THE FIFTH EMPIRE
829 – 865
The reluctant saviour: Pareon Gestil, 828 - 831
PAREON GESTIL: HIS CHARACTER AND IDEALS
With the death of Brindor, Pareon Gestil became the effective controller of the Atlantean Empire. For the past months he had declared his aim of restoring the traditional form and constitution of a true Atlantean Empire, as well as a moral Government for it. He immediately abolished Brindor’s title of "Great Leader", banned the brotherhood Party, arrested numerous officials within it, and declared the initiation as from the previous February (his revolt) of a Fifth Empire, to represent a complete break with the past. For similar reasons, he also started a new Dynasty, the Celam-Rayustel, a purely formal gesture. Clearly the new Empire needed a new Emperor, but Pareon himself was at first unwilling to be that Emperor himself. He saw himself as a straightforward military man, able, perhaps, to smash the remains of the Tyrants’ regime and save the Empire from the invasions of its enemies, but not of sufficient ability and stature to establish and rule an n equable new Empire. He insisted that to avoid committing any immoralities while in Government he must have all his actions vetted by a committee of equals. Only after this sort of government proved ineffective and then after considerable persuasion, did he finally agree to being declared Emperor in April 829, again back-dated to February 828. (This leads to the curious situation that the period of the Tyrants was reckoned to end in February 828, yet Brindor himself was still admitted to be ruling part of the country until January 829.)
Pareon wrote a self-analysis as a reluctant candidate for the throne in his autobiography after he "retired" three years later. His comments on himself were generally just, but even so his achievements while Emperor were considerable. He was 41 years old in 828, was married, for the second time, and had three children. In himself, he was indeed a conservative soldier, of strict moral beliefs and behaviour, old-fashioned religion (Theism), and was horrified by the violence, immorality and lack of respect for traditional Atlantean values evinced by the tyrants and generally by increasing numbers of citizens. There were indeed at least three separate crises facing the Empire by now. There was the obvious political one, caused by the downfall of Brindor, but the remaining vengeful Brotherhood gangs in the east of the Empire. There was military crisis caused by the collapse of the traditional Atlantean Army, and the increasing incursions by other States on to Atlantean territory. And finally, there was indeed a spiritual and moral crisis within the Empire: crime and immorality had rocketed throughout the past 15 years and more, as more and more people took their lead from the abominable behaviour of the Tyrants. Pareon may well have been daunted by the tasks that seemed to stand before him.
THE MILITARY SUCCESSES
Not surprisingly, Pareon’s greatest success in re-organising the Empire came in sorting out the military problems which faced it. He had been an able general, and succeeded in instilling new morale into the demoralised Atlantean Army. He quickly abolished the old Internal Security Army, and incorporated many of the soldiers, though not the leaders, into the new, voluntary, regular Army. He faced chaos caused by rebels, fighters for independence, supporters of Brindor, and occupation forces from surrounding States all round the Empire. But the direst crisis was a result of a massive invasion of Nunchalrieh by the armies of the military leader of Skallandieh, Golumen Gishi.. This had begun in February 829, and in the absence of organised resistance by the regular Atlantean Army, most of which was still rounding up Government troops in the interior, enemy forces soon overran most of the province as far south as Runnates. The fort of Buresso held out against them, but other forces moved south-east towards Dravidieh. Pareon set up a defensive line on the river Chalcratoura, and in the late summer of 829 delivered a decisive defeat against the enemy’s forces south of Runnates. Still rebuilding the strength and morale of his Army, and having simultaneously to deal with reorganising a whole Empire, Pareon spent the rest of the year securing the latter Provinces, and making minor attacks from the Keltish mountains on the Skallands’ flank. Then in 830, he attacked them from the east. In a brilliant series of attacks and manoeuvres, he defeated the Skallands and worked his way north-west back to Buresso and then northwards. The war was not won, but the Skallands were forced back to the edges of the Empire.
As mentioned, Pareon also faced the remains of Brother supporters in the east of the Empire. These included many who had never agreed to the defeat of Brindor, as well as many soldiers who had been thrown out of the Internal Security Army recently disbanded. Pareon fairly successfully brought law and order back to these eastern Provinces by the end of 829. Elsewhere he succeeded at least in preventing further incursions by the Uariltteccoth in the south-east (with which he agreed a peace-treaty), or by the Rabarrans in the south. Nevertheless he was unable to retake much of the territory conquered over the previous twenty years, let alone the island of Helvrmon in the Helvengio. This, most embarrassingly, had been seized in 828, when the defenders deserted their posts, and the navy had left the Helvremon. In the north-west he agreed with Quendelieh that they should continue to keep troops in Yciel Atlantis and other parts of Marossan, as well as the seas thereabouts, in order to protect Atlantean interests.
