|3. The ultimate
degradation of Atlantis: Brindor Credhos Ruthopheas,
820 Ė 828
THE GREATEST TYRANT OF ALL TIME
Brindor Credhos was "given" the adopted name of "Ruthopheas" in 821, but is generally referred to as just Brindor. He was 39 when he seized power, and had been Borbarís trusted head of the security Army since 816. He had always been a keen member of the Brotherhood Party, and was intensely ambitious. Throughout his career hitherto he had shown himself to be intensely ambitious and utterly ruthless. He supported and encouraged Brindor to be absolutely single-minded about maintaining power, and always showed, as head of Security, a particular partiality for cruelty. He was responsible for uncovering every plot against Brindor after 816, with the great exception of the fatal Helvran one of 819. The reason for this tremendous lapse is not clear. Many people then and later thought it was part of a deliberate plot of Brindorís to allow Borbar to be killed by other plotters, thereby enabling him to seize the throne for himself. But if this is true, Brindor covered up the evidence very successfully, and there were no survivors to spill any beans, in any case.
In view of his later actions, it was also often claimed that Brindor was mentally unstable, indeed mad. In support of this, his actions seem to have been almost "Jekyll and Hyde"-like, veering from extreme authoritarianism and ceaseless action, to indolence and passivity. Again, it is difficult to prove this. There can be no denying he was exceptionally cruel, arbitrary, tyrannical and egotistical, or that his reign was characterised by an almost schizophrenic division between action and inaction. But it is clear that he knew exactly what he wanted to do, and in this respect his ideals and actions are typically those of the most extreme Brotherhood notions, and are closely paralleled by Borbarís. He worshipped the Atlantis of the First Empire, admired the Second Empire, especially the period before 480, regretted the Republican and Imperialist upheavals, strongly disliked the Third Empire, and hated the Fourth Empire. (One small instance of his hatred of all innovations subsequent to the First, or at most, the Second Empire, was his refusal to change back to the Fifth Empireís spelling and grammatical amendments to Atlantean. So, for example, he insisted on spelling his name "Brindor", rather than writing it "Brinnor", which was how it had in fact been pronounced since the later Second Empire!) In general Brindor simply took everything one stage further than his predecessors with regard to creating terror and violence, and operating in the most absolutely amoral way imaginable.
What was unique to Brindor was his artistic sense, using the word "artistic" in the broadest possible sense. Brindor had a genuine, very strong interest in all the arts, and saw himself as an artistic creator of the first rank. Unfortunately the decline in the style and content of the arts for the previous thirty years, and the pervading philosophy of amoralism and art for artís sake, linked to a Brindorís personal fascination for the cruel and immoral, led Brindor to produce art which has become a byword for the sordid, cruel and degraded. This also explains much about his so-called periods of passivity and withdrawal from running the Empire, which was left at such times to his favourites and minions. For he was determined to have time to devote to his artistic pursuits, whether grandiose building schemes, pornographic dramas and shows, or musically "enhanced" torture and murder. Many of these activities were in any case linked to the politics of the Empire, whether providing improved buildings and country landscapes (for the rulers, of course), or helping to rid the realm of unwanted "criminals" or even whole peoples. And Brindor always kept in touch with what his governors were doing throughout the realm.
Brindor was always seen later as the worst tyrant the Empire had ever had, and the one who reduced Atlantis to her greatest ever degradation. Certainly by 828, Atlantean society had plumbed the lowest depths of immorality, violence, cruelty and disintegration that it is possible to conceive.
HIS CHARACTER AND METHOD OF GOVERNING
In his personal life, Brindor made no more attempt than most of his contemporaries to live according to a traditional moral code. He married twice, his first wife dying mysteriously in 822, having produced no children Ė she was probably murdered, possible in private in front of friends, in the sort of artistic series of tableaux that Brindor favoured. His second wife duly gave him a son and a daughter. At the same time, ha had a constant supply of mistresses and, possibly, male lovers. He also had a number of illegitimate children by his mistresses, at least one of whom he had put to death. He had two brothers, a sister and various cousins, some of whom received high office from him.
