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ATLAN CERIEH

VI:

THE FOURTH – DEMOCRATIC –

EMPIRE

750 – 805

1.    Democracy and Industrialization, 750 – 789

A new style of government: Sualofo Thildoyon, 750 – 761

THE REPUBLICAN REBELLION, 750 – 751

Thildoyon was made Emperor in 750, after the military defeat of the last remnants of the Fourth Empire, with a mandate to wipe out all the remaining legacies of the Squires, and set up a new much more democratic style of government. Plans for such a new beginning had been worked out in secret during the 730s and 740s, and now Thildoyon was expected to put them into practice at once. The problem was that many of his supporters expected him to be much more radical than he, and the majority of the former upper and middle classes, wished. Roughly speaking, the lower classes of the Third Empire – the workers, peasants and small independent groups of people, wanted full-scale democracy, equality of property and opportunity for everyone, and either the abolition of the Emperor, or at least, his reduction to a figurehead. The middle classes (the old Class 3s and some 4s), who were to become more and more prominent over the next decades with the growth of industry, as well as much of the former nobility, were by and large willing to see the dismantling of the old Squirearchical set-up, and the introduction of partial democracy into government, but wanted to keep the working classes in their place, and retain the (somewhat reduced) role of the Emperor and Court.

"Ergain tontix dehles dimeu".

"For all, not for the few."

(Thildoyon, 750, supporting greater democracy.)

Thildoyon began the demolition process with great eagerness and much acclaim. Within the last months of 750, he abolished the rights and ranks of the Squires, did away with the whole Class system, and stripped the State Theist Church of all secular power. He set up a "Democratic Constitutional Council", largely middle-class, and led by himself, to oversee these changes, and to agree the new constitutional set-up. To symbolise the changes, the Council declared the establishment of a Fourth Empire from the date of Thildoyon’s accession in 750, and called it the Dynasty of Celam-Thestel. However, it was agreed that the new Dynasty would be in no way hereditary, and much more power than ever before would reside in a democratically elected Council. But then things seemed to go wrong, as far as the working classes and radicals were concerned. The Council became bogged down in argument over just how democratic and representative the new local councils and Great Council should be. At the same time, unemployment continued to grow, and as a result of wartime destruction, harvests were poor, and the economy generally seemed to be in a bad way. In particular, the new government refused to grant equality of rights to land ownership, and made no clear commitment to creating employment in the new industrial towns, or in the army.

In May, isolated riots and demonstrations took place, which Thildoyon at first treated with conciliation. Then, with frightening rapidity, further riots, arson, and full-scale armed rebellions sprang up in a number of towns. The rebels, led by radicals and, in some cases, by unemployed soldiers, demanded food, the vote for all, land for all, and, most worryingly for the authorities, a return to the Republic. The main uprisings occurred in Atlantis, Cennatlantis, Helvris, Gentes, Nosinge, Celinge and Tilrase – all areas of industry and high population. The army generally remained loyal to the government, and with the help of modern artillery and breech-loading rifles, they were able to crush all the rebellions. However, the rebels caused much damage by arson and the destruction of upper-class property, and the revolt in Cennatlantis, the centre of government, was particularly frightening. What with the damage caused by the fighting there in 750, by the end of August 751, much of Cennatlantis lay in ruins, particularly what survived of the Imperial Palace and the noble quarters. Up to 20000 people died in the fighting, and Thildoyon had been thoroughly scared. In a display of great ruthlessness, and against the advice of some of the Council, he executed nearly 10000 of his prisoners during September, and after brief mass trials, imprisoned or exiled 15000 more. Others involved in the revolt were conscripted to help reconstruct the building damaged or destroyed in the fighting.

