On the death of Aquaen Empress Maria I

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 14, the final chapter (not including the epilogue) of Imperatrix. The setting is 20-25 December 1569 in Aquaenum, the Imperial Capital:


Until she actually died, the Empress was still the head of state and Supreme Executive, and under constitutional law, whenever the emperor was incapacitated and did not have a consort, his/her Councilor General was named acting, interim leader, titled as “Councilor Regent.” From December 21 until February 15, the time between the Empress’ stroke and Cycreamaeum’s coronation, her dear friend and advisor Lady Maria Aemilia led the Empire in the crucial transition period from old, beloved Empress to young, new Emperor.

Lady Maria was responsible for the peaceful transition of power and the acceptance by the Aquaen citizenry of the Roan heir as their new Emperor; she established that Cycreamaeum would take the official surname Dorephus (“Loyal”), to distinguish his new imperial line from his father the ailing Roan Emperor Cycreamaeum, and that he be renamed Emperor Aquaeas Cycreamaeum Dorephus I of Aquaenum, or simply, Cycreamaeum I of Aquaenum. This was a politically imperative gesture of genius on her part, since as his son and heir-apparent, Cycreamaeum was still officially subordinate to his Roan father until he became the acting emperor of the independent Aquaen Empire with a different dynastic name and court than his father’s family. As simply Aquaeas Cycreamaeum, he was subordinate to his father (in the view of the Roan Empire) so long as that old Roan man with whom he shared a name lived.

In her first letter to the new Emperor following Maria Regina’s death on Christmas Day, the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord, Regent Maria wrote the following to Cycreamaeum:

Given at the Imperial Palace at Aquaenum, at the third hour of the morning. 25 December 1569, the Great Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Your Imperial Majesty:

It gives me an admittedly odd and altogether bittersweet feeling to address Your Imperial Majesty thusly. Yet I write to you now, no longer as formerly, as between two friends of near-equal station, but now as a loyal subject to her Sovereign Lord and Emperor. For you asked me to write you immediately upon your accession to the Imperial Throne of Aquaenum, at the repose of that thrice-blessed Lady of glorious memory, my late Sovereign Lady the Empress. So it has come to pass, by God’s inscrutable Providence, that my lady passed unto eternal life shortly after midnight today, the holiest of holy days, following her peaceful endurance of a complete coma these past five days after suffering a stroke on the 20th of December.

It astounds me to report to you the truly unprecedented displays of grief and mourning by the highest lords and senators and lowest citizens alike. The great bells of the city’s three cathedrals on Aurora Square have tolled ceaselessly since midnight, while the unending pealing continues in both the surrounding great churches on the Square and in the parish churches throughout Aquaenum. Already, the usual festive and joyous nature with which the capital is usually wont to greet this holy day has given way to the most somber outpourings of grief. I have just come, along with the rest of the late Empress’ Imperial Privy Council and all her attendant ladies and staff, from attending the inaugural Liturgy for the Great Feast of our Lord’s Nativity at the holy Cathedral of the Blessed Savior. En route to Aurora Square, we were met by throngs of wary, incredulous citizens, great and common alike, with all asking us the same astonished questions: “How does Her Imperial Majesty fare?” and “When will she recover?”.

For Your Imperial Majesty must keep in mind, the late Empress reigned over us for so long – almost 63 years – that most Aquaens have never known another ruler. As our heralds’ somber, tearful proclamation reached the crowds of people gathered along our route, dozens, struck dumb, wondered aloud “But the Empress surely cannot be dead?”, while thousands of men and women, children and the elderly alike gave way to open, unaffected storms of tears, cries, and wailing lamentation. Everywhere, from the greatest town mansions and noble palaces to the commonest apartment blocks, people put aside the bright green, gold, and red Nativity sashes and cloth and sweet spices, and replaced these with whatever black and white mourning cloths and materials they possessed. The city was transformed on what should have been the most joyous of holy days into a grief-filled dirge of black bunting, extinguished bonfires and tapers, cancelled processions and firework displays, and general, universal weeping.

Even the stately Patriarch himself could not hold back his tears as he greeted our delegation on Aurora Square and led us into the great mother Cathedral of Aquaenum. He ordered the draping of the iconostasis, temple chandelier, and arches with black taffeta and silk interspaced with the festive greens, golds, and crimson Nativity colors, so that, as he preached in his sermon, we all “might call to mind on this holy yet bittersweet day that which causes us such pain and grief, that mixes tears of lament with tears of joy, and causes the capital to mingle cries of “Christ is Born! Glorify Him!” with sad dirges and many tears.” For the late Empress was like the capital’s beloved mother. All of us, save those few men and women alive who lived more years than she did, were either born during her reign, or, if born before, can hardly recall the reign of her largely forgotten predecessor Julian.

I myself have lost someone so extraordinarily dear to me, for my lady was, to me, altogether more than a friend and mistress. She was my dearest confidante, friend, supporter, and counselor. Her absence from this world weighs upon my soul and tugs mightily at my heart. Yet so it has come to pass, by God’s will, and now I must put aside my grief to write you that which my lady had entrusted me.

It was my lady’s express wish that, before you enter Aquaenum and are crowned as her successor, you take on in all ways the mantle of Aquaen mind and outlook. I know this is a great burden which the Empress requires of you, but seeing as she had discussed this matter with Your Imperial Majesty countless times, it cannot come as a great shock to you that the Empress was most insistent upon your public and immediate conversion to the Aquaen faith, the communion of the Orthodox Catholic Church. To this end, I send as the bearer of this letter no less a churchman than the Empress’ own chaplain, the Bishop of Pharoneum, to have your answer in this matter. As you may imagine, the Empress was quite liberal on the subject of the infallibility of the private conscience to believe what it will, but on the matter of your public religion, it is simply absolutely necessary if you wish to reign as Emperor of the Aquaens and be crowned and acclaimed by the Aquaen Patriarch and all the nobles of the realm that you share in our faith and religion. The Senate, all nobles, common citizens, and, naturally, the Aquaen Church are all of one mind on this matter.

Regarding the formal proclamation of Your Imperial Majesty as Emperor, I shall read the text I had sent to you four days ago at nine in the morning later today from the great rostrum before the Column of Aquaeas I in the Forum Aquaenum, with the late Empress’ household, all the Privy Councilors, leading Senators, nobles, and other courtiers assembled along with a multitude of the citizenry. Since the late Empress reposed without leaving any heirs of her body, and the same was true of her predecessor, it has become the custom since the Empress’ own accession to nominally ‘elect’ the new monarch “by the grace of God and the Aquaen Senate and people.” This process is quite straightforward; as you have read in the copy of the Marian Constitution I sent you some months ago, the acclamation of the new emperor must take place with the new Sovereign present before the entire assembled estates—all Senators, judges of the Imperial Courts, titled peers, and chosen representatives of the Church, ordinary people, provincial governors, and all foreign ambassadors—following the funeral of the previous Sovereign and before the new emperor’s coronation and anointing along with his consort.

This acclamation must itself be done immediately after 2/3 of the Aquaen Senate and a simple majority of the Imperial Senate vote to ‘elect’ the new emperor as per the will of the previous Sovereign in default of any legitimate issue to succeed the late emperor. Rest assured, my lord, that the Privy Council, the Aquaen and Imperial Senate, and all court nobles and peers of the realm are well-aware of her late Imperial Majesty’s wish that you succeed her as Emperor of Aquaenum. So long as your senior councilors and advisors have no objections to your embracing the Orthodox Catholic Faith, Your Imperial Majesty will enjoy the love, respect, and loyalty of every Aquaen.

The last matter that the Privy Councilors and I must resolve with you is the issue of your father His Imperial Majesty Emperor Cycreamaeum of Roanum. By Aquaen laws and customs, your lord father has no right to the Aquaen throne before your own, as the late Empress’ sworn will was, by the Privy Council’s oath, for you to succeed her. Roan law, however, is rather murkier where the claims and precedence of a reigning Sovereign are over his son. To this end, the Privy Councilors have requested unanimously that your lord father the Emperor solemnly and publicly renounce for himself any claim to the Aquaen throne. I leave to Your Imperial Majesty’s determination how exactly you wish to effect this, but the Councilors and leading Senators have all asked that you send to Aquaenum three copies of your father’s declaration or statement to the aforementioned effect as soon as possible.

Your coronation and anointing as Emperor of Aquaenum, Defender of the Orthodox Faith, etc. must occur, by tradition, at least one week following the burial of your predecessor. If Your Imperial Majesty wishes to attend the late Empress’ funeral Liturgy, this would be an unprecedented, unexpected, yet highly propitious and popular, pious act of loyalty and love to her most-lauded memory. Naturally, as this is the first imperial funeral Aquaenum will have seen in 63 years, the Privy Council, Senate, and Patriarchal Synod will soon begin preparations for the appropriate state of lying-in, public eulogies, and then the funerary Liturgy and rite of burial, but all are, at present, too overcome by fresh grief to discuss this. Any envoys you should wish to send at this time with letters of condolence would be most appropriate and highly appreciated.

Lastly, my lord, the Council wish to know of your intentions regarding the political constitutions and present state of legal, political, religious, and longstanding traditional separation between our two realms. While no one would ever presume to insult the late Empress’ express will by disputing or opposing your universally-expected succession to the Imperial Throne, there remains among all estates, but most especially the Senators and the common people, a high degree of desire and apprehension that the existing state of political separation between our two realms should continue.

The absolute and complete unity of the sovereign monarchical power of Imperium over this realm must not in any ways be diminished or lessened during the transfer of sovereign imperial authority from the late Empress to Your Imperial Majesty. Some low persons of dubious loyalty and little integrity had naively and rashly presumed to speak of your inheriting the Imperial Throne “on the condition that Aquaenum and her numerous constituent dominions be perpetually and solemnly recognized as separate and distinct from those of Roanum”, but my lady the late Empress refused to consider supporting such an attack on the imperial authority and principle of unified and absolute monarchical inheritance of the Imperial Throne. That being said, it would greatly increase Your Imperial Majesty’s popularity with all estates of the realm, especially the Aquaen Senate and the common citizens of the Imperial City, were you to make any statement, either written and published or declared and publicly proclaimed, affirming and recognizing the ancient and continuing division of the Aquaen and the Roan realms as two separate, fully sovereign empires and independent polities. Such a declaration or publication from Your Imperial Majesty would greatly assist in your positive reception as Emperor, put paid to the nefarious schemes and rumors of both lackwit gossipers and darker court whisperers, and preserve undiminished the natural peacefulness and goodwill of the Aquaen people toward Your Imperial Majesty.

Kissing your right hand, in humble thanks for your considerate receipt of this letter, I remain Your Imperial Majesty’s humble servant and the advisor to her late Imperial Majesty the Empress of thrice-blessed memory. May the Lord our God have mercy on her soul, and make her glorious memory eternal.

Lady Maria

Chief Secretary of Her Imperial Majesty Empress Maria’s Privy Council, Regent and Protector of the Realm til your coronation, etc.

As her letter indicates, Councilor-Regent Maria insisted, as had the Empress for the past fifteen years while she was engaging in correspondence with Cycreamaeum over his possible succession as her heir, that in order for Aquaeas to become the new Aquaen Emperor, it was imperative that he become a member of the Orthodox Church of Aquaenum, the Empress’ Church. Cycreamaeum had first protested this, insisting that his personal religious beliefs as a Roan Christian would never find their way into his political policies and that he wished for a “full and general toleration of all religions” when he became Emperor of Aquaenum. When Lady Maria insisted, arguing that the Orthodox people of the Aquaen Empire would never accept a Roan Christian as their emperor, he agreed to convert, and so the Archbishop of Vinadeum chrismated him on January 15, 1570, the date that would have marked the sixty-fourth anniversary of the Empress’ coronation. Ironically, the new convert emperor, like his predecessor, would immerse himself deeply in Orthodox spiritual and ascetic practices in the final years of his life, even expressing the desire to abdicate and enter monastic life.[1]

Cycreamaeum’s conversion prevented both a possible civil war between rival Aquaen factions and an attempt by Cycreamaeum’s Roan friends to exercise new political influence over Aquaenum. These had been Empress Maria’s greatest fears, and why she had been unwilling to name him as her successor until the very end. The Regent Maria also insisted that Cycreamaeum move immediately to Aquaenum and there set up his permanent court in the Imperial Palace in order to identify himself as the Aquaen sovereign and not as a representative of Roan interests or a vassal of his father. Furthermore, she insisted most crucially that once his father died and he became joint heir to the Roan throne as the Aquaen sovereign, that the Aquaen Empire be maintained as a separate and fully sovereign political entity from the Roan Empire and its papacy, and that Cycreamaeum not confer any Aquaen positions or make any policies favorable to any Roans without the overwhelming approval of his Aquaen citizens or their Senate. As an additional stipulation to this, Regent Maria insisted that Cycreamaeum, once Emperor, not grant his Roan nobles or favorites any posts in the Aquaen Church or grants of land, especially any Roan priests, that his new court in Aquaenum observe the public rites of only the Aquaen Orthodox Church, and that no Roan senator or nobleman could apply to become an Aquaen officeholder…

[End of excerpt].

[1]A devout convert to Orthodoxy who became especially religious toward the end of his life, Cycreamaeum I of Aquaenum ultimately made good on his intention to abdicate as emperor, doing so on his 66th birthday in 1603. Succeeded to the throne by his son Dorephus and his son’s capable wife Maria II, the ex-Emperor spent the last year of his life in a monastery as a humble monk, refusing to be made an honorary abbot or archimandrite.


In This Great Service: A Political and Theological Defence of Monarchy

Pravoslavie.ru (“Orthodoxy.ru”), a leading Russian and English-language Orthodox news site run from Moscow’s Stretensky Monastery, published this same essay here on their website on 9 September 2015. Here is a link to the original essay on my personal blog.


Ryan Hunter

When election time comes around once again, a country’s citizens are making judgments, more or less educated, as to which candidate is best for the enormous job of leading the country. With the possibilities presented by modern media it is possible to scrutinize every aspect of their lives, to somehow piece together a picture that either inspires our confidence or mistrust. Choosing a leader has become in most of the world a given right of democracy.

Democracy now implies a purely secular approach to government, but there also exist a spiritual principle as old as the Jewish patriarchs. Is democracy “automatically” the best form of government? Where did the Christian form of monarchy come from? Ryan Hunter explores these questions and more on his blog.

“Lord God of our fathers, and King of Kings, Who created all things by Thy word, and by Thy wisdom has made man, that he should walk uprightly and rule righteously over Thy world; Thou hast chosen me as . . . judge over Thy people. I acknowledge Thy unsearchable purpose towards me, and bow in thankfulness before Thy Majesty. Do Thou, my Lord and Governor, fit me for the work to which Thou hast sent me; teach me and guide me in this great service. May there be with me the wisdom which belongs to Thy throne; send it from Thy Holy Heaven, that I may know what is well-pleasing in Thy sight, and what is right according to Thy commandment. May my heart be in Thy hand, to accomplish all that is to the profit of the people committed to my charge and to Thy glory, that so in the day of Thy judgment I may give Thee account of my stewardship without blame; through the grace and mercy of Thy Son, Who was once crucified for us, to Whom be all honor and glory with Thee and the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, unto ages of ages. Amen.”

–Russian emperors’ coronation oath, last spoken by Nicholas II at his coronation in 1896.

“Lord Jesus Christ! Omnipotent Master of heaven and earth! To Thee I deliver the nation and people that were entrusted to my care and purchased by Thy Precious Blood, the children whom Thou didst bestow upon me, and to Thee I surrender my soul, O Lord!”

–Georgian Queen Tamar the Great’s dying prayer, uttered in 1213.

This will be no great tract, for such a lengthy essay it is not in my power at present time to write, and wiser men and women than I have already left the world with so many excellent essays on the virtues of the monarchical system. Instead, let this essay serve as a straightforward and simple enumeration of the benefits of monarchy, its inherent virtues, and natural superiority over the republican form of government presently used by most of the world.

Further, let it serve as a theological reflection on the reality that kingship is the sole political model which is recognized and discussed in the Holy Scriptures, even though several forms of government existed in the world at the time of the Scriptures’ composition. As Christ is often referred to as the eternal King of the ages and the Son of David, let the point stand that the Israelites prior to His coming understood and anticipated His messiahship as a typological fulfillment and full realization of their ancient Davidic kingship. That is, as Israel’s kings were anointed by God and consecrated to their duties of holy service to Him and His people, even carrying out specific priestly roles in the Temple, so too have “pious kings and right-believing queens” of the Orthodox Faith, as defenders of the new Israel, the Church, been understood throughout their existence to be consecrated to their people’s service and anointed by God. Reflecting the highly typological language of the Church, which permeates all of her liturgical services, the role of the Christian king is compared to that of Christ: just as Christ the God-Man unites Himself in loving service to the Church His people, all kings are called to unite themselves in a life of service and martyric dedication to their people.

Before Christ’s incarnation, the kings of the line of King David, who was both the Lord’s anointed king and a priest and prophet for His people Israel, served God as the earthly governors of His people, while after Christ’s incarnation—with the world transfigured and time and matter itself made sacred by God Himself having come to dwell among humanity and take on human nature in all things except our sinfulness—Christian kings served God in this way, as stewards, caretakers, and servants of the good order, security, and peacefulness of their people. This is why, throughout Christendom, but especially in the Orthodox East, the rites of coronation and anointing of Christian monarchs emphasize not only their natural and ontological bond with their subjects—an essentially familial bond in which the king is father of his people and the queen the mother of her people—but also the continuation in the Church and with the Church’s blessing of Davidic kingship. Christian kings in general, and Orthodox monarchs in particular, have a claim to the Davidic lineage of kings which has its origins in the very pages of the Old Testament’s books of Samuel the Prophet.

One particularly striking historical reality is the concept of Davidic kingship as it was practiced for some 2,800 years in ancient Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia). Preceding Christ’s incarnation by some eight centuries, the royal House of Solomon in what would ultimately become (after AD 451) the non-Chalcedonian kingdom of Ethiopia by its very name claimed not only a theological and ontological continuity with the line of David, but, as the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church’s canonical book “The Glory of Kings” (Kebra Negast) lays out, the foundation of the Solomon dynasty is that they claim to be the literal, biological descendants of King David through his son Solomon’s son Menelek. According to the Kebra Negast, Menelek was Solomon’s son and the successor of Solomon’s purported lover Queen Makeda of Axum (mythically Sheba). As the story goes, the young Menelek purportedly brought the original Ark of the Covenant with him to Ethiopia after leaving his father’s kingdom, and while the House of Solomon no longer rules there, it is in Ethiopia, as the Ethiopian Church claims, that the true Ark resides to this day.

Leaving aside the unique claims made by the Ethiopian kings and their Church, which follows the proscriptions of the Mosaic Law more closely than any other Christian communion, the concept of Davidic kingship is one not limited to mere biological descent from King David (however fascinating that possibility is to contemplate), but one of covenantal kingship in which God anoints and consecrates the king and/or queen as His servant(s) who carry out and bear with His grace the burden of the “great service” of governing His people (see the above coronation oath of Russian monarchs). Davidic kingship, by necessity, is a royal lineage or authority which resides only with the people of Israel. Who are the people of Israel today? By this term, I do not mean Israel the geographical spot on a map (which the Romans called Palestina) or Israel the modern Jewish political state established in 1948. Both Israel on the map and Israel the State are not the ontological entity of Israel, the people of God, which, since Pentecost and the coming down of the Holy Spirit, isthe Orthodox Church, the “New Israel” of the New Covenant.

