THILDO I (SUAYOFO), 478 - 490 : THE WAYWARD MISANTHROPE.
Thildo I heralded a series of Emperors and Empresses who were to be much less responsible and far more wilful than the first three Emperors. Thildo, like Carel, was cultured and art-loving, and in his own way encouraged the artists of the Empire, although his tastes were more Romantic, extreme and elitist than Carel's. He was also even more erratic in his participation in government, and tended to rely on arbitrary decisions and interference by friends and Advisors. As he grew older, he withdrew more and more from contacts with everyone save for a very small circle of friends, and freely admitted that he hated most of the human race.
His views on society were quite different to the Emperors who preceded him : he believed in egalitarianism (within the limits of the age), and encouraged lower-class people into all levels of government. He wanted to liberalise and reform the very elitist and stultifying traditional structure of government, but these reforms, due to the erratic nature of his participation in the running of the Empire, were haphazard and only of very limited success. In particular, though, he gave a greater role to the Council, allowing it to nominate the Civil Governors of some Provinces, and be involved in more debates.
Thildo maintained the anti-imperialistic stance of Carel, and took no action against the growing problem of piracy in the south. A considerable debate developed between the pacifist government, and those who urged the establishment of Atlantean colonies on the north coast of the Helveng´o, to counteract the interruptions to trade caused by these pirates.
UNREST IN THE ARMY
The real problem, as far as the army was concerned, was that it was becoming "bored" with inaction, and the failure to keep its pay up to the level it expected. This led to a number of minor mutinies and friction between civilians and army units. It also resulted in a serious revolt against the Emperor himself. This occurred in 482, when an army leader in Nunchalcr´eh led an attempted coup against the Emperor. He gained little support, and was soon defeated. As a result, Thildo changed many army leaders, downgrading others and reducing the size of the forces overall. He also agreed to the adoption of the so-called "Romantic" doctrine of military strategy, partly to keep the army occupied. (This doctrine espoused a more flexible use of smaller and more mobile forces against an enemy). All this led to another, more serious plot in 487, when a revolt by the Military Governors and some generals in Manralia and Yallandix Thissandix, involving 7 armies in all, erupted while Thildo and some of his family were in Yallandix Thissandix. The rebels were crushed in a brief encounter as they approached Cennatlantis, but not before a number of Thildo's friends and relations had been captured and killed.
This increased Thildo's misanthropy, and between 487 and 490 he conducted a number of treason trials to quash other suspected plots against him. These led to various banishments and executions of soldiers and Governors. For the first time in perhaps 120 years, fear of an Emperor spread throughout his domains, and his subjects had to face up to the fact that the Golden Age of the first three emperors was gone for good.
Thildo died suddenly in 490, and as was to become the norm, rumours spread that he had been murdered, perhaps with poison. His successor was to be Finfon, hitherto the Controller for Imperial Affairs, and a close colleague of Thildo's. He had for some while become the unofficial "Prime" Controller, and Thildo's virtual Deputy. Early in 490 Thildo adopted him as his successor, and within a few months, whether by fate or Finfon's hand, Thildo was dead, and Finfon ascended the throne.
FINFON MESION, 490 - 499 : AN IMMORAL PRINCE
Two facts encapsulate the reputation of Finfon - his lax morals and his readopting of an expansionist and imperialist policy abroad. His vices seem to have reflected a general decline in moral standards everywhere, in the fields of both sexual adventures and bribery and corruption in business. It is true that this is an opinion which is based almost solely on the literature of the time, but it seems reasonable to assume it is based on truth. So, for example, the famous examination system for promotion was more and more undermined by the prevalence of bribes or influence, and a number of Governors were appointed simply because they were friends of or beholden to Finfon or one of his Advisors or Controllers. Moreover, a circle of very loose-living and amoral cronies attached itself to the Emperor, and by the late 490s, this group became notorious for its late-night street roamings which involved carousing, searching for women and random violence.