He ruled by creating absolute fear due to his arbitrary tyranny, and in later years gave great power and favours to a small group of cronies, who were mostly just as dissolute and cruel as he. After 825, the Empire ended up being ruled by these friends, all Brothers of course, as Governors of Provinces. They treated their Provinces virtually as their personal fiefs.
"ATLANTIS ERGAIN ATLANIX" ("ATLANTIS FOR THE ATLANTEANS")
One of Brindorís main aims was to rid the Empire of not just all non-Juralics, but now also almost everyone except Atlanteans. The Yallands had almost all been lost to the encroaching Rabarrans, and the Chalcrans he always considered to be honorary Atlanteans, but after 823, he turned on the Helvrans. He would use any methods, expulsion, confinement, murder, or simply abandoning those parts of the Empire which the non-Juralic peoples inhabited. One deliberate sign of this, already contemplated by Borbar, was to move the capital back to old Atlantis. Borbar had begun some new building there, but Brindor greatly accelerated it, erecting numerous grandiose and overwhelming governmental and celebratory buildings in the city, in the process razing many older ones, which dated from later than the early Second Empire. The capital was officially moved there in 826, although Brindor still spent half of his time in Cennatlantis, where most of the government offices were still situated, while new ones were being built in the old capital. In fact, Brindor was to be overthrown before most of the facilities and staff of government could be moved to Atlantis.
Brindor was already turned against the Helvrans, when one of the captured assassins of Borbar admitted under torture to being part of a widespread Helvran conspiracy to overturn Atlantis, and replace its Empire with a neo-Helvran one. This ridiculous claim, almost certainly invented by Brindor, gave him the excuse to begin a massive reign of terror against the Helvrans. All Helvrans in government positions were dismissed, and most specifically Helvran institutions abolished; the Helvran language was also proscribed. Many Helvrans were ejected from their homes and imprisoned or killed. However, their sufferings were as nothing compared to those of non-Juralic races.
THE HARROWING OF THE NON-JURALIC PEOPLES
All descendants of the nomads who were still in Nunchalcrieh were removed from their settlements, and either ejected across the frontier, or made slaves in factories or public works. All remaining Ughans within the Empire were moved into "architecturally designed" camps elsewhere in the Empire, where they were gradually starved to death. Then the whole of east Dravidieh was excised from the Empire, whose boundaries were thus pulled back westwards. Similar treatment was meted out to the Kelts. There were few North Kelts left after Borbarís depredations, and Brindor eliminated all the remaining ones within the Empire. He also struck the West Kelts, billeting troops and the like on some, and removing others to camps or forced labour. Many starved or were beaten to death, and others died in "hunts" or in Brindorís favourite "artistic" entertainments of torture and death. Dravideans had always received some favour as good potential recruiting fodder for the Army, and Brindor now resorted to forcible conscription of the men, while the women and the children were transported to the west as hostages to their menfolkís good behaviour in battle. Persecution spread to Marossan in 823, though not Yciel Atlantis after 825, which became a haven for refugees. After 825, as the Empire was virtually divided up amongst Brindorís lieutenants and cronies, treatment of these peoples was "devolved" to the whims of these largely psychopathic people. However, a few areas, like Yciel Atlantis, were ruled by humane Governors, who did not persecute the local population.