Because the Church alone, in heaven and on earth, is the full dwelling place and abode of the Holy Spirit, which blesses and consecrates all things and raises up the human race to the heavenly, in the Church alone rests the ability and authority to bless and consecrate kings and queens to God’s service. This is why, from the first Christian Roman emperors of the fourth century (on through the later Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors) to the ancient kings and queens of England and France, to the Orthodox emperors and empresses of Russia, Christian kingdoms uniformly understood their monarchs and consorts to be first and foremost God’s anointed servants, endowed by the Church at their coronations with the charism or grace of the Church’s blessing of their “great service”. The Church always understood monarchs’ lives—however grave their individual shortcomings or crimes might be—to have been solemnly consecrated to the Lord’s service from their coronation and anointing, and dedicated to the defense, good ordering, and stewardship of His people.

It goes without saying that, as all presidential republics or parliamentary democracies see authority as primarily coming up temporarily to elected rulers from the people of the nation themselves andnot down from God upon divinely anointed and consecrated king and queens, no elected system can theoretically or practically embody, manifest, or make real the solemn and covenantal three-way relationship that exists between God, a crowned and anointed monarch, and his or her people. There is no covenant between President Obama and the American people, nor was there such between any of his predecessors and the people, nor was there between Prime Minister David Cameron and the British people, or President Hollande and the French people. A constitutional oath is not a covenant with God, but merely a promise to the people to respect the existing earthly constitutional laws of the state. Unlike a coronation, at which the new sovereign is mystically and forever joined to his or her people, there is no spiritual dimension whatsoever to the inauguration of a president or the first Cabinet meeting of a prime minister.

An individual president or prime minister may or may not govern well, he or she may or may not be privately a virtuous and ethical person, but whether or not they are virtuous or ethical, never mind pious, devout, and concerned with the state of his or her soul, is of literally no concern to the republican or democratic system itself. It is not so much that democracy or republicanism sanctions or “blesses” the immorality of its rulers so much as both elected systems are 1) entirely unconcerned with morality, 2) founded and enunciated without any real concern for private morality or the idea of corporate, national salvation, and 3) have no authority or license besides a subjective appeal to God or some other kind of transcendent moral framework by which they may appeal to, recognize, or submit to any kind of universal, objective Truth. Democracy is not so much allergic to the notion of objective Truth as it is blind to it; the only real truth in any democracy is the ever-changing will of the people expressed through the act of voting.

A democracy or republic’s people may overwhelmingly follow one religion, for example, as in largely Catholic Ireland or Sunni Muslim Turkey or Pakistan, but any appeal by the president or prime minister of that country to that one prevailing religion is, in a republic or democracy, a fundamentally alien appeal grounded in that elected leader’s personal whim or the perceived political expediency of the moment. There is nothing foundationally or integrally religious in either the democratic or republican systems, since all elected systems have as the basis and fount of their authority the fundamentally secularexpression of the popular will, not some sort of objective Truth (e.g. God’s blessing and sanction to reign following His laws and commandments). Even if one approaches the subject of government from an atheistic perspective, and one does not believe in a God who supposedly blesses and sanctifies a monarchy and the rule of the monarchs, it remains inescapable that the political foundation of monarchy is entirely a religious one (the blessing and authority of God), whereas the political foundation of a republic or democracy is an entirely secular construct in which God’s will and His very existence are both utterly irrelevant to the foundation, mission, and legitimacy of the political state. It is of little surprise that the philosophical and ethical foundations of all modern republics and democracies are the writings of so-called “Enlightenment” thinkers who were, without exception, all deists or atheists in their private religious beliefs.

Built entirely on the inherently and inevitably changing expression of whatever happens to be the popular will at a given moment in time, democracies and republics are fundamentally onlyconcerned with whatever might be the will of their voters, and therefore, they are fundamentally notconcerned with questions of what constitutes objective Truth, whether such Truth exists, or how to best lead a nation’s people toward that Truth. A republic or democracy’s people may live their lives unconscious of, and the body politic may exist entirely ignorant of, for instance, the Person of Christ, Whom Christians know to be God the eternal Son, yet nothing in the elected “contracts” of a prime minister or president oblige them in the discharge of their office to introduce their people to Christ (or if the country is mostly Muslim, to the teachings of Muhammad found in the Qur’an, etc.). This is because any republic or democracy is fundamentally secular in nature (any republics ostensibly rooted in religion such as the world’s many “Islamic republics” are an existential and ontological aberration with literally no credible, ancient theological foundation within Islam itself.)

Since elected rulers’ authority is entirely secular, as it is derived only from the power and authority conferred by a popular election, it is entirely outside the scope of a president or prime minister’s elected prerogative and therefore, his or her necessarily temporary authority, to understand his or her temporary stewardship of the body politic as one uniquely blessed and sanctified by God. An individual president or prime minister might happen to be a devout Muslim or Christian who believes that God blessed his or her leadership of their country, but there is nothing within the political system over which they preside that recognizes this entirely subjective belief. Whether or not a president or prime minister believes in God or that God may have blessed his or her leadership is fundamentally irrelevant to the discharge and duties of their secular, elected office. The only real blessing in the republican or democratic systems is that of the voter who “blesses” the candidate by voting for him or her in an election.

This is why democratic republicanism (or republican democracy, however one prefers to order the term) is essentially a secular, entirely non-religious creation. God’s very existence is a matter of literally no concern within the framework of a republican or democratic government, which, taking its authority only from the people, presupposes onlythat the people themselves are sovereign to the degree that their express approval is required for the election of new leaders of the body politic. The only “blessing” that takes place in the casting of ballots at the poll stations or at the later “inauguration” rites in presidential systems is the manifestation of the popular will through the election-based transfer of political power. It goes without saying that the conferring of the people’s will and approval of this or that candidate is an altogether different framework for conferring and recognizing political authority than the solemn anointing and sacred consecration by the Holy Spirit through the Church of a king or queen, or emperor or empress to their people’s service (or, in Islam, the blessing by Allah of a Muslim monarch’s reign).

These musings on the foundational flaws and problems in the republican and democratic political systems beg the question: What is monarchy? Above all else, it a solemn and covenantal service to God in which the monarch is ultimately subject to the Creator to give an account of his or her stewardship and rule over His people. The greatest monarchs in history are those who were the most effective stewards of the good order, prosperity, and peacefulness of their realms. Just as Christianity understands that is natural for men and women to honor, love, and worship their Creator, as man has his very purpose and end in serving and loving Him, so too it is natural for all righteous rulers to honor, love, and worship their Creator, and see themselves as not so much exalted above their subjects so much as the first of His humble servants. The virtues and values of these concepts are entirely alien to the republican and democratic systems, in which God fundamentally does not matter.

Practically speaking, monarchy is the hereditary inheritance and exercise of either political power, ancient ceremonial authority, or both such power and authority, in which the monarch is understood to be the chief servant of the good of his or her realm. The chief good, in a spiritual sense, in any religious society is mankind’s salvation, so for a Christian monarch, it is his or her fundamental duty to encourage, however deemed best, the living of Christian values and a common Christian life by his or her people. For Muslim monarchs, it is their fundamental duty to encourage, however deemed best, the living of Muslim values and a common Muslim life by their people, the same applying to Buddhist monarchs or Hindu monarchs, and so on. The virtue and values of these concepts (of encouraging the spiritual development and transformation of their people) are again fundamentally alien to the republican and democratic systems.

Any monarchy in a religious society, in which the monarch’s reign is understood to be blessed by God, is one that must essentially and practically value above all else the corporate salvation of the nation as the highest duty, the highest good and ontological purpose or end of the monarchy and the political state itself. Seeing as all republican and democratic governments are fundamentally notconcerned with God or salvation, their leaders understandably do not value this. The greatest purpose or end of a democratic or republican system is, in the baldest sense, the perpetuation and preservation by the dominant party’s elite of their own political power.

It is apparent to any student of history that there have been successful monarchs and terrible monarchs, just as there have been successful presidents and terrible presidents, effective prime ministers and incompetent ones. I would never presume to argue that we should accept various monarchs’ abuses of their authority throughout history, and history is rightfully harsh on monarchs who showed themselves to be either incompetent or tyrannical. Yet, just as the reality that certain presidents and premiers have abused their authority does not singularly prove the defectiveness of democracy as a political system, so too republicans and democrats ought to acknowledge that bad monarchs’ presence in history does not singularly prove monarchy’s defectiveness. My account here is not an ideological defense of the historical record of all monarchs as ‘good’, nor is it a condemnation of all republican and democratic authorities as ‘bad’. Instead, it is an examination of the virtues, benefits, and liabilities of both systems (monarchy and republican democracy), with the implicit realization that in both systems there have been certain authorities who governed better or worse than others.

Nevertheless, I am prepared to argue that, within the framework of political theory, monarchs are actually far more accountable to their people than are elected republican leaders. Most elective, republican systems today are inherently non-theistic in their political constitutions (God does not appear as the ultimate authority and judge of mankind), and thus, their notions of political accountability are completely divorced from God or any notion of objective Truth, salvation, redemption, or eternal consequences. Nothing intrinsic to the nature of the elected office of president or prime minister beholds occupants of either office to see themselves as accountable to God for their exercise of that office. Conscientious presidents and premiers throughout history have naturally held themselves accountable to both God and their people, but this is not something which the elected roles themselves prescribe. In monarchies, on the other hand, the monarch’s accountability to God for their service on behalf of their people is at the very foundation of the office and role itself. This accountability of service is stressed numerous times in the foundational prayers and supplications used in their rites of coronation. It is the primary and defining source of their political authority and legitimacy. An individual president or prime minister might personally believe themselves to rule with God’s help; no monarch may dare to rule without it.

From an iconic Christian perspective, bearing in mind above all else the transformational reality of Christ the God-Man’s incarnation, which sanctifies and raises up human nature to its natural and divine potential, Christian monarchy alone of all forms of political authority has at its core the ideas of self-sacrifice, loving service, individual and collective transformation and growing in holiness, and accountability directly rooted in the Christian Gospel. Of all forms of government, Christian monarchy alone directs and compels those in paramount authority to pursue that which is objectively good and true, because Christian monarchy alone is rooted in, believes in, and is defined as succeeding or failing based on to what extent its rulers foster, pursue, and protect that which is objectively good and true—the corporate and ever-deepening life of the people in Christ. Monarchy alone demands of the ruler an account before God of his or her carrying out of that lifelong role of service and dedication.

To this end, I will share one anecdote: according to Georgian Orthodox priest Fr. Zakaria Machitadze in his book The Lives of Georgian Saints, when Queen Tamar the Great ascended the Georgian throne in 1184 following her father King Giorgi III’s death, she addressed the clergy of her realm with these words outlying the basic duties and obligations of her role as monarch:

At the beginning of her reign, Tamar convened a Church council and addressed the clergy with wisdom and humility: “Judge according to righteousness, affirming good and condemning evil,” she advised. “Begin with me — if I sin I should be censured, for the royal crown is sent down from above as a sign of divine service. Allow neither the wealth of the nobles nor the poverty of the masses to hinder your work. You by word and I by deed, you by preaching and I by the law, you by upbringing and I by education will care for those souls whom God has entrusted to us, and together we will abide by the law of God, in order to escape eternal condemnation.… You as priests and I as ruler, you as stewards of good and I as the watchman of that good.”

St. Queen Tamar the Great of Georgia (1160-1213, r. 1184-1213).St. Queen Tamar the Great of Georgia (1160-1213, r. 1184-1213).

In every monarchy in the world, from ancient times to present, all monarchs have been instructed and admonished in their accession celebrations, coronation oaths, or other installation ceremonies with regard to the tremendous ethical responsibilities and sacred obligations incumbent upon their high office. In Imperial Rome, emperors celebrating triumphal processions were acclaimed as the personification of the supreme deity, Jupiter Optimus Maximus, yet at their side throughout the fanfare stood a humble slave, whose duty was to whisper in the emperor’s ear the humbling and haunting words Momento mori: “Remember: you are mortal.” Imperial China, the world’s longest-lasting monarchy, maintained since the Zhou dynasty the concept of the Mandate of Heaven, by which the emperors (called the “Son of Heaven”, Tianzi) were accountable to the gods of heaven (Tian) for their rule and, if they transgressed beyond all bounds of propriety or became so ineffective that they endangered the empire, the divine mandate to rule could be withdrawn and transferred to someone else worthy of holding it.

While elected civil authorities today commonly swear public oaths to maintain and defend the political constitutions of their respective nation-states, monarchs throughout history commonly undertook solemn, public oaths to govern their peoples with mercy, truth, and righteousness, ideals which are emphatically, and inseparably tied to the Christian Gospel. A modern president or prime minister swears only to defend the integrity of a fallible constitutional document composed by men; the Christian ideals of mercy, truth, and righteousness are entirely absent from any elected head of government’s oath. In the history of the world’s other largest monotheistic faith, Islam, monarchs also saw themselves as accountable to God and the precepts put forth in Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, and recitations from this book featured prominently in the installation rites of the Sunni Ottoman Turkish sultans and Shiite Safavid Persian shahs.

By the very nature of the democratic system in which they operate, democratically elected leaders in republics are accountable in actuality only to ever-shifting opinion polls, the often amoral and conflicting political interests of their most powerful financial supporters, and the media whose presentation of political events often significantly influences voters’ opinion. Even the best republican leaders in history have always had to balance these often conflicting demands of office, so that the pursuit of the ideals of the Truth becomes clouded at best and often instead entirely abandoned in the fray of partisan politics. In contrast, even the worst monarchs in history are, within the monarchical framework, accountable notonly to their people, but especially and ultimately to God for how they serve and reign. By God’s grace all kings reign and ultimately to Him all must give an account of their stewardship. Therefore, a monarch who has spent his or her formative years being trained in the service of their people and in love and fear of God will feel and understand himself or herself to be accountable to history, to their people, and especially to God who rules over all things. This ancient monarchical process of the formation of the ruler as his or her people’s first servant and dedicated defender is a much more time-tested method of producing able rulers than the comparatively recent, modern notion that a previously partisan, highly divisive elected politician will, once sworn into office, suddenly become a moral, ethically driven person able to execute his or her office above partisan interests. Indeed, while history is replete with numerous examples of selfless and dedicated monarchs, I have yet to come across one politician who operated entirely selflessly and without partisan bias.

Thus, from both a theoretical and a practical viewpoint, monarchs are far truer servants of their state than democratic, republican leaders can ever hope to be. Whether a monarch actively rules (exercising paramount political authority in his or her kingdom) or simply reigns ceremonially, as most do today, his or her coronation or installation oath invariably binds them to serve and reign above all else in remembrance and fear of God, prioritizing the salvation, moral and ethical good, and lifelong service of their people. Democratic and republican constitutional oaths prescribe no such obligations on the part of a president or prime minister.

I include the above coronation oath taken by Russian emperors to contrast it with the oaths of office commonly taken by elected republican heads of state today. Whereas the President of the United States solemnly swears to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to the best of his or her ability “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”, the Russian emperors, to use just one example, swear a solemn oath before God and their people to “accomplish all that is to the profit of the people committed to my charge”. The Russian monarchs who were crowned as God’s supreme earthly “judge over Thy people” humbly “bow in thankfulness before Thy Majesty” and acknowledge themselves as subordinate to and servant of their “Lord and Governor”. Likewise, Queen Tamar of Georgia, in her dying prayer, prepared to give her final account to God for “the nation and people entrusted to my care”. A President of the United States is accountable only to voters’ and his or her most influential supporters’ changing opinions of him or her over time, whereas everyone a century ago understood the Russian emperors to be accountable before God and their people for their “great service”, a sacred and solemn obligation far more binding than the temporary discharge of an elected office.

The presidential oath of office does not speak at all of the president’s accountability to either God or his or her people, whereas at the very core of the Russian emperors’ oath is his or her prayer to “in the day of Thy judgment give [God] account of my stewardship without blame”. The highest moral authority referenced in the presidential oath is the Constitution itself, a man-made, amendable, and changing document which so many people in this country somehow treat almost as if it were infallible. On the other hand, in the Russian monarchs’ coronation oath, the highest authority to which the monarch must submit is none other than God Himself, Whose guidance, teaching, and assistance the monarch constantly implores throughout the coronation oath and beyond.

It is telling that nowhere in the coronation oath for Russian monarchs (viewed before the 1905 revolution as absolute autocrats subject to no earthly constitution) is to be found any haughty exultation of their own power or authority, but, instead, a humble prayer that God “teach me and guide me in this great service.” Thus, at the very climax and pinnacle of his coronation as supreme Autocrat of a vast, multiethnic empire, the Russian emperor humbly took on the role of a servant, imploring God’s guidance in his monarchical rule, a role defined above all else as a “great service” to God and his people.

Just as every Christian family is headed by either a father and mother together or just one of these, so too a monarch, either male or female, serves as the symbolic father or mother of his or her nation. Ideally, the monarch and his or her consort serve together as the typological father and mother of their people. This is a profoundly unifying, supra-political role, and the less the monarch actively involves himself or herself in the nation’s political life, the easier it tends to be for their people to view them in this way. In those monarchies in which the monarch reigns with a crowned consort, we see even further the most natural manifestation of the famille idéale, in which a king/emperor and queen/empress preside together in loving service as the symbolic ‘father’ and ‘mother’ on behalf of their national ‘family’. In a very real and symbolic sense, the monarch and his or her consort serve as the earthly heads of their nation, and, regardless of whether or not they rule politically or simply reign, they serve to embody the Christian ideals of marriage, family life, and domestic unity and tranquility for their people, ideals which are themselves salvific when joined to a common life lived in union with Christ and His Gospel. In any democratic model, by virtue of their temporary and elected, intrinsically partisan office, presidents or prime ministers cannot hope to ever serve in this symbolic way, and the people suffer for lack of a unifying, supra-political father and mother figure to look to for moral example and virtuous conduct. It is a telling example of childhood psychology that boys and girls all around the world play at being kings and queens, never president and prime minister.

It is well known in British history that the Anglican Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603, r. 1558-1603) repeatedly and publicly referred to herself as England’s bride, England’s wife, and her Kingdom as her husband; what is less well known is that this concept began with her Catholic half-sister and predecessor, Queen Mary I (1516-1558, r. 1553-1558). Sarah Duncan’s book Mary I: Gender, Power, and Ceremony in the Reign of England’s First Queen is a superb resource in this area of research. Since Mary was the first crowned and anointed queen regnant in English history, her reign necessitated the development of new political language to legitimize and confer royal authority on a woman. To justify and legitimize this anomaly of female rule, a new formulation of sovereignty itself was necessary, since it was unprecedented for a woman to rule England. This new development was known as the theory of the “king’s two bodies”, or, for Mary and Elizabeth’s reigns, the queen’s two bodies. It recognized that the monarch has both a “body personal”, which was mortal, and could be female, and a “body politic” — the timeless, immortal Crown and Throne personified in and through the monarch, which passed from one monarch to his or her successor, and so forth, unto eternity.

