Emperor Hên' (Themiclesia)

Emperor Hên′
Emperor of Themiclesia
Reign16 May, 1923 – 3 Dec, 2016
Coronation16 May, 1923
PredecessorEmperor Mjen
SuccessorCurrent emperor
RegentEmpress Dowager Gwidh (to 1936)
Born娞 (snul)
(1916-03-21)21 March 1916
Nja-'rjem Prefecture
Died3 December 2016(2016-12-03) (aged 100)
Kien-k'ang, Inner Region
Burial
Tjaw Mausoleum
Empress Hruh-'an (孝安皇后, m. 1937)
Issue
  • Crown Prince Tjaw-brjiang
  • Prince Ruai of Djang'
  • Princess T'jang-nglakw
Full name
Slje-mra′ Snul (司馬娞)
Era dates
8 Nov. 1923 – 18 Nov. 2017
Posthumous name
Illustrious emperor (顯皇帝)
Temple name
l′jabh-tsung (世宗)
FatherPrince Kl′ang
MotherPrincess Dowager Krjong

Emperor L′jabh-tsung (世宗, l′jabh-tsung), born Slje-mra' Snul (司馬娞) on Oct. 5, 1916, was the sovereign of Themiclesia from his ascension on May 16, 1923 until his death on Dec. 3, 2016, becoming the longest-reigning and oldest monarch in Themiclesian history. His reign saw events as the Pan-Septentrion War, the reconstruction afterwards, and the Depression of 1978.

Early life

L′jabh-tsung was born the eldest son of Prince Kl′ang in the latter's residence in Nja-′rjum Prefecture in the small hours of the morning on Oct. 5, 1916; his mother is the Princess Dowager Krjong. He was born late in the reign of Emperor Goi, whose successor Emperor Grui was childless but still expected to father a child with his consort, Empress Dowager Gwidh. Grui was in robust health, though Gwidh's lack of childbearing did arouse suspicion. L′jabh-tsung's parents were aware that if Grui should pass away childless, the throne would pass to their line; however, they deemed this unlikely and did not make preparations. Prince Kl'ang died of pneumonia in 1920, which made L′jabh-tsung heir presumptive at the age of 4. Little is known about his childhood, though it is thought that L′jabh-tsung enjoyed more intimacy with his family than any of his predecessors or peers did.

Early reign

Ascension

On May 10, 1923, Emperor Grui was assassinated, shocking the nation. The very night, Empress Gwidh came to Princess Krjong's house and demanded L′jabh-tsung. Receiving him, she took him to the antechamber at the House of Lords, where he spent the next few nights attended by the gentlemen-at-arms, attorney-general, and royal chamberlains. Starting on the 12th, the peers received summonses to attend Parliament without delay. Assembling on the 15th, the House confirmed the death of Emperor Grui. On the 16th, L′jabh-tsung was led by Empress Gwidh before the House, where he knelt before the throne and heard the posthumous edict establishing him as heir. Then, the peers, prompted by government leaders, senior civil servants, and court officials acclaimed him as sovereign. L′jabh-tsung was helped into the canopy throne by the lords in waiting and symbolically passed several edicts. Empress Gwidh was elevated as Agnate Empress Dowager (帝太后); his own mother, Princess Krjong, was made Princess Dowager of Gwin (弦太后). As he was a minor, an edict was also passed appointing Empress Gwidh as regent, until he came of legal age at 20.

Minority

L′jabh-tsung's childhood was in many ways an archaicism in royal child-rearing compared to other princes in the era. It is widely known that Emperor Grui hated the usual child-rearing programme in the royal household and enacted reforms for his future children, but they have been circumvented by Empress Gwidh, who was a traditionalist and surrounded herself with Conservatives courtiers who believed that royal practices should be the last to change. L′jabh-tsung was moved from the House of Lords to the Front Hall, where he settled in the East Parlour. Gwidh attended to the emperor's upbringing, hiring renowned intellectuals and retired ministers as tutors and appointing female aristocrats as nurses. On the other hand, the emperor was isolated from other children and was rarely invited to do physical activity; according to some Casaterran visitors, the emperor could stay in his bed-throne for days at a time, only coming off for the toilet. His social life was dominated by lawyers, accountants, and academics, who attended him regularly.

