Chloé of Solaria
|Heroine of Sotirianity|
1st January, 860
Croan, Solarian Empire
|Died||19th November, 901|
Verlois, Solarian Empire
|Venerated in||Solarian Catholicism |
Church of Caldia
|Beatified||912, Saint Peter's Basilica, Solaria, by Pope Paul III|
|Canonized||913, Saint Peter's Basilica, Solaria by Pope Paul III|
|Attributes||Armour, banner, sword, horse, lily|
|Patronage||Gaullica; Satucin; military personnel; people ridiculed for their piety; women in the armed forces.|
Saint Chloé of Solaria, or merely Saint Chloé (1st January 860 - 19th November, 901), known by the title of Heroine of Sotirianity, was a Solarian peasant from the Solarian Empire who is considered to be a heroine of Solarian Catholicism, Gaullica, Etruria and the city of Solaria in particular due to her participation in the defence of the city against Chanyu Ekkin of the Tagames. She was canonised as a Solarian Catholic Saint in 913, 12 years after her death, by her friend Pope Paul III.
Chloé reported to several authorities, including the Emperor himself, that she had had a vision of numerous Saints, including Peter, Paul and the Virgin Mary, compelling her to travel to the Ecclesiastical City to aid in its incoming siege. Whilst originally dismissed as delusional, her words became prophesied when word had reached the court of the Tagames landing in Euclea. Whilst segments of the imperial army were busy fighting the Tagames across Florena and portions of what is now Etruria, Chloé led fervent believers, nobles and their retinues and levied troops to defend Solaria. Along the way, she bested numerous Tagamic warbands and hosts before she arrived at the city of Solaria by 881 AD. Sotirian victory in the battle is often attributed to her presence and the relief she provided.
The Heroine of Sotirianity died in Verlois, in 901, after being lavished and lifted out of poverty by the Emperor. Despite never marrying, her siblings continued to reap her rewards on their estate within the capital. After her canonisation she was declared a symbol of Gaullica, though had been held in this manner beforehand, became one of her patron Saints and became the namesake for numerous territories and colonies Gaullica would colonise.
She has remained a popular figure in Eastern and Sotirian Culture, with numerous visions of her attributed to people throughout history. Numerous plays, books, films, pieces of music and even video-games have been made either in her honour or about her. She became a popular symbol of the women's liberation movement in Gaullica, in addition to becoming an anti-conscription symbol in the late 1980s.
Before Chloé even supposedly received her visions, the Solarian Empire had lost much of its territory in Coius to its typical rival: the First Heavenly Dominion. Whilst the court itself was preparing to fund incursions and invasions of the region to reclaim lost territory, no one realistically expected to have to defend territories in Euclea from an invader. This is, partly, why Chloé was met with initial ridicule and scepticism. There was a large doubt in the capabilities of the Heavenly Kingdom to launch naval invasions with Imperial control over the Solarian Sea. However, it was not the Heavenly Kingdom that conducted these engagements.
Tagamic migrations, as shown (see image), began from southern Coius along its western coast. They raided numerous peoples, destabilised many nations -- even the Heavenly Dominion, some argue to a point of no return -- and eventually crossed first to Montecara and then to Florena. Their invasion point correlates with roughly two months after Saint Chloé first reported her visions.
The conquest and subversion of the Heavenly Dominion had obviously been unprecedented, and for the first time, many in the Empire considered opening up diplomatic arrangements with the Dominion in order to better defeat the nomads. It must also be stated that the entirety of the Tagamic forces did not continue their migration into Euclea, some set up petty-kingdoms and rulership over hotly contested territory in north-western Coius, that would later be reconquered by Verliquois and the Dominion.
Thus, the empire before this initial engagement was already gearing and preparing for an eventual war with the Dominion. This war was intended to be a limited offensive reconquest, however, much of the imperial will to engage had been expended in numerous campaigns across modern day Swetania, Hennehouwe and Aimilia. The Empire, when invaded initially, could be argued to have been in a weak position. Furthermore, imperial authority was already waning due to perceived losses in the favour of God from the loss of Adunis and other diminishing of imperial territories. Inadvertently, the actions of Saint Chloé would weaken the institution of the emperor for a time.
