal Council, and the Assembly itself. Each bureau possessed its own code of laws, and made its own interpretation of them. There was therefore an absence in coordination of the law, as only that particular bureau's officials were aware of any pertinent revisions to their regulations. Also, there was no uniform governmental standard for the application of legal rules.
- The King now created a sub-commission within the Consultative Assembly, in order to work on the compilation of a new legal code. This commission was now to be headed by Prince Atahansius Odaneria (1176-1253), who served as Chief Magistrate of the Court of Royal Enforcement. The commission, overall, had thirty members; Morovinus, Marcella, Cassanova, and Cherkassia were among them. Pope Callixtus was also associated with the commission, providing it legal documents relating to the Almitian Church. The Assembly itself, now organized into two houses, one comprising the King and the Aristocratic Duma, and the other, the elected or appointed delegates of the Kingdom's viceroyalities and districts, was charged with overall supervision of the commission's efforts. The commission began to meet on December 15, 1248, and continued its work for over seven months. It consulted the Honorian Codes of 1097 and 1150, petitions submitted to the Assembly, and the law codes maintained by the various bureaus.
- 1249, the 49th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Codification Commission, as had been established by King Artabanus, continuing its work on the compilation of a new legal code. On January 26, 1249, King Artabanus issued new instructions to the Commission, ordering them to also take into account the legal "instructions" and rulings passed down by the Court of Royal Enforcement and the Common Court, in devising the code. Prince Odaneria proved to be an effective superintendent of the commission, and work on the code now proceeded through its relevant stages. In the first, that of codification, the commission worked through all of the sources presented to it, carried out revision work, and gradually created a synsthesized code. In the second, that of discussion, the commission reviewed its work, made further adjustments, and incorporated interpretative and legal material as it deemed necessary. In the third stage, that of overview, the commission submitted its work to the Aristocratic Duma and the King (May 1249), who then conducted their own revisions of the code. The fourth stage, that of decision, saw the commission iron out all contradictions or disagreements over the provisions embodied in the code. And in the fifth, completed on July 1, 1249, the Commission came to agreement on the final version of the Code and submitted it for approval to the Consultative Assembly at large.
- The Assembly passed resolutions in support of the Code on July 7, and on September 1, 1249, King Artabanus announced the promulgation of it as the Codex Artabanusius. The Code was now formally published by the imperial presses, circulated through the Holonet, and stamped with the King's seal and signature, announced to all authorities throughout the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia. In its final form, it comprised more than 20,000 pages of material, embodying all laws (decrees, edicts, statutes, charters, orders, instructions, proclamations, etc.) which had been passed since the end of the Dasian Yoke (1080). The Codex Artabanusius was divided into five categories: state law, civil law, criminal law, punishments (and their forms), and family law. The Code reiterated the absolute authority wielded by the King, the critical importance of the Almitian Church, and the unity of the Royal Laurasian Government. It laid out a comprehensive system of crimes. These included crimes against the Church (such as blasphemy, interruption of the services, heresy), state crimes (rebellion, conspiracy, treason, actions against the monarch and his family), crimes against the order of government (such as unauthorized departure abroad, counterfeiting, false testimony, slander), crimes against deanery (brothels, harboring of fugitives and vagabonds, sale of stolen or foreign property, unlawful imposition of duties), official crimes (larceny, injustice, forgery, military crimes), crimes against the person (murder, mutilation, assault and battery, rape), property crimes (theft, robbery, fraud, arson, spoilage), and crimes against morality (fornication, parental and familial disobedience, pandering, etc.) The Code mandated the death penalty for treason, attempted treason, and failure to denounce treason; the monarch's ability to levy this punishment, however, was confirmed in full. Corporal punishment, imprisonment, banishment, exile, imposition of fines, deprivation of property, and excommunication were all precisely defined and categorized. The Code covered the law of contracts, the law of obligations, the statuses of the two genders, property rights, and laws governing commodities, transactions, and bankruptcies, among other things. Finally, it emphasized the extent of parental authority over their children, provided regulations relating to property possession among couples (as well as the subordination of wives to their husbands), and wills, divorces, and other such settlements.
- The Codex Artabanusius was the most significant domestic achievement of Artabanus's reign, and it provided a firm legal foundation for the Royal Laurasian Government. This Code was to remain in effect for more than a century, until the legal reforms of Antiochus the Great beginning in the 1350s. 1249 by itself was, besides the compilation and promulgation of the Code, a relatively peaceful and uneventful year. King Artabanus remained on Laurasia Prime throughout that year, continuing to preside over the affairs of the Royal Court. On October 6, however, his first child with Queen-Consort Claudia, Grand Prince Demetrius, who had been born on August 22, 1248, died at the Royal Hospital. Artabanus was stricken by the death of his son, and he ordered the Court into a period of mourning. The Grand Prince was interred at the Old Westphalian Cathedral on November 1, 1249. 1249 ended, therefore, with the Stellar Kingdom still at peace. This was to remain the case for only a few more years, however.
- 1250, the 50th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia, still in a state of general peace, both internally and externally. It was now five years into the reign of Artabanus I, the son of Leonidas the Restorer. By the middle of the thirteenth century, Laurasia had recovered substantially from the tribulations and turmoils of the Time of Troubles. The Kingdom still maintained its place as one of the central states in the Core Regions. With the exception of the two Amelianian Wars (in the Wild Marshes) and the Clancian War, Laurasia had managed to remain at peace with its neighbors for more than thirty years, since the Treaty of Deulino in 1218. Laurasian dominions now spanned from the Kelvanian and Morganian Provinces in the Wild Marshes, through Malaria and the Laurasia Prime Purse Region, and downwards into the Eastern Central Core, embracing the Murphian Provinces in addition to Saray and Senna, the former capital worlds of the Golden Horde and the Sennacherid Empire respectively. Laurasia Prime itself now had a population of more than sixty billion; during the second half of the thirteenth century, that population was to rise ever higher. The Leonidian Dynasty, in spite of some of the domestic challenges which it continued to face (such as the Morovinus Rebellion of 1248), had nevertheless firmly consolidated its grip over the Laurasian people. The Royal Almitian Church, at this time in a relatively stable condition, was soon to be rent by radical innovation and by internal division. And other tensions were now looming, which were soon to thrust Laurasia into renewed military conflict with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth to its south; that Commonwealth still controlled the whole of the Central Core, with Polonian forces stationed less than 4,000 light years away from Laurasia Prime. And in the outer regions of the Caladarian Galaxy, there had been much change and much strife, to be described below.
- Indeed, as the middle of the century dawned in the Caladarian Galaxy, the Commonwealth was now beset with a new internal challenge: that of the Ivorian Rebellion. Since 1182, the territories once belonging to the Ivorian Order had been under Polonian jurisdiction. Yet the complaints of the Ivorians against their alien overlords, as had been exemplified in the Election Parliament of 1232, was now brought to the fore by the rise of the Ivorian nobleman Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Khmelnytsky was born on November 9, 1193, in Subergeth, which was a Ivorian colony located thirty light years to the northeast of Storgath. His father was the Ivorian Prince Mykhailo Khmelnytsky (1163-1220) of Subergeth, was a courtier of General Zolywieski, later commander of Polonian forces during the Laurasian Time of Troubles. His mother, Misata, was descended from the Ivorian Priestess of the Orthodox Balia of Dasinae, who had lived in the fourth century AH. Educated in traditionalist Ivorian schools, Khmelnytskly joined the Polonian Royal Forces in 1215, aged 22, and participated in the Merlite Frontiers Wars. After a brief period of captivity on Merilash, he returned to the Central Core (1223), settling back at his home world of Subergeth, marrying Lady Halida Misyntsky (1196-1264). They had four children together. Khmelnytsky then participated in campaigns for Zolywieski's successor as Grand Crown Hetman of the Commonwealth, Stanislaw Koniecpolski, led Ivorian delegations to King Wladyslaw on Polonia Major, and was generally well respected by his fellow Ivorians.
- Things changed for the worse however, when in April 1247, the Crown Hetman's son, Alexander Koniecpolski, attempted to seize Khmelnytsky's properties in Ivoria. He utilized the services of one Daniel Czaplinski (1205-56), who launched two raids upon the nobleman's Subergeth residence, inflicting substantial damage upon its defenses. Khmelnytsky now attempted to gain the assistance of King Wladyslaw, but found him willing or unable to assist him. Having received no support from the Polonian officials, Khmelnytsky now turned to his fellow Ivorian friends and subordinates. His mistreatment at the hands of a Polonian nobleman found sympathy among all of the Order's ranks. Throughout September and October 1247, he traveled throughout the Ivorian Provinces, holding conferences with a variety of Ivorian leaders and garnering further support for his cause. His actions aroused considerable suspicion from the Polonian authorities, and on November 2, he was arrested at Ergeme. With the assistance of Ivorian Colonel Mykhailo Kyrchevsky (1197-1249), Khmelnytsky was able to escape from imprisonment at Montel (November 23, 1247), and made his way to Alton. Securing control of that garrison, he now assembled military supplies, Ivorian soldiers, and equipment, and in December 1247, successfully persuaded the garrisons of Alladoria, Burderia, and Redderson to defect to his cause. Then on January 25, 1248, leading a substantial contingent of Ivorian warriors and naval personnel, he approached the outskirts of Maschinga.
- Within a short time, he had scattered the Polonian patrols assigned to keep control of Maschinga's defenses, and he now won over the population of the world, angered by the harsh treatment of the Commonwealth government, and lured by his promises of autonomy, freedom from obligations, and "common purpose". On February 5, the Ivorian Rada of Maschinga formally elected Khmelnytsky as the Hetman of Ivoria, announced that they were in a formal state of rebellion against the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, and rejected the authority of King Wladyslaw. Within a short time, Khmelnytsky, who was receiving more support, more supplies, and more associates by the day, was able to secure control of Montel (February 17-24); Braeley (February 28); Paura (March 3); and Deena (March 9). Dasinae too, defected to the Hetman's cause (March 17, 1248). By April 1248, the news of the Ivorian Rebellion had became alarming news to many throughout the Commonwealth. The ailing King Wladyslaw, who was in delirium at his palace on Polonia Major, now commanded the Grand Crown Hetman, Mikolaj Potocki (1195-1251) and the Field Crown Hetman, Marcin Kalinowski (1205-52) to organize a vigorous response to the Rebellion. They obliged, and from Galich Majoria now dispatched the 2nd and 4th Polonian Royal Armies, under the command of Potocki's son, Prince Stefan Potocki (1224-48), without waiting to gather additional forces from Prince Jeremi Wisnowiecki (1212-51). Khmelnytsky marshalled his forces and met Potocki in the Battle of Zhotvi Vody (April 29-May 16, 1248); the battle ended in a decisive victory for the Hetman, who took Potocki prisoner and wiped out nearly two-thirds of the Polonian force (more than 600,000 troops, including almost all of the Winged Hussars, and thirty warships of the Polonian Royal Navy).
- King Wladyslaw, devastated by the news of this disastrous defeat, entered the final stage of his illness. On May 20, 1248, the King died in his sleep at the Royal Palace of Polonia Major, aged 52. He had left no children. Six days after Wladyslaw's death, Khmelnytsky obtained another, more decisive victory in the Battle of Korsun. This battle saw the capture of both the elder Potocki and of Field Hetman Kalinowski, along with the loss of more than 300,000 Polonian and Donguarian troops. Following this victory, Micenta and Storgath fell into Khmelynstsky's hands (June 1248); he then proceeded to capture Doris (July 2-5); Frogglesworth (July 10); Watson (July 12); and Sherlock (July 16). At Daniel (July 22, 1248), the Hetman issued a series of demands to the Polonian Crown, asking that the number of Registered Ivorians in the Polonian Forces be raised, that all Ivorian soldiers be fully compensated for their services, and that a charter of self-government be granted to the Ivorian Provinces. The Polonian Parliament, however, which entered Convocation on August 1, refused to consider his demands. Khmelynstsky, angered by this, then turned his attention to the subjection of Jahraes. The Siege of Jahraes began on August 12, 1248, and continued until September 5, when it fell into the hands of the Hetman's forces.
- Esther and Hammond were both in Ivorian hands by September 29. During October 1248, Khmelynstsky's forces also launched further operations southwards; New Nosauria, Zesia, Zutagia, and Zennethia were all harried by Ivorian rebel expeditions during that time. Then on November 4, 1248, the late King's younger brother, Joh'saw Casimir Vasalio, was formally elected at Wronzaz by the Polonian-Donguarian Parliament. He signed his pacta conventa and the Hensior Articles four days later, and on November 24, was crowned on Polonia Major. Khmelynstsky, ironically, had favored this Prince's election to the Polonian throne. Joh'saw, on his part, now sent a communique to Khmelynstsky, offering to negotiate a status of autonomy for the Ivorian Provinces and to recognize the services rendered by Ivorians in the Polonian Royal Forces, if Khmelynstsky in turn would terminate his military campaigns against the Commonwealth. Khmelynstsky, believing that he had someone whom he could work with, agreed. On Ascenmas Day, 1248, having halted further expeditionary moves into Galicia, the Hetman and his forces made a victorious procession onto Ivoria, which welcomed them with open arms, and established their command headquarters there. He was hailed by the Ivorians as their liberator and as the rightful ruler of their dominions.
- Negotiations commenced at Maschinga in January 1249. The Polonian delegation to Khmelynstsky and his subordinates was led by the Voivode of Clancia, Polonian Senator Adam Kisiel (1180-1253). At first, the conference proceeded in good order, and it seemed as if the two sides would be able to reach an agreement. On February 7, however, Khmelynstsky suddenly declared that he was the "sole leader of Ivoria" and that he "possessed enough power in Ivoria, in Maschinga, and across the Central Core to Galicia." It now became clear to Kisiel and his compatriots that Khmelynstsky now considered himself the leader of an independent state, and expected to be treated on such terms. Consequently, the Senator recommended to the King and Parliament that negotiations be terminated, and that a vigorous effort be made to crush this rebellion. King Joh'saw agreed, and on February 25, 1249, the Conference of Maschinga officially closed. In April 1249, Joh'saw obtained formal authorization from the Magisterial Court to take personal command of the military offensives against Khmelynstsky and his supporters. He departed from Polonia Major on May 7 and joined with Prince Wisnowiecki at Anthony, determined, more than ever before, to suppress the Ivorian "rogues". Though he recovered Watson, Daniel, Sherlock, and Frogglesworth (May-June 1249), Joh'saw was unable to make any conclusive gains within the Ivorian Provinces themselves. And in two successive battles, at Zbarazh (July 10-August 22) and Zboriv (August 25-27), Khmelynstsky ruined the Polonian Royal Forces, taking advantage of his superior knowledge of Ivorian stellar space, his innovative use of his warriors and Knights Cossack, and the grassroots intelligence of his own troops. King Joh'saw, after further futile assaults upon Storgath, Jahares, and Kentuckia, eventually realized that negotiation was the only avenue. He and Khmelynstsky ultimately agreed to the Treaty of Zboriv (September 27, 1249).
- By the terms of this agreement, the number of Registered Ivorians was increased in accordance with the Hetman's demands; the Hetman himself was acknowledged as the chief governor of the Ivorian Provinces, receiving absolute authority over its legislative, judicial, and executive affairs, and advisory powers in regards to the foreign and military affairs of Ivoria; all Ivorian soldiers and warriors in the Polonian Royal Forces received full compensation for their services; and the privileges of the Ivorian Religious Order were guaranteed. King Joh'saw agreed also not to station any government agents, tax collectors, or Polonian-Donguarian garrisons upon Ivorian territory. In return, Khmelynstsky accepted the King of Polonia as his ultimate overlord. The Treaty of Zboriv was ratified by the Polonian Parliament in December 1249, and entered into effect on January 5, 1250. For the rest of the year, in fact, the Ivorians remained at peace with the Commonwealth. Yet such a peace was a turbulent one, and very weak.
- The years 1251-53 saw the continued tribulations of the Ivorian Revolt within the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth. They also saw the installation of a new Pope in Laurasia. The Treaty of Zboriv managed to maintain the peace between Ivoria and the Commonwealth government for just over a year. Yet throughout that time, Hetman Khmelynstsky continued to plot. Still dissatisfied by the terms of subjection to the Commonwealth, he now searched for a way by which he could secure the autonomy of Ivoria, while at the same time seriously weakening the Commonwealth's position. By July 1250, he had arrived at the conclusion that an appeal to the Royal Laurasian Government, and to King Artabanus, would be the best means of doing this. The Hetman was very well aware of the persistent Laurasian wish for the recovery of its lost territories in the Central Core. Khmelynstsky sought, therefore, to allow a way for Artabanus to project his power southwards, while agreeing to free his own species from the Commonwealth. As early as June 1248, he had sent a series of communiques to the Bureau of Correspondence on Laurasia Prime, containing his formal greetings to the King of Laurasia, his hopes for his good health, and his belief that future cooperation would be beneficial to both the Laurasians and the Ivorians. In July and December 1248, the Hetman also sent communiques to the Laurasian Viceroys of Dearton's Gateway, Metallasia, and the Constantine Cluster, attempting to arouse their interest in the matter. In March 1249, the Ivorian Councilor Suluyan Muzhylovsky (1201-55), met with the Royal Council at the Celestial Palace, holding a series of discussions with them over the Revolt.
- In April of that year, Khmelynstsky himself met with an agent from the Royal Bureau of Security, Gregory Unsaria (1205-70), at Browne, and had secured from him assurances of sympathy by King Artabanus for his cause. Then in August 1249, the Hetman began a regular correspondence with the Royal Bureau of Foreign Affairs, in which he hinted to them the possibility of recognizing Laurasian suzerainty over Ivoria. Artabanus, himself still caught up in his legal codification efforts, was not yet ready to move this far. But early in 1251, he began to reconsider, for the Ivorian Revolt now flared up in full force again. On January 22, Ivorian Marshal Danylo Nazchai (1212-51) broke the terms of the Treaty of Zboriv by launching a raiding expedition against Sherlock. In response to this, King Joh'saw now declared Hetman Khmelynstsky a contumacious traitor, and he ordered Hetman Kalinowski to launch a series of renewed expeditions into Ivorian territory. Kalinowski now clashed with Marshal Nazchai in the Battle of Krasne (February 20, 1251), which ended in a Polonian victory. Marshal Nazchai himself was killed. Jahraes, Hammond, and Burderia then fell to the Polonians (March-April 1251), and on May 20, Kalinowski secured a further victory in the Battle of Kopychyntski. King Joh'saw himself, having gained another patent of authorization from the Magisterial Court, then embarked from Polonia Major to take command of operations against rebel forces once again.
- Ergeme fell on June 7, 1251, and on June 28, the King, Marshal Kalinowski, Prince Wisnowiecki, and Marshal Potocki clashed with Hetman Khmelynstsky in the Battle of Berestechko. The result was a decisive Polonian victory; more than one-third of the Ivorian Warriors (some 350,000 men), died in the battle, and another third were seriously injured or captured. Eighty Ivorian warships, including twelve of their automated tupertines (sail vessels), fell into Polonian hands, and the Hetman himself barely evaded capture. Dasinae, Redderson, and Montel fell back into Polonian hands following this confrontation, and on July 6, Khmelynstsky was defeated again in the Battle of Loyew. By September 1251, Alladoria, Braeley, and Alton were also back in the possession of the King's forces. On September 25, with the Battle of Bila, Khmelynstsky was forced to seek terms with King Joh'saw. These resulted in the Treaty of Bila (October 28, 1251). By the terms of this agreement, the number of Registered Ivorians was reduced by more than half; Polonian forces were once again to be stationed across the Ivorian Provinces; Khmelynstsky agreed to limit the size of his forces, to swear a direct oath of allegiance to the King, and to recognize Polonian rights over Ivorian religious, military, and fiscal affairs.
- The Treaty of Bila, however, never took effect, for in January 1252 it was rejected by the Polonian Parliament. King Joh'saw, who had returned to Polonia Major to advocate for its adoption, was desolated when the agreement failed to reach cloture in the Magisterial Court. Consequently, he was forced to renew the offensive against Khmelynstsky. Khmelynstsky himself regained the advantage; Alladoria, Braeley, and Alton were recovered by him that month. By May 1252, Dasinae and Redderson had also been recovered by the Hetman's forces. Then (June 1-2, 1252), he inflicted a decisive defeat upon Crown Hetman Kalinowski in the Battle of Batoh. Kalinowski himself, along with his son, Quartermaster Samuel Kalinowski, both died in the confrontation, along with all of their Hussars and Donguarian Shock Troops. With this succession of victories, therefore, Khmelynstsky was immovable. By the latter months of 1252, he had definitively consolidated his authority over the whole of the Ivorian Provinces.
- Throughout all of this time, the Royal Laurasian Government continued to watch events closely. In March 1251, King Artabanus had summoned the Consultative Assembly to him at the Old Royal Palace. This Assembly had recommended to the King that he refrain from recognition of the Ivorian Hetamanate, as the rebel state was beginning to be called, at that stage, but also advised him to look into any avenues of exploiting the Commonwealth's troubles. Beginning in August, Artabanus authorized the dispatch of Laurasian "mercenaries", agents, military supplies, and financial aid to the Ivorians, and in January 1252, he issued a proclamation from Laurasia Prime condemning the actions taken by King Joh'saw and the Polonian Parliament. In March of that year, Hetman Khmelynstsky dispatched Ivan Iskra of Alladoria (1210-78) as his official envoy to the Royal Laurasian Court, which had then moved to Darsis. Presented before King Artabanus and his courtiers at Fortunata Mansion, Iskra declared that the intervention of "Your Majesty's forces in this conflict will avail us greatly against the Polonian mongrels, while at the same time enhancing the reputation and status of your state." Artabanus entertained the Envoy and his entourage for some days, but continued to declare, in public, that he could not abet the actions of one such as Khmelynstsky. In private, however, the King told Envoy Iskra that "my full sympathies are with your cause", and that the Stellar Kingdom would intervene when it was deemed "prudent" to do so. Artabanus also gave the Envoy a secret communique, addressed directly to Khmelynstsky himself, containing these assurances of his.
- Throughout the remainder of 1252, and into 1253, correspondence would continue to be exchanged between the King and the Hetman, and Artabanus gradually inched closer, and closer, towards intervention. Yet he had other concerns to take care of. On April 15, 1252, at Chloe, Pope Callixtus died, aged 72. King Artabanus ordered the Royal Court into a period of mourning, and had Callixtus's body laid out, in state, at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. He was eventually interred there on May 9. The King then proceeded to the selection of a successor to the Throne of St. Paul. His choice now fell upon the Metropolitan of the Eastern Core and the Archbishop of Meaganian and Arias, Nikon. Nikon had been born in Mordovia, Reese, on May 7, 1205. He was the only child of Numerian Minunus (1166-1231) and his wife Atia (1172-1205). His mother, however, fell ill with the Angrames malady soon after his birth, and died on June 10. His father, who was a common agriculturalist and owned a a cow-processing center in Mordovia, shortly afterwards remarried, in October 1205, to Julia Nessmania (1179-1245). Julia became pregnant twice during the two years following her marriage, but both pregnancies ended with miscarriages. Consequently, she vented her wrath on her stepson, whipping him, depriving him of food, and allowing him little time outside of the household. Nikon's father, Numerian, who was himself a alcoholic, did little to arrest his wife's antics. Growing up in a miserable household, the boy became rebellious and vengeful. Eventually, when he was twelve years old, he ran away and, taking advantage of the Almitian Church's custom concerning abused and mistreated children, found sanctuary in Makranian Monastery, which was also located on Reese.
- Nikon became a novice there, and received his education from the Chief Commissary of the Monastery, one Appian Eorsius (1163-1241). Under Eorsius's tutelage, he became proficient in High Laurasian, Briannian, Millian, Arachosian, Dasian, Marauder, Polonian, Lacian, Galician, and Venasian, obtained an intensive love of philosophy, history, anthropology, archaeology, and sociology, and was well-acquainted with all of the chief theological works and treatises of the Almitian Church, and of various foreign faiths in the Core Regions. Nikon remained at Makranian Monastery until 1224, when he reconciled with his parents, was released from the Church's service, and married, to Cornelia Fusca (1198-1263), who was seven years his senior. During the course of the next ten years, they had three children: Nikon, Cornelia, and Atia, all of whom did not live past the age of three. Nikon attended the University of Reese, obtained his degree in Business Administration, with Minors in History and Galactic Languages (1227), and took over Minuian Agricultural Operations following his father's death in April 1231. But in July 1235, soon after the death of his daughter Julia, he had an epiphany, and came to the resolution that he was to enter the service of the Almitian Church.
- His wife, who had long been a religious woman in her own right, agreed to enter the Monastery of Windowia Photis, thereby freeing Nikon to pursue his own ecclesiastical career. He now returned to Makranian Monastery, and in March 1236, after passing the Trials, was admitted as a Monk of Almitis. He was allowed to retain his birth name, as it was a consecrated name of the Church. During the course of the next decade, Nikon gradually worked himself up through the ranks, distinguishing himself by his intellectual aptitude, his vigor in adhering to all of the appropriate procedures and rituals, and his ability to work effectively with his fellow monks. He was rewarded in July 1243 by becoming Abbot of the prestigious Vemay Monastery on Jenny. Three years later, in August 1246, he attended a meeting of the Conference of Almitian Prelates in Christiania, and at that time, first came to the attention of King Artabanus. Artabanus was impressed with him, and on November 7 of that year he made Nikon Prior of St. Katherine's Monastery on Laurasia Prime, and Archmandrite of the Almitian Monasteries, which gave him general supervisionary duties over all such establishments, both in the Kingdom and throughout the Caladarian Galaxy.
- During his service as Prior of St. Katherine's and Archmandrite of Monasteries, Nikon became a member of the Zealots of Piety, a circle of ecclesiastical and secular individuals on Laurasia Prime, which had been founded in 1239. This circle, which included many of the most prominent prelates and nobles within the Kingdom, wanted to enhance the Royal Almitian Church's authority and increase its influence upon the Kingdom's subjects. Other goals of the circle included a drive against the shortcomings and vice of the clergy, revival of church summons, and encouragement of other means that could be used to influence the masses. They also aimed to improve the Church's proselytizing, welfare, and community outreach programs. Nikon's work within this group, and his support of various regulatory and admission reforms in the organization and procedures followed by St. Katherine's and Vemay Monasteries, led to his being made Metropolitan of the Eastern Core, and Archbishop of both Meaganian and Arias, by Pope Callixtus (on the King's orders), in September 1249. During his three years in those positions, Nikon carried out his episcopal duties with great rigor, strongly enforced the regulations of Callixtus and of his predecessor Joasaphus, and sponsored innovative modifications to the organization of church processions and rituals.
- Thus it was that he was singled out by the King for the Papacy. Nikon was at first reluctant to assume the supreme dignity, declaring that it was not within him to take direction of the Almitian Church's affairs. It took the personal pleas of the King, along with several of his own colleagues in the Dioceses of Meaganian and Arias, and from the Vemay Monastery, to break down his resistance. On August 1, 1252, he was formally elected Pope by the Ecclesiastical Conclave of the Conference of Almitian Prelates. Ten days later, at the Old Westphalian Cathedral, Nikon received his cross, mitier, and staff of authority from the hands of the King, as was custom, and was formally consecrated as Pope. In his inaugural speech to the assembled crowds, outside of the Cathedral, the new Pope declared that all his effort would be applied to "maintaining and extending upon the status, glory, and position of this Holy Church" and that the Kingdom could not survive unless if it had a strong theological and ecclesiastical foundation. By this point, Nikon had become convinced that vigorous reforms were needed, in the church liturgy and administration, in order to revive the institution, and that without these reforms, it could not continue in its mission. He now proceeded down that path. In October 1252, the Pope convinced King Artabanus to allow for the canonization of Pope Philip (1165-68), that great enemy of Honorius the Terrible, who had been deposed by that King and executed by his subordinate, the infamous Skurata, in December 1169. Since Philip's remains had been incinerated on Honorius's orders after his death, they could not be borne in official procession to the Old Westphalian Cathedral, as was custom for a canonization ceremony. Instead (November 15, 1252), Nikon had a model of the deceased Pope crafted, decorated with his ring, robes, and artifacts, and then placed into a coffin. The ceremony itself was lavish, winding from the Celestial Palace, to the Diplomatic Palace, to all of the Offices and residences of official Christiania, and then to the Old Westphalian Cathedral. Nikon himself, wearing his formal robes, bore a cross, chanted the words of canonization, and delivered an address to the people, noting the facts about Philip and his life. The Conference of Almitian Prelates confirmed Philip's elevation in a conclave shortly thereafter.
- Soon after the canonization of Pope Philip, Nikon, in December 1252, announced that he would be forming a commission to conduct an exhaustive study of all the service-books, including missials, prayer books, sermons, lectures, worship compilations, and anthologies, than in use in the Royal Almitian Church. His own study of these works during his years at Makranian Monastery and the University of Reese had convinced him that they were in sore need of revision. Indeed, the books contained many transcription, factual, and formatting errors, which had accumulated over the course of many centuries. Some of them, such as the Hours of the Blessed Virgin Didymeia, the Ecclesiastical Histories of Eusebius, the Epistle of Clement, Against Heresies, and The Virtue of the Trinity of Paul, Almitis, and the Prophets, dating from the 3rd millennium BH, were in great need of clarification, exposition, and expansion. On January 5, 1253 (the day that the last Khan of Hunt, Genghis-Timur, died on Jasonia), the Conference of Almitian Prelates issued, on the Pope's initiative, instructions to all reverends, pastors, and deacons that they were to append "clarifying lessons", composed by Nikon himself, to each of the works which they consulted, and to remind their flock that "the material contained within these works are authoritative, so long as they are accurate." Clerics were encouraged to educate their congregations on the errors, and to keep them informed of the work which would be done to fix those errors.
- It was in March 1253 that the Clarification Commission, as it was called by Pope Nikon, formally convened at the Monastery of St. Euesbius on Laurasia Prime, in order to begin the process of revision. The Commission was comprised of seventy prelates, one hundred deacons and deans, and thirty secular representatives of the Church, selected from the Church's dioceses and sees from throughout the Caladarian Galaxy. The Pope himself addressed the body, and declared that their meeting was "essential to the future prosperity and success of the Church." The Commission was to work for more than a year, ultimately combing through more than 5,000 works then in use by the Royal Almitian Church. In the meantime, Nikon introduced other reforms. In July 1253, he ordered for a review of the ritual regulations put in place by Pope Joasaphus, particularly of the Treatise on the Hierarchy of Power and the Memo, ordering for all injunctions or regulations found to be at odds with the revisions of the Commission to be revised or repealed. In August, he issued new instructions to all Almitian clergymen, redefining their obligations in accordance with his Treatise on the Duties of the Clergy, which he had composed in July 1249, while still Archmandrite of Monasteries, and ordered for the condemnation of any officials who insisted on the validity of earlier works. In December 1253, he was to issue a new set of Ceremonial Regulations, ordering for minor changes in the conduct of Communion, Baptism, the Mass, and Divine Service. These included modifying the conditions governing the use of the word Alleuia, changing the number of fingers employed for touching and for anointment from three to two, and providing precise transcriptions for the spelling of Paul, Almitis, the Angels, and the Prophets. All of these changes contributed to a building furor which was now mounting from among segments of the clergy and populace against the Pope's innovations.
- While Pope Nikon was embarking upon his program of reforms, matters with the Ivorian Revolt, and with Laurasia's connections to Hetman Khmelynstsky, continued to evolve. Throughout the early months of 1253, the Hetman continued to consolidate his position in Ivoria by launching a series of renewed offensives southwards, into the Zennethian and Galician Provinces. His forces stormed Zesia (January 7-14); New Nosauria (January 22); and Angel Hycrania (February 1-19). On March 2, 1253, Khmelynstsky obtained another victory, this time over Prince Wisnowiecki, in the Battle of Clure. From Clure, he stormed into Watson (March 7-19, 1253) and menaced the defenses of Anthony, Doris, and Frogglesworth. Though an Ivorian assault against Zennethia failed (April 1253), the Hetman did succeed in harrying Commonwealth positions in the vicinity of that star system. Stenbock fell to him on May 19, and by June 2, he was harrying the defenses of the Goldarian Shadow Worlds. Then in August 1253, Khmelynstsky instigated the Siege of Zhavnets. Zhavnets was a Galician colony (first colonized during the seventh century AH), eighty light years to the northeast of Frogglesworth. Its conquest would give the Ivorian rebel forces a avenue from which to assault Volodormia, which had until this point remained out of their power. The Hetman, however, found the Siege to be more difficult than he realized. Ivorian forces, although successfully circumvallating the system, failed to cut off its communication lines, and could not penetrate through outer defenses.
- The Siege of Zhavnets dragged on for over four months, as the garrison of the world, commanded by General Stefan Czarniecki (1199-1265), who had been one of Hetman Kalinowski's chief field subordinates, successfully resisted all rebel assaults and maintained their defensive positions. During the course of that time, Commonwealth forces recovered Watson, Zesia, Angel Hycrania, and New Nosauria, thereby reversing the Ivorian Hetman's line of advance. It was on December 16, 1253, that Khmelynstsky was finally forced to terminate the siege and to retreat back towards Ergeme. Nevertheless, he managed to maintain his grip over the Ivorian Provinces, and Czarniecki found that he was completely incapable of launching effective counteroffensives against the Hetman. During those same months also, King Artabanus of Laurasia finally came to the definitive resolution that an intervention in the Ivorian Revolt, on the behalf of the Hetman and his forces, and against the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, would be in his interests. In October 1253, the King had summoned the Consultative Assembly to meet again. The Assembly, by this point, was overwhelmingly in favor of commencing hostilities with Polonia, and on November 2, it sent a petition to Artabanus, urging him to take action on the matter as soon as possible. Artabanus decided to heed their advice, and on November 17, he sent a communique to Hetman Khmelynstsky, offering to open negotiations with him over the possibility of a Laurasian protectorate for Ivoria, and Laurasian intervention in the war. Khmelynstsky hastened to accept, indicating his willingness to hold negotiations five days later.
- On December 1, the King dispatched an special embassy from Laurasia Prime, led by Prince-General Butalarania, whose health was entering a severe decline by this point. Butalarania himself, however, had insisted upon the mission, and Artabanus had not demurred. The embassy proceeded at a gradual pace; on the King's orders, it was not to be given any special distinctions, and it was to conduct its travels discreetly, so as to not arouse any undue attention. Artabanus still pretended to be on friendly terms with the Commonwealth, and in a note of December 10, 1253, even assured King Joh'saw that he harbored no ill-will or evil intentions against his dominions. This, however, was a lie. The Special Embassy crossed the boundary of the Central Core on December 14, and on December 19, it finally reached Ivoria. There, it was received with secrecy by Hetman Khmelynstsky, who nevertheless commanded that the Laurasian emissaries be treated with all of the respect and honor due to their rank. Butalarania was impressed with the Hetman from the first, and believed that he was someone whom Laurasia could depend on. Actual negotiations, however, would not commence until the next year.
- 1254, the 54th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia now engaged in secretive negotiations with the rebel Ivorian Hetmanate over the possibility of intervention in the Ivorian Revolt. On January 18, 1254, Hetman Khmleynstsky summoned a session of the Ivorian High Council to the Warriors' Palace. The Council, in addition to its thirty normal members ("Councilors"), also included the Hetmanate's chief military commanders, diplomatic representatives, and civil officials. By summoning this council, Khmelynstsky hoped to impress upon his Laurasian guests the unity and strength of the Ivorian species. He also underlined this in his speech to the Council, emphasizing both the glory of the Ivorian species and the need of seeking Laurasian protection. At this, the members of the Council responded with applause and consent, and left it to the Hetman's discretion to negotiate the necessary terms. Two days later, he formally commenced discussions with Prince-General Butalarania. These discussions lasted for nearly two weeks, as the Laurasians and Ivorians ironed out the exact terms of their agreement. Finally, on February 11, 1254, the Treaty of Ivoria was signed. Ratified by the Hetman and the Ivorian High Council the day that it was signed, it would be ratified by King Artabanus on March 13.
- By the terms of this treaty, the Ivorian Hetmanate, recognized as independent of the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, now became a protectorate of the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia. The Royal Laurasian Government agreed to recognize the autonomy of the Hetmanate. The Hetman, Khmelynstsky, was recognized as the head of government and head of state of his dominions. He and the Council were to exercise authority over all of the Hetmanate's internal affairs. The cap on the number of registered Ivorians, now to be considered as such within the Hetmanate, was lifted. The existence of the Ivorian Sacred Order was guaranteed, and it was confirmed as the official state church of the Ivorian Provinces. The Hetman remained commander-in-chief of the Ivorian Forces, though he was not to decide foreign policy. All foreign policy and defense matters now became the responsibility of his suzerain, the King of Laurasia. No treaties were to be signed by the Hetman without the consent of the King, nor any alliances or commitments entered into. Ivorian Forces were to be placed at the disposal of Laurasia whenever it was required; the King gained the right to free transit through Ivorian territories for his forces, the right to station garrisons at Ivorian strongholds, and the right to intervene in Ivorian domestic affairs, particularly to quell challenges to his or the Hetman's authority, when necessary. He also agreed to protect the Hetmanate against all outside threats; all enemies of Ivoria were to be enemies of Laurasia, and vice versa. The existence of the Ivorian Hetmanate was now formalized; it was to remain a protectorate, first of the Stellar Kingdom, and then of the Laurasian Empire, until 1364.
- The Treaty of Ivoria now paved the way to the outbreak of war between Laurasia and Polonia. King Joh'saw, when he learned of the Treaty's conclusion, was outraged, and declared himself enraged at the perfidy of the Laurasian power. The Polonian Parliament was not then in session, but the King issued orders, on May 1, 1254, to call it to order. Because the previous session had been dissolved, elections were necessary to select the Dietary delegates; it was not until June 2, 1254, that this process was completed. Joh'saw now pressed the Parliament to issue a declaration of war against Laurasia. Parliament, however, still believing that a peaceful settlement was possible, and aware of the Commonwealth's weakened internal situation (due to the Revolt, to social disturbances, and to the ongoing Meredian Rebellion in Donguaria), decided instead to send a ultimatum to King Artabanus (June 11, 1254). The King of Laurasia, however, ignored this ultimatum, and had by this point completed his preparations for war.
- Prince-General Butalarania had died at Murphy on April 29, 1254, while making his return back to Laurasia Prime. The King, deprived of the services of the conqueror of Kelvania and Morgania, now placed Princes Cherkassia, Seleucus Odaneria (1202-65), and Honorius Khovankia (1210-82) in command of the intended offensives into the Central Core. Artabanus now envisioned the final conquest of Clancia, which his father and grandfather had failed to accomplish two decades earlier; the subjection of Melarnaria, Marshia, Teth, Evelyn, Ruthania, Goldaria, Carina, and Seejay Prime (in effect, the whole of the Central Core besides the Ivorian Provinces), and penetrative moves into the Galician Provinces, to secure the Laurasian protectorate over Ivoria. Thanks to the vigorous military reforms of the past two decades, the Royal Laurasian Forces were now far more prepared for conflict against Polonia than they had been previously, and they sought to take advantage of their tactical advantages. With the support of the Ivorians, moreover, Artabanus expected to make far more substantial progress against the Commonwealth. Finally (July 1, 1254), the King of Laurasia issued a formal declaration of war against Polonia-Donguaria from the Celestial Palace on Laurasia Prime. In his declaration of war, the King declared that it was necessary to provide for the "continued maintenance of the balance of power" by providing for the autonomous status of Ivoria, and by recovering all Laurasian territories in the Central Core, which had been lost to Polonia at the end of the Time of Troubles.
- Soon after his declaration of war, Laurasian forces pushed into the Central Core. The Laurasian-Polonian War of 1254-67, also to become known as the War of the Polonian Deluge, had commenced. From the first, the Stellar Kingdom made significant gains. Treoshia was the first to fall (July 2-7, 1254), followed in short order by Dramis (July 9), Condtella (July 12), and Brithium (July 14-15). On July 18, 1254, the Battle of Gatty ended in a decisive victory for the forces of Prince Cherkassia, who captured 150,000 Polonian Hussars. At the same time, Hetman Khmelynstsky seized Constancia (July 10-13, 1254), and secured his control of Stenbock, thereby hampering Polonian supply and communication lines through the Goldarian Worlds, and to the Galactic Center. Reoyania was besieged by a Laurasian force, beginning on July 23, and fell into Prince Cherkassia's hands on August 5. Then on August 11, 1254, Clancia itself was besieged by the Prince's forces. Yet the Laurasian position at Clancia was endangered so long as the Great Hetman of the Central Core, Prince Janusz Radziwill (1612-55), held control of Harmony, thirty light-years to the west. On August 18, Prince Cherkassia advanced against Harmony's defenses, and within a short time, he had forced Radziwill to retreat from the stronghold, yielding it to Laurasian occupation. On August 22, Prince Khovankia defeated Radziwill in the Battle of Brixum; nearly one-third of the Polonian Prince's elite troops were captured or killed in that confrontation, and thirty Izwill-class ion disruptors fell into Laurasian hands. On September 9, Radziwill was defeated again in the Battle of Sheveria. With this defeat, the defenses of Clancia were now completely exposed to the Laurasian onslaught. Clancia capitulated on September 23, 1254, marking a major triumph for the Laurasians. From Clancia, Laurasian forces stormed Tunga (September 29-October 8, 1254), and on October 17, Radziwill was defeated again at Huma. The bases of the Drixus Nebula then gradually fell into Laurasian hands (November 1254), and on December 2, Hydapses was seized by a Laurasian expeditionary force. Haudjrau followed on December 14. Basow and Krajne were then overrun (December 18-21, 1254), and on Ascentmas Day, 1254, Nurdas also fell into Laurasian hands. Narisces and Risa I were besieged, beginning on the last day of 1254.
- While Laurasian offensives were underway into the Polonian Central Core, Pope Nikon's reforms on Laurasia Prime reached a new stage. The Clarification Commission presented its final recommendations to the Pope on July 14, 1254. These recommendations recommended comprehensive revisions or redactions of more than 3,000 manuscripts and official works of the Church, the elimination of 1,000 from the church liturgical and academic services, and the creation of a common Dossier, with annotations and references, to clarify theological and divine services, and to provide an overall outline of all the sources used. Nikon followed these, and by October 1254, the Papal Chancellory had completed the Dossier of Services of the Royal Almitian Church. On October 16, the Pope summoned a special session of the Conference of Almitian Prelates. Through a series of motions and regulations, issued during October and November 1254, the Conference confirmed Nikon's textual and service reforms; authorized the official publication of the Dossier; and anathematized any who challenged the Pope's innovations. Moreover, it ordered for the removal of all icons, objects, and church decorations found to be contradictory to the revised services. This program, instigated in November 1254, would not be completed until 1256. On December 11, the Pope also issued a revised Register of Church Veneration through the Conference, and ordered the revision of the Church List of Forbidden Materials. By the end of 1254, therefore, Nikon's reforms had been officially enshrined by the Church.
- 1255, the 55th year of the thirteenth century, began with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia's campaigns into the Central Core proceeding in due order. On January 8, 1255, Goss Beacon was attacked by Prince Cherkassia. In spite of the efforts of Hetman Radziwill and of the Garrison Commander, Sausz Kladziwill (1199-1258), the world fell into Laurasian hands ten days later. From Goss Beacon, Laurasian forces quickly subdued Pelleaeon (January 12-19), Natasi (January 24), and Daala (February 7-15). On February 24, Ivorian and Laurasian forces had direct contact with each other at Constancia, thereby establishing a coordinated line of operations. Radziwill now launched a counteroffensive into the Clancian Provinces, seeking to break the Laurasian momentum. He managed to reconquer Harmony (March 1-7, 1255), harried the bases of the Drixus Nebula, and on March 22, humiliated Prince Odaneria in the Battle of Nersices. On April 1, he defeated Odaneria again at Dramis, briefly reconquering that stronghold. The Polonian momentum did not last for long, however. Narisces finally fell into Laurasian hands (April 4, 1255), and on April 11, Prince Cherkassia ended Radziwill's counteroffensive in the Battle of Brithium. He then reconquered Harmony in turn (April 15, 1255), and on April 21, stormed the defenses of Ruthania. Evelyn and Hannah succumbed to Laurasian forces in May 1255; on May 19, moreover, Prince Khovankia distinguished himself in the Battle of N'zoth, defeating a superior Polonian force through use of circular assaults and subterfuge. Williams was firmly in Laurasian hands by May 29, and on June 5, the Siege of Melarnaria commenced. Melarnaria too, ultimately fell on June 14, 1255. Ecreutus (June 19), Pearl (June 20), Pasquarillo (June 22), Paradine (June 23-25), Palimisiano (June 27); and Teth (June 29-July 5) followed. Simultaneously, Mommica was stormed by a Laurasian force (June 24-29, 1255), and by the beginning of July, Goldaria had been cut off.
