Cesarina Louise (3rd of the Sun’s Smile, 1697 - 13th of the Snow's Maiden, 1730), also known as Cesarina "the Vile" and Cesarina of Marna, was the mother of the Orenian emperor, Alexander II. She styled herself as the Empress-Mother of Oren and was the indisputable leading lady of her son’s court.
The woman was widely disliked for her controlling nature, haughtiness, and complete lack of respect for traditional Orenian patriarchy. In addition to being infamous for her personality, she is also well known for her grisly assassination in a throne room that led to her unborn child being cut out of her stomach. After her highly publicized death and posthumous labor, surgical operations in which a baby is cut out of a mother's belly came to be known as "Cesarean sections".
Cesarina Louise was born to John Horen-Marna and his Savoyardic wife, Margarita de Falstaff, on 2nd of the Sun’s Smile, 1697, in Shafei, Khalestine. Due to a sizeable age gap between herself and her two older siblings, Joseph and Ernesta, it is believed that Cesarina was the product of an accidental pregnancy. Another factor that supports the aforementioned belief was that at the time of her birth, her family was still living in exile, and did not necessarily have all the funds necessary to support a third child.
Nevertheless, her family simply had no choice but to accept the young Marnan and attempt to raise her the best they could. As stated prior, Cesarina’s parents did not have much wealth, so most of her lessons on things such as etiquette and womanly graces were passed down to her by her mother and elder sister. In addition to receiving homemade teachings on decorum, Cesarina was also taught how to read and write by her very own father. Her upbringing would only become more grand after she became a court favorite of Emir Abbas al-Hrun, he apparently liked Cesarina for her witty nature, and he later had her installed in his harem so that she may be educated by his multiple wives and learned eunuchs. While Cesarina received an education befitting a Qalasheen princess, her family was obtaining multiple important positions in the courts of various emirs.
Unfortunately for the young Cesarina, she never found Khalestine’s very hot climate agreeable and had many bouts of illness in her youth. After she suffered a severe heatstroke when she was eleven, it was decided by Emir Abbas and her family that she should reside elsewhere. Her family wished to marry her off to some rich merchant that resided in northern Aeldin, so that Cesarina could fund her family’s many ventures, but the Emir did not wish for her to take part in a lowly marriage. He wanted a title and a royal life for someone he had raised as if she were his own daughter, so he went about offering her hand to many Aeldinic royal houses. Many ruling families wanted the Horen scion, and eventually, she was betrothed to a Banardian prince, Duke Benoît-Clément of Angoulême.
After undertaking the long and arduous journey from Khalestine to Banardia, Cesarina was wed to Prince Benoît-Clément in a ceremony full of great pomp and extravagance. At the time of her wedding, she was twelve, and her bridegroom was fifty-six. It is known that Cesarina opted not to wear white, and instead wore a blood-red sack-back gown with one-foot panniers, Qalasheen bangles, and a gray powdered wig.
Her time in the Banardian court was largely controversial, seeing as she commonly quarreled with her mother-in-law, Queen-Regnant Marguerite, who was just as headstrong as her, and she argued frequently with her husband. Cesarina and Benoît’s relationship was extremely erratic: some days they were best friends, some days they were the greatest of enemies. One day, during a salon, Cesarina even went so far as to publicly accuse her husband of taking male lovers. After such a bold claim, she was apparently sentenced to a week of solitary confinement in her apartments by her mother-in-law. However, Cesarina’s words about her husband hardly came as a surprise to many, seeing as it was widely known that Benoît-Clément was abnormally close with his fellow courtier, Raphaël-Rémy de Vinlet.
Shortly after Cesarina was granted permission to reenter court life, Queen Marguerite promptly accused the Marnan of having an affair with Crown-Prince Roland, Benoît’s elder brother, and banished Cesarina from court. It is unknown if Marguerite’s accusation was true or not, but it is known that the young Horen left the court quickly with no complaints, and she was also pregnant at the time.
Months after Cesarina’s dismissal from court, Benoît-Clément died of gout. At the time, she was still pregnant and installed herself as the Duchess-Regent of Angoulême in an attempt to protect her unborn child’s inheritance. Her ducal reign would only last for a mere few days, due to her being quickly deposed by troops of her mother-in-law. Swiftly after Cesarina’s regime was couped, Queen Marguerite gifted the duchy to her only daughter, Princess Renée, who apparently did not want it.
During her brother’s bid for the imperial crown, she sent him a lot of funds from the estates she still had control over in Angoulême. Contrary to popular belief, Cesarina was not penniless at this point in her life, and lived rather comfortably in her late husband’s lands, regardless of her deposition. It was actually her notoriety as a wealthy young widow that attracted her distant cousin, Alexander Frederick Horen.