Chloé was born in Croan, a town within the Solarian Empire (now in Amathia), to Josse de Croan, sometimes Iudocus de Croan, the town's butcher and his wife, Johanne on the first of January, 860 AD. Living on the far reaches of the Solarian Empire, Josse's place within the town was a respected position. Some records show he briefly served as mayor, in addition to supplanting his income with tax-collecting duties. It is thought Chloé was the youngest of four siblings and as such received no formal education. However, despite this, she was not illiterate. Speculation has arisen that she was self taught, and her command of Solarian was limited at best, in comparison to her usage of medieval Gaullican.
At the age of 16, Chloé insisted to her father and the members of the local imperial garrison that she had been beset by visions whilst performing her butchering duties. Her testimony to these individuals was that Saint Peter and Paul had told her of impending doom coming to the city of Solaria; that the manifestations of Death, Plague, War and Pestilence would descend on the city. The Virgin Mary, by contrast, instructed her to use her compassion and understanding to sway the hearts of those who would listen to come to defend it. After a second meeting with garrison commander Philippe Ennecus, she was taken from Croan irrespective of her father's wishes to parlay before the Emperor. Ennecus would later report to his superiors that "Her conviction was true. Her resolve was also true. She was literate, not a dull fool. I felt she was telling the truth. Lord knows the Saints are strange in their summons."
Testimony to the Court
Whilst originally dismissed by the imperial court for three weeks upon their arrival in Verlois in 876, Chloé and her small retinue were eventually given permission to see Philippe II. Philippe admitted to the young girl that he was "more interested in her words than her message." Interpretations of this are suggested to mean the Emperor was confused, if not interested, in the fact that his notion of a peasant could speak well at all. Several clergymen, fulfilling the role of 'advocatus diaboli', questioned the young girl excessively on her message. She described it as "the most clear sentences ever spoken to her." She said that "Peter was heavenly, and true, and insistent on the urgency to defend the Servant of the Servants of God." Paul, she would say, was "parroting the message of Peter, but nonetheless as radiant and beautiful. He spoke of the impending doom in greater detail." The Virgin Mother was "as soft and tender as a mother should be, and her message changed me." She told the Court that she had wept for two days after hearing their message, collapsing onto the floor of her father's shop still in her work garments, due to the "song-like" beauty of their messages.
After another week of deliberations by the 'advocatus diaboli', the court was informed that two hosts had landed in Euclea. Chloé, and her message, were treated far more sincerely after that. However, to the shock of many, the Emperor refused to lend official support to her cause to defend Solaria when the enemy was at their doorstep.
Whilst Philippe would go on to have his immense victory at the Battle of Sessonis in 879 over one of the rampaging armies of the Tagames, Chloé used the official declaration of her vision to convince countless nobles, fervent believers, dissuaded soldiers and even peasants to join her cause to 'save the Holy City.'
Campaigns and battles
Chloé's host, numbering unknown numbers but speculated to be within the 5-6,000 range (but some estimations have it even as high as 13,000), marched from the Solarian Empire down into what is now Etruria. Their largely disproportionate force was modestly equipped in some aspects, and fairly unequipped in others. There were at least four hundred landed horsemen in her host, of which she had been given a steed as well. Several nobles were on her expedition as well, including the six marcher lords of the Solarian Empire and the Duke of Sablé-sur-Sarthe. The 'army' as it called itself saw numerous victories across northern Etruria, including the cessation of the looting of modern-day Auronzo and a minor skirmish between cavalry forces outside of Poveglia. These victories drew Vespasian people and lords to her cause, swelling her numbers to at least 7-8,000.
