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"Ceriex ceriun": ("An Imperialist as Emperor"): Cao-Melian, 261 - 285.

CAO-MEL¤ON'S VICTORY OVER THE REBELS AND THE HELVRANS, 261-7

Before Cao-Mel´on, Carel's appointed successor could succeed to the throne, there were various attempts by other pretenders to seize power in the period during which the fate of Carel in captivity remained uncertain. The main groups of rebels were a number of Class 1 noblemen, who had small armies fighting in the war, and a cousin of Cao-Mel´on called Cencon who was in Atlantis city. Cao-Mel´on himself was temporarily cut off from all this near Raihco where he had recently landed with the Atlantean amphibious force from Miolrel. Cencon quickly took over Atlantis city and declared himself Emperor, with the support of a small noble army nearby. He entered into negotiations with the rebel nobles, who finally agreed to support him- for the time being. These rebels really wanted to return Atlantis to the previous century - to abolish the position of Emperor and parcel the Empire up between themselves. Hitherto, however, they had achieved little except to manoeuvre mistrustfully around Atlantid´eh.

In late October Cao-Mel´on crossed back to Miolrel and advanced on Atlantis. Cencon made desperate but unsuccessful calls to other army units to support him, and even the rebel nobles in Atlantid´eh now decided it was safer to sit on the fence until they saw the result of the power struggle. Cao-Mel´on gathered an army of 18000 men and support from nearly all the army commanders. In a couple of skirmishes near Atlantis, Cencon's army melted away, and Cencon himself was captured and later exiled.

The noble conspiracy now collapsed as the two leading noblemen treacherously turned against their co-conspirators, and offered Cao-Mel´on their support. In a series of small fights the rebels were all killed or executed after capture by their erstwhile fellow conspirators, who were now determined to show their loyalty to Cao-Mel´on. In this way these turncoat nobles at least succeeded in ensuring that no further action would be taken against noble armies by the Emperors for another 100 years.

Cao-Mel´on was by nature an Imperialist and now bent all his efforts to concluding the war by breaking up and annexing the whole Helvran Empire. He believed fervently in the superiority of Atlantean arms and customs, and was particularly keen to wipe out the Helvran customs of human sacrifice and the religious slavery of Manralia.

Cao-Mel´on began by completing the reforms of the army. He placed permanent army-commanders on the different fronts. He made small forces of some 5000 men into PUEGGISIX, or Armies, which had a considerable amount of independence. He also increased the proportion of bowmen (and increasingly crossbow men) to swordsmen, which led to more and more devastating victories over the Helvrans, who still based their armies on the old slow-moving pike-phalanxes.

Cao-Mel´on planned in his strategy to detach the provinces of the Coastal City States and Manralia from the Helvran Empire, blockade and capture Giezuat, at the same time as maintaining pressure from Numidis the Meilox Mountains and the River Cresslepp. This involved in 262 over 130000 men, and by the end of the war nearly 170000 in all. In 262 the main Atlantean army besieged Ugholtis, while to the east the army from east Atlantid´eh prepared to move south across the Cresslepp and threaten Helvris from the east. In the south the navy moved back to blockade Giezuat, while two other armies gradually took over the Coastal City States and Manralia, much helped by local rebellions against the Helvrans. Ugholtis was finally stormed and sacked with great slaughter under Cao-Mel´on's eyes in 264. In the south preparations were made to land on Giezuat island. Before this, however, the Helvran and Atlantean navies clashed in the Second Naval Battle of Giezuat, which was indecisive. The Atlantean amphibious force now proceeded to land on the island, only to be cut off by another Helvran naval sortie which defeated the Atlanteans at the Third Naval Battle of Giezuat

In 265 two Atlantean armies approached Helvris itself, while on Giezuat island the Atlanteans, although cut off, conquered most of the territory. Suddenly, at this point, the Phonerians took this opportunity to seek revenge for their earlier defeat, striking out independently from the Marossan Empire, of which they were nominally a part. In this brief war, half the Atlantean navy had to speed north, and there followed a few inconclusive naval battles. By 266, the Marossans had reasserted their control over the Phonerians, and the war stuttered to a halt. In the south, meanwhile, in 266, a large Atlantean fleet finally defeated the Helvrans in the Helveng´o and regained complete control of the sea. Soon after the Helvrans on the island surrendered. 

