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War of the Six Princes

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The War of the Six Princes, often called the Princes' rebellion, the First Urilian Civil War or simply the Urilian Civil War, was the first major interstellar war fought by the Urilian people, lasting twelve years (1476 to 1488). The War of the Six Princes, technically a civil war, profoundly affected the future of the Urilian people and the Kingdom of Urilia. Were it not for this war, many historians believe that the Urilian Empire would not have formed.

The War of the Six Princes finds its roots in the reign of Absentia II and his conflicting ideals with his six sons, Uoreal (the eldest), Khar, Ghatanis, Scataro, Reid, and Taralde. Absentia's lack of interest in the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom was viewed as a weakness by his sons, who demanded he take more a more active part in administration and diplomacy of the government. Absentia refused, worried by paranoia of assassination and remaining in his palace along with his large harem of concubines and wives. In late December of 1475 the six princes met to plan open defiance to the King, and on January 24 of the next year they declared an open revolt against their father, to overthrow him and crown Uoreal as King of the Urilians. Upon this declaration, many outlying systems rebelled and placed their forces under the command of the six princes, drawing the lines for a decade-long war.

The King remained disconcerted at the thought of war, and left the management of the war effort to his ministers and the highest-ranking military officers. Admiral Truvium developed a simple strategy of immediate offensive operations, believing the readiness of the King's own army and navy would easily trump the militia forces of the rebelling systems. Though his strategy met with poor responses by the rest of the high command, his superior rank forced his subordinates to carry it out; the bulk of the King's own "flagship" squadron, the Royal Guard Fleet, was humiliatingly defeated by the combined rebel fleets at the Battle of Tyrule in late 1476. Further military blunders on the part of the King's highest-ranking admiral resulted in his resignation and his later imprisonment, and his replacement with Grand Admiral Interitas. Interitas developed a comparatively defensive strategy, building up enough strength to eventually deal with the rebelling systems. The so-called "Interitas Offensive" of 1481 was launched in an attempt to lift the long-lasted Siege of Gastar - a far-flung outpost that provided key intelligence on rebel movements - and to strike at the heart of the enemy and capture what many viewed as the enemy capital, Zhorra. Zhorra, having once been a secondary capital with strong ties to the Urilian royalty, had a moon that was named the Royal Moon. At one of the key battles of the war, Interitas' up-to-then highly successful offensive was stopped cold at the bloody Battle of the Royal Moon. An estimated 300 ships were lost on both sides, with over 100,000 casualties.

The "high water-mark" of the royalists' attempt at ending the war decisively was at the Royal Moon, and further Urilian offensives stagnated in the face of growing rebel resistance. Even with the inheritance of the throne by King Navitas in 1480 from his deceased older brother did not help the war; if anything, it prolonged it. Battles for years continued to introduce a stagnated front, until a daring offensive was launched by the rebels, headed for Urilia itself. They intended on capturing the King himself, and hold him as a prisoner until the royalists put down their arms and relented to their demands. This offensive, too, resulted in a defeat for the attackers: although the Urilian Home Defense Fleet was heavily battered, the rebels had lost most of their offensive capabilities.

Further battles resulted in short-lived victories for either side, and casualties continued to rise. Eventually a bitter peace was reached at the Gastar Summit - shortly following the end of the siege and the surrender of the Urilian garrison - which gave the six princes full independent and control over their realm. These six princes later carved up their territories equally between one another, forging a strong brotherhood between each other should the Urilian Kingdom ever again attack (which they did, in short and indecisive wars).

Beginnings

King Absentia's reign

King Absentia II Derset (of the House of Derset) was born between June and July, 1415, to his father, King Gehet I and Queen Ihilana. He was the only son and second child of the King and Queen. He was raised in relative seclusion, though he was always encouraged to be social and make friends and acquaintances with the rest of the Urilian upper-class. Despite this, he remained anti-social, refusing to altercate with what he perceived as a pompous and arrogant noble caste that ruled Urilian space. Still, he prepared himself for succeeding to the throne of the kingdom upon the death of his father.