The greatest criticism commentators have levelled since the 70s is his total isolation from his actual mother. Gwidh told her that her son was now a sovereign and deserved the respect of etiquette and distance, though her true motive is more likely preventing Krjong from inculcating the young emperor with her Liberal beliefs. Krjong was discouraged from visiting court, and when she did she was required to submit her address to the sovereign in advance; the young emperor read drafted responses to her, as he did to government ministers. While Gwidh was a devout Conservative, historians think she demonstrated some restraint from moulding the emperor upon her beliefs. The curriculum established for the emperor was read in the House of Lords, where any suspicious or overly-partisan content was likely to be contested; while some Liberal peers objected to his upbringing, it was mainly to his lifestyle rather than the curriculum taught to him. Though Grui had moved into a Casaterran Annexe with plumbing and electricity in the 1880s, Gwidh insisted that the new emperor live at the draughty, candle-lit East Parlour until he was old enough to choose for himself.

The same model that L′jabh-tsung used in his childhood

In the winter of 1925, the emperor contracted a severe case of pneumonia. His physicians insisted that he move out of the East Parlour and convalesce at an infirmary instead, which Gwidh refused. The physicians then asked her to experience the frigidity of the medieval hall in winter, to which she expressed surprise and for which she ordered firepans to be inserted under the canopy-throne; however, these measure still could not elevate temperatures in the hall above freezing. Courtiers visiting the emperor recorded that frost covered the pillars and floor tiles. On Jan. 2, 1926, the firepans caused a minor conflagration in the hall, burning the canopies off the throne and beams. The emperor, unhurt, was relocated to an infirmary, where he recovered from his pneumonia in March. Hearing this, Krjong said that Gwidh should not be allowed to make arrangements for the emperor's life, since she has never raised a child.

Adolescence

While L′jabh-tsung was removed from his mother's care at the age of 6, he apparently recalled his life before it was totally transformed by his ascension. Unlike previous monarchs, L′jabh-tsung was able to dress and undress himself with surprising proficiency, and in baths he never ordered his attendants to scrub himself. He also surprised his attendants by going into the cubicle where the toilet chair was kept and use it there, rather than having it brought to him, though was was later stopped to prevent his injuring himself in a private toilet. In 1928, he asked his attendants when would electricity be introduced to his hall, to which the Conservative prime minister Lord of Sloi replied that it will be installed when he is old enough to need it. In 1929, the Liberal minister Lord nKo suggested that he take walks around his bed if he does not visit the gardens. In 1930, he was allowed to listen to pre-selected radio programmes for several hours a week to familiarize himself with current events. In 1932, at the age of 15, he was first introduced to his bodyguard, the gentlemen-at-arms, by name; he thanked them for defending him for the last nine years. From this point, L′jabh-tsung's life became much less monotonous, allowed to interact with distinguished youths coming to serve and entertain him.

Revolt of 1932

Perhaps the greatest threat to his reign and the entire royal house came during the Nationalist Revolt of 1932. A group of political extremists, such as radical republicans, fascists, and Menghe-leaning nationalists, organized a march to the capital city. Some conspirators convinced the demonstrators that the Emperor had appealed for their assistance to attack the government violently. The government, which sat at the Court Hall, less than a half-mile away, ordered the Royal Guards to gun down the demonstrators, resulting in over 500 deaths. On Jun. 21, the Emperor made his first-ever public appearance, while the Lord of Ran read his address to a shocked public. Rather than condemning the conspirators, the government announced through him that the Revolt was led by a small group of miscreants that fooled the peaceful demonstrators into charging the palace. His first public photograph dates from this occasion, a barely-visible silhouette behind a canopy and veil.