- Yet now, with this series of Laurasian successes in the Central Core, the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth was confronted with another, even more formidable challenge: that of the Celestial Kingdom of Briannia. During the course of the past quarter-century, Briannia had consolidated itself as a leading power within the Core Regions, through its triumphs in the Great Barsarian War. Indeed, by the middle of the thirteenth century, the picture in the Outer Galactic Regions was much changed. These changes had taken place within the context of the Great Barsarian War (which brought with it the collapse of the Devianiani Confederacy and the Kingdom of Alexandria); the disintegration and collapse of the Kingdoms of Halegothica and Kuevia, with the Huntite Caliphate, Rudorite Kingdom of Kimania, and Kingdom of Jageronia asserting themselves over the former, and the Neo-Venasian Consortium projecting itself into the territories of the latter; and the final fall of the Homidinian Khanate to the Rashanian Mellorites, who also overran Armania and the Halegothican territories of the Burglais Arm.
- The first to be explored is the Great Barsarian War. Following the conclusion of the Treaty of Monderon, it seemed as if the Confederate Kingdom of Melorkia under Childebert I, and his ally, the Kingdom of Jarjanica under Rechila II, were predominant. However, the success of the Melorkian-Jarjanican forces had aroused the mortal fear of King Gu'starai Adol'phac of Briannia. The King of Briannia, who had acquired parts of the Horacian Provinces from the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth as a result of the Treaty of Altmark (1229), signed the same year as that of Monderon, now saw intervention in the Great Barsarian War as a means of extending Briannian prestige and influence. The King was also encouraged by the pleas of the exiled King of Manorsia, Fre'dakh of the Devianiani, and by King Godomar of Alexandria. Securing the aid of the Briannian Rikstag, and leaving his trusted Chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, in charge of government affairs on Briannia, Gu'starai, from August 1229 to July 1230, prepared his military forces for an invasion of the Crimeanian Provinces, which had been conquered by Clovis in 1186, and which Briannia had long eyed.
- It was on July 4, 1230, that the King of Briannia issued a declaration of war against Jarjanica and Melorkia, and launched his invasion of the Crimeanian Provinces. He was aided by the fact that King Childebert, having fallen out with his commander-in-chief, Albrech't Wallansgad, had dismissed him from his service two months prior to the commencement of the invasion. Consequently, Gu'starai was able to advance over overstretched, unprepared Melorkian garrisons. During the course of the next two years, he obtained a series of military successes over the Melorkians and the Jarjanicans. The Battles of Crimean IV (1230), Hooper (1230), Acamaria (1230), Cadaria (1230), and Brietenfield (1231), all stood out as decisive victories for the King of Briannia. At the same time, Alexandrian and Devianiani forces under Fre'dakh penetrated back into the territories of the occupied Confederacy, recovering Beverly Hereidu, Winehouse, Woolestone, Armenia Major, Cal, Simon, Morley, and Stahl. By January 1232, they had also seized Harrison, Preena, and Novina from the Jarjanican forces. By November 1232, King Gu'starai had also occupied Drennan, Sanegeta, and Chappelle, and his forces were penetrating into the territories of Upper Melorkia, threatening Algaica Belguica, Merovech, and Tournacia. King Childebert, who was suffering from this string of military reverses, recalled Wallansgad to his service. The Melorkian General now clashed with the Briannians at Kentaborn (November 6, 1232). The ensuing battle ended in a decisive Briannian victory, but King Gu'starai was killed. He was now succeeded to the Briannian throne by his daughter Christana (r. 1232-54, not to be confused with the Venasian Queen Mother of virtually the same name), who was only five years old at the time of her father's death. The regency of the Briannian State was taken over by Chancellor Oxenstierna, Gu'starai's loyal and long-time servant, who proved to be a vigorous and energetic leader, sustaining the Briannian war effort.
- For a year after the King's death, the Briannian momentum continued; Algaica Belguica, Merovech, and Tournacia were all in the Kingdom's hands by March 1233. Briannian forces soon penetrated to the Borderlands Territories, overrunning Matthew, West, Mirohassani, Jennings, Thelma, Tea, Baiteman, Tahon, and Bryce in a series of coordinated moves with their Alexandrian and Devianiani allies. King Childebert grew increasingly frustrated with General Wallansgad, and in February 1234, the General was assassinated by one of his agents. Ironically, following Wallansgad's death, the tide turned to the favor of the Melorkian-Jarjanican Coalition. King Rechila defeated a Briannian-Alexandrian force at the First Battle of Allen (September 5-6, 1234), and in due order recovered Harrison, Preena, and Novina. Jarjanican forces were soon attacking Skye I, Meridu, Sharon Alfonsi, Hamackai Barka, Stewart, Beatrice, and Trieste, overrunning all of these strongholds by the end of the year. Kentaborn, Merovech, and the strongholds of the Borderlands Territories also had to be abandoned by the Briannians, and Melorkian forces launched penetrative raids to as far as Bartello and Kingpin. In May 1235, Fre'dakh was captured by Jarjanican forces and was forced to sign the Treaty of Morley, by which he renounced his claims to the Manorsian throne and recognized Melorkian jurisdiction over the Devianiani. Briannia, however, refused to recognize this agreement. So did Ashlgothia, which was alarmed by its terms. King Amalaric had died in June 1231 while fighting the allied forces of Merlita and the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth at Nicole and Sejucia. His Melorkian wife, Queen Consort Clotilde, followed her husband in death just three months later.
- Amalaric was succeeded by the former ceremonial sword-bearer of Theodoric the Great, Theudis (1170-1248), who had acted as his master's agent in Ashlgothia, and had continued to remain prominent in Ashlgothian affairs following Amalaric's assumption of full authority in August 1226. Theudis, again like his late master, was strongly opposed to Melorkia, and believed that unless its power were checked, it would eventually threaten the very independence of Ashlgothia itself. By January 1235, having concluded the Nicolan War with Merlita and Polonia-Donguaria on the basis of the status quo ante bellum, Theudis was able to turn his attention to events in the Barsar Regions. That month, he concluded the Treaty of Allison with the Briannian Government, pledging to provide financial aid and diplomatic support to the Briannian-Alexandrian cause. The treaty had also stipulated that neither Briannia nor Alexandria would make peace with Melorkia and Jarjanica without Ashlgothian approval. In the aftermath of the Battle of Allen and the conclusion of the Treaty of Morley, Briannia's ability to continue the war seemed doubtful, and Theudis now decided to enter it directly. In August 1235, Ashlgothia declared war against Melorkia; this would be followed up by another declaration, against Jarjanica, in January 1236. Initial Ashlgothian offensives into the Borderlands Territories, to Beverly Hereidu, and against Khagia proved to be largely indecisive.
- In March 1236, the Treaty of Shiloh established a formal military alliance between Briannia, Ashlgothia, and Alexandria. But in June of that year, Melorkian and Jarjanican forces, under Rechila and Melorkian General Chlothar of Riparia, launched an intensive invasion of Ashlgothia itself. Leslie, Larkin, Nandia, Greg, Warren, Sanger, Jeopardy, Gigi, Sejak, and Vanna were all overrun by the coalition forces, from June to October 1236, and they penetrated as far as Ashlgothia Minor and Trebek. In October, Briannian forces won the Battle of Xxi, but this did little to relieve the pressure on the Ashlgothians. But in January 1237, King Theudis won the Battle of Ashlgothian White, and he recovered Gigi, Sejak, Vanna, and Jeopardy in due order. In April 1237, King Childebert I of Melorkia, whose desire to secure his rule over all of his father's realms had instigated the war, died on Melorkia Prime. He was succeeded to the throne by his son Childebert II. Childebert's accession was remarkably unchallenged, and he was determined to revive Melorkian fortunes.
- Between April 1237 and June 1240, fighting continued unabated among the adversaries: Ashlgothian and Melorkian forces clashed constantly in the Allisonian, Nandian, and Cyrian Regions; Cambrina, Resmania, and Obathia were conquered by the Briannians, who also sent expeditions into the Roastafarian Provinces; and at Anastasia Major, the Anastasian Nationalists of Prince Culia announced (July 1238), their rebellion against the Kingdom of the Alexandrians. The rebels quickly gained control of Hospallia Major, Anastasia Minor, Caesearea, Angela Masia, Borgia, Meridu, and Tiesting, seriously weakening the Alexandrian war effort. Then, from June 16 to August 9, 1240, Ashlgothian forces conquered Cyrus III, Roastafaria Minor, and Dumbgwita from the Melorkians in a series of hard-fought offensives. This marked the definitive swing of the war to the advantage of the Ashlgothians. In December 1240, Lesia Major and Lesia Minor, occupied by the Jarjanicans, erupted in revolt under the leadership of Pudlana (1200-66); seeking to weaken the Jarjanican position, King Theudis quickly recognized the independence of the Great Kingdom of Lesia. The Ashlgothians and Briannians now embarked upon a series of major campaigns through the Borderlands Territories and the rest of Lower Melorkia; Khagia, Matthews, West, Mirohassani, Tea, Jennings, Thelma, Emily Deustiania, Brooke One, Woolestone, Winehouse, Armenia Major, and Tolbiac all fell into allied possession between January 1241 and April 1243. In October 1242, the Briannian victory (under Field Marshal Lennart Torstenson) in the Battle of Benztir V secured their control of the Crimeanian Provinces; then in April 1243, the Battle of Rocroi saw a smashing Ashlgothian victory over the Jarjanicans and Melorkians at Harrison. Preena, Plath, Skold, Jarman, Heather, Novina, and Bidsell all fell into Ashlgothian hands by July 1244; most Jarjanican territories at the outlet of the Denveranian Trunk Line, and near the Wild Marshes, were now in their hands.
- By 1245, with the Second Battle of Allen, fought in May of that year, resulting in a Pyrrhic Ashlgothian victory, and with economic pressures building for both Melorkia and Ashlgothia alike, to say nothing of Jarjanica and Briannia, it was clear that the war was drawing to a close. By that point also, the Kingdom of Alexandria had been effectively overthrown; King Godomar was captured and killed at Brennan by the Anastasians and Lesians in January 1245, and by April 1247, with the destruction of the last Alexandrian holdout at Rixcelis II, the Neo-Anastasian Empire and Great Kingdom of Lesia had been restored. It was in September 1245, that negotiations commenced at Courtney, among the warring powers, in order to bring an end to the war; Ashlgothia and Briannia agreed to acknowledge the independence of Lesia and Anastasia as an accepted fact, and they were invited to the conference in August 1247. For nearly three years, negotiations dragged on, as numerous disputes poisoned the discussions. In June 1248, King Theudis of Ashlgothia was assassinated by some of his guards, and was succeeded to the throne by his general officer Theudigisel. This, however, did not halt the conference. Finally, on October 24, 1248, the Treaty of Courtney was signed. Ratified by all powers by the end of November 1248, it established a new order along much of the Kimanian Trade Run, and in the Barsar Regions.
- The Treaty of Courtney's main beneficiary was the Celestial Kingdom of Briannia. Briannia now acquired the whole of the Crimeanian Provinces (with Crimean IV, Nathaniel, Sanegeta, Chapelle, Drennan, Brittany, George, Osriana, Hooper, Eutagia, Acamaria, Benztir V, Osiana, Ogla, and Meris V), in addition to the systems of Winehouse and Woolestone, which now became known as the Briannian Barsarian Enclaves. Briannia also became the protector of the Duchy of Trieste and Beatrice, which had emerged in 1246 during the collapse of the Kingdom of Alexandria, and had also been involved in the latter stages of the conference. Through these acquisitions, the Briannian Empire (as it was informally labeled), now projected its power from the Core Regions, down to the Kimanian Trade Run, and into the Barsar Regions. This made it one of the most formidable states in the Caladarian Galaxy. Ashlgothia too, made territorial acquisitions: it obtained hold of the Borderlands Territories, thereby bringing Matthew, West, Mirohassani, Tea, Thelma, Jennings, Kane, Baiteman, Bryce, Tahon, Emma, Imma, Courtney, and Kathryn under its control. Jarjanica was restored to its pre-1218 territorial status, but was obliged to pay a substantial financial indemnity to both Briannia and Ashlgothia. The independence of the Great Kingdom of Lesia (controlling most of the former Devianiani territories) and of the Neo-Anastasian Empire (in place of Alexandria) was acknowledged. Childebert II's rights as sole King of Melorkia were guaranteed. Full economic and diplomatic relations were to be restored among all powers, and prisoners of war exchanged.
- The conclusion of the Treaty of Courtney thereby brought an end to the Great Barsarian War. But beyond those regions, troubles remained elsewhere. Kuevia and Halegothica were, in the course of those troubles, destroyed. The fate of Kuevia must be analyzed first. King Hilderic, who had ruled over Kuevia since 1223, had managed to restore Kuevian jurisdiction over the Hookiee and Vickian Worlds (1226), a result of King Hilderic's War, which had been the last conflict of Theodoric the Great's reign. Hilderic himself maintained peaceful relations with the Homidinian Khanate, and he pursued no further territorial ambitions. However, his favoritism towards the Venasian Consortium of Queen Mother Christiana, as seen by his agreement to the Treaty of Temperance (1228), in which he granted Venasia "favored-nation" status, and by his demilitarization of Way'tosk, Borenraz, and Martina Sirtis, eventually aroused the fierce opposition of the Kuevian nobility. This opposition was rallied at Shenandoah (Kuevia Prime) by the King's cousin twice removed, Prince Gelimer (1180-1253). On June 9, 1230, Gelimer led a conspiracy against the King, which resulted in his overthrow. Gelimer now imprisoned Hilderic and his associates at Boydaria (Hilderic would die there in August 1233, murdered on Gelimer's orders), revoked the Treaty of Temperance, and declared that he stood first and foremost, for the interests of his Kuevian subjects.
- Queen Mother Christiana, having extricated herself from the Great Barsarian War, was enraged by this, and in September 1230, she had issued an ultimatum to the Kuevian Court of Shenandoah, demanding Hilderic's restoration and that of the Treaty of Temperance. Gelimer refused to oblige by her demands, and in January 1231, expelled Generaless Eetheia, who had become the Queen Mother's Ambassador to his court. Christiana now conceived the idea of an invasion of the Kingdom of Kuevia, so as to extend Venasian power across the Middle Territories, and thereby compensate for her failures in the Barsar Regions. In May 1231, Venasia launched its invasion, and the Venasian-Kuevian War commenced. During the course of the next three years, Venasian forces made steady and sustained gains, gradually subduing Temperance, Way'tosk, Bor'say, Par'say, Mariana Sirtis, Borenraz, On'diray, Bacturis Invictis, Deborah, Wayne, Grand Junction, Jonathania, Boydaria, Deschanel, and Zooey. In September 1233, Venasian forces under Generaless Eetheia breached the defenses of Shenandoah and took possession of the world; they subdued Majoria Schall in January of the following year. In January 1234, the Venasian victory in the Battle of Griffith resulted in the annihilation of virtually the entire Kuevian force; the Kuevian Navy was now virtually non-existent. Two months later, at Pooch (March 1234), Gelimer surrendered to the Queen Mother, aware that further resistance was futile.
- Christiana now declared Gelimer deposed from his throne, proclaimed herself Queen of Kuevia, and had him transferred to imprisonment at Phyllis (July 1234). Gelimer would remain there until his death in September 1253. By October, Nottingham and Fats had also fallen under Venasian control. But the Venasian Queen Mother found that she could not assert her dominion over all of Kuevia's former territories. This was seen in April 1235, when Artavasdes (1200-77), Melanite Posuh (Prince) of Ruthelaine, announced the formation of the Kingdom of Melanie Major. By 1238, he had secured control of that world, and of Morrison, Ardahat, Pailbirth, Kathanovich, Ardahat, Endaker, Burdaker, and Floriana. Christiana now engaged in a vigorous struggle with King Artavasdes, attempting to break his resistance. The King of Melanie, however, receiving covert financial and diplomatic aid from Briannian Chancellor Oxenstierna, was more then capable of resisting her, and scored a major victory with his capture of Nottingham (January 19, 1240). He then humiliated Christiana at Deborah (February 4, 1240), and proceeded to subdue Toni, Volorum, Resnatia, Fats, Rhandeia, Griffith, and Boydaria (March 1240-December 1241).
- In July 1242, the Hookiee leader Pafful Baffoo (r. 1242-69), establishing himself on Hoohshikk, proclaimed himself Patriarch of the Hookiee Confederacy. Hookiee forces quickly secured control of Predosur, Mytaranor, Transdosha, Whoppi, Goldberg, Hasselbeck, Shepherd, Beharis, Walters, Tyria, and Kara (July 1242-January 1243), and in April 1243, Pafful Baffoo signed the Treaty of Herrera with King Artavasdes, forming a common military alliance against the Neo-Venasian Consortium. Matters were worsened for Venasia when in December 1243, the Briannian Rikstag, on Chancellor Oxenstierna's urging, issued a declaration of war against the Queen Mother. Briannian forces under Field Marshal Lennart Tortensson (1203-51) then invaded the Decapolian Provinces; Decapolia Minor, Uber-Commerce, and Agac were in Briannian hands by April 1244, and on June 7, Tortensson humiliated Lady Executrix Malia (1203-74) in the Battle of Cole. In August 1244, Briannia joined the Treaty of Herrera; Aflac, Podrac, and Decapolia Major then fell into Briannian hands, and on October 7, Malia was defeated again in the Battle of Aso. By that time, Shenandoah and Majoria Schall had fallen into the hands of Hookiee-Melanite forces. By April 1245, Hannis, Colla, Ka, Organia, and Permi were also in Briannian hands. Under pressure from two fronts, Queen Mother Christiana now recognized the futility of continuing the war effort, and requested for negotiations. A conference was opened at Desulima, where (August 13, 1245), the Treaty of Desulima was signed.
- By the terms of this treaty, the Celestial Kingdom of Briannia acquired the Decapolian Provinces (Decapolia Major, Decapolia Minor, Agac, Aflac, Podrac, Uber-Commerce, and Aso), and was allowed to temporarily occupy Hannis, Permi, and Colla for a period of ten years (to conclude September 1, 1255). Christiana now acknowledged the independence of both the Hookiee Confederacy and the Kingdom of Melanie Major, along with the respective territories which they had occupied. Shenandoah and Majoria Schall were restored to Venasia, whose authority over Temperance, Way'tosk, and the Millian Home Regions was also recognized. Venasia, therefore, managed to retain hold of part of the former Kuevian territories; Christiana, moreover, was permitted to continue styling herself as Queen of Kuevia. The Treaty of Desulima maintained peace between Briannia and Venasia for the following twelve years. Christiana, who was hurt by the loss of Decapolia to Briannia, and by her failure to obtain control of all Kuevia, entered a severe decline in health during the last 2.5 years of her reign. Her daughter, 38-year old Princess Kendura (she had been born in 1209), now assumed increasing responsibility for the affairs of the state; in April 1247, her mother made her Chairwoman of the Venasian Council of High Ones. In August 1247, at Maxiliana, the Queen Mother suffered a severe stroke, which rendered her partly incapacitated. She was now confined to the Fountain Palace on Venasia Major, and experienced a series of minor strokes into January 1248. Finally, on February 28, 1248, Christiana I died, aged 70, after having reigned over the Neo-Venasian Consortium for fifty-nine years, having held effective authority for fifty-two of those years. Hers was the second-longest reign of any Venasian Queen Mother (surpassed only by Kalamania I, r. 372-00 BH, who had reigned for seventy-two years, and died at the age of 99), and the longest of any Queen Mother in the Hyperdrive Era. Her daughter now became Kendura I of Venasia (r. 1248-70).
- Just as with Kuevia, the collapse of Halegothica produced a new geopolitical picture. Following the death of Theodoric the Great in August 1226, his grandson Athalaric had become King of Halegothica, aged ten. As mentioned in the General History, his mother, Princess Amalasuintha, daughter of Theodoric, had been made Regent. In November 1226, the end of King Hilderic's War had resulted in Halegothica conceding Whoppi, Goldberg, Choir, and Shephard back to the authority of Kuevia. In addition to this, the lack of a strong heir caused the network of alliances which surrounded the Halegothican state to disintegrate: Ashlgothia went its own way under Amalaric (and Theudis after 1231); relations with the Kuevians remained poor; and the Great Barsarian War disrupted Halegothican influence in the Barsar Regions. Moreover, the entry of the Rashanian Mellorites into the Homidinian Provinces, and the disruptions of the Chosorian War there, eroded the Halegothican hold over the Burglais Arm, and influence over the Kingdom of Armania. The position of predominance in the Outer Borderlands which Halegothica had enjoyed under Theodoric now dissipated. This dangerous external climate was now exacerbated by the regency's weak domestic position. Amalasuintha intended to continue her father's policies of reconciliation and union between Halegothicans, Dasians, and Huntites. To this end, she maintained diplomatic contacts with Homidinian Khan Ambaghai, negotiating the Treaty of Iego with him (August 1227), and promising to intervene on the Khanate's side in the struggle against Solidarita. This, however, did not find much favor with the Halegothican noble elites, who in addition to this, resented the idea of being ruled by a woman.
- They protested when Amalasuintha attempted to provide her son a civil education, instead demanding that he be raised as a warrior. By January 1228, the Regent was forced to desist with this idea; Athalaric now turned to a life of dissipation and excess, which would send him to a premature death. Halegothica also began to crack under economic, social, and nationalistic pressures. The Huntite Stock Exchange experienced a severe crash in April 1228; virtually all of the Kingdom's leading entrepreneurs, investors, and brokers suffered a loss of some kind. This in turn lead to contractions in the mining, manufacturing, agricultural, and navigation sectors; to the abrupt halt of colonization efforts in Morsia, Gedrosia, and the Wild Marshes; and in January 1229, to the devaluation of the Halegothican mark. Amalasuintha and her government, in 1229-30, pursued a series of vain policies, in an attempt to alleviate this economic decline. This included regulation, re-decimialization of the Halegothican currency, measures against tax fraud and peculation, and the sale of offices, as well as public properties and estates, to raise additional revenue. She also imposed elevated tariffs upon foreign products, attempting to encourage domestic manufactures within Halegothica. None of these, however, could stop the decline. Gabriella, Sheldonia, Henderson, Cox, Banks, Kimanis Mooria, Samantha, Messalina, Gardiner, Chobania, and Christopher were all hit by major civil uprisings against government garrisons (1230-32); Jasonia itself was devastated by a series of riots and natural disasters; and the Royal Household was rent by internal division.
- In November 1232, the Halegothican nobles Amalafrid, Gibal, and Godas launched at Samarkand, a major conspiracy against the Regent, hoping to depose and assassinate her, to gain possession of the King, and to obtain elevated positions of state for themselves. Amalasuintha, however, was able to suppress this conspiracy; on January 9, 1233, she had the three Princes executed at the Caroline Asteroid Belt. From February to September 1233, the Regent contended with the activities of Mackenzian, Edmundian, and Mellorite pirates, raiding bands, and criminal organizations in the Burglais Arm; with a near-fatal gamma ray disaster at Clarise, Jodie, and Northrop; and with the revolt of Brestord, Halegothican, and Rudorite colonists at Leo's Redoubt and Hutsia Major. To this was added the destruction of the Halegothican military fortifications at Morlan by the Mellorites of Abu-Bakir, and the rejection, by King Mundonus (r. 1231-40, who succeeded Trascerius in December 1231) of Armania, of Halegothican claims to overlordship (August 19, 1233). But as long as Amalaric lived, Amalasuintha had a legitimate basis for power, and continued to maintain her position. But by December 1233, her son's health was in serious decline. In January 1234, Amalasuintha appointed her cousin Theodahad (1180-1236), to be her Chamberlain; with his assistance, she was able to gain a declaration of loyalty from the Halegothican High Council (April 1234). But on October 2, 1234, King Amalaric died on Jasonia. Amalasuintha was now proclaimed Queen of Halegothica, the first and only female ruler of that realm in its history. In December 1234, however, seeking to consolidate her position, she made Theodahad her co-regent.
- Theodahad at first feigned loyalty to Amalasuintha, and professed his gratefulness to her for his position. But in reality, he was determined to assert himself as the sole King of Halegothica, and began engaging in conspiracy against her. Finally, in February 1235, he was ready to act. The High Council now declared Amalasuintha deposed from the throne, and marked her as an outlaw of the Hereditary Line. Theodahad now ordered for her to be imprisoned on Izonza. She was brought there on March 9, 1235. But just over a month later (April 14, 1235), the former Queen was suffocated to death in her private bath; Theodahad had dispatched agents to finish her off. His authority was now completely unchallenged. But Halegothica was now plunged into new troubles. As mentioned above, the Rashanian Mellorites had begun, from their strongholds along the Corporate Trade Corridor, as well as from the Galactic Void, launching expeditionary moves into the Halegothican Burglais Arm from as early as February 1233. Yet it was not until after the death of Emir Abu-Bakir (August 23, 1234), and the accession of Umar (r. 1234-44), that the Mellorites formalized their plans of invasion against Halegothica. Umar now delegated command of the forces thus assembled to Sub-Emir Mithna ibin Haris. It was in August 1235 that Sub-Emir Haris, having issued a series of ultimatums to the Court of Jasonia, and having received no satisfaction in his demands, crossed from the Corporate Trade Corridor into the Burglais Arm. Mellorite forces also ranged to the south, directed at Capone, Mocktrialis, and Greyson, which were Halegothican enclaves. Haris now secured a quick victory in the Battle of Firaz (September 9, 1235), annihilating a Halegothican force under General Godebut.
- By October 1235, Capone, Mocktrialis, Greyson, Sierra, Lizaragga, English Star, and Jacobs I had all fallen into Mellorite possession; on November 9, General Godebut obtained a temporary triumph in the Battle of the Crosses, but this only slowed the Mellorite advance, and did not halt it completely. Felix fell into Mellorite hands on November 17, and by the end of December 1235, it had been joined by Coronadia, Edmundia Major, and Edmundia Minor. Scanlan and the Corporate Sector were overrun in April 1236; Mackenzia Major followed on May 19. Lawson was conquered by a Mellorite force in June 1236. Bronson, Sheehan, and Gehring followed in July, and by October 1236, Mackenzia Minor was in danger of falling into Mellorite hands. On November 9, 1236, the Battle of Taraning ended in a decisive victory for Haris. Ian fell into his hands shortly thereafter; Mackenzia Minor was finally overrun on November 14; and by the end of December 1236, Garner was in the Mellorite possession.
- On December 15, Theodahad was assassinated at Negro, and the Halegothican Prince Vitiges was proclaimed King. Vitiges hastened to peace with the Mellorites; the Treaty of Sofia, signed in January 1237, recognized the Mellorite acquisition of the Burglais Arm and of the Kingdom of Armania, and Mellorite rights to campaign against the Homidinian Khanate. Vitiges was then confronted with a new, more serious challenge: that of the Huntites. For more than four centuries, this proud and ancient species had simmered under Dasian, Rudorite, and Halegothican dominance. But now, with Halegothica having been humiliated in the Burglais Arm, with internal and economic troubles rendering the state apart, and with the collapse of the Kingdom's prestige, they saw their opportunity. In April 1237, at Claithbourne, the Huntite Prince Mithadia of the Aranid kajidic announced his rebellion against the King, and proclaimed himself to be Caliph ("Highest Lord", a title once held by Boontha the Huntite), of Hunt. The Huntite Caliphate was therefore established. Within a short time, Mithadia secured control of the Sk'aatha Cluster, the Caroline Asteroid Belt, and Negro.
- A serious struggle now ensued within Halegothica, as Vitiges and his authorities sought to suppress this challenge to their power. But in the course of time, matters turned more and more in the favor of Mithadia and his fellow rebels. Between June 1237 and November 1239, Huntite rebel forces, bolstered by the defection of many members of the ancient nobility, by the addition of mercenaries and Huntite deserters from the Halegothican Royal Forces, and by the support given to it by agents on Hunt Major and elsewhere, made considerable gains. In November 1237, Vitiges suffered a humiliating defeat in the Battle of Timur's Star. That opened Gargonia and Jabul to the Huntites; Mithadia then conducted a successful siege of Lorna (December 9, 1237-January 7, 1238). He defeated Vitiges again at Ber Bachman (February 14, 1238), and subdued Garnett, Akamaar, and Downs within short order. Gabriella revolted in July 1238 against its Halegothican authorities, and within a short time defected to the cause of Mithadia. Hunt Minor was then stormed by him (August 12, 1238), and by November, he had also gained possession of Izzia, Pella, and Estella. In July 1239, the Battle of Izonza inflicted another serious defeat upon Vitiges' forces. In November of that year, by which time Sheldonia, Vickis, Uris, and Choir were also in Huntite hands, the Rudorite garrison of Kimania erupted in open revolt against Vitiges. They had control of Derangy, Morangy, and Kimanis Mooria by April 1240.
- Then in August 1240, King Vitiges was defeated and captured by the forces of the Huntite Caliph at Lavy. He was placed into chains and transported to the Caroline Asteroid Belt on Mithadia's orders. Vitiges remained there until his death (May 11, 1241), at the hands of his guards. Hunt Major itself was then captured by the Caliph's forces (September 9, 1240), and he was greeted with acclaim by his subjects in the star system. But the Halegothicans were not yet broken, and the High Council on Jasonia elevated Ilidbad, who had been Vitiges' second-in-command, to the Halegothican throne. Ilidabad managed to recover Sheldonia, Downs, and Estella (September 1240-January 1241), to contain Rudorite rebel forces at Kimanis Mooria, and to maintain control of Bookman in the face of Huntite offensives. In May 1241, however, he was assassinated by some of his Armane bodyguards, and succeeded to the throne by Eraric, who was elected by the Halegothican military commanders themselves. Eraric ruled for only two months, when on June 8 of that year, he too was assassinated at Dickinson, being succeeded by his general, Totila. Totila (r. 1241-52), would prove to be the last formidable King of Halegothica. He now reversed many of the gains made by the Huntites, coming close to suppressing the rebellion altogether. In December 1241, he repelled a Huntite move against Clarise, and by April 1242, had recaptured Kimania and Leo's Redoubt. He then cleared Derangy, Morangy, and Karangy of Rudorite forces, suppressed a uprising on Leo's Redoubt, and recovered Gabriella in a surprise offensive. From there, Totila reconquered Izonza (June 9, 1242), and received the renewed allegiance of the vassal King of Jageronia, Waltari (r. 1239-46); in 1236, Jageronia had rejected Halegothican overlordship.
- Rolle, Haset, Narra, Christopher, and Gilestis then became scenes to confrontations between Totila and Mithadia, all of which Totila won (July-November 1242). He then proceeded to reconquer Samarkand and Hunt Minor (December 14, 1242), defeated Mithadia again at Akamaar (January 7, 1243), and then cleared Huntite units from Little Maurya, Amira, Ashanti, and Dovani (February 1243). Claithbourne was then besieged, falling into the Halegothican King's hands in July of that year. By the middle of 1244, Totila had secured Halegothican authority over the Jasonian Regions, Gedrosia, Maurya, and the lower Kimanian Trade Run, and had made gains into central Hunt. Mithadia now dispatched his chief general, Aoontha, against Totila. The two clashed at Jeanne, Meredith, Iego, Xander, and in the OsonBoka Nebula during the course of the next two years, with Totila holding the general advantage, and in April 1246, the King of Halegothica even sacked the outskirts of Hunt Major itself. By 1249, when Hunt Major's outskirts were sacked a second time, Totila had managed to recover control of all but the Hunt Home Region, the Vickian Worlds, and the Electronics Worlds. But during 1250 and 1251, Totila was again distracted by Rudorite, Kimanian, and Morsian rebellions in the Barsar Regions and to the southeast, allowing Mithadia to recover his position. By November 1251, Huntite forces had recovered Akamaar, Samarkand, and Hunt Minor, and during the next few months, they advanced to Northrop, Clarise, and Jodie. Totila, having again asserted Halegothican authority elsewhere, now clashed with General Aoontha and Caliph Mithadia in the Battle of Taginae (July 2, 1252). The result was a decisive Huntite victory; Totila himself was mortally wounded, and died shortly after the battle.
- With the death of Totila, the Halegothicans lost their resolve. Kimania revolted yet again, under the Rudorite General Buntha (August 1252); Buntha now proclaimed himself King of Kimania, and by January 1253, he had secured control of all the chief strongholds of the lower Kimanian Trade Run, down to Leo's Redoubt. In October 1252, King Audoin of Jageronia again asserted his kingdom's complete independence, and seized control of Iego, Jeanne, and Brenda. That same month, Totila's successor, Teia, was decisively defeated by Mithadia in the Battle of Horne. Jodie, Clarise, Northrop, and Horne itself now fell into Huntite hands; Little Maurya and Gedrosia Max followed in November 1252, and on December 9, so did Estella. Henderson, Cox, Banks, Filorean, Newman Victoria, and Nikki Lowell were then subdued in January 1253, and on February 7, Teia was defeated again at Ozagardana. He was finally captured at Grumman's Star on April 19, 1253, and executed on Mithadia's orders four days later. Jasonia was besieged beginning on May 1; its fall (June 12, 1253), virtually completed the destruction of the Kingdom of Halegothica. For the next nine years, however, Mithadia continued to contend with Halegothican factions and bands in Upper Maurya, Gedrosia, and throughout the Wild Marshes. It was not until 1262, with the capture at Veliky of Halegothican Prince Widin (1210-62) in July of that year, that all Halegothican resistance ceased. Mithadia himself continued to rule over the Caliphate until his death on June 17, 1268, and was succeeded by his son Phradia I.
- The curtains too, fell on the Homidinian Khanate in the year 1253. It's fall came at the hands of the Rashanian Mellorites, who had occupied some of the strongholds of the Corporate Trade Corridor and Dasian Heartland, beginning in 1228 with the Treaty of Zoe. Muhammad continued to rule as Emir of the Rashanians until his death (June 8, 1232), at Houston. He had then been succeeded by Abu-Bakr, who ruled until his own death in August 1234. Umar (1234-44) then followed him to the Rashanian throne. It was under Umar that the power of the Rashanian Mellorite Emirate, which became the Rashanian Empire in July 1236, expanded considerably. Umar directed the conquest of the Halegothican Burglais Arm, Corporate Trade Corridor, and Mocktralian Enclaves in 1235-37, as already described. In January 1236, he instigated the invasion of the Homidinian Khanate, taking advantage of the Lacian Rebellions, which had taxed the energies and the attention of Khan Ambaghai. The Battle of McDowell (August 9, 1236), was a particularly significant victory for the Mellorites, and by November of that year, they had overrun Englestrom, Sonny, Dromund, Kacee, Shaelynn, Chalassion, Alyssa, and Halassion. In January 1237, Mellorite forces pushed into the Kingdom of Armania; King Mundonus proved completely incapable of halting their offensives, and within a short time, Syr-Daria, Vandross, Tataria, Nandi Diri, and Elbing were in the Mellorite possession. These offensives were commanded by Khalid ibin Whalid (1185-1242), who became renowned as one of the leading military commanders of the thirteenth century. 1238 and 1239 witnessed the fall of Dion, Yutzy, Brlla, Elijahana, Gibbs-to-Lester, Wyatt, Homidinia Minor, and Homidinia Major into the hands of the Mellorite forces. In April 1240, King Mundonus of Armania died, and was succeeded by Elemund, who became the last King of Armania. In July 1240, he was forced to sign the Treaty of Belkadan, recognizing Mellorite overlordship. From 1239-43, the Mellorites also fought the Neo-Xilanian Empire, conquering Varta, Nandi, Calrissian, and the Marauder Colonies, harassing the Xilanian Worlds, and penetrating as far as Charlie. Xilanian Emperor Uthari III (r. 1236-55) was forced to territorial concessions at the Treaty of Bingley, signed in August 1243.
- The death of the heirless Khan Ambaghai in February 1241 left his chief general, Ogul, as the penultimate Dasian Khan in the Caladarian Galaxy. Ogul was able, in September 1242, to bring the Mellorites to the peace table. By the Treaty of Wakino, he was forced to concede the whole of the Inner Homidinian Provinces, Lacian Cluster, McDowell, and the Upper Larkian Way to the Rashanian Empire. Great King Umar, who had thereby staked out for the Mellorites a definitive empire within the Caladarian Galaxy, spent the last two years of his reign implementing reforms to his bureaucracy, digesting his conquests, and reorganizing his military forces. He died at Sierra on November 6, 1244, and was now succeeded to the throne by Uthman (r. 1244-56), who would be destined to complete the destruction of the Homidinian Khanate. For the first five years of his reign, however, Uthman continued the consolidation of his dominions, though he did launch a series of reconaissance expeditions into the territory of the Solidaritan Sultanate, and demanded further economic concessions from Xilanian Emperor Uthari (1247). Things changed however, with the sudden death of Ogul in January 1249. He was now succeeded to the throne of Homidinia by his younger brother, Talaghai (r. 1249-53), the last-ever Dasian Khan, and the last successor to Genghis Khan. At the time of his accession, the Homidinian Khanate was a shadow of itself, consisting of only Chalassia, Chalassion, Halassion, Alyssa, Markis Prime, Maxwell, the worlds of the Kledis Var, Derek, Sharman, Drake, Rutherford, Abitia, Perry, Wakino, Mir, Kara, Peters, Joseph, Curry, Kallista, Julie, Karen, Gwendolyn, Ryan, Kupferer, Dominic, Digette, and Demebezaic. Uthman, viewing the Homidinian Khanate's weakness as an opportunity, now decided to secure his rear. In November 1249, he declared war against King Elemund of Armania, and launched a series of swift operations into his territory. Sernapasia, Belkadan, and Honcharania were conquered quickly; Gonchan, Pandi Diri, and Trans-Glassia followed in January 1250. On March 7, 1250, Karakorum was besieged by the Great King's forces. Its fall two months later spelled the end of the Kingdom of Armania; Elemund himself was killed during the final stages of the siege on May 10.
- Following the final conquest of Armania, Uthman demanded the submission of Khan Talaghai to him. Talaghai had no choice, and at Kupferer (July 19, 1250), he paid homage to the Great King of Rashania. From July 1250 to November 1252, the Homidinian Khanate continued as a vassal state of the Rashanian Empire. But Talaghai simmered throughout the whole time, and he maintained contacts with both Uthari and Solidaritan Sultan Ibrahim I (r. 1248-87). It was in November that Uthman learned of these contacts, and reached the determination that it would be necessary to terminate the threat before it was too late. Having heard of the great Genghis Khan, of Ogedei, Mongke, Chomqauan, Subutai, Batya, Kublai Khan, Toghun Temur, Timur the Devastator, and Tokugaistus the Great, he now considered it proper that another barbarian, marital species extinguish the last remaining state of the race of these great progenitors. On November 24, without warning, he launched a sudden invasion of the Homidinian Khanate's remaining territories. Between November 1252 and March 1253, his forces swiftly overran all of the Khanate's chief strongholds outside of Chalassia itself. The Battle of Sharman (January 5, 1253), was a especial victory for the Mellorites. It was on April 6, 1253, that the Siege of Chalassia commenced. This siege lasted for over a month, as Talaghai and his remaining forces resisted the Mellorite invaders fiercely. It gripped the attention of the Caladarian Galaxy, as the species once subject to the Dasians, particularly the Laurasians, Polonians, Briannians, Venasians, Anastasians, Lesians, and Hookiees, watched its progress with glee. Finally (May 29, 1253), Chalassia's defenses were breached, and the system was overrun by the Mellorites. Khan Talaghai himself, refusing to surrender, died, plunging into the hordes of Mellorite troops bursting into the Great Palace. Chalassia was now comprehensively sacked on the orders of Uthman; all of its treasures were robbed, and its population scouraged. With the fall of Chalassia, the Homidinian Khanate, which had existed for some 190 years, had ceased to exist. 426 years after the death of Genghis Khan, 359 years after the death of Kublai Khan, 248 years after the death of Timur the Devastator, and 158 years after the death of Tokugaistus the Great, the last remnants of the Dasian Empire had been swept away. 29 years after the death of the last Dasian Khan, the founder of the Laurasian Empire, Seleucus the Victor, would become King of Laurasia. About three centuries later, the core territories of the former Homidinian Khanate would fall under Laurasian jurisdiction. In all, more than five centuries would pass from the final collapse of Dasian power (1253) to the final unification of the Caladarian Galaxy under Laurasia (1774). Uthman himself continued to rule until his assassination (June 17, 1256), at Taraning. During the last three years of his reign, Mellorite forces suppressed rebel sentiments throughout the Homidinian Provinces.
- The final collapse of the Dasian Empire had occurred with a Galaxy much transformed from that which had existed at the beginning of Genghis Khan's reign, more than four and a half centuries earlier. In 801, there had been fifty-nine independent states in civilized space, with only four of them (the Arachosian Confederacies, the Tof Confederates, the Torfian Kingdom of Imegina, and the Dasian Hordes themselves), being governed by species not indigenous to the Caladarian Galaxy. By 1253, there were twenty-one independent states, and more than half of them (twelve to be exact, these being the Great Kingdom of Donathia, Kingdom of Amelianian Cordania, Kingdom of Marcia, Kingdom of Nordania, Kingdom of Amelianian Lavella, Kingdom of Ashlgothia, Kingdom of Melorkia, Rudorite Kingdom of Kimania, Kingdom of Jarjarnica, Kingdom of Jageronia, Rashanian Empire of Mellorita, and the Sultanate of Solidarita) were states governed by non-native species. Of the states which had existed in AH 801, only the Kingdom of Merlita, by then the most ancient state in the Caladarian Galaxy, had maintained a completely continuous existence during the centuries of the Dasian Period. But most of the galaxy's native species (most notably the Oglamerians, Decapolians, Roastafarians, Delians, Larkianites, and Kimanians), were submerged, and many were dominated by these foreign species. The geopolitical picture of the Galaxy, consequently, was far more heterogeneous then it had been in previous centuries. In the Core Regions, for example, the native Laurasians, Polonians, Briannians, and Venasians mixed in with the immigrant Solidaritans, Melorkians, and Ashlgothians, none of whom had been present within the galaxy's confines before the middle of the eleventh century. The constant influx of barbarian species which had occurred during the first three centuries of the 2nd millennium AH had changed the galaxy's demographics, culture, and economic patterns beyond recognition, resulting in a greater intermix of races and of civilizations, with varying standards and various modes of conduct. The Dasians themselves had an indelible impact upon the Galaxy; relics of their glory, and of their military campaigns, would be spread throughout the length and breadth of space. Various rulers, whether it be Kimanian Shoguns, Laurasian Emperors, or Hookiee Patriarchs, would proclaim themselves to be following in the creed of Genghis Khan and his successors, and would compare their exploits to his exploits. The Dasian systems of social nobility, communications, military organization, and monarchical absolutism also became ingrained with many species and states (with the notable exception of the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth).
- With all of this having transpired, therefore, Briannia was now embarking upon its interventions within the Commonwealth. And as it was doing so, it had a new ruler. Queen Christana had been declared an adult in December 1244, when she had turned eighteen, and had from that point on assumed effective authority. However, she had differing policy views from that of Chancellor Oxelstierna, and there were certain conflicts between them relating to the negotiations with Venasia (at the end of the Tortensson War), and to the affairs of the Royal Council. Moreover, Christana's masculine-like behavior, her uncharacteristic manner of dress, and her preference for the arts and sciences over the cares of state further colored affairs at the Briannian Royal Court. By the beginning of 1254, the Queen's extravagance, her pettiness, and her vanity had aroused much distaste from her subjects. Christana herself, furthermore, wished to be relieved of the responsibilities of state, and to live out her life as a private noblewoman. Consequently, in February 1254 she had announced to the Royal Council, in a plain and forward manner, her intention to abdicate. Oxelstierna, whose health was by then ailing, told her that she would regret her decision, but she refused to listen. The Briannian Rikstag then discussed the implications of her abdication, and in May 1254, decided to confer upon her the Duchy of Nystadia, estates at Caroline, Jem, Dill, Boo, Finch, Atticus, Robinson, Ewell, and Harper, and an annual annuity of $123.55 billion Briannian crowns. Finally (June 6, 1254), the Queen of Briannia formally abdicated, in a ceremony held at the Royal Palace of Briannia. Her regalia was removed from her, and she was now succeeded to the throne by her cousin, who became Char'lac II Gustav (r. 1254-60).
- Christana then made her leave from Briannia, and within a few days, Char'lac was formally crowned King of Briannia. The new King, who was an ambitious and intriguing figure, now turned his eyes upon the Commonwealth. King Joh'saw of Polonia-Donguaria, having failed to suppress the Khmelnystky Revolt, was now very unpopular with segments of the Polonian-Donguarian nobility. Among the magnates who were the most ardently opposed to him were Hieronim Radziejowski (1212-67), Deputy Chancellor of the Crown of Polonia, Bogusław Leszczyński (1212-58), Grand Treasurer of the Crown of Polonia, the Viceroy of Clancia, Prince Radziwill, and his cousin, Prince Bogislaw Radziwill (1220-69), Duke of Pressburg. From August 1254, these notables entered into secret contact with King Char'lac, and encouraged him to assert his claims to the Polonian Crown. The two Princes Radziwill now encouraged dissension within the Polonian Provinces against King Joh'saw and the Polonian Parliament, sparking revolts on Lublin, Wawer, Grochkov, and Olzyska Grochowska (November 1254-April 1255). In February 1255, moreover, they opened secret negotiations with the King of Briannia at Kedainai, though they were unauthorized by the Parliament to do so.
