the Guilds: Lirinne Sifone, 781 – 789
AN EMPRESS FOR HER TIME
As a person, Lirinne was a true product of her era, while as the Empress, she carried on the style of her immediate predecessors in leaving the running of the Empire to her Ministers and the Council. Her personal life is known in great (and probably exaggerated detail) from memoirs and stories written after her death by two "friends". (They were encouraged by Lirinne’s successor, Sualofo Pareon, to clarify and quash rumours of her murder by a lover). She evidently shared very fully in the increasingly free and amoral atmosphere of the period, which by the 780s and 790s had spread from the upper classes and intelligentsia to many of the middle classes. She was intellectually omnivorous, liberal in politics, agnostic in religion, and untrammelled by a sexual moral code. She married twice (once in the 770s, and again for a few years after 782), and was known for her sexual promiscuity with all classes, having many public "favourites" throughout her reign. This led sometimes to unseemly rows with various cast-off lovers, and provided much interest to the public and gossip for the Court. Lirinne’s family (especially her sister and her uncle’s family) was equally controversial. However, while it is true that Lirinne shared the sexual freedom of the period, she was more traditional with regard to upholding other aspects of morality and behaviour. After her time, in the 790s and 800s, moral standards throughout society slipped ever lower. Both in business, society and personal relations, there was an increasing willingness to indulge in shady practices, deceit and lying, stealing, vandalism and random violence. Many people would not feel bound by their word, would deceive and cheat, both at work and in their relationships. But the full developments of these trends, and their terrible fruits lay in the future.
THE LAST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES, AND THE RABARRAN REVOLUTION
Lirinne threw her weight behind the 5th International Conference, held in 782, but neither the Basquecs nor the Ughans (suffering from the after-effects of civil war) attended it. As a result, little that was concrete emerged from it. Another Conference was arranged for 786, but before that took place, another major international upheaval took place, as a result of which this Conference turned out to be the last, and Atlantis would soon be involved in a serious and protracted war.
In 780, there occurred a religious rebellion in Rabarrieh. This was a reaction to the urbanization and secularisation, which took place in Rabarran territory after the end of the Continental War. The rebels espoused a traditional, fundamentalist version of Rabarran religion, called "Athulkulta", and were swept to power, after some low-key fighting, on a wave of popular support. The rebels’ government attracted the traditional, semi-rural and pious beliefs of the lower classes and the priesthood, which were being threatened by the rise of the more secular middle-classes after 750. The new regime was intensely authoritarian, crushing any dissent, and immediately leading to tension with the Far Southern Continent and to Basquecieh (now "Uarilteccoth"), both of which remained loyal to the earlier Rabarran style of government and religion. But the most dangerous aspect of the Rabarran revolution, as far as Atlantis was concerned, was that the new regime was determined to proselytise its beliefs abroad. In particular, it appealed to the surrounding desert and rural communities, and ultimately, to all the "Southern Peoples", south of the Helvengio (called in Rabarran the "Araishim"), many of which were inside the Atlantean Empire. It preached a gospel of ethnic and religious unity between Rabarrans and the Araishim, in contrast to the "heathen" Juralics, - Atlanteans, Helvrans and Yallands. It included the old Numedean peoples, who still preserved a separate way of life in Numedeas and the far south-west, as "honorary" Rabarrans. (It should be noted that in 750 there was an almost continuous border of small independent states separating the frontiers of Atlantis and Rabarrieh south of the Helvengio. These states were populated by people of the same ethnic origin and religion as the Rabarrans, and the southerners within parts of the Atlantean Empire. Between 750 and 785, Rabarrieh gradually absorbed all these little states, so that by the late 780s, the borders of the Atlantean and Rabarran Empires were virtually contiguous all the way from Siphiya, in a circle round through Th. Thiss, Manralia and Yall. Thiss and the Raziran Mountains.) By 786, riots were already beginning in Atlantis’ southern towns.
