Empereur de Castaire
|Reign||18th Venteux 1742 - today|
|Coronation||21st Rosix 1742|
Dynasty and Family
|Born||22nd Germois 1720|
Stéphane IV (full name: Stéphane "Steve" Sacrecouronne, born 22 Germois 1720 in Lucrécy) of the House of Sacrecouronne is since 18 Venteux 1742 the current Empereur de Castaire and thus head of state of Castaire. He married Princess Belle (‡1754) of the neighbouring Kingdom of Cantoras and has three children with her, Lukrezia, Florian and Emilia.
While his political ambitions are based on conservative ideas, he is also open to more liberal ideas, especially regarding the representation of the people. Nonetheless, a majority of his work serves the securing and increase of the Crown's power. Combining these two strains of ideals, under his reign the power of the castairien parliament was increased further, to express and discuss his will promoting welfare of the Empire.
Steve is a 1,85 m/6'1" tall man with golden ear-length slightly welled hair and blue eyes. His formal dress consists of a single breasted dark red military tunic and black trousers. The tunic has golden epaulettes and cuffs with golden thread embroidery, showing the rank of an emperor. Over his tunic he wears the light blue sash of the Ordre du Prince Célestiel bound together above his right waist. A black belt with golden inlays and a centerpiece featuring the coat of arms of the Sacrecouronne family holds his gold-caged rapier Rosentod at his left hip. Furthermore there are 3 ropes of golden thread at the right side of the tunic. The collar marries up with the cuffs, showing the same golden embroideries. Also, he dons the highest classes of castairien military badges and medals. These are namely five medals and the star badge and accompanying chain of the Croix d'Or.
Born on Germois 22nd 1720 in the imperial palace as the child of Nathanaël II and Louise, the young Steve was a very curious and vivacious child.
Compared to his father, a overly militaristic emperor, Steve was much more interested in books, history and the humanities. He read much and became an educated and enlightened crown prince capable of leading the whole nation.
His education was mostly maintained by imperial advisor and personal consultant, Alberich, who has since remained a close friend to Steve. Alberich taught Steve the basics of politics, his rights and obligations and, most importantly, empathy for his subjects' fears and hardships. He was also taught to write political statements, orders etc., just everything needed to become emperor one day. When he was not busy with Alberich's tasks, the young prince trained swordsplay and shooting together with his brother Michel.
His father always enforced a military education for Steve, but often he simply refused to attain the lessons. Nonetheless and being highly appreciated by Nathanaël, Steve became a fencing prodigy and is even today regarded as one of the best swordsman in Castaire.
Because of being utterly rich, he never got to know the actual worth of money and had no clue how to properly spend it. Thus, he often bought things without need to exorbitant prices as the merchants simply betrayed him.
At the age of 10 years, Steve got the title of a Lieutenant which started his military career. He was educated to once become a great tactician. He got a first experience in leading his own command with 17 years, when there was an uprising in the border city Lacrosse. Steve got the imperative of the First Imperial Corps "Archon," which was sent out to bring down the insurgents. He successfully infiltrated the city and captured many of the leaders. It is important to mention that Steve resisted his fathers wish to execute all of the leaders and sent them back to their families. It is commonly known that this act of grace granted Steve an enormous boost of his popularity amongst the people.
→ Main article: Steve and Belle
The most important person in Stéphanes life was Belle, the Cantorian princess. Both met in rather young years, as their mothers Empress Louise and Guinevere were childhood friends. Several visits per year in the other country were normal, especially when the relations between the countries were amicable. The royal children were often together, playing in the residences, running through the gardens, always trying their parents' patience.
Though it might seem rather odd that Stéphane had more contact to a foreign princess than to the Castairian noble children, it is to be said that during his childhood, the nobility wasn't that fine with the imperialty. Nathanaëls militarism and thus, ever-increasing conscription made them very unpleased, though Stéphane wouldn't recognize that in his young age. Nonetheless, Belle became a constant in his life, he could always rely on her. When they spent time together, any observer could see that they really like each other and once, it was to become even more.
At his 16th birthday, Nathanaël organized grand festivities for this occasion and invited all the important aristocracy from the surrounding duchies and kingdoms. The cantorian delegation was lead by Fabius, Belles brother, whom she accompanied.