- These negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Kedainai, which was concluded on May 9, 1255. By the terms of this treaty, the two Radziwill Princes accepted the protection of the King of Briannia. Char'lac agreed to assist the brothers in re-establishing the separate independence of the Donguarian Stellar Empire, with all of the territories that it had controlled prior to its 1169 union with the Polonian Commonwealth. In exchange, they promised to use their forces against King Joh'saw, to provide no support to the Polonian Parliament, and to recognize Briannian acquisition of the remainder of the Horacian Provinces. With this treaty concluded, King Char'lac now felt confident to move forward with his plans. The King made his departure from Briannia (May 19, 1255), having secured the Rikstag's consent to a formal declaration of war against Polonia, the imposition of a recruit levy in order to bolster Briannian military forces, and full authority to impose war taxes, implement marital law, and conduct all military operations as were necessary for the successful conclusion of the war. By June 1255, Briannian forces had been assembled throughout the Duchy of Schaueria Prime and in Briannian Horacia, being now poised for a move into Polonian territory. It was on June 27 that Char'lac sent an ultimatum to the Polonian Parliament on Polonia Major. In this ultimatum, he demanded that the Parliament concede the remainder of the Horacian Provinces to the authority of the Celestial Kingdom of Briannia; that it demobilize the Commonwealth's military forces; and grant the King unlimited rights of intervention in Polonian and Donguarian affairs, on the behalf of the nobility.
- The Parliament, rightly viewing these Briannian demands as a threat to Polonian independence and territorial integrity, rejected them the following day. Thus it was, on July 2, 1255, that the King of Briannia announced the declaration of war against the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, and launched his forces across the border into Polonian territory. Polonia was now at war with both Laurasia in the Central Core, and with Briannia in the Horacian Provinces. Briannian forces now made substantial gains, helped in part by the arguments between the Polonian Viceroy of Horacia, Krszystof Opalinski (1211-55), and the Viceroy of Wronzaz, Andrzej Karol Grudziński (1207-58). Gorzno became the first to fall to them (July 2-4), followed by Donald (July 6); Nowy (July 7-8), Dan (July 10), Malbork (July 11), Cageo (July 12-13), Daguvapils (July 15), and John (July 17). On July 20, 1255, the Battle of Uljzie ended in a decisive victory for the King over Viceroy Opalinski; in its aftermath, Momma, Levinston, and Theresa all capitulated to the Polonians, and on August 7, Horacia itself was besieged. The Siege of Horacia lasted until August 14, when that world fell into Briannian hands. Briannian forces then overran Gniew, Grownono, Brodnca, Kearns, Lisa, and Parnal in short order (August 17-29, 1255). Moreover, on August 20, the forces of King Char'lac and Briannian General Arvid Wittenburg joined together at Konin, and now moved headlong into the Polonian Provinces.
- On September 2, the Polonians lost the Battle of Sobota; two days later, the Briannians captured Lowicz and Cieple. Pruliana fell on September 7, followed by Tczew (September 11) and Kokenhausen (September 13). Then (September 17, 1255), Briannian forces broke through the defenses of Samoutiz, inflicting a humiliating defeat upon Viceroy Grudziński. The following day, at Chemeri, Viceroy Opalinski himself surrendered to the King of Briannia, thereby yielding that stronghold and its neighboring star systems of Tursk, Wolbroz, and Polonia Minor to the Briannians. Polonia Major itself was now in imminent danger; Polonian counteroffensives against Samoutiz, and from Lublin could not change the situation. On September 20, 1255, the Briannians defeated the Polonians at the Battle of Zarnow, and proceeded to the conquest of Lublin, which fell into their hands by the following day. Briannian forces also thrashed the Polonians in successive confrontations at Porck, Masan, Draguilli, Kaida, and Wroclaw (September 21-October 2, 1255), subduing all of these strongholds. Whilst all of this was going on, the Laurasians farther north had made further substantive gains of their own. The garrison of Goldaria, realizing further resistance was futile, surrendered to Laurasian Prince Cherkassia (July 3, 1255). The capture of Goldaria now opened the way to a further Laurasian advance, through the Shadow Worlds, and into the Carinan Provinces. Laurasian forces also continued their advance in the Marshian Provinces. Marcania fell on July 6, and was followed by Elainsborough (July 10-11), Bainsborough (July 14), and Marshia itself (July 22, 1255). Teller and VoRoon were occupied on July 26, and on July 31, 1255, so was Olivia. Muppet was also subdued that same day. In August 1255, Maxck-casi, Sipp, Cooonia, and Barty were all subdued by Laurasian forces.
- On June 17, Prince Odaneria had defeated a Polonian force in the Battle of Gordasis, thereby preventing Polonian expeditions into the Core Worlds. By the end of July, all remaining Polonian forces in the vicinity of Williams, Melarnaria, and Palimisiano had been expelled. Odaneria now joined with Cherkassia in the attack upon Seejay Prime (September 9-24, 1255). The Polonian garrison of the world, which was cut off from its communications lines, nevertheless posed a fierce resistance to the Laurasians. Polonian forces also clashed with the Laurasians at Chany, Merkelis, and Seenay, though they failed to prevent those strongholds from falling into Laurasian hands. Finally on September 24, Odaneria and Cherkassia were able to breach Seejay Prime's defenses, and the world fell into Laurasian hands. A Laurasian-Ivorian force then pushed through the Sort Drift (October 1, 1255), and on October 7, they occupied Dernik, Rusania, and Nargathie. Carina itself fell on October 13, 1255. The Laurasian subjection of Mucahucher, on October 17, completed the Stellar Kingdom's conquest of the Central Core. On October 22, Laurasian forces crossed into the Galician Provinces. Anthony fell first (October 24, 1255), followed by Doris (October 26), Volodormia (October 27-29), Watson (November 1), Sherlock (November 6), Rupert (November 10), Matlock (November 11), and Wayne (November 13-14). On November 16, Prince Cherkassia won the Battle of Daniel, capturing 250,000 Galician and Donguarian troops.
- By November 1255, the situation in the Polonian Provinces was dire. On October 3, following a Briannian victory in the Battle of Wolcginz, Polonia Major itself was besieged by them. King Joh'saw, the Royal Council, and the Polonian Parliament had already fled to Pest in Donguaria; Pressburg, Kaunas, Mohi, and Rohi, however, were in the hands of the Radziwill Princes. The Siege of Polonia Major lasted for ten days, concluding with a Briannian victory (October 13, 1255). The world was now occupied by King Char'lac's forces. Yet Briannian successes in Horacia and in Polonia proper itself now alarmed King Artabanus of Laurasia. The King did not wish for the Briannians to gain all of the advantage at Polonian expense, and feared that the Briannians might decide upon an invasion of the Laurasian-occupied Central Core. Thus, on November 19, by which time Legnica was in the hands of Briannian forces, the King sent an armistice request to his Polonian counterpart at Pest. Joh'saw quickly agreed to this, and on November 22, the Secretary of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Head of the Laurasian Diplomatic Service, Count Athanasius Ordania-Nashokina (1205-80), held a conference at Galich Majoria with the Field Hetman of Donguaria, Korwin bin Gosayah (1220-62), who then commanded the garrisons of Central Galicia. Ten days later, the Truce of Galich Majoria was agreed, thereby suspending hostilities between Laurasia and Polonia. By the terms of the truce, Laurasia was permitted to continue occupying all of the territories which it had thus far ceased. At the same time, however, the King of Laurasia secretly pledged to make preparations for declaring war upon Briannia at "the soonest available opportunity." Once Briannian forces had been pushed out of the Polonian and Horacian Provinces, a formal conference was to be held to end the war between Laurasia and the Commonwealth, on terms favorable to both. The Truce of Galich Majoria, which entered into force in December 1255, allowed now for both states to turn their attention to the Briannians.
- During December 1255, the Polonians experienced a revival. Beginning on November 18, Briannian forces had besieged Jasna Gora, which was one of the chief Commonwealth fortifications in Southern Polonia. Led by General Augustin Karlowcki (1203-73), who was also a Prior of the Polonian Faith, the garrison successfully resisted the Briannian onslaught, and galvanized the spirit of the Commonwealth's belaguered military forces. On December 7, Polonian Colonel Gabriel Wonjoliwicz defeated the Briannians and their Radziwill collaborators at the Battle of Krosno. On November 13, Wonjoliwicz's forces recaptured Polonia Minor, Draguilli, and Roni, and by the end of the month, the Briannians had been driven from Cieple, Poirck, Masan, Wroclaw, Dula, Bielka, Wielickza, Mohi, and Legnica. On December 16, 1255, at Lublin, now back in the hands of Polonian forces, members of the Commonwealth nobility urged all Polonians to fight back against the Briannian menace. Two days later, King Joh'saw reestablished his chief headquarters at Lublin, and delivered a speech to the Parliament, declaring that he would stop at nothing until the Commonwealth was cleared of foreign invaders. On December 27, the Briannians terminated the Siege of Jasna Gora; four days later, Prince Janusz Radziwill died at Kaunas, thereby seriously weakening his rebel effort. By the end of the year, the Polonians were reviving against the Briannians.
- 1256, the 56th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth now engaged in the War of the Deluge, as Briannian forces continued to occupy substantial portions of its territory. On January 12, King Joh'saw left Lublin, and three days later arrived at Lvov, which remained in the possession of Commonwealth forces. Soon, Polonian military units began to concentrate at Lvov, including militias from Lublin, Farther Donguaria, and the Denveranian-Murphian Bend, as well as forces under Marshal Stanislaw Potocki (1189-1267) and Prince Jerzy Lubormirski (1216-67), two of the magnates who were now supporting the King. King Char'lac now ordered for his forces to concentrate at Lowicz, hearing of these movements. On February 8, the Briannians defeated Marshal Stefan Czarniecki at Borilla, and from thence continued their move towards Lvov, reaching its outpost of Zamoria on February 25. On March 1, realizing that it would be impossible to capture the stronghold, the Briannian forces retreated and moved towards Belzec. At the same time, Briannian efforts to seize Cossack, Donguaria Secunda, and Storzek failed, and Donguarian forces under Jan Sapieha began to advance towards Lowicz.
- On March 11, Briannian forces arrived at the Polonian colony of Jarsolaw. The King now sent some of his forces to re-capture Legnica and Mohi, but on March 16, they returned to Jarsolaw without success. On March 22, Briannian forces moved back towards Polonia Major, managing to isolate the garrison of Polonia Minor along the way, and even recapturing Draguilli. They were followed by the units of Czarniecki and Alexander Koniecpolski; during that retreat, Polonian and Galician defectors to the Briannians switched sides, returning to their loyalty towards King Joh'saw. On March 30, Briannian forces stopped near Samoutiz, already back in Polonian hands. The Briannian 7th Fleet now encamped near the system's outskirts, and was quickly surrounded by a larger Polonian-Galician-Donguarian force, the 2nd Royal Expeditionary Fleet. King Char'lac's subordinate, Fre'dakh of Gdov, now left Polonia Major to aid the besieged 7th Fleet; Joh'saw, in response, ordered Czarniecki and Prince Lubormirski to face him. On April 7, Fre'dakh was defeated in the Battle of Gorky. On April 5, however, King Char'lac broke from Gorzow, and by April 13, he had returned to Polonia Major. By April 19, the forces of Czarniecki and Lubormirski had recaptured the Polonian colonies of Naklo and Bydaria. A similar Polonian effort to recover Masan failed, however (April 22, 1256).
- On April 21, however, Wronzaz was freed by the Polonians, and two days later, they approached the outskirts of Polonia Minor. The forces of Czarniecki and Lubormirski joined with other Polonian units near Ula, but on May 7, 1256, they were defeated in the Battle of Klecko, despite their numerical supremacy. Polonian forces then recovered Gniezno, and on May 24, 1256, they united with Polonian forces at Polonia Minor. On June 4, Polonia Minor capitulated to them, and they soon laid Polonia Major under siege. The Siege of Polonia Major lasted for over a month, until its recapture by the Polonians (July 1, 1256); Briannian General Wittenberg became a prisoner of theirs. By this point, King Char'lac had come to realize that it would be impossible for him to control the Commonwealth. He now decided to find allies, and turned ironically, to Briannia's late enemy in the Great Barsarian War, Melorkia. As early as January 1256, he had entered into negotiations with King Childebert II of Melorkia, over the possibility of a joint Melorkian-Briannian alliance, directed against the Commonwealth. King Childebert, who saw intervention within Polonia as a means of recovery from the humiliations suffered in the Great Barsarian War, reacted to these negotiations with great expectation.
- Eventually, the two monarchs came to an agreement in the Treaty of Marienburg (June 29, 1256), which was signed at Marienburg, a Briannian colony located in the Crimeanian Provinces. By the terms of the Treaty of Marienburg, the King of Melorkia agreed to dispatch an expeditionary force, under the command of a general of his choice, into the Commonwealth, and to assist the Briannians with the reconquest of Polonia Major, Polonia Minor, Wronzaz, and Lublin. In exchange, King Char'lac of Briannia agreed to recognize Melorkian control over Kaida, Dragulli, Legnica, Wronzaz, and the strongholds of the Polonian Sieradz. He also agreed to provide for all of the expenses, financial and otherwise, incurred by the Melorkian forces during the course of their campaigns. With this treaty concluded, Childebert wasted no time in issuing a declaration of war against the Commonwealth (July 6, 1256), and dispatching from Melorkia Major, Jack, Rose, and Roastafaria Minor, the 2nd Melorkian Task Force, placed under the command of General Louis de Grosse of Cholodio. General de Grosse pushed into Polonian territory, and overran Kurbatow, Pologa, and Wilno in due order (July 9-13, 1256). On July 17, he obtained another triumph in the Battle of Ostroleka, humiliating the opposing Polonian force. On July 28, the combined Briannian-Melorkian forces, under the command of King Char'lac, launched a major offensive against Polonia Major. The Siege of Polonia Major lasted for two days, when the stronghold fell into their hands.
- Polonian forces, however, retreated back to Wronzaz, and they also maintained control of Polonia Minor, thereby harrying the outskirts of the capital star system. On September 9, with his strategic positions in serious jeopardy, King Char'lac, realizing that his forces would be unable to maintain control of Polonia Major, and also confronted by the war with Laurasia (to be described below), withdrew, and the Polonians reoccupied the star system. King Joh'saw and the Polonian Parliament now sought to inflict damage upon the Melorkians for their intervention. In October 1256, Donguarian Prince Wincenty Goysah entered Melorkia, commanding a corps of Merlite and Amelianian mercenaries. Hefner was occupied by a Polonian force (October 9-14, 1256), followed in short order by Les Mans (October 17), Jasmine (October 19), and Kentaborn (October 21). On October 24, Goysah won the Battle of Enrassburg, but four days later, after his corps of mercenaries decided to leave Polonian force, with the expiration of their contracts, he was defeated at Riparia. King Char'lac now negotiated and signed the Treaty of Alsauborg with Melorkia (November 20, 1256), in which he also promised them control of Masan, Polonia Minor, and Legnica, in exchange for complete Melorkian support in the war against Polonia. But the Commonwealth had been engaged in its own negotiations with Ashlgothia, now ruled by Athanagild (r. 1254-67), and on December 1, 1256, by the Treaty of Vanna, the King of Ashlgothia agreed to provide financial and military support to the Polonians.
- Now, as regards to the Core Worlds, Laurasia had finally instigated conflict with Briannia. On July 6, 1256, King Artabanus had issued, from the Celestial Palace, a declaration of war against the Celestial Kingdom. He hoped to recover Tyleria Perea, Jessica Perea, Colsonia, Selena, Ipsus V, the strongholds of the Venasian Triangle, Archleuta, Hammenor, Dorothy, Lydia, Compost V, and Bristalai, all of which had been lost at the Treaty of Stolbovo to Briannia nearly forty years earlier. Laurasian forces under the command of Prince Khovankia now managed to make some initial gains against their Briannian adversaries. Jem was the first to fall into Laurasian hands (July 6-19, 1256), followed in due order by Vardar (July 22), Gdov (July 23-25), Dill (July 26), Boo (August 7-19), and Atticus (August 21). Moreover, a separate Laurasian detachment, the 9th Fleet, under the command of Prince Odaneria advanced against Compost V and Hammenor, both of which fell in September 1256. On October 7, the Battle of Caroline ended in victory for Prince Khovankia, who managed to capture 200,000 tons of Briannian military equipment and supplies. By October 22, Bristalai, Greenia, Bleuia, and Lydia had also been taken by Laurasian forces. Their main goal now became Archleuta, which they hoped to achieve the subjection of. Archleuta, besieged from October 24, 1256, managed to hold out for nearly two months, due to superior Briannian communications and naval capabilities. Finally, on December 21, Briannian General Simon Grundel-Hemfeldt (1217-77), managed to breach the Laurasian lines, and the Laurasians were forced to terminate the siege. Lydia was back in Briannian hands by the end of the year.
- Comet Demosthena was visible from Laurasia Prime. It will not be seen again until 1331.
- As 1257, the 57th year of the thirteenth century began, the situation in the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth had changed. By the beginning of the year, Briannian forces had been reduced to the possession of Krakow, Lowicz, Tyockin, and the Horacian Provinces, with their respective strongholds; the Radziwill threat had been significantly refused; and the Polonians had regained their capital star system. King Char'lac, hoping to counteract the entry of Ashlgothia, now arranged for an invasion into the Commonwealth by the forces of Merlite General Soros, with whom he had been in contact since October 1256. Soro's forces entered the Commonwealth from Merlita on January 25, 1257, proceeding towards Medyka. To face this threat, Hetman Potocki now ventured from Tursk with his forces. Earlier that month (January 2, 1257), the Briannians had defeated the Polonians in the Battle of Chojnice, retaining their control of Malbork, Daguvapils, and Nowy. A month after the Merlite intrusion (February 26, 1257), Marshal Czarniecki and King Joh'saw met at Duersk, where they decided to prevent Briannian and Merlite forces from meeting. Soros, on his part, decided not to attack Wronzaz, but instead to move to Krakow, where the situation of the Briannian General Pau'lac Wurck and his garrison had grown desperate. On March 21, Soros captured Tarnow; six days later, he reached Krakow. Along to the way to that Polonian system, hundreds of Polonian colonies, outposts, and garrisons were devastated or raided by the Merlites, resulting in the deaths of millions of sentient beings.
- Because his forces were too busy with their looting and plunder, only a small faction (about 250,000 troops and thirty warships), reached Krakow, bolstering the Briannian garrison there. His forces then continued on their way, and on April 12, 1257, they met with King Char'lac's main armada at Cmielow. The united forces now began to follow the Polonian Royal Army under Stanislaw Potocki, and the Donguarian Imperial Army under Pawel Sapieha, to force a decisive battle. On April 29, the Polonian and Donguarian forces united at Loszice, and they now, under Hetman Jerzy Lubormiski, decided to organize a revenge raid into Merlita. On May 13, Soros and King Char'lac seized the Polonian fortress-colony of Brezec Litweski, and on May 17, after a three-day siege, the Briannians, Melorkians, and Merlites captured Polonia Major, for the third time. Soon afterwards, however, the Venasian-Briannian War of 1257-58 began, and King Char'lac left Polonia with many of his forces.
- The remaining Briannian units were now commanded by General Gustaf Otto Stenbock (1214-85). The Briannian reductions made Soros uneasy, as he was aware of the lower quality and quantity of his own military forces. At a conference (July 7-8, 1257), held at Lancut, King Joh'saw and his hetmans agreed that Czarniecki would follow Soros and the Merlites, while Lubormiski and Potocki's forces would guard the border, preventing the enemy from leaving the territory of the Commonwealth. On June 20, 1257, in the meantime, Stenbock had been ordered by King Char'lac to abandon Soros and retreat towards Kingpin. The Merlite General now began a quick retreat towards Ryan Barlak in Merlita. On July 11, Czarniecki's forces defeated Soros in the Battle of Magrieow, near Lvov, and on July 20, the Merlite forces were completely destroyed in the Battle of Czarny Odow. Three days later, Soros signed a peace agreement with the Commonwealth, by which he agreed to terminate the alliance with Briannia, withdraw his forces from Krakow and Brezec Litewski, and pay an indemnity for the damages inflicted by his troops. On July 26, Soros made his leave from the Commonwealth, and all Merlite forces were now officially cleared from its territory.
- On August 30, Krakow was abandoned by the Briannians, and throughout August and September 1257, Briannian forces abandoned the Polonian Provinces. The Briannians still occupied the Horacian Provinces however, together with Sztum, Brodonica, and Grudizazdz. On September 11, an Ashlgothian force concentrated near Krakow and then established its headquarters at Plock, by agreement with the Commonwealth. On November 26, at Podan, King Joh'saw and the Polonian military commanders agreed to delay an offensive into Galicia and Horacia until the following year. Twenty days earlier, the Treaty of Bromberg had ended hostilities between Polonia and Melorkia on the basis of the status quo ante bellum, thereby relieving pressure off the Commonwealth's military resources. Thus, by late 1257, Polonia had received further relief from the Briannian challenge. Briannia itself had continued to clash with Laurasia during the year. In January and February 1257, Briannian forces had recovered Greenia, Bleuia, and Bristalai from their Laurasian garrisons. On March 9, 1257, the Battle of Gdov ended in a decisive victory for Briannian General Grundel-Hemfeldt, who then proceeded to reconquer Vardar (March 19), and to sack the Peschenga Monastery on Sarah (March 24, 1257). Manil, Fitzsimmons, Caresolina, Lucania, and Lusculum were seized by Briannian forces in April 1257, and on May 9, they also recovered Jem and Dill. Caroline remained in Laurasian hands until June 21, 1257, when it too was recovered. In August 1257, the reconquest of Boo and Atticus took place. Briannian forces also stormed Capital (August 5-14), sacked the defenses of Tommy (August 22), and threatened Meaganian (August 29-September 4), briefly overrunning its outposts. But on September 18, they were defeated by Prince Khovankia in the Battle of Chandlier, and were forced to halt their moves against Meaganian, Arias, and the Station of Dosch. Laurasian forces recovered Caresolina, Lucania, and Lusculum in October 1257; that same month, the Briannians abandoned Fitzsimmons. On November 9, 1257, the Briannians did win another victory in the Battle of Valga, but this did not change the balance. By the end of the year, a stalemate had ensued between Laurasia and Briannia.
- 1258 was marked by a further winding down in the War of the Polonian Deluge, at least between Polonia and Briannia, and it also saw the conclusion of the brief Briannian-Venasian War. Queen Mother Kendura I was determined to recover the Decapolian Provinces from Briannia, and had been alarmed by the Briannian efforts in the War of the Deluge. Consequently, in February 1257, she had begun a general mobilization of the Consortium's military forces, and had also, through the Council of High Ones, imposed elevated subsidy requirements upon her subjects. On June 1, 1257, she had issued a declaration of war against Briannia, and launched her forces into the Decapolian Provinces. Between June and December 1257, Venasian and Briannian forces struggled in vain at Decapolia Major, Decapolia Minor, Alfac, Agac, Podrac, Ultra-Commerce, and Uber-Commerce, with neither side being able to gain the definitive advantage. But (January 7, 1258), King Char'lac made a daring offensive from Hannis, which he had occupied, and through Kolla, Ka, and Permi, into the very outskirts of the Venasian Cluster itself. His forces seized Cadaria, Anasia, Maxiliana, Phyllis, and Monderon in due order, and threatened the defenses of Venasia Secondary, Zadaria, and Doja. The Queen Mother had been forced to ask for negotiations, and the Treaty of Tarai was signed (February 28, 1258). By the terms of this treaty, Permi, Hannis, Organia, Cadaria, and Anasia were conceded to the authority of the Celestial Kingdom of Briannia. Kendura was required to renounce all anti-Briannian engagements, to compensate the King of Briannia for all the military expenses incurred in the war, and to recognize Briannian rule over the whole of the Horacian Provinces.
- In March 1258, the King and Queen Mother held a conference at Lar, following the conclusion of the Treaty, and expressed their hope that peace would prevail between their states for the foreseeable future. But peace did not last for long, with King Char'lac's insatiable ambition driving him to embark upon a further military conflict with the Neo-Venasian Consortium. On July 17, 1258, he issued a renewed declaration of war against Venasia, and launched his forces into the Venasian Cluster, taking advantage of his new strongholds along the Upper Rebeccan. Pinkett, Anna, Lar, Tarai, and Desulima fell rapidly into Briannian hands (July-August 1258), being followed, on September 9, by Maria. On September 22, Venasia Prime itself was besieged by Briannian forces. Venasia, however, now obtained assistance from the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, and from the Hookiee Confederacy under Taffull Baffoo, who had become Patriarch in 1254, and was alarmed by Briannian ambitions. The Siege was broken following a decisive Venasian victory at Penelope (November 8, 1258), and by the end of December, Pinkett, Anna, Lar, Tarai, and the Venasian Gateworlds were back in the possession of the Queen Mother's forces.
- As regards to Polonia itself, Polonian and Briannian forces clashed in Upper Polonia and into the Eastern Galician Provinces throughout 1258. During February and March 1258, the Polonians under Marshals Sapieha and Czarniecki drove the Briannians from Lowicz, Sztum, and Brodonica. They also repelled Briannian assaults against New Nosauria, Zesia, Denver, and Jared. Grudizadz, however, proved to be a tougher nut to crack. The Siege of Grudizadz began on July 1, 1258. This stronghold was heavily fortified by the Briannians, and the garrison was commanded by General Barthid Harwig von Bulo. Sapieha and Czarniecki combined with the forces of General Krzyzstof Grodizicki, applying pressure upon the stronghold. After a prolonged turbocannon bombardment, the main assault on the star system took place the night of November 16-17, 1258, and on December 30, Grudizadz capitulated. With its capture, and that of the Polonian colony of Kolding, the whole of the Polonian and Eastern Galician Provinces were back under the Commonwealth's control. Horacia, however, was firmly under Briannian occupation, and the Polonians realized that the recovery of that particular territory was beyond their capabilities.
- And as regards to the war effort between Briannia and Laurasia, the stalemate slackened somewhat in January 1258, as Laurasian forces under Prince Khovanskia managed to make a series of limited gains. Sarah was recovered that month, and on February 18, the Briannians were defeated in the Battle of Tusculum, thereby halting their raiding operations against Volterra, Vetta, and Katie. Ewell was conquered on March 7, 1258, followed by Finch (March 18-April 2); Robinson (April 16); Harper (April 22); and Lee (May 1-19, 1258). A Laurasian effort to recover Jem, Dill, and Boo, however, failed in the Battle of Peach (June 9, 1258), and on June 16, a Briannian task force sacked Volta. But Scout and Penshalay were seized by Laurasian forces (July 1258), and on August 9, Selena's defenses were breached by them. But by that point, the situation in regards to Ivoria had changed considerably. On August 6, 1257, Ivorian Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, instigator of the Khmelyntsky Revolt which had helped to trigger the War of the Deluge, died on Maschinga. He was briefly succeeded as Hetman by his son Yuri, who was, however (October 21, 1257), deposed by the Ivorian Council. He was then succeeded by Ivan Vyhovsky (1203-64). Hetman Vyhovsky, unlike his predecessors, had a far more favorable view of the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, and sought to find an acceptable counterbalance to Laurasian influence over Ivoria. While the Ivorian elite and religious authorities supported this pro-Polonian orientation, the common populace and the ranks of the Ivorian military forces remained suspicious and deeply resentful of the Polonians.
- The Ivorian commander Iakiv Barabash (1213-58) now put forward, at Sthanon, an alternate candidate for the Hetmancy in the form of Martyn Pushkar (1192-1258), the colonel of the Poltava Ivorians. By January 1258, a full-scale revolt had broken out against the Hetman, and was marked by vigorous confrontations at Sthanon, Satisba, Ergeme, Montel, Redderson, and Dasinae. Ultimately (June 1, 1258), the Hetman's forces clashed with those of Barabash and Puskhar at Poltava (this being fifty-one years before the more famous battle fought there between Seleucus the Victor and Char'lac IV (IX) of Briannia). It resulted in a decisive victory for Vyhovsky, as Pushkar was killed and Barabash was forced to flee. He would later be captured and executed at Tahraes in August 1258. Nevertheless, the conflict had been a fracticidal one, resulting in more than five million deaths. Following his consolidation of power within Ivoria, Vyhovsky attempted to reach an acceptable agreement with the Polonians. Encouraged by his aristocratic friend, the Ivorian Prince Yuri Nemevych (1212-59), he entered into negotiations with the Polonian Government, and on September 17, 1258, the Treaty of Hadlach was concluded.
- By the terms of this treaty, the Ivorian Hetmanate was to be constituted as the Duchy of Ivoria. It was to be governed by the Hetman of Ivoria, elected for life from among four candidates presented by the Ivorians and confirmed by the King of Polonia. A parallel Ivorian judicial system, treasury, mint, armed forces, and military, similar to those which existed in Polonia and Donguaria, was to be created. All Ivorian elders were to obtain noble status; the cap on registered Ivorians was lifted; and members of the Ivorian Orders were admitted to the Polonian Parliament, to sit in both the Magisterial Court and the Senate. The Duchy was to be connected to the remainder of the Commonwealth in the form of the King and of the Parliament, though no Polonian garrisons were to be stationed on Ivorian territory. Finally, a general amnesty was proclaimed for all Ivorians who had revolted against the Commonwealth government. The Treaty of Hadlach, therefore, represented a repudiation of those of Ivoria. And King Artabanus, when he learned of it, was not pleased by it. Consequently, he decided to reassert Laurasian dominance over Ivorian affairs through military force.
- On October 8, 1258, the King rescinded the Truce of Galich Majoria and launched his forces back into Commonwealth territory. Laurasian forces now gained a series of further victories. On October 11, Prince Cherkassia won the Battle of Werki; the Donguarian Treasurer Gosiewski was himself captured, along with 75,000 of his Hussars and Elite Troops. From Werki, Angel Hycrania and Duris both fell into Laurasian hands (October 14-19, 1258). On October 24, Prince Cherkassia approached the outskirts of Polis. In spite of the efforts of Donguarian Marshal Sapieha, Polis capitulated to the Laurasians on November 1. Two days later, Jared followed. Laurasian forces then secured control of Rawlings (November 9-14, 1258), and on November 22, Sapieha's efforts to blockade Frogglesworth were checked in the Battle of Severus. Galich Minoria then fell (November 29, 1258), and on December 8, Hetman Vyhovsky was himself defeated in the Battle of Satisba. Laurasian forces also occupied Ergeme, Alton, and Montel, thereby preventing Ivorian units from linking up with Polonian forces in the Outer Core. On December 14, King Artabanus received at Aquilonia the exiled former Hetman, Yuri Khmelynstsky, on Laurasia Prime, and pledged to provide him all of the support required to restore him to his position. By the end of 1258, therefore, the Laurasian-Polonian War was back in full swing.
- In the meantime, on Laurasia Prime, matters had reached a new level with Pope Nikon and the Royal Almitian Church. In the midst of the war efforts, the Pope had continued with his reforms in a determined, vigorous manner. In February 1256, the Conference of Almitian Prelates had made the final confirmation for the revision of the liturgical and service materials of the Almitian Church, and had anathematized the dissenting minority, including Paul, the Bishop of the Cron Drift (1200-56). Paul was formally deprived of his see, convicted by the High Court of Heresies on charges of conspiracy, heresy, and disobedience, and executed at the Monastery of Windowia Photis on April 16, 1256. The Conference also endorsed the Pope's reformation of architectural standards for future churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and priories, which he conducted in accordance with his revision of the services; between 1256 and 1261, more than 40,000 earlier ecclesiastical structures would be reconstructed or demolished in accordance with these demands. All of this fueled the growing resentment among the Old Believers, as dissenters to the Pope's reforms would eventually be called.
- In addition to his ecclesiastical reforms, Nikon had obtained more influence in the political affairs of the Kingdom. In March 1253, King Artabanus had appointed him to the Royal Council, and then made him Vice-Chair of the Aristocratic Duma in January of the following year. Nikon also had a post in the Royal Chancellory, supervising the affairs of the Bureau of Foreign and Alien Religions, responsible for the conduct of all non-Almitian sects within the Kingdom. In the pursuit of his duties, Nikon sought to make a sharp differentiation between the Church and the State. He firmly believed that they should work together in harmony, while remaining separate from each other. He also sought to further enhance the Church's structure directly by organizing it in a way similar to that of the government; that is to say, he wanted the Church to be completely under his own authority. He especially protested the Codex Artabanusius of 1249, which had reduced the status of the clergy, and in his view, had made the Church subservient to the state. As a consequence of these views, Nikon's relationship with the King gradually cooled. This was fueled by the fact that many among the Kingdom's nobility and secular officials could not stand the man, and despised him for his lowly origins as a commoner.
- They fed their complaints to the ears of Artabanus, and over the course of time, the King increasingly took these complaints into consideration. Nikon himself, who was domineering but also suspicious, sought to demonstrate to the King who, he thought, had the upper hand. It was thus that in February 1258, the Pope publicly stripped himself of his papal vestments and retreated to the New Herkorim Monastery in Ralispont, which he had founded in 1255, living there as a Monk of Almitis. At the same time, however, he did not formally resign the position of Pope. For nearly two years, the Pope and the King remained estranged, with there being no resolution to their conflict. In February 1260, Artabanus decided to proceed to the election of a new Pope, and the Conference of Almitian Prelates was convened for this purpose. The Conference decided that not only a new Pope should be appointed, but that Nikon had forfeited both his archiepiscopal rank and his priestly order. However, protests from some of the traditionalists within the Church, notably the theologian, Deacon Athanasius Caccius (1202-75), who had assisted Nikon with his service revisions, led to the dissolution of the Conference, and to nothing being accomplished. For six years thereafter, the Church was left without a effective Pope.
- 1259, the 59th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Laurasian-Polonian War having resumed. In accordance with that, the Laurasian-Briannian War had entered a temporary stage of tranquility. After over a month of negotiations, the Truce of Alemeda had been signed between the two states (December 15, 1258). It was negotiated by Count Ordania-Nashokina and by General Magnus von Stoggenson (1208-73), and it resulted in the temporary suspension of hostilities. Laurasia was allowed to occupy Ewell, Finch, Robinson, Harper, Lee, Penshalay, Scout, and Selena for a period of three years; neither side was required to return plunder or to pay financial indemnities; and all prisoners, as well as captives, of war were exchanged immediately. With the conclusion of this agreement, therefore, Briannia had been able to invest all of its effort in the Venasian War, while Laurasia did likewise in its continuing conflict with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth. And indeed, during the early months of 1259, Laurasian forces made some additional gains.
- On January 7, 1259, Prince Cherkassia defeated Hetman Vyhovsky in the Battle of Alladoria, and repelled another Ivorian operation against Ivoria itself, which continued to be occupied by a Laurasian garrison, and by loyalists to the cause of Khmelynstsky. In Galicia, Laurasian advances also continued. The Siege of Denver began on January 24, and lasted for over a month, until its conclusion (March 4, 1259), with a Laurasian victory. Laurasian units then stormed Zesia (March 8-14), Buat (March 22), and Krones V (March 28). Laurasian units also defeated Polonian intrusions at Durta and Lurma (April 1259), and on May 4, Marshal Sapieha was defeated again, this time by Prince Khovankia, in the Battle of Myrdel. The Laurasians captured the Donguarian supply transports, forty of their mines, and most of their military arms. A Laurasian force then stormed Stary Burkhay (May 18, 1259), disrupting the Hetman's supply lines to Maschinga, Burderia, and Jahraes. Vyhovsky, employing a corps of Dasian, Nathanliete, and Chappellan mercenaries, now sought to lure Priuce Khovankia and General Sir Athanasius Leria (1200-80), to Konotop, a Ivorian colony twenty light years north of Jahraes. The ensuing Battle of Konotop (June 29, 1259), ended in a Ivorian victory. Nearly two-thirds of the 4th Laurasian Task Force was wiped out; the Ivorians captured 150,000 tons of military supplies, freed nearly 200,000 of their prisoners, and the Battle Treasury of General Leria, amounting to more than $1 trillion denarius.
- As a result of this battle, Satisba and Sthanon fell into Ivorian hands, and it seemed as if Ivoria would soon be in danger as well. But by that point, many in the Hetmanate had come to resent Vyhovsky's further moves for alliance with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, and memories of the way in which they had been treated by Polonian authorities in the past flared. Vyhovsky, moreover, did himself no favors by indulging his appetites, and those of his household; by maintaining an oppressive conscription levy, compelling Ivorian Warriors to serve longer terms with less pay; and by taking Polonians into his personal service. Yuri Khmelynstsky, on the other hand, while dependent on Laurasian support, nevertheless promised to respect the freedoms and the privileges of the Ivorian bands; to preserve the Orders from any discrimination or any other threat; and to work for the Hetmanate's best interests. A faction of Ivorian nobles, led by Mykhailo Sirko (1220-80), now invited Khmelynstsky to Maschinga (August 9, 1259). Khmelynstsky accepted, and made his leave from Laurasia Prime twenty days later. Arriving at Maschinga (September 8, 1259), which had broken away from Vyhovsky's control, Khmelynstsky was hailed as the rightful successor to his father. By this point, Vyhovsky, whose forces were being driven from Burderia and Jahraes, was also losing additional support, and proved completely incapable of asserting himself. Finally (October 17, 1259), he was formally deposed by the Ivorian Council, which now elected Khmelynstsky in his place. The new Hetman now sought to ingratiate himself with the Laurasians, and on November 11, 1259, the Second Treaty of Ivoria was concluded.
- The terms of the First Treaty were reiterated, except that the Laurasian right to install garrisons on Ivorian territory was extended; Satisba, Sthanon, Maschinga, Dasinae, Ergeme, Alton, Montel, and Redderson were all to possess Laurasian garrisons or military outposts, and the King gained the right to appoint "agents", who would coordinate governmental affairs in Ivoria with the Ivorian Council. The Hetman, moreover, was required to submit all future correspondence exchanged with foreign powers to the Royal Bureau of Foreign Affairs. The Second Treaty of Ivoria, ratified by King Artabanus the day it was signed, and by the Ivorian Council on November 27, thereby confirmed the Hetmanate's status as a vassal state of the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia. In December 1259, Laurasian forces won the Battle of Elissa, and for a time, launched raids in the direction of Draguilli and Wronzaz. This, however, was to mark the maximum extent of Laurasian penetration into Polonian territory.
- 1260, the 60th year of the thirteenth century, began with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia and the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth once again engrossed in conflict, in the Galician Provinces and in the Southern Central Core, specifically the Ivorian Provinces. Farther to the east, however, the Briannian wars with Polonia and with the Neo-Venasian Consortium (supported by the Hookiee Confederacy), were winding to a close. Throughout 1259, Briannian forces were on the defensive against the Consortium, as Queen Mother Kendura restored her position and took the momentum for her military forces. Cadaria and Anasia fell back into Briannian hands in January 1259; on February 9, the Battle of Beru ended with a decisive victory by Lady Executrix Namania, and by the end of that month, the Briannians had been driven from Permi also. The Siege of Hannis began on March 18, 1259, and concluded on April 6 with that stronghold's recovery by the forces of the Consortium. In May 1259, Venasian units conquered Uber-Commerce, Podrac, Aflac, and Ultra-Commerce; Venasian expeditions harried the outskirts of Steneborg, Alvsborg, and Gullborg; and a Venasian fleet even appeared in the outskirts of Shiloh. Organia was reconquered by the Consortium on June 18, 1259. On July 2, the Polonians and Venasians defeated the Briannians in the Battle of Vyborg, and from thence seized Arguello, Bartello, Theresa, and Levinston. Into August 1259, Venasian expeditions ranged as far as Rashid, Calpurnia, Dorothy, and Colsonia, inflicting severe damage upon Briannian strategic positions.
- But by the beginning of September, the frontlines had stabilized; Ultra-Commerce and Uber-Commerce were recovered by Briannian units, and the Polonians were driven from Arguello and Bartello. On October 8, 1259, Theresa also fell back into Briannian hands, followed by Levinston four days later. Though Briannian forces could not penetrate back into the Polonian Provinces, nor could they advance through Decapolia and into the Outer Venasian Cluster, they were nevertheless able to defend the overall security of the territories which they already controlled. It was this strategic stalemate that caused all parties to consider an end to the war. In January 1260, this was hastened along by the declining health of King Char'lac. On January 4, soon after the opening of the Briannian Rikstag at the Parliamentary Palace, the King of Briannia had fallen ill with the symptoms of a fever. Ignoring his illness, he embarked on a tour of the garrisons of Vardar and the Belts of Barton, and soon broke down with chills, headaches, and dyspepsia. His physicians were unable to identify the cause of his sickness, and now administered a series of thermal and medicinal treatments to him, hoping to alleviate the symptoms. By February 8, it was clear that the King was beyond hope of recovery. He now confirmed his final will and testament, confirming his son, Prince Char'lac, as his heir apparent. Then finally, on February 13, 1260, Char'lac II Gustav died, aged only 37. His son now became Char'lac III of Briannia (r. 1260-97). Four days after his death, the Armistice of Farbissinia was signed.
- On March 2, negotiations began at Vellae, the world where, eleven centuries earlier, the powers of the Galactic Confederation had agreed to the adoption of the Hyperdrive Calendar dating system. The Conference of Vellae lasted for more than two months, finally culminating in the Treaty of Vellae (May 3, 1260), thereby ending the Briannian-Polonian War of 1255-60 and the Briannian-Venasian War of 1258-60, which, together with the ongoing Laurasian-Polonian conflict, would eventually become known as the Great Polonian War. By the terms of this treaty, King-Emperor Joh'saw of Polonia-Donguaria now renounced his claims to the Briannian crown, which his father, Sigis'ac I had lost in 1199. The Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth now formally conceded the whole of the Horacian Provinces to the Celestial Kingdom of Briannia; all of its other territories were to remain intact, pending the conclusion of peace with Laurasia. Briannia, on its part, now returned Hannis, Permi, Organia, Cadaria, Anasia, and Maxiliana to the Venasian Consortium, but retained possession of the Decapolian Provinces, which it had gained in 1245. No state was to pay any financial indemnities, though the restoration of full economic and diplomatic relations, as well as the exchange of prisoners, was confirmed.
- With the end of the Eastern Wars, Polonia was now able to focus all of its attention upon Laurasia. In January 1260, Laurasian forces had stormed the Galician colonies of Horodok, Okmativ, and Shepelevchie. King Joh'saw, determined to reverse this, now placed the Commonwealth's forces in Galicia under the united command of Marshals Stefan Czarniecki and Jan Sapieha, his proven and trusted military commanders. Throughout February and March 1260, the two commanders gradually assembled their units at Legnica, Mohi, Wronzaz, Draguilli, Polonia Minor, and Lublin for a decisive push to the north. This push began on April 6, 1260, with a Polonian move against Laurasian fortifications at Molarnaria. The ensuing Siege of Molarnaria lasted until April 22, when the stronghold fell to the Commonwealth's forces. Laurasian Prince Cherkassia then launched a counteroffensive, and now blockaded Lyania, which was located eighty light years to the south of Galich Majoria. This, however, did not stop the Polonian offensive.
- On May 7, 1260, the Battle of Barysaw ended in another victory for the forces of Marshal Sapieha, who then proceeded to the reconquest of Angel Hycrania (May 8-15), Rawlings (May 19-22), and Zesia (May 26). A Laurasian move against Zennethia was defeated at Renetha (May 29, 1260), and on June 7, the Laurasians lost Duris. The Second Battle of Buat (June 11, 1260), saw the capture of twelve starfighter squadrons of the Royal Laurasian Navy, a major reversal for Cherkassia and Khovanskia. Then on June 29, Polanka, which Laurasian units had occupied in July 1259, fell under assault from Czarniecki's forces; in spite of the efforts of Khovanskia, the world fell into Polonian hands by the following day. Jared and Polis were reoccupied in July 1260, followed by Denver on August 7, Zutagia on August 15, and Anthony on August 26. Successive confrontations at Matlock (August 28-September 5); Wayne (September 18); Sherlock (October 1-4); and Sydney (October 14), saw Laurasian forces being pushed back farther. Then, from October 15-November 2, 1260, the Battle of Chubnov was waged, five light-years to the east of Watson. Marshal Potocki and Prince Lubormiski, who were serving as Sapieha's chief subordinates, attacked the Laurasian units of Vice-Admiral, the Prince Vessanius Shermevia (1222-82), Cherkassia's chief of staff. The ensuing Battle of Chubnov ended in a decisive Polonian victory; the Laurasians lost 750,000 troops, including almost all of their Malarian mobile squadrons, and they were forced to abandon the stronghold in disarray. Shermevia himself barely evaded capture. Watson, Rupert, and Daniel then fell rapidly back into Polonian hands (November 1260), and on December 8, Frogglesworth was besieged by them. By the end of the year, the tide had turned in Polonia's favor.
- From 1261 to 1263, the Polonian-Laurasian War continued to drag on. The Siege of Frogglesworth, which had commenced on December 8 of the preceding year, ended on January 15, 1261, when the world's defenses gave way in the face of relentless Polonian assaults. From Frogglesworth, Marshal Sapieha proceeded to the recovery of Doris (January 18-February 7); Anthony (February 11); and Galich Minoria (February 19). In March 1261, Polonian forces defeated Laurasian units in successive confrontations at Wilno, Chomeria, Druya, and Cholodonie. On April 7, 1261, Sapieha obtained another success in the Battle of Ceres, which opened the way to Volodormia. Volodormia was besieged from April 16, and though a counteroffensive, launched by Prince Cherkassia, managed to briefly reconquer Daniel and Rupert (April 19-25, 1261), it was not enough in the end. Volodormia fell back into Polonian possession on June 1, 1261. Galich Majoria then became their next target; it was recovered on August 8, 1261. During September and October 1261, Laurasian forces were gradually cleared from the Denveranian Colonies, Duralis, and Chadian, and on November 6, they lost the Battle of Kurkali. By the end of 1261, Polonian forces were poised for an advance back into the Central Core.
