|Event Name||Purple Bleeding|
|Dates and Times||214 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, there should have been a time to pause and ensure new territories and conquests, both through diplomacy and warfare, were securely added to the Empire. However, the leaders who emerged in the early 200s AC were men of conflict, and they sought to push the Empire through warfare alone. While this succeeded, the constant war footing strained the Empire’s finances, and when they neared breaking, Emperor Handorien II made the foolish mistake of declaring all the Empire’s debts null and void under the auspices of the Everwatcher. The outrage from this act was intense, but the Regalian Military brutally crushed the riots and rebellions, extinguishing old house lineages across the Empire while also killing thousands. Today, the Purple Bleeding is remembered as a foreshadowing of the Regalian Pessimism and as one of the darkest moments of Regalian history for the chaos it unleashed at the whims of just a few men and poor decisions.
Since the formation of the Regalian Empire after the Five Family Rebellion, growth and conquest were natural patterns in the lives of the Empire’s citizens. As smaller Ailor states and tribes in the Regalian Archipelago (also called Corontium) were absorbed into the Empire’s numbers, so too were their economies and their people, creating more wealth and resources to support future wars. The most notable of these conquests was under the tenure of Arch Chancellor Nicholas Kade, whose incorporation of lands both near and far allowed the economic power of the Regalian Empire to expand in service to its citizens. Among these conquests was Ithania, with its riches and banking systems, which soon helped finance the mining efforts that became the Ithanian Gem Boom in the Archipelago. These great economic boons directly fueled the growth of the Regalian Military, able to train more officers, sustain more levies in the constant march of conquest the Empire was undergoing to unite all of Corontium, and most crucially, supply the Regalian Navy with new warships for the Regalian conquest of the waves. It was a time of providence. But, when Nicolas Kade died, followed by Handorien I, those who stepped into positions of leadership had only one thing on their minds: War.
The Breaking of a Cycle
Emperor Allestrain I was an unconventional leader. One of the rare Emperors to lead from the frontline, his godly blessings in life rendered him immune to damage from normal weapons, and so he took to combat with zeal. He worked alongside his wife, Empress Eolaria Cadar, to shift the Empire to a war footing, but alongside him was also his longtime lover Alexander the Giant. Following the death of Nicholas Kade, the title of Arch Chancellor was soon passed to the twin brothers Alexander and Cedmir Kade. However, they could not have been more different from each other. Where Alexander was a mountain of a man, a born warrior, Cedmir was timid, a competent bureaucrat but lacking sophisticated political acumen. For his whole life, he and his brother had been a pair, the larger Kade the physical and political protector to his cherished brother, while Cedmir learned the affairs of state, and how to manage what their grandfather Nicholas was building. When Allestrain ascended to the throne however, matters of diplomacy fell away, as Alexander, Allestrain, Eolaria, and Alexander’s wife, Leona, all men and women of combat, turned to the art of war to expand the Empire.
The blistering pace for starting wars the group set would not be met by the Regalian Empire until decades later when the Kades themselves rose to the Imperial Throne. They would march on many smaller Ailor nations, arriving in force, and insisting on local rulers allowing Unionist religious officials to establish themselves in the area, as well as openly preach their faith. While most accepted these deals, a number of regions following pagan practices (largely Fornoss) refused, and for this, they faced the Empire’s wrath. Thousands of soldiers were disgorged from the fleets of the Imperial Navy, and the Imperials alongside their Kade companions would lead a campaign of brutal effectiveness against their foe. In the end, they would crush a region’s ability to resist the Empire, but then bestow them with the Navigation Acts for security and protection at the hands of the Regalians in the peace treaty. A policy of Allestrain working in concert with Cedmir, the Navigation Acts would be spread across Aloria, through Southwynd, into Westwynd, and at last, seek purchase in Northbelt. But there, the Empire found a worthy rival. The remnants of the Skagger Horde, long fled from Corontium, had come and sought refuge across the northern lands of Aloria. The greatest of the nations their exodus founded was the Kingdom of Nordskag, and it rejected the Regalian “offers” of Unionist priests. The First Nordskagger War began, but within just a few months, a horrible result came to pass. Fighting at the front line, Allestrain I was struck down by an arrow, a baffling outcome for a man invincible to damage by the divinity entrusted in him by the Everwatcher. The Regalian war effort paused as shock rippled across the Empire.
The Rage of the Giant
Fighting close at hand to Allestrain I was Alexander the Giant. Sources written by Regalian levies decades later claim they, for the first time they could recall, saw Alexander weep. But his crying soon turned to cries of madness and rage. Despite the withdrawal of the Nordskagger army, he hunted them across the snow-covered land, screaming for answers and to learn who had loosed the shot. But, he got none, and some degree of reason eventually awoke in him, seeing his return to the Regalian front line. The First Nordskagger War came to a bitter end, and the Empire retreated. Back in Regalia, Cedmir was present for the crowning of the new Emperor, Handorien II, Allestrain’s nephew. When Alexander returned home, he was filled with a dark rage. Where before he had been full of life and gusto, though still stern and forceful when needed, he now brooded and stalked the halls, restless. He is rumored to have killed at least three sparring partners in sudden bursts of rage, though others insist he simply destroyed three dozen sparring dummies. Regardless, Handorien II and Cedmir Kade soon came to realize a problem with the policies of Allestrain, and now, his still-rabid militarist supporters, including Alexander.