The aforementioned cousin of Cesarina’s made frequent visits to her estates, and eventually, he proposed to her after a long courtship. Even though Alexander Frederick was forty-two years older than her, it is alleged that Cesarina did not mind the age gap, since all she had ever known since the age of twelve was relationships with significantly older men. At the age of sixteen, Cesarina Louise was married for the second time in her life in the Aeldinic capital city of Nova Horas. The ceremony was organized solely by the bride, and it was an egregiously expensive affair. She also decided to not wear a traditional white wedding dress again, instead wearing a tyrian purple sack-back gown with two-foot panniers, a white powdered wig, and a mile-long lace veil.
Alexander Frederick and Cesarina’s union was not a conventional one, the couple did not even reside in the same lands for the majority of the year. It was more of a partnership than a marriage apparently. During this time, Cesarina became involved in an elicit affair with her cousin, Laertes de Falstaff, whom she had clandestinely issue with. She did not play a big part in her eldest son’s upbringing since her husband claimed Alexander as primarily his.
When her eldest son was named the Orenian emperor in a successful attempt to stabilize the chaotic land, Cesarina was ecstatic, and even began to style herself as Empress-Mother while still in Aeldin. A mere month after Alexander came of age and his regency council was disbanded, Cesarina suddenly arrived in her son’s court on an opulent yacht, and aggressively installed herself as the principal lady of the imperial court.
Mere minutes after her arrival in Helena, Cesarina had the ladies of the imperial court summoned to the foyer of the palace so that they may meet her, their new leader. The few men that witnessed this occasion would go on to liken it to that of a commander asserting his dominance over a fresh set of troops, seeing as the occurrence was a very dictatorial one, and the only voice that was allowed to say much of anything was Cesarina’s and Cesarina’s alone.
From the moment the Marnan arrived, many at court already assumed that she would somehow meddle in politics due to her overbearing nature, however, no one knew exactly how she would do it. Cesarina wasted no time in sating the people’s curiosity, and began to sit-in on political meetings. At political meetings between her son and foreign dignitaries, Cesarina did most of the talking and only really asked for her eldest son to speak up if she needed monarchical backing on any decision of hers. Alexander reportedly had no problem with his mother’s wish to spearhead talks with diplomats, since it gave him more time to get drunk and spend time with his ladylove, Lucille Antoinette Ashford de Falstaff.
Another way in which Cesarina interfered in politics was most certainly when she attended court sessions. During court sessions, she would incessantly speak out of turn, publicly question her son’s rulings, and insult the Orenian archchancellor at the time, John of Nowhere, constantly. No matter how irritated politicians got, none even bothered to ask her to leave, not even her own son, simply because they knew she would not go.
Many believe that the thing that made Cesarina’s personality so publicly known was definitely her annual noble assemblies, which was an event where the Marnan would gather the whole of the Orenian nobility in the imperial palace and force them all to enjoy a feast, a ball, and a big court session. At these decadent events, thousands of nobles from Oren and certain parts of Aeldin would witness Cesarina in all of her audacious glory. Perhaps one of her most controversial measures during one of her noble assemblies was when she interrupted the legitimization of the archchancellor at the time; the woman tried everything in her power to stop her enemy from being legitimized, even going as far to claim that the aforesaid archchancellor’s betrothed, Vespira Helane, was most likely the spawn of an affair between siblings - something the Pertinaxi were infamous for, after the affair between Emperor Augustus and his sister, Alexandria.
Causing problems was far from a hard task for Cesarina. She was almost always the center of drama at the imperial court, and one of her most remembered quarrels is the one she had with her own nephew’s army, the Army of Kaedrin. It is said that Kaedrini soldiers were supposedly harassing a dark elf in the palace, and Cesarina decided to intervene on the dark elf’s behalf. Harsh words were exchanged between the empress and soldiers, one thing led to another, and somehow Cesarina ended up getting slapped by a random soldier. After the slapping, Nauzicans rose up in Cesarina’s defense, and there was nearly an all-out battle between Nauzicans and Kaedrinis in the foyer of the imperial palace. However, Cesarina’s son suddenly returned just in time from a hunting trip and made everyone stand down. He then quickly punished the soldier, and had the Kaedrinis work with him and the Nauzicans to catch a criminal.
Quarreling with whole armies was apparently something the Marnan had a knack for. Besides Archchancellor John, Cesarina’s greatest enemy at court was Duke Adrian Sarkozic of Adria. The hatred between the two was a unique one, seeing as Cesarina did not wholly hate the Sarkozic, and she even commonly told many she thought he was handsome, while Adrian flat out despised her very existence. Perhaps it was Adrian’s lack of reciprocation to Cesarina’s compliments that led to such a mutual putrid hatred. Whatever the case may be, it was known that the aforementioned pair argued often, and during one of their many arguments, Cesarina apparently called the Adrian guards that accompanied Duke Adrian “dogs”. After such a controversial comment, Adrian and his men promptly left the palace, and caused a great ruckus in the streets of the capital by chanting in unison “Curse the whore!” all the way to the gates of Helena.