- Yet 1262 was marked by a general stalemate between the Laurasians and Polonians. Laurasian units suppressed a series of uprisings on Barty, Muppet, Mommica, and Olivia in February and March of that year, launched a series of unsuccessful reconnaissance expeditions towards Duralis, Druya, and Cholodonie, and repelled a Polonian move against Stenbock, Constancia, and Natasi. In November 1262, the Battle of Uranus ended in a strategic stalemate for the Polonians of Marshal Sapieha. In March 1263, however, a brief civil struggle erupted on Ivoria, and on June 27 of that year, Hetman Khmelynstsky resigned from his post. He was now succeeded by Ivan Briukhovetsky (1223-68), who was elected by the Ivorian Council, and supported by King Arabanus. The new Hetman continued to adhere to the Second Treaty of Ivoria; Polonian efforts to inveigle him back into the Commonwealth's fold failed. In retaliation for this, Sapieha and Czarniecki, with the approval of King Joh'saw, launched a renewed offensive into the Ivorian Provinces in November 1263. Within a short time, they stormed Braeley, Redderson, Bila, and Kentuckia, and on December 7, they laid Storgath under siege. The Siege of Storgath continued into the following year.
- During this time period, two other events of note occurred: the conclusion of the Laurasian-Briannian War and the Currency Riots on Laurasia Prime. By January 1261, with the resumption of military hostilities between Laurasia and Polonia, it was clear to King Artabanus and the Royal Laurasian Government that continuing the war with Briannia would yield no benefit for the Stellar Kingdom. Artabanus did not want for Laurasia to be caught up in a two-front conflict, and he considered territorial gains from Polonia, in the Central Core, to be more important than any which could be achieved from Briannia. Thus, on February 2, 1261, the King had sent a request for negotiations to the Briannian Regency Council, which was then under the direction of the Queen-Dowager, Hedwig Eleanora (1236-1315), who served as Regent for her son, Char'lac IV, during his minority (1260-72). Hedwig Eleanora, encouraged by the Chief of the Briannian General Staff and Oxelstierna's successor as Chancellor, Magnus de la Guardie (1222-86), accepted, and on February 18, a conference was opened at Cardis, a Briannian colony twenty light years to the northeast of Nystadia. Laurasian interests were represented by Count Ordania-Nashokina, the King's trusted chief diplomat; Briannian interests, by Chancellor de la Guardie and by Marshal Edwart Tortensson of Vardar (1227-94). The conference lasted for over a month, until the conclusion of the Treaty of Cardis (March 22, 1261). By the terms of this agreement, the status quo ante bellum was restored between Laurasia and Briannia. Laurasia returned all territories (Ewell, Robinson, Finch, Harper, Lee, Selena, Scout, Penshalay) to Briannia. Neither state was to pay any financial indemnities, and the terms of the Treaty of Stolbovo (1217) were reconfirmed. Briannia, on its part, agreed to recognize Laurasian control of the whole Central Core and its protectorship of Ivoria, and any treaties made by Laurasia with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth. The Treaty of Cardis, ratified by the Rikstag on April 9 and by King Artabanus on April 12, was to maintain peace between the two states for thirty-nine years, until the outbreak of the Great Briannian War in 1300.
- The second notable event, the Currency Riots, transpired due to financial issues afflicting the Royal Laurasian Government, and the response of King Artabanus to it. In 1254, the King had mandated the Royal Treasury to begin issuing copper denarii in large quantities (an average of 35 million tons per year), equating them with silver denarii. This government measure caused the devaluation of copper currency, leading to price inflation of top priority goods and mass production of counterfeit issue, particularly in the Constantine Cluster and at the Jar Asteroid Belt, with the connivance of officials in the Treasury and in the Chancellory. By 1262, therefore, the Kingdom was undergoing a acute currency crisis. In June 1262, word circulated through Christiania and the other cities of Laurasia Prime that there were "black lists", containing the names of those responsible for the economic misfortunes. On the night of July 25, copies of the "lists" were posted at prominent locations throughout the cities of Laurasia Prime. They included the names of the "traitors", such as the Queen's father, Prince Marcella, the Consuls Theodosius Ritcheria (1225-73) and Licinus Katravia (1215-80), and the Chief Clerk of the Royal Chancellory, Count Demetrius Purania (1224-92), along with a number of their subordinates. The actual riot itself began the following morning, and continued throughout the day. More than 250,000 individuals took part in the disturbance, mostly native Christianians, along with some of the Royal Guards.
- After reading a proclamation of rebellion, the insurgents made their way to the Celestial Palace, so as to make their demands to the King. They demanded that His Majesty surrender the "traitors" to his subjects and that he take steps towards the stabilization of the Kingdom's economy. The King and the Royal Council promised to lower taxes, and to conduct an investigation into these officials, in accordance with the demands outlined by the insurgents, as expressed in their proclamation, and in the petition which they presented to Artabanus. The mobs took the King's word for it and moved back into the city, where, in the Commercial Quadrants, many of the most prominent businesses and homes were being attacked or plundered. The rebels then decided to turn back towards the Palace; in the meantime, Artabanus had assembled his Guards, the Christiania Police, and a corps of 100,000 troops of the Royal Laurasian Army. The King then ordered a merciless suppression of the unrest. More than 100,000 rebels were killed or wounded by the government troops, and another 100,000 were captured. By the end of the day, the Currency Riots (which had seen smaller outbreaks in Constantinople, Osraninpolis, Herkorim, Soriana, and Ralispont), had been completely suppressed. Between June 1262 and January 1263, virtually all of the captured rebels would be executed, imprisoned, or sentenced to hard labor. In March, Artabanus decided to abolish the copper denarii, and over the course of the next three years, the economy would begin to recover from the associated stresses.
- 1264, the 64th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with Polonian forces, under Marshals Sapieha and Czarniecki, besieging the Ivorian stronghold of Storgath. For a time, it seemed as if Storgath's defenses would yield to the Polonians. Its garrison was cut off from its supply lines, communications were in jeopardy, and the Polonian force besieging it enjoyed numerical supremacy. Prince Cherkassia, however, who was determined not to yield this stronghold to the hands of the Polonians, now assembled his forces at Jahraes, Zboriv, and Zbarazh for a decisive counteroffensive. These included the 7th and 8th Royal Laurasian Fleets, the 1st Ivorian Force, and a detachment of Ivorian Elders, provided to him by Hetman Briukhohvetsky. Finally (January 18, 1264), he launched the decisive counteroffensive against Polonian forces in the outskirts of the star system. The Polonians, who found their own lines overextended, who were dealing with the outbreak of civil unrest in the Galician Provinces, and who were exhausted, were quickly put to flight; Sapieha and Czarniecki themselves barely evaded capture by the enemy. By the end of the day, Storgath was secure in Laurasian and Ivorian hands. From thence, Cherkassia reconquered Bila (February 5-19), Kentuckia (February 24), and Braeley (March 1). On March 18, 1264, the Battle of Phyrokolva ended in another decisive victory for the Prince's forces. In April and May 1264, he repelled Polonian moves against Sipp, the Sort Drift, Carina, and Seejay Prime, thereby maintaining the Laurasian position in those regions.
- On June 8, 1264, he laid Redderson under siege; the Siege of Redderson concluded ten days later, with the restoration of that stronghold to Laurasian hands. On June 18, Cherkassia obtained another victory in the Battle of Shklov. By the end of July 1264, all Polonian forces had been expelled from the Ivorian Provinces. Laurasian units then renewed their drive back into Galicia. They recovered Duralis (August 7, 1264) and besieged the defenses of Chadian, though they were unable to take that stronghold. Duris, Druya, and Chomeria were then conquered by Laurasian forces in September 1264. On October 9, however, Marshal Sapieha defeated a Laurasian reconnaissance party at Shernae, and then destroyed a Ivorian post at Stavavache, thereby preventing the Hetman from launching his own offensive towards Jared and Polis. Laurasian efforts to seize Zesia, Buat, and Renetha failed in November 1264. By the end of the year, the stalemate had resumed its course.
- 1265, the 65th year of the thirteenth century, began with Laurasia and Polonia still at war. However, active fighting between the two states was shortly to cease, as the progression of internal events within the Commonwealth impaired its ability to launch military offensives back into the Central Core. On January 9, 1265, the Polonians did win the Battle of Iljustke, and were able to sack Maxc-casi. Ten days later, however, a similar Laurasian triumph at Daguvia effectively reversed the results of that earlier Polonian triumph. King Joh'saw himself, who had been engrossed in military conflict for virtually the whole of his reign to that point (in the form of the Ivorian Revolt, the Polonian-Briannian War, and the Polonian-Laurasian War), was exhausted. Yet the King of Polonia was also now faced with internal challenge: from Prince Lubormiski. The King had, since 1252, been engaged in efforts (similar to those once conducted by his brother and father), to enhance his royal authority and to reform the Commonwealth's outdated governmental and political institutions. In 1258, he had introduced in the Parliament a outline of general reform, proposing for the introduction of legislative motions by simple majority, reorganizing the Polonian Royal Council, and creating a general taxation system. The Senate tentatively agreed to the reforms, creating a special commission. However, the King and his supporters also advocated for the adoption of a vivente rege system, by which the King's successor would be elected before his death. Joh'saw hoped that the enactment of this principle would allow for a more continuous line of rulers in the Commonwealth, and that it would be his dynasty which would provide that line.
- The King and his wife, the Ashlgothian Princess Gamalsuintha (1211-67), began to look for supporters among the nobility and the magnates. Their opponents, led by Princes Lukasz Opalinski (1212-66) and Jan Lesczynski (1206-69), along with Prince Lubormiski, created their own faction. As a result of this conflict, all attempts at reform were defeated. During the Parliament of 1261, the King had urged all of the delegates to support extra taxation, the need to carry out election reform, and to regularize the payment of the Polonian Royal Forces. The magnates, encouraged by Lubormiski and Opalinski, opposed the King's proposals, and the Parliament did not vote on them. Within a short period of time, they had formed the Golden Confederation, in order to maintain their ancient privileges and to oppose any efforts at reform. Others among the nobles, led by Marshal Czarniecki, did support the King's efforts, and they created their own confederation, known as the Pious Alliance. In 1262, Parliament again failed to act on the King's proposals, though it did improve an increase in taxation for the Polonian Royal Forces. In October 1264, the King, frustrated by the obstructionism of the Golden Confederation, accused Lubormiski of treason. He was tried by the Parliamentary Court and found guilty (November 19, 1264). His properties were confiscated, his reputation was declared infamous, and he was ordered to leave the Commonwealth.
- The Prince, however, now refused these commands, and at his headquarters on Jotapata, he announced his rebellion against the King (January 18, 1265). By February 7, Lubormiski's forces seized control of Jericho, Sepphoris, Tiberias, Ephraim, and Pressburg. In March 1265, he destroyed a government force under Marshal Karlah bin Josyah in the Battle of Haifa, and seized Rohi. Mohi and Aohi fell to rebel units on April 8; four days later, Cossack and Bordina both defected to Lubormiski's cause. With this rebellion flaring in full force, and with civil tensions stirring also at Legnica and Wronzaz, the King and the Parliament were forced to agree to armistice negotiations with the Royal Laurasian Government. On April 7, 1265, the Royal Council sent a communique to its Laurasian counterpart on Laurasia Prime, requesting for such negotiations to be held, and for a peace conference to be opened. King Artabanus was overjoyed when he heard of this request, and he approved it immediately. On April 22, Princes Cherkassia, Odarania, and Khovankia met with Marshals Czarniecki and Sapieha at Cudnow in the Central Core. The Truce of Cudnow was eventually signed on May 18, 1265, terminating military hostilities between the two states. By that time, the Polonian government's position in Donguaria had worsened, with the loss of Gazara and Shechem to Prince Lubormiski.
- In August 1265, Marshal Sapieha was reassigned to take command of the counter-operations against Lubormiski's forces. For the rest of the year, the Commonwealth was wrenched by the strife of the Lubormiski Rebellion, as it became known. Lubormiski's forces seized Gischala, Bathsheba, and Beth Horon that month, overran the defenses of Donguaria Secunda on September 18, and on October 21, briefly seized control of Donguaria Prima itself. On November 8, he defeated Sapieha in the Battle of Beersheba, and stormed onto Bar Giora. By the end of the year, the momentum was definitively on the side of Lubormiski's forces. As for negotiations between Laurasia and Polonia, a diplomatic conference was opened at Yularen (September 19, 1265). Negotiations, however, dragged along slowly, and without much effect, as the Royal Laurasian Government's demands relating to the Gaalician Provinces were strongly resisted by the Polonians. In fact, for nearly two years, the conference would drag on.
- 1266, the 66th year of the thirteenth century, began with Laurasia and Polonia having ceased active military hostilities against each other, due to the Truce of Cudnow. Polonia continued to be ravaged by the Lubormiski Revolt throughout the first half of the year. During January and February 1266, the rebel Prince's forces secured control of Acre, Nahariya, Karmiel, and Safas; in March 1266, the Siege of Croac ended in a decisive victory for him, with that stronghold falling into his possession; and on April 9, he defeated Marshal Sapieha in the Battle of Glitzow. Ramoth-gilead was in his possession by April 18, though (May 2, 1266), government forces did recover Beersheba, Bathsheba, and Donguaria Secunda. Sapieha was also successful in preventing rebel forces from overrunning the defenses of Donguaria Secunda. But during June 1266, he failed to regain Mohi, Rohi, and Aohi, all of which remained in rebel hands. King Joh'saw himself, seeking a decisive victory, departed from Polonia Major on June 28 and took command of his forces at Legnica. He then proceeded against Lubormiski, seeking himself to regain control of Mohi. On July 13, 1266, the Battle of Mohi ended in a decisive victory for Prince Lubormiski; the King lost almost all of his guards and elite troops. Lubormiski, however, knowing he had the upper hand, decided that it would be prudent to come to terms with Joh'saw. On July 31, 1266, King and Prince, after holding a series of negotiations, signed the Agreement of Lubormice, thereby ending the Lubormiski Rebellion. By the terms of this agreement, King Joh'saw gave up his plans for reform and declared a general amnesty for all the rebels, while Lubormiski signed a letter of apology. The Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth returned to a state of internal, domestic tranquility, but the Commonwealth would still prove incapable of reasserting its position in the Central Core.
- In the meantime, on Laurasia Prime, the events surrounding the disgraced Pope Nikon finally reached their culmination. King Artabanus was determined to finally put this matter at rest, and to consolidate his own authority over the Royal Almitian Church. At the same time, he wished to preserve the architectural, service, and textual innovations which Nikon had introduced into the Church. Thus, on April 5, 1266, the King issued general instructions for the convening of the General Council of the Almitian Church, to be composed of all the Church's leading prelates (metropolitans, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, archmandrites, abbots, general deans, priors, abbesses) summoned from throughout the length and breath of the Caladarian Galaxy. Only such a Council, in the King's opinion, would set all of the disputes persisting within the Church at rest. This Council was the largest summoned in more than a century, since that of the Hundred Chapters in 1150-51. The General Council formally assembled on April 28, 1266, at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. The Council's first session was opened by the King, who delivered a speech to the assembly and emphasized to them the importance of maintaining the unity, conformity, and strength of the Church.
- Among the most prominent attendees of the Council were Cardinal Paisius of the Dasian Heartland (1210-78, who also held responsibility for the Almitian Church's proselytizing and other missions to the satellite galaxies and the Galactic Void), Archbishop Macarius of Hunt Major (1209-72), and Metropolitan Constantine of the Laurasia Prime Purse Region. The Council continued in session for nearly seven months. It declared the rulings of the Council of Hundred Chapters, in relation to church estates and canon law, to be valid, but condemned the Council's dictates concerning the liturgy, conduct of services, and the architectural design of all church structures. Consequently, the General Council now confirmed all of Pope Nikon's ecclesiastical innovations, and excommunicated all, secular or clergy, who acted in contravention to its dictates. This was in spite of the protests of the Archbishop of Charasia, Athanasius (1220-82), who had emerged as one of Nikon's greatest enemies, and who passionately defended all of the earlier customs and services of the Church. Athanasius had, since March 1254, been publishing a flood pamphlets, communiques, and catechisms, criticizing all of Nikon's moves, declaring that they would cast the Church into ruin, and threatening all who supported Nikon's innovations with "eternal punishment in the flames." Athanasius himself was now deprived of his see, and along with his faction of supporters, banished to the Monasteries of Jenny, Chloe, and Windowia Photis. Athanasius was to spend the last sixteen years of his life, first in monasterial confinement, and then in imprisonment, before his execution for heresy on Charasia (April 14, 1282).
- Finally, the Council, in adherence to the King's wishes, turned to the matter of Pope Nikon. In November 1266, the King issued his final command to the Council, ordering them to pass judgment on the offending prelate. It was on December 12, 1266, that the General Council issued their final Resolution, declaring that due to the "severity and heinousness of the crimes committed by His Eminence, it has been deemed necessary to remove him, for he has benefited none and has harmed all." Nikon was now formally deposed as Pope of the Royal Almitian Church, and was pronounced guilty of reviling the King and the whole Almitian Church, of deposing Bishop Paul of the Cron Drift in contravention to canon law, and of mistreating his dependents. His sentence was deprivation of all his sacredotal functions: henceforth, he was to be known simply as the monk Nikon. The former Pope was now banished to the distant Mederian Monastery on Gunevere, in the Morganian Provinces, and he was forbidden writing materials or contact with the outside universe. Nikon was formally deprived of his robes in a ceremony at the Post Settlement of Hepudermia (December 19, 1266), and was then transported to Gunevere, arriving there on Ascentmas Eve. On December 26, the Council made its final ruling in regards to church icons; all of the council judgments would eventually be compiled on the King's orders in March 1267 as the New Church Code. The Council itself dissolved on December 31, 1266.
- 1267, the 67th year of the thirteenth century, began with Laurasia and Polonia now moving quickly to the conclusion of peace. In October 1266, the Royal Laurasian and Polonian Governments had agreed to move the diplomatic conference to Andrusovo, a Ivorian colony thirty-five light years to the southeast of Dasinae. Count Ordania-Nashokina now took charge of the Laurasian side of negotiations; his chief Polonian counterpart, Prince Jerzy Chiebowkicz, was appointed by the Polonian Parliament as the chief plenipotentiary, and he arrived at Andrusovo on December 11, 1266. Negotiations now proceeded more rapidly then they had previously, as Ordania-Nashokina, who had already proved himself a skilled diplomat, was able to secure all of the demands sought for by the King and the Royal Council. He was also helped by the fact that the Polonians desired peace, and were now willing to concede virtually anything in order to achieve it. Finally, on January 26, 1267, the Treaty of Andrusovo was signed. Ratified by King Artabanus on January 28, and by the Polonian Parliament on February 17, it constituted a major triumph for the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia. Through this treaty, Laurasia recovered much of the prestige she had lost during the Ivorian War and the Time of Troubles, and it was now set upon the path which would lead to the foundation of the Laurasian Empire more than fifty years later.
- By the terms of this treaty, the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth now conceded the whole of the Central Core, outside of the Ivorian Provinces, to Laurasia. Laurasia thereby recovered possession of all the territories which it had lost at the Treaty of Deulino (1218): Clancia, Condtella, Reoyania, Dramis, Brithium, Conservan, Marshia, Teth, Evelyn, Hannah, Ruthania, Elainsborough, Bainsborough, Goldaria, Yularen, Daala, Natasi, Pellaeon, Goss Beacon, Hydapses, Haudjrau, Taxiles the Great, Melarnaria, Williams, Paradine, Pasquarillo, Palimisiano, Azov, N'zoth, Carina, Seejay Prime, Sipp, Olivia, Max-casi, Mommica, Barty, Muppet, and Ecreutus, along with all of their associated colonies and strongholds. The Ivorian Hetmanate, in accordance with the First and Second Treaties of Ivoria, was now to become a Laurasian protectorate. The King of Laurasia's ability to dictate the course of its foreign affairs, to station garrisons on Ivorian territory, and to protect the Hetmanate from external threats, was recognized. Laurasia now restored all strongholds it had occupied in Galicia back to the Commonwealth; the Commonwealth's authority over the whole of the Galician and Zennethian Provinces was reaffirmed. Diplomatic and economic relations were restored; Laurasian and Polonian merchants, starhoppers, and navigators now gained free passage in the territories of the other for a period of five years (until March 1, 1272). Laurasia also agreed to pay an indemnity of $11.2 trillion denarii per annum for six years, as compensation to Polonia for the concession of the Goldarian Provinces.
- Laurasia, now effectively ruling the whole of the Central Core, found itself immeasurably strengthened. King Artabanus himself, cognizant of his enhanced status, took the title "King and Autocrat of All the Galactic Center Regions" (March 1267). Ordania-Nashokina was congratulated by the Royal Laurasian Government for his services. When he arrived back on Laurasia Prime from the conference (April 6, 1267), he was received by adoring crowds at Inspiter, Volcania, Marsia, and the Asteroid Belt; at the moons of Laurasia Prime; and in the cities, particularly Christiania. The King received him at the Celestial Palace, and embraced him. He then presented the Count and his subordinates to the Royal Court, Conference of Almitian Prelates, and Aristocratic Duma, declaring that he had done much for the Laurasian realms. In May 1267, Ordania-Nashokina was made Prince of Goldaria, awarded estates throughout the Central Core, and given the Chairmanship of the Duma, as a reward for all of his efforts in the service of the King. Moreover, he now became Secretary of the Royal Chancellory and Adjunct of the Royal Guards, which, in conjunction to his posts in Foreign Affairs and the Diplomatic Service, effectively made him the King's chief minister. The King himself then conducted a tour to his newly-acquired Clancian Provinces (June-July 1267), and from August 1267, began the administrative reorganization of the territories of the Central Core. On September 5, he was to meet Hetman Briukhovetsky at Senna, and they became privy to a series of entertainments over the following days. Ordania-Nashokina, on his part, who now enjoyed the pre-emient position in the King's service, sponsored a series of further beneficial reforms. On June 7, the Secretary had appointed a special commission to examine the commercial laws, both foreign and domestic, of the Stellar Kingdom. This commission, which began meeting at the Diplomatic Palace on June 18, 1267, continued in its work for nearly five months.
- Ultimately, the Commission produced the New Commercial Statute (Commercial nova lege), which, after a series of revisions by the Chancellory, Royal Council, and Aristocratic Duma, was promulgated by King Artabanus (November 18, 1267). The Statute, which consisted of 102 articles, an introduction, and conclusion, now sought to synthesize and summarize all of the chief commercial regulations in Laurasia. Basic principles of commercial and economic policy were set forth in the Statute's introduction. The Statute expressed concern for replenishing the state treasury while supporting the Kingdom's merchants and entrepreneurs, and established the principles by which the Laurasian credit system was to be reorganized. It included detailed rules for domestic (internal) commerce, providing a general outline of those which had already been codified in the Commercial Statute of 1253. Powers over trade and customs was taken from the Kingdom's viceroys and planetary governors, instead being centralized in a uniform Bureau of Internal Commerce and Transportation, placed under the jurisdiction of the Royal Treasury. The Statute settled all outstanding questions concerning the frequency, manner, and amount of customs duties which were imposed. The Statute also devoted considerable space to commercial matters relating to foreigners and aliens. Foreign merchants were required to conduct financial transactions at specified spaceports, though their rights to free transport, freedom of navigation, and freedom of shipping were confirmed. The New Commercial Statute also provided means by which disputes between foreign and Laurasian merchants could be resolved, and it clarified the status of diplomatic immunity enjoyed by foreign subjects conducting economic business within the Kingdom's dominions. This statute, with some modifications, remained in effect for nearly a century, until it was replaced by the Customs Statute of 1355, enacted under Antiochus the Great.
- In conjunction with the New Commercial Statute, Ordania-Nashokina implemented, in November 1267 and February 1268, a general reform of the system of tolls imposed on imports and exports. He reduced the number of internal tariffs, simplified and abolished onerous regulations on transport, trade, and storage of goods, and encouraged the formation of a common Society of Entrepreneurs, in order to coordinate their activities, and to provide an outlet for their concerns to the Royal Laurasian Government. He also sponsored the formation of specialized societies and firms to examine questions related to the Laurasian economy, and in April 1268, he created an Inquiry Commission within the Royal Chancellory. Ordania-Nashokina persuaded Artabanus into promulgating the decree of December 2, 1267, which reorganized the Bureau of Royal Correspondence, subordinating the Petitions Office to it and mandating for all such petitions to be promptly and speedily addressed if they related to economic matters. He also ordered the expansion of the Laurasian holonet communications system, awarding, between July 1267 and March 1269, contracts to Christiania Drive Yards, Harcourt Communications, and Chancellor Industries to construct new communications relays, frequency stations, and contact garrisons throughout the Purse Region, Central Core, and Wild Marshes. He relaxed censorship of all private materials, and permitted for noble subjects to sponsor the establishment of additional presses and channels for the production, modification, and distribution of entertainment and news material. In January 1269, the Secretary was to sponsor the creation of a uniform Royal Journal, which was to serve as an official governmental publication.
- In regards to foreign relations with Laurasia's neighbors, Ordania-Nashokina sought to regularize commercial and diplomatic obligations reached with them. He negotiated new commercial treaties with Solidarita (1267), Briannia (1268), Polonia (1268), Melorkia (1269), Ashlgothia (1270), Venasia (1271), and the Huntite Caliphate (1274), seeking to ensure that each power gave "favored nation status", recognized the immunity of their merchants and navigators, and adhered to a common schedule relating to duties and other imports. He expanded the official archives, regularized the process of instruction-giving to all Laurasian emissaries and dignitaries abroad, and in July 1268, sponsored the foundation of a new Civil Service Academy for Diplomats on Meaganian. He also encouraged all Laurasian diplomats to keep on good terms with the courts that they were stationed at, but to provide as much intelligence information as possible. All of Ordania-Nashokina's efforts, in his view, were directed to enhancing the authority of the state. He pursued this also with the Church, encouraging the vigorous enforcement of the rulings made by the General Council of 1266. He also worked effectively with the new Pope, Nikon's successor Joasaphus II (1211-72), who had been formally enthroned on February 10, 1267, at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. With Ordania-Nashkoina's encouragement, Pope Joasaphus established the Ecclesiastical Secret Service, in October 1267, to be responsible for all investigations of abuses or misconduct within the Church service. Overall, 1267 drew to a positive end for Laurasia. 1268, however, was to be marked with the outbreak of some internal turmoil, related to an entanglement in the Wild Marshes.
- 1268, the 68th year of the thirteenth century, began with Laurasia restored to peace with the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth, a situation that was to persist until the outbreak of the Great Briannian War (1300), and the Briannian interventions within the Commonwealth. Yet this did not last for long. In January 1268, word reached Laurasia Prime of the organization, at the distant outpost of Petrovia in the Morganian Provinces, of a mercenary and pirate force led by the Laurasian colonist Stephanus Razaria (1230-71). Razaria, who had been born on Chloe, had immigrated with his parents into Morgania when he was sixteen years old, and they had settled at Petrovia, which had been established by the Royal Laurasian Government as one of its first colonies in the Wild Marshes. But Razaria was an ambitious and intriguing figure, and he was determined to stake out something more for himself. Already, in 1261, he had gotten in trouble with the authorities for his efforts to engage in extra-legal trade into Angelica. During the course of the next five years, Razaria had gradually assembled around himself his own force, including Kelvanian and Morganian mercenaries, other Laurasian colonists, brigands, and even deserters from the Royal Laurasian Forces. He also obtained access to a abandoned Amelianian military repository at Dzhnek, which had not been discovered by Laurasian troops during the First and Second Amelianian Wars, and was consequently able to use the starships, supplies, and weapons obtained there for his own benefit. Razaria now looked into the Angelican Provinces, this time as a theater to obtain plunder and win glory for himself. He was encouraged by the conditions now prevailing in the Galactic Borderlands.
- King Ethelwulf of Amelianian Cordania, whose effort to recover his position in the Wild Marshes had failed, had then been distracted by increasing conflict with the Donathians in the northern Galactic Borderlands. From 1246 to 1253, in fact, he was engaged in almost constant warfare with them; they were now under the leadership of Ragnar Lodbrok (r. 1245-64), who was able to definitively establish his species as a territorial power within the Caladarian Galaxy. He did this at the same time as the Mellorites in the Northern Outer Borderlands, who under Umar and Othman were then engaged in their overthrow of the Homidinian Khanate. Donathian units gradually occupied Bucharina, Marson, Kerch, Tessy, Thornton, Uma, Voronezh, and the chief strongholds of the Western Galactic Frontier Route. Ethelwulf was unable to throw them back into the Galactic Void, in spite of the assistance which he received from Kings Ethelweard of Amelianian Lavella (r. 1248-54, who succeeded Ethelstan in November 1248), from Eanred of Nordania, and then, after his death in January 1250, his son Ethelred II (r. 1250-62), and from Berthowulf, and following his death in July 1252, Burgred of Marcia (r. 1252-74). In July 1250, the Amelianian Kings were defeated in the Battle of Kumong; Ung, Pyongyang, Sackrandis, Dilojong, Kumong, Ayensdord, and the outer Muggal Cluster then fell before the Donathians. In October 1250, Donathian forces invaded the Angelican Provinces, overrunning Eric, Shineski, Iverman, Aspen, Roach, Etienne, Corfu, Prima, and Angelica Minor by October 1251. But in November of that year, Ragnar Lodbrok was challenged with a rebellion by his son Morgar, and it was this that ultimately lead to his request for negotiations in October 1252. The Treaty of Teller, signed in January 1253, had confirmed the Donathian hold of the Northern Reaches, Tof Borderlands, and Muggal Cluster.
- During the last five years of his reign, Ethelwulf dealt with rebellions at Kalbacha Minor, Sherry, Bane, and Cognus, and also with the threat of the Hypasian insurgent leader Maidu Trash Dakai, who, in 1255-56, briefly seized control of Huerta Mongol, Qu'emia, Bach Dang, Thang Long, Hypasia Minor, and Van Klep before he was captured and executed by Amelianian troops. In December 1254, Edmund became King of Amelianian Lavella, and he received the assistance of Ethelwulf, who concluded the Treaty of Dequan with him in March 1255, meant to protect Lavellan dominions from the possibility of a future Donathian invasion. This treaty, however, would expire in April 1259. Ethelwulf's health entered a severe decline beginning in March 1257, and on January 13, 1258, he died on Hypasia Major. He was now succeeded to the throne of Amelianian Cordania by his eldest son Ethelbald; his younger son, Ethelberht, became Governor of Kthexox, as had been provided in his father's will. Ethelbald contended with another Hypasian rebellion, this time at Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, and Ben Tre (July 1259-January 1260), but was ultimately able to suppress it with great effort. He dealt also with domestic troubles, and was condemned by his clerics for his extra-marital affair with the Rhedite lady Ban'a, one of the attendants of his household. His death at Angelica Minor on December 20, 1260, left Ethelberht as King of Amelianian Cordania. Ethelberht himself ruled as King for only five years until his death in October 1265. He was then succeeded by another of Ethelwulf's sons, Ethelred. The following month, the Donathians resumed their operations into the Galactic Borderlands.
- Donathian King Lodbrok had died in July 1264, and his three sons, Halfdan Ragnarsson (1236-77), Ivar the Boneless (1240-73), and Ubba (1243-79), became co-Kings of the Donathians. They were now determined to push farther into the Galactic Borderlands, and viewed the Amelianian Kingdoms as an obstacle which needed to be eliminated. They first intended to assault Amelianian Lavella, and to launch, from the Southern Void, another offensive, directed at Nordania. Between August 1264 and November 1265, the brothers engaged in their plans, mobilizing their military forces in the Galactic Void and at the strongholds of the Northern Reaches. Finally (November 8, 1265), Donathian forces, without warning, launched their invasion of Amelianian Lavella. Within a short space of time, they overran Dequan, Orion, Flournoy, McIntyre, Ernie, Shashanaya, Black-Chandlier, Monique, and Denziel. In March 1266, King Edmund was forced to agree to the Treaty of Washington, by which he pledged himself as a vassal to the Kings of Donathia, and conceded the above strongholds to their authority. In August, Donathian forces invaded Nordania; within short order, Bernicia, Kylantha, and Jadaurine were in Donathian hands. On September 19, 1266, Deira itself was besieged by the Donathians; it fell to them on October 7, and King Osberht, who had succeeded Ethelred in July 1262, was himself killed. The Donathians then installed (November 8, 1266), the Nordanian Prince Ecgberht on the throne as their vassal; he had to agree to the Treaty of Essie, in which he promised them full military and financial support.
- In January 1267, Marcia too was invaded by the Donathians. Donathian forces stormed through Neustron, the Gate Solarian Cluster, and Ompus Septimia in record order, and on March 1, they destroyed an opposing Marcian force in the Battle of Tekos IV. Five days later, Vector Prime was captured by King Halfdan, and it was at this stage that King Burgred requested the aid of Cordanian King Ethelred in repelling the invaders. Ethelred moved quickly, declaring war upon the Donathians on March 22, and combining his forces with those of the Marcians at Invicitus Mesura. The united allied forces then besieged Vector Prime (April 5-May 1, 1267) to no effect, and in June 1267, they were forced to conclude the Treaty of Rhedita Major with Kings Halfdan and Ivar, by which they promised to recognize Donathian overlordship of Nordania and Amelianian Lavella, their acquisitions in the Lavellan Borderlands, and their right to exact tribute, financial and otherwise, from the territories they had subdued. Moreover, the two Kings of Ameliania themselves agreed to the payment of a substantial financial indemnity, to the tune of 200 trillion Amelianian pounds, to be paid in six installments over the next ten years, and to surrender 550,000 captives to the Donathians as a mark of their "peaceful intentions". The Donathians then made their return to Nordania (September 1267), and during 1268, they focused their efforts on raiding expeditions towards Hospallia, Nicole, and Redia, where they came into conflict with Ashlgothia and Anastasia.
- Amelianian authority in Hypasia and Angelica was now dangerously weak, as those provinces continued to be hit by Donathian raiding expeditions. With that, Razaria saw his opportunity. On February 9, he made his departure from Petrevia, and attempted to set up a base at Yarania, which was located ten light-years to the north. However, the Viceroy of Upper Morgania, Prince Athanasius Udormania (1206-74), now attempted to stop him, and to disperse his forces. As Razaria made his way to Yarania, Viceroy Udormania, with his numerically and organizationally superior forces, moved towards him. Udormania, however, seeking to prevent the outbreak of rebellion, and to minimize bloodshed, attempted to negotiate with Razaria. Razaria, however, threatened to launch an assault upon the colony of Mauldis IV if the Viceroy interfered. His own forces continued to be bolstered by the arrival of more mercenaries and more recruits, and he had a better knowledge of the region than the Viceroy. Razaria also tried to give the impression that he was against the nobility and the governmental officials, telling a convoy of political prisoners near Lancelot that he intended only to "fight for the rights and freedom of this Kingdom's subjects."
- When Razaria made his way by Mauldis IV, Udormania did not attack him, for many of his own personnel and starships were now deserting to, or expressed their sympathy for, Razaria's cause. Razaria then proceeded to capture Yarania (July 7, 1268), tricking the world's garrison and causing for the shields to be lowered. He was welcomed by the colonists as a hero, and they adored him. Razaria now lead the bulk of his forces beyond Yarania and into Lower Angelica, but government forces reconquered Yarania (September 1268). After losing Yarania, however, Razaria decided to continue into Amelianian territory. His forces attacked the Amelianian garrison of Yarbend (October 1-4, 1268). Failing to capture it, Razaria then moved to assault the Amelianian colony of Bagukha, but at Radar (October 19), Amelianian troops killed more than 100,000 Laurasian conscripts in a surprise attack. But on October 28, he destroyed a Amelianian force at Suma, and proceeded to harry Eric, Roach, Etienne, and the colony of Istara, in the outskirts of the Immortalized Cluster. This occupied his attention during the last months of 1268, and his attacks compounded continuing Donathian, Solidaritan, and even Xilanian raids, espionage operations, and the like in the region. On Laurasia Prime, in the meantime (October 17, 1268), the Queen Consort's father, Prince Marcella, died at the Diplomatic Palace. He was, on the orders of King Artabanus, given a official funeral at the Old Westphalian Cathedral, and was interred there on November 8, 1268.
- 1269, the 69th year of the thirteenth century, began with the forces of the mercenary and colonist, the Laurasian Stephanus Razaria, launching his own raiding operations within Angelica, controlled by the Kingdom of Amelianian Cordania. These raids continued throughout much of the year. In January 1269, Shineski was sacked by Razaria's units; he then followed it up with an attack on the outskirts of Schulzki (February 1-7, 1269), and on March 2, humiliated a Amelianian force under the command of General Raedwald Lodgar in the Battle of Titus. The outposts of Zachary, Donavan, and Sebstiani were stormed in April 1269, and Razaria launched expeditions that reached even into the Immortalized Cluster. On June 27, he also repelled a Amelianian offensive against his headquarters at Mandaban Colony. But by July, the colonist had decided that he had derived as much benefit from these expeditions as he could. Moreover, he now received a pardon offer from King Artabanus, who was pleased by his exploits, and believed that they had enhanced the security of the Stellar Kingdom's frontiers in the Wild Marshes, due to the situation which now prevailed within the Galactic Borderlands. It was on July 6 that Razaria announced his intention of return to his chief subordinates. His forces abandoned Mandaban Colony on July 22, and after launching a final raiding expedition, against the Amelianian garrison at Boss Point, they then turned back into Laurasian territory. On August 12, 1269, Razaria's forces made their appearance at Merlin, and he formally received his pardon, on condition of disbanding all of the units under his control. He did so, and was allowed to return to Petrevia. Razaria, however, was beginning to formulate ideas of his own, and these would come into the open in the new year.
- On Laurasia Prime, King Artabanus now suffered a personal tragedy of his own. His wife, Queen-Consort Claudia, had proven a model consort. She adhered to all of the rules, established at the Royal Laurasian Court, governing the conduct of women, and did not interfere in public affairs. However, the Queen embodied the virtues of Almitism, as was expected of every consort, and she participated in public charitable and religious activities. She engaged in donations to St. Katherine's Monastery and St. Bartholomew's Hospital on Laurasia Prime, and supported the work of Consul Ritcheria. She acted as a protector of the cult of St. Mary of Letousia, who had lived in the 28th century BH, and gave many favors to the Serenskia Monastery on Janesia. She also benefited St. Eugene's Monastery on Caladaria. As regards to her marital duties, she had fulfilled them. She and the King had sixteen children by 1269. They were Demetrius (1248-49), Claudia (1250-1312), Leontia (1252-1307), Artabanus (1254-70), his father's original heir apparent, Anna (1255-59), Theodora (1257-1304), destined to become Regent of Laurasia, Katharina (1258-1318), Maria (1260-1323), Theodosius III (1261-82), Theodosia (1262-1313), Athanasius (1265-69), and Menelaus I (1266-96). Of these, Claudia, Leontia, Theodora, Katharina, Maria, Theodosius, Theodosia, and Menelaus all lived to adulthood. In November 1268, the Queen-Consort became pregnant with her seventeenth and last child. The pregnancy proceeded smoothly, and on August 4, 1269, the Queen-Consort gave birth to a daughter, who was named Agrippina. That daughter, however, was sickly, and died only ten days later. Her mother then took ill, and in spite of the efforts of the physicians, her condition deteriorated rapidly. On August 18, 1269, Queen-Consort Claudia died, aged 44, of what was later determined to be Bolesian fever. Her husband, the King, was left inconsolable by his wife's death, and for several days, refused to emerge from his private quarters. Claudia was laid out in state at the Old Westphalian Cathedral; she would be buried there on October 7, 1269, in a ceremony attended by the King, all of the chief figures of Court and Government, and by Pope Joasaphus, who presided over the service. During the last months of 1269, therefore, a sense of gloom marked the Royal Laurasian Court.
- 1270, the 70th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia still residing in an overall state of "peace". This peace, however, was now to be disrupted: in the Wild Marshes, which still resembled, in many respects, a "frontier region" for the Royal Laurasian Government. Stephanus Razaria, who had won fame and prestige for himself by his expedition into Amelianian Angelica, now deemed it time to stake out a place for himself within the realms of the King, and that the volatile situation, as it existed in the Morganian Provinces, would give him the window of opportunity that he needed. On January 11, 1270, at Petrevia, after having spent the preceding months secretly gathering support and assurances of aid, he formally announced his rebellion against the Royal Laurasian Government. In his proclamation of rebellion, Razaria declared that the "subjects of this realm seek for deliverance: deliverance from the oppression directed at them. They also seek for freedom, the ability to choose their own destiny, and for prosperity, the ability to enjoy the fruits of their labor without interference from governmental authorities." In firm control of Petrevia, Razaria rapidly reassembled his military forces, and then launched a series of swift operations to extend his position further. Yarania fell into his hands (January 18), followed in short order by the Morganian systems of Pellinore, Tor, and Urien (January 22-February 2, 1270).
- On February 8, 1270, Razaria defeated a governmental expeditionary force, under the command of Lord Tiberius Strogania (1215-83), the last scion of that noted Laurasian family, in the Battle of Gaheris. From Gaheris, his forces stormed into Maleagant and Morholt (February 11-19) and on February 22, Razaria obtained another victory at Galahad. The outposts of Caius, Leir, and Dalmutio fell before him in March 1270, and on April 4, Strogania was defeated again in the Battle of Curan. Razaria then besieged Gawain (April 11-19, 1270), and captured the world, ordering for all of the officers of the Laurasian garrison to be put to death. He now incorporated Morganians and the Laurasian personnel of the garrison into his own forces, and made use of the world's fortresses, shield generators, and military repositories. Mordred was overrun on May 3. Razaria then began his advance towards Excalibur, determined from there to drive into Lancelot. Defeating government units at the colony of Chadred Tobor (May 18, 1270), he established himself in Excalibur's outskirts shortly thereafter. The Siege of Excalibur continued until June 5, when the world fell into his hands.
- From there, Razaria finally ventured into Lancelot itself (June 24, 1270). He was now aided in his efforts to conquer the star system by the revolt of the Morganian populace and by rebel tensions among the garrison of the star system. By June 29, he had full possession of the world, and he now comprehensively sacked the Governor's Residence, St. Paul's Fortress, and the Lancelot Financial Repository. After massacring all of those who opposed him and allowing the Morganians to seize from the Laurasian soldiers as they wished, he established Lancelot as his command headquarters, and began organizing the "institutions of liberty" which he envisioned establishing throughout the Morganian and Kelvanian Provinces. He divided the population into millions, hundreds of thousands, and tens of thousands, with their proper officers, all of whom were appointed by a general assembly, whose first act was to proclaim Razaria, on July 14, 1270, as their "sovereign lord and leader." After more than a month of debauchery and slaughter, Razaria then decided to leave Lancelot, and set about extending the bounds of his "authority" further. He defeated a government force at Maleficient (August 1, 1270), and in September, captured both Gunevere and Cordelia. Regan, however, defied all efforts, successfully repelling the rebel offensives.
- By this point, King Artabanus had organized a vigorous counter-response to the Rebellion, and he dispatched substantial forces under the command of Admiral Lord Polydorus Barania (1221-85), to contain this rebellion. Barania now lured Razaria to the Straits of Lemorak, and in the ensuing battle (October 1-4, 1270), he inflicted a decisive defeat upon the rebel. Razaria lost almost all of the transports, supplies, and turbocannons which his forces had captured, along with 500,000 of his best troops and a corps of Morganian and Angelican mercenaries, who had joined his service. In the aftermath of this confrontation, Barania was able to make substantial gains. Gunevere and Cordelia fell back into government hands (October 8-14); on October 17, the last rebel forces in the vicinity of Regan were repelled; and on October 24, Razaria was defeated again in the Battle of Leofranc. Chadred Tabor, Maleagant, and Morholt were recovered by government forces during November 1270. On December 11, Razaria was also forced to abandon Dalmutio and Leir. On Ascentmas Day, 1270, Barania laid Curan under siege.
- 1271, the 71st year of the thirteenth century, witnessed the culmination, and then conclusion, of the Razaria Rebellion. It also witnessed King Artabanus's second marriage, which was to produce the founder of the Laurasian Empire. The Rebellion, as has been demonstrated, had experienced a number of recent setbacks. The Siege of Curan continued until January 23, 1271, when the stronghold fell to Barania. Barania ordered for the imprisonment, conviction, and execution of more than 150,000 rebels, who were impaled, beheaded, or burned to death with electric flares. By this, he meant to demonstrate that the Royal Laurasian Government would give no place to traitors. Razaria, however, now dispatched his emissaries who stirred up revolts on Morgania Minor, Merlin, and Arthur against their Laurasian garrisons (January 24-February 17, 1271). Although all of these outbursts were ultimately suppressed, they nevertheless demonstrated the reach of the Rebellion. Barania retaliated by ordering for the destruction of a rebel convoy at Odfranc (February 22, 1271), and on March 1, he defeated Razaria again in the Battle of Bors. Caius was then reconquered on March 8, and Razaria's forces were also driven from Galahad. Razaria himself now launched a series of raiding expeditions against Morholt, Gunevere, Carmponia (March 11-24, 1271), but these failed to achieve anything, and on April 2, he suffered another reverse at Mordred.
