House of Staunton
The House of Staunton (Common: Staunton; High Imperial: Santonia) is a Heartlander family of original burgher origins, founded in 1476, notable for their substantial rise from ignoble merchants to a ducal coronet, ruling their given Duchy of Courland under five consecutive lords, which later became the Kingdom of Courland under Tobias Staunton after a successful Staunton lead uprising against the autocratic rule of Philip I, Holy Orenian Emperor.
The Staunton family, before their rise to the upper stratum of nobility, were wine merchants of Heartlander origins, famous for their vineyards and wine production. Both numerous in number and rich in purse, the Staunton family came to be a true minor power within the fractured Oren of the time, using their privileged wealth and position to their advantage. When in need for stewards of his lower valley, the Duke Vasili of Vanaheim (bearing the Staunton's family eventual ducal title years later) offered the clan an entrance into the elite nobility in exchange for their loyalty and tribute. Given the new title of the Barony of Eastcliffe, the family served as vassals to the Duchy of Vanaheim, though with a noticeably strained relationship between the two familes of Staunton and Vanir.
House Staunton became the Barons of Fjordham and served the Vanirs of Vanaheim up until the Duke’s war. After removing the Staunton’s just before the Duke’s War, the Stauntonite levy lead by Percival Staunton travelled south to the Orenian capital. Shortly after the war Percival Staunton was named the first Staunton Count, following his efforts in aiding the Savoyard Crown against rebellious Vanir and Barbanov forces. However following the death of Guy de Bar, Percival supported John Horen’s claim to the throne, and in turn, became one of the founders of the fifth Orenian Empire, serving as its first Duke of Courland and the first Lord Treasurer. Percival maintained a large and respectable force forming the backbone of the Empire up until his death in 1537, and founded the first city of Riga, the largest and most popular metropolitan trading hub of Vailor. Under his eldest son, Richard, Courland, whilst respectable and large in magnitude, influence dwindled. Richard was able to bring in some military reforms, forming the Eagle’s Vigil, House Staunton’s military that protected the city of Riga and the surrounding Duchy. House Staunton reached its peak under Duke Aleksander Staunton, briefly King Aleksander I of Courland.
Following the coup of Alexander Staunton and the end of the war against the Empire, House Staunton was stripped of its titles and exiled from the Holy Orenian Empire. In summer of 1567 the Emperor saw fit to allow the Stauntons under Edward Staunton-Hearth to become House Hearth, in the treaty of Anapalais. In exchange the Hearths were to reaffrirm their loyalties to the Empire and adhere to a long list of statutes. After the Treaty of Anapalais it was specified that House Staunton no longer existed and those that bear the name would be charged with treason by the Holy Orenian Empire.
Under the rule of Tobias Staunton, House Staunton led a rebellion against the Holy Orenian Empire, inspired by the Empire's mideeds against former allies of House Staunton and his own accumulated wroth, stemming from the Empire's slaughter of his families' subjects in Courland some 30 years prior. The armies of Staunton, Dwed, Snow-Elf, Ruric and others successfully repelled the advancing armies of Philip Frederick's at the Battle of the Gorge, a stunning victory that was unexpected. After the coup of Metz, and the subsequent declaration of independence of John I of Lotharingia, the two armies met once more on the golden fields of Lorraine, at the Battle of the Gold Fields. Again, Tobias and his allies secured a victory, with much of the Empire's host falling victim to inspired Coalition fighters and their blades. Philip Frederick's armies were destroyed, and many loyalist factions secured their independence at the behest and mercy of the Coalition, most notably the Duchy of Mardon, Kingdom of the Westerlands, and the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska. As the coalition skirmished with the remnants of the Imperials loyalists outside the crown-jewel of Johannesburg, the seat of the Emperor and the centre of Imperial authority, Philip Frederick, in what many call a fit of madness, set a pit of thanium alight with a sack of alchemist fire. The explosion could be heard from miles away, with the ground shaking as far away as Taliyna'maehr, the ensuing explosion engulfing the entire city of Johannesburg and the surrounding land. As the war drew to a conclusion, Tobias had his host moved to Asul as the old Heartlands became mostly un-suitable to settle. There, Tobias had the city of Aleksandria designed, and built with haste, the city quickly becoming the heart of commerce, and political influence in Asul and arguably Axios.
The murder of Meric Staunton in 1599, after a diplomatic meeting with King Marius of Haense, caused the bitter rivalry of Courland and the Carnation successor state of Haense to re-spark. Such caused numerous incidents, including the abduction of Princess Annabelle of Courland and the beheading of the Duke of Mardon by Hanseti aggressors, which ultimately lead to Courlandic incursions into Hanseti land, most specifically the Duchy of Carnatia in an attempt to rescue the Princess Annabelle. After an ultimatum issued by the King Marius was rejected by King Tobias, Haense formally declared war on the Kingdom of Courland and House Staunton leading to the Great Northern War. After a victory at the Battle of Elba, Staunton forces laid siege to the March of Vasililand, home of their ancestral rival, the House of Vanir. After a lengthy siege of three months, an assault succeeded, leaving the northern plains open to the Staunton host, and the capital of St Karlsburg. With his armies destroyed, and some minor inner-turmoil, King Marius agreed to an un-conditonal surrender, with the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska being ceded to King Tobias.
Percival Staunton - The founder of House Staunton, the son of a wealthy wine merchant and first Duke of Courland.
Richard Staunton - The second Duke of Courland who brought in many highly relevant and long lasting military reforms, which laid the foundations for his son to create the largest single military and civilian population in Valior.
Andrew Staunton - The third Duke of Courland, controversial for granting the House of Vanir their former land back.
Alexander I - The fourth Duke of Courland and the Lord of the North. He is considered to be one of the most influential Staunton patriarchs, due to the size of the Courlandic population during his reign.
Percival Staunton II - The fifth Duke of Courland, under the rule of a regency council for the duration of his reign.
Tobias "the Conqueror" - The leader of the Eagle's Rebellion uprising against the Holy Orenian Empire, becoming the second King of Courland and sixth Duke of Courland, he was the restorer of House Staunton, famed for capturing vast swathes of territory from both the Holy Orenian Empire and the Kingdom of Haense.
Joseph I - The third and final King and the seventh Duke of Courland, notable for his abdication and subsequent vassalage under the reformed Orenian Empire.
Edward Staunton-Hearth - The founder of the cadet branch of House Staunton, House Hearth, who attained the titles of Counts within the Duchy of Lorraine.
Sven Staunton - The first Arch-Chancellor of the Kingdom of Courland and the reviver of House Hearth.
Frederick Staunton-Baden - The second and final Arch-Chancellor of the Kingdom of Courland, Count of Trier and the patriarch of House Baden.
Cassandra of Alamar - The daughter of Percival I and wife of Bryce Vimmark. She is considered as one of the most ambitious and powerful women of the Staunton bloodline, surrounded with controversy, war and deceit.