1. RUTHOPHEAX II, 670 - 690
Louron (Ruthopheax I)'s son was named Iustos after the great Second Empire ruler, whom his father had admired so much. He was 31 when he came to the throne, and spent the first part - some would say all -of his life trying to escape from the shadow of his great father. Until his father's death in 678, Iustos felt himself completely dominated by the influence of his father, who, though retired and out of government, seemed to be able to project his spirit into the activities and thoughts of his son. Iustos deliberately avoided seeing his father, so far as he was able, but every so often, Louron demanded a visit, or sent him his opinions on a political matter of the day. In particular Iustos was forced under oath to agree to abide by the "Terms of Empire", which his father wrote between 671 and 674, and which were intended to set in stone the form of government and social structure of the Third Empire. Ruthopheax I had also made sure his son had a suitable wife - namely the daughter of the Chief Imperial Adviser, one of his closest friends -, and Iustos married her in 668.
Nevertheless Iustos was forced to compromise his father's wishes in some areas during the first 8 years of his reign. Louron had been virtually forced from power by his Ministers and the Army refusing to take part in any further wars of conquest, and in 671 Iustos agreed to reduce slightly the size of the Army. But he dared not commit himself to abolishing conscription until 679, after Louron's death, despite his personal beliefs that the vast military structure set up by his father was far too expensive to be retained any longer.
THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES AND "LIMITED WAR".
He also came up with the idea of regular International Conferences of Atlantis and the other neighbouring Great Powers. This was really a compromise between his father's plans to conquer or dominate the affairs of other nations (like Ughrieh and Basquecieh, whose governments had Atlantean officials within them), and the more realistic ideas of some statesmen of Iustos's government, who believed that it was impossible for Atlantis to try to run or regulate the whole of the known world. The Conferences aimed to solve international - and perhaps some domestic - problems by diplomatic, rather than military means. At the same time, they would show the world that Atlantis was the most powerful nation of them all, and ultimately they must do as she said – for their own good, of course. These Conferences soon became a regular institution, taking place every 4 years or so (675, 678, 683 and 687-8), and were copied at intervals by later Atlantean Emperors ( However the later Conferences were the result of different state philosophies. Those organised in the mid 700s, during the Fourth Empire, were idealistic plans to perpetuate international peace following the Great Continental War, and were supposed to be based on the dispassionate concepts of reasonableness, international law, and the common needs of humanity. Those of the 850s and 860s were partly a final effort by Atlantis to assert her influence abroad, and were based on the contemporary belief that there were codes of behaviour and morality common to all humanity). Initially the Conferences involved Atlantis, Ughrieh, Basquecieh and Anauren, and the N.E. Empire, "Gestskallandieh") joined in 678. In this Conference, a series of Demilitarised Zones were set up between S.E.Atlantis (around the Razira area) and N.Basquecieh, while as a result of the 683 Conference, an independent Keltish state was set up as a sort of buffer zone between Atlantis and Gestskallandieh, but it was not recognised by Skallandieh (the NW Empire).
Gradually the Conferences became a means of preventing wars or settling border disputes, while the earlier aim of the old-guard Atlanteans, that they would also enforce policies which Atlantis approved of, on the domestic and internal structures of neighbouring states was abandoned. Despite this, Atlantis maintained an immense moral superiority, especially over Basquecieh and Ughrieh throughout this period, and Atlantean nominees retained important posts in the Basquec government, and as rulers or deputies in many of the Ughan states. Atlantis stood above local disputes, and for example settled border skirmishing between Ughan states in the Conference of 687-8. Atlantis now tried to impose agreements on all the other participants relating to the limitation of wars. This meant that any fighting between the signatories had to be put to arbitration after 3 months; armies used were limited in size; prisoner exchanges were agreed in advance; and the invention or use of new weapons was banned.
THE PERSONAL LIFE OF AN EMPEROR
It will be seen that after Louron's death, Iustos felt able to emerge a little from his shell, and became particularly taken up with the notion of International Conferences, by means of which he sought to regulate the world, not by force like his father, but by international agreement. He also slightly loosened up some aspects of the rigid social structure of the Third Empire. But generally his outlook was almost as authoritarian as his father's was, and he could not conceive of any better way of running the Empire. But being less strong-minded and decisive, as well, he relied much more on a small coterie of like-minded advisers. His family life was based on a hypocrisy, which became standard for the Emperors and upper classes throughout the Third Empire. Thus he and his wife produced two children, and seemed to have a happy and conventional family life, while both secretly indulged in various affairs with other members of the ruling elite. These affairs, which challenged the stricter morality of Iustos's father's time, caused some scandal at first, but later became the norm.