Fittingly, as kings were compared to Christ, Mary I was compared to the Queen of kings, the Virgin Mary, Queen of heaven, the chief intercessor for Christians. As Duncan shows, it was the oft-forgotten, largely marginalized Mary Tudor, not her half-sister Elizabeth, who invented the concept of the Queen regnant as Mother to her people and “married” to the Kingdom of England.

Since, as an Orthodox Christian, I am fundamentally concerned with my own salvation and especially the world’s, and interested most in Christian monarchy as opposed to the monarchical traditions of other faiths, it is worth examining what the Holy Scriptures, the divine books assembled and compiled by the Holy Spirit acting through Christ’s Body, the Orthodox Church, have to say about government in general, and kingship in particular. Here are just a few examples from an article written here by Fr. Joseph Gleason:

  • Psalm 2:10-12 urges Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
  • Psalm 24:7 refers to God in the Person of the Holy Spirit as a King: “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”
  • Romans 13:1 refers to the divine origins of the “powers that be” (originally kings in every country): “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
  • The Book of Judges repeatedly connects the lack of kingship with the lawlessness and chaos then prevailing in Israel: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:5-6). This refrain “in those days there was no king in Israel” and its equation with lawlessness and injustice appears numerous times throughout the Book of Judges.
  • When the Prophet Samuel was an old man, he prepared to leave his sons after him as judges over the people of Israel, but the people of Israel wanted none of them, reminding the prophet that his sons were not righteous men as he was. Instead, they beseeched him to anoint a king for them (1 Samuel 8:1-22).
  • Proverbs 16:12 warn that kings must act righteously: “It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.”
  • Proverbs 20:28 pray that “Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.”
  • Proverbs 29:14 promises an eternal throne (sainthood) to kings who love the poor: “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established forever.”

As Father Joseph Gleason notes in the same article, numerous further Scriptural passages mark kingship as a special vehicle or mechanism by which God communicates with His people Israel and His prophets:

  • In Genesis 14, King Melchizedek prophetically acts out the first proto-Eucharist in Scripture, blessing Abraham with bread and wine.
  • In Genesis 17, God promises to bless Abraham with kings for descendants.
  • In Genesis 35, God promises to bless Jacob with kings for descendants.
  • In Genesis 49, God promises that Israel’s kings will come from the tribe of Judah.
  • In Deuteronomy 17, Moses lays out the blueprint for Israel to have godly kings.
  • In 1 Samuel 2, Hannah prophesies about the coming monarchy (verse 10) in a very positive context, focusing on the Lord’s anointed monarch.
  • When Israel’s kings behave righteously, Scripture never suggests that they should have been “good enough to abolish monarchy, and establish some better form of government”.
  • Similarly, when Israel’s kings act wickedly, Scripture never suggests that “being a king” was part of their sin.
  • In the New Testament, many people spoke Greek, and the entire Roman Empire was deeply influenced by the Greek culture, which had already been aware of democracy for over 500 years. Yet, Jesus and the apostles never suggest that we should replace monarchies with democracies (or with any other form of government). Individual kings are reprimanded, but monarchy itself as a political form is never condemned.
  • The apostle Peter tells us to “submit … to the king” and “honor the king“.
  • The apostle Paul not only asks us to pray for, but also to give thanks for kings.
  • Throughout Scripture, Jesus is referred to as a great King.
  • In the book of Revelation, God promises us Christians that we will reign as kings.

From Genesis to Revelation, monarchy is presented in a positive light, as God’s plan from the foundation of the world. (1 Samuel 8 is no exception, as demonstrated in this article on “The Long-Awaited King“ by the same Fr. Joseph Gleason.) Things go well when kingship is practiced in a godly way, and things go poorly when it is practiced in an evil way. But the same goes for any job under the sun. In this particular sense, there is nothing unique about the monarchy.

What do the Church Fathers and early Christian bishops have to say about monarchy and other forms of government? These were men who knew the Scriptures better than any others:

“Monarchy is superior to every other constitution and form of government. For polyarchy, where everyone competes on equal terms, is really anarchy and discord.” –Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea

St Gregory the Theologian says in his Third Theological Oration:

“The three most ancient opinions concerning God are Anarchia, Polyarchia, and Monarchia. The first two are the sport of the children of Hellas, and may they continue to be so. For Anarchy is a thing without order; and the Rule of Many is factious, and thus anarchical, and thus disorderly. For both these tend to the same thing, namely disorder; and this to dissolution, for disorder is the first step to dissolution. But Monarchy is that which we hold in honour.”

We see also, more explicitly in the writings of St Theodore the Studite, found in volume 4 of the Philokalia:

“There is one Lord and Giver of the Law, as it is written: one authority and one Divine principle over all. This single principle is the source of all wisdom, goodness and good order; it extends over every creature that has received its beginning from the goodness of God…, it is given to one man only… to construct rules of life in accordance with the likeness of God. For the divine Moses in his description of the origin of the world that comes from the mouth of God, cites the word: ‘Let us create man in accordance with Our image and likeness’ (Genesis 1.26). Hence the establishment among men of every dominion and every authority, especially in the Churches of God: one patriarch in a patriarchate, one metropolitan in a metropolia, one bishop in a bishopric, one abbot in a monastery, and in secular life, if you want to listen, one king, one regimental commander, one captain on a ship. And if one will did not rule in all this, there would be no law and order in anything, and it would not be for the best, for a multiplicity of wills destroys everything.”

Likewise, St Emperor Justinian (483-565) elucidates the right relationship of the Church and the State in the Preamble of Novella Six (in the Codex):

“The two greatest gifts which God in His infinite goodness has granted men are the Priesthood and the Empire. The priesthood takes care of divine interests and the empire of human interests of which it has supervision. Both powers emanate from the same principle and bring human life to its perfection. It is for this reason that emperors have nothing closer to their hearts than the honor of priests because they pray continually to God for the emperors. When the clergy shows a proper spirit and devotes itself entirely to God, and the emperor governs the state which is entrusted to him, then a harmony results which is most profitable to the human race. So it is then that the true divine teachings and the honor of the clergy are the first among our preoccupations.”

Here are some additional quotes on monarchy from other prominent Church Fathers:

“Power, that is authority and royal power, are established by God.” –St Isidore of Pelusium

“The difference between a tyrant and a king is that the tyrant strives in every way to carry out his own will. But the king does good to those whom he rules.” –St Basil the Great

“If some evildoer unlawfully seizes power, we do not say that he is established by God…” –St Isidore of Pelusium

“God gave the greatest gift to men: the priesthood and the imperial power; the first preserves and watches over the heavenly, while the second rules earthly things by means of just laws.” –Seventh Ecumenical Council

“A priest who is not a monarchist is not worthy to stand at the altar table. The priest who is a republican is always a man of poor faith. God himself anoints the monarch to be head of the kingdom, while the president is elected by the pride of the people. The king stays in power by implementing God’s commandments, while the president does so by pleasing those who rule. The king brings his faithful subjects to God, while the president takes them away from God.” –Metropolitan and New-Martyr St. Vladimir of Kiev

Monarchy is an icon of Christ. No other form of government images this:

“God has placed a king on earth in the image of His Heavenly single rule, an autocratic king in the image of His almighty power, an autocratic king and a hereditary king in the image of His Kingdom that does not pass away.”—Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

In summary, here are just a few of the reasons, from both a consideration of political theory and practical application, that monarchy is a more moral, stable, and overall better and ontologically higher form of government than any other system. I will not delve into the debate of whether or not absolute or autocratic monarchy is preferable to constitutional monarchy, but I will simply observe that, whether or not a monarchy exists constitutionally within a democratic political framework, its existence is still of great benefit to the broader political society and culture.

1)      Monarchy’s intrinsic end or aim is ontologically higher than the intrinsic end or aim of any other type of political authority. The underlying purpose of monarchy is the rendering to God by each monarch of a successful stewardship on behalf of his or her people. Each monarch is only a temporary steward, but he must give an eternal account of his or her stewardship to the King of Kings. This stewardship is best carried out by the monarch’s zealous maintenance of peace and good order, and therefore, the general protection of liberties and freedoms conducive to that peace and order. An elected leader who abuses his or her authority and violates the constitution he or she has sworn to defend understands himself or herself to face only earthly consequences (possible impeachment, criminal conviction, removal from office, enduring unpopularity, etc.). A monarch on the other hand understands himself or herself to be fundamentally accountable to God for how he or she discharges the duties of his or her office.

2)      Monarchy is the most natural form of government known to mankind, and the most widely practiced form of political authority throughout human history. The fact that monarchies still exist today after thousands of years and numerous political revolutions is remarkable in and of itself, and all the more so given that most monarchies in the world today are seen as highly legitimate by most of their populations. History is replete with examples of bad monarchs and good monarchs, as well as bad presidents and good ones, yet the presidential and prime ministerial systems of government are, at most, three hundred years old in any part of the world, and in most countries, far more recent introductions.

3)      Monarchy is the only form of political authority which images on a national and societal level the most basic and foundational unit of society: the family. Thus, far more than elected prime ministers or presidents, monarchs and their families are able to set an ideal model for family life, which is the basic foundation of the rest of society. A president or prime minister need not be married, and it is becoming increasingly common to see unmarried presidents (France’s Francois Hollande) or prime ministers (former Australian PM Julia Gillard).

4)      Monarchy is the only form of political authority which Christian Scripture and Tradition praise, defend, and encourage.

5)      Monarchy is the only form of government which properly and ideally images the highest Christian virtues of service and self-sacrifice. Almost every Christian society was, historically, a monarchy. Similarly, monarchy is the only form of political authority which has at its core the maintenance of Christian faith and virtues, as seen by the coronation oaths, still taken, of British monarchs, and the ones formerly taken by Russian, French, Hungarian, and German sovereigns.

6)      Monarchy is the only form of government in which the ruler is obliged to defend objective Truth and represent and defend a fundamentally incarnational, Christian worldview. Thus, the Russian emperors prayed to receive “the wisdom which belongs to [God’s] throne; send it from Thy Holy Heaven, that I may know what is well-pleasing in Thy sight, and what is right according to Thy commandment.”

7)     As previously argued, monarchy can be shown to represent and manifest an intrinsically and ontologically higher form of government when compared with republican democracy. Monarchs are held to be accountable not only to their people but most of all to God for their service and stewardship.

8)     My final point should go without saying: Monarchy is an intrinsically and ontologically higher form of government than the modern tyrannies of either communism or fascism, in which rulers are never held accountable except by history, and are free to commit innumerable abuses, as the examples of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, Croatia, and Spain, and the communist Soviet Union, China, Romania, Cuba, and Vietnam show.

While some might find it strange that I, being an American, should write an essay in defense of monarchy, I would posit that there are many of my fellow Americans who are monarchists. One of the most tragic and disturbing realities of American political history is the forced extrajudicial exiling, immediately after the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, of hundreds of thousands of American Loyalists from the country; most of them saw themselves as loyal subjects of the King, yet the victorious Patriots viewed them as irredeemable traitors who must be deported.

Many of my friends of all political persuasions feel a natural love for the person of Queen Elizabeth II, who would be our Sovereign, as she is Canada’s, had history not separated our country 232 years ago from its prior centuries of union with the Kingdom of Great Britain. Why, on any moral or ethical level, should Americans feel any less respect or devotion to Her Majesty the Queen than to our own elected political authorities, when the former has made as her life’s priority the furthering of peace around the world, the gentle communication of Christian values to her people, and the closer cooperation of the family of nations of which she is the earthly head? As a living embodiment of monarchy’s core values and virtues of service to God and her people, Her Majesty the Queen is rightly hailed by people across the world of every nation and political persuasion as a model monarch and woman who prioritizes her service to God and her people. As she promised decades ago when she was still Crown Princess Elizabeth, her pledge to the lifelong service of her people is one she has discharged, and continues to discharge, with remarkable humility and enduring grace: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

In closing, I would humbly ask for the blessing of Almighty God, the King of Kings, on all civil authorities everywhere, especially all monarchs and their consorts, and ask that He strengthen all rulers in righteousness, moral conduct, piety, and remembrance of their ultimate accountability to Him who judges all men and women. I would enjoin all people everywhere to pray for the life of their rulers, whether elected or unelected, that by their prayers their rulers may either continue in justice and piety, or, if unjust and impious, be converted to governing justly, carefully, and in remembrance of God, to whom all must ultimately give account of their lives.

Ryan Hunter

09 / 09 / 2015


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Buxhoeveden, Baroness Sophie. The Life and Tragedy of Empress Alexandra Fedorovna.Longmans, Green and Co., 1928.

Duncan, Sarah. Mary I: Gender, Power, and Ceremony in the Reign of England’s First Queen. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Gilbert, Paul. “The Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II”. Royal Russia. Accessed May 5, 2015.


Gleason, Joseph Father. “Biblical Monarchy and the Book of Judges”. The Orthodox Life. October 29, 2013. Accessed May 5, 2015.


Hunter, Ryan. “Queen, Saint, and Stateswoman: Commemorating the ‘Lion of Georgia’”. Juicy Ecumenism. May 2, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2015.


Thurston, Herbert. “Coronation”. Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)Volume 4. 1913. Catholic Encyclopedia. Accessed May 5, 2015.


Vasilief, A. A History of the Byzantine Empire. “The empire from Constantine the Great to Justinian: Reforms of Diocletian and Constantine” Accessed May 5, 2015.


Wooley, Maxwell, B.D. Coronation Rites. Cambridge University Press, 1915. Accessed May 5, 2015.


Wortman, Richard S. Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy From Peter the Great to the Abdication of Nicholas II. Princeton University Press. 2006. Accessed May 5, 2015.


The political system in the Aquaen Empire world of “Imperatrix”


Dear all,

I have recently finished heavily revising and editing my three-part novel Imperatrix, in preparation of sharing it with a publisher. It currently stands at just over 500 pages, with the supporting, background Companion Guide (A List of all Roan and Aquaen Emperors and Empresses, with their Reigns, Consorts, Regents, Issue, and Legacies) at 162 pages. The Imperatrix manuscript first began in its infancy ten years ago with just the first two chapters of what is now a fourteen-chapter unpublished historical fiction novel. The Companion Guide is a fictional history of the Roan and Aquaen empires’ monarchies from 27 BC to present day.

I hope to solicit people’s thoughts on the envisioned political system in the world of Imperatrix. It is a mixed system, with elements of limited or constitutional monarchy, autocracy, and republicanism. It is primarily a “traditional monarchy” with power shared among a series of elite groups, but all ultimate political sovereignty still resting in the supra-political, non-partisan,sacred person of the monarch anointed by the Church. The monarchy itself is neither fully autocratic/absolute nor entirely constitutional. It combines elements of a classical aristocracy, traditional monarchy, some degrees of autocracy, and elements of republicanism.

I have also written an as yet unfinished pre-history of the Roan (etymologically derived from their sea god Roanes) civilization during its kingdom and republic stages, which you may access here. The “Early History of the Roans” is divided into three periods: the Roan Monarchy (approximately 831-520 BC), the Roan Republic (520-27 BC) and the Roan Imperium (modeled loosely after the Principate, 27 BC to AD 330). The Aquaen Empire is the eastern successor state (it sees itself as a seamless continuation) to the classical Roan Empire, based at Aquaenum (modeled loosely after Constantinople). Unlike Byzantium in real life, the Aquaen Empire never falls, nor does it have periods of religious violence or sectarian intolerance. In that sense, of course, it is highly idealized.

Within the religious and political context of the Aquaen world– roughly based off a fusion of Late Antiquity Rome, Byzantium/New Rome, Renaissance Italy, Tsarist Russia, and early modern England — I envisioned the Aquaen government as the perfect compromise, in which all branches — the Imperial Monarchy, Senates, and Courts — check the others, bureaucracy is kept to a minimum, and, above all, the system allows for the most stable, conservative, pious, virtuous, and liberty-protecting society possible.

-Ryan Hunter

23 October 2015 (Updated on 25 May 2016).


Aquaen Imperium/Imperial Government

  1. The Imperial Monarchy:

The monarch’s political authority and responsibility, his/her spiritual role, and the formation of the heir to the throne

  • All rightful authority derives from the Triune God in obedience to His grace and will, and rulers exercise political authority as power in the form of a sacred trust. The Emperor/Empress regnant is thus believed to rule by and with God’s grace and protection.
  • The monarch and his/her consort along with the Imperial Family serve as the symbolic head and centre of the Imperium.
  • The Imperial Throne of Aquaenum, established in the fourth century since our Lord by the grace of God and the especial labours and dedication of the laudable and righteous St. Emperor Constantinus of blessed memory, is held to be the full, unbroken, and continuous continuation of the ancient Roan Empire based in Roanum.
  • Full, unified, and undivided political sovereignty rests in the person of the monarch — whose person is inviolable — and is exercised in his/her name by all branches of the Aquaen Imperium on behalf of the Aquaen people. The monarch is thus referred to as the Sovereign with the style of “Imperial Majesty”.
  • Typologically speaking, the Sovereign serves as the highest icon or symbolic embodiment of Christ on earth, and the monarch is held to rule for the corporate, collective benefit, salvation, and good ordering of the Aquaen people.
  • The monarch is the head of state and official head of the government (chief executive). In terms of preparing the monarch to ascend the Throne, above all else, the monarch is to be raised, ideally from birth if born the heir to the throne, to understand and endeavour to undertake his or her duties of service to the Empire and her people as a sacred, solemn trust. From childhood the heir to the throne should have the most outstanding tutors, the wisest minds should surround him or her, and his or her elders and family should raise him or her to be diligent, self-sacrificing, dedicated to his or her duties, and above all a person who cultivates wisdom, tact, fortitude, and piety. The monarch is thus the first servant of the Aquaen people, bound by custom from time immemorial and the memory of his or her righteous predecessors to rule with justice, wisdom, clemency, and fortitude.
  • The monarch exercises and embodies the full sovereign imperial authority (imperium) not out of a desire for power or self-serving means, but with a sense of sacred duty, holy undertaking, and God-entrusted responsibility and accountability for the good, justice, and prosperity of the realm. His or her Coronation Oath constitutes his or her promise to uphold the Aquaen Constitution, Dapheanic and Justinian Civil Codes, and the respective laws and liberties of the Aquaen people and the Empire at large. His or her holy coronation and the sacrament or Mystery of anointing by the Patriarch of the Aquaen Orthodox Church in the presence of the Senate peers and deputies, Court justices, and the nobles and citizens of Aquaenum symbolically ‘marries’ the monarch to the Aquaen people. This sacred bond between the sovereign and the people may only be dissolved by voluntary abdication or natural death. The sacred ceremonies of the imperial coronation and anointing realize and effect a mystical, three-way bond of mutual love, duty, and covenantal trust between God, the monarch, and the Aquaen people.
  • All citizens of the Aquaen Empire may freely petition the monarch and his/her consort for a redress of grievances, correction of injustice, clemency or pardon, or investigation of wrongdoing.
  • The Empress/Emperor consort, the monarch’s noble spouse, serves as the monarch’s principal helper, informal adviser, and partner in the burden of imperial rule. The monarch may invest his or her consort with certain dignities or responsibilities, but the Constitution and Imperial Tradition do not confer any such obligations or honours on the imperial consort aside from his or her right to enjoy the imperial rank and style from the moment of marriage to the reigning monarch.
  • The monarch may freely abdicate for his/her chosen heir, but cannot be pressured to do so by anyone. A forced abdication is considered null and void.