He got his wish in 1437, at the age of 22. His first wife, Yiril, failed to produce any children, and the two divorced in 1442; the next year he married Tercasa, and she produced his first son, Uoreal, in 1445. From then on she produced a child ever year; Khar was born in 1446, Ghatanis in 1447 (twins with his sister), another daughter in 1448, Scataro and Reid as fraternal twins in 1449, and finally Taralde in 1450. Uoreal, being the eldest son, was immediately named the Crown Prince upon his birth; though his second son, Khar, was jealous of his elder brother's title, he quickly grew out of this jealousy and came to adore his older brother as a role model. Absentia cared little for his children in regards to personal tutoring; he left this to his advisers and his wife. As they were educating the royal children on matters of etiquette, diplomacy, the workings of the empire, and warfare (for the males), Absentia began to collect his harem of concubines and became too preoccupied with them and the possibility of assassination to manage his family or his kingdom.

It was here that it was realized that Prince Uoreal had an incredibly sharp mind, befitting a diplomat, and Prince Khar, upon his reaching majority at age 18 in 1464, effectively defeated and enslaved a small civilization on a planet in a newly-conquered system with nothing more than a battalion of troops, a master strategist and tactician. These two, coupled with the charisma and skills of the other four, quickly made them known as the "Six Great Princes".

The six sons of Absentia gradually grew more and more infuriated with his father's rule as King due to his abuses of power and his refusal to aid in the administration of the kingdom. Though the kingdom had grown acceptably under his reign territorially, the economy had begun to stagnate, and rumors permeated the upper circles of the nobility that corrupt officials were pocketing huge sums of money within the bureaucracy. Even with hard evidence backing this up, Absentia refused the demands of his sons, and continued paying little attention to his rule. This provided the primary justification of the six princes to organize resistance to Absentia's rule.

Growing discontent in the outlying systems

For many years before the start of the War of the Six Princes, there had been gradually growing social and political discontent with Absentia's rule within the outer systems of the Urilian realm. The local planetary and system governors cited the government's refusal or, formally, "inability" to support these outer systems from incursions from pirates, attacks from native peoples, and especially during the Hasaro Crisis (detailed later) as weakness from the King and corruption within the bureaucracy and the military. The princes sympathized with the local rulers of these colonies, and also petitioned their father for a more active role of the military in defending the outer systems, to which he also refused.

The Hasaro Crisis

The Hasaro Crisis occurred in 1457, roughly halfway through Absentia's rule as King.

Planet

Hasaro and its sun, Pertius

The Hasaro Crisis revolved around the tense diplomatic - and later military - conflict between the Kingdom of Urilia and a nearby state, the Taiidan Republic. The Taiidan were a militaristic, war-like people that expanded their territory and influence through force of arms against native peoples. On October 29, 1457, a Taiidan battle fleet arrived in the Pertius system and began closing in on Hasaro, the only habitable - and only colonized - planet of the system. Believing the Urilian population to be an indigenous civilization, the Taiidan began landing troops to effect an occupation. The Urilians on the planet mobilized what defenses they could, and began openly fighting the Taiidan invasion. Despite their best efforts and inflicting fairly high casualties, the Urilian defenses were defeated, and most remaining soldiers withdrew into a guerrilla war, while the rest of the planet was subdued and occupied by the Taiidan battle fleet.

When news of the invasion reached the royal capital of Saren, many called for outright war against the Taiidan, while others offered to begin a peaceful diplomatic summit to end the crisis without further bloodshed. Despite this, King Absentia believed that the issue could be localized with the dispatching of an Urilian battlegroup to immediately destroy the Taiidan presence on Hasaro and restore order to the system, preventing any further Taiidan incursions.

