|Event Name||Purple Bleeding|
|Dates and Times||216 AC|
The Purple Bleeding was the first notable growing pain of the Regalian Empire and the first true downturn of its economy. After an unprecedented two hundred years of growth and prosperity through several conquests under strong leadership, the costs of these imperial conquests began to show themselves. Following the end of the disastrous First Nordskagger War, the Empire’s debt holders began to call for loan repayments now that the fighting was done. But the Empire couldn’t repay what was due without risks of bankruptcy and risking empirical dissolution, so Arch-Chancellor Cedmir Kade and Emperor Handorien I declared all the Empire’s debts null and void, and instead engaged in a military suppression of the ensuing riots. Today, the Purple Bleeding is remembered as a foreshadowing of the Regalian Pessimism that teaches the Empire a valuable lesson in funding their many wars in the future.
Since the formation of the Regalian Empire after the Five Family Rebellion, growth and conquest had been a point of life for many citizens. As smaller Ailor states in the Regalian Archipelago were absorbed into the Empire’s numbers, so too did their economies and citizens, creating more wealth to fund future wars. The most notable of these conquests was under the tenure of Arch-Chancellor Vlaas, whose incorporation of the Ithanian Sovereignty not only expanded the economic power of the Regalians through new territories and citizens, but also led to the Ithanian Gem Boom and the newfound sources of wealth that came with the mining of precious gemstones.
These economic boons directly led to the growth of the Regalian Military, which was able to train even more officers at their academies, construct even greater warships, and provide logistical supplies to the armies in the field further away than ever before. This military growth through economic success came to a peak during the reign of Emperor Allestrain I, who engaged in a campaign of endless conquest against unaffiliated Ailor states during his reign and forced many to sign the Navigation Acts. Through these actions, wealth from newly subjugated client states continued to flow to the Crown Isle, which proceeded to re-invest its gains back into the military, creating a cycle of conquest, resource collection, and reinvestment.
The Breaking of a Cycle
With the Regalian Empire having conquered neighboring states to its west, south, and east, the focussoon directed to the north. Following the defeat of the Hedrylli Kingdom, Emperor Allestrain turned his attention towards The Skags. These northern nations were founded by the Skagger Horde, who vacated the Regalian Archipelago following their defeat in the Skagger Wars. In truth, it was only a matter of time before the Regalians turned their attention towards them.
In what would become the First Nordskagger War, Emperor Allestrain led the Regalian Military into battle against the Skaggers and their Velheim allies in Cain. Victory was presumed to be quick and inevitable. This opponent, however, was stronger and hardier than the backwater states the Empire had previously fought–which shattered all assumptions of an early victory.. This ultimately led to the catastrophic defeat of the Regalian Army at Hessa, which saw the Emperor killed in battle as the remnants of his army retreated to the coast.
The Rage of the Giant
One of the first individuals who heard the news of Allestrain’s death was Arch-Chancellor Alexander the Giant who had been fighting another battle against the Skaggers nearby. Known to have had an extremely close bond with the Emperor, the Arch-Chancellor resorted to avenge his fallen friend and ordered his brother and Co-Chancellor Cedmir to divert more funds from the Empire’s coffers into the military. Cedmir was not willing to disagree with his brother and infuriate him, so he conceded and directed more funds to the military.
Despite greater funding dedicated to the Nordskagger campaign, they did not lead to greater successes on the front lines. For the next several years, Alexander fought against the various Velheim states in the region, with many conflicts resulting in stalemates with only a few uninhabited passes conquered, only to be taken back in the next battle. This all culminated in a final decisive battle which once again saw the defeat of the Regalian Military, and the death of Alexander the Giant.
The Purple Bleeding
When news of the Arch-Chancellor’s death reached the capital, Emperor Handorien II ordered an immediate withdrawal of the Regalian Military from the frontlines, declaring the First Nordskagger War concluded. Many parties began to ask Arch-Chancellor Cedmir about repaying the debts brought on during the second stage of the campaign, along with other debts which were coming up on their payment deadlines from past conquests of Allestrain. While in the past the Empire was able to extract resources from conquered nations to pay off its debts, the regions that did sign the Navigation Acts during the Nordskagger War were not as developed as more prosperous regions. This meant that even if the Regalian Empire was able to pay off some of its debt holders, it could not do this with all of them without risking bankruptcy.