The monarch’s governing powers over the Imperium

  • The monarch convenes the Aquaen and Imperial Senates, may prorogue them at will, and may introduce legislation through his or her liaisons to the Senates, two senior, veteran senators who act as the monarch’s representatives in the day-to-day running of the Senates. No imperial legislation passed in either Senate may take effect without the assent of the monarch, who may exercise the power of line-item veto and then reintroduce an amended bill to the chamber in which it passed.
  • Consulting his or her relevant Privy Council ministers, the monarch makes treaties of commerce, war, and peace with sovereign foreign powers, which must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Aquaen Senate and the House of Peers of the Imperial Senate.
  • The imperial prerogative of exercising clemency/mercy: The monarch alone may pardon, reprieve, or commute the sentences of condemned criminals, and s/he may order governors at the lower levels of the Imperium to do either of these on his/her behalf. In the case of the monarch’s temporary incapacity due to illness or advanced pregnancy, the imperial consort may exercise the discharge of this responsibility if the monarch so wishes.
  • The monarch accedes to the Aquaen Imperial Throne immediately following the death of his or her reigning parent and predecessor and the nominal confirmation of the Senates. The principle of automatic hereditary succession to the Throne is embodied by the phrase, uttered by the Lord Secretary General (Chief Councillor) of the Privy Council immediately at the death of the monarch, “The Emperor/Empress is dead! Long live the [new] Emperor/Empress!”. As soon as the monarch’s earthly body dies, his or her heir automatically accedes to the Imperial Throne. In the unlikely event that the previous monarch did not have any surviving legitimate issue, or for some reason the intended heir is unacceptable to the Aquaen and Imperial Senate, the Aquaen Orthodox Church, and the Aquaen nobility and people, then a new monarch is chosen following his or her nomination, election, and confirmation on behalf of the Aquaen people through the motion and majority vote of the Imperial Senate’s House of Deputies and a two-thirds vote in the Imperial Senate’s House of Peers and the Aquaen Senate.

The monarch’s Imperial Privy Council, the Imperial Secretariat, and executive governors under the Crown

  • The monarch’s Imperial Privy Council of 15-17 appointed councillors oversees day-to-day administration of the Imperium, serving as the monarch’s principal advisory body and cabinet. With the exception of the two senior Imperial liaisons to the Senates (who sit on the Council as honorary members), each councillor heads a different ministry of the Imperial Secretariat. All Privy Councillors are answerable to the monarch for their conduct and discharge of their office, and may be censured by the Senates or dismissed if three-fourths of the Imperial Senate and three-fourths of the Aquaen Senate vote to dismiss them. The monarch may dismiss and appoint new members of his or her Privy Council at will, but from time immemorial the monarch has always notified the Senates and the Imperial courts of these appointments.
  • The Imperial Secretariat is the Empire’s bureaucratic organ. Entrance to and advancement in any of the Secretariat’s 15-17 ministries/departments is based on the candidate’s merit, service, professional recommendations, and his or her performance on the imperial bureaucratic entrance exams. The Secretariats are as follows: State (Foreign Affairs), Justice, Treasury, Commerce, Colonial Affairs, Education, War, Army, Navy, Infrastructure (Public Works), Agriculture, Resources, Security (internal affairs and espionage), and Natural Preservation.
  • Each Secretariat ministry/department has a body of 1,000 professionally trained civil servants (responsible for implementing laws at the imperial, regional, provincial, and local levels) to enforce existing imperial laws, statutes, and policies. The monarch appoints the heads of the Secretariat’s ministries, and these must be confirmed by a majority vote of the Imperial Senate and two-thirds vote of the Aquaen Senate.
  • Appointed imperial regional and provincial governors, as well as elected district and local council presidents, are answerable ultimately to the monarch and, more immediately, to the level of executive authority immediately above their own rank. Imperial regional and provincial governors serve 6 year terms at the monarch’s pleasure, and may be censured by the Aquaen or Imperial Senates. They may be impeached by a majority vote, and convicted and deposed by a two-thirds vote of their regional or provincial legislature. District and local council presidents are popularly elected for 5 year terms and may be censured by the district or local councils and removed by a two-thirds vote of the councils.

2)      The Senates:

  • The Aquaen Senate is a 100-member popularly elected body (whose members serve 6 year terms) which governs Aquaenum and its domains. All laws affecting Aquaenum must originate in this chamber, and be passed by a simple majority. For any altered bills introduced following the monarch’s line-item veto, a two-thirds vote of the chamber will pass the altered bill into law. Aquaen senators may freely resign their office, but may not be compelled to do so.
  • The Aquaen Senate must approve by a two-thirds vote all foreign policy legislation coming from the Imperial Senate’s House of Peers, as well as any House of Deputies taxation legislation relevant to Aquaenum.
  • The Aquaen Senate may vote to express its disapproval of and censure the monarch’s conduct by a two-thirds vote, and, in cases of extreme abuse of imperial authority and misrule by the monarch, they may vote by three-fourths to convict and depose the monarch if the Imperial Senate has voted to impeach and convict him/her. Following this, the presiding Lord Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must either confirm or reject the lawfulness of the monarch’s conviction and deposition.
  • In the extraordinary case of the monarch’s conviction and deposition from the throne, the Aquaen and Imperial Senates must either confirm the succession of the former monarch’s designated heir to the imperial throne in the usual process, or, if the designated heir is considered unsuitable for the throne, the Senates must nominate at least four citizens of outstanding merit and virtue as potential successors. The Aquaen people through their senatorial representatives must then elect and confirm one of these nominees as the new monarch—whichever one receives the most votes in the combined Senates.
  • In order for treaties of peace, trade, or war to become law, the Aquaen Senate and the House of Peers of the Imperial Senate must ratify the monarch’s treaties made with sovereign foreign powers by a two-thirds vote.
  • The Imperial Senate is a bicameral 600-member body comprised of the lower House of Deputies (whose members are popularly elected to serve 3 year terms, each representing the province of his or her origin) of 500 members devoted to passing laws regarding taxation and trade, and the upper House of Peers (in which all hereditary noble peers may sit, propose legislation, and deliberate, but only whose elected members, noble or not, may vote on legislation), whose members are elected to serve 6 year terms, each province having two peers representing it. The House of Peers has 100 members, who are devoted to passing laws regarding foreign policy.
  • Unofficially, many newly-incorporated (e.g. conquered) foreign provinces, whose client kings, queens, or local lords swear fealty to the Aquaen monarch and receive the honours, protections, and duties of Aquaen citizenship, choose to send members of their ruling elite to represent them in trade negotiations, meetings with influential Aquaen senators and citizens, appeal to the monarch, etc. These client rulers may write to and petition the monarch and Senates, and, in times of crisis these client rulers may journey to Aquaenum under imperial protection and appeal directly to the monarch for a resolution of conflict.
  • Every imperial dominion — largely self-governing with an imperial governor (appointed by the monarch and confirmed by a majority in the Aquaen Senate), governor’s council, and locally elected legislature, but still under Aquaen suzerainty and therefore subject to the Imperium — may send three representatives to observe and vote on bills and proposals put to either chamber in the Imperial Senate.
  • Every imperial colony — governed directly by an imperial governor and advisers appointed by the monarch and confirmed by a majority in the Aquaen Senate — may send two observer delegates to observe and vote on bills and proposals put to either chamber in the Imperial Senate.
  • All laws introduced in one chamber of the Imperial Senate must pass by a simple majority vote in that chamber before going to the Aquaen Senate and the monarch for approval and assent. Imperial senators, whether peers or deputies, may freely resign, but may not be compelled to do so.
  • For any altered bills introduced to either chamber of the Imperial Senate following the monarch’s line-item veto, a two-thirds vote of the chamber will pass the altered bill into law. If the vote falls short of the two-thirds necessary, the chamber leaders and bill’s sponsor(s) have the option to meet with the monarch or his/her chosen representative to discuss ways to resolve the issues at hand.
  • The Imperial Senate may vote to express its disapproval of and censure the monarch’s conduct by a two-thirds vote. In cases of extreme abuse of imperial authority and misrule by the monarch, the House of Deputies may vote by two-thirds to impeach the monarch, following which the House of Peers may decide to convict the monarch by a three-fourths vote, after which the Aquaen Senate will then have to rule on the case.
  • Elected regional and provincial senates, as well as elected district and local councils, are answerable ultimately to the monarch and presiding governor and, more immediately, to the level of executive authority immediately above their own rank. Regional and provincial senators serve 6 year terms and may censure the regional or provincial governors by a majority vote. They may impeach, convict, and depose by a two-thirds vote their regional or provincial governor. District and local council members are popularly elected for 3 year terms and may censure the district or local council presidents.

3)      The Imperial Courts:

  • The Supreme Court (formerly known as the Aquaen Synod) is the Empire and Aquaenum’s highest appellate court, also possessing original jurisdiction. 12-15 justices serve appointed 12 year terms, and may be reappointed to serve for the rest of their life with the agreement of the monarch and a majority of the Aquaen and Imperial Senates. They may freely resign, but may not be compelled to do so.
  • The monarch nominates all Supreme Court justices, while a majority of the Imperial Senate’s House of Deputies and two-thirds of both the Imperial Senate’s House of Peers and the Aquaen Senate must vote to confirm the nomination.
  • The Court rules on the constitutionality (or unconstitutionality) of all controversial imperial laws, and a majority of its justices may vote to censure either of the Senates for acting unconstitutionally or abusing their authority. Two-thirds of the justices must vote to censure the monarch for doing the same.
  • Justice in Aquaenum is embodied first and foremost by the monarch, secondly by the Lord Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and then, thirdly, by the Lord Attorney General, Aquaenum’s chief prosecutor who serves at the pleasure of the monarch and must be confirmed by a majority vote of the Aquaen Senate.
  • Following a vote by the Aquaen Senate to convict and depose the monarch in extraordinary circumstances, the presiding Lord Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must either confirm or reject the lawfulness of the monarch’s conviction and deposition. If the Lord Chief Justice confirms the conviction and deposition as just, the monarch is immediately considered deposed, and his/her heir automatically becomes monarch unless the Senates object, following which the Senates must then nominate and elect a new monarch on behalf of the Aquaen people in the usual process. If the Lord Chief Justice rejects the conviction as unjust, s/he may, after consulting with the rest of the Supreme Court, declare the monarch innocent, reserve judgment, or, if there is a perceived danger of civil war, refer the case to the Patriarch of the Aquaen Orthodox Church, who may then make a final pronouncement binding on all, on penalty of excommunication.
  • Regional, provincial, district, and local courts function at the other levels of imperial jurisdiction in a way that mirrors the Supreme Court. Regional and provincial judges are appointed by the monarch (or, if a vacancy comes up, by the governor with the monarch’s approval) from qualified ranks of imperial judges to 8 year terms, while district and local judges are elected from qualified local ranks to 6 year terms.
  • Following the rule of precedent, higher court decisions are always binding on all lower courts. Thus, a regional or provincial court’s ruling binds lower district and local court judges in determining their own rulings.

The Early History of the Roans

The Early History of the Roans:

By the Senator-Librarian Armanicus Gracchus

As recorded during the fifth year of the reign of Rothius Augustus,

Imperator and Princeps, First Consul of the Roan Senate, Son of Roetes, etc.

I. The Monarchy

When the gods created the world, the first peoples came from four places. The Children of the Mountains, linked to the sky goddess Roanae, Queen of the gods, dwelt in high peaks and mountains to be closest to their heavenly mother. The Children of the Forests, linked to the forest and love goddess Avumaea, lived playfully in the forests and glens amidst their mother. The Children of the Grass, linked to Caecorae, the god of farming and weather, began in the warming Age of Plows to farm and till the earth, offering their fruits of labour to their god. The oldest people, indeed the oldest life forms, however, emerged not from the sky or mountains, forest or glen, valley or field, but from the sea, the abode of might Roanes, King of the gods.

Taking the name of their father god, a people called the Roans emerged in the land of the Cespedians. Claiming mythical descent from the Turean adventurers who fled their ruined city Turephas after losing a disastrous war with the ancient Phillaen kings Memnon and Agatho, the Roans were first humble fishermen, olive, grape, and wheat farmers, and vassals to the mighty Cespedian kings. The mythical founding of Roanum in honour of the Lord of the Sea Roanes occurred some eight hundred years ago. Arriving on the southern Cespedian coast, the Roans—some 30,000 men in all—found an ideal location for their first permanent settlement, a fertile hilltop surrounded by seven other great hills overlooking the pleasant, deep river Teaban. Tricking the local Cespedian lord into giving him “as much land as could lay within your round leather shield”, the Roans’ leader Roathes the Clever stripped the leather from his shield into small pieces and with the strips formed a circular wall around the base of the tallest hill. This hill, dedicated to Roanes, Roanae, and Hedote, was consecrated as the fount of Roanum with sea water—Roanes’ element—an offering of a dove and a falcon—Roanae’s animals—and an owl—Hedote’s animal.

Roathes the Clever set the Roans to diligently farming the eight hills and the valleys in between. Out of profound piety, he declared that one in twenty sons of Roanum’s first families would serve Roanes as priests. These men, called the Sons of Roanes, caused the first wooden temple to the Three Great Protectors to be built within five years[1]. Determined to gain wealth from their prime location, Roathes sent envoys throughout Cespedia, offering free trade and for Roanum’s noble sons to serve Cespedia as vassals. By Roathes’ death, some thirty years after Roanum’s foundation, some five hundred Roan families had sons serving as vassals to the different Cespedian kings. Roathes was buried in front of the temple to the Three Great Protectors, and his twin sons Rothicus and Racicus succeeded him as co-ruling kings.

To prevent civil war between the two brothers, a council of Roanum’s leading families was called by the priests of Roanes to divide the rule of Roanum between them. Rothicus, the leader of Roanum’s mercenary forces, was chosen to lead the city’s military, while Racicus, a capable administrator, was called to assume charge of the city’s domestic affairs. The precedent for a noble council to be called in times of crisis would ultimately give rise to the Senate, a body of (initially) one hundred leading aristocrats and men of renown that governed in the Republic.

The two kings were understood as the heads of state and principal executive magistrates. Together they functioned as the chief priests of the city, chief lawgivers, and chief judges. The military king, Rothicus, was the chief commander of the army, while the domestic king, Racicus, ruled the city as absolute monarch whenever Rothicus was away. When both kings were present in the city, neither had seniority over the other, but both were regarded as equal. In theory, there were no restrictions on the kings’ powers. The two kings controlled all property held by the city, had the sole appropriating power to divide land and spoils from war, and served as the chief representatives of Roanum during negotiations with foreign communities and in relations with the gods. Out of respect for the collective wisdom of the city fathers and nobles, the kings conferred with the Council of Nobles on all important matters, submitting their decrees to the Council for ceremonial ratification, but in practice the Council always ratified the kings’ commands.

Rothicus extended Roanum’s domains by allying the small settlement with Cespedia’s mightiest king, Caspedar the Strong of the mighty city-state Cespedora. Serving in Caspedar’s armies, the Roan mercenaries gained renown for their unshakable bravery and superior discipline. As Roan military prowess became known throughout Cespedia, myths of their heroism and bravery spread far and wide. They came to be regarded as true “Sons of Turephas”. Given lands farther up the Teaban as a reward for their military service –lands Caspedar dismissed as too poor for use –the Roan farmer-soldiers made use of novel irrigation canals and heavy sacrifice to Caestroma and Caecorae to ensure bountiful harvests that made the badlands fertile. Rothicus attracted many ambitious men from throughout Cespedia to fight under Roanum’s banners with the promise of fertile lands to plough after a quarter-century of military service. The most effective of Roan and foreign-born soldiers alike were inducted into the Silver Company of Aqares, dedicated to Roanum’s defence.

While Rothicus spread Roanum’s military renown far and wide, Racicus had the less glorious but crucial task of managing the city’s domestic affairs. He ruled prudently and by example, not shrinking back from personally supervising building projects such as the fortification of the eight hills with brick in place of wooden parapets and the securing of the twelve springs and cisterns to ensure a fresh water supply for the small but growing city. Realising after consultation with the oracles of Roanes that Roanum’s future lay married to Roanes’ realm, the sea, Racicus fortified the excellent natural harbour at Ocdeum and ordered the felling of thousands of trees in Avumaea’s Glen for the construction of a merchant fleet. This fleet, exporting Roan wheat, olives, grapes, and wine, quickly added to Roanum’s budding wealth by trading on favourable terms with the southern Cespedian and Cescepine cities as well as the Phillaen and Heaphonian colonies on Caccius.

The two brother-kings ruled peaceably and justly, always holding council with the leading men of the city and honouring the gods and their father’s memory. While Racicus oversaw defence and commerce and Rothicus all military matters and foreign policy, both kings administered Roan justice together, holding court once a week and as needed on the steps of Roanum’s temple to Roetes, the Righteous Judge. The brother-kings issued the Brothers’ Ten Tablets, a basic law code forbidding murder, theft, laziness, adultery, rape, dishonesty, and impiety. Unusually lenient, the penalty for all crimes save murder and impiety was not death, but permanent banishment from the city and confiscation of goods by the temple of Roetes. With these laws in place, justice and order prevailed to an unusual degree in the city, and Roanum prospered in peace.

Roanum’s first decades of peace came to a sudden end in the twenty-second year of the brothers’ reign. Caspedar the Strong’s death in battle against King Hypolor the Bold of Nucrantea resulted in his aggressive and disloyal son Casperanus coming to power. After treating with the council of nobles, Rothicus and Racicus decided to pledge their continued service and allegiance to Casperanus, assuming that the new Cespedian king would want to preserve the current arrangement. To all Roanum’s outrage, Casperanus in his arrogance took the Roan envoy, a nobleman named Solethius, hostage, demanding that the Roans pay a larger annual tax to him and, most outrageously, accusing the Roans of failing to protect his father Caspedar’s flank in his last battle against Hypolor. To add insult to injury, Casperanus broke off his engagement to Avumaea, Rothicus’ daughter, declaring he would never marry a woman of lowly Roan birth. He threatened war if the Roans did not comply with his demands.

Rothicus and Racicus took council together, fasted and beseeched the gods for discernment, and on the third day called the banners of Roanum together for war. Avumaea Rothiana, the wronged maiden, exhorted the sons of Roanum to fight honourably to rid Cespedia of the arrogant Casperanus. After offering sacrifice of wine, incense, and a bull before the altars of the Three Great Protectors, the Roan army – only some 10,000 men strong—filed out of the city gates to head north into Cespedia. Under the two kings’ command, the Roans marched swiftly north, surprising the treacherous Cespedian king and his much larger army—some 30,000 strong—at nightfall in the Glen of Hedote some forty miles south of Cespedium[2]. Rothicus led Roanum’s sons in the surprise night-time attack, slaughtering some 20,000 Cespedian soldiers and capturing the arrogant Casperanus and his top generals. Rothicus, wise as ever and valuing peace above vengeance, offered to spare Casperanus’ life should he agree to marry his daughter Avumaea and accept the pre-war arrangement. Casperanus initially refused, but changed his mind when Rothicus prepared to behead him. Accepting defeat, Casperanus agreed to Rothicus’ terms, including sending twenty noble Cespedian hostages to Roanum as a guarantee that he would honour the agreement. Solethius was released.