By the spring of 881, Chloé's host had arrived at the besieged Solaria. The Duke of Sablé-sur-Sarthe advised the young girl to halt her tenacity, but she dismissed his concerns as too conservative. "We shan't halt now, not with the Apocalypse before us." became her charging cry as her forces aimed to break the siege-lines. Her assault, joined by a sortie from within, managed to break the encirclement of the city for a few hours before the fighting ceased for the evening. The second day saw a failing attack, repulsed twice in the morning and the afternoon that sent morale shockwaves throughout the encampments of the host. Fearing a mutiny or rout from her ill-disciplined, yet fervent, followers Chloé quickly acted. On the morning of the third day, adorned in her chain and with sword at hand, she supposedly rallied the troops with a speech and the Lord's Prayer.
"They told me that I was a heretic at first. They told me that I was spinning lies. Look before you with your very eyes. This isn't a lie. This is what we came here to do. For over a year now you have held the belief in me, that I am here to save this city: to save our world from these 'Horsemen of the Apocalypse.' We have seen Death and War and Pestilence and Famine. The horrors are plentiful. But look around you, look around you and weep. Don't just believe in me, friends, brothers and sisters. Believe in yourselves. Look at what we have done on this day. And let almighty God deliver this city from ruin, with we as his instruments."
- Numerous, Sinners and Saints.
The speech, by all accounts, worked. On the morning of the third day Chloé's army assaulted again, inspiring the defenders to sortie and pincer the besiegers. One tale accounts for how a Vespasian hunter in the region showed Chloé and some of her most devout men of a hidden grotto into the city, which they used to communicate with the defenders within. Others hold that the Duke of Sablé led a glorious cavalry charge at Chloé's command. Further still are the famed stories of the 'Patron Saint of War', Pope Paul III, who emerged from Solaria and fought on the battlements and slew Chanyu Ekkin himself. In the evening, after fierce fighting, a major portion of the Tagamic host had been routed. They fled north, pursued for a week by the horsemen of the Duke of Sablé -- but he returned to Chloé and told her they were too fast. By the morning of the fourth day, there were no besiegers left.
Heroine of Sotirianity
The complex army of the faithful was let into Solaria under a hero's welcome. It was a spectacle of the ages, widely considered an immense time of revelation and cheer as the sacking of the city was prevented. Many feared a second sacking, the first since the loss of the city by the Solarian Empire in the 5th century. At the head of the procession, with the Pope awaiting for her at his residence, Chloé and her entourage were lavishly welcomed into the city. Flowers were thrown, food (though scarce) was offered and men and women threw themselves in adoration and joy at their presence. Luc Leyes, a retainer of Chloé, recounted that:
"She has not the understanding of adoration. The Duke of Sablé revels in his vainglory, he kisses the women from atop his horse and hungrily takes their offerings. He bows and smiles and nods. Perhaps he has deserved it. Perhaps. But Our Lady does not. She turns the food away. Smiles and waves at the children. She sits in her white steed uncomfortable. Her posture is not perfect. Her demeanour is not perfect. But she presents herself as a greater person than all the nobility here combined. And the people love her. For it was her vision, her message, her charisma -- that led us would-be warriors here."
- Numerous, Sinners and Saints
Their victory procession took them from the 'Old Gate' of the city through famous roads, the old Senate House, churches, cathedrals, plazas and squares. It ended at the Pope's quarters within the city, at the time a smaller complex still referred to as 'Saint Peter's Basilica'. Chloé was housed by the Pope himself, in quarters rivaling that of his other noble guests (the Vespasian and Solarian lords). He proclaimed her the 'Heroine of Sotirianity', a title that would stick with her in life and posthumously. When asked how she had arrived, she told the Pope of her visions and her endorsement by the Emperor. Her word was backed by her followers and verified by several signed documents procured by the 'advocatus diaboli' of Verlois.
After a month of revelry and celebration in Solaria, in which numerous gifts were lavished upon the young woman (including a new set of chain, a new steed, jewelry, clothes), Chloé and portions of her force began their trek back to the Empire. They would all return to their homes by 883. Summoned to Verlois even as she neared Croan, Chloé was given a hero's welcome at the capital as well. The Emperor treated her as a hero much as the Pope had done; and had granted her father 500 hectares of land on the Ile de la Fleur, a large sum of deniers (debated in value), and Chloé apartments in the city of Verlois itself.