Lirinne hoped the 786 International Conference would help to solve these new problems, but it collapsed within a week or so. Rabarrieh, criticised severely by Atlantis, stormed out of the Conference, and the Ughans did not even come. Skallandieh was about to disintegrate into civil war, and its representatives were wholly ineffectual. This left Atlantis, "Uarilteccoth" and the Western Empire. All these could achieve was an agreement between Atlantis and "Uarilteccoth" for mutual aid, if attacked, but this never came to anything. Nevertheless, the real problems posed by Rabarrieh did not emerge till the reign of Lirinne’s successor, and in fact the seeming retreat of Rabarrieh from urban and industrial development made it seem that she would not be much of a competitor to Atlantis for the foreseeable future. But in fact the Rabarran religious government began backtracking on its rejection of urban life and industrialisation after 790, and proved to be able to combine religious authoritarianism with creating a modern industrialised state.
INDUSTRIALISATION AND THE POWER OF THE GUILDS
The Guilds were long-established craft unions, dating back to the Second Empire, which were originally responsible for training, friendship and loyalty amongst craft workers. They had no real political role until after 750. At this stage, as industrialisation took off, and the numbers of manual workers in factories exploded, the role and powers of the Guilds suddenly increased. They developed into modern-style Trade Unions, acting on behalf of their members’ rights, health and safety, vis-ŕ-vis the employers. Nevertheless, it was not until the 770s that conflicts began to arise between the Guilds and the employers, and the first strikes took place. At the same time, the Council recognised the growing importance of the Guilds by allowing a few representatives on to the Council itself (as also some representatives of the various national groups in the Empire – Kelts, Yallands, Razirans).
But industrial conflict and unrest was becoming a serious problem to the Government in the 780s, and for the first time, industrial production faltered and factories went bankrupt. Some people thought that the power of the Guilds was the cause of this trouble, but many others in the liberal government of this period, including Lirinne herself, thought that the difficulties could be sorted out by making the employers agree with the Guilds’ wishes. As a result, the government intervened in employer-Guild relations in a massive way after 785, by issuing a great series of Employment Decrees. These virtually legalised all the demands of the Guilds, while preserving some rights of managers. Thus, limits were set on the size of factories, the rights of Guilds to exist and act were agreed, and agreements made by the Guilds with employers as to working conditions were made binding, if agreed by the government.
These Employment Decrees carried on after Lirinne’s death, until 794, but the later ones tended to restore the balance in favour of industrial employers. So now employers retained the right to sack workers after long strikes, pay bargaining between both sides had to follow a strict timetable, and the privileges of the Guilds and their leaders was to depend on the actions of the workers. The whole edifice was rounded off in 794, by making all factory workers and owners members of a Guild. This last ruling seems very strange to our modern eyes, and it was evidently intended to enforce a degree of common purpose between workers and bosses.
The ultimate result of this great intervention by the Government into work relations was not what was foreseen or intended by anybody at the time. Certainly strikes declined after the late 780s, but there developed a growing conservatism and stultification of technological innovation in industry, and a steady decrease in output. This was because an atmosphere of complacency spread over industry, as both Guilds and employers agreed tacitly to settle down to a mutual quiet life, and both sides spent more time feathering their own nests, and the workers’, than improving their businesses. Employers held back on new technology, or increasing production, to keep in with the Guilds, while the leaders of the Guilds tried to keep in with their employers and maintain their own privilege, by not pressing too hard for pay increases, better conditions or more employment overall. All of this industrial pacifism seemed fine to the Government at the time, and it was only later that politicians and historians realised the baleful long-term effects it had on Atlantis’ industry.
THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF THE EMPRESS
After 786, Lirinne intended that her successor should be her
cousin, Sualofo Pareon, who was then 35. He shared a number of Lirinne’s
views, being a liberal and a pacifist, but was also far more wayward and
impetuous than she. Nevertheless the Council agreed to the plan.
However, it was suggested later that an ex-lover of Lirinne had
harboured plans for becoming the Empress’s successor himself, and was
furious when she threw him over, both as a lover and as a potential
heir. As a result, when she died suddenly in 789, at the age of 47, foul
play was suspected, and he was secretly arrested. In public, her death
was attributed to food-poisoning, and this was supported by other
eye-witnesses. But rumours persisted that Lirinne had been deliberately
poisoned out of pique, and certainly the accused lover mysteriously died
some weeks later, just after his release from custody.