THE NEW IMPERIALISM
The new imperialist policy abroad led to a serious attempt to rid the seas of the pirates, whose depredations had become notorious, as well as an advance by land from Thoinen Thissaindix into Numedeas. The debate on Atlantean colonies on the northern shore of the Helveng´o now ended with their being approved, and it was realised that they would also form good bases for action against the pirates. So, between 495 and 499, colonies were founded at and west of Siphiya and the river Akulta, and by 500 the pirate problem was largely overcome. This was achieved partly by co-operation with the Basquecs, who had themselves recently expanded their empire to the shores of the Helveng´o. Siphiya went on to become a permanent base for the Atlantean navy in the south.
MORALITY AND THE DEATH OF FINFON
After 497, there developed something of a tide of "moral rearmament" in the empire, which was largely religious in origin - one of the last revivals of the Official Religion, before it became wholly inert and fossilised in the sixth century. This movement was just tolerated by the "Establishment" for a while, simply because it too had become embarrassed by the immorality sweeping the imperial circle. Finfon's behaviour had become absolutely scandalous by the end of the decade, extending to blasphemous mocking of the state religion, and vicious sexual antics - leading in 497 to the murder of the aristocratic husband of one of Finfon's girlfriends, the virtual destruction of a temple after an orgy inside it, and the murder of two priests in 496. By 498 there was constant armed conflict on Atlantis between Finfon's cronies roaming the streets and aristocratic vigilantes.
Finfon made a serious mistake in choosing the aristocracy as his victims, and in 498 plots against him multiplied. During the year, a delegation of two Controllers and some Councilmen formally demanded his resignation. Finfon was furious, and had them all arrested, three Councilmen executed, and the Controllers tried for treason. This led to a fixed trial early in 499, the escape from prison of one Controller, and the mysterious death in his cell of the other one. Finally, later in 499, the elder sister, Ceisille, of one of Finfon's rape victims, (and a distant cousin of Finfon himself), organised support from the local Army in Atlantid´eh and the provincial Governors of Atlantis and Atlantidieh for a coup. At the same time, she prepared the ground for a legal impeachment of the Emperor, which was in fact legally carried out
. This was a highly complicated procedure, deliberately designed so in 362 by Atlaniphon I, to prevent any dissatisfied person trying to dethrone himself. Essentially it required a public declaration of "de crowning" an Emperor from a majority of Controllers, the Court of Ethics, the Chief Priest and the leader of the Inner Council, who could then adopt any means necessary, including force, to oust the Emperor. This is what Ceisille organised, and the declaration by the Chief Priest took place minutes before the physical attack on Finfon. This took place one night, when the conspirators, lying in wait for Finfon in the streets of Atlantis, attacked and killed him, his bodyguard and some of his cronies.
Ceisille was then proposed as Empress, as prearranged, by some of the Controllers, again as ordained in Atlaniphon's impeachment process. She was widely welcomed as a woman of apparent probity, with a husband and family, all unlike the murdered Emperor. The Chief Priest, in particular, was pleased to see the back of someone who had ridiculed his religion, but was also anxious to outflank the religious zealots of the morality movement, whom the Chief Priest cordially detested.
CARULLA CEISILLE : A FEMALE TYRANT, 499-504
Having propelled Ceisille to the Imperial throne, several of her supporters soon had second thoughts, most of them fearing that a female on the throne would not be able to govern the Empire with sufficient firmness of purpose. Ceisille was soon to show them how wrong they were. She acted vigorously to strengthen her position from the very first moment, purging the Imperial Bodyguard and then increasing its size with Atlantean soldiers, so that they would overawe any dissenters by their very visible presence in the capitals (Atlantis city and Cennatlantis). She also rapidly showed her willingness to hold on to her position by any means, however ruthless, by manipulating the government and placing in it her own favourites, as well as executing a number of generals who performed less than adequately in the Raziran Revolt, and the N.Kelt Uprising from 500 onwards. (The Raziran Revolt of 500-501 was caused by the return to Razira, of the granddaughter, Doucvan, of the last Queen of Razira, together with a large army from a neighbouring state. She and her army were inevitably crushed by the Atlantean Army in 501, but only after some embarrassing initial defeats. The revolt of the North Kelts in Geskeltanieh began in 500 and was not finally beaten till Pareon's reign some 5 years later.)