Later life and death
Chloé never married and was officially declared a virgin and chaste by the Church within a year of her death in 901. She spent much of her time after her successes assisting her father on his new land, but often spent much time at Verlois as well. Whilst a respected figure she was often excluded from events in Verlois and whilst able to attend court, her status as a 'new noble' did not sit well with many outside those who journeyed with her to Solaria. She was present at the coronation of Constantine II, who she became a confidant of. Constantine entrusted numerous matters to Chloé, who had been pushed away by Philippe II after his granting of the rewards to her.
Whilst enjoying a more involved life in Verlois now, Chloé spent her last few years at odds with much of the court. Individuals viewed her as threatening, slow and improper (she often spoke solely Gaullican at court, unable to keep with the level of Solarian). Many questioned her relationship with the Emperor and some speculated and rumoured that it was sexual (despite the fact she was 21 years his senior). After such accusations, she was rarely seen at court.
She died on the 19th of November, 901 at the age of 41. She was granted a state funeral by the Empire, which involved a week of mourning, and was offered a place in a mausoleum of heroes, but on her father's wishes was interred at the family crypt they had built for themselves on their new land. Constantine paid for her tomb himself.
Upon finding out of her death, Paul III is said to have written a letter of consolation to her remaining family. The Heroine of Sotirianity was survived by her father, three of her brothers and an assortment of nieces and nephews. Yet their relevance and recognition by the imperial court soon faded away. Almost 11 years after her death, she was beatified by Pope Paul III and then canonised a year later in 913 AD. In the search for miracles to attribute to her, it was conceded her visions were of a miraculous and Holy origin and that her determination and charismatic tendencies, her inspiration to others, was miraculous. When canonised as a Saint, Constantine issued a decree making her a patron saint of the realm.
Due to her status of heroism, her namesake and imagery has been used throughout Gaullican history. She is often identified as a national symbol, adorned in plate and either atop a horse with a lance or on foot with a sword, and has depicted 'Gaullica' in political cartoons. No less than fourteen vessels of the Gaullican navy have at one point been called 'Chloé' in her honour.
She has experienced political usage by both the left and right in Gaullica, with the former advocating her peasant roots and the latter focusing on her status as a symbol of national pride.
There are countless statues dedicated to her throughout the Gaullican speaking world.
Saint Chloé is officially one of the Patron Saints of Gaullica, as well as one of the Patrons of Satucin (specifically the province of her namesake, Chloéterre). She is recognised as a hero within Gaullica, Amathia and Etruria. Her patronage also covers military personnel of all nations, but has been historically associated with Gaullica. More recently this also came to include all women in the armed forces. Due to the doubts many had over her visions initially, she is the patron for those ridiculed for their faith and piety.
The validity of Chloé's apparent visions have been called into question since her declaration of them. In them she claimed to have seen Saint Peter, Saint Paul and the Virgin Mary. Each gave a different prophetic call, culminating in her response to rally the faithful for a defence of the city of Solaria. Skeptics in the modern day have pointed to an 'immense coincidence' in her prophetic message and the timing of the arrival of the Tagames. Others speculate that the history itself has been amended to fit this narrative, and that a large portion of Chloé's life is a fabrication.
However, attested historians and chroniclers of the time make numerous references to the appearance of a peasant girl in the late 870s at the imperial court. Additionally, the works of who is assumed to be one of the three 'advocatus diaboli', Theodore Valerian, references the exact incident in which whilst reviewing her testimony that the court was informed of the Tagamic landing.
Chloé held to her dying day that her visions were true. The Catholic Church officially recognised her visions with her canonisation in 913 as 'miracles', indicating a clear message from the divine into the mortal world. In his canonisation document, Pope Paul III said:
"The miracle is as clear as day. By what other means can it be explained that this brave woman led so many to a city she had never seen? By what other means can it be said that she knew of the threat this city was going to face? Saints Peter and Paul and the Virgin herself have clearly undergone an intercession on her behalf."
