The Empire (outdated)
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This article presents a former version of The Empire, which was later retconned. This background is now outdated.
Founding of The Empire
Sigmar had left no heirs to inherit the crown. The provincial rulers, after much wrangling, decided that they would elect a new Emperor from among their own number, thus establishing the Electoral system.
As Emperor succeeded Emperor, the provinces achieved greater and greater independence and special rights and exemptions.
The Cult of Sigmar was founded a half century after Sigmar's disappearance. A strange hermit had arrived in Altdorf one summer solstice, claiming to have had a vision of Sigmar surrounded by the other gods. Sigmar quickly became established in the Empire's pantheon, and such was the power of Sigmar's legend that the cult rapidly gained a huge following. The Grand Theogonist, as the chief priest of the Cult of Sigmar would come to be known, was eventually granted electoral powers.
Decline and Black Plague
The steady decline of imperial control reached a nadir with the reign of Boris the Incompetent. The increase in official corruption nearly emptied even the Imperial coffers. Failure by town authorities to deal with the overcrowding of their towns was met with a devastating outbreak of Black Plague in 1111. Four years later the plague claimed the Emperor himself.
Age of Wars (1152-)
By now many of the provincial rulers had had enough of "weak-willed Emperors creaming off our taxes." Elections became more and more heated. Some wanted complete independence, while others wanted to reverse the privileges that they saw as destroying the foundations of The Empire. When the Electoral Council of 1152 ended in a stalemate, the Grand Duke of Talabecland returned to his palace, raised an army and actually waged war on Stirland. This was all the provocation the other electors needed. For the next two hundred years, The Empire tore itself apart in a series of civil wars, and no Emperor managed to hold onto the crown for more than 10 years.
Age of Three Emperors
When the Grand Count of Stirland was elected Emperor in 1359, Grand Duchess Ottilia of Talabecland was provoked to approach the High Priest, then residing in Talabheim, with evidence that the Cult of Sigmar had been founded by a madman. This suited the High Priest's ambitions very well and he instantly declared all followers of Sigmar's cult to be heretics. Ottilia outlawed the Cult in Talabecland; Sigmar's cult came under persecution; his temples were desecrated and his priests became the target of witch-hunters.
In 1360, Ottilia declared herself Empress without election, supported by the High Priest.
The elected Emperor in Nuln attempted to wage war on the "blasphemous she-devil" in Talabheim, but the Emperor was already under attack by Middenland. By now, the toll taken by years of civil war had exhausted the capacity of the rival provinces to fight, bringing an indecisive end to the civil wars for the next two hundred years.
In 1547, after failing to gain the imperial crown through election, Graf Siegfried of Middenheim declared the electoral system a sham and himself the rightful Emperor. Three years later, "Emperor" Siegfried over-reached himself, declaring war on the "second" Emperor in Talabheim. He besieged Talabheim but the city proved impregnable even to his mighty army. Middenland's nobles saw their chance and renounced Middenheim's rule. Siegfried's army, demoralized, and ravaged by disease, was in no condition to retake Carroburg, and Middenland again became a separate province.
Dark Ages (1979-)
Gradually the warring provinces themselves began to fragment, and the self-styled Emperors soon had to deal with uprisings in their own provinces.
The steady disintegration of The Empire saw a great increase in the number of Necromancers and Daemonologists. Goblins and Chaos worship secretly proliferated, and Orcs raided the Empire with increasing strength.
In 1979, after the election of Empress Magritta, even the Grand Theogonist decided to abandon the electoral sham, and no new elections were held for 400 years.
By the year 2000, The Empire had effectively ceased to exist.
Great War against Chaos
The provinces which make up the Empire are to a large extent independent; the Emperor's powers over these provinces is limited by a range of special privileges granted to various offices by previous Emperors, so that over history the Empire has become less centralized as provinces have gained greater independence. The fact that the responsibility of electing the Emperor is left to those who are mostly provincial rulers means that, to ensure the continuation of their own privileges, the Electors normally choose the least accomplished of their number - someone who will not actually attempt to use their powers properly. Therefore, in more recent history, the choice has fallen to the somewhat eccentric Holswig-Schliestein family, who are regarded as unambitious by the rest of the Electors.