Impending war

In the commotion of the Revolt, the Royal Guards inadvertently shot the nephew of Menghean Emperor, who was sent to rally support for Menghe in Themiclesia. The enraged emperor soon raised troops in support of the Dzhungestan leader in exile, Batzorig Khan, to repel Themiclesian forces that had occupied his country since 1927. Political figures were polarized by this development, Liberals supporting immediate conscription and Conservatives re-opening negotiations. L′jabh-tsung remained quiet during this tumultuous period but regularly consulted his ministers about the present situation. He also ordered his gentlemen-at-arms to debate the political and strategic situation, which greatly broadened his perspectives about the international situation. In Nov. 1933, he convoked his first Privy Council and met all living former-prime ministers. Around 1934, L′jabh-tsung began forming his own court, and the Empress-dowager was apparently content to allow him this measure of autonomy. This court, consisting of aristocrats, jurists, bureaucrats, diplomats, and academics would remain fairly constant for the remainder of his reign. The same year, he also began appearing in the House of Lords to hear active debates by national leaders, though the Empress-dowager still sat in the throne to deliver royal assent to legislation.

Adulthood

Coming of age

On Mar. 21, 1936, his 20th birthday, L′jabh-tsung underwent rites of majority at the West Temple, where his predecessor, Emperor Grui, was venerated. A great banquet for peers, MPs, and bureaucrats followed the ceremonies. Majority allowed L′jabh-tsung to hold court without the attendance of Empress Gwidh, though she was always invited; accounts show that L′jabh-tsung was very conscientious about his duties as emperor, even if largely cermeonial.

Marriage

In 1933, L′jabh-tsung was matched with the Baronness of Kron (關侯), granddaughter of retired prime minister Lord of Mik. On May 1, 1937 the Emperor married his 21-year-old bride, whom he had never met before. Revelries raged through the land, almost as though the war was forgotten. The new Empress' brothers were all made peers on the day of their marriage. As with most Themiclesian royal couples, the two met only a few times a year, and most communication between them were via their respective secretaries. The marraige cereony took place in the House of Lords, and the newly-crowned empress was moved to take up residence in the Middle Palace, the seat of royal consorts.

Evacuation

In 1938, the encroaching front forced L′jabh-tsung, along with his government, to evacuate to Blim-tsi, a coastal city in Tsjinh-nêng Prefecture. He took up residence in Rjem-m′e Palace, a resort built in the middle ages, on a short bluff overlooking the sea.

Assassination

The emperor ordered a Lord Kam's burial mound to be covered in tangerine trees to commemorate him, whose title literally means "Tangerine Lord".

L′jabh-tsung's stay at Rjem-m′e Palace was hectic and laden with dangers. The Royal Guards, which once numbered thousands, had been deployed to the front, leaving his palace under-defended. To take advantage of the situation, secret Dayashinese operatives under the Imperial Special Operations Group infiltrated the Themiclesian Marines, which guarded the city's ports and naval installations. Between 1939 and 1940, there were no fewer than ten attempts on his life; in two, assassins came face-to-face with the monarch before being foiled. In both cases, a considerable number of courtiers perished in his defence, including two of his most loved companions, Ga Nrong (胡檂) and Lord Kam (柑君). Ga, shot in the chest by Nagami, said he never changed the emperor's mind, so dying in his defence was all he could do. Lord Kam dragged the assassin's foot to prevent a clear shot at the emperor, but Nagami cracked his cranium with a stamp, killing him instantly. Fainted, the emperor was carried away by Lord Lrje and Tribune Rjem. When the Captain-general of Marines appeared to ask for forgiveness, L′jabh-tsung replied that he will not forget that two regiments of marines "making the same sacrifices that Ga Nrong and Lord Kam did, only in a different place."[1]