A few of the Helvrans flee as the Atlanteans capture Giezuat, 266

 

Helvris itself was now besieged, and Numercuat captured. The First Siege of Helvris lasted for eight months. By 267 the Helvrans were virtually finished, but the Emperor and leaders in Helvris determined to fight to the end. In the west the other Helvran armies now gradually surrendered, but Helvris itself had to be stormed with the loss of perhaps 18000 Helvran lives. The Emperor and many other leading nobles were killed in the fighting, the Empire fell apart and the Atlanteans were able to dictate peace terms.

 

 

3.  The First Age of Imperialism, 267-307.

THE AFTERMATH OF THE WAR AND THE NEW IMPERIALISM

 

Cao-Mel´on, having decisively defeated the Helvrans, now effectively annexed the whole of their empire, with the exception of the Jutes, who were perforce left to their independence. Helvran lands were expropriated freely by Atlantean nobles, including the Emperor. Nearly all Helvran institutions were destroyed, the language banned for official use, and many Helvran nobles and army commanders executed, exiled or impoverished. A great Memorial to the Helvran War was also erected on the outskirts of Atlantis. The Helvran naval base at Giezuat now became the main Atlantean harbour for the fleet in the Helveng´o. This harsh treatment of a conquered country was unique for the Atlanteans. In 272 Helvr´eh was made another Province, but few rights were granted to native Helvrans. Only after several decades were these conditions gradually eased.

Manralia was allowed to continue as a dependent ally of Atlantis, with its own priest-king, the Epecomi Meftemos, but also a resident force of Atlantean soldiers and advisers. Atlantis demanded that Manralia should abolish its "religious" slavery, but its government havered. Eventually in 287-8 there was an internal revolution, an Atlantean coup d'Útat, and the Atlanteans took over the running of the whole country. It became an Atlantean Province in 294.

There was further fighting all this time in the Coastal City States and the Chalcran states, in which Cao-Mel´on willingly meddled in order to increase the power of his Empire. He encouraged the northern cities of the City States to accept Atlantean leadership, as a result of their struggle against the Helvrans in the earlier war, and they were made another Province (Thoinen Thissaindix) in 274. Thereafter Atlantean forces joined with local armies to fight against the southern cities. Numedeas in the south allied itself with the northerners, and some years later the whole area became engulfed in a general civil war between Yallands (and Atlanteans) against Numedeans and other southern settlements.

Cao-Mel´on also intervened in a civil war between the Chalcran states, supporting some southern states against northern ones in a dispute over borders around the central lakes. By 282 Atlantis' faction had won, and Atlantis had gained control itself of Gasirotto and the lakes themselves.

INTERNAL REFORMS

Internally Cao-Mel´on continued the social legislation and reforms of Carel I. After 264 he laid down the framework of an empire-wide network of schools, with a Controller for Education. He also opened the first University, at Ghestis.

Other Controllers were also gradually created, producing a stronger and more centralised government. So in 269 came the Controller for Education, and in 270 a Controller for Imperial Affairs (this covered all Provinces except Atlantis, which had had its own Controller since 240.) A proper Controller for the State Treasury was created in 266. Finally in law, a Court of Appeal was set up in 269. Separate "Royal" and "Local" courts were founded after 281, the former now being restricted to trying serious crimes and the latter to cover all civil and minor criminal hearings. Most portentous of all, in 278 the first "Great Council" was set up, based on the Atlantean provincial Council, to cover all the other Provinces. It was purely consultative and its members were chosen by the Emperor himself. It also sat only when he said it should. But it was eventually to expand and develop to its later important role, largely due to the encouragement of Siphirixo after 300.

THE EMPEROR - HIS PERSONAL LIFE

The personality and private life of Cao-Mel´on is particularly well-known to us, as a result of the survival of some original sources, both Atlantean and also Helvran. But his life, with its family turmoil and upheaval, also interested later dramatists, such as Normell´el and Gildasso in the Second Empire, and many of their plays dealing with Cao-Mel´on (and other First Empire figures) have survived. Finally, too, the personal and marital ups and downs of Cao-Mel´on are important historically, as they led later to the Family Wars of 307-314.

It must first be recognised that Cao-Mel´on was a large, domineering and aggressive man, who was capable at times of terrible fits of suspicion and anger, but also at other times of moods of profound depression. The latter often were a result of his actions undertaken in periods of anger - these often led him to order brutal executions, often preceded by torture, against enemy prisoners, politicians who had upset him, and even his own family.