The Council of State is appointed by the Emperor to assist him in the day to day running of the Imperial court, and advise him on military and financial matters. The members of the Council, besides the Grand Theogonist, are selected from among the families of the most ancient lineage. Although the Council has no constitutional authority, when it speaks with one voice, it can exercise considerable influence over the Emperor. The Grand Theogonist, arguably the most powerful man in the Empire, is usually behind the Council's most urgent recommendations.
The Imperial Plenipotentiaries are special representatives appointed by the Emperor to the provinces to keep tabs on his so-called servants. Some might also be ambitious, Machiavellian types appointed to remote areas simply to keep them out of the way.
The Prime Estates - When Emperor Boris the Incompetent attempted to make his favourite racehorse a Duke, the other Electors unanimously agreed that they needed some eyes and ears in the Imperial capital to warn them if the Emperor was planning any more "foolishness". Each of the provincial rulers sent a special representative to Altdorf to form a watchdog body, which has since become a de facto supreme court. The Prime Estates carefully studies each edict issued by the Emperor, sending reports back to the Provincial Electors. Since the Provincial Electors can effectively refuse to police any edict they don't like, the Prime Estates has an almost complete veto on the Emperor's right to issue commands.
The primary division of the Empire are the 8 Electoral Provinces and the 3 City States (Freistadt), whose rulers all hold the position of Elector.
In addition to the 8 Electoral Provinces are the 5 non-electoral provinces, which represent the newer provinces which have split off from the original provinces as the heirs of the provincial rulers gained their own lands. These smaller provinces were never granted electoral status and remain subject to their parent provinces.
|name||ruler (2512 IC)||capital||notes|
|Grand County of Averland||Grand Countess Ludmilla von Alptraum||Averheim|
|Grand Duchy of Middenland||Grand Duke Leopold von Bildhofen||Carroburg|
|Mootland||Elder Hisme Stoutheart||None|
|Grand Principality of Ostland||Grand Prince Hals von Tasseninck||Wolfenburg|
|Grand Principality of the Reikland||Emperor Karl-Franz I||Altdorf|
|Grand County of Stirland||Graf Alberich Haupt-Anderssen||Wurtbad|
|Grand Barony of Sudenland||Grand Baroness Etelka Toppenheimer||Pfeildorf|
|Grand Duchy of Talabecland||Grand Duke Gustav von Krieglitz||Castle Schloss|
|City State of Middenheim||Graf Boris Todbringer||Middenheim|
|City State of Nuln||Countess Emmanuelle von Liebewitz||Nuln|
|City State of Talabheim||Duchess Elise Krieglitz-Untermensch||Talabheim|
|Barony of Hochland||Baroness Hildegarde Tussen-Hochen||Bergsburg||attached to Talabheim|
|Barony of Nordland||Baron Werner Nikse||Salzenmund||attached to Middenheim|
|League of Ostermark||Chancellor Maximilian Dachs||Bechafen||attached to Talabecland|
|County of Sylvania||unnamed Countess||Waldenhof||attached to Stirland|
|County of Wissenland||Count Bruno Pfeifraucher||Wissenburg||attached to Nuln|
The Electors are a body of the 15 most powerful leaders in The Empire who have the function of electing an Emperor from among their number. The Electors are made up of 11 secular leaders and four religious leaders.