All of Roanum rejoiced at the victorious return of their army. The noble council ordered a week of sacrifices at the temples and public supplications to thank the gods, while Racicus and Rothicus were hailed as the saviours of the city. Avumaea dutifully prepared to marry her defeated intended, preparing her retinue of servants to bring north with her. However, no sooner had she prepared to leave Roanum than a grim Cespedian messenger arrived at the city gates. Only two weeks after the Roans had magnanimously allowed Casperanus to escape with his life, the treacherous king reneged on his word. His envoy carried with him a black banner, a universal sign for war.

Incensed that their graciousness in victory had been repaid with duplicity and dishonour, the two kings once again led Roanum’s sons north to war. Rothicus sent scouts ahead of the army to warn of any presence of Casperanus’ soldiers. Casperanus, most of his army having been destroyed only weeks before at Hedote’s Glen, called on mercenaries from across Cespedia to “put these upstart Roans in their place.” Some 40,000 men flocked to his banners, though being mercenaries they were of dubious loyalty.

When the brother kings learned from their scouts that Casperanus’ army was an overwhelmingly mercenary force, Racicus came up with the ingenious idea of bribing the Cespedian mercenaries with the promise of Roan citizenship and half of Casperanus’ conquered lands should they turn against the king in battle. By night Racicus’ envoys went out to the Cespedian camps, convincing most of the mercenaries to switch to the Roan side. The following morning, Casperanus’ vast army of seemingly 40,000 men fanned out against Roanum’s mere 15,000 men. Casperanus, sure of victory, did not even bother to disguise his war chest of gold which he had brought with him to the battlefield. As trumpets and drums sounded before the walls of Cespedium, some 55,000 men advanced in battle formation, spears extended. The two armies moved closer and closer together, with King Casperanus bellowing war cries. Suddenly, Rothicus gave a prearranged signal with his hands, and some 30,000 of the 40,000 Cespedian mercenaries turned about, away from the Roans, and fell upon the 10,000 soldiers still loyal to Casperanus.

The Roans’ new ally King Hypolor the Bold wheeled his chariot about and threw his mighty spear with all his strength at Casperanus, still bellowing from his horse. The Cespedian king, struck in the abdomen, fell from his horse, and Rothicus and Racicus charged his last defenders as all Cespedium watched groaning from their sturdy brick walls. Rothicus advanced to where the treacherous Casperanus had fallen, beheading him with a single blow of his great sword. As the Roan king’s generals held Casperanus’ head aloft, his few remaining supporters lost what courage they had and surrendered. The Battle of Cespedium was a colossal victory for the Roans and their Cespedian allies.

Rothicus and Racicus, true to their word, bestowed half the wealth from Casperanus’ train on their Cespedian allies, and then sent envoys into Cespedium to demand the city’s conditional surrender. Rothicus wrote the note personally: “We have no quarrel with you. We only objected to your tyrannical king, who is now dead. Join peacefully with us, enter into league with our city, and no harm will come to you, but instead much benefit.” All non-combatants were to be spared, no women attacked, and the people left in their homes, the city economy left undisturbed. The city, populated by some 100,000 people, was over double Roanum’s size at the time, and the wealthiest in Cespedia. In exchange for an annual tribute of ten tons of gold and silver, acceptance of Roan overlordship, and the providing of Roanum with twenty war galleys a year, Cespedium was spared wholesale sacking and destruction.

The 30,000 Cespedian mercenaries under King Hypolor the Bold of Nucrantea received half of the lands of conquered Cespedium, with the other half going to the 15,000 victorious Roans. Most importantly, as Cespedium became a Roan vassal and some 30,000 Cespedian mercenaries and their families became Roan citizens, the population under Roanum’s control expanded from a mere 50,000 before the war to some 230,000. Roanum thus became a major Cespedian city-state within two generations of its founding.

In order to accommodate such a vast population expansion, Rothicus and Racicus conferred with the noble council, which now included representatives of King Hypolor and the other allied Cespedians. To integrate the Cespedians and Roans, with the blessing of the gods’ oracles numerous marriages were celebrated joining Cespedians and Roans together. Avumaea Rothiana herself married the new client king Clevius of Cespedium, Hypolor’s nephew, with her father Rothicus and uncle Racicus and most of Roanum’s nobles attending the ceremonies. With Roanum’s princess thus becoming Queen of Cespedium, the stage was set for a new dynastic formation peaceably uniting Roanum and Cespedium through marriage for the next three centuries. Kings Racicus and Rothicus invited leading Cespedian nobles, now married into Roanum families, to sit in the much-expanded noble council, which became known as the Roan Senate during the Republic. The kings also set the Ten Tablets as the highest law throughout Cespedia, peacefully uniting the region under one, Roan law.

After a glorious reign of 33 years, King Rothicus died, with his daughter Queen Avumaea of Cespedium and her uncle King Racicus acting as chief mourners. For eight days and nights all Roanum mourned, with men bellowing and women crying their grief. Having no son to succeed him as military king, that role fell to Rothicus’ nephew Prince Laurentius, son of King Hypolor of Nucrantea and Rothicus’ sister Roanae Roathea. King Racicus continued to reign and mentor the young King Laurentius until his death five years following his brother’s. The two brother kings are revered, like their father Roathes and his wife Roanaea, as the founders of the Roan kingdom. Deified as sons of Roetes, Rothicus and Racicus would become models of successful rule for all future kings and later, in the Republic, consuls. Racicus’ son Racinius succeeded him as king over domestic affairs. That year, both Racinius and Laurentius were confirmed in their rule by the council of nobles, which, by tradition, met during any time of crisis and also twice annually.

Under Kings Laurentius and Racinius, the Roan kingdom continued to prosper. Laurentius peacefully expanded the borders of the kingdom north of Cespedia into the fertile Tubisian river valley through marriage, while the Cescepines in their forests and alps were vassalised, joining the Roan foothills with Cespedia to the north and gaining control over the crucial Cescepine Pass between Roa (the foothills around Roanum) and Cescepia. Racinius expanded the burgeoning city walls and conscripted the 4,000 Cespedian mercenaries who had been enslaved for their loyalty to Casperanus to build a network of stone roads connecting the Roan kingdom. He initiated trade with the Eodean lake region, a mountainous land of lakes rich in iron, tin, timber, bronze, fish, and gold, who were vassalised a century later.

In the tenth year of his reign, Laurentius, following Porraen diplomatic insults he could not ignore, launched the successful conquest of the marble, grain, and iron-rich kingdom, defeating King Maneus in battle, slaughtering some 30,000 of the 50,000 enemy and enslaving the survivors. As with Cespedium, the Porraen capital Porraeion (renamed Porraeum) was spared wholesale slaughter after it peacefully surrendered. His troops thus gained access to the wealthy southeastern peninsula’s lands, made rich from Phillaen colonies’ trade with Phillae. Laurentius affirmed the liberties of the Phillaen colonies in Porrae—chiefly Eusebeion, Philanthion, and Nea Phillaeos—and ensured that their commerce was not molested. The Phillaens responded warmly.

Racinius improved relations with the Heaphonians, who by now had established colonies at Sorrareum and Soronium in Sorrae (the southwest peninsula) where several Phillaen colonies (Symptheon and Marcuseon) existed as well. These colonies were crucial outposts for the Phillaen and Heaphonian contest for dominance over Caccius to the south.

By the end of their reigns, after 24 and 28 years, respectively, Laurentius and Racinius had managed to greatly consolidate the gains from the Cespedian War as well as the incorporation of Tubisia, Cescepia, and Porrae into the Roan realm. Roanum was now a major city with over 100,000 people, ruling over most of the west of what would become known as the Roan peninsula. After Laurentius’ death, Racinius continued to reign for four more years alongside Laurentius’ son Hedotius. During this time, King Hedotius annexed the poor borderland of Ostremia as a pretext for conquering the rich riverlands of Potomia opposite the Teaban from Tubisia. After a three year siege, the mighty walled city of Potomium—with its 120,000 people—fell to the Roan army, which, on Hedotius’ orders, sacked only the houses of the Potomian nobles who had defied him. The city and region were annexed peacefully, with the city remaining autonomous provided that it sent 20 tons of marble and 500 tons of grain to Roanum annually. As with the earliest conquest of Cespedium, both Porraen and Potomian nobles soon intermarried with the Roan nobility, sending representatives to Roanum’s council of nobles.

In the fourth year of Hedotius’ reign, King Racinius died, and his son Prince Lucilius became domestic king. Hedotius immediately undertook preparations for the invasion of the extremely wealthy agricultural region of Vinaea, where the Vinae River, a tributary of the Teaban, meanders northeast toward the Phillaen Sea. Alone of all powers on the Roan peninsula, the Vinaen Confederacy under King Arcilaeus had chosen to defy the Roan kings’ demand for recognition of suzerainty. When Arcilaeus had the Roan ambassador to his court thrown from out the palace, over Vinaedion’s towering cliffs into the Vinae below, the Roan kings prepared for war. All Roanum was outraged by the Defenestration of Vinaedion, as the event became known.

While King Lucilius strengthened Roanum’s massive walls and doubled the size of the ancient, noble Silver Company of Aqares from 2,500 to 5,000 men, King Hedotius gathered a massive army of 70,000 Roan and allied soldiers to march north to Vinaedion and punish Arcilaeus for his defiance. On the Plain of Aqarona in the beginning of spring in the second year of Lucilius’ reign, King Hedotius led his great host to a crushing victory over Arcilaeus and his Vinaen Confederacy, whose vast army numbered over 100,000. In the largest battle yet to be fought on the Roan peninsula, some 50,000 men died (40,000 Vinaens and 10,000 Roans). Making use of their superior discipline, the Roans triumphed against all the odds, killing Arcilaeus and his son and heir Arconius in the battle. Despite the smashing of the Confederacy in battle, the citizens of Vinaedion, proud behind their massive ramparts and sure their city could endure any siege, refused Hedotius’ generous offer of a conditional surrender. The great walled city of Vinaedion atop the massive cliffs overlooking the Vinae River fell after a six week siege, with every man put to the sword, the leading defenders hung alive from the ramparts and left to die, and the women and children sold into slavery as punishment for the city’s defiance. Hedotius ordered the city “depopulated and left completely desolate of all life until we see fit to resettle it”.

Vinaedion, renamed Vinaeum, was colonised by tens of thousands of Roans and Cespedians in the wake of the savage sack. Within ten years, some 50,000 Roans and Cespedians had migrated north to construct new plantations and villas beneath the towering cliffs where the Vinae separated from the Teaban. Lucilius effected a massive land grant program whereby any free Roan who settled and started a farm in Vinaea would pay no taxes for ten years, inducing thousands to move north to the fertile river valley, the peninsula’s wealthiest. Vinaea’s peasants were pacified by the offer of Roan citizenship to all who stayed on tilling their lands, while the surviving Vinaen nobility were invited to send representatives to Roanum’s great council and “encouraged” to send a son to serve Roanes as a priest.

With Roan control extending over the peninsula from Porrae in the south to Vinaea in the north, the Roan kingdom was now effectively an empire, drawing on a subject population in the millions, with commercial networks reaching as far as Phillae and Turea in the east and, under Lucilius’ patronage, Heaphonia, Caccius, and even Ceaphonia in the west. Lucilius signed a highly favourable treaty of commerce and alliance with the Heaphonian Masters (the aristocratic council that advised the Heaphonian king) which would be renewed every ten years until the outbreak of the First Heaphonian War during the Republic.

After a long, stable reign of 38 years, King Hedotius died and was succeeded by his son and heir Hedotianus, who deified his father as Hedotius the Mighty for his great conquests. Lucilius reigned for a further three years until his death, and was succeeded as domestic king by his nephew Sorcilius. In the fifth year of his reign, after consulting with the council of nobles (by now a body of over 300 men from throughout the Roan kingdom) and oracles of the Three Great Protectors, military king Hedotianus prepared for war against the fur, tin, and iron-rich northern Artemian Confederacy above Vinaea. The independent-minded tribes and city-states of Artemia had refused the Roans’ reasonable request to send token hostages of goodwill, and, intermarried with many barbarian Phaedan hill peoples of the Phaedan Alps, they proudly refused to punish the Phaedan bands for their attacks on Roan settlements on the north banks of the lower Vinae.

Marching a vast army of 80,000 men (55,000 phalanx spearmen, 15,000 heavy cavalry, and 10,000 archers) north from Vinaeum in early autumn, Hedotianus met no resistance in the Artemian hills, instead encountering only abandoned hill forts and deserted valley towns. The semi-barbarous Artemians, cousins of the Phaedan mountain peoples, had tactfully retreated into the region’s dense forests and high hills. Outraged that the uncouth Artemians refused to engage the superior Roan force in a matched, open battle, Hedotianus had no choice but to try to starve, scout, raid, and burn the Artemians out of their forest retreats. Building a string of earth-and-timber forts and walls to prevent night-time Artemian raids on their camps, the Roans also employed captured enemy scouts as double agents, spreading discord and encouraging rival factions to attach each other. As winter approached, the Roans knew that the Artemians could not hold out in their forest sanctuaries forever.

On the southern shores of Lake Teabanus, the source of the mighty Teaban, at last the Roans had their chance to do battle. Some 40,000 of their men were ambushed on the lakeshores by a larger mixed Artemian-Phaedan force of some 50,000 spearmen, axe men, and archers, who stood between the Roans and their lake fort, trapping them against the lakeshore. In a six-hour long pitched battle, some 45,000 men died on the frigid lakeshore before the Roans were able to cut through the Artemian centre and rout the Phaedans, who fled northwest into the forests around the lake.

Hedotianus’ vengeance for such enormous losses was swift and bloody: he enslaved almost all of the 15,000 Artemian survivors, save their confederate generals whom he crucified on the southern lakeshore. Over five hundred Artemian leaders were killed this way, leading the southern shore of the lake where the Vinae begins to be named the Shore of Sorrows (or, locally, the Shore of Screams). By the approach of winter, a further 30,000 Artemians had emerged from the forests and surrendered: these people were ragged, nearly starved, and in exchange for being fed and houses adjacent to the Roan hill forts they were conscripted in the spring to fell trees, make room for new farms, and resettle their abandoned towns.

Continuing the late Lucilius’ land grand policy in Artemia, within ten years of the Roans’ hard-won victory against the Confederacy some 40,000 Roans and Cespedians had settled in the northern region, establishing the fortified colony of Teabanium in the high hills overlooking Lake Teabanus’ southern shore. While Hedotianus was occupied pacifying and integrating Artemia into the kingdom, domestic king Sorcilius ruled justly in Roanum, using the wealth of silver and gold pouring into the royal treasury to erect marble victory arches, temples, and a new royal palace and public audience hall. He minted a new currency named after Roanum’s chief and patron deity: the gold and silver coroen. These new coins, of precise minting and standard metal content and weight, quickly replaced Phillaen and Heaphonian coins to become the standard vehicles for commerce in the western Taepan. Sorcilius and Hedotianus cooperated diligently in the administration of Roan justice, ordering temples to Roetes built in every town in the kingdom, which served as functioning royal courts.

Since the two kings were not close relatives as all previous Roan monarchs had been, a degree of rivalry developed in the latter half of their reign as to which realm—the military or the domestic—was to have predominance in the kingdom. Both kings sought to further their cause within the (now) Assembly of Nobles, patronising their own supporters and factions at the expense of the chamber’s order and dedication to the common good of the realm. The two factions, favouring either war or commerce, gradually came to dominate Roanum’s politics, with ancient noble houses jockeying and positioning themselves either as “Hedotians” (favouring military expansion) or “Sorcilians” (favouring commercial growth over war). The political drama was made personal in the 20th year of the joint reign, when King Hedotianus’ son and heir Prince Acolianus married a noblewoman, Alia Drusilla, from the Hedotian faction instead of his betrothed, King Sorcilius’ daughter and heiress Princess Honoria Sophia. Princess Honoria retaliated by marrying a wealthy general and nobleman Sacimian who supported the Sorcilians, and over the next twenty years, Prince Acolianus and Princess Honoria vied in public and in private, rushing to outdo each other in lavish parties, patronage networks, donations to temples and civic institutions, and in having children (Prince Acolianus sired 4 sons and 3 daughters, and Princess Honoria 3 sons and 4 daughters).

When both King Hedotianus and Sorcilius died within a month of each other, the stage was set for the first and most disastrous civil war in Roan history. Sorcilius died first, and despite his having repeatedly arranged for the Assembly of Nobles to recognise Princess Honoria as his heiress, upon his death the Princess was outside Roanum at her villa, awaiting the birth of her latest child. The Hedotian faction led by Prince Acolianus, King Hedotianus’ son and heir, bribed, threatened, and even murdered its way through the city’s garrison (the Silver Company of Aqares), preventing the Sorcilian members of the company from proclaiming Honoria as queen and instead putting forward a Hedotian loyalist Toronnius the Elder as domestic king.

Roanum’s populace was deeply divided over whether or not to accept Honoria as Queen—a female monarch was unprecedented, but most sought to honour their oaths and respect Sorcilius’ will of succession. Enough of Honoria’s supporters were present in the capital to forcibly prevent Prince Acolianus from installing Toronnius as king at the Temple of Roanes. By this time, Princess Honoria had received word of her father’s death and her own succession to the dual throne of Roanum. While a merchant-paid mob of her partisans besieged Prince Acolianus in the Assembly, where he sought in vain to sway a majority to proclaim Toronnius as domestic king, Honoria’s husband Sacimian, Roanum’s greatest general after the dying King Hedotianus, lay siege to Roanum, threatening to slaughter the Silver Company if it did not proclaim his wife queen.

Despite the dying Hedotianus’ pleas for his son to accept Honoria’s rule over domestic affairs, Acolianus refused to yield to what he disparaged as “a woman’s government of the realm, which would ruin us all”. The old king, worn down by constant news of the civil strife engulfing Roanum’s streets, was powerless to stop the escalating violence. He weakened and died to the sounds of the Hedotian factions chanting his son’s name, not his own. Now king over military matters, Acolianus had himself proclaimed by the Silver Company in front of the Assembly hall, but the mob of Sorcilians (now called Honorians) reacted by stoning, attacking, and nearly annihilating the company. Honoria’s supporters in the Assembly—half the gathering—refused to accept Acolianus’ rule, even ejecting the priests of Roanes sent by him to mediate in the sacred hall.

With the royal council, Silver Company, noble Assembly, and even the people divided over who was to rule, Roanum descended into the dark depths of civil war. Fathers and sons took opposing sides, brother fought against brother. When (de iure uxoris) domestic king Sacimian’s forces breached the towering city walls, stormed the Silver Company’s fortress (the Aqarion) and put all Hedotian (now Acolian) partisans to the sword, King Acolianus barely managed to flee the capital alive. Queen Honoria took his wife Alia and daughters as hostages, while her husband and their sons exiled Acolianus’ sons to the far north, with secret orders to their guards that the boys should be killed if anyone tried to liberate them.

To the Acolians remaining in Roanum, Honoria’s rule as Queen ushered in a reign of terror. Following King consort Sacimian’s purging of the Silver Company, the Honorian faction leaders began a bloody campaign of reprisals against Acolianus’ supporters. Dozens of Acolian men in the noble Assembly were proscribed, their names listed from the rostrum of the Forum Roanum. These men, sentenced by Honoria and her husband to die as traitors, were given one choice: flee Roanum immediately, taking with them only the barest essentials, or die by anyone’s hand as public enemies.

