Friday, September 24, 2010

CC: Ignatius Weirwane the III, Late Emperor

also known as Ignatius Noblemaker, Ig the Irascible, and (pejoratively) the Petty Emperor

Ignatius the III had a relatively brief and revolutionary rule. Originally, Ignatius abdicated his claim to the Empire's throne in favor of a quiet life of study and contemplation. Noted as a philosopher and a self-taught businessman, Ignatius parlayed his social standing and allowance from the Imperial purse into the funding of several failing guilds. Buoyed by his support and directed by his vision, the Honored Guilds of Steelworkers, Mechanists, Farmers, and Grocers entered into an alliance that saw tremendous advances in agricultural efficiency. Behind the scenes, Ignatius pressured his father and Royalist peers to pass legislation helping to protect the quality of life of the lower classes.

This is not to say that he was particularly popular among the lower classes--or the nobility, for that matter. Ignatius Weirwane the III was a terribly uncharismatic man with a drawling, gravelly voice and a distinctly unpleasant demeanor. His uncompromising sense of morality earned him a reputation as a hardliner. In one popular apocryphal account he was subject to a mugging. His alleged response has become a popular political slogan: "You'll take nothing from me you haven't earned, whether it's my money or my life."

When his father, Raphael the VII, finally died a few months after his centennial birthday, the Empire was struck by tragedy. Raphael the VIII, Ignatius' younger brother and then-heir apparent, was assassinated on the eve of his coronation. Ignatius, already nearing his sixtieth birthday, at first refused to reclaim his title--much to the joy of the Nobilist peers--he was at last swayed after meeting with a Guildsmaster of the Honored Guild of Farmers, a man known as Jackelepski Vimes. With the frenzied support of the common men and women of the Empire, the Congress of Peers had no choice but to accept Ignatius as their new Emperor.

The majority of his rule was a struggle against the Congress, testing their boundaries and comfort zones. His browbeating rhetoric saw several improvements to the rights and quality of life of common people, with new liberties given to the guilds. By far, his most astounding accomplishment was the passing of the Act of Least Nobility, creating a second, lower house to the Congress of Peers. Every guild and town was given representation within the House of Petty Nobles. The Greater Nobles, representatives of the five great City-States of Weirwane, balked at this assault on their power, and that nation was very nearly at war.

Less than six months later, Ignatius died in the hellish explosion that utterly destroyed the Summer Palace just days before the Royal Family was to tour the Empire in full during their procession to the Winter Palace.

Now a martyr, Ignatius has been recast and reimagined by both his former allies and enemies. To the Royalists, he was a reluctant Emperor, wise and fastidious. To the Nobilists, he was a tragic figure undone by his trust in the lower classes. To the Petty Nobles and the countless villagers and guildsmen enfranchised by his efforts, he was a hero. None can deny the truth, however: he was the last of the Weirwane line, and the Empire must change.

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