… The years of 524 to 551 IV Era is a unique piece in the story of Mann’s history; known by most as “The Wars of the Crowns,” it remains today one of the bloodiest times in Mann’s history, as well as perhaps the most famous. For this period of roughly thirty years created the base that defines the world of Mann as it stands today: why Stirling, not the Draconian Imperium, is the dominant power, why the racism of the Elves has dwindled, and some of the southern nations were able to reclaim land and sovereignty, thus weakening the Imperium even further. The story spread across all five nations which existed at the time, making the conflicts continental in scale. In total seven rulers, whether legitimate or claiming sovereignty, participated at one time or another.
The most amazing thing however, is that the events of that moment in history revolve around ultimately the life of a single person: Finstrel “Fire-Heart”, a forgotten prince who became a general, bested the greatest power of his time, re-established both a fallen kingdom and his fallen dynasty, and crowned himself king. His actions lie at the heart of the term “The Wars of the Crowns,” for each conflict in those thirty-odd years was about, or related to, the surviving of a realm and her rulers. And all of this both began and ended with the kingdom of Stirling, the realm of the Fire-Heart dynasty.
It is difficult to say when the Wars of the Crowns exactly began, but the most common view is that the spark that lit the flame was the assassination of emperor Claudius III. Claudius’ death weakened the imperial senate as they debated about the new political atmosphere and where they should stand. This allowed Claudius’ son Titus, now Titus II, to gain quick control over the splintered factions and begin his ambitions of conquest to the north. Everyone knew that great change was coming to the world then, but no one expected what that change would actually be.
One should however look before all of this, to an earlier time. It is far more likely that the source for the conflict began in the year 477 IV Era, the year Claudius was crowned emperor of the Imperium.
Claudius III was crowned emperor on the 5th of Meitheamh upon the death of his father Vespasian I, who had died on either on the 28th or 29th of Aibrean 477 IV Era. Even as a young boy of only seven years Claudius was intelligent, so even though he was technically watched over by guardians until he was fifteen years, Claudius did indeed rule over his realm in many affairs; granted in increasing capacity as he grew older.
When Vespasian was crowned upon the death of his father, Augustus V, the imperium had been in an on-and-off war with the kingdom of Varden, which lay on her southwestern border. The official cause of Augustus V was assassination, and evidence suggests that it was Augustus’ brother Brutus who did the deed. Vespasian arrested Brutus as the first action of his reign as emperor, though he never tried his uncle. However, as a warrior who dreamed of conquest, Vespasian was not going to let a chance of one pass and so the blame was put on Varden’s royal household, the Long-Horns, and the imperium invaded in full-force. Varden however was a powerful nation, the Imperium’s main rival during this time, and so the war dragged on all of Vespasian’s reign. The night of his death, the imperium had won a strategic victory at the battle of Dragon’s Bow and Vespasian and his forces celebrated, tragically ending in Vespasian’s death.
Claudius, in honor of his father, continued the war, finally achieving total victory in the year 479 IV Era. The remainder of Claudius III’s reign however was peaceful. No wars were fought, and Claudius focused instead on consolidating power, rebuilding war-ravaged areas, particularly in Varden, and strengthening trade routes with the lands beyond the Avacron Mountains. The imperium’s culture was all about war; it was how it had formed its empire. While Claudius III is seen as a visionary today, the people of his time had lived and breathed war, as had their ancestors. Without war, what was the imperium?
This culture of war mongering affected young Titus. As the future emperor grew up, he walked the emperor’s gardens, seeing the statues of past emperors in their armor, stoic, proud, mighty. He saw the benefits of war in the imperial city; its private baths, temples, libraries, had all come from the wealth of other nations. Without war the economy slowed, it became reliant on trade with other nations, lesser people. The imperium needed war to thrive, and so Titus, as well as the people, saw Claudius III as a fool and a weakling.
When Claudius died on the 13th of Lunasa, 523, there wasn’t much in the way of mourning for the emperor by his people. By all accounts of the time, his funeral was quick and held with very few attendants. Linius Varius, who had been the emperor’s attendant and personal confidant since 501 IV Era wrote
“The streets of the city were threadbare as the emperor’s funeral cart went past. I dare say as I walked behind the cart that those who accompanied me could be counted with using all my fingers only twice through. The only tears that fell that day besides my own were those of the autumn rain.”
Politically however, the empire became an enraged wasps’ nest. The senate was divided over how to respond to their new emperor, Titus II. But no one could have predicted what sort of man their new emperor was…
-Written by Aelfred White-Hawk, historian and seneschal to Queen Erna II of Stirling, 113 V Era