2. The revolt of the south and the decay of Empire, 789 - 805
Rebellion and despair: Sualofo Pareon, 789 – 799
THE GREAT SOUTHERN REBELLION: "BOURBO ANTECENCSO TUAINCEYU" (Classical Atlantean)
Bust of Sualofo Pareon
Almost immediately after he came to power, Pareon was faced with the worst foreign crisis since the Continental War. In 790, spurred on by the example and propaganda of the new regime in Rabarrieh and the new king, Ahayul Alanairire, many of the southern peoples within the Empire were already rioting against the rule of Atlantis, and in favour of the political and religious ideals of the Rabarrans. After 790, the rebels began to demand self-rule or independence from Atlantis, giving them the right to practice their own beliefs. Full-scale revolts broke out in parts of Th. Thiss, Manralia and Yall. Thiss, showing unity with peoples of similar race within the Rabarran Empire, adjoining the Atlantean frontier. Pareon tried to mollify them, by offering considerable self-determination, but this was rejected by the rebels, who increasingly demanded complete independence, or absorption into Rabarrieh. These events soon increased tension and hostility between these rebels and the loyal Atlantean settlers and most indigenous Yalland population. The latter were overall in a slight majority compared with the Southern Peoples, but the Yallands were split in their allegiance, as some of them saw themselves as part of the Southern community, through marriage links or long-term social and historical developments.
Riots and revolts led to full-scale insurrection in 792, covertly supported, as it had been all along, by Rabarran arms and "volunteers". The latter were lone soldiers, or terrorists, from the Atlantean point of view, though Rabarrieh called them "Ilmathi", a word originally meaning "spears", and now signifying "heroes". Between 793-795, there occurred the so-called Siege of the Southern Colonies. These were the Atlantean "colonies" or settlements around Siphiya, separated by land from the main part of the Atlantean Empire, and linked only by sea. Rabarrieh and the other quasi-independent little states which surrounded these colonies, had long claimed that these areas were rightfully part of Southern or Rabarran territory. The Siege was really a blockade by land by surrounding peoples, with continuous propaganda directed against the Atlanteans. Atlantean troops were sent in small numbers to defend the colonies, but then withdrawn again in 794, at Pareon’s insistence. Pareon, like some of his predecessors, and many other people at this time, hated war and imperialism. This led him into sharp conflict with other members of his government, as we shall see below, and also contrasted with a growing counter-mood of nationalism and anti-liberalism within the Empire. However, at this stage, Pareon won the argument, and in a series of secret negotiations with the Rabarrans and other Southern leaders, agreed to abandon the colonies in return for safe passage out of all the colonists who wished to leave. This led in 795 to mass panic and exodus by nearly all Atlanteans and Yallands within the colonies. There followed great hardship, disasters at sea, and, breaking their agreement, harassment and attacks by Southern troops on the exiles. The sight of these refugees arriving in great distress elsewhere in the Empire shocked and disgusted many Atlanteans, who would never forgive Pareon for what he had done.
Following this, further foreign misadventures took place, as Pareon still shied away from military engagement. In 796-7, Skallandieh brewed up a crisis over some islands off Yciel Atlantis, claiming some which belonged to Atlantis. It occupied some, and threatened others, and was only persuaded to back down, and eventually evacuate them, by pressure from Quendelieh (the Western Empire), which had interests and troops throughout this region. Meanwhile in the south, unrest and riots continued, egged on by Rabarrieh, and after 797 there began a series of terrorist assassinations of Atlantean officials, or officials of Yalland or Southern origin, who worked for Atlantis. These were obviously instigated by the Rabarrans, and carried out by the Ilmathi, but Pareon and his supporters were still unwilling to declare war formally on Rabarrieh. However, the Atlanteans clamped down with increasing oppression in the southern Provinces, and also abolished or purged most of the local autonomies, which had been instituted earlier as gestures towards the Southern protesters. Finally, in December 798, Pareon was forced to give way, and war was declared.
THE CONFLICT BETWEEN EMPEROR AND COUNCIL
Unlike his predecessors, Pareon was an impetuous and wayward character, who swung between moods of self-indulgence, laziness and despair, and intense and overbearing involvement in government. At these times, he showed himself to possess a strong and obstinate personality, and tried to reassert areas of power and responsibility which were constitutionally his, but which his predecessors had delegated to the Chief Minister and the Council. These included, in particular, the appointment of Government Ministers and military leaders, financial arrangements, and decisions about foreign policy. So his implacable hostility to war led him to repeatedly refuse extra taxes to spend on military matters, or to appoint new generals. By the middle of the 790s, a real conflict was developing between Emperor and the predominant party in the Council, over who should really rule the Empire. The crisis, when it came, centered on declaring war, or not, on Rabarrieh. Pareon’s apparent lack of interest in standing up for his Empire, and a growing disillusionment with the amorality of the times, which he was seeing as personifying, led to ethnic unrest and the development of various nationalist parties in and outside the Council, including the Brotherhood Party after 795. These parties generally supported a strong Army, reformed industrial relations, a return to "traditional" morality in art and life, the reimposition of law and order within society, and a policy of "Atlantis for the Atlanteans", rather than for the various other races.
