Accomplishments of the Empire
Our last few lectures covered the formation of the Empire. In the thousand years that would follow, the Empire would see its good times and bad times. Overall, the age of the Empire was the best period in our recorded history. I could spend an entire lecture class covering the events of this period, but this class is only a high-level discussion. I want to use this time to talk about some of the accomplishments of the Empire, before we move along and talk about its eventual fall, and how we got to where we are today.
Before we exit this golden age, let me share with you the finer points of the Empire, and how it shaped who we are today.
A Force For Positive Change
The Age of the Empire was an ideal time for the proliferation and advancement of humans. The Empire solved several of the problems which often hinder the progress of a society. The most important being:
- Protection – The Imperial Armies protected all citizens in all kingdoms from threats internal and external.
- Food & Supplies – The fair trade agreements established by the Empire insured that people had food and other basic supplies through out the Empire.
- A Focus on the well-being of the people – The role of Emperor, as mentioned in the Precepts, was to watch out for the citizens of the Empire, and to pass laws for their protection and well-being.
The support of these basic needs allowed the citizens of the Empire to shift their focus to higher thinking and innovation. From those thoughts came progress in some areas. These in turn facilitated progress in other areas. Here are several of the more notable examples:
The Empire did many great things for Education. The first was to fund universities in all kingdoms, starting with the funding of the oldest institution, the University of Inkala (Kotkala). The Empire commissioned the building of new universities in the other Kingdoms. In addition, Arelean became home to numerous universities, libraries, and museums. The Empire made education free to any who wished to study.
In the past, one paid to send their children to the University of Inkala or another pre-Empire institution. Tuition was high and only the rich could afford the cost. I directly benefitted from this free education, as I came from a farming family in Kotkala.
Of all the Emperors who supported Education, none was greater than Emperor Sanglaor (482 – 538). Sanglaor was a teacher, when a sudden illness befell his elder sister and he suddenly moved into line for the the throne. When Sanglaor took the throne, he worked to expand education beyond the Universities and into the small towns. The Emperor issued the Sanglaor Proclamation, which required all citizens of the Empire to have a basic education: mathematics, reading, writing, and basic history, by the age of 10. It took years for adoption to reach the span of the Empire. but before his death, most children were participating in a form of education.
Before this time, education was a role that the grandparents of a child would play. The level of education was uneven at best, based on the family.
By the end of the Empire, there was an Imperial test all children took before entry into a trade, the military, or the Arcane Guild.
Pact of Arcanas
While we have not discussed Mages and the Arcane arts, I can say that in the pre-Empire times, Magic was a secret art performed by secret societies, in fear of discovery by the authorities, and at times the Church. Rather than fearing Mages and condemning them, the Empire decided to make peace with them and come to an agreement.
That agreement, known as the Pact of Arcanas, was made between the Empire and the heads of the most prominent Arcane secret societies. The pact required that Mages be part of a Guild and educated in the laws of the Empire, and to serve the Empire when needed. In return, the practice of the Arcane arts became legal and protected by the Empire.
When we discuss the history of Mages and the Arcane in a future lecture, we will see that the Pact is not an even deal and favors the Empire, but it improved the lives of those Mages in hiding.
The Pact allowed the Mages to form their own schools, and to formally educate those found to be proficient in the Arcane arts. By being publicly established, the number of secret societies dropped. The Empire hunted down the ones in hiding; removing the more fringe and dangerous groups.
In return, Mages were able to pool their knowledge and create advancements in magical healing and protection. There was a formalization of Acrane theory as the former secret societies were able to pool their knowlege and collaborate. There were also a group of Mages who trained in warfare, known as the War Mages who served to protect the Empire. Their arcane abilities saved the Empire on more than one occasion.
The Invention of Bookmaking
In the pre-Empire age, writing was a process involving quills and scrolls. It was a laborious process, making writings precious and rare. In those times, the Church was the leading producer and owner of ancient writings, with most of those in the form of religions scrolls.
In Stammiglin, in the year 873, the Doden clan created the printing press, by modifying a similar press they created for imprinting patterns on armor and swords. The Doden Press, along with the earlier invention of the bound book by the Monatobeans, and the creation of Trarin Ink by the Vaasarians, allowed for the creation and printing of books.
While still a somewhat laborious process to create the printing templates, it allowed for printing of numerous copies of a book. In the twilight of the Empire, books containing the Sacred Scrolls or the Precepts of the Empire were commonplace in the homes of farmers. It also allowed for Universities to have copies of the same books making education more consistent. It also allowed for the creation of basic education books, used by children throughout the Empire.
Sadly, during the Fall the Demons destroyed most of the printing houses as well as most of the books. Possession of a Doden Press was an offense punishable by death. Much knowledge of printing was lost during the reign of the Demon King.
Today, King Arion is working to restore printing for Kotkala, but it is slow going. There is a small, functional Doden Press in Olmkala which is being shared by the University of Olmkala and the Kingdom.
The foundation of communication was built on the Church of the All-Father, which had developed a robust system of communication during its establishing years.
During this age, the Empire helped to bolster this structure by formalizing it, providing it support, and offering it protection. The Empire partnered with the Church to create a system of communication which covered the Empire. This system was called Imperial Dispatch, or Dispatch for short.
The Imperial Dispatch created routes for moving messages through the Empire. There were Dispatch Cores, often small keeps, located in key cities or along key roads. At these cores messages were sorted and given to riders who would carry the message to a nearby town, where the message would be relayed to the next location, and so on until delivered.
Before the Fall, the Imperial Dispatch could carry a message across the Empire in less than a week. The Emperor could send out a message from the Throne and expect all citizens to be aware of the message within a weeks time.
I could spend an entire lecture talking about the progress this enabled. It allowed for the Sanglaor Proclamation to spread over the Empire, it allowed remote towns to call for aid, and for scholars in universities to share ideas. It became the backbone of ideas and did as much to create a common bond among all the citizens as did the Church.
It should be obvious that during the Fall of the Empire, one of the first things the Demon King attacked was the Dispatch. He was successful, and in doing so isolated the people of the Empire, allowing him to commit great atrocities and lie to the people. It was a key strategy we will see for how he kept people from rebelling.
Today, there is nothing that compares with the Imperial Dispatch. Communication within Kotkala is sufficient, but crossing into other Kingdoms is nearly impossible without personal messengers.
Having grown up in the last part of the Age of the Empire, I can say objectively that it was a golden age of Humanity. While life was not devoid of danger, we were cared for and protected. We created great ideas and shared them among ourselves. We were citizens of the Empire. I never thought that in my lifetime, that all that would be torn asunder.
Even today, having come through our darkest time, we still live in the shadow of our great Empire. For those of you who were born under the rule of the Demon King, today must seem like its own golden age. In comparison to the rule of the Demon King, your point is justified. For me, all I see is rebuilding, a restoration that is just out of reach, one that I may not live long enough to see fulfilled.
In our next lecture we shall jump ahead to the twilight of the Empire and discuss the Last Emperor and the Ebon Man.