Some notes on Imperial history.
Pre-Imperial history is easily summarized. A burst of radiation swept through Colonial Space in circa 685 YBE (since the radiation traveled at light speed it took from circa 735 YBE to 635 YBE to cross the sector). It had no serious consequences on planetary ecology, but it interfered with the industrial base, destroying delicate electronics – and effectively shut down contact between the various worlds of Colonial Space.
The Colonies turned inward. It took a long time to rebuild and for the colonies to turn their attention outward again – it wasn’t until circa 350 YBE that interstellar trade and travel had recovered.
For another two centuries, the various colonies cooperated loosely – exploring nearby space, setting up new colonies, and so on. Over time, various power-blocs grew and local politicians and rulers began to desire an expansion to their influence – sometimes out of idealism, and sometimes for selfish reasons. A general build-up of military power led to the first interstellar wars.
By 50 YBE seven major factions had carved Colonial Space up among themselves. The situation would have remained neutral, but for a political marriage between Mithra’s crown prince, Darian, and Adele, the crown princess of House Aldernon. Darian’s father died in 32 YBE, something which Darian quickly blamed his rivals for. With the power of the two largest factions at his disposal, the new king went to war.
The conflict, which became known as the Unification War, dragged on for thirty long years before Darian was able to defeat the last of his enemies. He ruled a sizable portion of Colonial Space uncontested, and had himself crowned “Emperor of the Planets, and the Spaces Between”. Year 0 marks the foundation of Empire.
Darian’s triumph was short-lived. He died in 7 YAE. His son, Willem, built on the foundation his father had created – but where Darian had fought wars, Willem invested in trade and industry and made sure that annexed worlds received generous funds to rebuild. Willem’s policies did much to unify the Empire, and aided greatly in turning former enemies into trade partners and friends.
Willem success also set an example for Imperial policy for centuries to follow. The Empire turned to diplomacy and trade and only occasionally resorted to use of force. Colonial Space expanded, and the new settlements provided markets for the thriving industries of the core worlds. Marred only by the Exodus of the Endari, Imperial rule was generally benevolent and peaceful, until the reign of Cleon (reigned 268-303).
End of an Era
Cleon’s reign was marked by several contractions of the Imperial economy. As expansion had slowed, the core world industry found its markets saturated – worse, colonies that had once imported were now exporters. Cheap goods flooded the markets, and several stock market crashes followed. Cleon spent most of his reign balancing the budget and reducing public debt, often with unpopular decisions. He also attempted to jumpstart colonial expansion once more, but didn’t live to see his ambitious projects reach fruition.
His son, Willem II, was crowned in 303. He ignored the precarious situation his realm was in, instead choosing to amuse himself and his peers with all the thrills and pleasures his position made available to him. He also engaged in several large construction projects – and cancelled Cleon’s colonial projects to finance them.
Needless to say, the squandering ways of the Imperial nobility and the increasing poverty on many worlds fueled resentment. Alternative ideologies and radical political ideas, such as socialism and democracy, began to spread. The Interstellar Workers’ Union unified many fringe groups under charismatic leaders, and by 330, several worlds had seceded from the Empire.
Willem II could no longer ignore the issue, but negotiated unfavorable treaties with the secessionists. The Interstellar Republic was founded in 331, and never ratified the treaty, though Republic worlds continued to pay taxes into the Imperial coffers.
Willem II died in 359, and his son Miguel succeeded him. The Republic took advantage of the situation, proclaiming formal independence. Miguel, unlike his father, would not accept this, and declared even the “flimsy” treaty of 330 null and void.
Over the next ten years, the Empire and the Republic engaged in a “quiet war”, a conflict marked by propaganda, economic conflict, sabotage and espionage, border incidents, and, in a few cases, proxy wars. Miguel worked hard to fix the Empire’s many problems, and he was successful – the economy slowly recovered, and public opinion improved somewhat.
In 371, President Ames and his cabinet decide that the time is ripe to test the Imperial “containment” policy in force. He orders the occupation of several important planets “to protect the local population from Imperial atrocities”, and the war began.
Over the next five years, the Republic surprised Imperial analysts by being well prepared, well equipped, and well trained. It slowly pushed Imperial troops back, until it cemented its victory in 376 with the nuclear bombardment of the Imperial capital, Mithra.
With the Imperial family killed and much of the Imperial forces routed, the war effectively ended. The Republic replaced the Empire as the main polity of Colonial Space, even though it does not actually controls all of Imperial Space even now, six years after the war.