While Honoria and Sacimian consolidated power in Roanum, sending envoys proclaiming their accession throughout the kingdom, Acolianus fled in disguise to Vinaeum, aided by only a handful of servants of proven loyalty. When the military king boldly climbed Vinaeum’s towering cliffs by nightfall, scaling the walls with his small band of supporters and surprising the city guard, he was able to convince the city’s governor, loyal to the Acolian cause, to allow him to speak before the city council. With bold words, he exhorted the men of Vinaeum to fight beside him to help him regain Roanum’s throne, challenging them “by what right or precedent does a woman think to rule over us, and wives to rule over men?” His first step was to liberate his sons from captivity at the hands of Honoria’s sons.

In a ferocious night-time attack on Prince Honorius’ camp in the hills north of Vinaeum, Acolianus and his band of Vinaen supporters slaughtered hundreds of the enemy, who were caught completely unaware. Mortally wounded by several sword blows inflicted in personal combat with Acolianus, Honorius ordered his guards to leave his side and rush to execute Acolianus’ sons before their father could liberate them. By the time Acolianus at last reached the tent where his sons were, Honorius’ men had killed two of them. In a mad fury, Acolianus and his men hacked Honorius’ guards to pieces and slaughtered the remaining Honorians, crucifying their bodies on the hills surrounding Vinaeum. Acolianus personally cut off Honorius’ head and sent it south to his parents in Roanum. Refusing to allow the man responsible for his sons’ murders to receive a decent burial, Acolianus vengefully ordered Honorius’ corpse set on the Vinaeum city gates.

When the domestic King and Queen received their eldest son’s head at their palace in Roanum, the entire court trembled to hear their cries of grief, lamentation, and rage. Refusing their counsellors’ pleas for forbearance and reason, the Queen and her husband ordered their guards to the palace dungeons where Acolianus’ queen Alia and her three daughters were confined. As the guards burst into the chamber, they shouted for the horrified Alia to choose two of her daughters, with the third to be taken away by the guards and presumably raped or killed. At wits’ end, Alia refused to choose, so the guards promptly slit her eldest daughter Alia the Younger’s throat, leaving the girl dead in a pool of blood as her mother and sisters shrieked in agony.

Princess Alia the Younger’s murder on Honoria’s orders horrified Roanum’s population. Their first queen had behaved with the vengeance and recklessness of the worst of men. While her son Honorius had been killed honourably in battle in defence of his mother’s claim to the throne, she had slaughtered a harmless girl out of spite and a most unqueenly desire for revenge. After ruling for some six months in Roanum, it was Honoria who now had to flee the capital by nightfall in disguise as the outraged citizens called for her and her husband’s heads. Recovering her wits after her daughter’s brutal murder, Acolianus’ wife Alia had managed to smuggle her daughter’s blood-soaked gown along with a note written by her in her daughter’s fresh blood out of her prison and, via a trusted servant, to the house of Procomius of the Ephemian House, one of her few supporters whom Honoria had not had executed.

Procomius promptly had the gown and the note, with his own incendiary annotations, posted to the rostrum publicum in the Forum, where, by midday, an outraged throng of several thousand armed citizens had gathered, calling for the overthrow of the “she-wolf” and her husband. Terrified that the Silver Company were of dubious loyalty, Honoria and Sacimian fled the palace by nightfall with their children and several trusted servants and guards. The same night, Acolian loyalists broke into the palace, found their way to the dungeons, and released Alia and her surviving daughters, who immediately headed to the Forum to rally the people to “hunt down the she-wolf and her vicious cubs”.

In what became known as the “Honorian Flight”, Queen Honoria, Sacimian, their now-eldest son Sacimianus, their other son Maximius, and their daughters fled Roanum for the Porraen hills, taking with them as much of the public treasury as they could carry. In several days they had reached the fortified colony of Porraeum, which became their base for the remainder of the conflict. Sending envoys east to the Phillaen city-state of Pharsalon and the Aellyrian port of Nortonium, both ruled by queens, Honoria forged a powerful foreign alliance with the promise of Phillaen hoplite warrior mercenaries and Aellyrian warships to strengthen her much-depleted military forces. Inviting foreign armies and fleets to the shores of Roa for the first time, the Alliance of the Three Queens—sealed by Honoria marrying one of her sons and one of her daughters to Pharsalon and Nortonium—would haunt Roa for a further century as Honoria’s descendants in Phillae (Pharsalon) and Aellyria (Nortonium) marshalled forces to claim Roanum’s throne.

When word of Honoria’s flight from Roanum reached Acolianus and his two surviving sons in Vinaeum, he immediately gave supplications to the gods before heading south with his army. Queen Alia in Roanum sent an army of 30,000 to besiege Honoria in Porraeum, which within months was reinforced by 25,000 Phillaen mercenaries from Pharsalon. As soon as she became aware that Acolianus had left Vinaeum for Roanum, Queen Honoria sent Sacimian and their son Sacimianus on a secret mission along the west Phillaen Sea coast north past eastern Roa, Ostremia, and Potomia. Disembarking at the mouth of the Vinae, Sacimian and his son and their small band of followers headed northwest into the hills of Artemia, rallying the Artemians and several thousand Phaedan warriors to Honoria’s banner. The Artemian host led by Sacimian swiftly moved south, besieging the Acolian stronghold of Vinaeum.

No sooner had Acolianus and his sons rendezvoused with Alia outside Roanum than messengers arrived at the Acolian camp with the news that the Honorians, led by Sacimian, had begun laying siege to the Acolians’ base of Vinaeum with their Artemian-Phaedan army of some 30,000 men. Appointing Alia as Regent in Roanum in his absence, Acolianus again turned his army north. Defeating a garrison of some 5,000 Honorians guarding the Cescepine Pass—Acolianus had the survivors flayed—the military King’s men pressed on through Cescepia and Cespedia, where client kings, princes, and lords who only nine months earlier had recognised Honoria as queen now bent the knee to Acolianus, providing him with fresh men and horses.

In the Battle of Vinaeum before the walls of the city, 45,000 Honorians (mostly Artemians and Phaedans) did battle against 50,000 Acolians. King Acolianus initially seemed to gain the upper hand, surrounding the Artemian camp and launching a devastating attack which left most of their commanders dead. The Phaedans fought fiercely—including numerous female warriors—scalping tens of thousands of their victims. King Sacimian and Prince Sacimianus challenged Acolianus to single combat to no avail, as the latter dared not risk his life against either man. The outcome of the battle hung in the balance until a contingent of Ostremian javelineers, Potomian slingers, and Porraen hoplites appeared on the horizon behind Acolianus’ army.

Honoria had taken the enormous gamble of sending 15,000 of Porraeum’s defending army of 25,000 north after her husband. The sudden arrival of this relief force, entering the battle shouting Honoria’s name, terrified the Acolians, throwing them into a panic and giving fresh heart to the Honorians. This, coupled with Acolianus’ grief over the loss of his son Acolianus the Younger in battle (Sacimianus had killed him in single combat), was too much for the military King. Acolianus and his sole surviving son  Prince Achorius fled the battlefield only moments before their all-but-certain death at Sacimian’s hands, as the people of Vinaeum, taking stock of the arrival of the additional Honorian soldiers, massacred the members of the city council loyal to Acolianus and delivered the city intact into Sacimian’s hands.

Aware of how close his stunning victory had been to a crushing defeat, Sacimian ordered his soldiers to loot only from the abandoned Acolian camp, sparing the Vinaeum citizens from the customary looting and slaughter since they had freely surrendered their city to him. Ordering three days of solemn supplications to the gods in humble gratitude for his great victory, Sacimian was careful not to repeat the earlier Honorian brutality in ruling Roanum during his pacification of Vinaeum. The city’s nobles and commoners alike were unmolested, the most dedicated Acolians freely permitted to leave the city unharmed, and in the name of his wife Sacimian confirmed the liberties of the city, including the permanent right of Vinaeum nobles to elect three men from among their ranks to send to the Roanum Assembly.

Leaving his son Prince Sacimianus as Regent in Vinaeum, King Sacimian immediately headed south in pursuit of Acolianus and Achorius, who were fleeing with only a handful of retainers toward Tubisium. Sacimian sent assassins to dispatch Achorius, who died in his anguished father’s arms outside the walls of Tubisium, which, ruled by the Honorian faction, had closed its gates to the military King. Contemplating suicide, only the thought of his wife Alia and their daughters helpless at the hands of the Honorians inspired him to continue. The King fled south to Roanum, all the while disguised as a humble shepherd. When he entered Roanum with his son’s body, Queen Alia’s grief was boundless, and the noble lady could not restrain herself from weeping in public. Even Queen Honoria in Porraeum remarked that she could not stomach how her husband had sent an assassin to dispatch her rival’s sole surviving heir.

As soon as she had heard of Prince Achorius’ death, Honoria sent envoys through the Acolian lines outside Porraeum, urging the soldiers to either join her cause or return to their homes. “Why would you risk all and fight for a king whose heirs are dead, a man with no future?” Honoria’s offer divided the Acolian lines, as she had wished, and within hours her partisans turned on those who remained loyal to King Acolianus, slaughtering them as they prepared to launch an attack on Porraeum and capture the Queen. As soon as those loyal to Honoria had triumphed—some 15,000 of Alia’s besieging army of 30,000 men—she ordered them and 10,000 of her own soldiers who had been defending Porraeum to march on Roanum.

For the second time, King Acolianus and Queen Alia found themselves besieged by Queen Honoria and King Sacimian in Roanum. For almost two years the Honorians lay siege to the capital, whose inhabitants were reduced to eating cats and then rats to survive. Only days before Sacimian planned to lead an all-out final assault on the starving city, a malaria outbreak swept through the Honorian camp, nearly killing the King. Ravaged by disease, the Honorians took this disaster as a bad omen, while the Acolians regarded it as the gods’ vengeance for the Honorians’ slaughter of Princess Alia the Younger and Prince Achorius. Faced with an untenable situation, the much-weakened Sacimian was forced to break off the siege, giving relief to the Acolians who at last were able to bring fresh food supplies into Roanum.

Over the next three months, as summer turned to autumn, Roanum’s battered walls were repaired and strengthened for the inevitable return of the Honorian army. The Honorians returned from Porraeum in the fall, some 40,000 Phillaen, Aellyrian, and Roan soldiers led personally by Queen Honoria herself, her husband at her side. Roanum’s Silver Company of Aqares was bolstered by some 5,000 Eodean mercenaries (mostly archers) and some 10,000 Cescepian axe men and spearmen. Refusing to engage the Honorians in a pitched battle where they would be at a tremendous disadvantage, the Acolian defenders of Roanum prepared to endure another lengthy siege. Six months passed before the much-weakened city once again ran out of sufficient provisions. Both kings and queens consulted with their auguries, and it was agreed that battle should at last be joined.

The Acolians’ 20,000 men, aided by 10,000 Sorraen Phillaen and Heaphonian colonial troops[3], drew up before the city walls, with Queen Alia and her daughters the princesses Acolia Hedotia and Aqarona Alia sending their King off to battle armed with the city’s standard before taking their place with Roanum’s leading nobles on the ramparts to watch the battle below. Queen Honoria blessed her sons Sacimianus and Honorius the Younger along with her husband King Sacimian before the men took up their position at the head of the 40,000 strong Honorian force. Battle was joined at dawn and lasted savagely until midday, when King Acolianus sent word to King Sacimian that he wished to fight him in single combat. A Phillaen hoplite from Sorrae had mortally wounded Prince Honorius the Younger, so Sacimian’s blood was up. Despite Honoria and Sacimianus’ pleas for Sacimian not to fight Acolianus, both kings prepared for single combat.

Each man fought with sword, shield, and spear, and in the course of almost an hour both kings fought with the courage and nobility of the bygone Age of Heroes. King Acolianus struck the first mortal blow with his spear piercing Sacimian’s leather breastplate. As he approached to finish Sacimian, to Honoria’s anguished cries, Sacimian unexpectedly rallied to summon the strength to stab Acolianus’ upper abdomen with his dagger. Both kings fell to the ground, mortally wounded, and both queens howled and cried their grief. Roanum’s chief priests immediately came forth from the city walls, declaring that with the two kings’ deaths the gods had at last willed a draw in battle and an end to the five years of bloodletting.

The two devastated queens, Honoria and Alia, were moved by their husbands’ simultaneous deaths and the counsel of Roanum’s priests to at last seek peace. In what came to be known as ‘The Queens’ Peace’, Honoria and Sacimian’s sole surviving son and heir Prince Sacimianus was married to Acolia Hedotia, Acolianus and Alia’s eldest surviving daughter and heiress. Both Honoria and Alia were to have no further part in the rule of Roanum, but they were permitted to keep the title of ‘queen’ and advise their children as queen mothers and dowagers. Sacimianus was acclaimed as domestic king, while Toronnius the Younger, the son of Acolianus’ old ally Toronnius the Elder was installed as military king and married to Acolianus’ and Alia’s youngest daughter Aqarona Alia, who became military queen consort. By uniting the Honorians and Acolians by marriage, and raising an Honorian (Sacimianus) as domestic king and two Acolians as queens consort, the two rival houses were at last brought together peaceably, and five years of vicious, exhaustive civil war ended.

For the next 22 years, Kings Sacimianus and Toronnius the Younger ruled justly and peaceably, aided by their capable and popular queens. In the wake of the devastating civil war, Roan military manpower was greatly reduced. Roanum’s provinces took advantage of this military weakness, with rebellions against Roan rule and taxes breaking out in Vinaea, Artemia, Tubisia, and Potomia. In what became known as “The Taming of the North”, outright resistance to Roan rule was crushed from the nineteenth to the twenty-first years of the joint reign. Only by the help of the gods—Roanum’s priests offered sacrifices for a month without ceasing, and the temples were filled with citizens coming to supplicate the gods for victory—did the Roans manage to triumph over the provincial revolts. Both kings sent their queens as peace emissaries to negotiate several peaceful surrenders and the reincorporation of surrendered provinces into the kingdom.

While Toronnius the Younger quelled the rebellions in the provinces, domestic King Sacimianus had the crucial, though less glorious task of restoring Roan commerce and restructuring Roanum’s depleted administration after the devastating civil war, which had seen the capital depopulated, ravaged by disease, and trade at a standstill. Renowned for his wisdom, Sacimianus reformed the Roan judicial system, requiring all trials to be held in public with a magistrate appointed directly by him presiding if the King himself was not present. Sacimianus also confirmed the Assembly of Nobles’ privileges as the senior advisory body to the kings, to which Roanum’s hundred leading noble families all elected their own members with the kings’ approval. While all ultimate military, political, economic, and religious authority remained with the kings, who were understood and venerated as the sons of Roetes, the Righteous Judge, Sacimianus’ affirmation of the Assembly of Nobles’ participation in ruling (as a consultative body for the kings to solicit advice from Roanum’s leading aristocrats) served to buttress the institution’s political and civic authority a century prior to the founding of the Republic.

King Sacimianus the Wise died in the 22nd year of his reign alongside King Toronnius the Younger, who reigned for a further four years before dying. Sacimianus was succeeded as domestic king by his eldest son by Queen Acolia Hedotia, Ammorianus Hedotius. Ammorianus and the elderly Toronnius presided over the peaceful vassalisation of pine, fish, and tin-rich Eodea in the third year of their joint rule. At his death, Toronnius was succeeded as military king by his second, oldest-living son by Queen Aqarona Alia, Cytimianus Alius. These two kings reigned together for a largely stable period of 26 years.

Cytimianus Alius and Ammorianus Hedotius’ first act as co-ruling kings was to send commercial and political envoys to the Laramian emperor Malek Negeshtizaripal I, who agreed to favourable trade terms which included giving the Roan monarchs a discount for the Naephan and Marphan purple dye used to make royal robes. In the tenth year of their joint reign, Queen Aqarona Philea of Nortonium in Aellyria, a descendant of Queen Honoria’s daughter Lucilla Philea, attempted a massive invasion of Roa from the Phillaen Sea with some 70,000 men and 467 war galleys. Consulting the augurs on the Hill of the Three Great Protectors, the two kings determined with the priests’ blessing to construct Roanum’s first navy in honour of Rodophon, son of Aqares and Aqarona. Under Ammorianus’ supervision, 400 mighty galleys were built in an astonishing six months’ time at the fortified harbour at Ocdeum, while Cytimianus summoned an army of 65,000 men from across the kingdom to relieve Roanum, which Queen Aqarona had been besieging for over five months.

As both domestic Roan King Ammorianus (in the male line) and Aellyrian Queen Aqarona Philea (in the female line) were grandchildren of Queen Honoria, they were cousins, so the conflict came to be known as “The Cousins’ War”. Protesting via her envoy that “I have as much Honorian blood in me as you, and as strong a claim to sit on Roanum’s throne”, Queen Aqarona’s armies ravaged the Roan countryside when the then-outnumbered Roans refused to give battle.

Only in the second year of her campaign, when the Roans had at last broken the Nortonian naval blockade and assembled a large force of 65,000 men from across the kingdom, did the Roans give battle against the warrior queen. In three savage battles, in which Queen Aqarona personally fought against King Cytimianus Alius’ forces, the enemy was gradually driven further and further from Roanum. Like her maternal grandmother before her, Aqarona retreated first to Porraeum, “the Bastion of Queens” before sailing home with her fleet. The first Roan attempt at naval warfare had ended disastrously: in the sea Battle of Porraeum some 300 Roan warships went to the bottom of the sea, outnumbered and outmanoeuvred by the superior Nortonian fleet.

Attempting a second invasion of Roa twelve years later with her son Prince Aqares Philleus, Queen Aqarona this time brought 75,000 men on 500 great warships. This time, the Roans were ready: in four battles the Roans—80,000 strong—annihilated the mixed Phillaen-Aellyrian invading army. Queen Aqarona narrowly escaped with her life, while Cytimianus personally killed Prince Aqares in the fourth and final battle. The Roan navy defeated the Nortonian fleet outside Ocdeum, causing Aqarona to flee to Caccius in an attempt to replenish her forces. She never again attempted to conquer Roa, instead barely surviving a coup against her in Nortonium.

Ammorianus died in the twenty-sixth year of his joint reign with Cytimianus, the thirtieth year of his rule on the domestic throne. His eldest son Alexiorius succeeded him as domestic king, reigning with Cytimianus for four years before the latter died. In the second year of their joint reign, Alexiorius’ second cousin King Honorius Alexius of Pharsalon, another grandson of Queen Honoria, invaded Roa with a large army of 70,000 hoplites, archers, and horsemen and 600 war galleys. The elderly King Cytimianus summoned 80,000 men from across the kingdom to repulse the invaders in three great battles. In the third and final battle, his son and heir Prince Sorthinius killed King Honorius in personal combat, beheading him with his great sword and then ordering the surviving Phillaen generals taken hostage.

Exhausted from the latest invasion, Cytimianus died less than a year later, succeeded as military king by his capable son Sorthinius. In their 26 year joint reign, Sorthinius and Alexiorius presided at last over a peaceful period in which Roanum was free of either foreign invasion or civil war. Steady population growth saw Roanum’s population surpass 200,000 by the tenth year of their reign, while Alexiorius established favourable trade terms with the Phillaen and Heaphonian colonies on Caccius and confirmed the existing free trade terms with Sorraen colonies and Pharsalon.

