Prosperity and the Public Auction
For a long time it was traditional for private citizens who had supplies of mithril, white granite, weirwood and ilium to send them to Anvil to be auctioned to the highest bidder by the civil service. In Summer 382YE, a Highborn protest against the open market approach to selling white granite led to conflict within the Empire, leading to the Synod urging mass boycotts of the public auction.
The Cinderpath Exchange
The incident began when an opportunity was identified for Highguard to create the Cinderpath Exchange. Frustration arising from the repeated failure of Highborn projects to get approval from the Imperial Senate, led to benefactors arguing that Highborn citizens should look to create their own market for surplus white granite. Their plan was for local merchants to get a good price for their goods, while allowing the Highborn Assembly to appoint someone to purchase the white granite to put it to a virtuous use.
To rally support for the initiative and make it more effective, the Synod had the opportunity to endorse mandates in support of the proposal. The major drawback with the scheme, apart from the costs of establishing the exchange, were that it would result in less white granite being available for auction in the public auction at Anvil.
Opposition in the Senate
The Exchange almost immediately ran into problems. A motion to commission the exchange was voted down by the Imperial Senate, but the outcome was judged to have been materially affected by incorrect information provided by Magistrate Abraham on the floor of the Senate. Somewhat red-faced the civil service agreed to bring the motion back to the Senate as an administrative motion - whereupon it was summarily defeated again.
At the same time the civil service were challenged over the constitutional advice offered initially that suggested that the title could be appointed by judgement of the Highborn Assembly. After due consideration the civil service issued an amendment explaining that that the constitutional path for appointment would be by Tally of the Votes - which in Highguard would mean a vote by owners of congregations. While the net outcome is relatively similar, this has very different legal and constitutional implications.
In response to popular support from general populace, the Highborn Senators tried again in 383YE Spring, but the Senate still refused to pass the motion. Instead, it was announced by the Bearer of an Imperial Wayleave, circumventing the need for Senate approval.
Support in the Synod
Although the Senate initially declined to authorize the commission of the Cinderpath Exchange, Bartimaeus led the Highborn Assembly to endorse a mandate urging citizens to support the exchange. With no exchange to support, that might have been the end of the matter, but in Autumn 382YE, at the subsequent summit, Edna of the Chantry led the Prosperity Assembly to pass a statement of principle supporting the construction of the Cinderpath Exchange which passed with a greater majority.
This statement was communicated across the Empire and led to widespread interest in the fate of the Cinderpath Exchange and the role of the public auction and created opportunities for the Synod to become involved in the debate. There were a number of mandates the Synod could have passed, but in the end they chose three.
The Highborn Assembly endorsed a mandate by Raziel of the Shattered Tower calling for Highborn citizens to boycott the public auction. At the same time, the Prosperity Assembly endorsed a similar mandate from Edna of the Chantry calling for all citizens to refuse to send their white granite to Anvil for sale at the public auction. Meanwhile the General Assembly endorsed a mandate by Bartimaeus urging the citizens of every land to look for ways that the bourse resources currently being sent to the Public Auction might be harnessed by their own people.
By Spring 383YE, the supply of bourse resources coming to Anvil for sale in the public auction had halved as a result of the Edna's mandate in the Prosperity Assembly. With resources being stockpiled rather than sold, three nations put forward plans of their own, styled on the Cinderpath Exchange, to develop their own alternatives to the public auction in response to Bartimaeus mandate in the General Assembly urging them to do exactly that.
There were three proposals in all. The first was for the Invisible Cord Brokerage, a ministry supporting the sale of weirwood in Seren. The second was the The Clever Magpie, which facilitate the sale of ilium in Kalpaheim. The final proposal was to restore the Iron Roundtower to allow Varushkan merchants to support the sale of mithril in Karov. All three of these proposals would allow the appointed title holder to purchase the relevant bourse materials - but would mean a direct reduction in such materials coming up for sale at the public auction in Anvil.
Perhaps unsurprisingly these three proposals faced challenges in the Imperial Senate. Wintermarkers made no attempt to commission the Clever Magpie, and the Senate Motion by Miaren to commission the Invisible Cord failed to get a majority. It had to be resubmitted by Miaren in Summer 383YE before the Senate gave approval. The Varushkans opted not to raise a motion in the Senate at all and instead announced the construction of the Iron Roundtower using an Imperial Wayleave.
In Summer 383YE, the Freeborn had the opportunity to refurbish the Dust Parador, creating their own equivalent of the Cinderpath Exchange in Kahraman. In Autumn 383YE, it was the turn of the Marchers, with a chance to construct the Blackfield Market, but again the proposal foundered in the Imperial Senate.
Interest in strengthening the nation, and putting virtue ahead of money, was still high in Autumn 383YE but the civil service calculated that interest would likely fade by the start of the Winter Solstice. Thus there was a final opportunity for the national assemblies of Dawn, the Imperial Orcs, the League, Wintermark and Urizen to encourage their citizens to push for their own version of the Cinderpath Exchange by passing suitable an appropriate statement of principle with a greater majority. Only two nations submitted such a judgement, Dawn and Wintermark, and only Wintermark managed to achieve the greater majority needed. The Dawnish judgement passed, but with insufficient votes to convince citizens it was worth pursuing.