The Creator of the New Atlantis: Thildo Gailonex.
The early years, 831 – 844
THE RISE OF THE NEW EMPEROR
Thildo Gailonex (Gailonex being the throne-name he was given later in his reign) was born in 798 in Dravidieh, and was of Atlantean immigrant stock. His father was on the provincial Governor’s staff in a fairly high capacity. After the Brothers’ coup of 805, Gailonex’s father managed to retain his post for a while, but in 814, in Measel’s regime, he was under threat of arrest for refusing to co-operate keenly enough in the transportation of indigenous Ughans. The family fled into Ughrieh itself, where Gailonex’s father had connections and friends. While in Ughrieh, the young Gailonex met the philosopher Slels Fusten, also a refugee from the Brothers, and was much impressed by Fusten’s religious and political opinions. Gailonex’s father died in 819, whereupon, on the death of Measel, Gailonex and his mother returned to Meistayieh. He joined the Regular Army and managed to work his way up the hierarchy while keeping his head down and avoiding controversy. The Regular Army was very much looked on at this time, in contrast to the Internal Security Army, but somehow the fact that Gailonex was not a Brother did not tell against him in his career. This is possibly because his political opinions, on the rare occasions that he expressed them, were evidently very conservative. He did not reveal his private views about religion and politics, except to his closest and most trusted friends. To them, however, he showed himself to be an amazingly mature and forceful young man, with ideas on every subject under the sun, and a burning ambition to restore Atlantis to its traditional dignity and greatness.
After 824, Meistayieh, like other Provinces, was put under the direct control of Internal Security bosses. This greatly upset Gailonex, and after 826, he became involved in a number of plots to reassert the authority of the regular Army. Beyond this, these plots aimed to change the Government by overturning the Brotherhood regime. By 827, Gailonex was in charge of all the Regular forces in his Province, and later that year, as the regime began to move towards anarchy, he fought a vicious little war against the local Security forces, scattering them, or forcing them to surrender and submit to him. He declared himself Governor of Meistayieh, but immediately had to defend himself and his Province against an invasion by the Governor of Gestchalcrieh. This little war rumbled on, and in February 828, Gailonex was quick to join Pareon’s revolt. He now declared Meistayieh a Province of the old Atlantean Empire, and issued a proclamation promoting traditional values, moral behaviour, the re-establishment of an Emperor and Council, ethnic equality, freedom of religion and political opinion, a reassertion of Atlantean military tradition. Generally, therefore, a return to the values of the Second Empire, with necessary "modernisations". On the death of the dictator, Gailonex soon made himself the power behind the throne, becoming Commander-in-Chief of the new Army. He advised Pareon over the next few years, and tried to make him sign up to and enforce his own increasingly well-thought-out views on the future government of the Empire. It became clear, though, that Pareon had neither the will nor the ability to force through such a "New" Empire, and when he resigned in 831, Gailonex took over the throne.
THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF STABILITY AND GOVERNMENT
Once he had the power, Gailonex threw himself into re-establishing and reorganising the Empire with incredible energy, virtually reinventing every aspect of national life over the next ten years. His first task, he knew, was to restore the security and strength of the Empire by defeating his enemies once and for all. Making use of the armies already reorganised by his predecessor, in 832 Gailonex defeated the Skallands in a final battle, and forced Golumen to make peace, removing his troops from the Empire completely, and agreeing a common border. Peace was also made with Rabarrieh by 834, and in a clever coup, Gailonex obtained the return of Helvremon island in exchange for an Atlantean promise not to make any alliance with the new invaders of Yciel Tuaince Mandagge (the Far south Continent). (These invaders were threatening the current regime of the Continent, with which Rabarrieh was friendly. In fact, though, by 837, the invaders had taken over, and all Rabarran troops supporting the previous regime there had been withdrawn.) Finally, Gailonex made further agreements with Quendelieh that both sides should keep to the status quo. Phonaria was ceded permanently to the Western Empire, and it was allowed to maintain various bases on local islands. Some troops were also left in Marossan, allied to the Atlantean ones there.
