Year of Four Emperors

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John IV the Young, second Emperor during the Year of Four Emperors.

The Year of Four Emperors refers to the year 1585 in the Holy Orenian Empire. The year is considered to have memorable significance because of the assassination of two Holy Orenian Emperors and a single abdication leading to a rapid succession of four monarchs within one year. The four monarchs who ruled during this year were John III, John IV, Robert II, and Philip I.

Prelude

Emperor John III had ascended to the Imperial Throne in 1568, after briefly serving as Prince-Regent for his father before his abdication. Like his grandfather, John I, Emperor John III had policy for rapid expansionism and militarism, seeing to the end of the remaining Dunamic and Rurikid rebels and the total subjugation of the War Uzg. Cherised as a national hero but despised by many foreign lords and dignitaries, Emperor John III had succeeded where his grandfather failed against the human rebels at the humiliating defeat at the Siege of Dunland during the Eighteen Years' War.

Emperor John III had three sons of decreasing age: John Augustus, Robert Henry, and Philip Frederick. By 1585, Emperor John III had given his eldest son John Augustus, Prince of Alstion military command, with his secondborn Robert Henry, Duke of Marna pursuing theological studies. Despite John Augustus' clear aptitude in martial prowess, his mental state was referred to many as cruel and bizarre. As the knight Ser Edwin Harwyn wrote, "...His Imperial Highness has degraded to the point of sheer madness, cunningly brutal yet brutally cunning.".

As part of Emperor John III's human unity, he had attempted to organize a betrothal between his youngest Philip Frederick and the Hansetian Princess Tatiana of Haense, sister to Andrew II of Haense, the ruler of one of the empire's largest vassal states. However, when the courtship between the two failed and Andrew II instead had her marry the noble Marquis Brandon of Vasiland, a new match was quickly set up between John Augustus and the sister of Princess Tatiana, the Princess Julia. During the betrothal, John Augustus had repeatedly made numerous unsavory comments of both princesses to his men and in court, earning a chief rivalry with King Andrew II of Haense despite the emperor's best attempts in solving the situation.

Having his children young, Emperor John III at 1585 was at the age of 36, with many seeing his reign continuing further for another three decades due to his great health and vigor. John Augustus had no love for this thought, now barely 17 years, and was known to complain to his men about having to wait to gain his succession to the throne.

Rapid Succession

Assassination of John III

Assassination of John IV

Abdication of Robert II

Robert Henry was quickly hurried to the throne as Emperor Robert II shortly after his brother's death. Despising both the court and council, during his month reign he secluded himself from courtiers and only road out once to meet with Andrew II of Haense in order to solve the matter bloodlessly. Contrary to their close kinship, Emperor Robert II held no love for his newly deceased brother but saw the need for justice to be served else the Imperial Throne would degrade in authority.

Emperor Robert II rode with only a token guardforce north, where he was brought into Karlsburg under the host protection of King Andrew II. Robert's aims were to end the rebellion before any true war could begin, despite the protests of his warlike advisers edging for open conflict. Majority of the Orenian nobility indeed did not wish for a war, already drained and tired from the numerous armed conflicts under his father, and a number of the Hansetian nobles shared this sentiment. During the parley between the two monarchs, Robert tried profusely for Andrew to accept pardon (In fact, offering three separate deals skewed in Andrew's favor). However, still enraged over the ordeal with Robert's brother and surrounded by his more fanatical lords, Andrew refused and declared open independence against the Holy Orenian Empire.

Aftermath

The Year of Four Emperors was the fastest exchange of successions in the recorded history of Oren, exposing the benefits and the downfalls of the Johannian succession instilled by Emperor John I years before. The contrasting differences between the central Imperial authority and its outlying vassals were also exposed more fully, showing the expanding chasm of cultural and societal values between itself and its frontier states. Philip Frederick's lack of ruler tutelage (As he was third son and not expected to inherit) would eventually lead to many disenfranchised nobility within the realm.