Burning of the North
|Burning of the North|
|Event Name||Burning of the North|
|Dates and Times||May 15th to July 25th 305 AC|
|Location||Drixagh, Regalian Archipelago|
|People Involved||Regalian Empire|
The Burning of the North was a minor event to the Velheim population within Drixagh in the Regalian Archipelago. Enacted on the orders of the Chancellor of the Regalian Empire at the time, the event several thousand revolting Skaggers and their allies killed in combat or executed using ancient methods reserved for heretics, and a brief attempt to install settlers from Wirtem regions in the area. This ultimately failed and it has also since been revealed that the same Chancellor helped manufactured the initial rebellion which led to the Burning. In the wake of this revelation, other perceived mistreatments by the Regalian Empire and political chaos, many Velheim leaders ceded from the Empire several months later during the final chapter of Altaleï-Regalian War, and again later in the Drixagh Rebellion, with the Burning often one of the first events cited as the reason for their actions.
Drixagh had, for years, been one of the more complex Lordships of the Empire. Their role as the “Menace of the Archipelago” is an old one from the days of the Skagger Horde's dominance in the region. Following the peace that ended the Skagger Wars, the Velheim lived as part of the Empire that there were issues. Outsiders sought to push Unionism on the largely Fornoss populace, and old cultural enmities between them and the Ithanians and Wirtem led to a lack of Velheim impact on Regalian politics. But still, the Velheim of Drixagh served a purpose; their levies and military leaders often served with distinction in Regalia’s wars while the mountains and dense forests of Drixagh provided troves of raw resources for the Empire, who in turn employed the locals in extracting these. By 305 AC, though, regional politics became destabilized and this was taken advantage of by hidden parties.
The First Rebellion
For a moment before the Burning, things had seemed to be going the Velheimer's way. Religious tolerance ordinances, enacted on the 14th of May, saw a surge of Velheim pride in the Empire. It was now that the Chancellor's machinations began to appear. Using a variety of tools at his disposal, he had sent orders to non-Velheim officials in Drixagh to make the Skaggers isolated despite the recent tolerance ordinances. They were successful in several minor areas in these efforts. A small rebellion began, and many local Barons found themselves ousted from control. Regalian military forces arrived to try and quell the situation in a show of force. However, the summit between the Barons, backed by the Empire, and the local peasant leaders led to a surprising conclusion. One of the Regalian military leaders was seen by the locals as their best possible leadership option and so they swore their fealty to him. This lone Count was now technically a landholder in the north, far from his home region, and the Barons were incensed. However, there was little they could do as it seemed that the rebellion was now over and done with. The Regalian Empire’s detachment of troops, no longer on assignment, broke from strict military protocol for what became almost a service holiday and events seemed to calm.
Rejection of Rule
But Drixagh soon became a mess once more. Immediately upon being affirmed in his position, the Count started mass producing weapons and siege equipment locally. Then, he spent large quantities of money on food, especially to feed the more remote villages in his new territory. His crucial mistake, however, was announcing his rule was only temporary, stating that the Barons would be handed back control over their land after the ongoing Second Songaskian War. When news of this got out, an angry mob surrounded the Count and beat him to a pulp, sending him packing with a broken leg. The Skaggers and their allies resumed their revolt and, worse yet, due to the Count’s drive to produce weapons and siege equipment, the Skaggers were emboldened. Nobles in the Wirtem regions of Corontium immediately voted unanimously to raise the Calemberg Standing Banner as more and more Velheim supposedly started moving toward the southern border, supposedly threatening to invade and establish a greater Velheim state extending south. However, this was a product of Wirtem propaganda as it is incredibly unlikely any such invasion could have successfully taken place if it even existed at all.
Soon after this, Emperor Cedromar I reshuffled the army to better fit the needs of the Second Songaskian War. This reshuffle also allowed the Chancellor to seize control of an Imperial Navy fleet as well as an entire army detachment. The fleet was sent north to bombard the few coastal villages of the rebellious northerners while the army was combined with the Imperial Standard Army (which normally defended the City of Regalia) in a military campaign against the rebelling Skaggers in the north. In complete contrast with the previous actions of the Empire, the Chancellor declared total war on the rebelling Drixaghers and committed a systemic purge. Orders were given to trample fields, loot granaries and burn villages. In the lacking of granaries and fields in Drixagh however, the soldiers instead started killing livestock and focusing most of their efforts on destroying settlements. The repression was absolutely ruthless as hundreds were summarily hung from trees or, worst, underwent Justifixion, an old Unionist practice of cutting birch tree logs, strapping criminals onto them, raising their arms above their heads and nailing their wrists and ankles to the pole while they were still alive. The poles were then raised in a line around towns which had been repressed as a lasting reminder of what the State inflicts upon those who would rise up in rebellion. All crude artillery made under the Count’s orders was burned on large pyres. Original orders were to seize it for state property, but local commanders were of the opinion that old-age artillery such as catapults were too crude for the Regalian Army and, as such, they were simply destroyed.