The battle between Pareon and his Chief Minister, Meistensos, supported by his party in Council, came to a head in 798 over the question of war against Rabarrieh, in the shadow of armed revolts and the assassination of Atlantean officials and supporters. The Council and much of the country were now intent on war, and Pareon found himself increasingly isolated. Various constitutional threats were exchanged in 798, leading finally to the Chief Minister’s threat to force through a change in the constitution, which would reduce or Abolish many of the Emperor’s remaining powers. Pareon still had constitutional control of the Army, and now ordered it to surround the Council building. Then, with Councilmen and many Ministers trapped inside the building, he dismissed some Ministers, including Meistensos. However, spontaneous street-demonstrations against him, and the apparent defection of many soldiers to support the Council and demonstrators, as well as the appearance of growing anarchy in the form of actions by Nihilists and terrorists, finally forced Pareon to back down. War was declared in December, and the Emperor agreed to consult with his Ministers over co-operation in the future. But in fact no further crises occurred, because Pareon had now only three more months to live.
THE STATE OF THE EMPIRE
The origins of the political, moral and artistic catastrophes which were to swamp Atlantis just 6 years after the death of Pareon, germinated many years earlier. But it was during his reign that they started to ferment most vigorously, and by the end of the century, it is unlikely that anyone could have prevented disaster in the near future. The Fourth Empire had begun with a general feeling of hope and optimism that wars were past, and science and democracy would lead everyone on to a brave new world of happiness and fulfillment. At first this seemed likely to happen, and although war and civil strife soon resumed in many neighbouring countries, involving Atlantean arms, on a small scale, Atlantis herself seemed to prosper politically and economically. But from about 780 onwards, political and industrial problems began to emerge. We have seen how conflicts between factory owners and the Guilds led to conflict and strikes, which were only settled by Lirinne and Pareon’s Employment Decrees; and how these in turn led to an unhealthy relationship between the two sides, producing a loss in industrial innovation and productivity. Similarly we have seen a political crisis develop in Pareon’s reign between a wilful Emperor and an obstinate Council.
At the same time, the Council, that is to say, the effective government of the Empire, was becoming increasingly ineffectual, and at cross purposes with itself. As its members became increasingly "democratic" and representative of all opinions within the Empire, it also became divided into more and more small groupings and factions. These tended to represent the various ethnic parties in the Empire, and were in turn counterbalanced by new nationalistic parties, in particular the extreme "Brotherhood" Party, which espoused traditional narrowly Atlantean, or Juralic, policies. It was difficult for either the Emperor or the Chief Minister to control or satisfy the passions of these factions, which were leading to a new extremism in all aspects of society.
But other events, even less susceptible to control, began to occur during the reign of Pareon and his successor. On the one hand, the war, declared or undeclared, with Rabarrieh, was having more and more influence on the inhabitants of the Empire. The army was drawn increasingly into the formal fighting, and then terrorists began their campaign of random assassination of Atlantean officials. This tended to destabilise the politics of the Empire, but it was made worse by the activities of a new factor, the Nihilists.
THE NIHILISTS AND AMORALISM
The Nihilists ("Dehimiensix") appeared as a cohesive force to be reckoned with after about 785. They began earlier as middle-class adherents of a philosophical movement, which rejected all social, moral and sexual norms and conventions, as well as traditional political parties. The Nihilists were thus nihilistic and amoral in their beliefs, and anarchistic in their politics. They put themselves on the scene in the mid 780s, by carrying out a series of relatively harmless anarchistic-style "happenings". They demonstrated in the middle of town squares, sitting down or marching around with placards, often taking off their clothes, for good measure. They interrupted or mocked religious or political ceremonies. They daubed slogans, or meaningless symbols on walls or statues and memorials. They also put on, in co-operation with similarly-minded artists, nihilistic shows or plays. For a while, as long as their activities were relatively harmless, they were tolerated as "licenced jokers". But from the beginning, their readiness to mock all traditional forms of conventional behaviour upset or angered many people.