Iustos was more constructive than his father in various practical ways, and encouraged the building of state-financed institutions, as well as building great memorial monuments to his father outside Atlantis City and Cennatlantis. He also did much to repair and rebuild towns, which had been damaged by the wars or years of neglect. Despite his dislike of military adventures, and his attempt to freeze military innovations everywhere, Iustos was farsighted enough to commission the rebuilding of the Empire's old fortifications in the new style of low casemates to cope with the threat of gunpowder cannon. His successors made sure this policy was completed.
From early on, Iustos's successor was accepted as his son, in accordance with the strictly hereditary principles laid down in his father's "Terms of Empire". This son, Siphon, was just 21 when Iustos, now aged 46, caught pneumonia in 690, and died after a short illness.
2. RUTHOPHEAX II, 690 - 714
THE REIGN WHICH CHANGED THE DIRECTION OF THE EMPIRE
Siphon Ruthopheax III was personally an unexceptional man. His great passion was the arts, and he surrounded himself with a coterie of artists, whose work he encouraged and furthered. He never married and was probably latently homosexual. He gave little deliberate new direction to the Empire, and yet during his 24 year reign, its whole structure and set-up was changed. It could be said that when he came to the throne, the Empire in itself and its relationship with its neighbours was still as it had been, when it had emerged from the Imperialist-Republican struggles of the first part of the century, and been moulded by Ruthopheax I. Society was rigidly controlled by the Squires, and peoples' classes were immutable. State Theism was strictly imposed on everyone. Atlantis was the single predominant Power on the Great Continent, and still had control of the fates of many other nations by means of force or diplomacy - a sort of "Pax Atlantica" lay over the whole of civilization. Atlantis also laid down strict limits on social changes and the use of any new inventions, especially in the military sphere, which were universally accepted.
By 714, the year of Siphon's death, all of this had either changed or was beginning to change. Processes were well underway, which would lead in 743 to the catastrophe of the Great Continental War between every nation on the Great Continent, and in 750 to the collapse of the Third Empire, with its elitist social structures, and the inauguration of the democratic Fourth Empire and the full-scale industrialisation of the Empire. Thus some increase of social mobility was developing by 714, both between Classes and also town and country. Also by that time, only three of the 12 original cities still had serious barriers between themselves and the countryside. Within towns, merchants began to prosper mightily, and business - even industry- started to take off, with the first small factories being built. Ruthopheax had no revolutionary aims of his own, and such advances as did happen, occurred mostly because the urban multitude, unable to participate in the running of the Empire, absorbed itself in trade and business, taking advantage of the long years of peace, and the growing prosperity of the Empire. In fact there developed something of a flight from country to town after 700, and this led to serious rural depopulation and shortage of labour by the 720s.
THE END OF ATLANTEAN DOMINATION ON THE GREAT CONTINENT
Foreign policy continued as Ruthopheax II had left it, with intermittent summit conferences between the nations, allowing Atlantis to try to enforce its will on them all. In fact relations between the various countries grew more disturbed, and Atlantis had repeatedly to enforce peace-settlements on local conflicts during these Conferences. In 692, war actually began between Atlantis and Ughrieh over the Versciun Pass, where Ughrieh claimed its right to more territory. The fighting was on a small scale, within the limits Atlantis and the other nations had laid down earlier, and the matter was settled, in Ughrieh's favour, at the International Conference no. 5 in 693. At the same time, in the early 690s the N.W.Empire (Skallandieh) began to expand westwards and, reaching the borders of Anauren, became involved in border clashes with it. Atlantis supported Anauren diplomatically and Skallandieh backed down.
The next Conference was not held till 700, and Basquecieh was allowed to occupy a large tract of land south and south-west of Vulcanieh to ward off the encroachments northwards of the Southern Empire (Rabarrieh). Also Atlantis agreed to allow the former Demilitarized Zone on Razira to become an independent, neutral state with a small army. After 703, the various Demilitarized Zones south of Laccues, which were supposed to be independent kingdoms without armies, became caught up in subversion by Atlantis and Basquecieh. In the Conference of 704, both sides agreed to withdraw, and some small territorial adjustments were made.