Contributions to war effort

During the war, L′jabh-tsung made numerous efforts to contribute to the war. His decision to quarter his food budget was highly praised and publicized by the government, officially described as "an act of empathy never before witnessed in history". Historians note that, on a comparative basis, the Themiclesian emperor had the one of the largest food budgets of any monarch, regularly employing over 250 chefs of various specializations in his private kitchen. His private dinners consisted of 52 main dishes, plus a roughly equal number in appetizers and desserts. It is also noteworthy that the "dishes" are large bronzeware, each with a capacity that would "feed a battalion of soldiers easily"[2]. Though in Themiclesian society there was no cultural objection to such lavishness in the monarchy, L′jabh-tsung's frugality won the monarchy much popularity.

Relationship with other monarchs

Emperor Shogo of Dayashina

The two monarchs are, in their later years, close to each other, but their first impressions of each other was neutral at best and more likely negative. Much of this is due to the effects of the Pan-Septentrion War, but L′jabh-tsung was said to have some personal views on Shogo as well. L′jabh-tsung first learned of Shogo upon the latter's ascension in 1940, when the Minister of the Left (foreign secretary) read reports on the event. According to some reports, L′jabh-tsung's said he hoped "Shogo would be different from the last one". The Minister of the Left replied that the "differences [Shogo] makes would be minimal." However, when L′jabh-tsung learned that Shogo may have had a role in sending infiltrators to assassinate him, L′jabh-tsung spoke of Shogo as "this person" (是人), possibly indicating he found Shogo beneath the status or expected conduct of a monarch.

After the war, L′jabh-tsung's views on Morohito began to change. In 1947, several Dayashinese citizens petitioned his court, accusing certain Themiclesian officers (who participated in Dayashina's occupation) of slandering Shogo . Though he did not personally intervene, he told Privy Councillors that he could not approve of "the ignorant slander alleged", possibly suggesting L′jabh-tsung thought of his own critical views as justified, but those of the officers as borne out of ignorance. At the height of the Dayashinese food shortage, L′jabh-tsung instructed courtiers to send $50,000 in relief, saying, "If he can destroy his country, he certainly can rebuild it. If he fail, we shall assist him in a small way and show him how. All deserve to have a full stomach and a roof free of holes, here or there."

L′jabh-tsung made a state visit to Dayashina in 1960. He was highly impressed by the rapidly recovering Dayashinese economy and the kind reception of Dayashinese people granted him. In the state dinner, L′jabh-tsung congratulated Shogo on the success of his country's economy and the wealth of his people. On this visit, the Themiclesian Marines provided the Emperor's ceremonial guards, showing that the wounds Dayashina caused in Themiclesia had healed; after he left Dayashina, the Gentlemen-at-Arms returned to this role. In 1968, L′jabh-tsung ordered a special envoy to deliver a birthday gift to Shogo and the Empress-consort. In 1970, L′jabh-tsung gave personal permission for Dayashinese scholars to enter the Enclosure and study the location where Dayashinese paratroopers died of starvation in his palace.

As both monarchs aged, it seems their differences in the past, though not entirely forgotten, were ignored in favour of interaction. In the 1980s and 1990s, the two met in five occasions, and the presents given by the Themiclesian side has waxed in value (monetary or sentimental) each time. A Privy Councillor expressed anonymously in 1989, "[L′jabh-tsung] is very affectionate and grateful of the contributions that Dayashinese-born individuals have made in Themiclesia." In the 1992 televised address L′jabh-tsung made, he expressed remorse for the "iniquitous and prejudicial" measures Themiclesia implemented in 1933 that mainly targeted Menghean immigrants, though it was understood a certain number from Dayashina were impacted as well. He offered his apology to "the victims of legislation that has been repealed in 1947 and others that have been unfairly impaired by its operation". The following year, an edict was issued to "restore all rights to those who have been excluded from the amnesty of 1948", amongst whom were the Dayashinese assassins that were not convicted prior to 1948.

