THE START OF THE WARS OF THE PRETENDERS, 630 - 634
Louron instantly realised that the present division of the old Empire between six different generals or "Emperors" was unstable. A war was imminent between them to find out which one would become predominant, and could legitimately declare himself the new Emperor. According to his own words in old age, Louron determined at the moment Treckol was assassinated that he would avenge him, and somehow take control for himself of the whole Empire. In this way, too, he could completely erase the legacy of the Republicans, and impress his own ideals on the new Empire. Firstly he declared war on Crechonni of state "E", and forced his troops back out of Tuainnatlantis and Nundatlantis.
Crechonni sought peace, but this proved impossible, partly because Louron refused to give up Cennatlantis, which was the only part of Atlantid´eh that Crechonni did not possess. As a result of his defeat, Crechonni was overthrown from power by a young officer, Soucenel, and fled to Naokeltan´eh.
In 633 Louron agreed an alliance with State "D" under General Brumuzzi, and the two states co-ordinated attacks against "E". By the following year, all Soucenel's Provinces had been overrun, and Soucenel himself was killed defending his palace at Atlandravizzi. His state was divided up between the victors, Soucenel taking Dravid´eh II, and Louron Chalcr´eh I and Atlantid´eh.
The number of rival Pretenders was thus already diminishing. Earlier, too, in 630, the small state "F", consisting of the southern colonies and the south of Th. Thiss. had also collapsed. It had been run since 608 by Generals using "tame" Emperors as fronts. After 629, Thoun took over as general and Emperor and attacked the north of Th. Thiss. which was coming under the control of state "A". Thoun was defeated and killed, his armies dissolved and soon after "A" took over the whole of "F".
LOURON DECLARES HIMSELF EMPEROR RUTHOPHEAX I, 635.
Louron now considered he held enough of the old Empire to declare himself Emperor ( with the throne-name Ruthopheax) in 635. In any case, the original and "official" line of Imperialist Emperors, which had descended to Crechonni and then to Soucenel, was now extinct. He and his supporters made much of this at the time, describing him as the great hope of the future, and as the man to reunite the whole Atlantean Empire once again. The usual Atlantean symbolism of the sun was much in evidence, with Ruthopheax being described as the rising sun. (This contrasts interestingly with the secret words of Giestizzi, recounted above, who thought around 600 that the Atlantean sun had finally set.)
"Cenn folg´ens ceriul tehe arcugaxa - tailduanoth Louron
"A new Imperial sun has arisen - his name is Louron Ruthopheax."
The Emperor demanded all other Generals and rulers should submit to his authority, though not surprisingly, none did. At this stage Ruthopheax wanted to show himself and his empire as the continuation of that old Second Empire which had come to grief after the execution of Crehonerex in 591. (He refused to consider any of the later Emperors as legitimate). It was only after 649, when he had got rid of the last contestant to his rule, that Ruthopheax proclaimed that a new Empire - the Third - was now beginning, because he wanted to symbolise the break being caused by the new social and religious structure he was setting up
THE HIDDEN REVOLUTION - THE SOCIAL ORDER IS OVERTURNED, 630 - 650.
Ruthopheax acted ruthlessly throughout the 630s and 640s to enforce his control on the lands he conquered. He executed, banished or demoted everyone who had ever played any role in the earlier Republican regimes, or indeed had been unlucky enough to live in Republican-ruled areas, and gave military and civilian power to his own supporters from the south-eastern Provinces - scale 3 gentry, who became known as "Squires". Local government was revolutionised, and all towns, which Ruthopheax considered had been the hotbeds of republicanism, were placed under the control of the local squire, based somewhere in the surrounding countryside. The twelve chief cities of the Empire (mostly western and the earliest to have supported the Republicans) were completely cut off from their surroundings, and all movement and communication between the towns' citizens and their rural neighbours was forbidden. Their size decreased drastically over these years, and the stories of regular mass evictions and executions seem to be quite true. These towns included Atlantis, Cennatlantis, Helvris, Cennetis, Celinge, Gentes and Meisting amongst the rest.
Ruthopheax, like many of his supporters, belonged to the new religion of "State Theism", and this faith was imposed on the Empire as a whole after 632. All other popular religions, as well as atheism, were proscribed - the old Second Empire State Religion was the only one to be tolerated, at least temporarily (till 650). The State Theist priesthood was built up into a State Priesthood. After 648 Ruthopheax also instituted the organisation of "Imperial Loyalists", as a further method of binding subordinates to himself.
RUTHOPHEAX THE MAN: 630 - 648
We have already noted Ruthopheax's close relationship with General Treckol, who masterminded the overthrow of the Republicans by 628. The two men linked themselves more closely in 627 when Louron (as he then was) married the daughter of Treckol's wealthy brother. This marriage produced two daughters, but his wife suffered increasingly from ill health in later years. In 638, with Treckol long dead, and his own position secure, Ruthopheax coldly divorced his wife for reasons of state. He quickly remarried, this time to the sister of the successor to Brumuzzi, ruler of state "D", who had decided to hand over his Provinces to Ruthopheax. During the 640s there were numerous conspiracies and rebellions against the new Emperor, especially in Helvr´eh and Atlantis. In 644, Ruthopheax's wife was found, according to official announcements, to be involved in a plot hatched by Ruthopheax's great rival, Emperor Tuondu of state "A", to kill the Emperor and replace him with a pliable puppet. This helped to precipitate the final war between the two Emperors.
It also led at home, and in the midst of this culminating war, to a great series of public trials, in which several generals and many other civilian and military officials were executed. They were accused of a bewildering variety of crimes, particularly treason on behalf of Tuondo, and with the remaining Republicans in Yc´el Atlantis and Marossan. As well as these victims, a number of Ruthopheax's own relations were accused, most notably his wife. The latter made a dramatic court appearance, during which she passionately denounced her husband's despotism, and begged the country to rise up against him. She was imprisoned, and conveniently died there in mysterious circumstances a few days later. Ruthopheax had two sons by his second marriage, one of who would succeed him in 670, at the age of 31. Ruthopheax himself thereafter became quite a misogynist.
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