War of the eagle

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Overview

The War of the eagle was a failed uprising against King Horatius by his cousin, Archduke Aetius, in Y500. The war lasted, in earnest, about 8 years before the Archduke disappeared. The royalist forces are generally perceived as the victors, but Mysticus is war weary and poor. As of Y512, a few of the rebel lords continue to fight on the fringes of the kingdom to delay or avoid consequences for their treason.

Pre-War

Near the end of Y499, it became widely known that King Horatius was ailing and talk began about which of his children would get power. His eldest, daughter Gratiana, in spite of her keen mind and just disposition, was not widely supported because of her gender. The next, son Brutus, was generally considered of weak mind and conscience, though possessing great prowess on the battlefield. Last, son Marcus, was perceived as bookish and soft. Without a clear heir, Horatius' cousin, Archduke Aetius, secured support and declared himself successor.

Horatius, however, publicly derided his cousin and declared that all should support Gratiana. With the weight of the king's words, much of the nobility was willing to support her, though a number of duchies refused to take sides. Aetius was declared anathema to the royal court and forbidden to appear in Drin.

The turning point came in Y500 when Brutus declared his support for Aetius, who promised to guide his nephew, morally, and groom him for proper leadership. At this time, Gratiana, who had begun to take the reigns of leadership from her father, banished Brutus from the kingdom. Instead, he went directly to Aetia and swore his allegiance to his uncle. When Horatius did not respond, as he had stopped holding open court, Aetius declared himself king in absentia. Thus, the kingdom divided between the royalists and the rebels.

War

With Horatius silent, few of the duchies took sides. Lesser nobles, eager to ingratiate themselves with one side or the other, however, mustered their forces and for the first year, the war was one of baronies. After an initial stalemate, Gratiana opened the sizable treasury to dukes who would join the royalists and the tide of war quickly moved against the rebels. Archduke Aetius, though wealthy, was unable to compete for the loyalties of the dukes. His main asset was that many of the duchies were divided because Gratiana hadn't moved quickly enough to secure loyalties. Additionally, many border states, seeing an opportunity for expansion, allied with him and led armies into Mysticus.

It proved too little, and by the summer of Y502 Aetius was on his heels. Fearing loss, he persuaded his allies to burn anything they couldn't hold, leading to mass destruction and famine. Many border states dropped out of the war, hoping to avoid retaliation of that kind from the royalists.

At last, in Y503, the duchy of Aetius capitulated and the archduke fled to the countryside, where he unsuccessfully tried to muster another army. In the siege, Brutus was captured and brought back to Drin for trial. Gratiana, hoping to encourage defections, showed leniency and imprisoned him in the great tower in the castle at Arduk.

Decline

A number of rebel barons laid down arms, and Gratiana had their lands confiscated. Aetius, itself, was placed under royal control and parts were gifted to other duchies in return for their support. As the remaining rebel baronies came under increased pressure, Archduke Aetius disappeared early in Y504. Popular belief was that he had fled to Hippo or one of the outlying islands. But his barons continued to fight, fearing they had missed their opportunity to surrender. Mysticus, however, had lost its will to war. The destruction had claimed much of the arable land and a number of towns and cities. The famine claimed thousands of lives, and the royal treasury was empty and unable to pay duchies.

Over the next few years, battles were fought with ever-smaller and less well-equipped armies. The decline of the kingdom and its military led to a sharp rise in crime, smuggling, and piracy. As of Y512, the war continues, and continues to drain resources from the baronies that still fight, but the rebellion is hopeless. Gratiana, however, is unwavering in her search for the archduke.