The Divided Empire
In purple: the remnant of the Elven Empire. In blue: the Empire of Tanith. In green, the Empire of the Islands. In red, the Empire of Archipelago. Colourless areas represent territory outside the control of any of the competing empires.
The final dissolution of the Elven Empire was a long, slow process and the exact historical moment where the Empire ceased to exist is difficult to pinpoint, given that many of the Imperial institutions and a veneer of Imperial authority and legitimacy were maintained, at least nominally, by its self-proclaimed successors.
That being said, the tumultuous period that saw four competing self-styled Empires carve up the territory of the once-unified Empire certainly hastened its end.
The loss of the interior and northwest saw the rise of barbarian kingdoms across the former domains of Empire — most notably, the ancestors of Emperor Theobald, who would reunify much of central Realmgard during his rule. Such collapse of Imperial control of the frontiers encouraged the peoples of the Wandering Coast and Archipelago to declare independence from the Empire and proclaim their own Empires.
The nascent Empire of Tanith expanded its territory onto the continent, conquering the Sea’s Edge from the Empire. Though Elven noblemen on the Sea’s Edge were able to carve out a small but well-defended area of influence independent of the Tanithites (the forerunner of the eventual Kingdom of Pelayo), Tanithite control of the Sea’s Edge would be near-total for centuries until the onset of the gradual Pelayan conquest of the Sea’s Edge.
The Empire of Archipelago initially had little territorial ambition, largely securing and stabilising control over the islands of Archipelago. In later centuries, the Empire would begin to expand onto the eastern continents, ushering in a period where Archipelago was the pre-eminent Imperial power in the region. In later centuries, most of those continental holdings would be lost and modern Archipelago is once again a predominantly island state.
In the northeast and a long the island chain stretching from Middelmere to the coast of Gallicantu, the dynasty of the renegade Imperial general Marinus Victor — said to be the grandson of a creature cryptically called the “Sea Bear” (what exactly this creature is and the logistics of its fathering of a dynasty of Elves are both unclear and much-debated by historians) — founded the Empire of the Islands.
Notably, the Empire of Islands relied heavily on hired privateers and mercenary sailors to defend its own maritime trade routes and harass those of its Imperial rivals. This is often viewed as the origins of Northeastern Realmgard’s long-standing association with piracy.
By the end of this period, the remnant of the Elven Empire controlled little more than its traditional heartland of Natalis and the territory of Gallicantu. Despite occasional periods of reconquest of small bits of its former territory, much of the former Imperial territory would never be returned to Imperial control.
Though the Empires of Tanith and Archipelago would remain largely stable, the remnant of the Elven Empire would continue to contract and lose power and influence. The Empire of the Islands would prove especially short-lived — though never conquered by any of its Imperial rivals, the domain would further fragment into rival factions locked in a long series of civil wars and internal strife.
The northeast of Realmgard would eventually see the rise of several small but local powerful kingdoms that continued to maintain a thin veneer of older Imperial trappings that would be influential in the history of the region. Most notably, the famous and tragic Queen Antiocha would rule over much of northeastern Realmgard and loom large in later histories and legendary sagas.
Welp, that’s basically the end of the Elven Empire. I think I may have written several contradictory details across these eight things, but I’m at least content with the broad strokes of the history.
And with that, Week Two has started. Incidentally, Week 1 is here:
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