The Ecclesiastical Archives, 'Canonisation of Chloé of Solaria.'
Their verifiability has also been called into question by many, including nominalists of her day and age. One of Chloé's biggest critics, the Queen Mother, is said to have confided in her son that "anyone can claim to have heard the voice of God. What makes this peasant's drivel so special?"
Maximiliam Fresne, a historian specialising in late classical era Gaullica, offered the approach that whether or not her visions actually happened were "wholly irrelevant." He said that Chloé clearly felt she had been contacted by the divine and by circumstance, coincidence or pre-existing information decided to travel to Solaria. Fresne points that possible explanations include the fact that a moderately educated individual would have obviously known of Solaria's importance and its historical penchant for being attacked and Chloé was merely 'at the right place at the right time.'
Still within the possession of her direct descendants are numerous items suspected of being 'relics'. A plain spatha, merely inscribed with a 'C' at the pommel is thought to be Chloé's sword. Dating of the sword has been prohibited by the descendants of Josse de Croan, arguing that it would 'cause the sword to lose its preservation.'
A death mask was supposedly in the possession of the Emperors of Solaria and Emperors of Gaullica. References to the 'death mask' end within the inventory of Albert III's ship to Caldia, the Incroyable. Numerous attempts to recover the apparent death mask has seen cross-continental investigations tracking the journey of the Incroyable from Verlois to Caldia to Cassier. Nothing has uncovered anything. Philippe of Sartoux, son of Albert III and Prince of Caldia, stated that: "there was no death mask. It was made up. I don't know by who or why, but I suppose some old monarch felt it was important." Other members of the family have contested this claim, Albert III personally said to have seen it "in [his] mother's belongings."
A popular legend and cryptic puzzle has indicated to many individuals throughout history that Chloé's prized possessions, including the jewelry she was given by the Pope (thought to be a brooch, a ring and a bejeweled rosary) were buried at an undisclosed location. Whilst no direct reference is made within her life-time, immediately after her death numerous rumours spread throughout the royal court of her 'hidden treasures.' The resurgance of the legend in the mid 20th century led to a defacing of her crypt, but nothing was uncovered before the authorities apprehended the perpetrators.
Rafael Duclerque claimed to have owned "the official declaration of her visions being true", but the document in question was burned by his loyalists after his suicide at the end of the Great War.
In Popular Culture
Saint Chloé has inspired the arts and literature of Gaullica, the east and the Sotirian world for over a millennia. The story of a peasant finding their destiny in that much greater than themselves or their standings became a key aspect of many Gaullican works over the centuries. Her life has been the focal point for paintings, poems and pieces of music. Numerous historical artworks have often depicted the life of Saint Chloé, though many experience great historical anachronisms. She is often depicted in the plate armour of the era of the paintings, a trend which continued well into the modern age, and not the lorica segmentata or chainmail it is likely she would have worn.
The 1996 animated film, Chloé, produced by the David Duhamel Company, is based on the story of the Gaullican Saint. Largely considered one of the defining films of the Company's 90s resurgence, the film was praised for its historical accuracy, animation style and approach of controversial topics (war, women's liberation and religion) in a child-friendly way.
Saint Chloé was an official image for the women's liberation movement in Gaullica. Her visage was used as a silhouette by campaigners demanding that women not be 'left behind' like Chloé was by much of the court.
She appears as a key theme in the memoirs of Tristan Pueyreddon, whereby he relates her journey to a great moral debate between doing what is right and doing what is expected of you. It is largely seen as farcical and delusional, due to Tristan's allegiances with the National Functionalist Regime. Related to this, during the Great War, she was a symbol for both Albert III's loyalists and the funcitonalist regime. Despite protests from the church, several armoured units and aerial units would depict the Saint in 'pin-up' poses. Her words were often inscribed onto barrels of tanks.
- Original image derived from (@Sketch_Dailies) on Twitter