After 705, however, the whole diplomatic/moral superiority of Atlantis over her neighbours, and the Conference set-up itself started to collapse, as nations began to assert themselves, and Atlantis found herself unable to control them. This in turn led to gradual militarization, and the use of new weapons in conflicts, which had formerly been forbidden. After 703, Basquecieh fell under the control of various military leaders and adventurers. Then between 705 and 713 the five states into which Ughrieh had long been divided began an internecine war, ending with unification under just one emperor. Atlantis found her proteges in the defeated states summarily removed from power, and Ruthopheax could not, or would not, interfere. He had in fact withdrawn himself from active ruling almost completely, and Atlantis' foreign policy became very feeble in this period, due to continual power-struggles between Imperial Officers. In 711 Gestskallandieh, having unsuccessfully demanded an International Conference to discuss and condemn Ughrieh's unification, as well as its clashes with the assertive Skallandieh, unilaterally quit the Conferences. Skallandieh followed suit at once. Immediately after, it occupied the east of the independent Kelt state, while Skallandieh took over the west of it - and again Atlantis was impotent to interfere.
In 713 Atlantis finally persuaded Ughrieh and Basquecieh, plus Anauren, to come to another Conference (no. 8). This was doomed from the start. Bitter recriminations flew about: against Ughrieh for reuniting; against Basquecieh for the militarization of its government; and against Atlantis for not acting at all. Both Ughrieh and Basquecieh insisted on being allowed to choose their own constitutions and foreign policy (now that both had new governments), and in the end Basquecieh walked out. After this Atlantis's only close ally was Anauren, and she lost all control over the governments of the other Great Powers.
THE ARTS DURING THE EARLY THIRD EMPIRE, 650-714
All the styles of art, which were popular during the Second Empire either died out or were ruthlessly crushed in the period after 590. The Republicans hated elitist art and abolished all esoteric art (and many esoteric artists), encouraging only Nationalist and Popular art. The Imperialists of course could not permit Popular art either, and this meant that in the period after about 630, the only public art was nationalistic art, which praised the new regime of Ruthopheax I.
In general terms, all the art forms became more small-scale and intimate, and sought to deal with personal or family matters, or, in the case of music, concentrated on chamber music. Second Empire-type large-scale Total Works of Art, or grandiose dramas of political and national destiny vanished as if they had never been. Clearly the mood of the times did not encourage any criticism or even commentary on political or social matters, and artists felt more secure in dealing with non-controversial topics.
Painting had been the predominant art form in the 600-660, depicting scenes of epic grandeur which glorified the regime. Afterwards painting reverted to purely domestic or landscape scenes.
A small model of a horse and rider, believed to be of
Music, as we have seen, concentrated on chamber works after 660. As far as literature was concerned, poetry took over from drama as the most favoured art form. At first it went through a neo-classical, then a nature-descriptive phase, but later, especially in the reign of Ruthopheax III, who took a great interest in poetry, a deeper, more psychological style of writing came to the fore. The foremost poet in this style was Giallonni (fl 685-715). This was a sort of harbinger of the "psychological" novel, which was popular after the 720s. Before that time, after the 690s, novel writing consisted of little more than simple story-telling.
Finally architecture. After the functionalist and military-style building of the Republican and Imperialist periods, using brick and stone, the Squires interested themselves in large mansions, placed in vast country landscapes. Brick was used, covered in stone cladding. The style is less forbidding than in the earlier decades, with a number of smaller buildings instead of one huge one, each some two storeys high, with pillars and rounded arches, and linked together by chains of columns. Ordinary town-dwellings were now invariably made of brick, and were unpretentious in character.
THE DEATH OF RUTHOPHEAX III, AND THE CATASTROPHE OF THE SUCCESSION
Days after Basquecieh had walked out of the Conference, which was being held in Bradghus, a town on the border with Ughrieh in the foothills of the kuadgh (mountains), Ruthopheax was assassinated by a man who was himself killed as he tried to escape. He had shouted "Land for all - death to the tyrant" as he stabbed the Emperor, and it emerged later that he had come from Ughrieh. Some saw this as an Ughan plot, and this further embittered relations between Atlantis and Ughrieh. Ruthopheax III had no heir, and the next in line was Ruthopheax II's brother, who was now 70 years old. This man, Louron, was well-known as a die-hard reactionary, who worshipped his father, Ruthopheax I. Liberal advisers had tried to persuade Ruthopheax III to nominate one of his father's illegitimate sons as successor, but Siphon prevaricated. In the end he is supposed to have agreed, but following his death, during the short but vicious power-struggle between councillors, this will was destroyed and a forged one nominating Louron produced. Louron's faction gained the upper hand, and several liberals were executed or banished, including all Ruthopheax's sons. Army units patrolled Cennatlantis, beating or murdering protestors and everyone else at will.To read the next part of this history, click on (3) 714-743