The rebelling Skaggers had no hopes of actually beating the two combined armies, primarily since the Imperial Standard Army was professional soldiers. Many hundreds of that ancient warrior order were slain and their sacred halls of teaching were defiled by disrespecting Regalian soldiers. Fearing that the scope of the campaign could be expanded, Imperial loyal locals sought the aid of their nobles. However, the Velheim nobles suffered from paralysis in the capital, as their numbers were divided since the Chancellor would only end his actions prematurely if the majority of the Houses gave him resources and manpower both to benefit the state and for the Second Songaskian War. Due to this paralysis, no help came from them that could prevent the final humiliation. Arless Johanna Uëxkulla, the Shieldmaiden of Drixagh, a highly notable female Skagger, fell in battle trying to defend Ensomtreby, her hall out in the Drixagh tundra. This local center of Velheim culture, trade, and religion was brutally sacked by Wirtem-cultured Regalian troops, and the rebellion came to a swift end.
In the immediate aftermath of the Burning of the North, hundreds of colonists from the Calem regions moved north, but many swiftly turned back at finding a very unpacified, and unhappy local population of Velheim. The lands of the Burning itself were many miles away, and the Calem caravan barely reached thirty miles from the borders between the regions. As for the wider effects of the Burning, this is a complicated issue. To some Velheim, the event was a travesty, and deeply scarred them due to the treatment of their cultural heritage by the Regalians, as well as the destruction of the regional presence of the Skagger Order. However, for many others, the event was but a minor occurance which only served to reinforce their opinion on rebellion. They might have been unhappy with how the Skaggers were treated, but the old order remained stubborn, prideful, and had long actively antagonized Southerners, of all stripes, ever since the peace treaty that ended the Skagger Wars. Additionally, the Skagger Order itself was not dead, merely its oldest outposts in Aloria, as Nordskag still retained a strong Skagger heritage, and in fact, often claimed the Skaggers of Corontium were weak, and not true Skaggers given that they accepted defeat in a peace treaty rather than fighting to the point of a deal (or in the Nordskagger's case, retreated to find better ground for training and growth).
Despite these opinions, the Burning was still yet another minor event added to a growing list of grievances between regional Velheim and the State. In 306 AC, many Drixagh lands split with the Empire in response to the truth of the Chancellor’s actions becoming known (though they eventually reconciled with the State, and this was also because of the chaos near the end of the Altaleï-Regalian War). The Burning was also stated as a reason for the Drixagh Rebellion. The Burning has become a symbol of Regalian oppression to rebellious Velheim and northern nations of Aloria, Nordskag in particular later citing the event as a reason for their own withdrawal from the Empire in 306 AC in common with Drixagh (though as mentioned earlier, there was little love lost between them and the Skagger lodges of Corontium). Meanwhile for the Wirtem, the Burning is hailed as a great victory, a purging of a dangerous enemy that needed to be dealt with before they could become a threat. This surge of anti-Velheim sentiment continued into the following year when a large wall called Hadrian’s Wall (after a patriarch of House Typhonus) was built as a physical expression of the Calem regions’ rejection of the Velheim people. The wall was later substantially and mysteriously upgraded into an enormous mountain chain via magical means (though passages have seen been blasted through it).
- The Chancellor involved in this affair suffered very little politically when the truth of the Burning came to light, generating a rumor has started alleging everyone involved in the event, from the Regalian Military and the Regalian Bureaucracy to the Regalian Nobility, knew of the Chancellor’s behind-the-scenes meddling yet did nothing to stop him out of dislike for the Velheim.
- While the Skagger lodges in Corontium were destroyed, and many who supported or were trained by them died, not all fell in the rebellion. A number of Skagger survivors emigrated to Nordskag and elsewhere after the Burning of the North, while those who remained are often called The Last Axes, content to carry on the Skagger heritage in private, out of sight of the Regalian Empire.
- There has been talk by the scholars of Regalia of changing the name for this event, as a number of them consider the Burning of the North a sensationalist description which was a product of the times in which it happened, and does not represent the minor scale of this event in the context of the time. However, as this event was followed by the Drixagh Rebellion a few years later, the discussion is ongoing.