At the same time, Gailonex tried to settle various internal problems relating to the various peoples of the Empire, so many of which had been persecuted by the Brothers. Gailonex declared the Empire to be a Federation. Thus the Jutes became a semi-independent federated state in the Empire. Other peoples had similar status with lessening degrees of independence – Naokeltanieh and the two Dravidean Provinces. This semi-independence was gradually whittled away in the growing centralisation of the next 10 –15 years, and feelings for local independence also declined naturally.
Gailonex’s greatest task was the reorganisation of the constitution and government of the Empire. Basing his actions on the ideas of various political and philosophical writers, whose ideas he had absorbed in the 820s, particularly Slels Fusten, Gailonex aimed to set up a pseudo-Second Empire government, hierarchical in style and authoritarian in its desire to inculcate moral and legal values to the population. Real democracy was deprecated by Gailonex’s regime, as being responsible for the fall of the Fourth Empire and the rise of the Tyrants. Gailonex’s watchwords, initially, were "responsible government", "federation", "local accountability" (i.e. up to provincial level), and "firm central executive control from the Emperor downwards". The local government structure now was modelled on that of the Second Empire (but without the more direct elections of the Fourth Empire). Various federated areas had local councils with considerable powers, at first, over local issues, but these were later whittled away.) Gailonex established and appointed an Advisory Council in 834, which gradually took over the administration of the Empire, under the leadership of the Emperor himself: the Council became a purely advisory body. Ministers, called Administrators, functioned like the Controllers of the Second Empire, and were appointed by the Emperor and the Advisory Council. Their powers gradually declined and were taken over by the Advisory Council.
As the years passed, this structure, set up initially with many concessions or nods to local rule and limited democracy, became formalised and more centralised. Ceremonial increased, and the Emperor and the highest officials appeared to become further and further removed from the everyday world. In 835, Gailonex declared freedom of religion, and personal belief ceased to have any relevance to status, even the Emperor’s. But no Church was granted any role in government. Similarly the Legal System and the Army were kept completely separated and run by their own hierarchies (under the ultimate authority of the Emperor). By the 840s, government had become quite a rigid and hierarchical structure, run in an authoritarian and distant way by the Emperor and his closest advisers. Yet, somehow, by insisting on his desire for fair government, local autonomy, the potential horrors of extreme democracy, and the separation of Church, Law and the Army from government, Gailonex persuaded his subjects to accept and agree to the viability of the new Fifth Empire. The Emperor was helped here by the current mood of quietism, political indifference and a retreat by many people into personal worlds and local issues, after the political turmoil of the period of the Tyrants. He was also aided by his secret agents – an Internal Security force, under a different name, was re-established in 836, ostensibly for external spying, but actually also to watch dissidents at home. Despite claims that all the actions of the new regime would be transparent and open, this secret force was empowered to kidnap or murder anyone whom the Emperor considered to be an enemy. Obviously most cases of this sort would be brought to public trial, as the law required, but Gailonex had no hesitation in dealing ruthlessly with anyone whom he did not wish to bring into court.
THE NEW MORAL CODE
Gailonex was very interested in the new philosophy and moral codes of the time, and sincerely believed that society needed a full regeneration of its moral code in order to escape from the degradation of the Tyrants’ era. He did not think that it was feasible to force a moral or religious way of life on the Empire, indeed he pronounced complete tolerance of religion and belief. But at the same time, he felt that the new generation must grow up with a firm and innate belief in right and wrong. These personal feelings chimed in with those of the philosopher Fusten, whom Gailonex had got to know during their exiles in the 810s, and Gailonex subsequently took Fusten as his moral advisor. Fusten had spent his life working on the production of a non- or supra-religious moral code, which he thought was inherent as a basis of the different religions in the world. He had studied as many of these systems of belief as he could, and had drawn out a moral code which lay at the bottom of all of them. He also taught that it was necessary to instil this code into the heart and mind of all children through their education. Gailonex heartily concurred, and made sure this moral code was on the syllabus for all schools. Later in his reign, Gailonex also oversaw a similar sort of religious code, culled from the main religious beliefs of the time. This system of beliefs, called "Natural Theism", was finally agreed at the end of the 840s, and also put on school syllabuses – the two being called "Natural Theistic Morality".