The four years of conflict Allestrain had unleashed had been a significant drain on the Empire’s finances. The debt burden for the State and the Imperial household had risen significantly with each passing campaign as the grand nation had to pump funds into the devastated regions, as well as keep paying for their security as part of the Navigation Acts. For Alexander, the answer was simple: Void the debts, and resume the conflicts, especially against Velheim nations. Handorien II dithered for a time, but unable to stop Alexander’s war lust, allowed him to resume conflict or at least, “warship diplomacy” with a handful of different states elsewhere in Aloria. This action was also supported by the Eronidas legions, who ravaged all lands that stood against them, so great was their rage at the death of the Eronidas Emperor. However, with each passing year, Alexander’s patience seemed to wear thinner and thinner. It is rumored that he drew razor-close to threatening Handorien II directly, so convinced was he that voiding the debts and resuming the warfare was the correct course of action. In the end, Handorien II signed the edict, voiding all debts of the Regalian State and Imperial Household under the power of the Everwatcher. As the Everwatcher’s principal actor in Aloria, the Emperor could not allow his great nation to slip into chaos and prevent the expansion of the Unionist faith. Thus, he had taken this action to protect the Empire.
The Purple Bleeding
It was as if someone had set off an explosive in a crowded market. The outrage that poured out from the financial quarter of the Empire was blistering, as several banks promptly collapsed, while many dozens of notable nobles rapidly declared rebellion against both the State and the Emperor, believing the entire event to be a corrupt plot driven by overreaching militarist elements. The outrage was so fervent that, for several days, the Emperor and other members of the government barricaded themselves in estates and facilities across the Crown Isle to avoid the riots running through even the capital city. But then, Alexander the Giant stepped into the spotlight, accompanied by his political allies in the Regalian Military. In a vast operation, thousands of levies from House Kade and other loyal military families were raised or recalled from across the Empire, and brought down onto the very heart of the nation. Thousands of rioters and rebels were put to the sword, and those dozens of noble families who had revolted against the Emperor found themselves executed entirely, to a scant few members, or exiled from the borders of the Empire. The reprisal for the outrage was brutal, and the formerly lauded Alexander the Giant was now deemed a butcher. However, he had succeeded in quelling the revolts and revolutions, and the Purple Bleeding came to a swift end.
In the immediate aftermath of the Bleeding, Alexander the Giant left the Empire with the Regalian Military and resumed the same war-time posture as he had in Allestrain’s time. However, the Empire was not nearly as successful this second time around. Whether it was the death of Allestrain, or Alexander’s growing rage seeing him ignore tactics and strategy in favor of blind charges, the conquests were minimal. A war in Eastwynd failed, followed by a conflict in Ellador which gained the Empire some alliances, followed by a second war with Nordskag. This second conflict saw the death of Alexander the Giant, hunted and killed by Nordskagger soldiers after he apparently went on a one-man mission to recover Sangria, Allestrain’s unique sword. He succeeded but was tracked down before he could return to Regalian lines, the blade once again removed and kept by the region’s Velheim. Unlike Allestrain, whose body was lost in the cold lands of Nordskag, Alexander’s corpse was recovered and returned to the Empire. Cedmir, already in a precarious position at home and now fearful for his very life at the death of his protector, resigned the Chancellorship in favor of his son: Morgann Kade.
The Purple Bleeding had many immediate and dramatic effects on the Regalian Empire. The first was the significant loss in the Empire’s learned, urban population, financiers, as well as many competent political nobles who knew the Edict of Voidance was a terrible act. While many of these were killed as they rebelled or rioted, unable to conceive of the brutal response from the Empire’s leaders, others simply lost their power or prestige due to being unable to collect on the debts the Empire and Imperials owed them. In the place of at least the nobles who had been removed were new, militaristic families, soon called the Brass Bloods, who were rewarded with the former lands and titles of those they helped Alexander the Giant crush. One of the most notable of these Brass Blood nobles was the House von Treppewtiz. They are well-known today, though their role in the Bleeding is far less so. In addition to these changes, Morgan Kade was soon able to push Emperor Handorien II to abdicate the throne over the shame of signing the Edict of Voidance. In his place was crowned his sickly son, Justinian I, whom Morgann Kade then bullied into signing over his religious authority, vesting the Kade Arch Chancellor with full political and religious power.
The Purple Bleeding also sowed the first seeds of pessimism within the Regalian Empire. While the most outspoken critics of the Regalian State were executed during the crackdowns, the silent majority of the Empire watched on as the Imperials abused their power, the Kades enforced them, and thousands died, while the Empire strained. They came to fear for the future, and believe the Empire was doomed, especially as many of them came to see the corruption of Morgann Kade. While the average citizen was won over by Morgann’s great charisma, and the Empire’s prosperity slowly returning, many nobles saw the horror and the terror he enacted, and began to see the Empire itself was unsavable, not without great change. Thus, when the Regalian Pessimism came, some of those who survived the Bleeding and their descendants made up the backbone of the Barons Coalition during the Drachenwald Crisis, justifying their position with the tyranny of the past, and desiring a more egalitarian system of distributing power to protect the people. In the end, these grand ideas also failed, and the Purple Bleeding remains a black mark on Regalian history.
- As Emperor Allestrain I and Alexander the Giant were secretly lovers, some sympathetic scholars 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 Alexander’s quest for revenge drove him to ensure the Empire would carry on its war footing against all foes.
- The near-total disappearance of Empress Eolaria Cadar and Leona Kade following the death of Emperor Allestrain I has prompted much modern speculation. While both of them did die by the time Morgann Kade rose to power, how and where they died remain great mysteries. As they were lovers, most believe they died together.
- Sangria, Allestrain’s powerful sword, was later returned to Corontium by a Unionist shortly after the peace that finally brought Nordskag into the Regalian sphere. Initially secured in Vultaro & Montania, it would go on a pilgrimage back to the Crown Isle, reaching the capital in 288 AC.