Civil War (604 to 622)
Fought between various factions within the Imperium for control of the bureaucracy.
It had its origin in the strain on communications within the Imperium
caused by the long lag times dictated by the very size of the Imperium. To
cite one cause, however, would be simplistic. The diverse backgrounds
of the many constituents of the Imperium had its effects, as did rivalry
for power by major naval and military commanders and a lessening in the Imperium's
The spark which started the Civil War came from
the First Frontier War (589 to 604)
in the Spinward Marches. Communication
lags and a lack of preparedness forced the Marches to conduct most of the
war on its own with little additional help or support from the Imperium.
Grand Admiral of the Marches Olav hault-Plankwell forced
the war to an end and found solid support for a new government. Marching
on Capital with his war fleet,
he forced an audience with Empress Jacqueline 1, supposedly for recognition
of his war effort. In the course of the meeting in 606, he personally murdered
the Empress, and then proclaimed himself Emperor by right of fleet control.
The ensuing power struggle lasted through 18 years and 18 emperors.
The fighting in the Civil War was of two varieties: fringe battles for power
bases, and central battles for power in the Core. The fringe battles
were fought throughout the Imperium as rival factions recruited forces. Once
any power block built up enough strength to make a victory seem possible,
the forces were moved to the Core and used to either seize power or to wrest
it away from someone else.
But there was also a cheaper, easier route open to many. The dynastic
crisis of 244 had produced a precedent for the assassination of the emperor
if he or she overstepped the bounds of legitimate activity. The concept
was introduced to legitimize the elimination of Cleon the Mad and was never intended
for any other purpose. Nevertheless, in the turmoil of the Civil War,
assassination was introduced and accepted, at least by those utilizing the
technique, as a way of promoting a succession in government.
The line of Emperors during the Civil War came mostly from naval officers,
and they are collectively called the Emperors of the Flag. Of these
eighteen, seven were assassinated, ten were killed in battle, and one survived
During the course of the Civil War, the Outworld Coalition (of Zhodani and Vargr)
saw that their defeat in the First Frontier War at the hands of Olav need
not be permanent. They attacked again in the Second Frontier War (615 to 620).
Their defeat in that war had greater effects than they would know. Grand
Admiral Arbellatra managed the meager forces of the Imperium against the
Coalition and managed to force a second defeat.
Arbellatra's strategy after the war was (like Olav) to march on the Capital
and seize power. She, however, did not make the mistake of seizing
the throne. Instead, she defeated the putative emperor and then took
possession of power, holding it in trust for a rightful successor. She
held the post of regent for seven years while a search for a member of Jacqueline's
family could be found to take the throne.
In the stability that followed with her as regent, she made an impression
on the Moot and succeeded in establishing a broad
power base. Ultimately, the Moot approached her to take the throne
herself, an end which was probably in her mind all along.
With the end of the two Frontier Wars
and the Civil War, the Imperium entered a period of renewed expansion and
consolidation. The express boat
system was established to enhance government, commercial, and private communications;
the Solomani influence in the Imperium was
lessened and replaced with a more cosmopolitan policy; renewed efforts at
interior development of existing Imperial territories provided a new focus
for the nobles of the Moot.