- On April 16, 1271, Excalibur was laid under siege by Lord Barania. In spite of all of Razaria's efforts, the world fell two days later. Lancelot was then taken on April 22, and Razaria, along with his brother Pontius (1234-71), were driven back towards Yarania. But by this point, many of Razaria's own lieutenants and subordinates, understanding that their cause was lost, had determined that only the surrender of their leader would save them. They now conspired to seize the two Razaria brothers, and to hand them over to government authorities at the earliest available opportunity. In this, they foreshadowed the subordinates of Anastasius Pugachevia, who would betray him to the Imperial Laurasian Government in a similar manner more than five centuries later. On May 1, 1271, Stephanus and Pontius were seized by their subordinates while they were sleeping in their bedchambers at Mozaria Colony, which was three light years to the east of Yarania. Placed into chains, they were then huddled onto a transport and brought to Lord Barania at Kagheris. Barania now ordered for them to be sent on, under guard, to Laurasia Prime. They arrived at the capital world on May 18, and were greeted with jeers, as well as derision, by the inhabitants of the moons and of the cities.
- King Artabanus now had the two Razaria brothers placed on trial before the Aristocratic Duma and Royal Council. The trial began on May 28, and lasted for two days. Stephanus Razaria now begged for mercy from the King, decried his rebellion against him, and declared that he had only sought to provide for the interests and security of the Kingdom's subjects in the Wild Marshes. No one accepted these excuses, however, and at the end of the trial, the two brothers were convicted on all charges and sentenced to death. Artabanus wasted no time in signing their death warrant, and commanded that they were to be executed at the High Tower of Christiania (which had been constructed from 1249-53, and was the precursor to the Fortress of Baureux, not to be erected for another three centuries). Their executions were carried out, before a crowd of nearly a million persons, at the High Tower on June 16, 1271. Both brothers were hanged, disemboweled, staked, and then impaled, experiencing extreme agony. After they were dead, their remains were put on display at public places throughout the city of Christiania. They remained as such until November 1271, when they were taken down and buried in canisters at the High Tower. Nearly three centuries later, in July 1560, Emperor Antoninus Pius would order for the remains to be re-interred at the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vicula, in the Fortress of Baureux.
- The Razaria Rebellion, however, did not end with the capture of its leader. It was not until November 26, 1271, that Yarania and Petrevia were reconquered by government forces. On the orders of the King, Prince Barania and the authorities continued with their ruthless policies of retribution, executing, imprisoning, or condemning to hard labor more than four million rebels, between November 1271 and July 1272. The royal authorities imposed a program of rigorous survelliance in the Morganian Provinces, and from thereafter, all of the chief strongholds were considerably bolstered. Both Yarania and Petrevia were laid to waste by troops of the Royal Laurasian Army, abandoned, and officially removed from the star charts. Subjects were forbidden to travel to those two star systems in the future. This prohibition would remain in effect until the fifteenth century, when the worlds were rehabilitated under Claudius II. Yet as alluded above, King Artabanus had a new wife by the time this Rebellion was suppressed.
- Due to the weakness of his surviving sons by the late Queen-Consort Claudia Marcella, Theodosius and Menelaus, it was deemed important by his subjects that the King remarry as possible. And Artabanus did not disappoint, for within a year of the Queen Consort's death, he had found his new wife. Artabanus had assumed the habit of making routine visits to the home of Count Artemius Matrevia (1225-82), who had, by 1270, an established career within the Royal Laurasian Government. Matrevia had sat on the Royal Council and Aristocratic Duma since 1249, and in 1254, he had been a member of the delegation which negotiated the First Treaty of Ivoria with the Ivorian Hetmanate. In 1262, he had become Co-Adjunct of the Royal Guards, and had taken a leading role in the suppression of the Currency Riots. In 1268, he became Secretary of the Bureau for the Coordination of Ivorian Affairs, a body established following the conclusion of the Treaty of Andrusovo, and responsible for Laurasian relations with the Hetmanate. Matrevia was one of the most educated noblemen in the Stellar Kingdom, having graduated from the University of Laurasia Prime in 1247 with degrees in Political Science, Languages, and Public Administration. He was a cultural expert, and was fascinated by the cultures throughout the Caladarian Galaxy. Indeed, at the receptions which he would hold at his residence for foreign visitors and for diplomatic dignitaries, he would question them intelligently on the state of politics, arts, and technology in their realms.
- He was married to the Goldarian Princess Ma'va (1233-1319), who was renowned for her beauty and for her own intelligence; she spoke eight languages, including, besides her native Goldarian, Laurasian, High Galactic Standard, Dasian, Arachosian, Venasian, Polonian, and Clancian. The couple decorated their home with all manner of cultural artifacts, in contrast to other Laurasian noble and gentry families; Ma'va, moreover, did not confine herself to her bedchambers as most Laurasian women did at that time, instead actively mingling with guests and even joining in their conversations. It was thus, during one of these "unconventional stays" in the presence of Ma'va (January 22, 1270), that the widower King's eye fell upon another young woman in Matrevia's household. This was Julia Narishina (1251-94), who was then eighteen years old, a tall, shapely young woman with black eyes and long eyelashes. Her father, Count Keletus Narishina (1223-91), a relatively obscure property-holder of Dasian origins, lived on Johnald in the Malarian Provinces, far from Laurasia Prime. In order to elevate the status of his daughter, Narishina had persuaded his friend Matrevia to accept Julia as his ward and raise her in the atmosphere of culture and freedom which characterized his house in Christiania. Julia had profited from this opportunity.
- For a Laurasian woman, she was well educated, and by watching and assisting her foster mother, she had learned to receive and entertain male guests. That day, when the King was present, Julia came into the room with Princess Ma'va to serve alcohol and a meal of caviar and smoked fish. Artabanus stared at her, noticing her healthy, glowing good looks, her black, almond-shaped eyes, and her serene but modest behavior. When she stood before him, he was impressed by the blend of respect and good sense in her brief replies to his questions. Leaving Matrevia's house, the King was much cheered up, and in saying good night, he asked Matrevia whether he was looking for a husband for this appealing young woman. Matrevia replied that he was, but that, as neither Julia's father nor he himself was rich, the dowry would be small, and there would be few suitors. Artabanus declared that there were still some men who saw a woman's qualities as higher than her fortune, and promised to help his minister find one.
- A short while later, the King informed Matrevia that he had found a "gentleman who will probably be agreeable to her. He is a very honorable man with whom I am acquainted, is not destitute of merit and has no need of a dowry. He loves your ward and is inclined to marry her and make her happy. Though he has not yet disclosed his sentiments, she knows him, and if she is consulted, I think she will accept him." Matrevia replied that Julia would certainly "accept anyone proposed by Your Majesty. However, before she gives her consent, she may probably desire to know who he is. And this appears to me no more than what is reasonable." At this, Artabanus announced "Well then, tell her it is me, and that I am determined to marry her." Matrevia, who was overwhelmed by the implications of this declaration, threw himself at his master's feet. He recognized instantly both the glittering prospects and the unfathomable dangers of the King's decision. To have his ward elevated to Queen would seal his own success: her relatives and friends would rise along with her; they and he would replace the Marcellas as the predominant noble faction at the Royal Court.
- However, this would also mean dangerously stimulating the antagonism of the Marcellas, as well as the jealousy of many other noble families who were already suspicious of Matrevia's increasing favor with the King. With this in mind, Matrevia begged that even if determined on his choice, the King would nevertheless submit to the traditional process of publicly picking his bride from a flock of assembled candidates. This process, which would continue until the reign of Antiochus the Conqueror, had been fraught with its own difficulties. The case of Lady Euphemia Varania in 1247 has already been noted, demonstrating the extent to which families were willing to go to secure their place next to the King's throne. Similar dangers loomed for Julia and for Matrevia. But they did not have a choice, for Artabanus was determined. Notice was given, that on February 11, 1270, the preliminary inspection of all eligible young women would take place, and Lady Julia was commanded to be present. A second inspection, by the King himself, was scheduled for April 28. But soon after the first ceremony, rumors spread that Julia Narishina had been chosen. There was a reaction to this, and four days before the second inspection, anonymous communiques were found at the Celestial Palace accusing Matrevia of using magical herbs to make the King desire his ward. An investigation was necessary, and the marriage was postponed for nine months. But nothing was proved.
- Finally, on February 1, 1271, to the joy of most Laurasians and the chagrin of the Marcellas, King Artabanus and Julia Narishina were married at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. From the day of their marriage, it was clear to everyone that the forty-one year old King was deeply in love with his handsome, black-haired young wife. She brought him freshness, happiness, relaxation, and a sense of renewal. He wanted her constantly by his side and took her with him wherever he went. The first year of their marriage, the newly-weds moved among the various palaces of the King, such as the Palace of Placenta on Darcia, where the King rode with his falcons. At the Court, the new Queen quickly became an agent of change. Julia loved music and theater. Early in his reign, Artabanus had issued an edict sternly forbidding his subjects to dance, to play games or watch them, at wedding feasts either to sing or play on instruments, or to give one's soul to perdition in such pernicious and lawless practices as word play, farces, or magic. But an orchestra played at the King's wedding, and within a short time, Artabanus (June 12, 1271), repealed his edict. The King began to patronize play-writing and ordered the construction of a new theater near the Celestial Palace. In October 1271, a biblical drama, The Wiles of the Jatherian Actors, was presented before the King, Queen, and Court. Artabanus was overjoyed, and in the following two days, four additional plays, along with two ballets, were performed. The King's delight in his new wife increased further when, in October 1271, he learned that she was pregnant. From then into the new year, both parents prayed for a son. 1271 ended, therefore, with the Kingdom having obtained a new Queen Consort.
- 1272, the 72nd year of the thirteenth century, began with Laurasia once again fully restored to internal peace. As the new year opened, King Artabanus elevated his wife's former guardian, Lord Matrevia, to a higher position in the State. On January 17, 1272, he was named Secretary of the Bureaus of Chancellory, Correspondence, and Foreign Affairs, President of the Aristocratic Duma, and Adjunct of the Royal Guards. Matrevia also took over the chairmanship of the Royal Council. He thereby replaced Prince Ordania-Nashokina, who had retired in October 1271 and retreated to his estates on Taurasia, Charasia, and Americana. He would die on March 7, 1280, at Taurasia, aged 75. Matrevia was to prove an efficient and loyal chief minister to the King during the last four years of his reign. In conjunction with his rise, the pregnancy of Queen-Consort Julia proceeded in due order. Both parents continued their vigorous prayers for a son, embarking on a visit to the Monastery of Windowia Photis in March 1272 to this effect. The King now made intensive preparations for the upcoming baptism ceremony, and he issued instructions, through the Royal Chancellory, for preparations to be made for the establishment of a new household.
- Finally, at 1:00 A.M. Galactic Standard Time, the morning of June 6, 1272, the Queen delivered, at the Royal Hospital of the Celestial Palace, a large, healthy boy. The child was named Seleucus, after the Angel of Almitism. Along with good health, his mother's black, vaguely Dasian eyes, and a tuft of auburn hair, the royal infant entered the Universe at normal size. His measurements were taken, and a image of St. Seleucus with the Holy Trinity was produced. Laurasia Prime, and other star systems throughout the Stellar Kingdom, now saw outbursts of open celebration. In Christiania, the great bell of the Tower of Honorius the Liberator boomed, and cannons were fired from the High Tower of Christiania, announcing the birth of the Grand Prince. Special emissaries were dispatched to the courts of other galactic powers, and the Holonet carried messages announcing Seleucus's birth. Artabanus was overjoyed with the birth of his son, and arranged, personally, every detail of a thanksgiving service at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. He then raised Keletus Narishina and Lord Matrevia, each, to the rank of Prince, and at the service, handed drinks to his guests.
- Seleucus was christened on June 29, the holy day of St. Seleucus in the Almitian calendar. Wheeled into church in a rolling cradle along a path sprinkled with holy water, the child was held over the font by Count Theodosius Narishina, the Queen's eldest brother, and christened by the King's private confessor (the Papacy was then vacant, Joasaphus II having died on February 17, 1272). The following day, a royal banquet was offered to delegations of nobles, merchants, and other inhabitants of Christiania, who thronged to the Celestial Palace with congratulatory gifts. The tables were decorated with enormous blocks of sugar sculpted into larger-than-life statutes of eagles, swans, and other birds. There was even an intricate sugar model of the Celestial Palace itself, with figures of tiny people coming and going. In her private apartments above the banqueting halls, Queen Julia gave a separate reception for the wives and daughters of the nobility, handing plates of sweets to her guests on their departure.
- Soon afterwards, the subject of all this celebration, surrounded by his own private household, was moved into his suite of rooms. He had a governess, a wet nurse, and a staff of dwarfs especially trained to act as servants and playmates to the royal children. When Seleucus was two (June 1274), he and his retinue, now grown to include sixty attending gentlewomen, moved into a grander Celestial apartment-the walls hung with deep red fabrics, the furniture upholstered in crimson and embroidered with threads of gold and bright blue. Seleucus's clothes-miniature caftans, shirts, vests, stockings, and caps-were cut from silk, satin, and velvet, embroidered with silver and gold, buttoned and tasseled with sewn clusters of pearls and emeralds. A doting mother, a proud father, and a pleased Matrevia competed to lavish gifts on the child, and Seleucus's nursery soon overflowed with elaborate models and toys. In one corner stood a carved wooden rancor with a leather saddle studded with silver nails and a bridle decorated with emeralds. On a table near the window rested an illuminated picture book, painstakingly made for him by six icon painters. Music boxes, and a small, elegant clavichord with copper strings were brought from Clancia. But Seleucus's favorite toys and his earliest games were military.
- He liked to bang on cymbals and drums. Toy soldiers and fortifications, model piles, blasters, rifles, swords, arquebuses, and armor spread around his tables and chairs and floor. Next to his bed, Seleucus kept his most precious toy, given to him by Matrevia: a model of a starship. Intelligent, active, and noisy, Seleucus grew rapidly. Most children walk at around one year; Seleucus walked at seven months. His father liked taking his young Grand Prince with him on excursions at Laurasia Prime, and across the Laurasia Prime Purse Region. Sometimes, he went to the Palace of Placenta; more often, however, he stayed at the Old Royal Palace, which was much embellished by his father. The Queen, on her part, preferred these other residences to the Celestial Palace. She was also given more freedom by her husband to observe the actions of foreign embassies. The most notable of these during these years was the Venasian embassy of April 1275. The head of the delegation, the Venasian Lady Matriarch Palia (1218-87), made observations of both the Queen and of her son, noting that "Seleucus, three years old, a curly-headed boy, held his mother's hand." Later that year, Seleucus was regularly seen in public. King Artabanus now utilized several large, gilded repulsorlifts, similar to those employed by his contemporary sovereigns.
- Matrevia, knowing exactly how to please, ordered, in July 1275, a miniature copy of one of these repulsorlifts and presented it to the Grand Prince. This tiny ride, "inset with gold ornament, drawn by four dwarf navigators, with four on one side and one behind", became a favorite sight at state occasions. Overall, the years 1272-75 passed with Laurasia remaining at peace, and with the Royal Laurasian Court enjoying a sense of tranquility and of stability. On August 27, 1273, Queen Julia gave birth to a daughter, who was named Julia after her, and was to be Seleucus's only full sibling. She was thought pregnant in December 1273 and in September 1274, but neither one panned out. But nevertheless, at the Court, the effect of the marriage was strongly felt. The austere, religious attitude of the King's earlier years gave way to a new, more relaxed spirit, with a greater embrace of new ideas and entertainments. But the greatest effect was on the King himself. Marriage to this young wife revived and delighted him. The last years of his life were the happiest.
- As with the Papacy, there were two Popes during this time. On July 7, 1272, the Metropolitan of the Central Core, Antipater (1208-73), who had served in that position since July 1264, was formally installed as Pope at the Old Westphalian Cathedral. Antipater, however, was a sickly man, and he did not have long to remain in the Papacy. He died on Melarnaria on April 7, 1273, while engaged in a visit to the ecclesiastical authorities in that star system. He was then succeeded as Pope by the Archbishop of Arias, Joacherius. Joacherius, who had been born on January 6, 1221, at Wroona, was the son of Viscount Honorius Savornia (1176-1254) and his wife Aurelia (1200-54); Viscount Savornia was the owner of Savornian Enterprises, one of the leading starship and retail insurance firms in the Purse Region. Joacherius himself, who graduated from the University of Laurasia Prime in 1242, had married Lady Olympias Pasaria (1222-54), at Darsis. However, in July 1254, his parents and his wife were all murdered at Savornian Mansion on Andriana; Joacherius himself was not present at the star system at the time, and therefore escaped. Stricken with contrition over the extermination of his family, he entered the Monastery of Windowia Photis in September of that year and was consecrated as a Monk of Almitis.
- During the course of the next ten years, through hard work, dedication, and effort, Joacherius gradually rose through the ranks, serving at the Monasteries of Windowia Photis, Jenny, Chloe, Sarah, and Ipsus V. In April 1264, he was made an Archmandrite and became Abbott of St. Katherine's Monastery on Laurasia Prime. In July 1272, he was elevated to become Archbishop of Arias. It was on July 26, 1274, that Joacherius was formally elected to the Papacy, thereby succeeding Antipater, who had been dead for more than a year. He was formally consecrated as Pope that same day, receiving all of the symbols and artifacts of authority from the hands of the King. Joacherius, who was to remain Pope until his death in March 1290, would have a substantial role in the political affairs of the following years.
- 1276, the 76th year of the thirteenth century, began with Laurasia still residing in internal and external tranquility, under King Artabanus I, who had marked his thirtieth anniversary on the throne in July 1275. As the new year began, it seemed as if the King of Laurasia, who remained healthy, vigorous, and alert, would continue to remain on his throne for a long time to come, and that the Laurasian dominions would not be cast into a new situation so soon. This, however, was not to be. On January 9, the King, who was now forty-six years old, took part in the annual ceremony of the blessing of the Christiania River, which ran through the Residential and Commercial Quadrants of the city. Standing in the frozen winter air during the long ceremony, he caught a infection. This infection slowly developed into the Balarian fever. But for ten more days, it did not seem as if anything were wrong with the King. No one noticed anything abnormal, not Artabanus himself nor any of his courtiers. But on January 19, in the middle of the performance of a play, Dr. Faustus, Artabanus left the Celestial Theater and retired to his quarters. From that point on, he began to display symptoms, and his condition worsened.
- On January 22, the King's physicians, on the orders of Secretary Matrevia, moved him to the Royal Hospital. There, his condition continued to deteriorate, in spite of all of their efforts, and he was officially diagnosed with the Balarian fever. Artabanus now lapsed into unconsciousness, and there was nothing more that could be done for him. Finally, on January 29, 1276, Artabanus I, the second monarch of the Leonidian Dynasty, died. His thirty-year reign (1245-76), had seen the extension of Laurasia's territory and diplomatic influence. By 1276, the Stellar Kingdom stretched from the Morganian and Kelvanian Provinces in the Wild Marshes in the west to the Murphian Provinces in the east, and from the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route in the north to Ivoria and the Goldarian Provinces in the south. It now embraced the whole of the Central Core, with the Ivorian Hetmanate (now under the rule of Ivan Samoylovych, r. 1272-87), as its vassal state. Artabanus's death was greeted with much mourning by his subjects, and at the Royal Court.
- Yet his death now brought a substantial change in the lives of his widow, Queen Consort Julia, and his youngest son, Grand Prince Seleucus. Seleucus had been the adored small son of a father who doted on his mother; now he was the potentially troublesome offspring of his dead father's second wife. Artabanus was now succeeded to the throne by his eldest surviving son, Theodosius, who became Theodosius III of Laurasia. Although Theodosius had always been ill and infirm, Artabanus had declared him to be formally of age in 1274, recognized him as his heir apparent, and presented him as such to his subjects and foreign ambassadors. At that time, it had seemed only a formality; Theodosius's health was so delicate and Artabanus' so good that few thought the delicate son would live to succeed the robust father. But now it had happened: Theodosius was King. The Marcellas were again in the ascendant, and they quickly seized all of the major positions of state; Matrevia lost his posts in the Chancellory, Correspondence, and Foreign Affairs, though he did retain his seats on the Duma and Council. King Theodosius himself, who was only fifteen years old at the time of his accession, bore no ill-will against either his stepmother or half-brother, but could not completely resist the power of his Marcella relatives. Theodosius crowned himself King on June 18, 1276, at the Old Westphalian Cathedral, one month after his father's official internment there. He was so weak that he had to be carried to his coronation.
- At the head of the Marcella family stood his uncle, Prince Honorius Marcella (1224-83), who had hastened back from his post as Viceroy of Kelvania Major to replace Matrevia as chief minister. That Matrevia would be sent off to a ceremonial post was expected, and in July 1276, he was made Governor of Takrania, in the Malarian Provinces. Queen-Dowager Julia was saddened by this, but resigned to it. But on August 3, en route to his new post, Matrevia was overtaken by new orders from Secretary Marcella: he was to be arrested, stripped of all his property, and conducted as a state prisoner to Purania, a Laurasian penal colony in Morgania. Marcella had striven for the death penalty, accusing Matrevia of stealing from the Treasury, and of even attempting to poison the late King. King Theodosius, however, had refused to sanction a death sentence, and Marcella had to settle for imprisonment. Deprived of their powerful champion, and with their other supporters pushed from office, Julia and her two children faded from public view. At first, the Queen-Dowager feared for her children's personal safety, recalling what had happened to Honorius the Terrible's youngest son, Grand Prince Demetrius, at Uglich in 1191.
- Seleucus, indeed, remained the hope of the Narishina faction. But as time passed, the Queen relaxed: the life of a royal prince was now treasured, and King Theodosius never exhibited towards his half-relations anything but sympathy and kindness. They remained at the Celestial Palace, cloistered in their private apartments. There, Seleucus began his education. It began simply. At three, when his father was still alive, he began to take lessons in language. When he reached five (June 6, 1277), King Theodosius, who was his godfather as well as his half-brother, said to the Queen Consort that it was time for him to do more. His tutor was now selected: Dr. Nicaeolaus Zotovia (1244-1317), who was Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Laurasia Prime, and served as a Consultant in Social Affairs to the Royal Chancellory. Zotovia was a highly-respected scholar, having obtained his PhD in Sociology and Psychological Studies at the age of 24, and was also known for his Treatises on Learning (1275), in which he had advocated for a more pupil-based, hands-on approach to education. Nevertheless, when informed of his commission as tutor, he was overwhelmed.
- Trembling, he was led to the Queen, who received him with Seleucus at her side. When the Queen repeated his commission to him, Zotovia flung himself on the ground and burst into tears. "Your Majesty", he cried, "I am not worthy to look after this treasure." The Queen gently raised him up and told him that Seleucus's lessons would begin the following day. To encourage Dr. Zotovia, the King gave him a suite of apartments and raised him to the rank of Lord; the Queen presented him with a set of clothes and other artifacts; and the Pope provided him with a grant of $200 million denarii. On the following morning (June 8, 1277), with both the King and Pope present to watch, Zotovia gave Grand Prince Seleucus his first lesson. He started first with alphabetic instruction, and then began to instruct him in the Almitian Scriptures. Over time, they gradually progressed into mathematics, into the physical and biological sciences, into philosophy, into history, and folklore. Zotovia won his pupil's deep affection, and followed his own approach, as he had outlined in the Treatises, by bringing in objects, textbooks, and maps, that they would discuss and examine in the course of their lessons. Seleucus was endlessly curious, wanting to know everything, and Zotovia, recognizing this, geared all of his lessons in that manner. The main period of his tutelage would extend from 1277 to 1285. For as long as the tutor lived, Seleucus was to keep him close.
- The years 1277-81, the 77th to 81st years of the thirteenth century, besides the education and the early upbringing of the future Seleucus the Victor, were marked by the dominance of the Marcella faction on Laurasia Prime, and by a military conflict waged with the Solidaritan Sultanate, concerning the possession of the Patsian Worlds. As has been mentioned before, since the occupation, by the "Solidaritan" Cossacks, of those star systems in 1237-41, peace had continued to prevail between Laurasia and the Solidaritan Sultanate. The Sultanate, which since 1248 was under the rule of Ibrahim I, was during those decades primarily distracted by events transpiring within the Northern Outer Borderlands, relating to the Rashanian Mellorite Empire, and its interactions with Solidarita, and with the Neo-Xilanian Empire which intervened between the two monarchies. Following the final conquest of Chalassia, and the fall of the Homidinian Khanate (May 1253), Great King Uthman had decided to establish Chalassia as his capital world. During the last three years of his reign, Uthman focused his efforts upon a program of fiscal, military, and bureaucratic reform. He now comprehensively reorganized the territories of the Mellorite Empire into emirates, shiefdoms, and provinces, thereby introducing a new form of administrative structure not before seen in the Caladarian Galaxy, and completely superseding those of the Homidinians, Halegothicans, and Armanians in the regions that they were placed. The Great King also made it a point to create an extensive royal court, complete with elaborate ceremonies of homage, procedures of precedence, and royal rituals, so as to impress all visitors into his dominions, and to broadcast his power. But in June 1256, a rebellion on Chalassia was launched against the Great King, being provoked by three of his military officers-Nadur, Ahmen, and Ahasi. They now besieged the King in the Great Palace, once belonging to the Homidinian Khans, and now in the possession of the Rashanian Dynasty.
- Ultimately, the officers broke through the Palace's defenses, and Uthman was assassinated (June 17, 1256), after having ruled over the Rashanian Mellorites for nearly twelve years. He had then been succeeded by the last of Emir Muhammad's direct subordinates, Ali (r. 1256-61). Ali, who had served as Emir of the Lacian Cluster since April 1255, and was one of the Great King's most loyal subordinates, now ruthlessly crushed the rebellion, having Nadur, Ahmen, Anasi, and thirty of their followers convicted and executed in October 1256. Ali now decided to move his capital from Chalassia to Homidinia Major, deeming this a safer bet then remaining in the former star system. He also dismissed a number of the provincial Emirs, greatly extended the authority of his secret services, and embarked on extensive preparations for an all-out invasion of the Xilanian Empire, hoping to thereby push Mellorite territories out to the Galactic Frontier Route. He was, however, then caught up in a civil conflict (July 1257-January 1259), with a faction of other former subordinates of King Uthman, led by the Mellorite nobles Zubyar and Tallah. They aligned themselves with Emiress-Dowager Aishah, the widow of Emir Muhammad. The struggle which ensued saw confrontations at Sonny, Englestrom, Chalassion, Halassion, Alyssa, Wakino, Kara, Perry, Drake, and Julie, and inflicted severe damage upon the unity of the Dynasty. Ultimately, Ali was able to gain their allegiance, but in the process, his own authority had been weakened. The Xilanians under Ximania VI (r. 1255-71), had also taken advantage of the Mellorite troubles to recover control of Nandi, Varta, Calrissian, and the Marauder Colonies (1257), thereby pushing Mellorite forces back towards the Larkian Way. Ali, with the rebels suppressed, now turned his attention again to military campaigns.
- This time, however, he was challenged by the Emir of the Dasian Heartland, Muawyiah, of the Ummadian faction of Mellorites. Muawyiah instigated his rebellion against him in March 1259, and during the course of the next two years, he made major advances. By April 1261, the Ummadian Mellorites had taken control of Scanlan, Garner, Longmira, Theodore, Andrea Doria, the Corporate Sector, the strongholds of the Burglais Arm (except for Cassie, which held out for the Rashanians), Taraning, Ian, and Gibbs-to-Lester. In all of this, he was encouraged by Solidaritan Sultan Ibrahim, who was engaged in the re-fortification of Dara, Skyler, and the Lower Vali, and was determined to keep the Mellorites off-balance. Finally (June 7, 1261), Ali came to terms with the rebel at Gwendolyn, acknowledging him as his successor. He died ten days later, and Muawyiah, establishing himself on Homdinia Major, proclaimed himself the first Great King of the Ummadian Dynasty, which was to rule over the Mellorites until 1350. Muawyiah's first years on the throne were consumed by his struggle against Ali's son, Hasan, in the Lacian Cluster and at Greyson, McDowell, and Lawson, which concluded only with the latter's death in the Battle of Alfonso (July 1, 1270). From 1270 to 1274, Muawyiah suppressed uprisings on Edmundia Major, Mackenzia Major, and Coronadia; engaged in raiding expeditions into Jageronia; built up his military forces; and gave encouragement to the Mereditan Despotate, which had obtained its independence from the Huntite Caliphate in July 1268. In July 1274, the King finally embarked on his war against Xilania, now ruled by Ximania's son, Masari X (r. 1271-83). During the course of the next two years, Xilanian and Mellorite forces clashed constantly at Esperanto, the western Larkian Way, the Marauder Colonies, Nandia Major, Varta, Belkadan, and Sernapasia, with there being no definitive edge for either side.
- Finally, in November 1276, Masari concluded the Treaty of Aigun with the Solidaritan Sultanate; Ibrahim, who sought to make territorial gains at Mellorite expense, and to contain that Empire's power, now joined the conflict. Mellorite forces now invaded the Dali Trade Run, and occupied Iphskilion, Skyler, Zoe, and Eaidon (December 1276-March 1277). With Solidarita and Xilania now both engrossed in the struggle against the Mellorite Empire, the idea came to Prince Marcella and to his subordinates on the Royal Council that Laurasia could, through a quick war, finally secure possession of the disputed Patsian Worlds. Laurasian units were assembled at Durglais, Rebecca, Chancia, Kigonia, Katherine, Heuthros, Sauvania, Ietas, Blackria, Nezbit, and Mariana Prime, in pursuit of that goal; King Theodosius himself issued authorization instructions to the General Headquarters; and on July 7, 1277, a ultimatum was sent to the Court of Istantius. In this ultimatum, the Royal Laurasian Government demanded that the Solidaritan Sultanate concede Solidaritan Azov, Patsy, O'Neal, and the Voronezian Region to Laurasia; that it grant Laurasian merchants free-trade privileges through its dominions; and that it allow Laurasian military forces to occupy Dennis, Virginia, Coen, Wendy, and Deanna.
- Sultan Ibrahim felt insulted by these demands, and refused to respond to them. Thus, on July 16, Theodosius issued a formal declaration of war against Solidarita. Laurasian forces, commanded by Count Honorius Samurovia (1222-87) of Chancia and Prince Archelaus Romandovia (1225-82), now pushed from the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Router into Solidaritan territory. They overran the defenses of Turnquist (July 17-24, 1277), occupied Coen (August 8), and on August 22, defeated a Solidaritan force under General Malahdi in the Battle of Impania. A Laurasian expedition then sacked Esmeralda (September 1277), and on October 7, Wendy fell to them. Deanna was besieged from October 18, and remained so for over two months, until falling on December 21. By the end of 1277, Dennis, Virginia, and Solidaritan Doris had also been occupied by Laurasian forces. Patsy was assaulted in January 1278; it too fell, on the 24th of that month. But by March 1278, with the Laurasian failure to storm Shannon, and with the defenses of Rastaborn, Michael, and Lang holding firm, the tide had turned. On June 5, General Malahdi defeated the two Princes in the Battle of Cheryn. They then attempted to push through Bower, to isolate Shannon, and to capture Wayland (June-July 1278), but this failed, and on August 21, Maladhi won another victory at Canterwell. Solidaritan forces then recovered Coen, Wendy, Deanna, and Doris during September and October 1278, and on November 4, Laurasian forces were compelled to retire from Patsy. An offensive by Count Samurovia against O'Neal (November 18-December 2, 1278) failed, and in January 1279, a Solidaritan fleet sacked Blackria, Nezbit, and Martina Mccasia. Elizabeth was occupied on February 15, and on March 8, the Laurasians were compelled to yield Turnquist. Though Prince Romandovia then succeeded in finally capturing Shannon (March 23, 1279), and in harrying Methusalah, Quanna, and Sheryl (April 1279), it could not reverse the course of things.
- From July 1279 to March 1280, Laurasian and Solidaritan forces engaged in a game of cat and mouse along the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route, with the same strategic stalemate prevailing as before. Farther to the north, Mellorite forces were gradually expelled from Solidaritan territory, though King Muawyiah was able to secure his control of the Marauder Colonies, Varta, and Abrianne. His death (April 29, 1280), led to the accession of his son Yazid (r. 1280-83), who decided to end the Mellorite war with Xilania and Solidarita. In August 1280, the Treaty of Norah was concluded, terminating that conflict with Mellorite gains in the old Marauder Worlds, but with the imposition of the status quo ante bellum between the Great Kingdom and the Solidaritan Sultanate. By that point also, Solidaritan forces under the Deli of Sassanay, Ibrahim-Pasha, were poised for a move towards the Laurasia Prime Purse Region. King Theodosius, realizing that the war would have no further benefit for Laurasia, now decided to seek peace. On September 19, 1280, the Armistice of Mylae was signed, and a conference was then opened at Mariana Prime. This ultimately culminated in the Treaty of Mariana Prime (January 3, 1281), which ended the Laurasian-Solidaritan War of 1277-81, the first fought in more than eight decades, on the basis of the status quo ante bellum. In March 1281, Samurovia and Romandovia were dismissed from duty, and the Marcellas did not deign to recognize their achievements in the war.
- As for King Theodosius himself, allusion has been made to some of the innovations he introduced. In 1278-79, the King ordered for the execution of a general census of all the subjects of his realms, in order to further determine tax obligations, property claims, and military conscription rates. This census, carried out by the Bureau of Internal Affairs, would eventually be used to great effect by Theodosius's eventual successor, King Seleucus, in the course of his own reforms. In July 1279, moreover, Theodosius sponsored the establishment of a Professional Academy on Laurasia Prime, modeled along many of the proposals introduced by his brother's tutor, Dr. Zotaria. The Academy (which would be renamed the Laurasian Galactic Academy in 1287, and would eventually be reorganized into the University of the Laurasian Empire in 1332), had a curriculum comprised of two major stages. The first was the elementary stage (consisting of grammar, arithmetic, astrography, history, languages, theology) and the second was the primary stage (consisting of poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, the social sciences, and advanced theology). The educational process was to last from twelve to fifteen years, with each of the subjects being covered in relevant, and progressing order. But the King's most substantial reform was to be the abolition of the old system of precedence, which was a crushing weight on public administration. Known officially as ante, the system decreed that noblemen could only accept state offices or military commands according to their rank.
- To prove his rank, every noble jealously guarded his family records. There had been endless squabbles, and it became impossible to put capable men in certain positions because others, citing higher rank, would refuse to serve under them. This system engendered incompetence, and during the course of the thirteenth century, Kings had increasingly resorted to setting it aside, declaring positions in the Royal Bureaus, and certain military commands, to be "free from precedence." Theodosius now wanted to make these temporary waivers permanent, and all encompassing. He appointed, in April 1281, a special commission to investigate the matter. This commission produced its report on July 17, and recommended the permanent abolition of precedence. The King then called, on July 28, a special session of the Aristocratic Duma and Conference of Almitian Prelates, informing the nobles, clerics, and others that the abolition was necessary for the welfare of the Kingdom. Pope Joacherius enthusiastically supported him. The nobility, suspicious and reluctant to give up the hallowed prerogatives of rank, reluctantly agreed. Theodosius now ordered that all family documents, service books, and anything pertaining to previous precedence and rank be surrendered (decree of August 15, 1281). In September 1281, this was done, and more than 100,000 documents, of all kinds, were incinerated at the Post Settlement of Hepudermia, in the presence of the King, the Pope, and the Royal Council. Theodosius now declared that thereafter offices and power would be distributed on a basis of merit and not of birth, a principle which Seleucus would subsequently make the foundation of his own military and civilian administration.
- King Theodosius also engaged in efforts to produce an heir. On July 18, 1280, following the conclusion of the traditional selection process, the King had married Lady Agathina Greyshayana (1263-81), the daughter of Sir Athanasius Greyshayana (1238-1301) and his wife Agathina (1241-95). She had become duly pregnant, but on July 14, 1281, shortly after giving birth to a son, who was named Honorius by his father, she died. The young Grand Prince Honorius was sickly, and just six days after his mother's death, he too died. Theodosius, heartbroken, ordered for his wife and son to be given a joint burial at the Old Westphalian Cathedral, conducted on August 7, 1281. Theodosius then ordered for the conduct of another search process, and in December 1281, he selected Lady Livia Aparaina of Clackimaris (1264-1316), a goddaughter of Matrevia, to be his second wife. As 1281 came to an end, preparations were in earnest for their marriage.
- 1282, the 82nd year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia, restored to peace and still under the rule of King Theodosius III, son of Artabanus. King Theodosius, as mentioned above, had selected Lady Livia Aparaina to become his second bride. Preparations were now underway for their wedding ceremony, and continued through January 1282. Through the course of that time, however, the King's health, never excellent, entered a further decline. On January 7, Theodosius suffered a violent paroxysm in his personal quarters at the Celestial Palace, and had to be moved to the Royal Hospital for treatment. He was released from the Hospital after ten days, but on January 22, he was stricken with a bout of Balarian fever, and had to receive treatments in his personal bedchambers. Theodosius recovered from this illness by February 1, but his physical condition was now much more perilous, and he did not desire to show his face in public, or to participate in state ceremonies. Yet Theodosius, persuaded by the Marcellas, and convinced that only through the birth of an heir could he secure the Dynasty, moved ahead with his plans for marrying Lady Aparaina.
- The marriage of the King and the Lady was finally conducted on February 14, 1282, at the Royal Chapel of the Celestial Palace. It was a small ceremony, marked with little pomp, and with a simplified ritual; Pope Joacherius presided over the exchange of the vows, and once these had been completed, pronounced the couple duly married. Theodosius now over-exerted himself in his efforts to secure an heir-apparent, in spite of the warnings of his physicians. He took the Queen Consort to his bed every night, and engaged in the acts necessary for procreation. These, however, proved to be in vain; Queen-Consort Livia did not become pregnant. And as had been feared by his physicians, the King's physical condition was further undermined, and his health deteriorated. In March 1282, Theodosius was forced to seek additional treatments at the Royal Hospital, and on April 8, he issued his last proclamation to his subjects. Five days later, he suffered another paroxysm, and was shortly afterwards diagnosed with the Angrames malady. Now in permanent confinement at the Royal Hospital, the King's life was despaired of, and it became obvious to all that he would not recover. His wife, who had spent so short of a time with him, and in that time had become devoted to him, stayed by his bedside, weeping at his fate.
- Finally, on May 7, 1282, Theodosius III died, after having reigned over Laurasia for just six years, and at the age of twenty-one. Having died without any surviving children, Theodosius therefore left the Stellar Kingdom's dominions in some turmoil, ushering in the first dynastic crisis of the Leonidian Dynasty. Since the accession of Leonidas sixty-nine years earlier, each King had been, up to this point, succeeded by his eldest surviving son. Leonidas had been succeeded by his eldest surviving, Artabanus, and Artabanus by his eldest surviving, Theodosius. In each case, before his death, the King had formally presented this eldest son to his subjects and officially proclaimed him heir-apparent. But now, Theodosius had died, without an heir and without having named a successor. The two surviving candidates were Theodosius's sixteen-year-old brother, Menelaus, and his ten-year-old half brother, Seleucus. Normally, Menelaus, who was six years older than Seleucus as well as being the son of Artabanus' first wife, would have been the uncontested choice. But Menelaus was plagued with poor eyesight, lame, and spoke with difficulty, whereas Seleucus was active, glowing, and sizeable for his age.
- Most importantly, the nobility were aware that, whichever boy acceded to the throne, the actual power would be in the hands of a regent. By now, most of them were antagonistic to Prince Marcella and preferred Matrevia, who, under the nominal regency of Queen-Dowager Julia, would wield power if Seleucus became King. The decision, therefore, came immediately after King Theodosius was pronounced dead. One by one, members of the Royal Council and Aristocratic Duma passed by the King's body, stooping to kiss hands. Then Pope Joacherius and his subordinates entered the chambers, and the Pope posed the formal question: "Which of the two princes shall become King?" Arguments followed; some supported the Marcellas, saying that Menelaus's claim was strongest; others argued that it was impractical and foolish to follow that path. Then, the suggestion was posed that the Consultative Assembly make the selection. But the Assembly could not be summoned at such short notice, and consequently, the Pope, Council, and Duma decided to pose the matter to the crowds, assembled outside the Celestial Palace, as was custom upon the death of a sovereign. The whole assembly now went out to the Palatial Balcony. The Pope announced the King's death, and asked whether Grand Prince Seleucus or Grand Prince Menelaus should become King. The crowd, almost in unison, chanted out Seleucus's name. The Pope thanked them, and the decision was made.
- Joacherius then approached Seleucus; the boy had been waiting inside the Palace, and had heard the cries. He reddened when Joacherius approached him. The Pope began to speak, "begging" the Grand Prince, in the "name of the Almitian Church, to become King." Seleucus refused at first, saying he was too young and that his mother would be better able to rule. The Pope insisted, asking for the Grand Prince not to reject their petition. Seleucus then fell silent, and nodded his head, indicating his acceptance. With this, he was now formally proclaimed King and Autocrat of All the Laurasians, his mother, Queen-Dowager Julia, was installed as regent, and Matrevia, now summoned back to Laurasia Prime, was restored to his posts in the Chancellory, Foreign Affairs, and Correspondence, becoming chief minister. The reign of Seleucus the Victor, which would last for nearly forty-three years, had formally begun. But all had reckoned without Grand Princess Theodora, that intelligent and vigorous daughter of King Artabanus.
- The matter now arose of the Royal Guards. The Guards, who had been organized by Honorius the Terrible, had for more than a century remained the chief professional military force within the Stellar Kingdom. They were sworn to "protect the government" in crisis, but often had difficulty deciding where the legitimate government was. King Honorius, when he had established the Guards, had sought to display his own strength and to maintain a force on Laurasia Prime which would be symbolic of this strength. The Guards were, when on parade or on other duties, a colorful sight, with each regiment wearing its own colors. Most of them were simple Laurasians, living by the old ways, revering both King and Pope, hating innovation, and opposing reforms. Both officers and men were suspicious and resentful of the experts brought in to reorganize and train the forces. They were ignorant of politics, but when they believed that the Kingdom was veering from proper traditional paths, they easily convinced themselves that duty demanded their interference in affairs of state. In peacetime, they were not constantly occupied. A few detachments were stationed in the Wild Marshes and in the Central Core, but the bulk were concentrated in Christiania, where they lived in their own camp near the Celestial Palace.
- By 1282, the Guards numbered 500,000-divided into five hundred regiments of 1,000 men each-who with their wives and children were an enormous mass of idle soldiery and dependents quartered in the City of Christiania. They were coddled, with the King covering all of their expenses and giving them a generous salary. In return, they served as sentries at the Palace and as an ad hoc police force. When the King traveled around the City, the Guards lined his router; when he left, they provided an escort. Gradually, with so much time on their hands, the Guards drifted into trade. They established their own businesses, and as military members, paid no taxes on their profits. Membership in the regiments became desirable and enlistment a privilege passed down on an almost hereditary basis. As soon as a boy was old enough, he was enrolled in his father's regiment. Naturally, the richer they became, the more reluctant they were to pursue their duties as soldiers. They became lazy, accepted bribes, and took advantage of things. Sometimes, officers embezzled their pay, and the soldiers' formal complaints to the government were usually ignored, with the petitioners punished.
- This is what happened in May 1282, shortly before the death of King Theodosius. The Grinan Regiment presented a formal petition accusing their colonel, Athanasius Euseria, of withholding half their pay and forcing them to work when it was not necessary. The commander of the Guards, Prince Eusebius Dologrania, ordered the soldier presenting the petition to be whipped for insubordination. But as the petitioner was being led to the knout, he begged his comrades to intervene. Provoked, the Guards fell upon the Prince's subordinates and liberated the prisoner. This incident inflamed the Guards Quarters. One hundred regiments immediately accused their colonels of cheating or maltreatment and demanded punishment. The Regent Julia's government, just taking office, inherited the crisis and floundered badly. Many nobles had rallied behind Seleucus and his mother, but none knew how to placate the Guards. In the end, desperate to blunt their hostility, Julia sacrificed the colonels. Without investigation (May 9, 1282), she ordered the colonels arrested and stripped of rank, and their property and wealth divided among the Guards. Two of the colonels, one of them Euseria, were publicly knouted, while forty others were given the lesser punishment of a physical beating, at the hands of the Guards themselves. The Guards took full advantage of this, and the colonels were beaten to the brink of death. The Guards were appeased for the moment, but now became more dangerous.
- They then identified the nobility and the Narishinas their enemies. Sinister rumors had spread among them. It was alleged that Theodosius had not died naturally, as had been announced, but had been poisoned by foreign physicians with the connivance of the nobility and the Narishinas. Those same enemies had then pushed aside Menelaus, the rightful heir, in favor of Seleucus. Now that their diabolical schemes had succeeded, foreigners and aliens would be given power. Almitism would be degraded, and the Guards themselves would be horribly punished. These were tales which played upon the traditional prejudices of the Guards. And other events were described in a manner calculated to arouse them. On taking office, Julia had promoted many of her relatives, even elevating her arrogant twenty-three-year-old brother Honorius to the rank of Count. Narishina was already hated for his behavior at King Theodosius's funeral; fresh rumors now spread that he had rudely pushed Grand Princess Theodora to the ground, and that he had taken the crown, declaring it looked better on him than anyone else.
