|Event Name||Drachenwald Crisis|
|Dates and Times||June 24, 271 - January 2, 272 AC|
|Location||Drachenwald Forest, Dragenthal|
|People Involved||van Sherburne family, Baron's Army, Regalian Empire|
The Drachenwald Crisis is remembered today in Regalia as the culmination point of the Regalian Pessimism and as the darkest chapter in the Empire’s history. Following the decadence of the van Sherburne family and their weak leadership of Drachenwald (a term applied to the majority of the territories touched by the Drachenwald Forest in Dragenthal), local barons and counts formed a Baron’s Army that rebelled against the state. The culmination of the conflict was the Battle of Lausitze, where then Chancellor Norn Kade fell against the enemy, and many Noble House heads were captured. The Regalian Empire was forced to admit defeat and accepted the creation of the Regalian Senate, which replaced the position of Chancellor thus diminishing (if only temporarily) the power of House Kade.
The van Sherburne family was one of the Five Principal Families who had helped form the Regalian Empire back in the Five Family Rebellion. Industrious, hard-working and highly in favor of urbanization, they helped lead many production efforts of the Regalian Empire in the Regalian Archipelago and across the Empire. However, with time the family retreated from these activities to live among their wealth. With the rise of Morgann Kade as Chancellor, these practices dramatically ramped up and several van Sherburne were often in the confidence of Morgann. They would do anything to be his favorite noblemen, plunging further into decadent practices to please him. After his death in 269 AC, they attempted to carry on his legacy as his son seemed ill-suited to the hedonism and pleasure-seeking that defined said legacy. Throughout this entire time, however, the people of the Drachenwald Forest had been growing restless. They had endured two generations of “Death Taxing,” an idea of the van Sherburnes where everything possible was done to tax the common folk, even walking in public streets. Poverty rates dramatically increased and bread riots were commonplace. The last straw came after 270 AC when a cold summer resulted in crop failure, causing several major cities to revolt and lynch bailiffs sent to collect taxes for the van Sherburnes. The family then held the barons of these cities but also many towns accountable, and as punishment, they leveled a “failure tax” on them, to weed out those who were “incapable” of running their fiefs.
This action sealed the van Sherburne's fates as within a year, on June 24th 271 AC, the Baron’s Rebellion broke out when several barons came together and united against the “failure tax” of the van Sherburnes, refusing to pay it. At the time, militia and military power in the Empire were limited due to the Regalian Pessimism, but the barons still proved resourceful as they sided with the commoners, gaining small mob armies. These armies fanned outward and attacked richer Drachenwald lands, van Sherburne estates, and several well-known Imperial hunting grounds. The van Sherburnes quickly raised their own mercenary army to fight against the Barons, paying them well for their loyalty. The Barons worried about this force as they knew they could not fight such a well paid and supplied army for long. When the two forces met in a rare field, the Barons agreed to an amnesty agreement sent to them as a final act before actual conflict on the battlefield. In the amnesty, they were granted pardon to travel to Norrenburg Castle to reinstate their oath of fealty and work together in co-operation. This agreement was, unfortunately, a ruse.
Bloodbaths of Inner Drachenwald
By this point, some 70% of the region’s Barons were part of the original union while another, much smaller group was sympathetic to their plight. All of these groups traveled to the castle to accept the amnesty which was said to take place at the end of several days of lavish feasting. However, on the third day, December 14th, 271 AC, the van Sherburnes had all barons gathered in the main hall and then sent forth the following proclamation:
- While we honor our end of the bargain with regards to amnesty, and cleanse you of your foul treason against our most gracious rule, the state had decided to hereby end your lives and those of your followers. Your crimes against the Lordship have been forgiven, however in damaging Union temples and killing priests, you have committed heresy. The punishment for heresy is death, beheading, quartering, drowning, guards take them away!”
Under the sounds of screaming and wailing women, dozens of barons were executed, limbs were severed, and heads were taken off in the courtyard of the Sherburne family's residence. The execution of the barons was followed with a true cleansing directed at the heart of the formerly rebellious cities as the van Sherburne army roved the countryside from one rebelling town after the other, executing anyone they could find. In total 3,575 people are recorded to have died, though this figure is likely far too low as most killings were not recorded at all. As a direct result of the Bloodbaths, the counts then also revolted, even those who had formerly been aligned with House van Sherburne. The entire region was now in more chaos then it had been under the original rebellion.
The Baron's War
The Baron's Army was formed shortly afterward by disgruntled counts and those barons who survived the bloodbaths. However, this army was too large for the van Sherburne host to defeat alone with their mercenary army paid for by almost empty coffers. To make up for this, the van Sherburnes petitioned the state for aid, and aid was given in the form of a coalition army. Counts and Dukes from Anglian regions, Brissiaud and the Calem regions rode forth under the leadership of the Sherburne patriarch and Norn Kade, the Regalian Chancellor. The first series of battles proved to be successful; the Imperial Army crushed many revolting detachments and recaptured many of the lost cities. However, their luck turned on them in spectacular fashion on January 2nd, 272 AC. The Sherburne's disastrous spending caught up with them as the final confrontation, the Battle of Lausitze, began. While information is scarce on why, the mercenary army that the van Sherburnes had hired turned against the Imperial Army, prompting chaos in the rear that spread forward into a massive route that destroyed the entire Imperial force. In the battle, Norn Kade was killed while half of his retinue (the noble heads of other families) were captured alive. With the noblemen incarcerated, the barons made a list of many demands to the State, but none were accepted. Unfortunately in response, with each passing day, a noble house member was executed. Finally, the state agreed to the demands of the barons and the Crisis came to an end within two weeks.
There was little “good” to come from the Crisis in the short or even long-term. Over half of the van Sherburne family was dead and what little remained scattered across the Empire in fear, leaving only Houses Kade and Ivrae from the original Five Principal Families. The barons’ demands meanwhile, were the creation of the Regalian Senate, a body of 350 senators (mainly Counts, Dukes and other landed gentry) who could pass or prohibit new laws. For the next 19 years, the Senate proved one of the worst government systems in Aloria, an attempt at democracy filled with corruption and scandal. The event also miffed the early career of Moriarty Kade, a competent administrator who found that within days of his official appointment, he now held almost no power. The Senate’s creation eliminated the Chancellory and so now, his position and title were almost ceremonial. The event also devastated Dragenthal as cities were depopulated, thousands were dead, and the forest around those who remained was often damaged or burned. It also led to animosity that has remained until today, as despite time removing many of the baronial families who caused the Crisis, Dragenthal nobility earned a dishonorable reputation from those outside of the region. Even the Dragenthal nobility itself has clashed, divided between groups who were involved, were not involved, and who rose from the destruction as newly entitled nobility. While the region has been a hotbed of activity for years, the stern hand of Cedromar I has seemingly halted any flare-ups.
- During the Crisis, many Drachenwald Nuttegg trees were destroyed in the fighting or as deliberate acts of sabotage. This is due to their association with the upper class and decadence. They have yet to recover.
- Though many people assume all the van Shurburnes died in the Crisis, the half of the family that lived has instead chosen to reject their titles and role in society. The last vestiges of the house were publicly seen in 302 AC.
- During the Crisis, a detachment of the Baron’s Army sought to directly attack Brissiaud as punishment for joining the war on the Empire’s side. Instead, the presence of the suicidal Hinterlandic Raven resulted in the Battle of the Great Ravens, and the detachment was devastated.