However, in the 790s, contemporaneously with the growth in Rabarran terrorism, the Nihilists moved on to carry out a series of outrages, which were far from harmless. This was due partly to the growing influence of a more extreme faction within the Nihilists themselves, partly to the increasing moral nihilism and extremism of the times, and partly to the growing participation of uneducated louts, who just wanted to cause trouble. These actions included the kidnapping of Councilmen, the theft of traditional ceremonial regalia, riots and fighting in the streets against the participants in ceremonies and processions, random arson against public buildings, and finally, in 796, the murder of the First Minister. Such outrages, which had originally been committed chiefly in the centre of the large Atlantean cities, now began to spread to smaller towns, and into the quieter suburbs of the cities. The Nihilists, or rather more often, their violent, usually lower-class hangers-on, thus suddenly appeared on the doorsteps of the middle classes. As the police seemed unable to control these Nihilists, they were increasingly opposed by the new nationalist and Brotherhood Parties in street fights and riots. In better-off areas, the local inhabitants began to band together and hire bodyguards and private security. Yet the liberals of the governing classes were unwilling to come out strongly against this anarchism, as they themselves no longer believed in traditional Atlantean religion or morality, and felt that every individual should be allowed to do as he or she wished.
THE DECLINE OF TRADITION IN SOCIETY, MORALS AND THE ARTS
The activities of the Nihilists, and the political crises of the period, led many people to feel that the whole of society was facing a moral precipice, and that the whole of civilisation was being threatened by the emergence of anarchy and immorality from underneath. During the Fourth Empire, many traditionally Atlantean ways of life were threatened, debased, ignored or mocked. For example, traditional religion – Theism- declined in the face of Naturism, Manralianism, superstition or agnosticism. Traditional religious/political rites and ceremonies either died out, or declined or were coarsened in order to increase their popularity. In education, the teaching of traditional Atlantean subjects (the old State Religion, the deeds of the Emperors, public speaking, military strategy, language study) waned in favour of more "modern" topics – modern art and linguistics, modern history, the study of other peoples and their societies, and scientific or industrial practices. At the same time, philosophy became dominated by materialism and relativism, and propagated the view that there were no absolute standards of morality or behaviour any more. Art also became more popularist at one level, concentrating in drama and novel on sex and violence and spectacle, while at a more high-brow level, it grew psychological and experimental. Later on, there developed an "art for art’s sake" movement, according to which art had no moral or social connection, but was of value only as a work of art in its own right. This led to abstract art, and the belief that an art-form could be made out of anything, however degraded or horrible it might be. Typical artists (novelists) of the period are Cettien (wrote between 760 and 795), who wrote deliberately shocking, taboo-breaking works, and Pruoti (working 785-825), who wrote both psychologically penetrating stories, and traditional "ethnic" Yalland tales.
THE EMPEROR’S DESPAIR AND DEATH
In 809, some years after Pareon’s death, a supposed secret diary of the Emperor was published (obviously with the agreement of the Government at that time). If it is genuine, this diary shows a hitherto unknown and introspective side to Pareon’s character. It reveals feelings of personal emptiness, despair and helplessness about his life and the future of the Empire. He seems to have felt that the overall prospects for Atlantis were hopeless in the long term, hence his own attempts to withdraw at intervals from the life around him. At the same time, he is aware that these withdrawals, contrasting with periods of close involvement and assertion in the government of the Empire, were not beneficial to the smooth running of Atlantis. The diaries show that he had a keen awareness of the intellectual and social currents of the time, and it was the materialism of the world around him, and its rejection of most spiritual and traditional values, which made him fear the worst for the future. A similar wave of hopelessness and personal despair was also becoming increasingly common in Atlantean society in general at this time.
