SotF: Bastard Emperors

  • The seven years of chaos that is the Stormcrown Interregnum saw many false kings and emperors but few could claim as much infamy as the aptly-named ‘Bastard Emperors’. The Bastard Emperors were a group of four pretenders who claimed legitimacy to the Septim Empire through claims of being an illegitimate child of Emperor Uriel VII of House Septim and thus bearing the blood of the dragon. While not an unfounded claim; the last emperor, Martin I was illegitimate but he was legitimised by Uriel VII himself before his death.


    The first of these Emperors was Titus Acilus, a member of the minor nobility in the Imperial City. Crowning himself Uriel Septim VIII, Titus claimed the throne through the circumstances of his birth – that he is in fact an illegitimate of Uriel VII in the same vein as Martin I. Unlike Martin I, no surviving records could verify Titus’ claim and the self-proclaimed Uriel VIII ruled for only sixty-two days before he was killed in his sleep. While theories are many, there is again, a lack of surviving evidence as to deduce who exactly was responsible for his death. Objectively the weakest of all the Bastard Emperors in territory and power, the actions of Titus Acilus however set the precedence of bastardy as a source of legitimate claim for the Empire.


    The second was Cira Natilan of Northpoint. Crowning herself Empress Kintyra Septim III, Cira claimed legitimacy through her mother, Cayenne Natilan, one of Uriel VII’s known mistresses. While receiving no support from the Elder Council, Cira was nonetheless a scion of the Natilan family, the leaders of the Merchant and Banking Guilds of Rivenspire, Wrothgar and Bangkorai, giving her near limitless financial powers. Indeed, Cira distinguished herself from her contemporaries in that her expansion strategies revolve on economic pressure than military, slowly buying up territory and allegiances. Her reign lasted until 4E 14 when she mysteriously disappeared without bearing an heir. Popular theories include a secret lover or an assassination but is certain is that without Cira, her empire collapsed soon after.


    Rema Cassai was third. Nibenese noble by birth, Rema differed from the others by claiming descendancy not from Uriel VII but Ebel Septim, a trueborn son of Uriel VII. While the youngest of the four, Rema’s charisma saw that she controlled half of the Niben at the peak of her reign and her ferocity in battle earned her the sobriquet of the ‘Dragon Queen’. The Dragon Queen’s rule did not last long however as it ended with her death after the Battle of the Basin which saw Thules the Gibbering triumph over her forces.


    The last of the Bastard Emperors was Cato Danisus, crowned Emperor Martin Septim II. Commonborn son of a milkmaiden, Cato pressed his claim through his appearance; that even to those that knew Uriel VII agreed that Cato was a spitting image of the late Septim in his youth. With a power base in Colovia, Cato saw conflict with Titus Mede I that would come to a head in the Battle of the Rose River. Larger and more disciplined, the forces of Titus I camped by the Rose River, preparing for a frontal assault by dawn. Deciding that such a battle lead to certain defeat, the young and daring Cato moved his force of a thousand men through the forest, shielded by a downpour behind Titus I’s ranks.


    When the rains stopped, Cato’s forces attacked sowing confusion and destruction among Titus I’s forces. Leading a cadre of his closest friends, Cato charged Titus I’s tent, taking most of Titus I’s guards by surprise, cutting them down. Surrounded, Titus I engaged the attackers in a melee reinforced not by hardened soldiers but by the camp cooks, stable boys, and blacksmiths – non-combatants. In the attack, Cato was struck in the head with a hammer thrown by the smith-apprentice, Artos leaving him vulnerable to a mortal blow from Titus I.


    Cato’s death marked the end of the Bastard Emperors and through the rest of the Stormcrown Interregnum, no other pretenders laid claim of legitimacy through bastardy of the Septim bloodline.


    ~ Excerpt from Of Rulers, Emperors, and Kings by Paliman Emlock, Imperial Scholar