II. Cespedian Rule

Both kings died in the same year, and their sons’ succession to the dual throne was overshadowed by a massive Cespedian uprising against Roan rule. Some 250,000 Cespedians—over half of the available Cespedian male population—took up arms under the instigation of Cespedora’s client King Cypareus. Both Alexiorius and Sorthinius’ sons were minors, and the Assembly of Nobles was too internally divided to offer competent leadership to deal with the massive rebellion. Within a year, all of Cespedia, Tubisia, and most of Cescepia had revolted against Roan authority. Roan garrisons at Tubisium, Vinaeum, and Teabanium, receiving no orders from Roanum, either acknowledged local Cespedian pretensions or stayed within their own bounds.

For nine years, Cespedian forces gradually seized control of the kingdom, driving out Roan garrisons in Vinaeum and annexing Tubisium and Cescepium in four years. In the seventh year King Cypareus took as a hostage and ultimately executed the Roan Assembly’s peace envoy Claudius Alexiorianus, Alexiorius’ adopted son, and by the eighth year the Cespedians were outside Roanum’s walls.

Roanum fell and was savagely sacked after a nine-month siege. Neither nobles nor commoners were spared as the Cespedian soldiers under Cypareus burned homes and palaces, sacked and profaned temples, butchered priests and the elderly, and enslaved and raped thousands. So began the unspeakable, dark days of direct Cespedian rule over Roanum. For a miserable period of 52 years, three Cespedian kings, beginning with Cypareus, ruled brutally over Roanum from their capital at Cespedora. After ruling over a much-dilapidated Roanum for 19 years—during which time he pillaged the city of its many treasures and routinely assassinated Roan noblemen—Cypareus’ son Cespedorus Cyprear succeeded him at Cespedora. He was even worse than his father, stripping the Roan Assembly of its traditional dignities and savagely executing several noble members who dared to voice their opposition to his rule. He appointed foreigners, all uncouth Cespedians, to all cult divine offices, and insisted that the Roans offer sacrifice to Cespedian gods. He sent Cespedian merchants and adventurers to colonise north-western Caccius, where they quickly began conflicting with both native Caccians and Phillaens on the island’s east and southeast coasts. Cespedorus ruled for 21 years, and was succeeded by his even more brutal and fiendish son Cyraxeus.

Cyraxeus, the most hated and worst ruler Roanum has ever known, ruled over the city for a miserable twelve years, with each year worse than the last. A tyrant in every way, Cyraxeus profaned Roanum’s gods by closing many temples and turning others into theatres or even brothels for his soldiers. He refused to administer basic justice, allowing his Cespedian friends and courtiers to commit all manner of crimes—extortions, rapes, even murders—against Roan citizens and go entirely unpunished. He refused to hear or receive petitions from Roans, failing in his most basic duty as a king. Opposition to his rule among all classes of Roans continued to mount, with several noble families (chiefly the Anonii, Rothians, Drusians, Galonians, and Ephemians) organising clandestine meetings of noble Assembly gatherings to plan to depose the hated tyrant and restore the Roans to self-rule. When rumours began to spread in the Forum Roanum in the twelfth year of Cyraxeus’ reign that the King was planning to abolish and destroy the Assembly outright, the patricians of the Assembly fathers planned a coup to topple the tyrannical king.

When the King abducted and raped the married noblewoman Claudia Hedotia Rothiana, sister of powerful Roan nobleman Rothius Alexius Ignatius, the Roans could stand his abuses no longer. Led by Ignatius and Claudia’s outraged husband Flavius Marcus Anonius, a mob of some 20,000 Roans, noble and commoner alike, descended on Cyraxeus’ palace. All the guards were slaughtered, while the hated king was pulled from his bed, paraded naked to the Forum, and there denounced and condemned as a tyrant, traitor, and public enemy. He was savagely executed before the assembly of Roans: his right hand was cut off and the wound burned with iron, and he was then blinded and castrated before being torn apart and hacked to pieces by four horses sent in opposite directions. His head was sent north to Cespedora with the warning “Never send us another king, or he will meet the same fight as this one.” His sons were blinded and his widow and daughters forced to flee to Cespedia for their very lives. His body was burned and the ashes dumped in the Teaban River.

In place of restoring the monarchy—no Roan nobleman dared propose himself or his friend as king when Roanum’s last king had just been savagely, though justly, killed—the Roan nobles assembled with elected representatives of the common people in the Forum Roanum. After consulting with the oracles and augurs of the Three Great Protectors and offering many sacrifices to discern the will of the gods, the Assembly of Nobles, or Senate as it soon became known, was vested and publicly and sacredly charged with the rule of Roanum and the recovery of the provinces still under Cespedian domination. Thus, some five hundred years ago, the Roan Republic was born, with Rothius Ignatius unanimously acclaimed and elected as the first First Consul (chief magistrate) and Philleus Alexius Galonius as the first Second Consul.

III. The Roan Republic

The Republic dawned almost five hundred years ago at what seemed like Roanum’s darkest hour. The city’s nobles and commoners alike bore the scars of 52 years of Cespedian tyranny. The capital, long neglected and abused by the Cespedian kings, was in a state of disrepair, depopulated, immensely poor, the temples having been pillaged and profaned, the Assembly of Nobles—now the Senate—outraged, and the dignity of the city at its lowest point in centuries. The only common unifier among all the Roans was their great hatred for the Cespedians, especially the memory of the hated Cyraxeus, and their determination that a king would never again rule over them.

The ordinary people (plebis)—all those whose ancestors had not been noble or served as advisors to the kings during the monarchy—were divided by the first act of the Roan Senate into thirty curiae (courts) based on their family ancestry and which tribe (gens) they belong to. The curiae unanimously accepted the rule of the nobles via the Senate so long as they were permitted to form their own popular assembly of commoners, the Concilium Publicum (Public Council), to review and discuss the Senate’s decrees. Rather than risk the outrage and possibly violent reaction of the plebs, the Senate agreed, with the Concilium appointing Marcus Junius Adoleus as the first tribune (presiding magistrate) and envoy to the Senate.

Invested with the solemn rule of the city (imperium), the Roan Senate established in its infancy the absolute rule of precedent, public morality, and deference to the elder city fathers over all legal and civic affairs in the capital. Married to these virtues was the priority of according proper worship and reverence to the gods. The gods had once raised Roanum up to great heights of power and dominance over the Roan peninsula; with their aid, Roanum could be great once again. As with the earlier Council and Assembly of Nobles, every meeting of the Senate began with solemn sacrifice to the gods in which all members participated.

On ordinary days, this meant the usual auspices were taken, augury signs read, and inexpensive sacrifice of wine and incense offered on the altar in the center of the Senate chamber (Cenation); on great occasions of either triumph or distress the Senate would order great supplications to the gods in the form of public processions, hymns to be sung in all the temples, and animal sacrifices on all the city’s altars. By rule of precedent, the Senate always met on the first day of the year and the calends (first day of the month) in the Temple of the Three Great Protectors on Roathes’ Hill. While only senators were permitted to speak, Senate meetings were open to the Roan public and began at dawn after sacrifices, as they still do to this day.

Whereas now the emperor or (if absent) his appointed deputy presides over most Senate meetings, in olden days the two consuls presided, or if only one consul was present, that consul presided alone, with the other consul’s deputy observing the proceedings and reporting back on them to his master. If neither of the consuls were present, the next senior-most officials (praetors) could preside. In times of crisis when the commoner assembly (Concilium)’s wishes conflicted with those of the Senate, the consuls (or, if absent, the praetors) could invite the tribune (senior delegate from the Concilium) to preside over the Senate in order to restore concord and reach a settlement.

Whereas during the Roan kingdom the Assembly of Nobles had functioned primarily as a consultative and advisory body to the two kings—who, rather than the Assembly, retained all ultimate political authority unto themselves—the Senate had now been invested with the rule of the city in the name of the gods and the Roan people. The Senate remained an advisory body to the two consuls on matters of foreign and military policy, exercising great influence over the consuls’ decision making, and retaining all ultimate authority for the management of civil administration within Roanum.

Continuing the tradition whereby leading noble (patrician) families had elected from among themselves their most virtuous and honourable members to the Assembly, the Senate, initially a body of one hundred of the leading aristocratic city fathers, continued in this vein. The Senate had at its roots the aristocratic concept of the organisation of Roanum into individual tribes or clans (gentes), a group of interrelated families ruled absolutely by a clan father (pater). Based on familial lines and geographic place of residence, all gentes, noble and commoner alike, elected annual representatives to the Committia, the Roan Committee, which voted by gens (with each holding one vote) on public matters. The Committia, an assembly of all free Roan citizens, enacted laws, elected junior magistrates (the Senate and consuls appointed senior ones), and tried most judicial cases (all treason trials were presided over by the Senate).

In antiquity, even before Roanum’s founding, the Roan patres had elected Roathes the Clever from among themselves as Roanum’s first king, and during the monarchy had nominated from their ranks representatives to serve on the Council of Nobles (which later became the Assembly and then the Senate). During the kingdom period, the Council/Assembly primarily served to recommend legislation to the kings (who decreed all laws) and, above all, serve as their principal advisory body. While the kings were not bound by the Assembly’s advice, the institution’s growing prestige made it increasingly impolitic to ignore.

Now, with the declaration of a republic, the Senate was invested with the principal lawmaking power (potestas) and authority (auctoritas). Executive authority, rather than being concentrated in the hands of two lifelong, nominally elected hereditary kings, was to be conferred on two consuls chosen from among the senators who would each serve for only one year. So afraid were the Roans of another Cyraxeus coming to power that the new Roan republican constitution (a series of uncodified precedents and laws passed by the Senate, Committia, and Concilium) emphasised the absolute authority of the Senate over the two consuls. In practice, this authority gradually weakened over the centuries as the most outstanding generals in the realm became consuls and amassed more and more power to themselves at the Senate’s expense, but during the early period of the Republic, the Senate’s sovereignty over all matters of political and civic life was nearly absolute. Initially, only noble families were permitted to elect senators from among their ranks, although this was later changed at the behest of an armed assembly of the ordinary people (Concilium Publicum).

As a symbol of their high estate and nobility, senators were entitled to wear a fine white tunic with a broad purple stripe, symbolising their participation in the rule of Roanum, as well as an iron (later gold) ring. In practice, the Roan Senate ruled through the issuing of decrees called senatus consulta, which officially constituted their advice to a ruling executive magistrate (usually the consuls, praetors, or those appointed by the consuls to various lesser executive offices). While these senatorial decrees were not as powerful as laws enacted in vox populi (by the voice of the common people) in the Concilium or Committia with the Senate’s approval, due to the Senate’s prestige, they were usually obeyed. Since the Senate ruled through the acclamation and support of the Roan people, in the event that a senatorial decree conflicted with a lex (law) passed by a popular assembly, the popular law overrode the senatorial decree. However, since the Senate had such high prestige, in practice its decrees, sent to the consuls and the popular assemblies alike, served to guide other officials in conforming to the Senate’s position.

Through these decrees, the Roan Senate gave various assignments and orders to the civil magistrates, especially the two consuls in their prosecution of military conflicts or civic justice. Practically, the Senate’s real power over Roanum’s civil government came from its management of the state finances, as only the Senate could disburse public funds from the Roan treasury. As the Roans gradually reconquered Roa from the Cespedians and began to expand their dominion across the Taepan world, the Senate also gained in authority by administering the conquered provinces, which were governed by former consuls appointed by the Senate as proconsul governors.

The Senate as a body declared war or made peace with Roanum’s enemies, and also held the power to, in times of crisis, appoint a dictator called an archon (usually one of the consuls or a former consul) to rule with emergency powers. In practice, archons were rarely appointed, and while the office was revived twice in the last century, the Senate usually conferred an ultimate, emergency decree called the senatus consultum ultimum, which authorised consuls to employ the use of extrajudicial force to end a crisis.

If the consuls wished to summon the Roan Senate outside of its normal meeting times (once a week and on the first day of the month), they had to first take auspices to see if the gods approved of the illustrious body’s irregular convening before issuing a degree of summons (cogere). Senators were then expected to assemble at the Senate House (Cenation) or the appointed temple for the meeting, with the censor (enforcer of ethics within the Senate) charged with punishing senators who did not respond to the summons.

While in session, the Senate had the power and authority to act on its own terms, even against the will of the presiding magistrate. As a matter of form, the presiding magistrate began each meeting of the Senate with an introductory speech, and then began referring the issues at hand to the senators, who would discuss the matters in order of seniority and rank (later, when wealthy commoners of illustrious birth were permitted to elect members to the Senate, this meant that a noble of equal seniority with a commoner would always speak before the commoner). Because all senators were obliged to speak before a vote could be held on a proposal, and since all meetings had to end by sunset, a senator opposing a motion could use a filibuster to talk a proposal to death.

All votes were between a proposal and its negative, and a proposed motion could be vetoed by majority consensus or the authoritative veto exercised by the people’s tribune from the Concilium. In the event that the motion was considered to be of minor importance (routine confirmations of magistrates appointed by the consuls, for example, or the reissuing of an old tax), the Senate would vote by a show of hands or a voice vote, while more significant matters (new taxes, decrees of censure or exile, or a vote to go to war) were voted on by a physical division of the house, with senators voting by moving to either side of the chamber.

The presiding magistrate recorded any motion that the Senate approved but which was vetoed by the people’s tribune as a senatus auctoritas, while a motion that was successfully passed and not vetoed entered into law as a senatus consultum, an advisory decree which all Roans were bound to respect. At the end of each Senate session, the recorded documents were deposited in the Temple of Roetes, the Righteous Judge, which housed the state treasury. While a vetoed but passed Senate motion did not have the force of law, it did serve to reflect the collective opinion of the body and thus served to inform the magistrates, Concilium, and Committia of the Senate’s position.

The princeps senatus was the first member of the Roan Senate by order of precedence and seniority. Although he held no imperium, the holder of the office had enormous prestige, as he was regularly consulted by the consuls for his opinions, and all senators seeking to introduce legislation sought to obtain his support. Membership in the Senate was strictly controlled by the censors, high-ranking senators chosen for their impeccable honour and unimpeachable ethics. Censors, appointed annually by senatorial nomination, were charged with holding a census each year to determine the population of Roanum (used for calculating grain and wine requisitions) and authorising subsequent elections to the Concilium, Committia, or Senate. The censors could bring articles of impeachment against corrupt senators, which were promptly voted on and, if passed by a majority, the accused was expelled from the body and his assets seized.

A century ago, by the time of Gaius Alexius Marius, who served as consul an unprecedented seven times, property worth at least one million coroens was required for membership in the body, thus ensuring that only the noblest and wealthiest men gained entry into the Senate. By the Marian reforms of last century, a man’s appointment by the consuls to any of the Committia or Concilium’s magisterial offices resulted in automatic election to the Senate following his term as magistrate. This had the effect of greatly expanding the Senate’s size from some 300 to over 600 members by the time of Marius’ death some sixty years ago.

Senators were chosen from only the most honourable and ethical of Roan families. They were required to be married and fathers of legitimate children, and were required to take part in most of Roanum’s major cult rites and divine offices, sending representatives to minor rites if unable to attend in person. Unlike Roan equestrians (knights appointed to the Silver Company of Aqares from among the best military commanders), senators could not engage in any public contracts, including money lending, nor could they participate directly in foreign commerce or leave Roa without permission from the Senate. Coming as they did from the wealthiest ranks of society, as they do today, senators were not paid a salary.

The two leading men in Roan political society, replacing the role earlier filled by the military and domestic kings, were the consuls. The office of consul stood at the summit of the Roan Republic, as it was the highest political office. The consulship was the highest level of the cursus honorum (the honorary course, the sequential order of public offices through which aspiring public servants sought to ascend).

During their terms, both consuls exercised the ultimate executive imperium and auctoritas of Roanum in cooperation with the Senate. Elected from among the ranks of senators for one year terms, the consuls were the highest ranking magistrates and first citizens of the Republic, solemnly vested with supreme power in civil and military matters. Responsible to the Senate, which could vote to strip them of their powers unless one of the consuls had been previously named an archon (dictator), the consuls nevertheless had a wide degree of latitude in setting forth their own policies and obliging the other senators to enact the laws they wished to see passed.

All Roan magistrates (executives) reported to those immediately above them, and could veto decisions made by those at lower levels. Senior executive magistrates were drawn from either the Committia, Concilium, or Senate, but all had to be confirmed in their office by the Senate. Under the two consuls, twelve praetors administered civil law, presided over the courts and trials whenever the consuls were absent, and personally commanded Roan armies under the consuls’ command. Under the praetors, twenty civil justices were elected to preside over Roanum’s domestic affairs and maintain order in the markets, public games, and other entertainments. A fluctuating number of financial ministers assisted the consuls and praetors in raising money for their various obligations.

Republican virtues and ancestral values

Continuing from the monarchy period through the Republic down to today, the highest, unwritten code of conduct and values from which the Roan people derived their social practices and laws remains the “Ancestral Customs”. Uniting all ranks and classes of Roan society, the ancestral customs were the time-honoured principles, models of behaviour, and social practices that defined all aspects of private and public life in Roanum from time immemorial until today. Today, the Emperor as the First Citizen is the chief embodiment of these ancient, ancestral customs (or “way of the elders”). During the Republic, the Consuls and the Senate by their virtuous and noble conduct embodied the way of the elders.

The ancestral customs are transmitted firstly and foremost through the life of the family and household (familia), which is the foundation of Roan society and the source of all moral education. Reflecting the hierarchy of Roan society, fathers rule as absolute heads over their families, while, when the father dies, the widowed wife becomes the head of her family, with her children and their spouses owing her all reverence and obedience. The head of the family is always expected to exercise his or her power in moderation and to act with all honour, dignity, and responsibility on behalf of his or her family. The chief check or balance on the conduct of the head of the family is the pressure of social outcast and censure and the decline of the family’s prestige should the head fail to meet societal expectations in his or her conduct. Children remain in subjugation and obedience to their parents until their parents’ death, with the surviving grandparents the apex of the extended family, held in reverence by all.

The distinctive social relationship during the Roan Republic, which remains in Roan society to this day, is that of the mutual obligations between the patronus (patron) and the cliens (client). The patronal network, in which patrons were often obliged to someone of higher status or greater power and clients often had multiple patrons, served as the underlying societal foundation for Roan business, commerce, and social advancement.

The chief Roan virtues from time immemorial through to today are as follows. They are known as the Nine Cardinal Virtues:

I. Pietas (piety: dutiful respect and justice toward the gods, homeland, parents and family) is manifested by the upholding of all relationships in a moral and dutiful manner. True piety consists in the inner devotion and righteous behaviour of the individual, and was the chief virtue of Turephon, the ancestral Roan hero who fled Turephas in Turea, seeking a home for the Roans west across the Taepan.

II. Fides (faith: a person’s good faith, trustfulness or credibility) is required for the honouring of oral contracts and the basic day-to-day interactions between patrons and clients, masters and slaves, family members, and employers and employees.

III. Religio (from the verb “to bind”) consists of the bond between gods and men, maintained through the proper observance and correct performance (cultus) of traditional religious rites required to preserve the peace of the gods (pax deorum).

IV. Disciplina refers to the martial character of Roan society in relation to excellence in education, prowess in military training, discipline in battle, and overall self-control.