The present Electors, as of 2512, are:
- Karl-Franz I, Grand Prince of the Reikland (age 35, named heir is Crown Prince Wolfgang Holswig-Abenauer, his sister's eldest son)
- Hals von Tasseninck, Grand Prince of Ostland (age 62, named heir is his only son, Crown Prince Hergard)
- Leopold von Bildhofen, Grand Duke of Middenland (age 46, named heir is his younger brother, Baron Siegfried)
- Gustav von Krieglitz, Grand Duke of Talabecland (age 22, no named heir)
- Etelka Toppenheimer, Grand Baroness of Sudenland (age 51, named heir is the adopted son of distant relative, Baron Olaf Sektliebe)
- Alberich Haupt-Anderssen, Graf of Stirland (age 15, no named heir)
- Ludmilla von Alptraum, Grand Countess of Averland (age 77, named heir is her eldest daughter, Baroness Marlene)
- Boris Todbringer, Graf of Middenheim (age 57, named heir is his youngest son, Baron Stefan)
- Elise Krieglitz-Untermensch, Duchess of Talabheim (age 31, no named heir)
- Emmanuelle von Liebewitz, Countess of Nuln (age 27, no named heir)
- Hisme Stoutheart, the Elder of Mootland
- Ar-Ulric, High Priest of the Cult of Ulric, based in Middenheim
- Yorri XV, Grand Theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar, based in Altdorf
- Aglim, Arch Lector of the Cult of Sigmar in Talabheim
- Kaslain, Arch Lector of the Cult of Sigmar in Nuln
History closely ties the noble families to their provinces and continues to influence relations between the noble families and between the provinces. Considerable rivalry still exists between the electoral provinces. The Provincial Electors are very often in competition, although their position also unites them against the Emperor, the independent towns and the Guilds. Only the rulers of Averland and Sudenland could honestly claim to have no pretensions to either the imperial crown or the extension of their provincial territories. Fortunately the memories of bitter civil war does much to ensure these ambitions are carried out only through very discrete political machinations.
Important noble families
- The Todbringers of Middenheim
Distant relatives of the von Bildhofen family. Current head is the Graf Boris Todbringer, Elector and provincial ruler of the City State of Middenheim.
The Todbringers and Middenheim are closely tied through intermarriage to the Nikses (the hereditary ruling family of Nordland) and the Barony of Nordland (a non-electoral province attached to the city state of Middenheim). The ties date back to the marriage of Brunhilde Todbringer to Baron Ludwig Nikse, the then ruler of Nordland, in 2368 IC. Since then, relations were strengthened by the marriage of Boris Todbringer's father to Birgit Nikse in 2457. More recently, in 2502, Boris himself took Anika-Elise Nikse as his wife, the daughter of Werner Nikse, the present Baron of Nordland.
Nordland relies on Middenheim for defence and for trade links with the south and west. In return, Nordland provides the main source of Wood Elf/Human trade, political support, and the occasional regiment of archers.
- The von Bildhofens of Middenland
Descended from Grand Duke Gunthar von Bildhofen (the younger brother of Magnus the Pious), who withdrew to Middenheim after falling foul of the then Grand Theogonist who blocked his inheritance of the imperial throne from his brother. Current family head is Grand Duke Leopold of Middenland, an Elector.
- The von Krieglitz family of Talabecland
Descended from Emperor Dieter von Krieglitz (deposed for his part in the secession of the Wasteland). Family head is Grand Duke Gustav, Elector and the ruler of Talabecland. The Grand Duke has territorial designs on southern Ostland. A shrewd opportunist, he is willing to exploit traditional Sigmarite-Ulrican rivalries; Gustav hopes to influence Middenland, which has strongly anti-Sigmarite elements (with Middenland an ally, his territorial claims would have more support and he could launch a two-pronged attack against Ostland).
- The Krieglitz-Untermenschen of Talabheim
Descended from the Emperor Dieter von Krieglitz, and Grand Countess Ottilia Untermensch (who declared herself Empress without election in 1360). Current head is Duchess Elise, Elector and the ruler of the City State of Talabheim.
- The von Tassenincks of Ostland
Current family head is Grand Prince Hals, an Elector. Being easterners, the Tassenincks are regarded as little better than country yokels by the more sophisticated western noble families. Crown Prince Hergard, heir and only son of Grand Prince Hals, was reportedly killed in the Grey Mountains. The Grand Prince Hals is blaming Grand Duke Gustav of Talabecland for his supposed death, saying his son was murdered by an assassin working for the Grand Duke.
In order to maintain his position, Grand Prince Hals is trying to gain the support of Stirland (a traditional enemy of Talabecland) and Averland. He is employing Maximilian Dachs of Ostermark (supposedly a vassal of Grand Duke Gustav of Talabecland) as his secret emissary to Stirland. For his service, Dachs has been promised the complete independence of Ostermark.