Sometime after she realized she had made an enemy of both Kaedrin and Adria, Cesarina reasoned she needed at least one faction to ally herself with. She decided on Lorraine instead of Haense for two reasons, the first being that there was already an abundance of Lorrainians at court, and the second being that she had always thought Raevirs were “unbearably disgusting”, a belief she had made pronounced to the sister of the Haeseni King, Sofiya Barbanov, after the princess had insulted Cesarina's unnerving tenacity. After she set her sights on Lorraine, she quickly promoted a peasant friend of hers, Ines of Lorraine, to the position of a lady of the court. Cesarina and Ines had met during some sort of trial where Ines had to testify before hundreds of courtiers on the topic of her rape, and after Cesarina offered her public support and sympathy to Ines, the two became fast friends. After Ines’ promotion, she successfully influenced a multitude of her Lorrainian brothers in arms to visit court frequently, much to Cesarina’s liking.
By this stage in her reign, Cesarina was so sure that she had Lorraine’s backing that she even had her eldest unwed daughter, Princess Diane Renée, brought to Oren so that she may propose a marriage between her daughter and the Lorrainian duke, Leufroy. Unfortunately for Cesarina and the hopeful bride, the privy council decided to support Adria instead of Lorraine in the many Lorrainian-Adrian conflicts, which led to the overnight disappearance of many Lorrainians that resided at court. The forced departure of her many Lorrainian friends angered Cesarina greatly, and her anger only exacerbated when she discovered that Haense was Adria’s most steadfast supporter.
At this point, it was Lorraine versus another duchy, and now a whole kingdom. She knew that her beloved Lorrainians were outnumbered, and she had to act quickly in their favor. Cesarina had encountered the Haeseni Queen, Milena, on the way to Reza. She had requested of the young Raevir queen for her retinue to escort her, to which the woman agreed. Upon her arrival in the Haeseni city, she quickly duped Milena and marched on the governmental building of Reza. Being the mother of the emperor, she was allowed entry into the building, regardless of a Haeseni duma being in session. Cesarina quickly burst into the room where the duma was being held, called everyone out for participating in the downfall of Lorraine, and demanded to see their king, Andrik. Supposedly, the Haeseni king was right behind her, and quickly made arrangements to meet with her in his palace, rather than before the duma. By interrupting their duma and trying to scold their king as if he was a mischievous child, Cesarina earned the ire of the Haeseni people.
Right after his duma had concluded, King Andrik held a meeting with the Marnan. However, it was apparently not what Cesarina had wanted, since she had wished for a one-on-one with the Haeseni king, but was instead granted an audience before the entirety of the Haeseni court. Regardless of her annoyance with the arrangements, she still attempted to persuade Andrik to keep Haeseni armies out of the Lorrainian-Adrian conflict and just allow the two duchies to fight it out, Andrik then cited a marriage alliance between Haense and Adria as the reason why he must always aid the Adrians. After her first angle of persuasion was not successful, Cesarina quickly changed her narrative, and personally asked the young Haeseni king if he rather live in times of peace or see his people die in petty skirmishes. Andrik opted to not directly answer her hard question, and instead assured the Marnan that Haense will still out of the conflict if, and only if, the Orenian emperor himself requests such. Since Cesarina was confident in the amount of control she had over her son, she swiftly accepted Andrik’s terms and left Reza hastily.
Before Cesarina could even reach Helena and inform her son of her talks with the Haeseni, she learned that Haeseni and Adrian forces had marched on Ves with Archchancellor John and were now attempting to convince her nephew, King Adrian of Kaedrin, to play a part in Lorraine’s annihilation. The Marnan quickly rerouted her travelling entourage and went to Ves. Unfortunately for her, she was too late. By the time of her arrival, her nephew had already been convinced to sign documents promising Kaedrini support against Lorraine.
Never being one to admit defeat, Cesarina instead dismissed the majority of her attendants and went to Lorraine in secret. She apparently did not want to run the risk of being recognized, so she briefly discarded her trademark tall powdered wig. There, she met with her old friend, Ines, and the now virtually hopeless Lorrainian duke, Leufroy.