This reality forced Cedmir into a difficult situation and one which would define his entire Chancellorship. After an audience with Emperor Handorien II, the Chancellor made a public statement related to the looming debt crisis. In what became the most controversial decision in Regalian history, the Arch-Chancellor declared all debts held by the Regalian State to be null and void, professing that those who remained loyal to the Emperor Vessel would be rewarded for this sacrifice. Upon hearing the declaration, many debt holders declared open revolts against the Regalian State for breaking its contractual obligations and began mustering troops for rebellion. Left with no other option, the Emperor ordered the Regalian Military to put down the civil unrest, offering the estates of those in rebellion as a reward for this service, while also permitting the looting of businesses in defiance to the Crown.
Thus began a military crackdown across the Regalian Archipelago. Rebel armies were immediately put down by up-and-coming generals, who declared martial law as they took over the estates of the debt holders. During this time, the Regalian economy came to a standstill. Merchants either closed down their shops out of fear of looting by rioters, or were executed for being part of the rebel forces. Confidence in the Regal also plummeted, which saw the rise of black markets and banditry in areas which were hit the worst, most notable in Dragenthal, which was one of the most economically-savvy realms of the Empire.
As time passed, the suppression of the riots began to dwindle, which saw public attention turn towards the head of government and the Imperial Seat. Arch-Chancellor Cedmir was seen as the source of the Purple Bleeding–both for preventing the crisis to begin with–and also for nullifying the debts of the Empire which led to the revolts. Meanwhile, the foundation of Unionism was shaken to its core, as people were not sure what to make of the Emperor’s decision to back the Chancellor’s debt cancellation, itself an illegal action taken by the State. With both men knowing that their legacies would forever be stained by the Purple Bleeding, they decided to let a new generation of leadership handle the aftermath of the crisis, which would be concluded by Cedmir’s son and successor, Arch-Chancellor Morgan.
The Purple Bleeding has many direct effects on the Regalian Empire in all areas of society. At the Imperial Palace, Emperor Handorien II abdicated the throne to his son Justinian I, who would be known as the worst Emperor in history for being too weak and sickly to check the government. The Chancellery would pass to Morgan Kade, who despite turning the Empire’s economy back to a period of growth would be seen as a tyrant and architect of the Seasonal Emperors period.
For the Military, the Purple Bleeding was the start of a new generation of military leadership. While Mellisandre Cadar was still Grand Marshal during this time, she would not live to see the end of it, killed in battle shortly after the crackdowns began. This coincided with the extinctions of multiple other noble houses who had risen up against the Regalian State, only to have their estates taken over by military generals. These military commanders would be known as the Brass Blood Nobility, or those houses which grew in prominence from their military service rather than any ancestral claims. One of the most notable of these Brass Blood nobles was the House von Treppewtiz, who took over the position of Grand Marshal following the extinction of the Cadar mainline.
The Purple Bleeding also sewed the first seeds of pessimism within the Regalian Empire. While the most outspoken critics of the Regalian State were executed during the crackdowns, others chose to support the government in order to buy time for their own revolts. Many of these groups would form the backbone of the Barons Coalition during the Drachenwald Crisis, using the future tyranny of the Morgannt and the Purple Bleeding as a rallying cry that an organized rebellion was the only way to safeguard the people from the government.
- As Emended Unionists believe that Emperor Allestrain I and Alexander the Giant were secretly lovers, they see the Purple Bleeding as an unfortunate result of one doing anything possible to ensure the death of their lover was not in vain, as it ultimately was Alexander’s siphoning of funds to the frontlines that led to the quick economic downturn.
- Some Emendeds also believe that Arch-Chancellor Cedmir should be celebrated rather than criticized, as his decision to cancel the Empire’s debts is seen as the least worst decision he could’ve made at the time. While they do not deny that it led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, they argue that accepting bankruptcy could’ve led to the breaking up of the Regalian Empire at its weakest point.