Empress Azure I Eloise Celeste Dael
The King is no more! Long Live the Empress!
Azure I Dael was the first Empress of Divinice from 1004 until her death in 1019. Azure was born during the reign of her second cousin once removed, Queen Twila I, and was the second demigod born into the extended royal family. This was viewed by her family as an auspicious sign, and she was given an education befitting a child of direct royal inheritance, rather than a noble dukes daughter.
Despite being quite far removed from the royal family by blood, being connected only by the distant Samson III, Azure was 6th in line for the throne after her father, the Duke of Dael.
After Twila's death in 997, Caelum VI became King of Divinice. Azure and her family, and indeed many Divinitians, had objections to a foreign duke becoming King. Additionally, as the throne was said to be 'for the children of gods only', Azure objected on religious grounds and put herself forward as the best successor to Twila. This caused the War of Succession, which would rage across Divinice and neighbouring territories until 1004, when Caelum VI surrendered and left the country.
In her reign as Empress, Azure saw the territory of Divinice expand to encompass the entirety of Grace and Stolis islands, and the refinement of the Divinitian military into a trained machine. Her death in 1019 is mourned as a public holiday.
Azure Eloise Celeste Dael was born in Dael Castle the duchy of Dael, west of Lusca, to Duke Darius of Dael and Duchess Léa. Her birth was fraught with complications, and as such she was their only child. At the time of her birth, she was 5th in line for the throne, though she would later be displaced by her third cousin Caelum's children, Victoria and Riordan.
She was privately educated by renowned Divinitian tutors, and was stated to be incredibly bright and studious. She regularly appeared in public with her parents for official business around Dael, and was rather well liked for her cheery demeanour and her personal investment in topics of discussion. Conflicting reports suggest she was either close to Queen Twila I, or loathed by her for her designs on the royal throne.
She slowly took on more official responsibilities for her family as she grew older, and arranged the funeral for her mother after she died in 992. When Twila's health also began to falter in the latter half of 996, Azure and her father were brought in to help fill in on some royal duties when Caelum was unavailable, which heightened her profile.
War of Succession
With Twila's death in 997 came controversy. While Caelum had been known as her heir for many years now, ever since the death of his mother in 989, the reality had only now sunken in. Many were furious that a foreign king would sit on their throne. To stoke these fires was Azure, armed with ancient Divinitian history, to stand on the balcony at Dael Castle and decry his appointment as smearing the legacy of their ancestors, who had fled their homeland due to just such an occurrence. Furthermore, she argued she was closer to the deceased Queen and that her being a demigod made her uniquely suited for the position.
Her small acts of defiance were not unnoticed by the new King Caelum VI, though they were left aside until after Twila's lavish funeral, which was the first and only known time the two worked together. Afterwards, her rebellion started in earnest, supported by her father and her cousin. In the spring of 997, she gathered a not-insignificant number of soldiers and marched on Merlis Palace to demand the throne. Caelum VI, who had prepared, was able to defend the Palace from the assault, and Azure was forced to flee back to Dael Castle for safety.
The war did not end so simply, however. With news of the attempted coup spreading fast throughout the kingdom, many more people began to demand Caelum abdicate the throne. Day by day, new fighters arrived at Dael Castle to pledge themselves to the effort. Caelum in turn would be supported by his home country of Santonia, which pledged many of its soldiers in his defence.
The fighting drew out over many years, with a series of defeats on both sides. The first major breakthrough came in 1000, when Azure's army successfully captured Merlis Palace and forced Caelum VI to flee south to Stolis Island. At this, the scope of the war fiercely expanded to incorporate not just Divinice, but the neighbouring Stolisi tribes. Said tribes mostly support Caelum VI, on the promise he would leave them independent when he took back the throne. For her part, Azure's claim to the throne attracted many new foreign allies, particularly continental enemies of Santonia, and her army grew.
Aside from a particularly humiliating defeat south of Amanta in 1001, Azure slowly and steadily took control of more of the country, and in 1004 Caelum VI formally abdicated his throne. While Azure had been functionally acting as Queen since 1000, with his abdication it became official, and she celebrated her triumph by granting herself a new title - Empress of Divinice.
Empress of Divinice
Control firmly established, Azure sought to destroy those who had tried to prevent her rise to power. This manifested primarily in vicious attacks upon the southern Stolisi, and the merger of their territory into Divinice. She also founded the Divine Academy of Science, which encouraged training demigods to use their powers and research of the potential uses of them.
In her later years, Azure began the transition of power to her first cousin once removed, the Countess Morgana of Brynne, who she styled as Princess. By 1018, Azure was rarely appearing in public. She passed away in 1019, aged 46, and Empress Morgana I declared it a national day of mourning and public holiday far into the future.
Azure was said to be motivated by two things - control, and religion. A devout follower of Ylais, Goddess of Light, she firmly believed in her divine status as conferred by Ylais' magic. This was, supposedly, what convinced her and her family to pursue the throne after Twila's death. More private correspondence suggests a desire to hold control over all things, down to the small details, which would explain her high level of involvement in the War of Succession, and that she took responsibility for all failures incurred therein.