HIS WIVES AND TURBULENT DOMESTIC LIFE

Cao-Mel´on had a complicated domestic life, rather like Henry VIII of England, whom he resembled in a number of ways. He first married in 251, at the age of 22, and by this wife, Carnaxa, had two children, Siphirixo in 253 and Tuondo in 255. Siphirixo was thus his heir and succeeded him in 285. Cao-Mel´on always had a roving eye, and had a series of mistresses throughout his life. But while he assumed his wives would turn a blind eye to his behaviour, he was certainly not ready to do the same when he learnt in 267 that Carnaxa had been unfaithful to him while he was away during the Helvran War. In a fury he found out who these lovers were, or were purported to be, and had them arrested, imprisoned, tortured and killed. He then divorced his wife, imprisoned her and then had her secretly poisoned (268).

In 269 he married Millei, already his mistress. She had already borne him a son in 264, and was now pregnant again. She had a daughter, Puella, in this same year. In the early 270's, Cao-Mel´on came to suspect that Millei too was being unfaithful to him, and devised secret and elaborate tricks to test her fidelity. At the same time he had become bewitched by the young daughter of one of his Court nobles, Cairille. As things came into the open, the whole Court split into factions supporting one or other of the two ladies. Cao-Mel´on became ever more determined to rid himself of Millei and to marry Cairille, who was his mistress by 274. An attempt was made by the Millei faction to kidnap and perhaps murder Cairille, but this was thwarted. Then, probably with Cao-Mel´on's connivance, the Cairille faction poisoned Millei, who died a slow, lingering death in 275. Pausing only to execute two scapegoats, Cao-Mel´on quickly married Cairille in 276, and the next year they had a son. Several other children followed, but all died young.

By 282 Cao-Mel´on was again tiring of his young wife, and they soon became in all but the formalities, separated. Cao-Mel´on consoled himself, as usual, with his mistresses, while Cairille went into hiding in 284, fearing the fate of Millei. However, next year, Cao-Mel´on died, quite suddenly and in apparent good health. There was much whispering of poisoning by Cairille's friends, but Siphirixo, the new Emperor, insisted on no recriminations, and Cairille was left to her quiet retirement far from the Court. In the 290's she remarried and had some sons.

 

A divided family : Siphirixo, 285-307.

SIPHIRIXO AND CAO-MEL¤ON : TWO OPPOSITE CHARACTERS

Siphirixo was a much more intellectual and socially minded person than his father. While Cao-Mel´on had also carried out a number of important social and judicial reforms, it was Siphirixo who was by far the more involved with the liberal social, religious and artistic currents of the time, and who proved to be most strongly influenced by the liberal milieu with which he surrounded himself. Along with this, however, went a distaste for political and practical realities, a willingness to hand these areas completely over to advisers, and a personal lack of decisiveness and trust in his own judgement, which was very different from his father's character.

Another major difference with Cao-Mel´on was Siphirixo's distaste for imperialism and general lack of interest in foreign affairs. Creating a Controller for Foreign Affairs, and adjuring him not to start any foreign wars, Siphirixo quickly bowed out of foreign policy. Similarly Siphirixo reduced the overall size of the standing army from about 100000in 284 to 75000 in 305. At the same time he created a "College of Military Art" in 292 to study and advise on strategy and tactics both in peace and war. One matter this College did warn the Emperor about- wholly ineffectively- was the growing power and independence of the old noble armies. These represented 35000 of the armed forces in 305, and in provinces like Th. Thiss. and Manralia, the noble generals became almost freebooters.

HIS SOCIAL REFORMS

Home and social affairs were Siphirixo's abiding interests. He set up a secure local government system throughout the Empire by forming a second or intermediary tier of "Regions" between the basic local municipal government and the Provincial level. These Districts were given the authority to impose local taxation and to run the imperial education system. Further responsibilities were allocated for social policies, and Siphirixo's achievements here can be measured by the fact that this whole organization was adopted by the Second Empire and lasted essentially unchanged until 588. In 296 Siphirixo permitted the Great Council to draw members from all Provinces, including Atlantis, and after 295 he allied the recruitment of Councilmen to the new local government structure. Thus a person progressed upwards via election or appointment from the local (or District) council to the Regional one and then either to a Provincial post or to the Great Council. After that progress to a national government position (Controller, Adviser, or their staff), or appointment as a Provincial Governor, depended at this stage very much on the whim of the Emperor, but under the Second Empire, it would become more formalised into the whole career ladder. To facilitate all of this, he supervised the building of Government and Council offices in the capital.