POLITICAL AND MORAL FAILURES
Pareon was desperately anxious to restore a proper representative and democratic government to the Empire, and he spent most of the two years from 829 to 831 trying to recreate a parliament of national unity. He quickly declared complete toleration for all nationalities within the Empire, reversing the Tyrants’ cruel racism, and in particular rebuilt the Army as fully multi-ethnic again. However, many people in the previously persecuted races of the Empire – Helvrans, Kelts, Jutes, Ughans – immediately demanded complete independence. The Jutes, indeed, had already effectively succeeded in this some years earlier, and many of the Kelts who had survived the Tyrants, were also refusing to obey the Emperor. Pareon was unable to settle this situation, nor was he successful in producing a more accountable form of government for the Empire. He tried to set up a Council representing the peoples of the Empire, and called several elections. The members assembled, but were then dispersed due to chronic inability to agree on any topic at all put to them by the Emperor. Indeed many these Council sessions ended in complete chaos and rowdyism. In the end, Pareon was forced to rule by imperial decree on his own.
Pareon did try to settle accounts with the past by arresting a large number of Brothers, officers and civilians. He originally wanted to concentrate on just bringing the leaders to trial, trying to achieve some sort of reconciliation with the lower-ranking members, but such was the hatred felt against the Tyrants and their supporters in the hearts of most of their victims, that he was forced to widen his net to include many ordinary supporters of the Brothers. These people were tried in batches between 829 and 831 in courts whose judges themselves had to be firstly thoroughly purged. The courts had to be well protected by the new Army, as there were a number of attempts to rescue the defendants by attacks from outside. In the end, a considerable number of Brothers were executed or imprisoned, but earlier on, some were released (who quickly fled abroad, usually to "Uarilteccoth"), due to the connivance of judges left over from the previous regime.
Pareon was scarcely more successful in producing a change in the moral and spiritual atmosphere of the Empire. Crime and violence, immorality of all sorts, and a lack of belief in any traditions were rife in 828, and the best that could be said of the situation three years later, was that they were perhaps no worse. Pareon tried to set a good example himself, and appoint only morally upstanding Ministers to run the country, but by and large, much of the Empire did not notice, or was so distracted by the general unrest, that higher moral standards and a greater spiritual ethos was the least of its interests.
PAREON "PERSUADED" TO RETIRE
By 831, it was becoming clear that Pareon was unable to realise his ideals for a new Empire. His plans were being frustrated at every turn, and it looked improbable that, while he was in charge, the Empire would ever emerge from stagnation and chaos to restore its former prestige and greatness. According to his memoirs, he had made up his mind by 831 to resign power in favour of a better-qualified successor. The event which finally forced a changeover occurred in April 831, when a renegade military force of brotherhood sympathisers attacked guards in a courtroom and released 18 Brotherhood officers being tried, causing six deaths and many injuries. Pareon immediately announced his intention of retiring and handing over power to Thildo Gailonex. It also seems that Quendelieh, some of whose troops were present in Atlantis, had also been pressurising Pareon to go. Some Quendi soldiers were actually on duty at the courtroom during the attack, and four were wounded.
Gailonex had been Pareon’s Commander-in-Chief in the recent war against Skallandieh, and was thereafter made Chief Controller, that is to say, Pareon’s chief Minister. Although only 34, Gailonex was obviously extremely able and ambitious, and what was more, had deeply held views about the future of the Empire, which corresponded to many of Pareon’s own, more confused notions. It is unlikely, however, that Pareon, or anyone else at this time, guessed just how successfully Gailonex would be able to carry out his plans for the Empire.
On 9th May 831, Pareon resigned, and Gailonex became the new Emperor. Pareon retired into private life and wrote his memoirs. Then, in June 834, one of the Brotherhood members who escaped in the courtroom drama of April 831, and had never been recaptured, assassinated Pareon and his wife at home, before shooting himself. In August, Gailonex ensured that he was given the Throne-name of Atlaniphon IV, as a true saviour of the Empire, and a link to the admired Second Empire. This name was not regularly used by later historians, however.
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