The final meeting between the two monarchs occurred in September, 2016, only months before L′jabh-tsung passed away. King Howard of Anglia and Lechernt was also present. L′jabh-tsung was 100, King Howard 98, and Emperor Shogo 90; the Themiclesian media labelled it as "the most ancient meeting between three people". During this visit, L′jabh-tsung had become less talkative than he was, and even for short distances required the aid of a man-pulled carriage, to the surprise of the visiting monarchs. When questioned, Themiclesian physicians answered that L′jabh-tsung was merely showing "inevitable signs of ageing" but "was in remarkably good health for a man of his age, with lucid memory and few chronic problems". However, the recent passing of the Empress (aged 101, in 2015) had robbed the Emperor of some of his spirits and impulse to speak.

Death, burial, and succession

L′jabh-tsung died in the late afternoon on Dec. 3, 2016, after suddenly collapsing backwards from his usual mattress. He was was immediately supported by his attendants, and nurses carried him in a stretcher to an infirmary that has been established in the Enclosure for ease of access. Various monitors were attached to him by its staff. Physicians arrived within several minutes, but the leading physician said that the symptoms are indicative of acute cardiac failure, and in his senility nothing could be done to resuscitate him. The Director of the Bedchamber gave the signal to ring the emergency bells throughout the palace, as the Emperor was placed into his usual carriage and moved to the Great Hall. He was laid in the throne with life-sustaining devices still attached to him. The Gentlemen-at-Arms were mustered and ordered to notify all ministers, members of parliament, and other high officers of the state to assemble. About an hour after the Emperor became unconscious, he passed away under the watch of the leaders of the executive and legislative branches.

While he was unconscious, the Council of Protonotaries retrieved an agreed-upon draft for the last edict, which an Inner Attendant read to the unconscious monarch and then sealed with the Emperor's hand. The Prime Minister, kneeling before the thorne, accepted the edict. The Secretary of State for Defence then ordered the Royal Signals Corps to place all military units on alert and the palace gates to be shut. The Crown Prince, who had been visiting Dayashina, was requested to return to Kien-k'ang in preparation for ascension. The following day, the Emperor's body was dressed in full regalia and laid in a coffin. While the government did not issue any statement as to the Emperor's death, conventional and social media has widely reported the same, upon knowing the palace gates have been suddenly closed and visitors' appointments cancelled. The media reacted to the usual procedure of locking the palace until the successor has been retrieved and arrangements for ascension made.

On midnight, Dec. 10, the Cabinet, a delegation of the Council of Protonotaries, Inner, Cavalier, and Ordinary Attendants arrived at the East Palace, where the Crown Prince resided. There, the Prime Minister read the late Emperor's final edict and invited him to enter the Hian-lang Palace. The Crown Prince arrived at the Great Hall and prostrated twice to the Emperor's coffin, which was still in the throne. The bells rang again, summoning all civil servants above the Ninth Class in the capital city to assemble at the Front Hall. At about 2:30, the late Emperor's coffin was enclosed in six successive sarcophagi, which was then hauled out, with the Crown Prince at the head of the procession, to lie in state at the Ramp of Guests (the west set of steps leading up to the Dais-gjek-den). Then, helped by the senior officials, he ascended the throne in full view of the assembly of the civil servants. The late Emperor's final edict was read a second time to assert to the assembly the legitimacy of the succession. At the same time, the passing of L′jabh-tsung was publicly announced, and all officials, civil and military, began to observe a 27-day period of mourning starting on the 10th.

Assassination attempts

Family

See also

Notes

  1. The Emperor said, "If Lord Kam were repaired and re-animated today, he would tell me that he is glad to die in my defence for all the honour my progenitors and I have done to him and his progenitors. That is not the whole story in my view. He protect me because he was my friend and companion. As for your men, especially the two regiments fighting at the front, they are doing what Lord Kam has done for me. And their sacrifices I shall not forget, even though my progenitors and I have never befriended them or done them any honour. You are innocent to me."
  2. According to visitor General Bing of the 434th Cavalry Regiment