V. Gravitas is dignified self-control, especially required of the head of the family, parents in relation to their children, employers in relation to employees, masters in relation to slaves, patrons in relation to clients, and especially exemplified by the senators, consuls, and, now today, the Emperor and Empress.

VI. Constantia (constancy) or steadiness or perseverance, which all Roans were expected to preserve through periods of trial or adversity, especially members of the nobility and senators in particular.

VII. Virtus (virtue) constituted the ideal of the perfect Roan male. Brave in battle, honourable in all conduct with patrons or clients, respectful toward his wife and children, dedicated to his labour, and devoted to the gods and to Roanum’s prestige and protection, a true Roan male ought always to discern between right and wrong, to know what is good or evil, shameful or laudatory, honourable or dishonourable.

VIII. Dignitas (dignity) is achieved by maintaining and showing the other values and virtues. For men, this should include serving the Roan republic in the form of service in the Roan priesthood, military, or magistracies. For women, this should include serving in the female priestly orders (either from youth or in old age), being an exemplary matron and hostess (if a noblewoman), or (for common women) being a dutiful wife and excellent mother. A man or woman with dignitas, irrespective of whether or not he or she was noble, is lauded for behaving nobly and honourably, and esteemed highly among all men. A Roan man or woman who displays the other virtues becomes a person who possesses great dignity.

IX. Auctoritas (authority) is an ethical concept as well as a political one, meaning prestige or respect. By virtue of a man’s auctoritas in the home, he and his family interact in domestic peace and tranquility; by virtue of an elderly person’s authority over their extended family, proper respect is observed, wisdom transmitted, and the appropriate age hierarchy reinforced. A patron’s authority distinguished him or her from other patrones, making them an honourable, reliable, and virtuous person to work for or serve.

The virtues were—and remain—so highly prized that a Roan, male or female, who exhibits them throughout his or her life will occasionally be given the title of the virtue as a cognomen. The most noted example would be the Roan Senate’s conferral five years ago of the title of Augustus (“venerable”, “exalted one”) on the First Consul of the Roan Senate, the Imperator, General, and nobleman Rothius. The Senate may bestow a cognomen upon a consul or other general who returns victorious from battle, a senior member of its own ranks, any magistrate or civil servant, or a nobleman or noblewoman for an outstanding reputation as a particularly pious, dignified, honourable, or virtuous individual.

In truly exceptional circumstances, the Senate has awarded outstanding commoners with cognomens as a mark of the body’s respect for their outstanding public service, piety, or dutifulness. Several tribunes of the Concilium Publicum were granted cognomens, beginning with the first tribune, Marcus Junius Adoleus. The virtues remain to this day the fount of all Roan accomplishments and triumphs. The ability, through adherence to the Ancestral Customs, to preserve a strong sense of religious, corporate, and social identity while adapting to the changing political circumstances around them is what permitted Roanum’s expansion in the years of the Republic from a small, poor city-state to not only regain its lost dominion over Roa, but to become the greatest empire in the Taepan world.

A Brief History of the Roan Republic

Just under five hundred years ago, the noble Senate unanimously acclaimed and elected Rothius Alexius Ignatius, brother of the outraged married noblewoman Claudia Hedotia Rothiana (whom the Cespedian King Cyraxeus had abducted and raped) as the first First Consul (chief magistrate) and Philleus Alexius Galonius as the first Second Consul.

The Senate elected Flavius Marcus Anonius, Claudia Hedotia Rothiana’s husband and the brother-in-law to Rothius Alexius Ignatius, as the first praetor, responsible for the enforcement of the Senate’s decrees in Roanum and for the prosecution of criminal. The honourable and universally esteemed wealthy plebeian Marcus Junius Adoleus was appointed as the first tribune of the Concilium Publicum.

Both Rothius Ignatius and Philleus Galonius, aware that they held the unenviable position of being the inaugural holders of these new offices, constantly behaved with the upmost decorum and dignity, always showing respect to the common people, respecting the Senate’s wisdom, and cultivating the admiration and loyalty of the nobility. Both men served in their respective positions a total of six times, though, of course, non-consecutively.

Throughout the nineteen years during which they were active in Roan politics, Rothius Ignatius and Philleus Galonius exemplified the highest of Roan virtues, most especially that of being excellent military commanders and superb conquerors. With the approval of the Senate, the consuls set out to reclaim all of Roanum’s lost territories from the Cespedians. Their first target was Cespedora, ruled by Cyraxeus’ nephew, King Cyrenicus the Cruel. Conquering the Cespedian capital would serve as a warning sign to the other Cespedian city-states throughout Cespedia (variously called Roa in the chronicles) to return to Roan authority. Offering humble supplications to the gods, Rothius Ignatius and Philleus Galonius prepared Roanum’s soldiers for war. Carpenters and siege engineers worked tirelessly on constructing massive weighed catapults to rain burning projectiles, large arrows, and stones down on Cespedora’s walls and homes. After three months of preparation, the two consuls sent Cyrenicus the universal sign for a war, a sign that only sixty years before had come menacingly from Cespedora to Roanum’s walls: a black banner.

Marching their host of 40,000 soldiers north through the Cescepine Pass (the Cespedian soldiers there surrendered en masse to the consuls, joining the Roan ranks with the promise for treasure), the two consuls gained some 10,000 reinforcements as they passed through the Cescepine hills heading north toward Cespedia. After a week’s march they drew up outside the walls of Cespedora. Delivering their ultimatum to King Cyrenicus—the city would be left intact if he opened the city gates to the Roans and abdicated—the consuls waited for his reply. Cyrenicus replied not with words, but with an intolerable insult: he ordered the Roan messenger beheaded, and his head and body catapulted over the city walls to the Roan camp. Outraged at the barbaric treatment of their envoy, the Roans prepared for battle, with the consuls instructing them to show no mercy to the city unless it revolted against its tyrant king.

In a fierce, pitched nine hour battle, the 50,000 Roan and Cescepine soldiers slaughtered 40,000 of the 60,000 Cespedian enemy. The survivors were taken as slaves, and those who resisted—some 4,000—crucified or put to the sword. The consuls ordered one last message sent to Cyrenicus—give himself up as a prisoner, or he would face certain death at the hands of the Roans. Refusing to accept Roan suzerainty for his city, Cyrenicus again refused the Roans’ reasonable demands.

Rothius Ignatius and Philleus Galonius personally supervised the preparation of the catapults—all twenty of which were hauled in pieces from Roanum and assembled outside Cespedora’s walls. The city’s massive walls were fifty feet high and fifteen feet thick, but the Roans had no interest in attempting to demolish such solid fortifications, which would need to remain intact if the Roans wished to hold the city after conquering it. Instead, they trained all their catapults on the city’s central stone gates, which crumbled to the ground after less than three hours of continuous bombardment by the great catapults. Roanum’s soldiers gave three cries before pouring over the rubble where the gate had stood and setting upon the city like ravenous wolves. In revenge for the brutal sack of Roanum 53 years before, the Roan soldiers savagely sacked the city, slaughtering tens of thousands and looting every palace, temple, and house they could enter. Some 70,000 civilians were taken as slaves, and millions of coroens’ worth of gold, silver, temple treasures, and confiscated goods captured and readied to be hauled back to Roanum.

King Cyrenicus was dragged from his hiding place in his palace citadel and, along with his sons, beheaded by order of the two consuls in front of the burning temple of Cespedora’s patron gods. Their bodies were quartered and burned, and the remains sent with Roan messengers across Cespedia as a warning for all other Cespedian towns and cities to promptly recognise Roan rule. The 10,000 Cescepine allies were dismissed with thanks and their share of the confiscated treasure, and 5,000 of the Roan soldiers who had conquered Cespedora left in the city to rebuild and begin to transform it into its old Roan name, Cespedium, a new Roan colony.

Leading their 86,000 slaves in chains along with their piles of treasure back to Roanum, the two consuls entered the capital to the fanfare of drums, trumpets, and the raucous cries of Roanum’s 150,000 people. The Senate declared that the consuls be given a triumphal parade, followed by a week of supplications and joyous thanksgiving. For the next month, public gladiatorial games were held for six days and nights, scores of Cespedian generals publicly executed in the Forum Roanum, and the gritty business of selling so many slaves commenced.

Over the next several months, the Senate sent out envoys to Sorrae and Porrae in the south, Ostremia and Cescepia in the central regions, Potomia and Tubisia in the central north, and Vinaea and Artemia in the far north, inviting them to accept Roan suzerainty in exchange for keeping their local economies intact. All the regional capitals were invited to send three representatives each to the Roan Senate. Following the savage sack of Cespedora, no single anti-Roan leader emerged to inspire these peoples to reject the Roan offer, so within several years the entire Roan peninsula was brought peaceably under Roan rule by the two consuls. Remembering how profitable Roan rule had been during the monarchy period, most of the common people in these cities happily reaccepted Roan rule, with only the Vinaen and Artemian nobles dragging their heels in the negotiations. The consuls finally persuaded the Vinaen and Artemian nobles to agree to accept Roan rule on the condition that both Teabanium and Vinaeum, the two regional capitals, would pay only nominal taxes to Roanum for the next decade, during which time they could send five representatives to Roanum to secure their interests.

The Senate ratified the Brothers’ Ten Tablets as the supreme law of the land, and these were again extended over the entire peninsula. Roanum, for the first time in its history, began to look outside the Roan peninsula for possible conquests.

To be continued…

IV. The Roan Imperium (Imperial Monarchy)—see the Companion Guide to The Imperatrix Trilogy.


[1] The first Temple to the Three Great Protectors (Roanes, Roanae, and Hedote) was expanded in the twentieth year of Roathes’ rule, fifteen years after its construction.

[2] The Roan name for Cespedora.

[3] The Phillaen and Heaphonian colonies in Sorrae sought to keep the Roans weak by prolonging the civil war, thereby keeping Roan attentions divided and away from conquering them.

Gods of Ancient Roa: The Roan Heavenly Family

The Heavenly Family: The 12 principal deities of Roa – worshipped from time immemorial until the Christianization of the Roan Empire in the fourth century by Aquaeas I Constantinius

Roanes – Chief God, god of the sea, creator of all things, and patron deity of Roanum.

Known as ‘the Father Below’, King of the Gods, and Lord of the Sea, his sacred animals are the dolphin, orca whale, porpoise, and shark.

Roanae – Chief Goddess, goddess of the sky, women, children, and marriage. She protects women during pregnancy and childbirth.

Known as ‘the Mother Above’, Queen of the Gods, and Lady of the Sky, her sacred animals are the eagle, falcon, hawk, dove, and lioness.

Hedote – goddess of knowledge, wisdom, and learning, the Roans did not change her name when they adopted her from the Phillaens. As a tribute to Hedote, all schools in Roa and throughout the Empire have a shrine to her in the central courtyard. She is Roetes’ older twin sister.

Known as the Bringer of Wisdom, Fount of Understanding, Teacher of Knowledge, and Lady of Scrolls, her sacred animals are the owl, fox, cat, and great ape.

Roetes – god of the law and justice. He decides the eternal fate of every soul by weighing the heart and soul of each person with his Scales of Immortality. Since the Roan Emperor is the maintainer of the imperial laws and order, and the chief earthly judge, he is considered a spiritual incarnation or son of Roetes. Every Roan law court has a shrine to him, and his statue crowned the roof of every courthouse. He is Hedote’s younger twin brother.

Known as the Righteous Judge, Searcher for Truth, and Dispenser of Justice, his sacred animals are the lion, horse, and the stag.

Aqares – god of warfare and battle. He guides and strengthens soldiers in their military training, fights with the Roans in battle, and helps Roan soldiers survive battle. Soldiers and knights alike dedicate their swords to Aqares’ service. All military fortresses and army barracks have a temple to him and his twin sister-wife Aqarona.

Known as the Bestower of Glory, Protector of Soldiers, and Lord of Swords, his sacred animals are the bull, male wolf, and mountain lion.

Aqarona – goddess of warfare and battle, she guides and strengthens soldiers in their military training, fights with the Roans in battle, and helps Roan soldiers survive battle. Aqarona protects the innocent from attack during wars. All military fortresses and army barracks have a temple to her and her twin brother-husband Aqares.

Known as the Bringer of Victory, Champion of Soldiers, and the Queen of the Valiant, her sacred animals are the female wolf, mountain lioness, and mother bear.

Rodophon – god of naval warfare and ships, he commanded the Roans to build their first navy to honor him, his parents Aqares and Aqarona, and his grandfather Roanes. Rodophon leads the Roan fleet in naval battles, helps sailors survive, and protects merchant ships from pirate attacks and storms. All ships are dedicated to him at their launching, and have a shrine to him. Rodophon is Roanes’ favorite grandson.

Known as the Lord of Ships, Guardian of the Navy, and Master of the Waves, his sacred animals are the seagull, all sea birds, and the whale.

Avumaea – goddess of love and beauty, she defends the honor of virgins, protects the sacredness of marriage along with her mother Roanae, and brings together men and women destined to marry.

Known as the Queen of Love, Protector of Virgins, and Mistress of Romance, her sacred animals are the swan, deer, and any animals found mating.

Kaecotes (Caecotes) – god of the stars and keeper of time, he rules the moon and all stars in the universe except the sun, and foreordains the moment of death for every person in the world. As Lord of the Tides, he helps his father Roanes assist sailors, ship captains, and fishermen alike in navigating their way across the seas. He is Kaestroma’s twin brother-husband.

Known as the Lord of Ages, Lord of the Tides, Keeper of Time, King of the Moon, and Master of Life and Death, his sacred symbols are the North Star/Polaris, full moon, and lunar eclipse.

Kaestroma (Caestroma) – goddess of the sun, other planets, and astronomy, she rules the sun and all planets in the universe. Farmers pray to her for plentiful harvests and calm weather. She is Kaecotes’ twin sister-wife.

Known as the Lady of Light, Bringer of Light, Queen of the Sun, and Mistress of the Harvest, her sacred symbols are the comet, the rising and setting sun, and solar eclipse.

Kaecorae (Caecorae) – god of the weather, the sun’s rays, and farming. He is Kaecotes and Kaestroma’s favorite and eldest son, imprisoned by his wicked brother Kaestermes every winter.

Known as the Lord of Light, Bringer of Rains, and King of the Harvest, his sacred animals are the ox and field mice, while his sacred symbols are the sunshine, spring rain, and sun showers.

Kaestermes (Caestermes) – wicked god of death and ruler of Kaestermos, the nighttime kingdom of the dead. Feared by all, no one prays to him except to invoke a curse against an enemy. He is Kaecotes and Kaestroma’s hated younger son, who imprisons his beloved brother Kaecorae every winter. Kaestermes expresses his wrath with thunder and snowstorms that destroy harvests.

Known as the Lord of the Shadows, Lord of Darkness, Lord of Death, Bringer of Despair, and Master of Grief, his sacred animals are the crow, vulture, and snake, while his sacred symbols are fog, untamed fire, and the first winter frost.

Ancient Roans worshiped the Heavenly Family as their twelve main gods. By the fourth century AD/CE, some Roan philosophers regarded the twelve as manifestations of the immutable, immaterial One God, also known as the One Beyond Being. The One, according to the Roan philosophers, acts through the twelve and lesser deities, since action itself is beneath its transcendent dignity and power. While offerings of incense, candles, hymns, and animal sacrifices were acceptable and pleasing to the twelve members of the Heavenly Family, the One could only be worshiped in profound silence, with noetic prayer the truest form of oblation. In the ontological hierarchy beneath the One were, firstly, the Heavenly Family, and then lesser deities.

The Roans believed these twelve deities controlled all aspects of life in the universe. Responsible for everything that occurred, whether it was a natural disaster or a bloody war, a good harvest or victory in battle, a strong marriage or the safe delivery of a newborn child, or something to do with the sky, sun, moon, or stars, the twelve gods ruled the universe with their awesome powers. Roan religion also acknowledged numerous other lesser gods, including local cities’ patronal deities, individual families’ deities, and protector gods of the household and hearth, but these were considered manifestations of the twelve.

Shrines to the Heavenly Family dotted every Roan road, while every city, from small provincial towns to great provincial capitals and Roanum itself, had stately marble temples to these principal deities. In all great temples, priestesses or priests tended the sacred fires to the gods which continuously burned with some form of sacrifice on the altar, while in household and roadside shrines a lit candle or ever-lit censer fulfilled this obligation to constantly wait upon the gods. For the poor, oblations of wine and incense were the most common forms of sacrifice, along with offerings of flowers.

In Roanum itself, the great cult temples to the Heavenly Family surrounded the Forum Roanum, with the greatest temple complex, the Temple of Roanes, centered on the triad imperial cult of Roanes, Roanae, and Hedote (“The Three Great Protectors”). Each of the twelve gods had their own priesthoods, and the high priest of Roanes served as the senior-most religious figure in the empire. All the twelve gods of the Heavenly Family were related to each other, as 7 were the children of Roanes and Roanae, and 3 their grandchildren.

The Imperatrix Trilogy: An Introduction

Welcome to my online page dedicated to The Imperatrix Trilogy, my forthcoming novel, as well as the Companion Guide to Imperatrix and various articles on the “back history” of the Roan and Aquaen Empires. My intention is to post in chronological order; that is, to begin in the beginning and end in the end, moving from ancient history to modernity. As such, I will first be posting history about the founding of Roanum, the monarchy period, then the republic period, and finally the period of the Roan Imperium or Empire. I will then share the Companion Guide, which lists all Roan and Aquaen emperors and their dynasties from the foundation of the Roan Empire up to present day. I will then share select installments of Imperatrix itself.

I’ve always loved history, especially that of ancient civilizations such as Classical Greece and Rome, and the periods of the Italian Renaissance, medieval and early modern Russia, the English War of the Roses, English Tudor and Scottish Stuart periods, and the French Enlightenment. Beginning in fifth grade when my class started studying the ancient Mesoamericans, I started writing stories, drawing maps, sketching cities and buildings about different “alternate civilizations” vaguely inspired by the real civilizations I studied. In fifth grade, I wrote about a fictitious native American civilization, the Joutetlans, that escaped conquest by the Spanish conquistadors. In sixth grade we began learning about the River Valley civilizations of Sumer, Harappa, Egypt, etc, and then Classical Greece, Rome, and Byzantium. My interest in all these civilizations manifested itself in essays in which I included way too much outside information, homework for Social Studies that I loved doing, and, generally, being a history nerd.

Now, years later, I seek to share the writings, drawings, and sketches I made of an alternate civilization inspired by the Roman, Byzantine , Russian, and British Empires. I started writing Imperatrix when I was 15, based on what was then my craze, the English Tudors, and, specifically, Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. Between then and now, I developed a whole novel and related drawings and writings around a fictional civilization, the Aquaen Empire. It incorporates elements of the Classical Greek and Roman as well as Orthodox Byzantine culture. Politically, the Empire is a unique combination of an imperial monarchy like in late Rome or Russia with underlying elements of aristocratic rule and a few aspects of a democratic republic like in America today.

The novel, Imperatrix, is about the epic life of a woman who never existed, Maria Regina Gregoria (1486-1569), one of the Empresses of the fictional Byzantium-based empire called “Aquaenum”. Maria Regina is very much her own character, but in terms of character influences, she is essentially inspired by the most influential women who ever lived in Western history: Cleopatra, Zenobia, Tamar the Great, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Catherine the Great.

Happy reading!

-Ryan Hunter

Long Island, New York. Summer 2015