- These stories were promoted, firstly, by Prince Marcella, who was keenly anxious to overthrow Seleucus, Julia, and the Narishina faction. Having already been exiled himself during the previous period of Narishinan dominance, he had retaliated by sending Matrevia to six years of harsh internment in the Wild Marshes; now, Matrevia was coming back to Laurasia Prime, and Marcella knew what he could expect in this latest shift of power. Another plotter was Prince Honorius Khovankia, one of the chief military commanders of the War of the Polonian Deluge, but vain and incompetent. Convinced by the Marcellas that higher office awaited him at their hands, he was an active supporter of their cause. The plot also involved Prince Vessanius Golinaria, despised by the nobility for his role in the abolition of precedence. These three princes, consequently, all had motives for inciting the Guards, but none of them could step forward and rule over Laurasia. Only one person was a member of the royal family, had been the confidante of King Theodosius and could act as regent if young Menelaus acceded to the throne. Only one was now threatened with complete exclusion from political affairs, or had the intelligence or courage to attempt an overthrow of the King. This was Grand Princess Theodora.
- Meanwhile, completely unaware, Julia waited for Matrevia's arrival back from exile. Matrevia had started back as soon as he had received orders, but his trip had turned into a triumphal progress, and he was offered thanksgiving services at a number of the garrisons and stations where he stopped. Finally, on May 11, 1282, after six years of exile, the elderly Prince came back to Laurasia Prime. Julia greeted him at the Celestial Palace, hailing him as her savior, and presented to him the ten-year-old King, who he had last seen as a child of four. Though Matrevia was now white-haired and slow, Julia nevertheless hoped that he would be able to establish order. This, however, proved to be a false hope. During the next three days, Matrevia's mansion in Christiania was crowded with welcoming nobles, merchants, and others. The Guards, remembering him as an honorable former commander, sent delegations to pay their respects. Even members of the Marcella family came, though Prince Honorius claimed that he was ill. Matrevia received them all with happy tears; he under-estimated the dangers lurking around. The spark of revolt remained alive among the Guards, and Theodora continued in her plotting.
- Finally, at 9:00 a.m. Galactic Standard Time, the morning of May 15, 1282, tensions burst over. Two minor nobles, Alexander Marcella and Seleucus Tolstoia, both members of the Grand Princess's intimate circle, came to the Guards Quarters, shouting that "The Narishinas have murdered Grand Prince Menelaus! To the Palace! The Narishinas will kill the whole royal family! Arms, now! Punish the traitors!" The Guards Quarters erupted, and the Guards rapidly assembled, readying themselves for battle. Unfurling their broad regimental banners embroidered with pictures of the Virgin of Almitis, they began to advance towards the Celestial Palace. As they approached, terrified subjects scurried from their path; the Guards announced that they were going to punish "traitors and murderers". At the same time, within the Palace, the day was proceeding normally. No one had any idea of what was happening or the doom moving towards them. A meeting of the Royal Council had just ended, and many of the nobles, other attendants, and tourists in the Palace were relaxing themselves. Matrevia was just leaving the council chamber when he saw Count Theodosius Urania running towards him. Urania told him that the Guards had risen. They were marching towards the Palace. Matrevia, astounded and alarmed, sought to alert the Grand Princess. He commanded the Pope to come immediately, for the Palace defenses to be activated, and for the duty regiment of Guards, the Stremenia Regiment, to assume their positions.
- Scarcely had Matrevia finished speaking when three messengers arrived, one after the other, each bringing worse news than his predecessor. The first one announced that the Guards were already approaching the Palace; the second, that the defenses had not been activated; and the third, that the Guards were already on the Palace grounds. As he spoke, tens of thousands of rebellious soldiers were surging into the Palatial Gardens, and in front of the Palatial Balcony. As they came, the Stremenia Regiment was swept along with them, abandoning their posts and joining their comrades from other regiments. The Guards, fully assembled, now shouted: "Where is Grand Prince Menelaus? Give us the Narishinas and Matrevia! Death to the traitors!" Inside, the terrified Council gathered in the Banquet Hall. Princes Cherkassia, Golinaria, and Sheremevia were chosen to go out and ask the Guards what they wanted. Hearing the cries of the Guards, the three Princes returned to the Banquet Hall and informed Matrevia what they had heard. Matrevia then went to Queen Julia, and told her that the only way to calm the soldiers would be to show them that Grand Prince Menelaus was still alive and the royal family united. He asked that she take both Seleucus and Menelaus out to the balcony and show them to the Guards.
- Julia trembled. To stand with her ten-year-old son in front of a howling mob of armed men calling for the death of her family was a disturbing assignment. But she had no choice. She took Seleucus by one hand and Menelaus by the other and stepped onto the balcony. Behind her stood the Pope and the Royal Council. When the Guards saw the Queen and the two boys, the shouting died and a confused murmur filled the square. Julia now raised her voice and cried "Here is His Royal Majesty, King Seleucus I. And here is His Royal Highness, Grand Prince Menelaus Cassanova. Thanks be to Almitis, they are well and have not suffered at the hands of traitors. There are no traitors in the Palace! You have been deceived!" A new clamor now emerged among the Guards. The soldiers were now arguing. Some of them now moved forward, onto a mounting platform, to get a better view of the helpless trio standing before them. They wanted to be sure that Menelaus was still truly alive. They asked Menelaus if he were really the Grand Prince; he in his stammering voice, replied in the affirmative. Seleucus, standing only a few feet from the Guards, their faces and weapons level with his eyes, said nothing. Despite the tremble in his mother's hand, he remained rigid, showing no sign of fear.
- Thoroughly bewildered by this confrontation, the Guards retreated. They had been deceived-Menelaus had not been murdered. There he stood, his hand held protectively by the Narishina Queen, whose family was supposed to have murdered him. There was no need for vengeance. Some of the Guards began to shout the names of certain noblemen, but most stood silent and confused, staring uncertainly at the three figures before them. Julia stood for another minute, gazing at the sea of vibroswords, blasters, and pikes. Then, having done what she could, she turned and led the two boys back into the Palace. As soon as she disappeared, Matrevia stepped to the front of the balcony. He began to speak to the Guards quietly, confidently, in a tone both proprietary and paternal. He reminded them of their loyal service in the past, of their reputation as defenders of the King, of their victories in the field. Without condemning them, more in sorrow than in anger, he asked how they could stain their great reputation by this rebellious tumult, all the more shameful as it was based on rumor and falsehood. He stressed that there was no need for them to protect the royal family, which, as they had just seen with their own eyes, was unharmed and safe. There was no need to threaten murder or violence to anyone. He now advised them to disperse, go home, and ask pardon for their actions. He promised that such petitions would be accepted and the outburst explained as excessive, misplaced loyalty to the throne.
- These words made a deep impression; the soldiers nodded their heads in approval, and became quiet. When Matrevia had finished, the Pope also spoke briefly, calling the Guards his children, admonishing them gently for their behavior, suggesting that they ask pardon, and ordering them to disperse. These words, too, were soothing, and it seemed that the crisis had passed. Matrrevia, sensing the better mood, saluted the Guards, turned, and walked back into the Palace to bring the news to the Queen. This was a fatal mistake. As soon as he had left, Prince Leonidas Dologrania, son of the Guards commander, appeared on the balcony. Humiliated by the mutinous behavior of the troops, he was now in a towering rage and foolishly choose this moment to attempt to reestablish military discipline. In the roughest language, he cursed the men and commanded them to return to their quarters. Otherwise, punishments would fly, such that "no man could ask for more peace, or beg for forgiveness." Instantly, the calm created by Matrevia dissolved into a roar of anger. The infuriated Guards remembered all of the reasons for their march; The Narishinas were to be punished, hated nobles like Dologrania destroyed. They now charged towards him, seized him by his robe, lifted him above their heads, and threw him over the balcony onto the pikes and vibroblades of their comrades below. Within a few seconds, the Prince, screaming with as much force as he could muster, was hacked to pieces.
- This first violent act unleashed savagery and madness. Brandishing their weapons, lusting for more blood, the Guards now broke through the front gates and into the Palace itself. Matrevia became their next victim. He was standing in an anteroom talking to the Queen, who still held the hands of Seleucus and Menelaus. Seeing the Guards rushing towards her shouting for Matrevia, Julia dropped Seleucus's hand and instinctively threw her arms around Matrevia to protect him. The Guards pushed the two brothers to the ground, tore the old man from Julia and hurled her aside. Prince Cherkassia threw himself into the struggle, trying to pull Matrevia free from his captors, but they flung him into the wall. Before the eyes of Seleucus and Julia, Matrevia was dragged out and taken to the balcony. They then lifted him high in the air and threw him off the balcony. Within seconds, Matrevia, who had been a good friend and chief minister to King Artabanus, and the guardian of Queen Julia, was dead, his body hacked apart.
- With Matrevia dead, there was nothing to stop the Guards. They now ranged throughout the entire Palace, through the state halls, private apartments, Royal Chapel, kitchens, tourist chambers, and even closets, clamoring for the blood of the Narishinas and nobles. Julia, Seleucus, and Menelaus huddled in a corner of the banqueting hall, while the Pope, running ahead of the Guards, locked himself in a briefing room. For most, there was no escape. The Guards hammered through defenses, looked under beds and behind objects, thrusting and shooting wherever they could. Thousands of tourists, palace servants, attendants, and even priests were dragged out, thrown over the balcony, and slaughtered. Their bodies were then thrown into a massive pile of sentient remains. The court dwarfs were forced to lead the Guards to the Narishinas; then they too, were put to the sword. One of Julia's brothers, Athanasius Narishina, hid behind an alter in the Imperial Chapel. A dwarf pointed him out, and the victim was dragged by his hair to the chancel, where he was hacked to death. The Chair of the Aristocratic Duma, Count Neuchrus Hereia, his son Craterus, and two officers of the Palace Control were killed in the Tourist Information Center. Even the elderly Prince Romaneria, Chamberlain of the Household, was cut down.
- By nightfall, even the Guards had begun to tire of the butchery. Most began to stream from the Palace, and back to their residences. Their day had only been a partial success, with the chief object of their hatred, the Queen's brother Honorius, still alive. The Guards now sealed off the Palace, blocking any routes of escape, and swore to continue the search the following day. Inside the Palace, Julia, Seleucus, and their Narishina relatives spent a night of terror. Prince Keletius Narishina, the Queen's father, her brother Honorius and three younger brothers remained concealed in the bedchambers of Seleucus's eight-year-old sister Julia, where they had been hiding all day. They had not been found, but they could not escape. Then, at dawn (May 13), the Guards marched again. Still looking for Honorius Narishina, the two physicians who supposedly had poisoned King Theodosius, and other "traitors", they entered the Pope's quarters, threatened his servants with spears, and threatened to see him.
- The Pope now bravely approached them, dressed in his formal State Robes, telling them that there were no traitors in the residence, and saying that if they wished to kill someone, they should kill him. The Guards, not wishing to do so, turned away from him and continued their search. They ranged throughout the entire Palace, with their targets eluding them. After two days spent in Grand Princess Julia's bedchambers, Prince Keletius, three of his sons, and Matrevia's son moved to the apartments of King Theodosius's young widow, Queen Dowager Livia. There, Honorius cropped his long hair, and then took an elevator into the recesses of the Palace. They found a hidden underground storeroom, turned off all power, and crouched in the farthest corner. As soon as they got there, several Guards appeared, peered into the room, and seeing nothing, continued on their way. On the third day, when the Guards came again to the Palace, they were determined to wait no longer. Their leaders came to the balcony and delivered an ultimatum: Unless Honorius Narishina was surrendered immediately, they would every "living thing that breathed; yea, the King, the Queen-Dowager, the Pope, all!" They even threatened to disband the Councils of State and install one of their own as King. Theodora now took charge. In front of the terrified nobility, she marched to Julia and declared in a loud voice: "Your brother will not escape the Guards! Nor is it right that we should perish on his account. There is no way out. To save the lives of all of us, you must give up your brother."
- This was a tragic moment for Julia. She had seen Matrevia dragged away and slaughtered. Now she was asked to yield her brother. Terrible though this decision was, Julia had no choice, knowing that her life, the life of her son, and the lives of all the nobility and officials of the realm were in jeopardy. Consequently, she ordered the servants to bring her brother to her. He came, and she led him into a palace chapel, where he received Holy Communion and the last rites, accepting her decision and his coming death with great bravery. Weeping, the Queen gave him an icon of the Mother of Almitis to hold while he went to the Guards. The nobility was now becoming desperate; Prince Julius Odaneria, gentle but frightened, came to the weeping Julia and Honorius, and begged them to fulfill their promises. With this, they moved. Following Julia, and holding the icon, Honorius walked to the gates, where the Guards were waiting. As he appeared, the mobs surged forward. Before his sister's eyes, they seized their victim and began to beat him. He was dragged by his feet to a torture room, where for some hours they kept him in agony, trying to extract a confession that he had murdered King Theodosius and plotted to seize the throne. Through it all, Narishina clenched his teeth, groaned, and said nothing.
- By the end of it, Honorius Narishina was nearly dead; both his writs and his ankles had been snapped, and his hands and feet hung at strange angles. He and Dr. Kitemias van Gaden (1229-82), were then dragged out, thrown over the balcony, butchered, and then trampled. The slaughter was over. One final time, the Guards assembled before the Palace. Satisfied that they had avenged the "poisoning" of King Theodosius, ended Narishina's plot and killed all the men who they believed were traitors, they wished to proclaim their loyalty. They now cried "We are content. Let Your Royal Majesty do with the other traitors as may seem good. We are ready to lay down our heads for the King, the Queen, the Grand Prince, and the Grand Princesses." Calm returned quickly. Permission was now given for the burial of the bodies which had been lying in the gardens for days. Matrevia's servant collected the pieces of his mutilated body; it was eventually interned at St. Colombia's Cathedral.
- The remaining Narishinas went unharmed and unprusued. Three surviving brothers of Julia and Honorius were able to escape the Palace, disguised as merchants. The Queen's father, Prince Keletius, was forced to become a Monk of Almitis, and was banished to the Monastery of Windowia Photis; he was to remain there until his death on May 10, 1291, aged 68. The Guards now demanded their back pay; the Council quickly conceded. The Guards also demanded a complete amnesty for their behavior and the erection of a triumphal column to honor their recent deeds. Inscribed on the column were to be the names of all 30,000 of their victims, who were to be labeled as criminals. Once again, the government dared not refuse, and the column was erected. This column would remain in place until it was torn down, by Seleucus's orders, in 1298, and destroyed. Finally, in a move designed not only to conciliate the Guards but also to regain control over them, they were redesignated as Palace Regiments. Theodora came to them, and praised their loyalty to the state.
- The way was now completely clear for her. There was no opposition: Matrevia was dead, Julia was overwhelmed by the tragedy that had engulfed her family, and Seleucus was a boy of ten. Yet he was still King. As he grew older, he would doubtless assert his power; the Narishinas would regain influence, and this Marcella victory would prove only temporary. Accordingly, Theodora's plan required another step. On May 23, prompted by her agents, the Guards demanded a change in the occupancy of the Laurasian throne. In a petition sent to Khovankia, who had been elevated by Thedoora, the Guards pointed out that there was a certain illegality to Seleucus's election as King; he was the son of the second wife, while Menelaus, the son of the first wife and the older of the two boys, had been shunted aside. It was not proposed that Seleucus be dethroned; he was the son of a King, had been chosen and proclaimed by the Pope. Instead, the Guards demanded that Seleucus and Menelaus rule jointly as co-Kings, something which had never been done in Laurasia before. If the petition was not granted, they threatened to attack the Celestial Palace again.
- The Pope, the Royal Council, and the Aristocratic Duma assembled at the Old Royal Palace to consider this new demand. In fact, they had no choice: The Royal Guards could not be opposed. Besides, it was argued, to have two Kings might be an advantage: while one went to war, the other could stay and govern the state. It was formally agreed that the two Kings should reign jointly. The bells of Westphalia were now rung, and prayers were sent up for the lives of Their Royal Majesties, Kings Menelaus I and Seleucus I. Menelaus's name was mentioned first, as the Guards had asked that he be considered the senior of the two. Menelaus himself was dismayed by this. Handicapped in both speech and sight, he was reluctant to take any part in government. He told Theodora that he much preferred a quiet, peaceful life, but under pressure, he agreed that he would appear with his half-brother on state occasions and occasionally in council. Many of the Kingdom's subjects were astounded by it as well.
- Now, the question arose of who would govern the state. This was resolved on May 29, when the Guards appeared with a last demand: that because of the youth and inexperience of the two Kings, Grand Princess Theodora become the regent. The Pope and the Councils of State quickly consented. That same day (May 29, 1282), it was announced that Grand Princess Theodora had replaced Queen-Dowager Julia as the regent. Thus, Theodora assumed the leadership of the Laurasian Dominions. Although she was filling a vacancy which she and her agents had created, Theodora was now in fact the natural choice. No male Leonidian had reached sufficient age to master the government, and she surpassed all other princesses in education, talent, and strength of will. She had shown that she knew how to launch and ride the whirlwind of the revolt by the Guards. Everyone now looked to her. Theodora accepted, and for seven years (1282-89), she governed the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia. She thereby followed in the path of Queen-Consorts Octavia Seslais and Andrea Septimia, and that of the Regent Elena, Honorius the Terrible's mother. She would anticipate Grand Princess Constantia in the following century, who attempted to make her claim to the throne, Empress-Consort Agrippina in the fifteenth, Grand Princess Julia Maesa in the seventeenth, and eventually, Empresses Didymeia I and Aurelia the Great.
- Theodora now moved to confirm and entrench her power, and to institutionalize it. On June 6, 1282, the double coronation of the two co-Kings, Menelaus and Seleucus, took place. For the first time in Laurasian history, two co-equal sovereigns were crowned; the precedent was laid for the joint rule of Antigonus II and Lucius Verus nearly three centuries later, and for the co-occupancy of the throne which was a marker of the Crisis of the Seventeenth Century. The day itself began at 5:00 in the morning, when the two Kings proceeded for morning services in the Royal Chapel. From there, they moved to the Banqueting Hall, where they solemnly promoted in rank a number of Theodora's lieutenants, including Prince Khovankia and two Marcellas. The formal coronation procession moved from the Palace, the two boys side by side, with Seleucus already taller than his limping older brother. Preceded by priests sprinkling holy water, Seleucus and Menelaus made their way through the vast crowds in the Administrative and Religious Quadrants, to the Old Westphalian Cathedral, where the Pope and the assembled prelates of the Almitian Church, wearing golden robes sewn with jewels, greeted the two Kings, and held out a cross for them to kiss. Inside, the Cathedral glowed with the magnificence of candles and incandescent lights, blended in with the icons, murals, and other decorations.
- In the middle of the cathedral, directly under the enormous image of Lord Paul with his hands upraised in blessing, on a raised platform covered with crimson cloth, a double throne awaited the two Kings. The silver throne of King Artabanus was divided by a bar, to provide places for the two Kings. Behind the seat on which both boys would sit, a curtain cloaked a small hiding place for their monitor (Theodora herself), who, through a hole, could whisper the necessary instructions and responses during the ceremony. The ceremony began with the two Kings approaching the iconostasis and kissing the holiest of icons. The Pope asked them to declare their faith; they responded that they belonged to the "Holy Faith of Almitism." There followed a series of lengthy prayers and hymns, and then the height of the ceremony, the crowning. The Royal Crown of Laurasia was placed on Menelaus's head at first, then on Seleucus's. It was then returned to Menelaus's head, and a replica, made especially for Seleucus, was placed on the head of the younger King. At the end of the service, the new rulers again kissed the cross, holy relics, and icons, and then moved out to pay homage at the tombs of previous Kings, and then back to the Palace to feast and receive congratulations.
- Theodora now moved to a new, and different challenge. The Royal Guards, who had brought her to power, now moved arrogantly through the streets of Christiania, assuming that any demand they might make would be instantly granted. Many Old Believers, in particular, hoped that the Church would now be cleansed of the Nikonian reforms. Theodora, as intolerant of heretics as her brother and father had been, would not allow it. Yet she was faced with the fact that the new Adjunct of the Guards, Prince Khovankia, was himself an Old Believer. Consequently, the Regent decided to act with courage and skill. She received (June 24, 1282), the leaders of the Old Believers at the Celestial Palace, and from her throne argued and shouted them down into silence, before dismissing them. Then, calling the Guards into her presence in smaller detachments, she bribed them with money, with promises and with drinks which she herself served. She now weaned the regiments from their aggressive support of the Old Believers, and once they were pacified, she ordered the leaders of that sect seized. Prince Khovankia was arrested, charged with insubordination, les-majestie, conspiracy, and treason, and on July 18, executed at the High Tower of Christiania.
- Regent Theodora had, by that time, assembled her full government. Her uncle, Prince Marcella, now Chairman of the Aristocratic Duma, remained a leading minister until his death in June 1283. In September 1282, she made Theodosius Milovkia (1235-89), the new Adjunct of the Royal Guards, and promoted him to the rank of Count. Count Milovkia won the respect of the regiments, re instilling firm discipline among them, and was utterly loyal to Theodora. As he became closer to the Regent, he rose higher, eventually becoming Secretary of the Aristocratic Duma, whose members hated him fiercely because of his low origins. To balance Milovkia, Theodora also took advice from the learned young monk, Sylvester Medaria (1248-89), whom she had known from her childhood. Marcella, Milovkia, and Medaria were important, but the greatest figure of Theodora's regency-her advisor, her principal minister, her strong right arm, her comforter, and eventually, her lover-was Prince Vessanius Golinaria (1243-1314). A member of one of the Kingdom's most prominent aristocratic families, Golinaria was an experienced statesman and soldier, an urbane lover of the arts and a cosmopolitan political visionary. He spoke eight languages, including Polonian, Venasian, Goldarian, Clancian, Briannian, and Schauerian, and he had a extensive knowledge of history, philosophy, theology, and the natural sciences.
- In Christiania, in his mansion, Golinaria House, the Prince lived grandly. Visitors were astonished at the splendor of his residence; the carved ceilings, marble statues, crystals, precious stones and silver plate, painted glass, computers, musical instruments, mathematical and astronomical devices, gilded chairs, and ebony tables inlaid with ivory. He had Horacian tapestries, Murphian mirrors, and Christopherian monitors. Golinaria House boasted an extensive library of books in the Core languages, as well as in Dasian, Lacian, Arachosian, Millian, Huntite, and Robertian, and a gallery of portraits of all Laurasia's monarchs, and of several notable sovereigns from galactic history. Golinaria was fascinated by the cultural currents of galactic society, spending much time in Christiania's foreign quadrants. His house became a gathering place for foreign travelers, diplomats, and merchants. Golinaria talked with his confidants about reforming the military, furthering the colonization of the Wild Marshes, extending Laurasian diplomatic ties out to the satellite galaxies, proclaiming freedom of worship, and of expanding education. He dreamed of "peopling the voids, of enriching the beggars, turning savages into men, and cowards into heroes, and simple homesteads into palaces."
- Theodora had met this unusual man when she was twenty-four. Golinaria was thirty-nine, blue-eyed, wore a small mustache, a neatly trimmed beard, and over his shoulders, an elegant fur-lined cape. He stood out among the Laurasian nobility, dressed in their traditional gear. With her intelligence, her taste for learning, and her ambition, it was natural that Theodora should see in Golinaria the personification of an ideal. He had a wife and grown children, but id did not matter. Strong-minded and passionate, now plunging into life without care, Theodora would do anything for love. With Golinaria, she could share power and love, and together they would rule: He, with his vision, would propose ideas and policies; she, with her authority, would see that they were executed. On her proclamation as Regent, she named Golinaria Secretary of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs. In November 1282, he also became Secretary of the Chancellory and Correspondence, and in April 1284, would be given the title of "President of the Royal Council", effectively making him a prime minister. 1282 ended, therefore, with the Regent firmly entrenched.
- The years 1283-1285, the 83rd through 85th years of the thirteenth century, passed in due order for the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia, as the Regent Theodora, who had, through the Guards Uprising of May 1282, established herself as the predominant influence within the Royal Laurasian Government, continued to wield power. In all of her endeavors, she enjoyed the loyal assistance of Prince Golinaria, of Adjunct Mikovkia, and of Medaria. Yet, during the years that she ruled over Laurasia, there were certain ceremonial functions which only Kings Seleucus and Menelaus could perform. Their signatures were required on important public documents, and their presence was necessary at state banquets, religious festivals, and ceremonial receptions of foreign ambassadors. In January 1283, the two monarchs received the Briannian Ambassador to the Court of Christiania, Count Char'lac Voljinkgraf (1227-94), in a ceremony at the Diplomatic Palace. He had come in order to reconfirm the Treaty of Cardis, signed twenty-two years earlier, which had restored peace between Laurasia and Briannia, and established the context of diplomatic relations between them. From the beginning of her regency, Theodora, in conjunction with Prince Golinaria, had resolved upon a policy of peace with all of Laurasia's neighbors. Consequently, this had entailed accepting continued Briannian rule of the Nexus Route Regions, of the Grand Duchy of Schaueria Prime, and the Horacian Provinces, and denying any claims to those territories. In September 1282, the Regent had already sent a note to King Char'lac III on Briannia, making her peaceful intentions plain. He was pleased to hear of them, and in response, had commanded Count Voljinkgraf to gain a more formal reconfirmation of the state of affairs.
- When received, the Ambassador was astounded by the vigor, alertness, and attention paid by Seleucus, contrasting them sharply with the "restrained, immovable, immobile manner of the elder King." Seleucus was constantly looking about, taking note of everything, and he fulfilled his duties in the ceremony with the utmost vigor. The mission was successful, and on February 2, 1283, the reconfirmation of Cardis was ratified at the Diplomatic Palace. Yet the Ambassador was not the first to notice young Seleucus's behavioral traits. In July 1284, the personal physician of the Royal Household, Dr. Peithon Ansarius (1230-95), also made note of Seleucus's "good looks, mental alertness, and strong bearing", and that he was truly the son of a King. In September 1285, the Venasian ambassador, the Lady Sutha (1224-1301), made a similar observation, declaring that "Nature develops herself with advantage and good fortune in the younger King's whole personality...his stature is great and his mien is fine; he grows visibly and advances with as much intelligence and understanding as he gains the affection and love of all." Menelaus's contrast was especially noted in August 1284, when he had to receive the Ashlgothian Ambassador alone. He was so feeble that he had to be supported by some of his servants, and spoke in a barely audible manner.
- Yet throughout Theodora's regency, and although they saw each other only on formal occasions, Seleucus's relations with Menelaus remained excellent. Lady Suntha noted their relationship in a communique of December 7, 1283, to the Venasian Council of High Ones, stating that the "natural love and intelligence between Their Royal Highnesses is even better than before." Naturally, Theodora and the Marcellas worried about Menelaus. He was the foundation of their power, and from him must come their future. His life might be short, and unless he produced an heir, they would be cut off from the succession. Thi\us, in spite of his numerous infirmities, Theodora decided that he must marry and make the effort to produce a child. The traditional processes were followed, and on January 9, 1284, King Menelaus married Lady Praskovia Saltarina (1264-1323), two years his senior. However, in spite of Theodora's efforts, the marriage was to yield only one daughter, Anna (who would be born in January 1293, after Theodora had been deposed from power). Nevertheless, for the Narishinas, who took a grim satisfaction in Menelaus's disabilities, these developments were cause for gloom. Seleucus was still too young to marry and compete with Menelaus in producing an heir. Their hope lay in his youth and health; in 1284, when he experienced a severe bout of bronchitis and fever, they were in despair. They could only wait and endure Theodora's rule while Julia's tall, intelligent son grew to manhood.
- Seleucus was now enjoying good fortune. Theodora's seizure of power and the expulsion of his family from office had freed him from all but occasional ceremonial duties. He was at liberty to grow up on the royal estates. For a while after the Guards revolt, Queen-Dowager Julia had remained with her children in their quarters at the Celestial Palace. But increasingly, with Theodora in power, the atmosphere seemed narrow and oppressive. Julia still resented bitterly the murder of Matrevia and her brother Honorius, and she was never certain that Theodora might take some new action against her and her children. Theodora, however, mostly ignored her stepmother. Julia was given a small allowance to live on; it was never enough, and the humbled Queen was forced to ask the Pope and others to intercede on her behalf, and provide her more. To escape the Celestial Palace, Julia began to spend more time at her husband's favorite hunting lodge, Prebanian Resort, on Aquilionia. The Resort, sprawled over an area of two hundred square miles, thereby provided an arena for Seleucus to play, and to escape the confines of the classroom. War was his favorite game, and had been since his childhood.
- During King Theodosius's reign, a small parade ground had been laid out for Seleucus near the Celestial Palace, where he could drill the boys that were his playmates. Now, with the open world of Prebanian Resort around him, there was infinite space for these fascinating games. Seleucus could draw upon a government arsenal to supply his needs. From January 1283 to April 1287, he placed more then one hundred such requests with the Royal Chancellory. His marital games gradually transformed Prebanian Resort from a summer estate into an adolescent military encampment. His first soldiers, the small group of playmates appointed to his service when he was five, soon gave way to a larger force, drawn from the attendants of his father and brother, and paid for from the Royal Treasury. Other young noblemen presented themselves for enrollment, either on impulse or pushed by fathers anxious to gain the young King's favor. Boys from other classes were also allowed to enroll; the sons of farmers, merchants, city-dwellers, starhoppers, colonists, government officials, military officers, and even clergy all participated. Among these young volunteers was one Alexander Menshevkius (1273-1329), a year Seleucus's junior, the son of a tailor. Eventually, 300 of these boys and young men were mustered, began living in barracks, trained like soldiers, used soldiers' talk and received soldiers' pay. From this group, Seleucus was to eventually establish the Praetorian Guards, who were to become the chief guards regiments of the Laurasian Empire from his reign until 1689, when they were forcibly disbanded by Neuchrus the Reformer. Seleucus also employed his men in ever-more elaborate military exercises; by 1287, he had more than 300,000 men playacting as soldiers of the Royal Laurasian Army, as Guards, as Marines, and as the Royal Laurasian Navy, and possessed his own complement of starships, starfighters, turbocannon, shield generators, and armored vehicles.
- Besides all of the military activities and exercises on Aquilonia, Seleucus indulged his curiosity in other areas. He requested astrographic charts of the galaxy, holographic projectors, holodeck simulators, a statute of the Lord Almitis, a Dasian whip, a Arachosian sword, and even a Lacian mail of armor, among other artifacts. He wanted to know how things worked, loving the sight and feel of tools in his hands. He watched craftsmen, workers, and industrial robots, and then copied them. He mastered the use of mechanical tools, of axes, chisels, hammers, and nails. He became a stonemason and a worker of steel. He learned how to assemble and disassemble computers, electronics, and all manner of equipment. He became an expert in the art of furniture, and learned how to produce military and commercial equipment of various kinds. He also learned how to produce works, and the arts of a industrial laborer. One consequence of all of this was that his formal education ended; indeed, by May 1284, Seleucus had stopped taking lessons. He sought to learn practical rather than theoretical subjects. He dealt with the stars, the oceans, and the landscape rather than classrooms; with turbocannon, blasters, and ion disruptors rather than writing materials. The gain was important, but the loss was as well. He read few books. His handwriting, spelling, and grammar never advanced beyond a normal school level. He learned no foreign language except for the smattering of Melorkian, Venasian, and Ashlgothian which he later gained on his travels abroad. He was untouched by theology, his mind was never challenged or expanded by philosophy. He missed the formal, disciplined training of the mind, the steady progression from the lower to the higher disciplines, though he did learn much. All of this was to follow him the rest of his life, and when he was Emperor, he would express regrets for not having continued with his formal lessons.
- By 1286, the 86th year of the thirteenth century, Regent Theodora and Prince Golinaria, while maintaining their authority, had not succeeded in enacting a more thorough reform of Laurasian society. It was true that Golinaria prided himself on administering a "reign based on justice and general consent." Though the Laurasian elites gradually became more refined, taking more interest in the study of foreign languages, nothing more substantive was achieved. As the years had passed, the Regent's government had been forced to content itself with maintaining order within the Kingdom, and Golinaria's larger dreams remained unrealized. Colonization efforts in the Wild Marshes had slowed down, due to hostilities with the encroaching Kingdom of Donathia (to be explained below), and more of the State's resources had been devoted to the expansion of the Kingdom's military forces. Yet despite the fact that reality shaped everything, Theodora and Golinaria nevertheless sought any avenues by which Laurasia's position could continue to be maintained. They now turned their attention to the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth. Polonia had dealt with a series of troubles following the end of the War of the Polonian Deluge. On May 10, 1267, King Joh'saw's wife and consort, Queen Gamalsuintha, had died on Polonia Major, aged 55. King Joh'saw, devastated by his wife's death and by his failure to enact genuine reform within the Commonwealth, abdicated the following year (September 16, 1268), and retired to Trebek in the Kingdom of Ashlgothia, where he had been granted estates by King Livuigild (r. 1267-86). He would die there on December 16, 1272, aged 63.
- Following his death, the Polonian-Donguarian Parliament elected Prince Michal Wiśniowiecki (1240-73), scion of that prominent Polonian family, as King. He was formally crowned on Polonia Major on June 19, 1269. During his three-year reign, King Michal was diverted by war with the Kingdom of the Merlites in the Wild Marshes, then under the rule of Magard (1254-75); the Polonian-Merlite War, which saw major confrontations at Donguaria Secunda, Pressburg, Jotapata, Gischala, Beersheba, Bathsheba, Mohi, and Aohi within the Donguarian Provinces, proved to be a disaster for the Commonwealth. By the Treaty of Buchach (October 18, 1272), Polonia conceded Jotapata, Gischala, Beersheba, Bathsheba, Jericho, and the Lower Galliee Colonies to the possession of Merlita. In addition to this military conflict, Michal struggled with the Trembowla Confederation, formed by Hetman Joh'saw Sobieski, by this point the Commonwealth's leading military commander, and with the Kobryn Confederation, formed by Primate Mikojai Prankowski, who was an ally of Sobieski's. As a result of these troubles, Michal too, failed to accomplish any substantive internal reform. His death (November 20, 1273), thereby cleared the way for Sobieski's election, and on May 19, 1274, Sobieski, after having signed the Hensior Articles and his pacta conventa, was formally crowned King-Emperor of the Polonian-Donguarian Commonwealth. Soon after consolidating his position, he instigated a renewed war with the Merlites, becoming noted for his victories at Bratislav, Jericho, Gath, and Joppa. In April 1275, he defeated a Merlite-Anastasian offensive aiming for Lublin and Krakow, and in October 1276, forced King Cellachan II (r. 1275-86), to terms in the Treaty of Zubnow, by which he recovered Jotapata, Gischala, Jericho, and the Lower Galliee Colonies. From 1276 to 1283, however, Sobieski had then dealt with internal troubles, meeting opposition from Prince Stanislaw Jablownski (1234-1302). He was able, however, to push through a series of military and fiscal reforms in the Parliament, and in July 1283, concluded a formal military alliance with King Livuigild against the Merlites, Anastasians, and the Kingdom of Jarjanica. In September of that year, he led Polonian forces to victory in the Battle of Jeopardy, and during the course of the next two years, the Commonwealth scored a series of further successes. It also contributed to the final conquest of Allen, Novina, and Plath by Ashlgothian forces (June 1285), which ended the Kingdom of Jarjanica.
- With Polonia engrossed in military conflict to its south, Theodora and Golinaria now saw their opportunity to secure Laurasian jurisdiction over the Central Core. In November 1285, the Royal Chancellory had sent a communique to the Polonian Council of State, requesting for a conference to be held in order to reconfirm the terms of the Treaty of Andrusovo. King Sobieski, eager to maintain peaceful relations with Laurasia, agreed to this request. On January 28, 1286, delegations from the two states convened in Christiania, Laurasia Prime, for the diplomatic conference. Laurasia was represented by Prince Golinaria, assisted by the Lord of Constantinople, Viscount Galerius Sarius (1239-88), while the interests of the Commonwealth were represented by Prince Krystof Godulwaski of Polonia Minor (1240-1305). Negotiations continued for over three months, ultimately culminating in the Treaty of Christiania (May 6, 1286). This treaty, ratified by Regent Theodora in the name of her brothers that same day, and by the Polonian Parliament in April 1287, confirmed the Treaty of Andrusovo and all other currently existing treaties between Laurasia and Polonia. Laurasian rule over the Clancian, Marshian, Melarnarian, Goldarian, and Carinan Provinces was again affirmed. Polonia also continued its recognition of Laurasian overlordship over the Ivorian Hetmanate, and conferred final recognition on the Stellar Kingdom's hold of the Morganian and Kelvanian Provinces. In exchange, Laurasia agreed not to sign any military alliances or other treaties with powers hostile to the interests of the Commonwealth, and to remain neutral in Polonian wars in the Wild Marshes, and in the Barsar Regions.
- The conclusion of the Treaty of Christiania helped to elevate the status of the Regent Theodora, and was viewed as a major triumph on Laurasia Prime. She rewarded Golinaria, Sarius, and the other negotiators with estates, gifts, and other honors. Moreover, the Regent ordered for a Te Deum mass to be conducted at the Westphalian Cathedral, and for celebrations to be held at prominent public locations in all of the Kingdom's systems. Over the Galactic Holonet, a manifesto was issued praising the merits of the Prince, and exulting in his accomplishments. Yet Theodora and Golinaria now turned their attention to the Wild Marshes, and those very territories of which Polonia had again recognized Laurasian jurisdiction over. Over the past several years, these territories had been under threat from the Great Kingdom of Donathia, which had now definitively established itself in the Caladarian Galaxy. In April 1269, Donathian forces under Kings Ivar and Halfdan had launched a renewed invasion of Amelianian Lavella, determined to subdue that state and to extend Donathian power out to the Northern Galactic Barrier. Between April and November of that year, Donathian forces overran Dejan, Dequan, Antowne, Irving, Fisher, Ladelle, Lavella Major, and Lavella Minor. On November 20, 1269, at Outpost K-33 in the Galactic Barrier, King Edmund was captured, tortured, and executed on the orders of the two Donathian Kings, and by the forces of King Ubba. The three Amelianian Kings now installed one of their military commanders, Guthrum (1235-90), as King of Amelianian Lavella, in December 1269, and stationed their military forces on its territories.
- In July 1270, Donathian forces again invaded Amelianian Cordania; Seeben, Sabinia, Kalbacha Minor, the strongholds of the Iswill, and Sherry were conquered by them, and in December 1270, General Bagosceg made his move into the Angelican Provinces. The following month (January 8, 1271), he inflicted a severe defeat upon King Ethelred in the Battle of Shineski. Iverman, Etienne, Aspen, Roach, Corfu, Prima, Eric, and Schulzki were quickly conquered, and Ethelred suffered further defeats at Giron (January 22), Donovan (February 15-19), and Zachary (March 5). His brother, Prince Alfred, did however manage to obtain a victory at Ashadaria in the Immortalized Cluster (January 14, 1271), capturing nearly 300,000 Donathian troops. By the end of March 1271, however, Donathian military forces had occupied the great majority of the Angelican Provinces, save for Sebastiani, Angelica Major, and Angelica Minor. On April 23, 1271, King Ethelred died at Ho Chi Minh, and Alfred became King of Amelianian Cordania (r. 1271-99). In May 1271, Alfred suffered a serious defeat in the Battle of Thang Gosong, losing control of Sebastisani and Angelica Minor, and was forced to terms with the Donathians. The Treaty of Niem Binh (August 28, 1271), resulted in Amelianian Cordania recognizing the Donathian occupation of Amelianian Lavella, and in Cordania conceding the Angelican Provinces to the Donathians. King Alfred also pledged to pay a annual military tribute and to refrain from signing any treaties or alliances contrary to Donathian interests. During 1272 and 1273, the Donathians focused their attention on Nordania and Marcia; in June 1272, King Ecgberht, having revolted against his Donathian overlords, was defeated and captured in the Battle of Kennedy, and was forced to abdicate from the Nordanian throne (he died in exile, at Bucharina, in April 1273). He was succeeded to the Nordanian throne by Ricisge, who was to hold the throne for three years. In January 1273, Ompus Septimia and Tekos IV were seized by the Donathians; King Burgred of Marcia was forced, in August of that year, to pay homage to the Donathian Kings at Risa. In October 1273, King Ivar was killed while fighting Xilanian forces at Ba'dai, Ra'dai, and Meneia in the Tof Borderlands; Guthrum, puppet King of Lavella, was now made a co-King of Greater Donathia by Ragnar and Ubba.
- Then, in March 1274, the Donathian Kings decided to rid themselves of Marcia. They launched a renewed invasion of its remaining territories, overrunning Neustron, the Gate Solarian Cluster, and Ompus Septimia in short order. On May 19, 1274, Vector Prime was conquered by the forces of Ubba and Ragnar, and then two months later, on July 22, Arachosia Prime itself (renamed that on the initiative of the Donathians, who sought to humiliate the Amelianians), was captured. Burgred was now forced to abdicate as King of Marcia. He was then taken in chains to Imegina, where he died in exile in July 1286. With his death, Marcia was now directly incorporated into the Great Kingdom of Donathia. In November 1274, King Guthrum established his chief operational headquarters on Kalbacha Prime, and planned his military offensives into Cordanian territory. In 1275, Donathian forces under Ragnar harassed the Merlites and Ashlgothians, attacking Aretha, Jacquenthia, Thathel Prime, Alec, Austin, and Ryan Barlak. Then in April 1276, Nordania was again invaded by the Donathians; King Ricisge was deposed and killed, and Ragnar proclaimed himself King of Nordania. In September, a century after the fall of the Huntite Khanate to the Rudorites of King Odoacer, co-King Guthrum launched a renewed series of offensives into Cordania. From September 1276 to May 1280, he and Alfred waged a vigorous struggle. Guthrum enjoyed great success at first, expelling Amelianian units from Cognus, Bane, Zannah, Seeben, and Angelica Major, and in January 1278, Alfred was forced to flee from Hypasia Major. In May of that year, however, Alfred won the Battle of Cassolar, and from thence proceeded to recover Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, and Cassolar. By May 1280, with the Eastern Kalbachan Provinces again falling under the Amelianians, Guthrum was forced to peace. The Treaty of Huerta Mongol (August 22, 1280), confirmed the Kingdom of Amelianian Cordania's rule over the Hypasian, Kthexoxian, and Eastern Kalbachan Provinces. Guthrum, on his part, gained recognition of his titles and territories. The deaths of Ragnar in August 1277 and of Ubba in May 1279 had left him sole King of Great Donathia. In September 1279, he had abolished the separate existence of Amelianian Lavella and Nordania, incorporating those territories directly into Donathia.
- Peace now persisted between Donathia and Amelianian Cordania for a full decade, to last until Guthrum's death in January 1290. But Guthrum, in firm control of the Angelican Provinces, now sought for an advance into the Core Regions. Beginning in April 1281, Donathian intelligence and reconnaissance expeditions had been launched into Laurasian territory. These expeditions continued until March 1285, ranging to as far as Morgania Major, Merlin, Kanjur, Kelvania Minor, and Lancelot, gathering information on the defenses and strategic depositions of the Stellar Kingdom. Yet they also irritated the Royal Laurasian Government, which considered Donathian expansionism in the Galactic Borderlands to be discomforting, and suspected the King of Donathia's wider intentions. And indeed, after March 1285, Donathian forces began to harry Laurasian colonies, outposts, and garrisons in the Wild Marshes. On October 8 of that year, Regan and Cordelia had been sacked by a Donathian expeditionary force; they followed this up with an attack on the colony of Alabaria (November 1285), which resulted in the capture of more then 50,000 colonists and the destruction of that system's military repositories. In February 1286, Gawain and Gsheris also fell victim to Donathian raids. By April 1286, Donathian forces were being reported at Mordred, Leofranc, and Maleagant, and even threatened Arthur.
- In August 1286, Prince Golinaria proposed to the Regent and the Royal Council that a daring, and bold campaign be launched into the heart of the Angelican Provinces, in order to bring an end to these raids. He envisioned the conquest of the worlds of the Immortalized Cluster, of Angelica Major, and of the High Colonies, and even thought of establishing a military alliance with Amelianian Cordania, which had continued to exhibit some hostility towards Laurasia. Regent Theodora supported his plans, but many nobles were suspicious, believing that Golinaria sought profit for himself from the enterprise. Nevertheless, the plans proceeded, and during the latter months of 1286, the Royal Laurasian Forces were mobilized. A new recruit levy was proclaimed, special taxes collected, military equipment, supplies, and starships assembled at the strongholds of the lower Rebeccan, in Morgania, and in Kelvania, and (December 9, 1286), a commander was selected: Golinaria himself. He had some military experience, but considered himself a statesman rather than a military commander. He would have preferred to remain on Laurasia Prime, to keep control of the government and a close eye on his numerous enemies. But his opponents argued loudly that the Prince who had made the commitment to attack the Donathians should be required to lead the expedition. Golinaria was caught; there was nothing he could do but accept. 1286 ended, therefore, with Laurasia gearing for war.
