With the Imperial Senate now in closed session, political commentator Marcus Macmillan takes a look at the likely candidates for the throne.
For political commentators, the varied landscape of Imperial politics provides plenty of intrigue to delve into, and this is particularly true of the Imperial throne. In theory, every member of the Duval family has an equal but invalid claim, and for those that lack the right blood there is always an opportunity for the right marriage. Doubtless many whispered deals of support and corresponding reward are being proposed between the senators to get their votes as we speak.
For traditionalists, the obvious candidate is Chancellor Anders Blaine. He has always been close to the Royal Family and is extremely well connected. When considering his history, however, it becomes clear that he prefers the guiding role of Chancellor, and would not consider himself the next Emperor, even though the next Emperor might not want Chancellor Blaine as their right-hand man.
Based on popularity among the masses, the ‘People’s Princess’ Aisling Duval is the obvious choice. Were it not for her father’s lack of marriage, and the recent declaration of his insanity by the late Emperor, her claim would have been the strongest, and centuries ago that would probably have been enough. She is young for the role, but that could work in her favour as many would like an Emperor with a potentially lengthy rule ahead of her. Her youth works against her in other respects, however, as all the other candidates far surpass her in experience. That being said, she is rumoured to have some powerful, unnamed people behind her.
Senator Arissa Lavigny-Duval was clearly the Emperor’s chosen heir, but without the marriage to Florence Lavigny being completed she cannot be legally considered so. However, as the illegitimate child of Hengist Duval she does have a suitable bloodline, just as strong as Aisling’s, and she enjoys the support of both Chancellor Blaine and the citizenry. Her popular support is not as strong as Aisling’s, but it is still significant, and more importantly she is respected in the Imperial Palace.
When considering potential rulers the powerful Senator Zemina Torval must always be included. She is a shrewd operator with extensive commercial interests, and also an avowed traditionalist, which provides her with solid support both in the Senate and among the wider population. She lacks the strong bloodline connection of other candidates, but does have some royal blood, and her strength in the Empire and in the Senate would put her in contention if she so chose.
The last candidate is Senator Patreus. His popular following is still strong, but beyond the inner circles of political life it has begun to weaken, particularly among free-thinking commanders. He wields considerable military and financial power, and his aggressive policies – based on conquest rather than taxation –are attractive to certain elements of the population. He is powerful in the Senate, and given that Senator Torval has indicated her support for him, he is still a contender. Speculation abounds that a marriage between Senator Patreus and Aisling or Arissa Duval would cement his position. He is a well-practiced operator, so he is one to keep an eye on.
The smart credits are on a two-horse race between Aisling Duval and Arissa Lavigny-Duval. In general terms little separates the two, so there is likely to be a lot of politicking over the next month to determine the winner.
The funeral of Emperor Hengist Duval, the 15th Emperor in the Duval line, took place today amidst a crowd of millions on Capitol in the Achenar system.
Mourners from all over the Empire lined the streets of Capitol. All over the city, the streets were filled to bursting and in a sombre reflection of the wedding a month ago, the white dress uniforms of the Imperial Naval Infantry lined the streets.
In a last minute change to tradition, the funeral procession followed a longer route through the city so that as many of the assembled mourners as possible could witness the passing of their Emperor. The procession marched at a sedate pace and was led by selected members of the Imperial Guard carrying the Emperor.
In another break from tradition and despite her age, Florence Lavigny walked directly behind the coffin even though the marriage ceremony hadn’t been completed. This has raised eyebrows among some of the more conservative members of Imperial society.
Behind the lonely widow marched the immediate family and then the members of the Senate. Behind the most powerful senators came certain patrons, the most well-considered of their station with a direct connection to the Emperor. Next were the clients and citizens and, representing the full range of the Imperial population, these were followed by some of the Emperor’s favourite slaves – which by tradition were set free after the ceremony.
The procession stretched for almost 18 kilometres and took seven hours to complete its tour of the city. Soldiers along the route provided welcome refreshment for both the procession and the crowd. When the procession returned to the Hall of Martyrs, the senators followed inside for the private internment ceremony. Across the Empire, in households and public places, the Feast of Remembering began.
A sombre hush settled across the city for most of the day, but now that the Emperor has been laid to rest, the question everyone wants to know the answer to is – who will be the next Emperor?
