Changing of the guards
The Spring Equinox saw many dramatic events unfold in Dawn. There was a tourney to elect the monarch of Dawn, but for the first time in centuries it was contested by two candidates, with nobles rallying round Imperatrix Lisabetta or Yael, the First Empress Reborn. In the end the only significant opposition to Lisabetta was from House Ossienne and their supporters who opposed both candidates. The contest was decisively won by Empress Lisabetta, the Imperial Throne is once more the Monarch of Dawn.
But the tourney has only begun to reveal the depths of the Dawnish affection for their new Queen. At the same summit an extraordinary Statement of Principle was put to the Dawnish National Assembly by Tamain Sepulchre where it passed with a greater majority. News of the statement has rippled across Dawn, carried by wandering troubadours to every noble house. The extraordinary words have inspired many arguments and much fervour - did Tamain really mean what she appeared to say. Now there is a chance to take stock of what that might entail.
The Dawnish National Assembly recognises the Empress Lisabetta as Queen of Dawn. She is the ultimate authority in this life and her words should be followed above all others.Tamain Sepulchre, Dawn National Assembly, Spring Equinox 381YE, Upheld 158 - 20
Tamain's words - just as the new Queen is crowned have reminded many of Dawn of their glorious history, of what they once had. Inevitably, it caused a few to ask if they might not have such a thing again?
Centuries ago, before Dawn joined the Empire, the Monarch of Dawn was elected much as they are today - by glorious tourney of nobles. But in those times the Monarch was far from a ceremonial position - they commanded the loyalty of their earls and through them they ruled over the land. They were the ultimate authority... their words were followed above all others... That changed when Dawn joined the Empire - but could it be changed back?
On the face of it, it seems absurd. The Imperial legal system does not leave any room for a monarch to actually rule in Dawn. But this is Dawn! - pointing out that the entire thing was completely impossible simply created a challenge. On this occasion the challenge was eagerly taken up by an ambitious young advocate, Melusine of Tanner's Bar in Causse. She has spent weeks criss-crossing Dawn, since the last summit, talking to nobles about her plan... her extraordinary, incredible, glorious idea to make Lisabetta Queen in more than just name...
Melusine's plan rests on one simple idea. While Imperial law does not allow for a monarchy, it does allow for each nation to choose their senators according to their own culture. In Dawn, this "election" has been conducted by a tourney between the noble houses for hundreds of years - but that tradition only built on the existing tradition to elect the Monarch.
Her proposal requires only a subtle change to the existing arrangements. The tourney should be held just as it always has done - but now it will be conducted beneath the eyes of the Queen. The nobles will do battle for her approval - and when the fight is won the Queen will pick the contestant that fought most gloriously. That noble's house will then put forward one of their own to be senator.
A number of people have pointed out that the Empress is likely to be too busy to attend every tourney, but Melusine argues passionately that she shouldn't be expected to. She points out that the same contestants often win the tourney for a territory each year. If nobody is expecting an upset, then the Empress can simply send a representative who can judge the contest in her name. Maybe she will only take an interest if the outcome is in doubt... or if she wishes the outcome to be in doubt...
Melusine has discussed her plan at length with magistrates and civil service. They have confirmed that while this election method would be unorthodox, it is compatible with Imperial Law - provided that it reflected the will of the Dawnish people. The definitive test of the will of a nation is to ask their egregore.
Speaking as the egregore, Lady Griffinsbain has confirmed that many in the nation would welcome a step towards a full restoration of Dawn's monarchy, but such views are far from universal. It is one thing to cheer for the new Queen in a tourney, it is quite another to hand her control of Dawn's political authority. Melusine is passionate, but she can hardly convince all of Dawn by herself. Nor would coming to Anvil and convincing everyone there work either - she needs to influence the entire nation and that is only possible with a mandate. Thus she is travelling to Anvil to seek out Tamain to ask her to submit the following mandate.
To achieve glory that rivals the Monarchs of old, our Queen must rule as they once did. We send X with 100 doses of liao to persuade all that she must become the ultimate authority in Dawn, so that we may all grow more glorious together.Synod Mandate
If this mandate were enacted it would do more than just change Dawn's elections. The Empress already possesses the power to speak to every citizen in the Empire once a season. With the backing of this mandate, those words would become as significant in Dawn as a Statement of Principle passed by the greater majority of their national assembly. They would be as likely as a Statement to create the opportunity in Dawn for a mandate in the following season.
Melusine's proposal already has some powerful backing. The Staff of the Archmage is a powerful magical item that forms part of the regalia of office of the Archmage. A new staff is crafted every year by a secretive weaver's cabal in Weirwater. This cabal, the Five Rings, holds the six schema required to make the staves as part of their most prized possessions. They have always refused all requests to share the schema with the Empire - according to their history the schema were given into their care by King Rodric the last independent King of Dawn. They have held them in trust ever since - but they have told Melusine that if Empress Lisabetta becomes Queen of Dawn in truth as well as just in title - then they will hand them over to the Queen for her to use in service of the nation and the Empire. What she chose to do with the schema could potentially mean the Archmages losing access to one of the symbols of their office - albeit so that any magician could wield one of these powerful ritual staffs.
The residents of Castle Spiral have also indicated that if the Queen's words really were the ultimate authority in Dawn, then they would kneel and acknowledge her as their true liege. If the Queen so commanded, then control of the castle's resources would then be passed to the Castellan of Spiral Castle, who could either continue to use the facilities of the Castle to help Imperial armies resupply - or dispose of the supplies of weirwood directly if they preferred.
Melusine is not the only Dawnish citizen to respond to these dramatic events by considering some of the older traditions of Dawn. Glory lies at the heart of Dawn, it infects the lives of both noble and yeoman. It has been in the spirit of the nation since before the Empire was founded. But although glory still retains its central importance across Dawn, spiritually it has been somewhat supplanted by the Way of Virtue. Now there is a small but growing group who seek to restore glory to its central role. Like Melusine, they have indicated that they are seeking to gain support so that they can raise a mandate to pursue their goals.
The National Assembly believes that the pursuit of Glory should come before the pursuit of Virtue. We send X with 25 doses of liao to encourage the citizens of Dawn to pursue glory above all other concerns.Synod Mandate
Every good Dawnish man or woman is already driven to pursue glory, but this exhortation to place it above the pursuit of virtue is new. It is potentially heretical - any who pursue this path risk condemnation at the hands of the Imperial Synod - and the person who raised the judgement might then face prosecution for abetting the act.
But this level of risk is what makes the exhortation challenging and inspiring. If the mandate were enacted, Dawnish folk would be inclined to take any time they have previously spent considering the virtues and devote it instead to the pursuit of glory. This would have two immediate effects - all Dawnish military units would receive a small boost, equal to an extra rank, as people rush to support them. But all Dawnish congregations would suffer an equivalent penalty, as people abandon the Way of Virtue to pursue glory.
Earl du Chailly, one of the people at the heart of this movement, is expected to arrive in Anvil on Friday evening of the Spring Equinox, to discuss the matter with the National Assembly of Dawn.
This opportunities in their current form are available only during the Summer Solstice 381YE.