In March of 799, Pareon reluctantly agreed to tour the southern Provinces of the Empire, and "wave the flag" to boost morale in the face of aggression by Rabarrieh and the Southern rebels. Despite his initial unwillingness, Pareon then travelled around with only minimum protection. He thus laid himself open to becoming the target for assassination by terrorists, who were continuing to kill Atlantean officials. Having visited Manralia, Pareon moved on to Th. Thissaindix. It was in Blaosos, hitherto largely unaffected by the rebellion and riots, that Pareon met his nemesis. He was wandering through the narrow streets of the city, with only three trailing bodyguards, when he was shot at close range by a Yalland rebel in the pay of Rabarrieh. The assassin also wounded one of the bodyguards, before being gunned down. There followed a panicky massacre of many innocent Yallands in the town, once army units arrived.
The succession was completely open, as Pareon was only 48 at the time
of his death, and no thought had been given to his successor. A cabal of
Ministers managed, partly by bribery and intimidation, to impose their
candidate – Thildo Rathayan, who was currently the Minister for
Imperial Affairs (i.e. Home Affairs). This was largely because of
Rathayan’s known contacts and abilities for police-work and internal
security, and his determination to prosecute the war in the south.
The death of the Fourth Empire, Thildo Rathayan, 799 – 805
A bust of Thildo Rathayan, rescued from the flames of his palace in 805
AN EMPIRE AT STRIFE WITH ITSELF
Rathayan was a disastrous choice as Emperor for the turbulent times which were now threatening to overwhelm the Empire. He was moderately efficient at administering the Empire, and he carried on the war with Rabarrieh with some persistence, but as a personality he was venal, sybaritic, gluttonous, cruel and indecisive. The Empire continued to be wracked by workers’ strikes, internal unrest and party conflict at home, and war and massacre abroad. Above all, the irresistible and ominous rise of the Brotherhood Party overshadowed the whole of Rathayan’s short reign, ultimately bringing it to an end in bloodshed and destruction.
Rathayan did partly succeed in halting the Rabarran-inspired campaign of assassinations within the Empire, by creating a network of agents and spies and better internal security. Abroad, he increased the army’s involvement in the war with Rabarrieh, but the latter continued to make gains with small-scale, guerilla –style campaigns against local towns. He also tried to sort out the Southern rebellion by granting considerable local autonomy to parts of Th. Thiss. and southern Manralia in 800, and again in 804. However, as soon he reduced the presence of the army in these areas, in accordance with the political agreements made, the Rabarran army simply moved in and took them over, and it became far harder for the Atlanteans to eject them than it had been for it to quash the southern rebels. Generally the Atlantean Army was showing itself to be poorly led and inefficient. This was partly because Rathayan tended to give the important posts to his friends and cronies, who had little military knowledge, and partly because the general mood of pacifism up till the 790s had led to a decline in standards, and a failure to keep up with modern military thinking. It was also becoming unpopular, as Rathayan used it more and more for internal security. The Brotherhood party was particularly vocal in criticising the shortcomings of the Army and its leadership, and it was gaining more and more adherents within the ranks of the Army. By 805, the Atlantean Army had lost control of most of Manralia, except for the northern strip, and also much of Th. Thiss., except for the north-west coast and the northern region.
Within the Empire, workers’ unrest increased, more or less in defiance of the Guilds, who were now in close cahoots with the employers, and were busy feathering their own nests. Moreover, the excesses of the Nihilists, and more so, their violent hangers-on and supporters, continued to spread round the Empire. Their behaviour, luridly violent and sexual, frightened more law-abiding citizens, who turned more and more to the only group of people who seemed able and willing to deal with these hooligans – the Brotherhood Party. Rathayan wanted to use the Army and his Security Police, who had already had some success against Rabarran terrorists, to quash these internal rebels, but he was opposed by liberals, workers and the Guilds, all of whom were afraid that they too would be repressed.
There was little support from the Council, either, which was becoming increasingly fractious and powerless, and a prey to faction-fighting. Real decisions were becoming impossible to make. Taxation was raised to unheard-of levels to finance the war and keep the slumping economy afloat. Food distribution became patchy, especially in the south, and for the first time in fifty years, hunger and famine took hold again in those areas. And in the east, tribal incursions, and an endless influx of Ughan refugees, fleeing from the continual civil wars in Ughrieh, caused administrative and social upheaval. Matters came to a head after 804, when a tremendous inrush of Atlantean and Yalland refugees now arrived in Helvrieh from across the Helvengio, fleeing the war in Manralia. These became the focus for discontent with the conduct of the war against Rabarrieh. At the same time, the Atlantean Army was blamed for several massacres of workers and protesters within the Empire. All of this led not just to general discontent, but also to Rathayan himself becoming increasingly unpopular. His life-style also upset many conservative Atlanteans – his self-indulgence, cruelty and corruption, his open flaunting of his homosexuality, and his consorting with all sorts of semi-criminals.