Senator Patreus has seen a resurgence of support since his declaration of war against the group responsible for Emperor Hengist Duval’s murder. Reports from the campaign have indicated that Emperor’s Dawn is now claiming responsibility for the regicide, although this hasn’t been independently confirmed as yet.
In a Senate session, Senator Zemina Torval declared her support for the operation and instructed her loyal followers to join the campaign.
Analysts have been keenly watching the political landscape shift in the weeks since the Emperor’s death. Many had written off Patreus as his influence waned with the dishonour of his association with the Emperor’s assassin, Brendan Paul Darius. However, his decisive action against Emperor’s Dawn has raised his profile. Some believe that it is a cynical ploy by Patreus, but none can argue that he has gained the support of the Senate heavyweights.
Even Florence Lavigny has spoken out for unity and support for Patreus:
“When I was much younger, and my first husband dear Aristide was sadly eaten by a Ling Lang in his own menagerie, there were conspiracy theories, none of which were true. The simple truth was he was foolish to keep so many dangerous animals as pets. I’ve known Denton for years, and I know he wasn’t involved in the Emperor’s murder. Hengist had many enemies, but Denton Patreus was not one of them.”
In her first public appearance since the death of her fiancé Emperor Hengist Duval on their wedding day, Florence Lavigny made a short statement in the Imperial Palace press hall and answered a few questions. Her comments come amongst rising tensions on Capitol.
“We must remember proper decorum in this sad time. Our beloved Emperor would not want his death to be used as an excuse for some of the unpleasantness seen in our city. We should mark his passing with proper quiet reflection and respect for our fellow citizens.”
Although clearly devastated by the loss of her long-time friend, she maintained an air of regal dignity, providing a glimpse of what she might have been as Empress Regent. As well as calling for calm, she recalled earlier times with the Emperor in his youth, even some events while her first husband Prince Aristide Lavigny was still alive. These anecdotes forced smiles from even the most sombre reporters gathered there.
Some elements of the lower-level Imperial political scene have challenged Senator Denton Patreus to explain his connection to Brendan Paul Darius, the assassin responsible for the murder of the Emperor during the wedding ceremony with Florence Lavigny. Since the revelation of the assassin’s identity the senator has steadfastly refused to comment, but responded angrily to accusations from a vocal minority in the crowd outside the senate.
“The notion that I might somehow be linked with the murder of our most loved Emperor is offensive. It does bring dishonour and shame upon me that a man in my employ could perform such a heinous act, but it was certainly done without my knowledge. The thought that I allowed such a man near his august presence torments me.”
He also added that the full resources of his office were being made available to the officers in the investigation and that he would aid them in any way he could.
More responsible commentators agree that the accusations are ridiculous. Speculation remains however as to why the man killed the Emperor and whether he was acting alone or for another party.
In respect of the assassination of Emperor Hengist Duval the planned article for this week has been moved to next week so that historian Sima Kalhana relates some of the key moments from his life.
Emperor Hengist Duval was the 15th in the Imperial Duval bloodline to lead the Empire and he saw a great deal of change in his comparatively short reign. He was born in 3163, only a few days before the death of his grandfather Hender Saik Duval. Some claim that the spirit of Hender had already passed to Hengist such were the similarities in looks and manner noted in Hengist’s later years.
When his father, Hesketh Duval, died in 3233, Hengist assumed his place on the throne. The live broadcast of the coronation created an impression of a serene transition. However lurking beneath this appearance lay significant tensions. Most significant of which was the growing power of the Senate which had developed during the extended period of his father’s illness. A parallel with the situation with Hengist’s coma can be seen in recent months.
At the start of his reign the cold war between the Empire and the Federation was starting to thaw, a process which continued for decades, although friction has recently resumed with the rise of certain powers like President Hudson and Senator Patreus.
Hengist’s reign witnessed a major technological advancement with the introduction of the new frame shift drive. This sped up travel between stars systems and even inside systems by an incredible margin. It created a more quickly shifting political, military and commercial landscape as reacting or causing changing became much easier.
Hengist fell ill early in 3300, and he managed to continue light duties throughout the first half of the year. His sickness worsened as the year progressed and during this time he remained in seclusion with only rare visits to the Senate. At the turn of 3301 he slipped into a coma. Many expected him to not awaken from the coma and it was a great surprise when he recovered several months later.
