Act of foundation of the empire

Table of Contents

At the end of the Unification Wars, all the lords and ladies of the land from the north of the Issone Mountains to the south of the Northern Islands gathered together to sign the contract, joining them all into a federal empire, the Empire of the Covenant.   This contract does not have any magical properties and is little more than a historical document with sentimental value. Yet, it is considered important as it reminds everyone of why they are all allied together despite their own petty quarrels. It is also a sobering reminder that the political reach of the empire has barely changed in the millennia since its creation, since any new law need to be applied by forced and lords and ladies are the most powerful individuals on the continent. More than a majority, only a consensus can bring substantial changes, and those have been rare in the history of the empire.  

The history

 
Several attempts were made at finding peace between the belligerent north and south factions. This was unsuccessful until a ritual catastrophically went out of control and killed many members of the nobility, thus convincing them in the interest of stopping outright wars and establishing a higher entity to control dangerous magic.   Not all the lords and ladies were in agreements, with many who had sat out of the wars refusing to join now, and many of the belligerent refusing to make peace and forget their personal vendetta. However, enough were in agreements that they were able to coerce everyone's else compliance. And when someone proved to be a little too reticent and uncooperative, a quick succession was quietly organised...   There is no magic in the contract itself, but it could have been otherwise. There have indeed long been rumours of some line-gifts specialising in making agreements magically binding. However, such inflexible magic is viewed very negatively by almost everyone in the empire, and no attempt was made to find such magic and incorporating them into the contract.   Nowadays, the contract is considered to be an important historical document and it is kept in the senate chambers under powerful protective and preservation wards. Additional papers have been attached to the contract afterwards, and it is customary for when a new House conquers an Estate that their head comes and adds their seal to the contract. This is so as to signify their acceptance of being joined into the empire and of following the rules. In reality, they do not have a choice about this.


Lady Merisse held her head high as she was led towards the back of the senate chambers despite all the murmurs that surrounded her. There, behind the throne-like chairs on which the two lord-consuls presided over the session of the senate was a highly ornamented table.   It was covered with a series of papers, deliberately disposed so that their full content was clearly readable by everyone. Yet, despite its importance, her gaze did not immediately stop on them and instead moved to the table itself.   The sculptures in its wood were representing diverse plants and animals that were the emblems of the most well-known Houses of the empire—with most prominent of them all, the flower of the Alyssenne, the apple tree of the Lyrienne, and the sea monster of the Arianie.   How ironic to think that one of those so powerful House had already become extinct... A good reminder to all those who came here that despite all of their mighty power, time would get them all.   As she came closer, the protective magic over the table almost overwhelmed her. That was some potent stuff! Marinated for over two millennia to form a perfect mixture of power.   She breathed it in eagerly. That was the world she was joining in today. The ancient Houses brimming with magic.   She did not hesitate in taking of the seal ring from her finger, filling it with her magic and pressing it on the very bottom of the act of foundation of the empire. It came to join a very long least of thousands of similar seals, ensuring that now she too was a part of the glorious history of the empire.


The content

 
The contract was written in two languages—old Arianian and old Southern—in two columns positioned side by side on the paper so that no party could claim preferential treatment. The goal of the contract was to define and decide a number of elements:

  • that the empire will be led by a senate. It also declares that the senate chambers would be in Arianie and it explains how the senate works. Meetings are to be held monthly even when there is no specific agenda to discuss, as this is seen as an important occasion to be sociable with fellow lords and ladies and to maintain good relationships between the nobility so as to avoid a future war.

  • the territorial limits of the empire. In addition, it explains how new territories can be added if the majority of the senate agrees that they would defend the lands against foreign invaders. It also declares that territories are not allowed to make secession or be handed to members of foreign ruling houses.

  • that the nobility will protect the empire against foreign attacks. Those attacks could be from foreign countries, but also from the elements such as magical storms or from sea creatures. In reality, such concerted defences have occurred very rarely in the history of the empire, as this would be seen as an admission of weakness from border Estates.

  • the rules for trade deals. It also explains how trade disputes are resolved through arbitration by the senate.

  • the remits of the empire. As a federal empire, the main power remains with individual Estates. The empire itself has two main goals: preventing further all-out wars over the continent and control the use of dangerous magic that can endanger neighbouring Estates.


  • Despite those goals, the empire does not aim for total peace over the continent. Indeed, individual conflicts between Estates are unavoidable, and the conquest of an Estate by stronger individuals is seen as natural.   What changes with the creation of the empire is that, beyond a certain subjective size, conflicts are brought to the senate for arbitration. If a lord or lady attack another Estate, they can also be asked for reparation in front of the senate, however this will only be agreed if the person demanding it as the majority's support. Even then, they will need to have enough allies to force the accused to surrender whatever penalties they have been ordered to pay, and if the accused has their own allies, this may result in a new conflict.   Similarly, what is defined as "dangerous" magic needs to be debated every time a complaint is brought to the senate and this has varied over time. Rituals getting out of control and destroying everything and everyone in several Estates definitely counts as dangerous. The Lyriennes occasionally using their weather magic to redirect bad weather towards enemy Estates does not as they are the leader of Dark political faction and have far too much support in the senate.
    Map of the Empire of the Covenant
    The Empire of the Covenant is a millennia-old federal empire spread over a whole continent and gathering around 600 independent Estates. Those are ruled by powerful mages, lords and ladies who are the Heads of their Houses and who are linked to the ancestral magic of their Lands. Estates are divided by their affilitation with the Light or Dark political factions.   See Geography, Climate and Demography of the Empire and Political Organisation of the Empire.

    The act of foundation of the empire by Jarmoluk on Unsplash

    Peace treaty by Wikimedia Commons


    "You will not get away with this! The senate will not allow you to carry on with your fool magic!   Lady Merisse laughed mockingly at the poor man on his knees before her. "Really? Is that the best you can do?"   The man continued to look at her defiantly. She sneered. "You are far more stupid than I believed possible for a lord. You have no support among the senate, especially after you went and insulted Lady Zériesse last year. What exactly do you think will happen when you go there and make your complaint? Will everyone rise in an indignant uproar at my fool actions and rush to come to your support?   "I tell you what will happen: nobody will care. For contrary to you, I have allies. Which means that I can actually use any kind of magic I wish without consequence. Now that this little matter has been clarified, let us go back to where we were, mmm?"   She let her magic rose out of her body in a visible cloud as dark and impenetrable as a magical storm. Her neighbour must have judged just as ominous, for he attempted to scramble back with a total abandon of his dignity.



    If you want to read more about Lady Merisse's story, you can go here:  


    Cover image: Accord between Lady Arianie and Lord Alyssenne by AmélieIS from an image from jamesbhl

    Comments

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    15 Dec, 2021 01:47

    Merisse is a scary lady.   I love the image of there being thousands of seals in the document. Must be quite something to behold. I like the detail you've gone into as to what the treaty/document covers as well.   Has language changed a lot in the intervening years? Would someone struggle to read it without study?

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    15 Dec, 2021 12:36

    Oh that's a good point! I didn't think about the language at all, but they would have to have it written in both Southern and Arianian - I have an article about old Arianian language too! I need to have that info... Yes they would not be able to actually read it without learning one of those old language, like us with Latin - though some words would still be recognisable.   Thanks for he comment :D

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