Speculations on the Emergence of the Imperial Bloodlines
Speculations on the Emergence of the Imperial Bloodlines
When one hears the term “monarchy”, one usually imagines a relatively orderly passing on of power along a single line of descent, with sudden switches to other family lines being regarded as unusual at best and often even illegal. In this light, one might wonder at the system of inheritance used in Shireroth. In comparison to those monarchies in which the line of succession has already been determined by birthright, the system of maintaining multiple parallel bloodlines, each of which has an equal right to hold the Golden Mango Throne, might seem chaotic and unlikely. How did such a system arise?
For an explanation, we must look back to the very beginnings of Shireroth, indeed to Raynor I himself. Raynor was a descendent of the Emperors of Khaz Modan, who from the available evidence passed their inheritance along lineally, from father to son. Although no written evidence remains of Raynor’s thoughts on the succession, there is no reason to think that he intended to abandon this original conception. Indeed, upon his death, he was succeeded by his elder son Brrapa (the eldest child was a daughter, but in those days women were not eligible to assume the throne).
Likewise, when it came time for Brrapa I to pass on, it was his own son, Erik I, who became Kaiser. And had things continued from there, it seems likely that the succession would have remained in the Line of Metzler from then on. But an abrupt and crucial change came in b2248, when the Kaiser perished early, after having reigned a mere 19 years (short indeed by the standards of his predecessors). Kaiser Erik had been riding through the newly-conquered lands in what is now Elwynn with his wife and infant son when their party was ambushed by the vengeful natives; the Kaiser, his family, and all his bodyguards were believed dead.
Kaiser Erik had had no brothers, and his only son had disappeared with him. His cousin, the son of Brrapa's younger brother Mortis, was busily engaged in the subjugation of Yardistan; it was quickly realized that his ascension as Kaiser would be infeasible. Thus was the throne instead passed to the descendent of Raynor's daughter, through whom the imperial blood still ran true even if she herself had not be eligible to rule. This descendent assumed the throne as Raynor II.
Raynor II, as well, intended to continue the tradition of passing the throne of father to son, but this was not to be. The new Kaiser spent most of his reign involved in revenge against the natives of Elwynn for their actions. About halfway into his forty year reign, however, he discovered that the Line of Metzler had not been extinguished as thoroughly as had originally been supposed. During a raid on a native village, his soldiers discovered that although Kaiser Erik had indeed been killed, his wife and son had lived in captivity for the past twenty years! Upon being rescued, the two were immediately brought back to Shirekeep.
Kaiser Raynor was gladdened to learn of the survival of his kinsmen, and welcomed them home. But he found himself faced with the difficult choice of succession; however much he wished his own descendents to inherit the Kaisership, the rightful heir of the monarchy had proven alive and well. In the end, the Kaiser felt obligated by duty to name the son of Erik as his heir, allowing the inheritance to pass back to those who had once held it.
After the death of Raynor II, the young man became Kaiser as Brrapa II. But although the Line of Metzler had been restored to the throne through his ascension, the new Kaiser was an individual with a highly developed sense of justice. Knowing the sacrifice his mentor had made in placing him as heir above his own children, Brrapa decided to reward the gesture. Upon assuming the throne, he issued a decree that would become the foundation of the Shirerithian form of succession, in which he stated that
“although the scions of Brrapa the First, have by and large held claim to the Crown since the deaths of that august Kaiser, let it not be forgotten that he was but the child of Raynor the First, whose royal blood continues through the descendents of all three of his children. So too does the right to hold the Crown as Kaiser extend to all the descendents of Raynor; and when it seems appropriate for the good governance of Shireroth, the succession may pass from descendents of one line to those of another, as it did in the case of Our own predecessor, Raynor the Second.”
This decree proved to be a wise move in the short term. Brrapa II reigned only for a short time (11 years), shorter even than his father; he died in battle, continuing his predecessors’ wars against the Elwynnese with particular zeal. The decree was put to an immediate test; Brrapa’s son was too young to take the throne, and no other heir had been specified. It was with the backing of the heir to the Line of Mortis that Nicholas du Grifos was chosen.
Nicholas I was the first Kaiser not to have male-line descent from one of the three original Bloodlines. His father's ancestors were scions of the family that had provided (somewhat erratic) leadership of Yardistan; but his mother was a child of the Line of Raynor. The union itself had been an act of political unification, but the heirs of Mortis realized that the incorporation of the newly conquered Yardistan might be eased even further if the islanders were ruled by a man with Yardistani blood. Moreover, by the decree of Brrapa II, he was eligible for the Kaisership as a descendent of Raynor I. The Line of Raynor, delighted to have a relative on the throne, quickly agreed to the choice.
To the credit of Kaiser Nicholas, the political nature of his ascension did not render him weak; not one to be a puppet of any of the interests that had placed him on the throne, and he judged all under his rule fairly, showing no (particularly noticeable) bias toward his father’s people. Yet this was not enough to convince all that he was anything more than a crazy Yardistani, nor could he assuage public concern over the possible continuance of his line as heirs to the throne. Therefore, as he grew older, he decided to circumvent any further controversy by choosing as his heir a different and far more respected offshoot of the Raynor line, a man who eventually become Kaiser Paul I, the founder of the Line of Ly'Technomaezj.
From that point onward, the practice of choosing an heir from a different Imperial Bloodline became tradition, to the point of being an institution. Not all descendents of Raynor were happy with this arrangement, of course; the idea of depriving their own children of a chance at the throne made many resentful. Yet by and large, the tradition was accepted as a positive (undoubtedly aided by the tendency of non-reigning Bloodlines of becoming high nobility). And although several cases existed of the throne passing from father to son over an extended period, particularly during the time of the three Alexander Kaisers (Marcus I, II, and III) and the Metzler-Ly’Technomaezj Dynasty, ultimately the tradition of passing the Kaisership between Bloodlines has remained the expected norm up to the present.