THE EMPEROR’S PERSONAL LIFE; AN EXAMPLE OF INSTITUTIONALISED HYPOCRISY
The publicised decrees of the regime in favour of apparent independent and fair trials, of plurality of political activity via Council and elections, and of tolerance of belief and morals, were hypocritically offset by the reality of the Secret Police, the authoritarian State and the attempt to enforce "Natural Morality and Religion" on the rising generation. This hypocrisy was most in evidence in the frequent clash between public pronouncements and private behaviour in the realm of morality – nowhere more clearly than in the private life of the Emperor himself. Gailonex was publicly portrayed as an upright and highly moral man, an example to his subjects. He had married in 825, and by 840 had five children, including two sons, the subsequent Emperors Gaistuyex (born 838) and Gaiduiccon (born 836). It was revealed after his death in 865, and corroborated by Gaiduiccon, though not by Gaistuyex, that the Emperor had long led a secret double life. He had had many mistresses, some forcibly and secretly abducted, and some possibly later murdered by secret agents to prevent their revealing anything. Other rumours (not supported by either son) suggested still darker secrets, involving orgies, homosexuality and torture sessions. Any allusion to such matters before 860 led to imprisonment for lese-majeste or even "disappearance". The rumours became more widespread after 860, as Gailonex’s authoritarian rule faltered, and in the temporarily more liberal period from 856 to 871, they were widely published (despite Gaistuyex’s disapproval). This was part of a general "debunking" of the moral ethos of the Gailonex era by the new liberals. With the War and the conservative clamp-down, such stories dwindled or were suppressed.
THE APPROACH OF WAR WITH SKALLANDIEH
In foreign affairs, tension grew between Atlantis and Skallandieh as the 840s dawned. (Note that Skallandieh was actually only part of the original Northern Empire: there had been a civil war within the Empire in the early 830s, and Gestskallandieh had broken free, as in the previous century, after 833). A new, young and warlike leader, Sherehez Sashan Redi, became Emperor in 837, and immediately began building up the army, which had been seriously embarrassed in the earlier civil war. More worryingly for Atlantis, he also started to increase the size and strength of the navy. Gailonex took the opportunity of increasing his own armed forces, and it is now clear that he actively sought a war in order to seal his authority over his Empire, and to distract the populace from a growing economic crisis, caused partly by a failure to reindustrialise old industries. Both Empire sought alliances with Quendelieh, which of course had bases in Yciel Atlantis. Ultimately it remained neutral in the war, but its ownership of Phonaria, and its bases in Yciel Atlantis, led it to try to influence the course of the naval war in the surrounding seas. In particular, after the first couple of months of war, it forbad either combatant to pass ships through the narrow strait separating Phonaria and Yciel Atlantis, on pain of being declared an enemy. This exclusion zone hit Skallandieh chiefly, as it was unable easily to reinforce its navy in the Marossa Liranca. Nevertheless its ships could move right round the island of Phonaria to the west, and eventually arrive in the Lirance. Atlantis offered Rabarrieh a free hand in the south in return for her neutrality during Atlantis’ forthcoming war. But Atlantis was then unable to react when Rabarrieh invaded and quickly took over Uarilteccoth after 844 – an extension of her territory, which would have fateful consequences in the Final Wars with Atlantis after 871.
After 840, Sashan demanded the return of territory taken by Atlantis in the early 830s in the Keltish areas, as well as some islands in the Marossa Liranca. He also tried to agree an alliance with the Quendis – but despite all this, he was sensible enough not to want to push Atlantis to outright war, for he knew that he could never win such a conflict, at least without Quendi help. Gailonex did seek war, however, and also made impossible territorial demands on his neighbour. He wanted to take over Keltish areas which had gone to Skallandieh since 800, and demanded back Alossa, the island in the Suinnomiori group nearest to Skalland territory. (This had been part of the independent state of Anauren after 750, but had fallen to Skallandieh, when that Empire took over Anauren, without serious objections by the Atlanteans, in 760.) Such aggressiveness on the part of the Atlantis lost her any chance of a friendly alliance with Quendelieh, which declared complete neutrality. In June 844, Atlantis declared war at the same time as undertaking an amphibious invasion of Alossa. The Great Northern War had begun.
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