Near the close of 3300, Hengist decreed that his only legitimate child, Harold (who is Aisling Duval’s unmarried father), was not of sound mind and so unfit for rule, and in any case had no legitimate children himself. Following this announcement Arissa Lavigny-Duval declared that she was the illegitimate child of Hengist. The Emperor supported this claim by announcing his forthcoming marriage with Arissa’s mother, Florence Lavigny, and was expected to formally adopt Arissa and cement her claim to the throne.
With his murder and the marriage not completed the succession to the imperial throne is again not clear cut and many fear the potential instability this could cause to the Empire if not decided quickly after the Emperor’s funeral.
Following the very recent expansion by Emperor's Grace into an Imperial system, a suitable industrial location for the production of advanced technology and weapons has been identified. It is deep within Imperial space and protected by forces loyal to Emperor's Grace. The unnamed system presently has production facilities for both Battle Weapons and Personal Weapons.
Grimnir Allvadderung, CEO of Cosmic State's Hammer Arms and Vaarwen Mako Brennus, Leader of Emperor's Grace met in Rishair to inform the media about the exciting developments between Cosmic State and Emperor's Grace. This announcement was immediately overshadowed by the galaxy wide public announcement that the wedding of Emperor Hengist Duval to Florence Lavigny was to proceed as soon as possible.
This historic Royal announcement preceded yet another evening of carousing by the two friends, and large quantities of beer were consumed. The brewer responsible for the consignment of Beer delivered to the celebrations sadly died that evening, having fallen into a vat of malt, allegedly not long after a number of guests complained about the consistency of the beer. An agricultural system is therefore being considered as a potential location to produce mead in Emperor's Grace territory and additional beehives are to be located on the planet's surface.
The Office for the Emperor has published details of the wedding between Emperor Hengist Duval and Florence Lavigny. The wedding will take place at midday on Wednesday 29th July. Invitations have already been sent out and this reporter is one of the lucky few to provide news updates from the wedding entourage itself.
Senators and some prominent patrons together with well known celebrities from all over the Empire have accepted invitations from the Imperial Palace, and have flooded the Emperor’s communications team with their responses. The Emperor himself took a few minutes from his busy schedule to give his thanks:
“The well wishes both for my recovery and upcoming marriage have warmed my heart. I am strengthened by the love that senators, patrons, clients and citizens of this great empire have shown me.”
With the news of the wedding date being set, the newsfeeds have erupted with speculation of the outfits for the Emperor and his new Regent. Those boutiques who most closely match the actual attire are likely to see a windfall as everyone celebrates by purchasing the latest trend in fashion.
Although the Emperor showed some signs of frailty when he appeared before the Senate earlier today, his voice was firm as he called upon the assembled senators to work together and not against each other for the good of the Empire.
“We live in times that hold great promise for our beloved Empire. The uncertainty of the past months has weakened our resolve and this cannot be allowed to continue. For too long some leaders of our society have vied against each other and squandered resources over a matter which will be guided by tradition.
“As Emperor it is my duty to ensure the success of the Empire and its continuation long into the future. To that end the previously announced marriage with my good friend Florence Lavigny will proceed at the earliest opportunity. As the wedding has already been announced we will not have to wait the customary thirty days to conduct the ceremony, but we will still give time for wellwishers to attend. Preparations are in the process of being finalised and will be announced by the middle of next week.”
His speech continued for thirty minutes and covered a range of topics including praising his long term friend Chancellor Anders Blaine for his stalwart support. The Emperor left the senate to a standing ovation and cheers from the normally businesslike senators.
In a follow up to yesterday's announcement, the marriage of Emperor Hengist to his childhood sweetheart, Florence Lavigny, has now been postponed indefinitely. The news marks the first time in over five hundred years that an Imperial wedding has had to have been delayed for any reason.
As well as costing the Imperial Treasury a small fortune, the delay comes as a serious blow to Arissa Lavigny's claim to the throne. Experienced commentators have noted that whilst Arissa currently enjoys the support of Chancellor Blaine, a well respected and staunch supporter of traditional Imperial values, he has previously stated that the next Emperor should follow the Duval line.