THE RISE OF THE BROTHERHOOD PARTY
The "Brotherhood" ("Thetabbe") Party had been one of several political or ideological factions, which had grown up in the Council in the 790s. But it was also much more than that, becoming a belief and way of life for many people throughout the Empire, from whom it obtained its strength, and its representation in the Council. Its "philosophy" was originally defined by Yrutiens in the 780s, and this later struck a tremendous chord, particularly amongst conservative Atlanteans in this period of growing political, social and moral turmoil. Yrutiens expressed a generally right-wing philosophy, extolling the need for order, a strong and efficient Army, centralisation, true Atlantean leadership, and an end to ethnic privileges. He and the Party also aimed to get the support of workers, by a populist proposal to answer workers’ grievances, and limit the privileges of employers and Guilds (in as much as these were increasingly hand in hand with the employers). In addition to this, Yrutiens wanted an end to the amoralism of contemporary society, and a lead by artists, who should support the Brotherhood Party and its traditional Atlantean values. His ideal was the society of the Second Empire. Now it did not take long for a whole Brotherhood organisation to spring up throughout society, and equally the leaders of it, many of whom were secret, soon began to add to and distort Yrutiens’ original ideas. (Yrutiens himself became Honorary Leader of the Party in the 790s, but died in 801). They laid stress on the need for an overriding role for the Party in governing Atlantis, the strengthening of the Army, and the creation of a large Internal Security Force to keep the Empire under the control of the Party. Their model for society now went still further back to the pure Atlantis of the First Empire, before it expanded to include non-Juralics. Finally, members of the organisation – the "Brothers" (women were later admitted as "Sisters") – became a state within a state, and were gradually given perks and privileges, to which all other citizens were not entitled. The secret leader of the organisation (though not the political party), was Thoun Celeuos, later to become the first of the Tyrants.
By 804, the Brotherhood Party was openly demanding the resignation of the current government, and the "retirement" of the Emperor, to be replaced by a Brotherhood supporter. But even by 805, although they had some 37% of the seats in the Council, and a number of important Ministerial and Governor posts, there was no immediate likelihood of the Party obtaining a majority by constitutional means. Moreover, there was strong opposition to the Party, and what it stood for, led by Suenno Ciblon, who was Chief Minister of the Council after 802. He led a coalition party with a small majority, which was often split amongst itself, against an opposition largely controlled by the Brotherhood Party. Ciblon was tireless in making speeches and manoeuvering against the Brothers, and frequently received death threats from their supporters – indeed, he was assaulted and injured on two occasions. He tried to make the Emperor realise the threat posed by the Party, and its dictatorial tendencies, but Rathayan never appreciated the danger. Like so many of the population, he saw them almost as a healthy countervailing tendency to the wild mobs of Nihilist supporters who continued to cause atrocities throughout the land. However he dared not support the Brothers openly, and indeed did not approve of many of their ideas. (This all just infuriated the Brothers, who saw him as an incompetent and useless figurehead).
After 803, there were a number of demonstrations by Party members in various towns, supposedly lauding traditional Atlantean beliefs and ceremonies, which the party too over now for its own ends. Some of these marches turned into riots or fights against opponents, and this unrest did finally bring Rathayan to agree in 805 to a general ban on marches or public demonstrations, whether Nihilists, Brothers or anyone else. But he was unable to force the police to take much more of a hard line against the Brothers, as many of them tended to support the Party anyway. Ciblon also wanted Rathayan’s own bodyguard, in which Thoun Celeuos was an officer, purged, but the Emperor never permitted this.
THE COUP D’ETAT OF THE BROTHERHOOD PARTY
The events which led to the bloody overthrow of the Fourth Empire began on November 14th, 805. An edited outline of the coup itself is given below from the memoirs of a close friend and supporter of Ciblon, Suenno Ramestel, who was with Ciblon at the time, and witnessed many of the events.The Overthrow of the Fourth Empire
To read about the period of the Tyrants, click on The Tyrants- (1) 805 - 812
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