Days after her clandestine meeting in Lorraine, she wrote a highly controversial public letter titled “The Benevolence of an Empress: In Defense of Lorraine”. The letter attempted to disprove the charges that had been levied on Lorraine, and is infamous for its personal attacks on Duke Adrian of Adria and John of Balain. The letter was the cause for many uproars in Helena, and Cesarina was not allowed to leave the palace, since the possibility of her being killed by the masses was very real. However, at court, it was business as usual. For the most part, no one brought it up directly to Cesarina, and the Marnan was still attending to her many duties as the empress-mother.
The only time a courtier would bring up Cesarina’s public letter was during the end of a random court session where her son was noticeably absent. Archchancellor John, one of her many enemies at court, was of course the one to mention it so that he may begin to try her for treason. Cesarina, never being one to shy away from the consequences of her actions, of course admitted to writing the letter in an attempt to help save innocent Lorrainians that would be homeless and jobless after the annexation of Lorraine. Archchancellor John accepted her guilty plea, and told her that she had two options: exile or a nunnery.
The Marnan was somehow disappointed that she would not suffer a public execution, as all traitors do, and requested that she be executed by the state instead. Plenty of people believe that Cesarina wished to become a martyr, simply because that is the only reasonable explanation for someone preferring death over a life in luxurious exile. The archchancellor denied her request on the grounds that such a punishment for the mother of an emperor, and a pregnant woman, is far too harsh. Shortly after Cesarina had made it known to all present that she preferred death over a life in exile where she would “sit by and watch John become the downfall of her baby”. The baby in question is believed to be her eldest son, Emperor Alexander.
During Cesarina’s nonsensical rants about how evil John and the privy were, and how the two aforesaid forces would lead to her eldest son’s untimely death, her former companion and the newly wed wife of Archchancellor John, Vespira Antonia, uncovered one of Cesarina’s greatest secrets in front of the entire court. Vespira declared that Cesarina had admitted to her that the baby she held was not her elderly husband’s, but instead the child of her longtime confidante, Laertes Ashford de Falstaff. Cesarina, in a state of blind rage, confessed nonchalantly to the adultery.
Instead of accepting the punishment that had been doled out by the privy council she had always detested, she spit on John. Then, when guards began to advance on her to escort her out of Helena and condemn her to a life of irrelevancy, she pulled out a dagger she had concealed in her sleeve and went to stab John in the heart. However, being heavily pregnant and extremely short at the height of 4’11, she missed her target severely, and John only suffered a minor, albeit deep wound. After she stabbed the archchancellor, the entire court seemingly froze. No one knew what to do. At the moment, no one knew if Cesarina had fatally stabbed John or not.
It was not until Cesarina went to advance on John again to finish the job that someone acted. That someone being the aforesaid Vespira when she successfully kicked the considerably shorter Cesarina on the ground. Vespira, now fully engrossed in her primal desire to protect her loved ones, went to fatally stab the empress-mother in the chest. It is said that Cesarina’s last words were “No, no! My child!” before dying immediately from her chest wound.
Vespira, surprised by the grievous act she had committed, then called out for someone to save the unborn child’s life. Eventually, a doctor stepped in and performed a hasty, yet successful, operation on Cesarina. The female baby was quickly swaddled by her traumatized elder sister, Diane Renée, and hurriedly rushed into the inner chambers of the palace.
Soon after Cesarina’s gruesome end, Diane took it upon herself to name and care for her mother’s last child. The princess decided on the Auvergnian name “Giséle”, which means “hostage”. Diane supposedly chose this name because she believed Giséle would always be a hostage to her illegitimate and macabre birth, and their mother’s horrendous reputation.
The Marnan was married twice in her life, both to men more than twenty years her senior. Her first husband was a Banardian prince, Benoît-Clément Anion, and she had one child with him. After Benoît's death, she married her relative, Alexander Frederick of Alstion though their marriage had no legitimate issue.
During her second marriage, she participated in an affair with her very own cousin, Laertes Ashford de Falstaff, that produced a four bastard children. In total, Cesarina has had five children.
|Diane of Marna, Princess-consort of Beaufort||1712||--||Titus Tiber, Prince of Beaufort||Only child of Benoît and Cesarina. A princess of Banardia.|
|Alexander II||23rd of the First Seed, 1713||--||Lucille of Leuven (betrothed)||First son of Cesarina Louise and a disputed father. Holy Orenian Emperor of Oren.|
|Francis Theodulus de Joannes||1714||--||Unwed||Second son of Cesarina Louise and a disputed father. Prince of Ponce.|
|Robert Louis de Joannes||1720||--||Unwed||Third son of Cesarina Louise and a disputed father. Baron of Sedan.|
|Gisèle Françoise Ashes||13th of the Snow's Maiden, 1730||--||Unwed||Bastard child of Laertes and Cesarina. Cut out of her mother's stomach shortly after her assassination.|