Roots of the Freedom Heresy
In 324YE Crescencia i Marusa i Riqueza a Freeborn priest of the briar lineage began to preach the heresy of freedom. Taking advantage of the closing months of the orc rebellion, she acquired several followers despite the overt opposition of the Synod. Her particular take on the false virtue of freedom was that individuals should be free to do whatever they wanted without regard to the wishes of others.
The heresy attracted a large number of followers, most of whom were of the briar lineage. After several months the heretics began to openly call for the briar people to live apart from the rest of the Empire in their own state or nation.
In 325 YE, Crescencia and her followers including a Dawnish general named Lord Geoffrey of House Casillon, seized control of several castles on either side of the eastern border between Semmerholm and The Barrens. They intended to use the castles to establish a briar free-state. Their coup was bloody, resulting in the deaths of many soldiers who refused to support the heretical cause.
Reprisals were swift and bloody. An Imperial force lead by Lady Marthe de Cervise attacked the briars and drove them out of the castles. They retreated into the Barrens, establishing a tiny kingdom there called Montane and calling for briars, secessionists and "lovers of freedom" from across the Empire to join them.
While the Synod and the Dawnish and Highborn senators pushed for a major military campaign against the briars, other voices were less convinced. The Navarr in particular argued successfully for restraint claiming that the problem would correct itself given time. For two years there was a flood of disaffected individuals, mostly briars, travelling to Montane, while the Senate and the Synod were at an impasse on gaining a resolution on how to resolve the problem.
The fall of Montane
In Winter 328 YE, the orc barbarians assaulted Montane. It soon became clear that the briars were unable to withstand the orc armies, and several entreaties were sent to the Empire pleading for assistance. All were refused and within two years the occupants of Montane who were not killed were carried away as slaves. Crescencia and several of her closest followers where caught while fleeing to Dawn. Their trial and execution on charges of heresy and blasphemy in 329, signalled the end of the Freedom Heresy.
In the aftermath, teams of exorcists from the Synod were dispatched into Montane to cleanse the area of auras summoned by the blasphemous cult. This included banishing auras from buildings and tainted relics, as well as liberating citizens who had been possessed. The findings reported by the exorcists were that the situation in Montane had deteriorated even before the orcs attacked. Under the influence of so-called freedom, liberty had swiftly turned to licence, and discipline and vigilance had waned. One Troubadour claimed that, given another year, the rebels would have been no better than barbarians themselves.