THE MOVE TO CENNATLANTIS
Ceisille began the gradual shift of central government from the old capital city of Atlantis to the newer Cennatlantis, which was placed much more centrally in the Empire as a whole. She, and the Court, now spent over four months there every summer, and she now commenced the building of new, permanent offices there for her Controllers and their staff. By 520 Cennatlantis had overtakes Atlantis in size, but still the Court and central administration had to commute between the two cities every year.
MORE PERSONAL SCANDALS
Ceisille's ultimate downfall came about most directly from events in her private life. Although at first she and her family seemed to set an example of more traditional morality after the excesses of Finfon, already by 502 her marriage with her first husband was effectively dead, as a result of a liaison with Pareon Siphon, a weak-willed but well-connected young aristocrat , whose father was a Controller. It is clear that Ceisille's aim in this liaison, which became a marriage in 503, was to be able to rule the Empire through the malleable Pareon, as Emperor; she herself knew that opposition to her was building up and one way or another, her reign as Empress was not likely to last much longer.
Her remarriage (after the death of her strong-willed first husband in 503, probably murdered by Pareon and herself) was the catalyst of her downfall. The Church was again upset by her divorce and second marriage, and opposition to her from the Army and the Military Governors because of her purges was also reaching a climax. No formal impeachment of her was likely, because she had the Controllers mostly on her side - she had herself replaced many of them with her own nominees! But she did fear a military coup, and she knew too that the populace of Atlantis city hated her because of her preference for Cennatlantis, and owing to massive price increases and shortages due to corruption in the city. So she decided in 504 to forestall any further trouble by "abdicating", and proposed, to general agreement, that Pareon, her husband, should take over the throne ( and she would rule from behind the throne!)
PAREON SIPHON : THE POWER BEHIND THE THRONE, 504-511
Ceisille allowed Pareon to seem to rule on his own for a year or two, but by 506 she was reasserting her will behind the scenes, and was soon virtually ruling the Empire herself again. The facade of serenity and confidence in government that she wanted to show to the world came to a very sudden end in 508, when the "Great Divorce Scandal" began. This was when Pareon announced publicly that he wanted to divorce Ceisille because of unfaithfulness on her part. The accusation was almost certainly true, knowing Ceisille's character, but Ceisille herself never dreamed that her husband would rouse himself to take such action. This soon led to complicated legal proceedings, involving the Court of Ethics and the Chief Justice, because of the knotty constitutional problems that were involved. A great deal of very unedifying details emerged during the Court hearings of Ceisille's scandalous private life, from various informal or disaffected sources. Ultimately the divorce was granted and Ceisille "exiled" to Manralia. The openness and publicity which surrounded Ceisille and Pareon during their reigns, and especially during these divorce proceedings were unparallelled in previous Atlantean history, and future Emperors learned their lesson. Such revelations about the private lives of the Imperial families would not be publicised again until the period of the Republic after 590, and subsequently not until the Later Third Empire, with its democratic pretensions, after 750.
THE CRUSHING OF THE NORTH KELTS
In the field, Pareon's reign witnessed the final crushing of the N. Kelt uprising in 506. However the harsh treatment of the natives, especially in the eastern and formerly Ughan areas led to strong Ughan complaints, the threat of intervention, and finally some clashes in the field in which Atlantis came off worst. In 508 a treaty was signed whereby Atlantis withdrew altogether from this part of east Geskeltan´eh. There were also some clashes between Atlantean and Basquec troops in the Southern Seas, and Atlantis again drew off.
In 511, Pareon died quite suddenly in a shipwreck while crossing the Helveng´o - he had become a great traveller. He had adopted no heir, so according to the law, the Governors, Chief Priest and Leader of the Council chose the successor. They settled on Carel Atlanicerex (this was the throne-name he was later given), known for his probity, strong will, incorruptibility and anti-militarism, all of which would be welcome after the last 20 years. The new Emperor, while no relation of Pareon or Ceisille, was a grandson of Atlaniphon II. At the moment of his election, he was 34 years old, and an averagely well-off aristocrat, married and the Assistant Controller for Imperial Affairs.
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