The Union of the Silva Compact

The Union of the Silva Compact began as a collection of city-states along the Bredes Coast. Originally comprised of Gaultiberian raiders that savaged the coastal region after the fall of the Elven Empire, the system of city-states lasted for nearly a hundred years, while the rest of the continent was torn apart by war and anarchy. As time passed, however, and Deladainin became more and settled, it became apparent that the coastal territories were becoming vulnerable to the emerging kingdoms of the east. Over the next 200 years the Bredes Coast was embroiled in war, both with eastern invaders and between city-states, as each one attempted to unite the region by force.

By 338 of the Age of Swords, the region was on the verge of self destruction and subsequent conquest. All attempts to unify the region by conquest had failed, and the Gaultiberian clans were almost entirely fought out. The fierce sense of independence and the ruthless determination that had made these raiders powerful and successful in the early times also made it impossible for any one leader to bow to another.

Finally, a charismatic and brilliant chief named McCredy emerged, bearing a unique solution – each clan and city-state could remain independent, but would instead pledge to come to the aid of the others if times required. This would allow each ruler to keep his pride while still unifying the region in times of war. This new allegiance was sealed with the signing of the Silva Compact in 341S. The clans that would not sign were eventually conquered and assimilated, and the Compact withstood it first test of fire in 353S, when it repelled an invasion from the emerging kingdom of Leoncour. By 400S, the Clans of the Silva Compact were an established power in Deladainin.

This loose confederation lasted until the Age of Dragons, when invasions by the Empire of Icatia forced the clans to unify more closely. In 66D, the feudal system of the eastern kingdoms was established, with the hopes of regularizing levies and improving coordination between clans. Unfortunately, the independent nature of the clans returned in force, and the Compact was almost dissolved due to infighting. With the Icatians attacking coastal cities with increasing regularity, the Compact was amended, creating a body of lords to advise a king elected by the lords from among their ranks. This arrangement succeeded in repelling the invaders and securing the sovereignty of the Compact clans. This arrangement was made permanent in 214D, with the formation of the Great Council. The bonds of allegiance were further formalized in 222D, with the clans formally uniting at last as The Union of the Silva Compact, each swearing to obey the king as the first among equal lords.

The War of Crowns

The Great Council ruled in this manner for centuries, usually with a member of Clan McCredy as its king. Under their leadership, the Union prospered and expanded, adding the realms of Tislow and Reme to the Compact, as well as repelling numerous invasions from the north and east. Yet all were not content with their lot in life. Some clans grew jealous of McCredy’s power, and in 543D a rebellion was fomented in which the McCredy’s chief rival, the Kingsfield’s, played the part of the instigators. They gathered together many of the most powerful clans in an effort to seize the throne for themselves.

It was clear from the start that the McCredy’s had a stranglehold on far too many seats in the Great Council to ever be dethroned by peaceful means, and so the new coalition embarked upon a campaign of assassination, blackmail, and bribery designed to bring the clans loyal to the McCredy’s over to their side. Eventually, the campaign intensified into civil war.

The War of Crowns lasted fifteen years and nearly shattered the Union. Eventually, the Kingsfield alliance splintered, some of the clans returning to the Union as allies, and some being destroyed in detail. Finally, the Kingsfield’s themselves were alone and besieged in their fortress of Carelon. After months of siege, the fortress was sacked and burned to the ground, with most of the Kingsfield clan slaughtered in the assault. In an attempt to keep the clan’s holdings from becoming a matter of rivalry among the Lords, the king appointed a hostage son of the Kingsfield clan as its new patron, with a portion of the old lands parceled among the most loyal clans to the crown.

The Aftermath

The ramifications of the War of Crowns were felt long after its end. Although Clan Hawkins had emerged as among the most powerful clans remaining, it had made many enemies by siding with the Kingsfields earlier in the war. It was feared by many clans that the Hawkins had been playing both sides against the middle, and had only committed to the Union again when it was clear that the war would not be the quick victory they expected. The remaining powerful clans (most notably the McCredys and the Lawsons) began to work to undermine the Hawkins clan at every opportunity, hoping to stunt their rival’s acent to power.

For the rest of the Union, all political bets were off. Lesser clans made bids for the throne, territories that had been taken by the Union declared their independence, and the Great Council itself was dissolved by the king in an attempt to solidify the Union under a single ruler. Te lesser clans responded by revolting, many of them revoking their oaths of allegiance. Each catastrophe further weakened the Union, until many of its neighbors began to assemble armies of conquest, once again dreaming of gaining the Bredes coastline for themselves.

Divided and nearly bankrupt, the Union found help from an unusual source – the banking house of Leverett & Lemoy. The bank offered the king an enormous amount of money and a generous line of credit in exchange for certain political favors. The money allowed the king to hire mercenaries that put down the insurrectionists, as well as reestablishing the position of king in the clan hierarchy.

At Leverett & Lemoy’s insistence, the Great Council was reinstated and its role expanded. The council was divided into two separate houses – the Lords of the Sword (the original Lords of the Great Council) and the Men of the Coin (prominent citizens elected by local governors to represent individual townships and cities). This expanded and more representative body still served at the pleasure of the king, but there were no illusions as to the increased power it gave the lesser nobles as well as the common folk. The king was unconcerned, however, believing that Leverett & Lemoy were his allies, and that the changes bought a certain amount of stability at the expense of a small amount of personal power.

However, just as things seemed to stabilize, the banking house made a final request of the McCredy clan – the king was to abdicate his throne in favor of the Hawkins clan. McCredy refused. The clan’s primacy had gone back for centuries, and their position on the throne had been the point of the War of Crowns and the subsequent reunification. To abdicate the kingship –and worse, to the Hawkins – was unthinkable. Leverett & Lemoy threatened to call in the loans, forcing bankruptcy again if the king did not comply. In response, McCredy sent the bank representative back to Bravura cut into seven pieces.

A week later, king McCredy and his eldest two sons were found murdered in their beds at Orenhall. For the remainder of the month, petitions from lesser clans came pouring in, demanding the abdication of the McCredy clan. War seemed again a possibility. Finally, the remaining heir to the throne, a weakling third son named Jervis, was anointed king just long enough to announce his abdication in favor of the Hawkins clan. After centuries of unopposed rule, the McCredys no longer held the throne.

Under the Hawkins

Under the rule of the Hawkins clan, the Union flourished. The internecine wars between clans subsided, the pretenders to the throne were hunted down and killed, and the Union began to rebuild. Within a few decades, the lost territories were recaptured, and the Union began to expand.

With stability reestablished, and a stronger central government in place, the clans were able to enact their own petty plans to advance themselves at their compatriot’s expense confident that nothing short of another War of Crowns could upset the balance of power. The old rivalries that had been dormant under the iron rule of the McCredys resurfaced as the clans renewed their ancient feuds with increased vigor.

The object of most of the rivalries was the clan that now held primacy in the Great Council. Clan Hawkins made many enemies over the years, and has inspired much jealousy. They had originally joined with the rebellion, only to switch sides and end up with the throne, while more loyal clans were passed over and ignored. To make matters worse, they continued to do business with Leverett & Lemoy, whom most clans (rightly) held responsible for the removal of the McCredys. Rumors began to circulate that the clan was bought and paid for by Leverett & Lemoy, and that the bankers were the true rulers of the Union.

Despite this, the Hawkins clan ruled unopposed in the Union for decades, the money and credit from the banking house allowing them to buy votes in the Great Council and fund a “secret” investigation ministry known as the Inquisition. Between their power in council and their police force, the Hawkins seemed unassailable.

The Reckoning

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