Many of these depopulated areas were resettled by Atlanteans and Chalcrans. Elsewhere, the bounds of the Empire contracted, as Brindor removed non-Juralics from his territory, or as the Frontier Army, ever more feeble as fresh manpower went to swell the Security Armies, gave ground to its enemies. In 823, the Rabarrans again declared war, and following a long-prepared plan, sent large armies into the remaining Atlantean territories, liberally massacring any Atlantean military or civilians taken prisoner, but deliberately showing mercy to all Yallands. Emperor Ruiltac of Uarilteccoth had been shocked by Borbarís massacres of the Rabarrans in 816, and now advanced in alliance with the Rabarrans, moving right up towards the river Gestes. By 825, the Atlantean army had pulled out of all lands south of the Helvengio, save for Miolrel, Raihco and Noehtens. A great flood of Atlantean refugees fled from these areas across the Helvengio to Helvris. As we have seen, the army also withdrew from Penedrin and handed Phonaria to the Western Empire, both in 821. Finally in 826-828, he pulled back all his forces from the north and centre of the Province of Keltanieh, and the northern parts of Nunchalcrieh.
After 824-5, as Brindor buried himself more and more in his own private amusements and building activities in Atlantis, the state of the Empire declined ever more precipitately. In the south, Raihco and Noehtens fell to the Rabarrans after long sieges, and only Miolrel held out south of the Helvengio. In 826 the Jutes, now targetted for the first time by Brindorís repression of non-Juralic peoples, rebelled, found a leader (Efmos Thuskavon), slew their Governor, and managed to eject the Atlantean Army from most of their lands. They then declared themselves independent of both Atlantis and the Rabarrans, whose troops had reached their southern border.
DEATH AND EVIL AS THE SUBJECTS FOR ART
Brindorís overwhelming passion was for the arts, but he would also only allow those artists at his court who produced art, with which he agreed. Indeed, like his predecessors, only art which glorified the regime, or corresponded to the Emperorís own artistic notions was allowed to be practiced within the Empire. As we have seen, art, like society, had become increasingly amoral from the last years of the Fourth Empire, and in place of providing any sort of spiritual uplift or moral purpose, artists practiced art for artís sake. In other word, art was seen as an end in itself, the purpose of which was merely to gratify the artist or similar-minded persons. As a result, many artists could raise no moral objections to using their art for the benefit of the Tyrants and their government, however objectionable their regime might be from a traditionally moral point of view. Under the first two Tyrants, many artists who did not place their literature or painting at the behest of the government quietly got on with producing work which existed in a moral and social vacuum.
Brindor, however, had other ideas, and was determined to put art at the centre of his stage. He hijacked the best architects to work on his plans for the rebuilding of Atlantis, and himself played an active part in planning the grandiose triumphal pillars and arches, the Palace of Atlantis, and the houses which he wanted to build in the centre of old Atlantis. This area was of course the oldest part of the city, dating back to the earliest First Empire, an epoch which for Brindor was the greatest period of Atlantean history and art. Nevertheless, much of this area had been rebuilt in later times, and Brindor felt no qualms about levelling much of it, and rebuilding it in his own style. Fortunately for the sake of the city, he did not get all that far before his death in 828, but a considerable part of the old centre round the marketplace was flattened, and some of his arches and houses were finished. His Palace of Atlantis, which was to be constructed on the hill to the south of the city, where the Class 1 nobles built their houses after 300, was only partly built, again at the cost of many old houses, which meant nothing to Brindor.
Brindor made use of painters and writers, as well as landscape designers, to produce, initially, "total art" shows and entertainments for himself and his Court. But then he decided to use them to create "works of art" out of other events which took place in the cities of the Empire. Increasingly these were sordid and cruel, such as the torture and executions of condemned people in front of the public or of non-Juralic peoples in the camps. Brindor continued and increased Borbarís billetting of security troops in the homes of non-Juralic or unsympathetic peoples, and if he felt like it, he would create shows, in which his victims were deliberately humiliated, tortured and killed in horrible ways: but everything was "decorated" and choreographed by his artists and designers, as "works of art". Similarly landscape designers and gardeners set up the areas where he would have his victims chased or hunted to death. We have no record of any artists complaining or objecting to this degradation of their abilities.