A "MODERATELY" DEMOCRATIC FOURTH EMPIRE IS CREATED

One immediate result of these rebellions was to convince the Emperor and his government that they would have to limit the amount of democratization and the voting rights of the lower classes. At the same time, Thildoyon made a number of gestures of goodwill to these workers, which nevertheless, would put his government in no danger. So during 751 and 752, a new Great Council was set up, plus urban and district Councils, along the lines of the Second Empire structure. But this time round, there was much greater democratization, though with limitations. Candidates for government and local government needed property qualifications, which prevented lower classes being elected. The various District Councils each elected two Imperial Councillors to the Great Council, and these elections were held openly in the chief city of each District. All citizens with certain property qualifications could vote. However, executive Ministers of the Government were chosen by the Emperor, with the assistance of the other Ministers. One of these became the Chief Minister to the Emperor, and this post became more and more important as the decades passed, eventually overshadowing the role of the Emperor himself. However, the Emperor also kept complete control of the Army, had the prerogative of declaring war and peace, and maintained the final say in finance and taxation. But the Council can censure these decisions, and was able to approve other types of legislation put forward by the Emperor or his Ministers.

In foreign affairs, the Emperor shared the prevailing post-war mood of pacifism and anti-imperialism, and personally disliked the Army, which he held responsible for many of the Empire’s troubles since 700. At the same time, though, he had to recognise that it was only because of the Army, that the Fourth Empire had survived the 751 rebellions. He continued to reduce the size of the Army, down to 680000 in 752 and dropped conscription. He reorganised the military structure into a series of Fronts covering the Empire’s borders. He also finalised the series of treaties and border changes, which ended the Continental War. He had to put up with the Basquec territory annexed by Rabarrieh, as well as her influence in that country. Similarly, he could do little to prevent the takeover by Gestskallandieh of the former Skallandieh (which united state was then simply called "Skallandieh" again). He also made no attempt to stop or even object to the takeover of the supposedly independent state of Anauren by Skallandieh in 760. In 755 and 758, he made agreements with Naomandix (the Western Empire) to garrison parts of Phonaria and local islands on behalf of Atlantis, which saved him military commitments in those areas. (Note that "Naomandix", literally "Western Lands", was only used by Atlanteans till the 750s. Thereafter they used a slightly altered version of the actual word used by the "Naomands" for their land – Quendelieh. The actual word was "Quendelie").

Within the Atlantean Empire, he granted a measure of independence to the Keltish Provinces, Phonaria and Penedrin. He conciliated the workers by lifting all limits of factories and industrialization, and finally reversed the pre-war subordination of towns to the Squire-run countryside as part of his abolition of the ranks and influence of the old Squirearchy. This liberalisation soon led to an industrial and economic boom, which put paid to any lingering discontent with the Fourth Empire. Thildoyon invested much time and money in rebuilding Cennatlantis and other cities ruined by the recent fighting, and encouraged the setting up of factories and industrial centres. The result was that, simply put, any potential working-class republicanism or radicalism was washed away by the economic success and full employment which took over the Empire after the mid 750s.

THE EMPEROR AND THE SUCCESSION

As a person, Thildoyon was a strong-minded man, whose early ruthlessness slipped away in later life, as he became fully involved in his new regime. He was a "moderate" radical, a pacifist, an agnostic, an enthusiast for "modern life", and a conventional family man. He was also very pragmatic, and soon realised how to balance a "democratic" and modern industrialising society, with a degree of authoritarianism for himself. He abolished the automatic hereditary Imperial succession of the Third Empire, but was determined to maintain control over the choice of his successor, and keep it in the Imperial family, if he could. He set up a small committee from the Imperial Council, presided over by the Emperor, and this group would choose an heir from, in order of preference, the Imperial family, the committee itself, then Ministers, and finally the Imperial Council as a whole. This method of succession, like the constitution as a whole, was written down and made binding on future Emperors. Thildoyon himself had a son and a daughter, but the latter died young in 750, and the son refused to be considered. So Thildoyon’s sister’s son, Louron Iustacin (aged 31 in 761) was chosen in 756, as he was giving a good account of himself in provincial government. In 761, Thildoyon died of a stroke.

To read the next part of this history, click on (2) 762 - 781

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