On November 14 the King's fleet - under his personal orders, with him acting as fleet commander - deployed to the planet with some of the Kingdom's most powerful warships. Since the occupation of the planet, the Taiidan had reinforced their invasion force with thousands of more troops and dozens of large ships. The Royal Guard Fleet fought fiercely with the Taiidan fleet, while a ground invasion commenced with over 150,000 Urilian marines fighting the occupiers. There were heavy casualties across the board, but the Taiidan survivors eventually surrendered on the ground and the remains of their fleet withdrew from the system. Though trumped by the King and his closest advisers has a great victory against a near-unknown enemy, millions across Urilian space were highly dissatisfied with the occupation and the heavy casualties sustained in the counterattack.

Soon after the Urilian victory during the quasi-conflict, Taiidan dignitaries visited Urilia itself, discussing with the king an establishment of a lasting peace between the two peoples. Centuries later, Emperor Hasdrada I of the Urilian Empire laid out plans for an invasion of Taiidan space during the empire's massive territorial expansion. Upon his death, his heir and son Orulia carried out his late father's plans and conquered the Taiidan in a matter of months.

Initial tensions

The princes declare Absentia unfit for rule

By December of 1475, the six princes had had enough. Their father's un-prosperous reign had left many - especially in the outer systems - disillusioned with the king, and with the government itself.

Prince Uoreal, who had been overseeing the construction of shipyards orbiting Zhorra (an outer territory planet that had a then-abandoned royal palace that was once a vacation spot of the king), called together his five brothers to the planet to discuss the issue of their father's rule. On December 16 they met and deliberated for hours in the private chambers of Prince Khar's battlecruiser, the Royal Deliverance (as he was commanding officer of a large Urilian fleet). By the end of the day they had decided, without a doubt, that they were going to declare their father unfit for rule, and that they were to place Prince Uoreal on the throne after deposing Absentia. Though not all Urilians were discontent with their father's rule as king, many in the outer territories and systems were defiant to his orders, including the hugely influential, powerful, and wealthy governors ruling those sectors. They were positive they could receive their support, plus the support of many others scattered deeper in Urilian space, which would be more than enough to defeat Absentia and his admirals.

Prince Khar's fleet was fiercely loyal in its entirety to him, and therefore to whatever his goal was; the large majority of the population of Zhorra despised the king outright, and the seventeen governors (each ruling between two and two dozen systems) outside of the Urilian Core Systems - the King's direct holdings, plus the several other systems under the thumb of his puppet governors - also found extreme distaste with their monarch's rule. They planned to win the influence of as many governors as possible, in secret, within one month, before carrying the deed out.

Royal palace zhorra

The Royal Palace on Zhorra, from which the princes broadcasted their message

They did so on January 24 of the next year, after having successfully secured the support of all governors that abhorred the King; that is to say, all seventeen governors of the outer territories. Broadcasting from the royal palace on Zhorra, the six princes listed dozens of grievances against the King, and, "as a result of the aforementioned grievances against the Kingdom of Urilia and her noble people, we hereby declare, in truth and in goodwill for our People, King Absentia unfit to rule as King of Urilia, and shall be succeeded by his son, Uoreal, Prince and firstborn." They called upon all Urilians to join them in the removal of the king from his throne; while many in the outer systems proudly cheered the six princes on and viewing it as the only possible thing to do, many on Urilia and the surrounding systems viewed it as treason and an attempted coup. Within a matter of three days, all seventeen governors officially ceded from the Kingdom and declared their support for the six princes and Uoreal's bid for the throne.

The King's response

Upon hearing this news, the king was, unsurprisingly, enraged. This was not helped when he was notified that the seventeen governors had also ceded and declared independence. He thought his sons insane

Trivia

  • King Absentia, the first of the two Urilian Kings that participated in the war effort, was named for his absent-mindedness and disconnection with the war; "absentia" means, essentially, "absent" in Latin. Similarly, his more hands-on younger brother, Navitas, translates as "zeal". Admiral Interitas, the aggressive and dedicated admiral who replaced Truvium as the highest-ranking naval officer, has his name in the roots of the Latin word for "destruction".

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