THE EMPIRE REACHES ITS NADIR
As Brindor interested himself in these matters, the Empire was falling apart. We have seen how attackers from outside, and persecution of minorities on the inside was gradually contacting its frontiers. At the same time, after 824, he started to replace Provincial Governors with his Brotherhood cronies, and relied more and more on them and the Internal Security Armies to run the increasingly fragmented Empire. Thus the Provinces became satrapies of Atlantean Brothers, who were allowed to grow semi-independent, and had local control, in theory, of both Frontier and Security Armies. But Brindor made sure that they were not amalgamated, and encouraged tension between them. Gradually, in the confusion of the Empire, plots against Brindor sprang up. The first was in 825, and led by the old Governor of Yall. Thiss., whose Province was being overrun by "Uarilteccoth", and who was to be replaced by a Brotherhood choice of Brindor. The former Governor marched in to Manralia with a small army, but was defeated, captured and executed. He, like later plotters, wanted a return to the Fifth Empire; others also wanted the return of parliamentary government and basic decency and morality.
In 827, more plots were discovered in Helvrieh and Dravidieh, and some Frontier Army generals became more outspoken against Brindor Ė however, they did not have the forces to rebel effectively. At the same time, the newly appointed Governors of Meistayieh and Gestchalcrieh virtually declared war on each other, the former (Thildo Gailonex, the later Emperor,) inveighing against the immorality of the Government. In 828, there was a final, carefully organised conspiracy, which finally brought down Brindor and the whole rule of the Tyrants.
THE REVOLT OF PAREON GESTIL.
After 826, there were four main sources of power jostling amongst themselves within the Empire. These were the Internal Security Armies, the mainstay of Brindorís power (though they were split up between the Provinces); the traditional Frontier Armies; the Governors, who relied on their local Security Armies and sometimes the frontier Armies; and Brindorís personal Bodyguard of some 5000 men. There was generally bad blood and sometimes conflict between the Frontier and Security Armies. The initiator of Brindorís overthrow in 828 was the Governor of Yciel Atlantis, Pareon Gestil. Pareon had been the commander in charge of the army defending Raihco in Manralia, until Brindor ordered its abandonment in 826. Pareon was already growing angry with the military incompetence of Brindor, not to mention the cruelty and misgovernment of his regime. This latest action finally decided Pareon to work towards the overthrow of Brindor. He kept all these personal thoughts to himself at this stage, however.
Pareon was moved to Yciel Atlantis, where he was given command of the armies stationed there. These were, by origin, Atlantean, and some were transferred from Raihco with Pareon. In what was to prove a fatal miscalculation, Brindor then made Pareon Governor of Yciel Atlantis, because he seemed loyal, and was, of course, a Brother. But Pareon soon set about summoning up support for his plans to overthrow Brindor. In December 827 he declared his disgust with Brindor and his policies of persecuting minorities, which was received favourably in Yciel Atlantis, as the Marossans and Phonerians were the latest groups to be targeted by the Government. He also announced his intention of restoring the pre-805 Constitution, reconvening the Council, and making government "moral" again. Of vital importance to Brindor was his agreement with Quendelieh to give him its backing. Quendelieh (the Western Empire) was particularly worried about the growing flow of refugees from Atlantean persecution pouring across its borders into Phonaria, and also concerned at the seeming anarchy convulsing the Atlantean Empire, the decline in trade. Last but not least, the government of Quendelieh was disgusted by the stories from refugees of the persecution, violence and amorality of Brindor and the Brothers. Quendelieh provided some military support for Pareon, as well as threatening the Atlantean navy, until the latter came over to the rebels. It also offered advice, supplies and some weapons for Pareonís forces. It is interesting to note that this was the first of three decisive interventions by Quendelieh in Atlantean affairs during this century. The second occasion was during the Great Northern War of 844-847, when it maintained a sort of benevolent neutrality towards Atlantis, which later veered to outright support. During the Later Final Wars in the later 870s, Quendelieh fully supported the Atlanteans, and its subsequent unilateral withdrawal from the war had a decisive effect on Atlantisí fortunes).
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