- 1287, the 87th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia still residing in a state of peace, though this was not to last for much longer. The preparations for war with the Great Kingdom of Donathia, in the Wild Marshes, were now full underway. Moreover, Donathian expeditions continued to penetrate into the Kelvanian and Morganian Provinces. In January 1287, Gunevere, Lancelot, Gawain, Gaheris, and Morgania Minor were all sacked by the forces of Donathian General Ibba. On February 7, 1287, Belenda and Gorbudia were briefly seized by him, and he seized more than 700,000 Laurasian and Core colonists from those star systems as prisoners before retreating. Ten days later, Regent Theodora, who was then conducting a tour of the cities of Laurasia Prime, issued a manifesto from the Celestial Palace, declaring that unless if action were taken against the Donathians, the "territories of this realm will continue to persist in danger, with the external threat of war enveloping all of the internal structures of government." She issued further instructions to the Royal General Headquarters, and on March 5, 1287, placed all Laurasian garrisons, colonies, and outposts in the Wild Marshes on elevated alert. Yet it was not until March 28 that a formal declaration of war was officially issued by the Royal Laurasian Government against the Great Kingdom of Donathia, thereby commencing the Laurasian-Donathian War of 1287-89.
- On April 7, 1287, Prince Golinaria finally departed from Laurasia Prime, being seen off by the Regent and by the two co-Kings, Menelaus and Seleucus, in a formal ceremony. Seleucus was eager to follow the progress of the campaign, and he made a point to maintain communications with the General Headquarters over it. Golinaria now proceeded rapidly, along the Metallasian Trade Corridor, and thence to the Morganian Provinces. He arrived at Morgania Major on April 18, just in time to defeat a Donathian expeditionary force that was threatening the outposts of Percival, Tristan, and Pendragon, within a ten-light year radius from the star system. Further confrontations then ensued with Donathian units at Goneril, Lear, Leir, and Lancelot (April 20-May 3, 1287), and on May 6, Golinaria's forces began their move, through the abandoned systems of Yarania and Petrevia (once centers of Razaria's Rebellion), and across the border into the Angelican Provinces. Golinaria now proceeded cautiously, afraid that the mobile Donathian starfighter squadrons would ride around his armadas and strike them in the rear. By May 22, he had captured the outposts of Donovan and Zachary, but had yet to confront a major Donathian force in battle.
- By June 13, Golinaria's forces had reached the outskirts of Giron, which was the first major Angelican world in their path. He now instigated a siege, and for several days, Laurasian forces struggled to batter down the star system's defenses. Finally (June 22, 1287), Giron fell into Laurasian hands. Sebastiani, Etienne, and Roach were subdued in July 1287, thereby entrenching Laurasian forces further into the recesses of Angelica. But Golinaria did not understand that King Guthrum, seeking to overextend Laurasian supply lines, to weaken Laurasian morale, and to stymie the Laurasian advance, was pursuing a deliberate policy of retreat, and moreover, of devastation. Guthrum now ordered for the abandonment, destruction, or isolation of all colonies, garrisons, and systems in the vicinity of the Immortalized Cluster and of the Lower Angelican Worlds. Donathian units, which continued to launch reconnaissance and intelligence raids into the Morganian Provinces, in spite of Laurasian efforts, followed these instructions to the letter. Laurasian forces failed to conquer Aspen, Iverman, and Eric due to these efforts, and on August 14, 1287, the Donathians destroyed a Laurasian supply convoy at Evan. Subsequent Laurasian moves to Titus, Sam, Evan, and Byron failed to accomplish anything of substance (August 20-29, 1287), and by September 5, Golinaria was forced to abandon Giron, as it proved untenable to maintain control of the star system. On September 14, 1287, General Ibba launched a surprise offensive against Morgania Minor, Curan, and Mordred, breaching the defenses of all these strongholds, sacking them, and seizing more than $600 billion denarii worth of goods, equipment, and supplies. Moreover, nearly three million Morganians and colonists were killed or captured.
- Golinaria, who now believed that further moves into Angelica were not tenable, and that he needed to provide more security for his rear, began a coordinated retreat back into Laurasian space. He abandoned Donovan, Zachary, and Sebastiani (September 16-24), and on October 1, the Laurasians yielded Etienne. Two days later, General Ibba reconquered Roach. On October 7, the Prince was recalled to Laurasia Prime by Regent Theodora; she, enthused by the reports in which he had boasted of the Donathian "weaknesses" and "cowardice", and ignoring the actual results of the campaign, intended to give him a reception worthy of a hero. He arrived at Laurasia Prime ten days later, greeted by assembled "crowds" at the two Calaxies, Jadia, Hepudermia, and in the cities of Laurasia Prime. He was then taken in procession to the Celestial Palace, where he was admitted to kiss the hands of the Regent and of the two Kings. In November 1287, Theodora issued a proclamation announcing a victory and heaped her favorite with praise and rewards. New estates and monies were lavished on him, and smaller gold medals bearing the likenesses of Theodora, Seleucus, and Menelaus were given to his officers. In fact, Golinaria had campaigned for several months, lost more than three million of his troops, and some 1,000 warships, and returned to Laurasia Prime without ever facing the Donathians in a true battle. During December 1287, in fact, Donathian expeditions continued their raids into the Morganian Provinces, showing that nothing, in fact, had been truly accomplished.
- During 1288, the 88th year of the thirteenth century, Laurasia, though still technically at war with Donathia, did not launch any effective military campaigns back into the Angelican Provinces. In fact, the year saw the continuation of the strategic status quo which had prevailed before the outbreak of the war. Donathian expeditions, launched by King Guthrum's command, continued to harry the Morganian Provinces, and even began penetrations into Kelvania. Notably, in April 1288, Donathian forces, breaking through Laurasian frontier defenses, sacked Gawain, Excalibur, and Kalind, and threatened the defenses of Regan, Cordelia, and Goneril, before being compelled to retreat. This was followed by another expedition, launched on September 5 of that year, which saw Donathian forces approaching the outskirts of Kanjur; sacking Barbara and Bouchet; and mining the approaches to Anjun and Kelvania Minor. All of this served to further weaken the authority, and the reputation, of the Regent and of her government.
- Yet while the Laurasian-Donathian War continued, bearing little fruit for the Stellar Kingdom, King Seleucus continued with his endeavors on Aquilionia, and elsewhere in the Purse Region. In June 1288, Seleucus turned 16. No longer a small boy, he was now becoming more active, more alert, and more ambitious. In July 1287, Prince Josephus Dologravia, then serving as Ambassador to Melorkia, gifted to the King a sextant, allowing for him to measure distances in space from the planetary surface, and to compare them to distances on the planetary surface. Seleucus, however, did not know how to use the device, and he now sought out the Denveranian navigator Franz Timmeria, who in short order, showed the young King how to use the device. Seleucus now asked Timmeria to teach him more. The old Denveranian agreed, but insisted that the King first needed to learn arithmetic, geometry, and astrography. Seleucus accepted, spurred by his desire to use the sextant: soon, he was not only studying these subjects, but was also studying ballistics. The further he went, the more paths seemed open to him. He renewed his interest in geography and cartography, studying on a great map of the Caladarian Galaxy and its satellite galaxies which had belonged to his father.
- Timmeria was a makeshift tutor; he was elderly, and not in touch with some of the latest technological currents. Yet to Seleucus, he became a counselor and a friend, and the King kept him constantly at his size. Timmeria had traveled throughout the Galaxy; he could describe how things worked, he could answer at least some of the questions constantly posed by this young, curious, vibrant monarch. Together, they visited many of the star systems around Laurasia Prime, including Caladaria, Darcia, Americana, Clackimaris, Ralina Vixius, Oxia Vixius, Apathama Vixius, Vetta, Taurasia, Charasia, Tyndaris, Ietas, Andriana, Rainnan, and Sauvania, among others. In June 1288, Seleucus found an old Venasian space sail at a warehouse on Vetta. The sail, it was discovered, had been gifted to Honorius the Terrible by Queen Mother Femania in April 1160. He now engaged Timmeria and a number of his other subordinates to refit and refurbish the ship. Seleucus, under the Denveranian's watch, then took the ship on numerous shakedown cruises through the Constantine Cluster, and was much amused by it. It was his adventures on this vessel that gave him the inspiration to embark upon the later, major expansion of the Royal Laurasian Navy; in time, it would come to be known as the "Grandfather of the Imperial Laurasian Navy."
- Yet it was not merely the continuance of naval lessons which took up his attention; the Grand Prince had fallen in love. As has been mentioned earlier, many noble families in the Laurasian Purse Region had sent their sons to the younger King's service, hoping to ingratiate themselves with him. In return, Seleucus had taken advantage of his right to visit noble households whenever he wished, frequenting, besides the residences of his Narishina relatives, the homes of families such as the Dologranias and the Lopasarias. The Lopasaria family (from which the Loparian Dukes of Christiania were to ultimately derive), was one of the oldest, most respected gentry families within Laurasia. They were also one of the most enlightened. The head of the family, Count Theodosius Lopasaria (1238-1313), was a respected lawyer, military commander, courtier, and businessman. He had enlisted on his own initiative in the Royal Laurasian Army in June 1256, at the age of eighteen, and had during the course of the next ten years, fought under the command of Princes Odaneria, Cherkassia, and Khovankia in both the Polonian and Briannian Wars. He became especially noted for his exploits at the Battle of Horodok (January 1260), and for heroic actions at Watson, Sherlock, and Constantia. Lopasaria thereby advanced quickly through the ranks, becoming a Staff Sergeant in July 1260, Lieutenant-Colonel in August 1262, and a Colonel in May 1264. In November 1266, he retired from the Royal Laurasian Army, and was admitted to the Christiania Inns, which had been established the previous decade as a judicial academy and legal pool by King Artabanus.
- Lopasaria distinguished himself in his studies, becoming President of the Christiania Law Journal, and, thanks to his exposure to foreign languages and customs, a early advocate of the reformation of Laurasia's judicial, administrative, and royal household systems. He eventually graduated from the Inns in May 1270 with his JD in Constitutional and Administrative Law, and was made a clerk of the Royal Bureau of Legal Correspondence. Lopasaria distinguished himself in that service as well, becoming known for successfully managing a series of cases before the Aristocratic Duma and Royal Council, most notably that connected to the fiscal rights of Vemay Monastery on Jenny (1275). In January 1276, he was entrusted with delivering the news of King Artabanus's death to the garrisons of Outer Morgania, and in 1279, he was made Chief Legal Clerk of the Royal Chancellory. In January 1280, with the death of his father, Lopasaria inherited the family estates, and in May 1281, he was created Count Lopasaria of Taurasia by King Theodosius. Lopasaria became a honorary chamberlain of the Royal Court, vice-chair of the Aristocratic Duma, and in June 1283, Chief Barrister of the Christiania Inns. He held that position for fourteen years.
- Lopasaria also sat on the boards of Christiania Pharmaceuticals and Katherine Drive Yards, and in 1287-88, headed a commission advocating for the creation of a uniform training system for the Royal Laurasian Navy. All of this, therefore, marked him out in the eyes of the Court. In May 1268, he had married Lady Valeriana Utaria (1245-91); they had four children, the eldest of whom, born on August 9, 1269, was their daughter Eudoxia (1269-1331). Lopasaria was determined that all of his children receive a superior education, thereby defying the norms which had generally held among the Laurasian nobility, many of whom had believed their daughters to be less worthy of learning than their sons. Eudoxia was tutored by Dr. Valentinian Passaria (1219-94), who was a Deacon of Westphalia and one of the founders of the Laurasian Galactic Academy. Dr. Passaria immersed his pupil in a curriculum of history, theology, philosophy, rhetoric, mathematics, foreign languages, social graces, and the social sciences (particularly anthropology and sociology), along with natural and environmental science. Eudoxia proved to be a bright and intelligent student, and she eventually came to know six different languages besides Laurasian, including High Galactic, Venasian, Polonian, Solidaritan, Briannian, and Melorkian. She was also kept physically active, developing a passion for shockball, hunting, and track, among other sports. Her father, moreover, made a point of exposing her to the Foreign Quarters of Christiania, and of providing her information from his duties at the Inns and at Katherine Drive Yards, thereby widening her horizons beyond Laurasia, and beyond the Almitian Church.
- Eudoxia, consequently, became, like Theodora, a woman who was receptive to innovation, despised the old Laurasian customs, and believed that Laurasia was destined for something greater. All of these traits were to endear her to Seleucus. In fact, the King and the lady first met in June 1284, when Seleucus was visited at Aquilionia by Lord Lopasaria (who had enrolled his son Tiberius in the King's military exercises), and his family. From the time that they first laid eyes upon each other, the two were absolutely enchanted. They engaged in vigorous conversations; Eudoxia paid careful attention to Seleucus's talk about theoretical and military subjects, and he in turn was fascinated by her discussions of history, society, and the social sciences Although they had different educational interests (she in the theoretical, he in the practical), they nevertheless found that they complemented each other personally. Eudoxia was, like Seleucus, physically strong, tall (she would eventually reach 6 ft, beyond the norm for a Laurasian woman), and restless, unable to keep to one thing for long. She was kind, thoughtful, and articulate, yet possessed of common sense and of understanding. She knew what Seleucus liked and disliked. Seleucus, in turn, greatly enjoyed her company, thought her beautiful, and was entranced by her learning. Over the course of the next four years, as they continued to meet and interact at intervals, their liking for each other gradually turned into a passionate love.
- This fit perfectly in accord with the plans of his mother, who, by September 1288, was utterly convinced that it was her son's duty to marry and beget a son. The Queen-Dowager felt this deeply, and even Regent Theodora did not object. This was not simply a matter of Narishina towards Marcella. It was a question of securing the Leonidian Dynasty. Julia was aware of her son's relationship with Lady Narishina, and thought that it would be perfectly acceptable. She saw how compatible the Lady was to her son, was pleased by the fact that she belonged to a honorable family of Laurasian gentry, and, having experienced a more "enlightened" life herself in the household of Matrevia, admired the girl's intelligence and learning. However, she still felt obliged to conduct the traditional process of bride-selection. This was done at the Diplomatic Palace on Laurasia Prime (October 11, 1288), but due to the Queen-Dowager's pre-arrangements, Julia was selected almost immediately. The two were engaged shortly thereafter, and a date was set for their wedding: it was to take place the following month. Thus, as 1288 came to an end, Laurasia was to gain an additional Queen Consort.
- 1289, the 89th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with Laurasia still officially engrossed in war with the Great Kingdom of Donathia. The year, however, also began with the marriage of King Seleucus and Lady Eudoxia Lopasaria. This wedding was conducted on January 27, 1289, at the Palace of Placenta on Darcia. The ceremony was attended by Queen-Dowager Julia, by Prince Golinaria (representing the Regent Theodora), and by King Menelaus, along with several of the most prominent personages of the Royal Laurasian Court. It was presided over by Pope Joacherius, who administered the exchange of vows. Thus, Laurasia now had two Queen-Consorts: Praskovia Saltarina, wife of Menelaus, and Eudoxia Lopasaria, wife of Seleucus I. The marriage of Seleucus and Eudoxia which lasted thirty-six years until the future Emperor's death, was to prove a successful and vigorous one. During the first years of their marriage, Seleucus and Eudoxia did not spend as much time with each other, as the King continued to be engaged with his activities on Aquilionia and elsewhere in the Laurasia Prime Purse Region. However, they kept a continual correspondence with each other; Seleucus inquired constantly about his wife's health, cultural and academic interests, while she asked him numerous questions about his naval and other practical activities, and worried about his safety. Their letters were marked by deep affection, understanding, and sentimentalism; Seleucus took to calling his wife his "Pearl" and his "Mighty Lady", while the Queen called her husband "Great Seleucus" and "My Most Excellent Majesty". They would find pride in his accomplishments and in their son, Grand Prince Seleucus, and heartbreak over the loss of their three other children, the deaths of their parents, and setbacks in the duties of war and state.
- In the meantime, Laurasian campaigns against the Donathians in Angelica finally resumed. Beginning in December 1288, the Regent and her government were engaged in efforts to reorganize the forces deployed, to strengthen the chief garrisons of Morgania and Kelvania, and to draft new strategic plans. Though both she and Golinaria hoped that a peaceful settlement could be reached with the Donathians, they nevertheless realized that this would be impossible unless if some conclusive military results were achieved. On January 8, 1289, Golinaria declared, at a session of the Aristocratic Duma, that his ultimate aim would be the subjection of the Immortalized Cluster and the Lower Worlds; he even talked of expelling the Donathians from Angelica entirely. This declaration, extravagant to the point of nonsense, indicated the seemingly desperate personal position of Golinaria. By now, it was essential for him to score some kind of victory over the Donathians in order to repulse the criticisms from his domestic and personal enemies in Christiania. In February 1289, Golinaria was attacked at the Diplomatic Palace by an unsuccessful assassin. On the very eve of his departure from Laurasia Prime (March 9, 1289), the Prince found a coffin left outside his bedchambers with a note warning that if this second campaign were not more successful than the first, the coffin would be his new home.
- On March 10, Prince Golinaria made his leave from the capital world, at the head of the 1st and 2nd Royal Laurasian Forces, comprised of unified naval and armed forces, along with a corps of Royal Guards (numbering some 500,000 troops). At Gawain, in the Morganian Provinces, he was joined by the forces of Ivorian Hetman Ivan Mazeppa (who had assumed his post on July 25, 1287, and been confirmed by the Regent Theodora), consisting of 300,000 Ivorian troops and one hundred warships. Over the course of the following two months, Laurasian forces gradually pushed back into the Angelican Provinces. Donovan, Sebastiani, and Zachary were reoccupied by the Prince's troops (March 15-19); on March 22, he managed to capture a Donathian reconnaissance fleet at Ann; and on April 15, Roach fell into Laurasian hands. Six days later, the Donathians abandoned the outpost of Darin, and it was now occupied by Golinaria, who established it as a command headquarters for his forces. He also ordered his troops to engage in a policy of plunder and raids through the surrounding star systems, hoping to hamper Donathian efforts to attack his supply lines, and to make his strategic position more secure. Then (May 11, 1289), just as Laurasian forces were preparing to launch an offensive against Aspen, a detachment of Donathian warships, led by Admiral Halfdan, suddenly appeared and launched an attack upon the 1st Royal Laurasian Force, which was commanded by Boethius Sherevius (1252-1319), later to become the first Laurasian baron. Overwhelmed, the Laurasian ships and transports scattered.
- The Donathians now pushed towards the main transport convoy, but Golinaria was able to align his turbocannon and to halt their offensive with a barrage of fire. Five days later, the Donathians again attacked Golinaria's rear. Once again, turbocannon managed to beat off the attackers. Thereafter, Laurasian forces were never without a menacing Donathian escort on the horizon. It was on May 30, that the Prince's forces finally appeared in the outskirts of Aspen. They found the star system to now be heavily fortified. It was ringed by a minefield; behind that minefield was the Aspen Asteroid Belt, protected by a array of shield generators, turbocannon, and orbital outposts; and behind that belt, were the assembled Donathian forces, organized into three columns, and consisting of their own frigates, battleships, and dreadnoughts. Aspen itself was protected by shields, and was commanded by a central military citadel, manned by more than a million troops and with supplies enough to last a lengthy size. Golinaria was, by this point, in no mood to launch an assault against the star system. His forces were now overextended and exhausted, and he lacked the necessary minesweepers to breach through the defenses. Instead, he now tried to negotiate a peace settlement. The Donathians, however, proved unwilling to negotiate unless if all Laurasian forces pulled back from Angelican territory.
- Once again, Golinaria decided to retreat, and once more, reports of brilliant victories were sent back to Laurasia Prime. Theodora again accepted them, and decided to welcome her returning general as a hero, and as a conqueror. She viewed him also as a conqueror of her own heart, pouring out her love and devotion to him in a series of communiques. On June 7, Golinaria was finally able to negotiate a agreement, the Armistice of Gerald, with the Donathians, by which all military hostilities were to cease until a peace settlement could be devised. Following the conclusion of this, he proceeded slowly back to Laurasia Prime. Golinaria finally arrived back at Laurasia Prime on July 8, 1289. Theodora broke protocol by greeting him not in the Celestial Palace, but at the Post Settlement of Hepudermia. Together, they proceeded back to the Palace, where Golinaria was received and publicly thanked by King Menelaus, Queen Praskovia, and Pope Joacherius. By the Regent's command, special thanksgiving services were held in all of the churches and cathedrals of Laurasia Prime, and of other systems in the Purse Region, to celebrate the safe and victorious return of the Laurasian forces.
- Two weeks later, the rewards for the campaign were announced; Golinaria was to receive an estate on Odika, in the Malarian Provinces; $50 billion denarii; and a set of gifts, including a caftan of gold lined with sables. Other officers under his command were given gold medals, extra wages, and various gifts. The joy of these celebrations were marred, however, by Seleucus's disapproval. From the beginning, he refused to accept the charade of "victory." He and Queen Eudoxia both declined to greet the returning "hero" at the Celestial Palace with Menelaus, his wife, and the Pope. For a week, he withheld his consent to the rewards. Finally prevailed upon to acquiesce, he was bitter. Etiquette proscribed that Golinaria go to Prebanian Estate to thank the King for his generosity. When Golinaria arrived, Seleucus refused to see him. It was not only an affront, but a challenge. A new wave of resentment, indeed, was now moving through the growing number of people opposed to Theodora's rule. Already, there was discontent over her administration and her favorite, Golinaria, was now marked as an unsuccessful general engaging in unpopular campaigns. Another element was in play: Seleucus was maturing.
- Judging that it would not be long before this active young King would be ready to take some more important role in the government, many of the Kingdom's most prominent nobles gathered around the King, as well as the Narishina and Lopasaria families, of his mother and wife. It had been this aristocratic party which had insisted that Golinaria take command of the military forces in the two successive Donathian campaigns. In defending himself against these waiting foes, Golinaria had a single ally, Count Theodosius Milovkia. The most decisive and ruthless of Theodora's advisors, his feelings towards the opposition aristocratic party, and indeed towards the entire nobility, were clear: He hated them as they hated him. Beginning in 1287, when he had told a group of Royal Guards that the nobles were "useless beggars", he had been trying to rouse them against the nobility. He insisted that the time to destroy them was before Seleucus came of age. With all of this, therefore, Seleucus's public rebuff of Theodora's lover shocked, angered, and worried the Regent. It was the first direct challenge to her position, the first clear signal that the young King would not automatically do whatever he was told to do. The truth that Seleucus was no longer a boy, that he was growing up and would soon be of age, and that the regency would become superfluous, was evident to everyone. Theodora scoffed at Seleucus's adolescent war games and starship building, but foreign observers watched carefully, the activities of the King.
- Theodora did nothing to restrain or suppress her half-brother. Busy with state affairs, finding the boy and his mother no threat to her government, she simply left them alone. As he grew older, she put no restrictions on his demands for real weapons, starships, and vehicles to be sent from government arsenals for use in his violently realistic war games. The flow of these weapons was constant, but Theodora ignored it. In January 1289, Seleucus was allowed to sit for the first time at a meeting of the Royal Council. He found the discussion boring and did not often return. Beneath the surface, however, Theodora felt a growing sense of insecurity and anxiety. After seven years of wielding power, she had not only grown accustomed to it, she could not imagine giving it up. Yet she was aware that she was a woman, and that her role as Regent was a temporary one. Unless her own position could be formally changed, she would have to step aside when her brothers came of age. Now, that moment was close at hand. Menelaus was married, but he was not the problem. He was not only content but anxious that someone should lift from the burden of rule. But Seleucus was entering manhood, as his marriage with Eudoxia had given strong evidence. This was a painful situation for Theodora; unless if something were done, a crisis resulting in her overthrow was inevitable.
- Theodora had already taken some steps to improve her position, and had tried and been rebuffed in an attempt to take others. In September 1286, soon after the conclusion of the Treaty of Christiania, Theodora began to use the title of Autocrat, normally reserved for the Kings. Thereafter, this title was applied to her name in all official documents and at all public ceremonies, placing her on an equal status with the two Kings. Everyone knew, however, that Theodora was not equal because, unlike her brothers, she had not been crowned. Theodora hoped that this would also be possible. In August 1287, she instructed Milovkia to determine whether the Royal Guards would support her being crowned. He did as he was told, and urged the Guards to petition the two Kings to allow the coronation of their sister. But the Guards, conservative in outlook, were opposed, and the project was temporarily laid aside. Nevertheless, in January 1288, Theodora commissioned a portrait of herself, wearing the Royal Laurasian Crown, and holding the orb and scepter in her hands, exactly as crowned male autocrats were usually depicted. Her title was given as Grand Princess and Autocrat. Her regal qualities were compared favorably to female rulers of the past. But to Seleucus's faction, Theodora's assumption of the title was intolerable, and her portrait was a menace. They surmised that she meant to have herself crowned, marry her favorite, and then either dethrone the two Kings or dispose of Seleucus by whatever means were necessary.
- Milovkia, on hi part, continually pressed upon Theodora the necessity of crushing the Narishinas before Seleucus came of age. More than once, he urged members of the Guards to kill the leaders of Seleucus's party and perhaps even Queen-Dowager Julia. He failed, as Theodora was unwilling to take such drastic steps, and Golinaria shrank from any violence. Yet, the clash was now to come. On July 18, 1289, an incident occurred which brought Seleucus's growing antagonism with Theodora and Golinaria to the forefront. At the festival, held at Westphalia, celebrating the miraculous appearance of the icon of Our Lady of Penania, Theodora appeared with her two brothers, just as she had done in preceding years. When the service was over, Seleucus, after a whispered remark from one of his companions, walked over to Theodora and asked her to step out of the procession. This was an open challenge: to prevent the Regent from walking with the Kings was to strip away her authority. Theodora understood the implication and refused to obey. Instead, she personally took the icon from the Pope, and carrying it, defiantly continued to walk in the procession. Incensed and frustrated, Seleucus immediately left and returned to Aquilionia in the instant. Rumors now filled the air, with each side fearing a sudden move by the other, and each being convinced that its own best strategy was to remain on the defensive. Neither party wished to forfeit the moral advantage by striking the first blow. Neither Seleucus nor Theodora had a good reason to attack the other.
- In numbers, Theodora held an advantage; she had most of the Royal Guards behind her, along with the garrison and authorities of Laurasia Prime. Seleucus's numerical strength was small. He had only his family, his companions, his play troops, and the probable support of the Suhranian Regiment of Guards. Yet though her physical strength was greater, it was based on weakness: Theodora could not be sure how deeply the loyalty of the Guards ran, and she had an exaggerated fear of the troops assembled around Seleucus. During these tense middle months of 1289, therefore, the Regent surrounded herself with guards wherever she went. She lavished on hem gifts of money and piled them with pleas and exhortations. Golinaria remained silent, not wishing to become involved, while Milovkia constantly stirred up trouble among the Guards, talking of eliminating Seleucus's leading supporters and sending Queen-Dowager Julia to a convent. But finally, on August 17, 1289, the crisis exploded.
- Rumors spread that on that very night, Seleucus's supporters would attack the Celestial Palace and attempt to kill King Menelaus and the Regent Theodora. These rumors were embodied in a communique, circulated within the Palace itself. No one took time to investigate the authenticity of the communique. Understandably, Theodora became extremely upset. To calm her, Milovkia ordered the defenses of the Palace activated, and summoned more Guards to garrison it. Scouting forces were deployed from Laurasia Prime to Aquilonia to report any sign of activity from there. The inhabitants of the city of Christiania watched the mobilization of the Guards with dread. They remembered what had happened seven years earlier, and now a new upheaval seemed very near. Even the Guards were uneasy, believing that they might be sent into action against Aquilionia, a prospect which was troubling to them. At Aquilionia, news of the tumult on Laurasia Prime caused excitement but no special precautions. During the evening, one of Seleucus's chamberlains came to the capital with a routine dispatch. His arrival, however, was misinterpreted by some of the Guards, who seized him, beat him, and dragged him to the Guards Quarters to see Milovkia.
- This violence had immediate consequences. During the preceding weeks, the King's uncle, Leonnatus Narishina, along with Prince Eusebius Golinaria, a cousin of Theodora's favorite, aware that a confrontation with Theodora and Milovkia was approaching, had been working to gain informants among the Guards. Seventy men had been won over, the chief of whom was Lieutenant Colonel Valens Elarania, and their standing orders were to report any moves made by Milovkia. Alerted to Milovkia's treatment of the chamberlain, Elarania now sent an emergency transmission to Aquilionia. At Prebanian Estate, all was quiet when, shortly after midnight, GST, an attendant burst into Seleucus's bedchambers, where he was sleeping, and shouted that he must run for his life, as the Guards were coming for them. Seleucus leaped from his bed, and made his way out into the courtyard where his companions brought a change of clothes. He dressed quickly, got onto his personal frigate, and accompanied by a small escort, fled to the Vemay Monastery on Jenny. He was terrified, believing his fears had come to reality, and made it to Jenny quickly. When he arrived there, he was so exhausted that he had to be carried off his ship and into his quarters. Queen Eudoxia, who had returned to Aquilonia shortly before her husband's arrival, now hastened to join him at Vemay. She was accompanied by Queen-Dowager Julia; both women were concerned, but fully aware of the plans devised by Narishina and Golinaria. They had made arrangements with the Abbott of Vemay for the withdrawal of the King and his supporters, and had not told Seleucus. Later, the story that a King had to flee at night from the approach of his enemies lent weight to the charges against Theodora. Unwittingly, Seleucus had played his role perfectly.
- He had never actually been in danger, because the Guards had never been ordered to march to Aquilonia, and when news of it reached Laurasia Prime, no one knew what to make of it. Theodora, hearing the report the following morning, was convinced that Seleucus's behavior implied some threat to her, while Milovkia was contemptuous. As she studied the situation, however, Theodora became uneasy. More clearly than Milovkia, she realized the significance of what had happened. Spurred by a false danger, Seleucus had taken a decisive step. The Vemay Monastery was one of the most revered places in the Stellar Kingdom. Now, if Seleucus's adherents were able to paint a picture of the King fleeing there to rally all Laurasians against a usurper, they would gain an enormous advantage. It would be impossible to persuade the Guards to march onto Jenny, and to the Kingdom's subjects, Seleucus's flight would indicate that his life was in danger. Theodora realized that her position was now seriously threatened, and unless she moved very carefully, she could lose everything.
- At the Monastery, Seleucus and his faction now planned their counteroffensive. Their first move was to send a communique to Theodora, asking why she had ordered a new assembly of the Royal Guards outside the Celestial Palace. It was a difficult question for Theodora to answer. She replied that she had summoned the Guards to escort her to a trip to St. Katherine's Monastery, but this seemed flimsy, as thousands of soldiers were unnecessary for this purpose, and Seleucus's supporters were further convinced of her bad faith. Seleucus's next move was to order the colonel of the elite Stremanian Regiment, Honorius Tylarius, to come to Vemay with a detachment of his men. To Theodora, this seemed ominous; Tylarius had been one of the leaders of the 1282 revolt and thereafter one of the Regent's most loyal officers. If he were allowed to go, and forced to reveal Milovkia's schemes for repressing the Narishinas, the breach with Seleucus would be irreparable. She had no choice. When Tylarius arrived, he told everything he knew without torture. He offered to come to the King's side if only the King would protect him. Theodora now sought to convince Seleucus to come back to Laurasia Prime, which would enable her to deal with his advisors, send the King back to Aquilionia, and reestablish her authority as Regent. She now dispatched Prince Honorius Trolaria, whose son was a friend of Seleucus's, to persuade the King to return. This mission failed, and Seleucus sent Trolaria back to Laurasia Prime with the message that he would no longer be governed by a woman.
- Seleucus now sent communiques to the colonels of all the Guards regiments, commanding them to come, with a detachment of their best men, to the Vemay Monastery. When this news reached Laurasia Prime, Theodora reacted violently. She summoned the colonels and warned them not to become involved in the dispute between her brother and herself. When the colonels hesitated, telling her that they had orders from the King himself which they dared not disobey, Theodora declared passionately that any man attempting to leave for Jenny would be executed. Prince Golinaria ordered that no Laurasian or foreign officer leave Laurasia Prime for any reason. Under these threats, the colonels and officers remained on the capital world. The following day, Seleucus increased the pressure by sending official notice to King Menelaus and Theodora that he had commanded the Guards colonels to come to Jenny. He asked that Theodora, as regent, see that his orders were obeyed. In response, Theodora sent Menelaus's tutor and Seleucus's confessor to Jenny to explain that the regiments were delayed, and to beg for reconciliation. They returned to Laurasia Prime two days later, empty-handed.
- Milovkia, on his part, now sent spies to Jenny to observe the activity there and count the number of Seleucus's adherents. They came back with fresh reports of the King's growing strength and confidence, and Milovkia now realized that many of his own men, from the Guards and from the Garrison of Laurasia Prime, were now deserting to Seleucus. Theodora now appealed to Pope Joacherius to go to Jenny and use the great weight of his office to attempt a reconciliation with Seleucus. The Pope agreed, and upon arriving, promptly cast in his lot with the King. Subsequently, when new defectors from Laurasia Prime arrived at Jenny, they were received by the King and Pope, standing side by side. Joacherius did not view this defection as a betrayal. Though he had submitted to Theodora as a regent, he was from a gentry family that opposed her government. He disliked Theodora and Golinaria for their personal habits, and he had resisted their ambition to be crowned. He detested the monk Medaria for trespassing on ecclesiastical affairs. Until that point, he had supported the Regent, not out of sympathy, but in recognition of her authority. And finally, the Pope himself remembered the events of 1282, and felt a personal obligation to Seleucus and his family. His defection, therefore, was a massive blow to Theodora, and now encouraged others to follow.
- On August 27, Seleucus moved again. He sent stern communiques repeating his command that all Guards colonels and a detachment from each regiment report immediately to Jenny. A similar order summoned numerous representatives of Laurasia Prime, and of the City of Christiania. This time, all who failed to obey were threatened with death. These communiques, threatening explicit punishment, had a great impact, and many of the Guards now embarked for Jenny, to submit to the King. Theodora, sitting in the Celestial Palace, powerless to halt the continuing exodus from her capital world, was becoming desperate. In a final effort to resolve the crisis by conciliation, she decided to go to Jenny herself and confront Seleucus personally. Accompanied by Prince Golinaria, Milovkia, and a detachment of Guards, she set out from Laurasia Prime on her flagship, the RMS Valedictoria. However, at Chesrone, she was met by Seleucus's associate, Honorius Butalarania (grandson of the famed General), and a detachment of the Royal Laurasian Navy, fully armed. He now blocked her path of progress and ordered the Regent to halt. He told her that Seleucus refused to see her, forbade her coming to Jenny, and commanded that she return immediately to Laurasia Prime. Insulted and angry, Theodora declared that she "go she would to Jenny", and ordered Butalarania, along with his forces, out of her path. At this moment, another of Seleucus's supporters, the younger Prince Trolaria, arrived with the King's command that his sister must definitively be prevented from coming, if necessary by force.
- Frustrated and humiliated, Theodora retreated. Returning to Laurasia Prime, and to the Celestial Palace early on September 11, 1289, she sent for the dwindling circle of her supporters. Her tone was near hysterical, for she declared that she had almost been killed. She asserted that the Narishinas and Lopasarias were making a plot to kill King Menelaus, and were even conspiring against her life. She begged her supporters not to leave her, and declared that she would fortify the capital world against her enemies. But Seleucus and his advisors, having gained the initiative, were not to give it up. Within a few hours of Theodora's return to Laurasia Prime, Colonel Honorius Nerania arrived from Jenny with official communiques addressed to King Menelaus and Regent Theodora. These communiques formally announced the existence of a plot against the life of King Seleucus and declared the leading plotters to be Milovkia and Madaria; traitors who were to be arrested immediately and sent to Seleucus at Jenny for judgment. These communiques now produced a shock-wave. Officials and officers who had stood by Theodora expecting either that she would win or that there would be a compromise understand now that they faced ruin or death. Those Guards still partially loyal to the Regent began to grumble that they would not protect traitors and that the plotters must be surrendered. Theodora ordered that Colonel Nerania, the bearer of these unwelcome communiques, be brought to her, and he received the full force of her seething emotions. She demanded why he took "such a duty upon himself." Nerania responded that he did not dare to disobey the King. In a fury, Theodora ordered for him to be executed. In the ensuing uproar, he was forgotten.
- Theodora, alone and at bay, tried one final time to rally her supporters. She now addressed her Guards and the citizens of Christiania from the balcony of the Celestial Palace. Her head high, she hurled defiance at the Narishinas and begged her audience not to desert her: "Evil-minded people, have used all means to make me and King Menelaus quarrel with my younger brother. They have sown discord, jealousy, and trouble. They have hired people to talk of a plot against the life of the younger King and of other people. Out of jealousy of the great services of Count Milovkia and of his constant care, day and night, for the safety and prosperity of the Kingdom, they have given him out to be the chief of the conspiracy, as if one existed. To settle the matter and to find the reason for this accusation, I went myself to Vemay, but was kept back by the advice of the evil counselors whom my brother has about him and was not allowed to go farther. After being insulted in this way, I was obliged to return here. You all well know how I have managed these seven years; how I took on myself the regency in the most unquiet times; how I have concluded a famous and true peace with our Polonian neighbors, and how the enemies of our state have been brought by our arms to terror and confusion. For your services you have received great reward and I have always shown you my favor. I cannot believe that you would betray me and will believe the inventions of enemies of the general peace and prosperity. It is not the life of Count Milovkia that they want, but my life and that of my brother."
- Three times that day, the Regent made this speech, first to the Guards, than to the leading personages and officials of Laurasia Prime, and finally to a large crowd of subjects. Her exhortations did have an effect, while King Menelaus descended into the crowds to hand out gifts to the nobles, officials, and Guards. Theodora was pleased. In a generous mood, she sent for Colonel Nerania, forgave him, and gave him a gift of money. Yet Prince Eusebius Golinaria now tried to win the support of his cousin. He sent a communique asking Vessanius to come to Jenny to seek the King's favor. Vessanius replied by asking Eusebius to help him mediate between the two parties. Eusebius refused and suggested again that Vessanius come to Jenny, promising that he would be favorably received by Seleucus. Honorably, Vessanius refused, saying that duty required him to remain at Theodora's side. Seleucus now increased the pressure on Theodora. On September 14, a written order from Seleucus arrived in the City of Christiania. Addressed to all of the generals, colonels, and other officers in the City, it restated the existence of a plot, named Milovkia and Madaria as the chief conspirators, and commanded that all foreign troops and mercenaries come to Jenny, fully armed. The commander of the foreign troops, the half-Goldarian General Petrevius Gordonia (1235-99), now resolved to join Seleucus, and he was followed by his subordinates, having seen Golinaria's hesitation over the matter. At Jenny, they were received graciously by the King. This proved to be the decisive break. The Guards and Garrison remaining on Laurasia Prime realized that Seleucus had won. To save themselves, they now crowded in front of the Palace, demanding that Milovkia be surrendered to them so that they could take him to Jenny and hand him to the King.
- Theodora refused, and the Guards now threatened outright revolt. Theodora understood what this meant, and she now realized that she was beaten. Tearfully, she sent for Milovkia, who, like Honorius Narishina seven years before, had been hiding in the Royal Chapel. She now gave him up, and that night, he was taken, on a transport, in chains to Jenny. The struggle was over, the Regency concluded; Seleucus had won. After victory came vengeance. The first blows fell swiftly on Milovkia. Upon his arrival at Jenny, he was interrogated under torture. After fifteen blows with the knout, he admitted that he had considered the murder of Seleucus, his mother, and his wife, but he denied making any specific plans. In the course of his confession, he completely exonerated Prince Golinaria from any knowledge of, or participation in, his activities. Golinaria himself was also now at Jenny. On the morning of Milovkia's arrival, the Prince had voluntarily appeared in orbit of the planet, asking permission to enter the Monastery and pay homage to the King. His request to enter was denied, and he was commanded to wait in Wrightae City until a decision about him could be made. How to handle him was a difficult problem for Seleucus and his supporters. On the one hand, he had been Theodora's principal minister, general, and lover during her regency, and therefore must be degraded along with the Regent's other intimate advisors. On the other hand, it was widely recognized that the intent of Golinaria's service had been honorable even when he had failed in execution. Milovkia had stated that Golinaria had no part in any plot. Most important, Golinaria was a member of a prominent Laurasian gentry family, and his cousin, Prince Eusebius, did not wish to see him too harshly punished.
- In trying to spare Vessanius, Eusebius risked the anger of Queen-Consort Julia, Queen Eudoxia, and others of Seleucus's closest intimates. At one point, they even threatened to implicate him along with his cousin. This moment came after Milovkia had written a nine-page confession in the presence of Prince Eusebius. It was late in the night when he finished, and Seleucus had gone to bed with his wife, so the Prince took the confession to his own room, intending to hand it to the King in the morning. But someone rushed to the King, awakened him, and reported that Prince Euesbius had taken Milovkia's confession to his chambers so that he could remove anything detrimental to his cousin. Seleucus immediately sent a messenger to ask Milovkia whether he had written a confession, and if so, where it was. Milovkia replied that he had given it to Prince Eusebius. Golinaria, luckily, was warned by a friend that Seleucus was awake, and hurried to present the confession to the King. Sternly, Seleucus asked why he had not been given it immediately. When Golinaria replied that it was late and he had not wished to wake the King, Seleucus accepted the explanation, and on the basis of the confession, he decided to be "generous" to Vessanius.
- At nine that evening, Prince Vessanius Golinaria was summoned. Expecting to see Seleucus in person, he had prepared a statement reciting his services to the state as a preface to asking for pardon. But no audience was granted. Golinaria was left to stand in the middle of a crowded anteroom (with Queen-Dowager Julia, her brother Prince Narishina, and their associates in attendance), while a clerk appeared and read his sentence aloud. He was charged with reporting only to the Regent and not to the Kings in person, with writing Theodora's name on official documents in equality with those of the Kings, and with causing harm and burdens to the government by his bad generalship of the two Donathian campaigns. Although his life was spared, his sentence was harsh: He was deprived of the rank of Prince, stripped of all property and exiled with his family to the isolated ice world of Mezenia, in the Kelvanian Provinces. He set out from Laurasia Prime under escort, miserable and newly impoverished. Along the way, he was cheered by a courier from Theodora who brought him some money and her promise to procure his release through the intercession of King Menelaus. It was the last good news Golinaria ever received. Soon, Theodora was unable to help anyone, not even herself, and Golinaria began twenty-five years of exile. He was forty-six in September 1289, when Theodora was overthrown, and he lived a wretched existence on Mezenia until his death on April 21, 1314, aged 71.
- But Golinaria got off lightly, compared to other associates and subordinates of the Regent. Milovkia was condemned to death, and on September 18, he was executed outside of the Monastery's Great Walls, before a crowd of nearly 400,000 persons. Two others died with him. Thirty Guards were tortured with electric flares, their tongues were torn out, and they were exiled to the Wild Marshes. Sylvester Madaria had fled from Laurasia Prime, hoping to find aslyum in Briannia, but he was intercepted, brought to Jenny, and interrogated under torture. He admitted that he had heard vague talk against the lives of some of Seleucus's adherents and that he had written the complimentary verses beneath Theodora's portrait, but he denied that he had been involved in any conspiracy against the King or the Pope. He was held, then denounced again, severely tortured with fire and hot irons, and finally, in October 1291, he was executed. With Theodora's supporters annihilated, there still remained the central problem of what to do with Theodora herself. Alone and friendless, she waited in the Celestial Palace to learn her fate. None of the testimony given under torture by Milovkia had implicated her in a conspiracy to remove or murder Seleucus. The most that could be said was that she was aware of designs against certain members of his faction and that she had been ambitious to share power with her brothers by right as autocrat rather than by delegation as Regent. This, however, was enough for Seleucus. From Jenny, he messaged Menelaus, declaring his grievances against Theodora and proposing that henceforth the two of them alone should rule the Kingdom. He pointed out that in their coronation Almitis had given the crown to two, not three persons; the presence of their sister Theodora and her claims to equality with the two anointed by Almitis were a trespass on his will and their rights. He proposed that they govern jointly, without the disagreeable interference of this "shameful third person."
- He asked Menelaus's permission to appoint new officials without his specific consent to each one, and concluded that Menelaus should still be the senior King. Powerless to disagree, Menelaus agreed. An order was given that Theodora's name be excluded from all official documents. Soon afterward, Prince Trolaria arrived at Laurasia Prime to ask King Menelaus to request Theodora to leave the world, and to retire to the Monastery of Windowia Photis. She was not required to take the veil as a nun, and a suite of comfortable, well-furnished apartments was assigned to her; a large number of servants was to accompany her; and she was to live a comfortable life, restricted only in the fact that she could not leave the Monastery and could be visited only by her female relatives. But Theodora immediately understood that this kind of confinement, however luxurious, meant the end of everything in life that held meaning for her. Power, action, excitement, intellect, and love were to be stripped away. She resisted, refusing for more than week to leave the Celestial Palace, but the pressure became too great and she was escorted ceremonially to the Monastery, within the walls of which she would pass the remaining fifteen years of her life. King Seleucus refused to return to Laurasia Prime until Theodora had left for Windowia Photis. Once his sister was off the capital world, and safely incarcerated, he moved swiftly from Jenny, but was delayed for a week at Aquilionia, conducting further drill exercises. Finally, on October 16, 1289, Seleucus reached his capital world. His subjects adored their master, assembled in crowds at the moons and in the cities of the capital world. He went to the Celestial Palace in procession to embrace his brother; then, dressed in robes of state, he presented himself on the Balcony. After seven years, the regency of Theodora was over.