Siphirixo was also deeply interested in philosophy and art, and he surrounded himself with philosophers, religious thinkers and artists. He encouraged attempts by religious thinkers to "rationalise" the Atlantean religion, and supported their basic aim, largely unconscious at this stage, of producing a reasonable Theist monotheism out of the multiplicity of Atlantean gods. Two famous names from this period are Rathildel, the proponent of "legalist" philosophy (243-291) and Ciblaphu, the great "monotheist" religious philosopher (257-299). Siphirixo took it upon himself to protect radical thinkers against the rage and fury of the traditional priesthood, and during this enlightened period, advanced religious thinkers and philosophers interested in religion worked together.

THE ARTS UNDER SIPHIRIXO

As regards the arts, the so-called "First Empire Romantic Style" developed from about 260 and reached its greatest flowering between 290 and 310 in the lyrical poetry of Carnaxa Lill´e (274-327) and the epic nationalist poems of Bemmel, who wrote between 295 and 330. In addition there were in this first great age of art an early heroic style of architecture, and the first plays, based on religious or mythological subjects. All too much of this work has perished, or been overshadowed by the even more exotically Romantic work of the period after the Family Wars (314-), but enough has survived to enable us to see its quality and to appreciate the role of Siphirixo in encouraging and often helping to found the arts.

A little sculpture believed to be of the poet Carnaxa Lillie.
 The sculptor is unknown, but of around 300.

Architecture and landscape gardening , too, were Siphirixo's passions. He used the best architects to build the new Government offices mentioned above; he also greatly extended the Royal Palace, and he turned the grounds around about it into pleasure gardens on a large scale.

Meanwhile military and family circumstances were developing, which were to lead ultimately to conflict, civil war and the death of Siphirixo and many of his family. While the professional army was reduced in numbers for the sake of economy and principle (though this chiefly affected only the conscripted element), the forces commanded by nobles grew, as some Class 2 nobles were also now allowed to own standing armies. These forces were encouraged to protect the borders of Th. Thiss, Manralia and the Chalcran states, where they engaged in a perpetual series of skirmishes against foreigners and sometimes even against each other.

THE PROBLEM OF THE SUCCESSION

The question of the succession became a major problem after 300, and the conflicts arising from this were the more serious because of the growing number of barely controlled semi-independent noble forces now at large. As Siphirixo's health deteriorated after 300, he began seriously to think about his heir. His eldest son, and "rightful" heir was Yeasor, Military Governor of Th. Thiss. after 304, and a brutal, aggressive and imperialistic young man. Siphirixo disliked him, and in 305, after years of dithering, and following a bad attack of asthma and bronchitis, appointed Carel, the grandson of Cao-Mel´on's second wife, his heir. This snubbed both Yeasor and his younger brother, but the latter stated he was happy to support Carel.

Yeasor was far from happy, however, and over the next two years plotted to be in a position to take the throne for himself. Siphirixo, by his actions, unconsciously strengthened Yeasor's hand. He at last tried to cut back the size and number of noble armies, causing great resentment, and enabling Yeasor to enrol them in his cause. By 307 he had all the forces in Th. Thiss (30000 men) under his thumb. Carel, who was Military Governor of Helvr´eh, was an uncharismatic youth and he allowed the military commander in the east to be secretly suborned by Yeasor. Although by now aware of Yeasor's military preparations, Siphirixo and his government seemed paralysed, and made no attempt to mobilise all the Royal Army (50000 men), or any noble forces against him. As a result, when fighting did begin in 307, part of the Royal Army, still threatened by Siphirixo's cutbacks and lacking any imperial encouragement or morale boosting, defected to Yeasor in the east.

In March 307, civil war began - the start of the "Family Wars"- when Yeasor went to E.Helvr´eh to rally support. transported 10000 men across the Helveng´o, and moved to join the confused skirmishing which had already begun in the Chalcran state and Atlantid´eh between noble forces supporting Yeasor and Siphirixo.

To read the next part of this history, click on   307-323

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