Reign: 374 YE - 376 YE
Called: The Young Empress
Early Life and Election
In 349 YE the Steinr Britta Gilderling was born in Skarsind, the north-eastern Wintermark. Her territory beset by problems with the Thule barbarians. She grew up to be a competent warrior and an inspiring battlefield commander.
In 369 YE she was appointed to the Imperial Military Council as one of the Wintermark generals. Her appointment came at the insistence of the senator for Kallavesa, and the Kallavesi mystics were among her earliest supporters when her Imperial ambitions became clear.
Britta served with distinction as a general. While she was a capable fighter, on the battlefield, she served as a banner-bearer fighting with standard in one hand, sword in the other and her mighty horn Warcaller at her belt. Always at the heart of the action she was seriously injured numerous times, especially during the retreat from Skarsind. She fought desperately to help as many of her people survive the Thule incursion as possible, and was instrumental in defending the smiths of Gulhule as they fled the oncoming barbarian tide.
Those who fought alongside her were often smitten by her, although she never married. The scops began to tell stories of the way she burnt with a spiritual fire that inspired and strengthened everyone around her, and after her coronation these stories became commonplace among troubadours and bards. Even during her early career she was often pointed to as the epitome of a Steinr hero, and an example of what every virtuous warrior should aspire to be.
Serving under the incompetent leadership of Emperor Walter, she saw first-hand the damage that was caused by someone unsuitable occupying the Throne.
In 371 YE she personally helped coordinate a brilliant campaign on the western borders of the Empire, pushing the Jotun barbarians out of Sermersuaq and Kallavesa at the head of joint Wintermark and Marcher armies. Without her excellent leadership and inspirational presence is it widely believed that both territories would have been lost to the orcs. She left her army to defend the western borders of Wintermark. but took her personal forces across the Empire to the east.
Britta's personal troops, and those of her close allies, joined the engagement on the eastern front against the Druj. Her presence was instrumental in helping the Dawnish armies drive the Druj out of Semmerholm, and in reinforcing the garrisons at Holberg after they came under concerted attack from barbarian forces.
Wherever she went she spread the idea that enough was enough; that it was time for the Empire to take a stand, to throw back the barbarians, to stop thinking defensively, each in their own corner. Time to begin thinking like an Empire again, take back what was lost and then destroy the barbarians and expand the Empire.
With growing grass-roots support, Britta openly challenged the corruption of the Senate and Synod. Her impassioned speeches shamed many senators and priests, and she declared herself as candidate for the Throne. While some senators were inspired by her, the more self-serving senators quickly saw which way the wind was blowing and concealed their dislike of the new Empress, voting in her favour to try and secure their political careers. She was elected by a significant majority
She had seen the mistakes of the previous three incumbents, and vowed openly not to repeat them. She had the courage to speak her mind, but she tempered this with the wisdom to select competent advisors, and give those advisors the freedom to act on behalf of the Empire.
She surrounded herself with competent generals, and began to formulate and prosecute a campaign to recover lost territories and drive the barbarians back. She demanded that the Synod turn its eye on the Empire and weed out the virtueless parasites who had grown fat feeding on its life-blood. She called on the Conclave to resolve its internal squabbling and find magical ways to support the Empire and its people.
A popular and charismatic figure, she united the people of the Empire behind her and dealt ruthlessly with her enemies using all the tools available to a popular Empress.
People began to call her the Young Empress, and hailed her as the reincarnation of the First Empress, come to protect the Empire in its time of need.
She found particular favour with the Imperial Orcs; whereas previously the throne had tended to keep them at arms' length, she brought them into the inner circle of her advisors. She promised them her support in gaining lands for themselves if her campaign of expansion was successful.
Death and Legacy
Britta was killed during a disastrous battle at the Autumn Equinox 376YE. She and the majority of the heroes of the Empire risked using a dangerously anomalous conjunction on the Sentinel Gate to attempt a decapitation attack against Thule forces in Skarsind. It went disastrously wrong. The Empress and most of her supporters - including the majority of the generals, senators, archmages and cardinals - were killed by the barbarians. A state of emergency was declared.
News of her death came as a particularly bitter blow to many Imperial Orcs. One of their strongest supporters been snatched away before she could fulfil her promise to help them take land.
Many feared that the Empire may return to the dark years of divided and weak leadership. Her body was recovered by remaining heroes during the Winter Solstice 376YE, and interred in the swamps of Kallavesa while her regalia was placed in a shrine in the Necropolis.
In Autumn 379YE, the regalia were removed from the shrine and sent to Wintermark, where they were interned in the marshes alongside her body.
Britta in Play
The young Empress is definitely dead, and part of the story of the first Empire event will deal with what her death means for the Empire as a whole. Some elements of that death are intentionally obscured with that in mind. For the most part, any character can have had interactions with Britta, simply because she has been the most recent holder of the Throne.
Almost anyone who has attended a meeting at Anvil over the last five years or so will have had a chance to meet and work with her.
Anyone may have fought in one of her campaigns, both before and after she was Empress.
You can't have been her closest advisors or her bodyguard or her lover because they are dead. All of her key supporters are dead.
When Britta launched her attack she took with her the heroes of the Empire - the majority of the Senators, Generals and titled characters in the Synod and the Conclave went with her. Anyone who held a position but stayed behind is likely to be considered to have been a coward or a splitter, especially by NPCs.
- You can find further notes about the anomalous conjunction that lead to the death of Empress Britta and her companions here.