- Yet surprisingly, the triumphant young autocrat still did not begin to rule. For another five years, the King turned his back on governing Laurasia, returning to his exercises and war games on Aquilonia and Vetta. All he wanted was to be left alone to enjoy his freedom. He was completely indifferent to government and affairs of state; later, he confessed that he had nothing on his mind during these years except his own amusement. Thus, it was not until February 1294, with the death of his mother, that his true reign began. In the meantime, the government was administered by the small group which had supported and guided Seleucus in his confrontation with the Regent. His mother, Queen-Dowager Julia, served as the nominal leader of this faction, though she was not as independent as Theodora and was easily swayed by the men around her. Pope Joacherius, who was a conservative churchmen and opposed to innovation, stood next to her. The King's uncle, Prince Leonnatus Narishina, became in November 1289 the Secretary of the Bureaus of Foreign Affairs and Correspondence; this made him, in effect, the chief minister. He was an amiable man of unexceptional intelligence whose joy was his new authority to give dazzling receptions and glorious banquets for foreign emissaries. In actual negotiations with these ambassadors and in the practical running of his office, he was greatly and necessarily assisted by Emeritus Ukranius, co-Secretary of the Bureau. Count Telemachus Stronia, an old friend of King Artabanus and Seleucus's formal guardian, was entrusted with the affairs of the Chancellory and the Royal Household. Prince Eusebius Golinaria became Chairman of the Aristocratic Duma and of the Royal Council. Seleucus's wife, Queen Eudoxia, alternated between the Court on Laurasia Prime and her husband's headquarters on Aquilonia, keeping him in contact with his Household, and at the same time maintaining a watch over his relatives.
- Yet there was one final accomplishment in late 1289: the end of the ineffective Laurasian-Donathian War. On December 3, 1289, the Treaty of Nerchania was signed between the delegations of the Royal Laurasian and Great Donathian Governments at Nerchania, a Laurasian colony in the outskirts of the Malarian Provinces. By the terms of this treaty, King Guthrum of Donathia recognized Laurasian jurisdiction over the Kelvanian and Morganian Provinces, and affirmed also the terms of the Treaty of Christiania (1286), which had maintained Laurasian jurisdiction over the Central Core. In return, Kings Seleucus and Menelaus pledged themselves to respect Donathian authority over the Angelican Provinces, to refrain from signing any military alliances detrimental to Donathian interests, and to recognize the Donathian sphere of influence in the Northern Galactic Borderlands. Both governments also agreed on the establishment of a border commission, to define precise boundaries between the realms in the Wild Marshes, and also to a grant of "most favored nation" status, in regards to commercial privileges. The Treaty of Nerchania, ratified by Guthrum on December 10 and by the two co-Kings of Laurasia on Ascentmas Day, 1289, was to maintain peace between Laurasia and Donathia for thirty-three years, until the outbreak of Emperor Seleucus's Donathian War in July 1322.
- The years 1290-1292 saw further developments in Laurasia. The last decade of the thirteenth century, commenced with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia now formally under the joint, direct rule of Seleucus I and his half-brother, Menelaus I. Their sister, the Regent Theodora, had been successfully deposed from her position and incarcerated at the Monastery of Windowia Photis; the affairs of the government were now in the hands of Queen-Dowager Julia and of her associates. King Seleucus continued to indulge himself in his games, exercises, and other activities on Aquilionia, Vetta, and in the Constantine Cluster. He also continued to cavort with some of his subjects, including General Gordonia, who had become a loyal friend and associate of his. This relationship, however, had aroused the suspicions of the conservative Pope Joacherius. In the aftermath of Theodora's overthrow, Joacherius had sought to maintain the Almitian Church's authority, and to fight against what he viewed as "sinful innovation" within the Kingdom's realms. In November 1289, he had urged the Royal Council and Aristocratic Duma to ban all foreign religions from Laurasia Prime, and to close down all foreign establishments that existed. This did not come to fruition, because the religious sects in question were able to produce charters of privileges, issued by the late King Artabanus, guaranteeing them the right to their own religious facilities and beliefs.
- The Pope was able to order the Conference of Almitian Prelates to send instructions to all deacons, deans, priests, and reverends throughout the Kingdom, commanding them to exclude all non-Laurasian, foreign adherents from their congregations and to report upon the activities of all foreign religious sects within their respective jurisdictions. He also sought, through public manifestos and proclamations, to defend and uphold all Laurasian customs, including those of obedience, of faithful adherence to Almitian masses and worship services, and rejection of idolatry. Yet, in spite of the Pope's effort, there was one Laurasian whose habits the Pope could not change. Joacherius's despair was Seleucus himself, who spent so much of his time among the foreign and "enlightened" subjects whom the Pope feared. While Joacherius lived, however, the King did exercise a modicum of restraint. On February 18, 1290, at the Royal Hospital of the Celestial Palace in Christiania, Laurasia Prime, Queen Consort Eudoxia (who had become pregnant in May 1289), gave birth to her and the King's first child, a son. The joyous King rushed to his wife's bedside upon hearing news of the birth, and named his son Seleucus, after himself (who would succeed him as Seleucus II thirty-five years later). The Grand Prince was baptized in a lavish ceremony at the Old Westphalian Cathedral on February 24, and he was presented to his future subjects from the Celestial Balcony. The King now invited General Gordonia to dine at the Royal Court, in honor of the Grand Prince's birth. Gordonia accepted, but the Pope intervened, protesting vehemently at the inclusion of a foreigner at a celebration honoring an heir to the Laurasian throne. Furious, Seleucus deferred and the invitation was withdrawn, but on March 4, he invited Gordonia to Prebanian Estate, dined with him there, and then proceeded back to Laurasia Prime with him, conversing publicly with the General as they went.
- The problem resolved itself when, on March 17, 1290, Pope Joacherius died, aged 69. He had governed over the Royal Almitian Church for nearly sixteen years at the time of his death. In his final will and testament, the Pope urged the King to avoid contact with all heretics, to drive them out of Laurasia and to personally eschew all foreign clothes and customs. Above all, he demanded that Seleucus appoint no "innovators" to official positions in the state or military, where they would be in a position to give orders to the Almitian faithful. Seleucus's response, once Joacherius was buried (on March 24, at Westphalia), was to order himself a new suit of Schauerian clothes and to dine as Gordonia's guest in the City of Christiania (April 1290). The choice of a new Pope now turned on the same issues that Joacherius himself had provoked: liberalism versus conservatism, toleration of foreigners and "innovators" versus a fierce defense of traditional Almitism. Some of the more educated clerics, supported by Seleucus, favored Marcellus, Archbishop of Caladaria (1236-1304), a scholarly churchman who had traveled throughout the Galaxy and spoke several languages, but Queen-Dowager Julia, the Narishina faction, and most of the lower clergy preferred the more conservative Adrianus, Metropolitan of Malaria (1227-1300). Five months of debate ensued, before, finally, on August 24, 1290, Adrianus won out, and was formally nominated as Pope. He was confirmed and consecrated on September 8 in a ceremony at the Old Westphalian Cathedral; King Menelaus handed him the staff of authority, his mitier, and his robes, with Seleucus refusing to participate.
- The King now threw himself headlong into his personal diversions, frequenting the Foreign Quadrants of Christiania, continuing with his exercises at Aquilionia, and indulging himself in his own private habits. It was during the course of these, in July 1290, that he became friendly with the Marshian Franz Lefort (1255-99). Lefort was, at the time of the King's acquaintance with him, thirty-four. He was almost as tall as Seleucus, but huskier than the narrow-shouldered King. He was handsome with a large, sharp nose and expressive, intelligent eyes. He had been born on December 23, 1255, in Generian City, Marshia, the son of a prosperous merchant, and through his charm and wit soon became a member of its amiable society. His taste for the merry life overrode any desire to become a merchant like his father, and an enforced term as a clerk to another merchant, at Jared, made him so unhappy that he fled to Melorkia to contribute his services to the forces of King Louis I (r. 1257-88), then engaged in war in the Barsar Regions. Then, still only nineteen, the young adventurer heard tales of opportunity in Laurasia, and he embarked for the Purse Region. Arriving at Laurasia Prime in 1275, he found no office available, and lived for two years without work in the Foreign Quarter of Christiania. He was never dull, and eventually, his career picked up. He became a captain in the Royal Laurasian Army, married a cousin of General Gordonia and was noticed by Prince Vessanius Golinaria. He served in Golinaria's campaigns against Donathia, but when Gordonia led the mercenary officers away from Theodora to join Seleucus at Jenny, Lefort followed. By November 1289, he had obtained the rank of Major-General.
- Seleucus was captivated by this formidably charming man of the galaxy. Here was someone who had the qualities to attract his eye. Lefort was not profound, but his mind worked quickly and he loved to talk. His speech was filled with anecdote, experience, and with an intense knowledge of the galaxy's cultures, languages, and economics. As a drinking companion and ballroom cavalier, Lefort had no equal. He excelled at organizing banquets, suppers, and balls, with music, drink, and female dancing partners. From 1290 on, Lefort was constantly in Seleucus's company; they dined together two or three times a week and saw each other daily. Increasingly, Lefort endeared himself by his frankness, openness, and generosity. Where Gordonia gave Seleucus seasoned advice and sensible counsel, Lefort gave gaiety, friendship, sympathy, and understanding. Seleucus relaxed in Lefort's affection, and when the King became suddenly inflamed at someone or something, only Lefort was able to approach and seize the young monarch, gripping him and holding him until he calmed. Lefort's success was, in large part, due to his unselfishness. Although he loved luxury and its trappings, he was never grasping and took steps to ensure that he would not be impoverished-which also recommended him to Seleucus, who amply provided for all of his needs. Lefort's debts were paid, he was presented with a palace and funds to run it, and he was, by April 1291, promoted to full general, admiral, and Ambassador. More important to Seleucus, Lefort loved his life on Laurasia Prime and in the Purse Region.
- Many of Seleucus's other companions were, of course, Laurasians. Some were friends of his childhood who had stayed at his side through the long exile on Aquilionia. Others were older men with distinguished service and ancient names, attracted to Seleucus despite his wild behavior and friends because he was the anointed King. The elderly Prince Cherkassia (who would die in 1295), sought Seleucus out of a sense of patriotism, unwilling to watch from a distance while the youthful autocrat flung about with his friends. A similar spirit motivated Prince Seleucus Prozovorkia (1221-96), another austere and elderly sage, and Theodosius Golovonia (1250-1306), who had negotiated the Treaty of Nerchania with Donathia. When Prince Theodosius Romandovia attached him to Seleucus, it was with a sense of devotion which would know no limit. He hated the Royal Guards, who had murdered his father in the coup of 1282. Later, as Governor of Laurasia Prime and Mayor of Christiania, he would rule them with an iron hand. And when they revolted again in 1298, he would descend upon them like a pitiless avenging angel.
- Over time, this motley collection of distinguished graybeards, youthful roisterers, and adventurers was shaped into the Jolly Company, which went everywhere with Seleucus. It was a vagabond, itinerant sort of life, roaming across the Kingdom's star systems, dropping in on nobles, and consuming their resources. In Seleucus's wake, there were anywhere from 100 to 1,000 followers. They consumed prodigious quantities of food and drink in their banquets, and from these debaucheries, they proceeded to more organized buffoonery and masquerades. Seleucus gave many of his comrades nicknames. Honorius Butalarania became known as the "Polonian King"; Prince Romandovia as the "King and Prince-Caesar of Pressburg", given honor and obeisance by the King himself, mocking his own autocratic authority. The Jolly Company also mocked the Royal Almitian Church, constituting themselves as the "All-Joking, All-Drunken Synod of Fools and Jesters", with a Mock-"Prince-Pope" (Dr. Zotovia, Seleucus's childhood tutor), a college of cardinals and a suite of bishops, archmandrites, priests, and deacons. Seleucus himself, although only a deacon, took charge of drawing up the rules and instructions for this strange assembly. With the same enthusiasm with which he was to later draw up laws for the Laurasian Empire, he carefully defined the rituals and ceremonies of the Drunken Synod, calling for "Bacchus to be honored", for revelries to be held, and raises sung. The Drunken Synod engaged in extravagant processions on Laurasia Prime and in other systems, on occasions such as Lent, the Feast of the Epiphany, and Candlemass. It was to continue its existence until the end of Seleucus's reign, with the King himself, later as Emperor, participating in its ceremonies as vigorously as he had when he was younger. This behavior seemed blasphemous to many of Seleucus's subjects, but to Seleucus himself, the Synod's activities were merely innocent games. They were a form of relaxation, allowing men to have an outlet, and to make fun of an institution which was too old and too traditional.
- Seleucus's war games and exercises also became ever more elaborate. During the winter solstice of 1289-1190, the King made preparations for maneuvers with his play regiments. His dinners with General Gordonia were filled with discussions of new drills and tactics to be taught to the troops. The test came in June 1290, in an exercise during which the First Praetorian Regiment attacked, on Charasia, the fortified camp of the Second Regiment. Models were used, but could still be dangerous when utilized among men. Seleucus himself was injured during the course of these exercises. The following year, 1291, the regiments prepared for a major sham battle to be waged in October of that year. Romandovia, the mock King of Pressburg, commanded an army which consisted of the two play regiments and other troops and was pitted against a Guards army commanded by Prince Butalarania, the mock King of Polonia. The battle, which began at dawn on October 6, 1291, was fought bitterly for two days, and ended in the victory of the "Laurasian" forces of Romandovia. But Seleucus, not satisfied at this, ordered a second round, which began three days later. Romandovia's army was again victorious, but there was a real casualty: Prince Honorius Dologrania was shot in the right arm, and died on October 18. On Vetta, Seleucus continued to engage in the construction of starships and other vessels. He visited his shipyards there four time during 1292. The third of these visits (July 4-19, 1292), saw Princes Narishina and Golinaria being forced to make a personal appeal to the King to leave Vetta in order to receive the Mellorite Ambassador at the Diplomatic Palace. The following month (August 1292), he invited his mother and sister to visit him on Vetta. Queen-Consort Eudoxia also arrived with her personal household, bringing with her their son, Grand Prince Seleucus, then two years old. The ladies were amused at the sight of the King clambering about his vessels, giving orders and directions as he deemed necessary. He remained on Vetta until November 8, 1292, making his return to Laurasia Prime at that time.
- 1293, the 93rd year of the thirteenth century, saw King Seleucus remaining as busy as he had before. During January 1293, the King spent his time in the foreign quarters, dining with Gordonia and Lefort, enjoying himself with the entertainments they offered, and also enjoying the company of his wife and young son, whom he introduced to many of his colleagues and associates. Then (February 12, 1293), Seleucus departed from Laurasia Prime for Vetta again, and continued his work on his starships, completing the construction of six more during the next two months. On April 15, 1293, he returned to Laurasia Prime again, but remained there for just over three months. In May, he announced his intention to visit Goss Beacon in the Central Core, one of the chief spaceports and shipping garrisons in the Stellar Kingdom, and one of the leading such installations in the Caladarian Galaxy at large. It was on July 11, 1293, that the King left Laurasia Prime for Goss Beacon with a large entourage of more than 10,000 individuals, including Lefort and many of his Jolly Company, as well as a corps of Royal Guards. Arriving there on July 20, Seleucus spent nearly two months there. He was impressed by what he saw.
- Goss Beacon had been originally constructed by the Kingdom of Clancia under King Tuvola in the 6th century BH, and since the beginning of the Hyperdrive Era, it had been a location of much prominence within the Core Regions. Lying 1,000 light years to the north of the Galactic Center, the garrison was at the crossroads of several major trade routes, including the Clancian Trunk Line, the Marshian-Goldarian Way, the Western Core Spur, and the Goldarian Military Highway. Every year, merchants, navigators, and starhoppers from throughout the Galaxy congregated in its wharves, stations, and buoys, shipping, exchanging, and stocking goods, munitions, armor, and equipment. It served as a communications terminal for the Galactic Holonet, and as a jumping-off point for exploratory and other expeditions launched to the Galactic Center, and into the southern Central Core. It provided a station for scientific study, and it enabled for those moving through the Central Core to obtain rest, and to switch hyperoutes as they desired. Seleucus was impressed by the architectural beauty and complexity of its installations, by its perfect geometric construction, and by the stellar phenomena which surrounded it. He mingled with all those moving through the star system; conversed with the Bishop of Goss, who had jurisdiction over the Galactic Center congregations, including those at Goss Beacon, Hydapses, Haudjrau, and Taxiles the Great; and himself embarked on a transit mission, in August 1293, to the Northern Galactic Center. This last, in particular, aroused the fear of his mother, Queen-Dowager Julia, who in a communique of September 7, 1293, urged her son to remain mindful of his safety. Seleucus remained in constant communication with his household and officials on Laurasia Prime, and he sent to his mother, wife, and son numerous gifts, including Horacian garments, Dasian swords, and Denveranian starship equipment. The King also, with the assistance of Goldarian, Clancian, and Denveranian shipwrights, began construction of a specialized yacht, the St. Paul, which he would have stationed at Goss Beacon on a full-time basis for his own use.
- The King spent much time attending dinners, balls, and other ceremonies held at the station, and gave a major banquet himself, in honor of Goss Beacon's administrators and executive staff (September 1, 1293). He ordered for the consecration of a new Almitian chapel there, and for a renovation of the Station's outlying reception facilities. Finally, on September 28, 1293, Seleucus and his entourage made their leave of Goss Beacon, and proceeded, by gradual steps, back to Laurasia Prime, passing through Williams, Teth, Evelyn, Hannah, Ruthania, Conservan, Reoyania, Dramis, Brithium, Condtella, Clancia, Janesia, Maroni, and Dearton's Gateway along the way. He then arrived back at his capital world on October 15, being greeted by his mother, wife, and co-King Menelaus with some ceremonial. Queen-Consort Eudoxia, in particular, was anxious to hear more about the tales of her husband's adventures, and urged Seleucus to take her with him on his next journey. Seleucus promised, and he then took his wife on a getaway trip to Vetta, before returning to Laurasia Prime again in December 1293. The year ended with Seleucus and his Jolly Company established back there.
- 1294, the 94th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with King Seleucus and the Jolly Company, having made their excursions to Goss Beacon and Vetta, now established once again on Laurasia Prime. The King, however, continued to entertain himself, greeting the new year while at General Gordonia's mansion, Halsian Place, in Christiania, and being guest of honor to a banquet thrown by his beloved Lefort. On January 18, 1294, Seleucus paid a visit to the Neuron Plantita Station and the Post Settlement of Hepudermia; at the latter installation, he was able to witness the launch of the merchantman Tallier by Christiania Drive Yards, and was given the honor of christening the new vessel. Yet Seleucus was now to suffer a heavy personal blow. His mother, Queen-Dowager Julia, had been in declining health since July 1293, when she had made her visit to Goss Beacon. On December 8, she suffered a paroxysm in her personal quarters at the Old Royal Palace, and had to be moved to the Royal Hospital for treatment. The Queen-Dowager had been released on Ascentmas Eve, 1293, but she nevertheless remained under the intense monitoring of her personal physicians and attendants. And now, as the new year began, Julia's health again took a turn for the worse. On January 22, she was once more admitted to the Royal Hospital, and two days later, was diagnosed with Balarian fever.
- Seleucus was at a banquet in the Foreign Quarters when he received a message that his mother was failing; he jumped up, and hurried to her hospital chambers. The King spoke with her, and had received her last blessing when the Pope appeared. The Pope asserted that it was disrespectful and insulting to the Queen that he had come in the manner which he did, and that he did not wear traditional Laurasian garments. Furious, Seleucus replied that a Pope, as Head of the Almitian Church, should have weighter matters to attend to than the business of tailors. Not wanting to continue the argument, Seleucus stormed out, and made a quick journey to Aquilionia. It was on February 4, 1294, that Queen-Dowager Julia died, aged only forty-two. When Seleucus received the news that his mother was dead, he plunged into grief. For several days, he could not speak without bursting into tears. The Queen-Dowager was laid in state at the Old Westphalian Cathedral two days following her death, and remained as such for nearly a month. Yet her son could not bear to pay his respects to her. Nor, when the actual funeral came (March 4, 1294), could he attend that service.
- Yet only five days after his mother's funeral, Seleucus appeared at Lefort's mansion in Christiania. By that time, he was already moving on to other matters, giving instructions to his subordinates again about his starships, shipyards, and other practical matters. Yet when he visited Lefort, there was no music, no dancing, and no fireworks. Seleucus, however, did talk about the Galaxy. Within the family, Seleucus found more comfort in his wife, Queen-Consort Eudoxia, and with his younger sister, Grand Princess Julia. Both women belonged to his generation, and both were fascinated by the newer innovations. Nevertheless, with the Queen's death, many of the most significant members of Seleucus's family were gone: his father and mother were dead, while Grand Princess Theodora was confined. Gone with the Queen were the last bonds of restraint on Seleucus's actions. He had loved his mother and tried to please her, but increasingly he had been impatient. It had been only Julia who kept her son in touch with courtly ritual; after her death, he quickly ceased to take part in it. In April 1294, Seleucus appeared with Menelaus in the great Easter procession, but this marked the last time he participated in such a ceremony. After that, no one possessed the strength to force him to do what he did not wish to do.
- On May 8, 1294, the King returned to Goss Beacon, accompanied again by his Jolly Company and court. In high spirits, the King promoted several of his older subordinates to higher ranks: Theodosius Romandovia was made an admiral, Honorius Butalarania a vice admiral, and Gordonia a rear admiral. Once at Goss Beacon, Seleucus gave thanks at the Church of the Prophet Elijah, and then embarked to see his new vessels. His yacht, St. Seleucus, awaited him; Seleucus also christened the St. Paul, which he had begun the previous year. Seleucus now decided to visit Solarian Monastery on Taxiles the Great. He embarked on June 10, 1294, boarding the St. Seleucus, and taking with him Archbishop Athanasius of Clancia, a small escort, and some of his comrades. On their way to the Monastery, they were trapped by a Typhon's Rift, which paralyzed the St. Seleucus's engine systems and prevented their movement. Seleucus's engineers were able to figure out a way for them to break free, and from thence, they continued their journey. On June 16, they finally reached Taxiles the Great, and the King immediately went to Solarian Monastery. He spent three days there, pleasing the monks by his devotions before the holy relics. He then returned to Goss Beacon. Nearly a month later, on July 21, 1294, a third ship, the Holy Prophecy, was completed and launched, being presented to His Majesty in a formal ceremony.
- Seleucus then embarked on a naval expedition from Goss Beacon (August 1294), visiting Haudjrau, Hydapses, Elainsborough, Bainsborough, Marshia, Teth, Hannah, Evelyn, Ruthania, Conservan, Williams, Ecreutus, and Palimisiano, determined to display the ships which he had constructed by his own hands, and to take his measure of his subjects in the Central Core. He escorted a Melorkian commercial convoy to as far as Dasinae, Jahraes, and Ergeme in the Ivorian Hetmanate, and he sent a task force to study the Galactic Center. King Seleucus then made his return to Goss Beacon on September 3. He remained there for another four days, before making his journey back to Laurasia Prime. But he could not stay on his capital world for too long, and on September 16, moved to Vetta. There, from September 16 to October 25, 1294, the last and greatest of Seleucus's peacetime military maneuvers were conducted. More than 700,000 men were involved, including infantry, marines, artillery, engineering corps, and supply units. The combatants were divided into two opposing forces. One, commanded by Prince Butalarania, consisted of six Royal Guards regiments alongside the 2nd Royal Laurasian Army. The opposing side was commanded by Prince Romandovia, the mock King of Pressburg, who commanded the Praetorian Guards, alongside the Vettian militia and the 1st Royal Laurasian Army. The war game revolved around an assault by Butalarania's forces against a series of citadels and fortresses to be defended by Romandovia's men.
- Before the maneuvers began, Briscum was treated to the excitement of seeing the two opposing forces in parade uniforms, accompanied by registrars, musicians, and a special corps of dwarf troops, marching through the thoroughfares on their way to the maneuver grounds. As the Praetorians approached, Laurasians gasped: In front of the troops, dressed as a regular artilleryman, marched the King. For a population accustomed to seeing Kings dressed in all their majesty, it was an unbelievable sight. In the maneuvers, the fighting was conducted with zest, inspired by the natural rivalry between the Royal Guards and their Praetorian counterparts, both determined to prove their merit before the King. However, Butalarania's force made a rapid advance upon the chief Pressburg Citadel, and took it in due order. Seleucus was furious at the hasty conclusion. He ordered the victors out of the Citadel and all prisoners returned, and commanded that the citadel not be stormed again until it had been properly bombarded and its defenses collapsed. He was obeyed, and it took more than three weeks to subdue the citadel in the textbook manner. The maneuvers finally concluded on October 25, and as the forces returned to their respective garrisons, Seleucus began to discuss with his advisors how he might best employ them in the coming war. He now sought for a war against the Solidaritan Sultanate, against whom his brother, Theodosius III, had failed to obtain a decisive victory. In December 1294, General Gordonia noted to one of his colleagues that "in the coming year we shall undertake something for the benefit of this Kingdom."
- 1295, the 95th year of the thirteenth century, began with the Stellar Kingdom of Laurasia still at peace with its neighbors, in the technical sense. King Seleucus, however, now sought a new outlet for his energy. His visits to Goss Beacon, his ventures in the Central Core, and his discussions with shipwrights, navigators, and starhoppers, both Laurasian and alien, had stimulated him. He now wanted to travel farther, and to see more. The King talked of embarking on a series of visits to the Wild Marshes, and even of a possible diplomatic journey into Angelica, and thence, into the Galactic Borderlands. But he soon changed his mind. On January 7, 1295, the King issued secret instructions to the Royal Council and Aristocratic Duma, ordering for preparations to be undertaken for war against the Solidaritan Sultanate, aiming for the acquisition of the Azarian Worlds. These were the worlds which had been disputed by the Solidaritan Cossacks more than fifty years earlier, and had served as the focus for their unsuccessful appeal to the Royal Laurasian Government for Laurasian intervention.
- The King himself, had for twenty years been playing with soldiers and space men; first toys, then boys, then grown men. His games had grown from drills involving a few hundred idle attendants to 700,000 men involved in the Pressburg Exercises. Now, seeking the excitement of real combat, he looked for somewhere to attack, and the Azarian Worlds (Solidaritan Azov, Patsy, and O'Neal), seemed to be the best targets. Seleucus now planned a double offensive into Solidaritan territory, determined to avoid the mistakes made by Prince Golinaria in his Angelican Campaigns. The chief force was to move from the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route and assault Azov. Patsy, and O'Neal, to be composed of the Praetorian Guards, the Royal Guards, and the reorganized 1st and 2nd Royal Laurasian Armies-divided into three sectors, commanded by Lefort, Golovonia, and Gordonia. To avoid jealousy, none of the three was named supreme commander; each sector was to operate independently, and the three commanders were to make overall decisions in council in the presence of the King.
- The second prong of the Laurasian offensive, which would move against Deanna, and from thence to Dennis, Shannon, Virginia, and Turnquist, was to be comprised of the traditional 4th and 5th Royal Laurasian Armies, with their associated naval forces, and commanded by Prince Sheremevia. In the overall plan, this effort was to be subsidiary to Seleucus's; it's purpose was not simply to capture Deanna, but also to distract Solidaritan forces in the Istantius Home Region. Once this plan of campaign was decided, Seleucus plunged into preparations; in February 1295, the King wrote exuberantly to Theodosius Apraskanius (1261-1328), future commander-in-chief of the Imperial Laurasian Navy, then Governor of Clancia and the Galactic Center. In this note, Seleucus proclaimed that "At Vetta we jested. Now we are going to play the real game in the Azarian Worlds." On March 9, 1295, Gordonia's sector (the 3rd Sector), made their leave from Laurasia Prime, and moved along the Metallasian Trade Corridor, to Sauvania, Heuthros, and Chancia. The main body with Seleucus, Lefort, and Golovonia left in May 1295, moving swiftly to Katherine, and establishing there operational headquarters in that star system. Then (June 8, 1295), Seleucus issued an ultimatum to the Solidaritan Sultan, Delim I (who had acceded to the throne in February 1295). In this communique, the King of Laurasia demanded the concession of the Azarian Worlds to him; for free-trade and transit privileges to be granted to Laurasians in the Solidaritan territories; and for the Sultan to recognize Laurasian jurisdiction over Morgania and Kelvania. The Sultan, alarmed by these demands, and aware of the Laurasian preparations for war, rejected them.
- It was on June 16 that King Seleucus issued a formal declaration of war against the Sultanate, thereby commencing the Azarian War of 1295-1300. That very day, Gordonia's force arrived before Azov; they were followed by the 1st and 2nd Sectors, with the King, on June 29. Azov itself was now heavily fortified; without its capture, a Laurasian advance to Patsy and O'Neal would be impossible. The Solidaritans had also constructed two defensive garrisons on its outskirts, with hyperspace booms stretched between them to prevent vessels from bypassing them and proceeding beyond the star system. The Laurasian turbocannon now opened fire, and the bombardment continued for fourteen weeks. Many problems plagued the siege. There was a lack of operational engineers; the Laurasian supply organization was unable to cope with the burdens of provisioning forces at a stronghold such as Azov; and the Royal Guards were reluctant to follow the orders of regular military officers. The two Solidaritan garrisons also hampered the passage of Laurasian merchant marine ships, carrying supplies. But this problem was solved on July 10, when the King ordered for the seizure of the two garrisons. The Solidaritans were in due order overwhelmed, and their capture gave the Laurasian greater access into Azov.
- But Seleucus's happiness at this success was quickly spoiled by an episode of treachery among his forces. A Goldarian ensign named Jakub Jensen (1262-96) defected from the Laurasians to the Solidaritans with important information. Originally a sailor on a Laurasian commerce ship at Goss Beacon, Jensen had entered Laurasian service, accepted the Almitian faith, and served in Seleucus's mobile artillery forces. Seleucus had kept Jensen near him, and during the days and nights of the siege, had confided in him. When Jensen deserted, he betrayed to the Solidaritan Dali at Azov the numbers and disposition of Laurasian forces, the strengths and weaknesses of the siege works, and what he knew of Seleucus's intentions. He also made a suggestion that Solidaritan forces assault Laurasian positions at midday, to take advantage of services conducted on the King's ships. The Solidaritans followed this advice, and when they launched their surprise offensive a few days later, the Laurasians were at first taken off guard. Gordonia ultimately managed to rally them, and after a desperate three-hour battle the Solidaritans were driven back. This thrust, however, accomplished significant damage; 100,000 Laurasian troops and naval officers died, and another 85,000 were wounded. Moreover, many of the siege turbocannon and booms were wrecked.
- King Seleucus himself, throughout the long weeks of the siege, toiled indefatigably. He continued to play two roles, helping to fire turbocannon as a bombardier, and at the same time, presiding over the senior war council. He discussed and reviewed all war plans and operations. In addition, he kept up a constant correspondence with his wife, Queen Eudoxia (then believed to be pregnant), and with his other associates on Laurasia Prime. But increasingly, the problem of divided command hampered the Laurasian efforts. Lefort and Golovonia both resented Gordonia's superior military experience and tended to side together to overrule him. Seleucus also grew impatient with the course of the siege, and, together with Lefort and Golovonia, forced a decision to launch a sudden major assault in an effort to take Azov by storm. Gordonia argued that the defensive lines needed to be strengthened and advanced closer, but he was overruled. The attack was made (August 15, 1295), and as predicted, it failed. More than 70,000 Laurasian troops and navymen died in the offensive, and thirty Laurasian ships were lost. A second attack was launched on September 11, and it foo failed. Finally (October 12, 1295), the King, understanding that the morale of his forces was low, and desiring to return to Laurasia Prime, lifted the siege. That he planned to return the following year, however, was indicated by the fact that he left the two defensive garrisons strongly defended by a corps of Guards and ships.
- The retreat back to Laurasia Prime was gradual; along the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route, Laurasian supply lines were harried by Solidaritan forces. Finally (December 2, 1295), the King arrived back at his capital world. Seleucus, imitating the precedent of Theodora and Golinaria which he himself had condemned, attempted to mask his defeat by staging a triumphal entry onto Laurasia Prime. He moved through the outer worlds, the moons, and into the city of Christiania, with a small group of Solidaritan prisoners. No one was fooled, and resentments festered among his subjects. Their despair was sharpened by the fact that Sheremevia's forces had achieved greater success, having stormed Virginia (June 7-14), Turnquist (July 8-12), Dennis (July 22), Rastaborn (August 1), and Deanna (August 7-19), in a string of successful assaults, and with assistance from Ivan Mazepa, Hetman of Ivoria (who had assumed office in July 1287). Seleucus, nevertheless, was now motivated to try gain. Making no excuses, acknowledging failure, he threw himself into preparations for a second attempt. beginning on December 22, 1295. 1295 ended, therefore, with the Stellar Kingdom preparing itself for further war.
- 1296, the 96th year of the thirteenth century, commenced with Seleucus I, whose first offensive against the Azarian Worlds had ended in failure, now engaged in his efforts to revive his military campaigns. The King, in a memorandum of January 7, 1296, declared that for the next campaign, a supreme military commander would be named. He sent communiques to the Kings of Melorkia and Ashlgothia, asking them for competent siege and engineering experts. He also sought to greatly expand the size of the naval forces at his disposal, demanding that by May, a war fleet of at least two thousand vessels, including galleys, automated transports, destroyers, and dreadnoughts, be constructed for transporting troops and supplies, and for launching a more vigorous naval move upon Azov's defenses. The King now choose Varania in the Malarian Provinces as a shipbuilding site. Seleucus now built new shipyards, expanded the earlier ones, and summoned huge numbers of conscripted laborers, skilled and unskilled. More than 600,000 men would be gathered as workers at Varania. The King brought in skilled shipwrights, engineers, mathematical theorists, carpenters, and industrial robot operators, and he established a unified Office to oversee the efforts. He also ordered for the construction of new vessels at Vetta, Katherine, Laurasia Prime, and Americana, and commanded Christiania Drive Yards to provide all of its releasable laborers and foreman for the endeavor.
- In the midst of this activity, another change took place. On January 29, 1296, Seleucus's half-brother and co-monarch, King Menelaus, died in Christiania, Laurasia Prime. Feeble, uncomprehending, and harmless, gentle Menelaus had passed most of his twenty-nine years as a living icon, presented at ceremonies or dragged forward in moments of crisis to calm angry crowds. The difference between restless, energetic Seleucus and his silent, passive half-brother and co-King was so great that there remained great affection between them. By keeping the royal title, Menelaus had lifted many wearisome burdens of state ceremony from the shoulders of his younger brother. During his travels, Seleucus had always written tender and respectful communiques to him. Now that Menelaus was gone, buried in state (February 8, 1296), at the Old Westphalian Cathedral, Seleucus took Menelaus's young widow, Queen-Dowager Praskovia, and her three daughters under his care. Praskovia, in gratitude, remained loyal to Seleucus for the rest of her life. Menelaus's death had no active political significance, but it put a final, formal seal on the state of affairs. Seleucus was now the sole, unchallenged, King and Autocrat of All the Laurasians, being the supreme ruler of Laurasia. He would remain so for another twenty-nine years. And for the next 264 years, there would only be one Laurasian sovereign during each reign.
- Seleucus returned to Varania in March 1296, following his brother's funeral, and found vast activity. He found numerous problems, for the labor force was not efficiently organized, the weather conditions on the planet were not the most amendable, and there were delays relating to the supply routes. The King now threw himself into action. He slept in small bedchambers at the Varania Base, and rose early. He worked on his own starship, the Principium, which he was building along Melorkian lines. It was on April 7, 1296, that the Principium and six hundred other vessels were launched. To crew this new force, Seleucus moved navymen from other garrisons, shipyards, and fleets throughout the Kingdom to his force, and also established a special marine force, comprised of Praetorians and other specialized regiments. The King's second assault upon Azov would be accomplished with a much larger force: 1.3 million Laurasian troops, bolstered by 200,000 Ivorians and 350,000 mercenaries, alien officers, and Wild Marshes conscripts. There would be 2,000 war vessels, with the core of 80 galleys and 200 automated transports. A single officer, the noble Alexander Shetius (1262-1300), was made commander-in-chief of the expedition. Shetius was not an experienced military commander, but came from a distinguished family (the grandson of Prince Michaelius Shetius, the Savior of Goldaria, who had died in 1234), was considered to be of sound judgment, and was acceptable to the Laurasian noble elites. Lefort, Gordonia, and Golovonia were placed under his command.
- On May 1, 1296, Shetius boarded his flagship, the HMS Serena, and raised the indicators with the King's arms. Two days later, the Azarian Expeditionary Force began its journey from Varania, to the Rebeccan Galactic Trade Route, and thence to the Azarian Worlds. Seleucus, starting later with a specialized battle squadron of galleys, dreadnoughts, and corvettes, overtook the main force on May 26. By the end of the month, the entire force had reached the Laurasian garrisons before Azov. Fighting began immediately. On May 28, Colonel Sir Maxentian Galares (1259-1315), who had gone ahead with a reconnoiter force, sent back word that, near the outer orbit of Azov, there were two large Solidaritan battleships. Seleucus decided to attack. Thirty galleys were selected, and one of Gordonia's best regiments embarked in them. They were accompanied by one hundred destroyers and corvettes. Seleucus, however, upon arriving at the outer orbits, found three hundred Solidaritan vessels, including warships and barges. He then turned back. However, the following night, Laurasian unis launched a surprise attack, capturing ten of the Solidaritan barges. Within a short time, the entire Solidaritan force was disoriented, and soon made a retreat from Azov.
- A few days later, Seleucus returned to the star system, bringing his entire force safely past the defensive screen of Azov. The system, was now isolated, and any help sent by the Sultan would have to fight its way through Seleucus's forces. To strengthen his grip, Seleucus had his troops seize Azov's satellites and monitoring stations, and constructed two booms with turbocannon. On June 14, a Solidaritan fleet appeared and attempted to retake the orbital stations, but Seleucus's forces were able to frighten them away. Two weeks later, the Solidaritans tried again, but were once again forced to withdraw. With space secure and the world isolated, Seleucus's commanders and engineers could now proceed with the siege. The Laurasians took advantage of the Solidaritan fortifications, and gained absolute command of all communications and transit into the system. With his forces and artillery in place, Seleucus then called upon the Deli to surrender. On June 26, when the King's demand was refused, the Laurasian turbocannon opened fire. Throughout the days that followed, Seleucus remained on his galley, occasionally venturing forward to witness the progress of the siege.
- After all hope of reinforcement was gone, Seleucus repeated his offer of good surrender terms to the garrison. The Laurasians sent a special transmission through the Holonet to Azov, bearing a visual offer of honorable terms, granting the garrison the right to depart with all of their weapons and equipment if they surrendered before an assault. The answer was a series of charges from the Solidaritan defensive batteries, onto the Laurasian ships. The siege works continued to progress, with Laurasian ships gradually applying greater pressure on Azov's shield defenses. On July 27, however, Ivorians, frustrated by the way things were progressing, launched a assault onto the surface, managing to breach the shields with their sleeker transports, and inflicting serious damage on the Azov Military Citadel before being forced back. The Ivorians, however, managed to destroy a shield generator, opening a gap which was quickly exploited by Golovonia. The following day (July 28, 1296), to exploit the breakthrough, Shetius ordered a general assault, but before it could begin, the Solidaritans signaled that they were willing to surrender. The Deli, seeing the shields weakened, had decided to accept the Laurasian offer of surrender under honorable conditions.
- The terms allowed the Solidaritans to withdraw with all of their arms, ships, and equipment, along with their families, but King Seleucus insisted that the traitor Jensen be delivered. The Deli hesitated, but in spite of Jensen's pleas, gave in. Jensen was brought, bound in chains, to the King of Laurasia. Then on July 29, the Solidaritan garrison, loading onto Solidaritan frigates and naval vessels, made their leave of Azov. Shetius, the victorious commander, watched from the Selena. The Deli thanked him for keeping his word, lowered his banner in respect, boarded his vessel, and went into hyperspace. The Laurasian forces now moved onto the world, which was found heavily damaged by the bombardments. Azov was now in Laurasian possession, and Seleucus ordered for the destruction of all siege works and turbocannon. He now began reconstruction of the world's orbital defenses and shield generators. Azov would be renamed Tanaria in September 1296. When word of its capture reached Laurasia Prime, jubilant celebration broke out. The Pope burst into tears when reading the notice of victory at Westphalia, and in the presence of Queen Eudoxia and Grand Prince Seleucus, gave thanks to Lord Paul of Almitis. Everyone expressed their astonishment at Seleucus's triumph, and their hopes for future military success.
- Seleucus himself delayed his homeward journey, instead touring the Heuthrian and Malarian Provinces, and making a detour to Taurasia, where he worked with the famous industrial entrepreneur, Neuchrus Derania, who would later be much rewarded by the King. Then on October 10, the King returned to Vetta, and from thence, with his military forces, made the formal triumphal progress into Laurasia Prime. To the bewilderment of the inhabitants of that world, it was staged not in the traditional Almitian religious setting which had greeted the triumphs of all previous Laurasian sovereigns. Instead, it was surrounded with new pagan pageantry, inspired by Brethalian and Grinan mythology. The triumphal arch erected at Calaxis II was classically Brethalian, with massive statutes of Hercules and Mars supporting it, and the Solidaritan Deli depicted cowering beneath it. The procession itself stretched for a considerable distance. At its head were eight hundred mounted troopers, followed by a splendid repulsorlift bearing the King's tutor, Dr. Zotovia, dressed in armor and bearing sword. Then came more mounted troopers before the gilded repulsorlift of Admiral Lefort, wearing a crimson coat trimmed with gold. Princes Golovonia and Narishina were next, then thirty elite Guards in silver cuirasses. Ten companies of trumpeters preceded the King's royal standard. Behind the standard, in another gilded repulsorlift, came the commander-in-chief, Prince Shetius, followed by captured Solidaritan standards. A grim warning followed: a simple pod containing Jensen. Around his neck, he wore a sign proclaiming "Evildoer", and was surrounded by executioners wielding whips, axes, knives, pincers, and blasters. The King, on his part, moved with the regular troops in the procession.
- Scarcely had this triumph been celebrated when Seleucus summoned the Aristocratic Duma to him on Aquilionia and announced his plans to greatly expand and formalize the Royal Laurasian Navy (November 1, 1296). From this historic meeting streamed a flow of edicts. 300,000 Laurasian families and 30,000 Royal Guards with their wives and children were uprooted and dispatched to Tanaria as military colonizers. 200,000 Ivorian laborers were drafted and sent to Vetta to expand the naval shipyards there. To Varania, the King dispatched additional conscripts. The King now mandated all nobles, clerics, corporations, and planetary authorities to contribute to the effort; for every ten warships constructed by the Royal Laurasian Government, each designated system was to build eight; each corporation six; each monastery, convent, or cathedral four; and each noble two. All these ships were to be fully conscripted, equipped, and armed within two years. The government would provide the basic materials, but all other components were to be provided by the builders.
- This order was harshly enforced. Failure meant immediate confiscation of property. When the merchants and corporations of Laurasia Prime and twelve other star systems, feeling that their allocation was too much for them, petitioned the King for a lighter burden, their share was increased. Foreign and alien shipbuilders were conscripted, being dispatched to Varania, Tanaria, and Vetta as they were needed. Seleucus, however, would require more naval officers. On November 22, 1296, the King announced that he was sending five hundred Laurasians, most of them young and sons of the noblest families, to the Central Core and to other realms to study navigation, shipbuilding, and spacemanship. One hundred of them were to go to Melorkia, and one hundred out to the Huntite Caliphate. The King himself drew up the syllabus for study. The Laurasian students were to familiarize themselves with all of the tools of spacefaring, learn the art of shipbuilding, serve on foreign ships, and if possible, participate in naval activities. None was to return to Laurasia without a certificate signed by a foreign master attesting to the student's proficiency.
- Then in December 1296, the King announced that he was dispatching "his great Ambassadors and Plenipotentiaries: the General and Admiral Lefort, General Golovonia, and Royal Councilor Seleucus Vozahrania abroad, to Their Majesties of Venasia, Melorkia, Polonia, Ashlgothia, and Merlita, to gain a better understanding of the Kingdom's relations with them." The Great Embassy, as it would come to be called, would number more than 20,000 individuals, and would be absent from Laurasia for more than a year. As well as giving its members an opportunity to visit other galactic powers, and to enlist officers, navymen, engineers, and shipwrights for the Royal Laurasian Navy, it would also enable Laurasia's neighbors to make their own impressions of its leading subjects. Soon after the announcement, two rumors raced through the Kingdom: that the King himself meant to accompany the Great Embassy, and that he meant not to go as King, autocrat and sovereign, but as a member of the staff. Seleucus intended to travel incognito.
14th century (1301-1400)Edit
The fourteenth century commenced on January 1, 1301, and ended on December 31, 1400, of the Hyperdrive Era system.