They came to stay at the imperial palace for a week and Belle spent her whole time there with Stéphane. They were wandering in the gardens, doing hunting trips in the surrounding forests and just enjoying their time together. When the ball took place, Belle had the most striking appearance of them all, wearing a white and golden dress adorned with roses of golden silk, even surpassing and impressing the castairien nobility who were used to the splendor of imperialty. Stéphane didn't even look at any of the many courtiers and young women presented to him as possible marriage candidates. When the grand opening dance was set, he immediately went to the cantorian delegation and asked Belle for the honour of the first dance. She was quite flattered and accepted with a smile. When the music started and both danced, the other nobles became quiet and watched in awe. Both seemingly floated over the parquet, gracious and beautiful in each of their movements. When there was ever any question about dancing being an expression of love, it was easily dispelled by their performance. The other nobles knew there was no way to marry off their daughters to the heir of the Empire, because there was simply no question about the deep bond the two dancers already formed over so many years. The opening dance was just the first in a long row, the young friends danced until deep into the night, enjoying each others company very much.
When the moon finally arosed to its full glory, they took a long stroll through the palace gardens. They managed to get rid off their chaperone and sat down at the pavilion at the palace pond. Watching the stars in the sky, they cuddled together, with Belle resting her head at Stéphanes shoulder and simply watched the night sky in all its beauty. While lying there, Stéphane confessed his love for Belle to her, with her feeling the same for him. They looked into each others eyes, embracing and sharing a first, shy kiss, followed by a more daring, seemingly endless one. This night they decided they would stay together forever, becoming a couple.
Grand War Against Cantoras
Nathanaël gained knowledge about this love quite soon and was enraged. Knowing that his wife and the cantorian queen were friends, he never even thought that they could try to arrange a marriage between their children. He was always looking for a justification of war against Cantoras for a long time, because it has rich gold deposits he wanted to annex. With this blossoming love, he finally found it, proclaiming Belle dishonoruably seduced his son and heir. Following that proclamation he declared war in the northern kingdom on Poussatre 14th 1738. This shocked not only the high nobility, but the population as well. Noone was eager for a war with their northern neighbour, but the imperial armies moved northwards without hesitation. Furthermore, Nathanaël forbade Stéphane to meet Belle anymore and banished her from all Castairien territories. Nonetheless, the young couple found a way to meet several times throughout the war.
In the curse of war, Stéphane was forced by his father to command the regiments attacking the capital of Cantoras, Camelot, aware that if the soldiers are successful, Stéphane would have to captivate his own love as she was in the Cantorian Castle. In the ongoing siege, the regiments of Castaire were under heavy attack and suffered substantial losses. They were forced to retreat to a small village near the castle. When the cantorian army started their own assault on the remains of the enemy, a single rider emerged from their lines, approaching the castairien rows. The soldiers already aimed and were ready to fire, when Stéphane ordered them to not shoot. The rider was Belle, rescuing Stéphane and his soldiers from their certain death. They retreated even further, to a nearby camp. Belle got a soldiers uniform to tarnish her. Soon after, rumours came across of the death of King Arthur VI, who suffered a stroke on the news of siege layed to Camelot. Eventually, Stéphane smuggled Belle out of the area, still in disguise. With Arthurs death on Brumonze 31st 1741, his son Fabius became King of Cantoras, and wanted to end the war rather quick. As the odds were still favouring Castaire and Nathanaël far from accepting any offers of peace, he retreated into the Cantorian mountains and led several assaults on imperial troops, evening out the balance of power. Around that time, Stéphane was brought message of his fathers declining health, leading to his death on Venteux 17th 1742. With that occurence and Stéphane becoming Empereur, peace was finally near. Both Stéphane and Fabius never wanted that war in the first place and met soon to negotiate peace, reinstating the Status Quo Ante Bellum. Stéphane also asked Fabius as Head of Belles family for her hand, which he teeth-gnawingly accepted, hating Stéphane and his family, but adoring his sister and wanting to see her happy.
Marriage and Children
Within the war, Stéphane made several attempts to tell his father about his love for Belle. Nathanaël wouldn't or didn't want to understand the meaning of true love for a relationship, as in his worldview, royalty had to marry as their parents decide. Eventually he gave in, because a serious illness began to bother him. He still loved his son after all and didn't want to deny his blessing for the marriage. Within a month, the imperial court was preparing the festivities for the grand marriage, one of such importance as to unite two enemy countries. Stéphane and Belle married on Germois 29th 1742. The marriage was a magnificent ceremony in the Eglise de Fleuvielle and was concluded by a beautiful garden festivity at Palais Castaire, which's construction ended just some days before. The newly married couple were the first ones to live in the new splendid palace.
The marriage of the two royal offsprings was a particularly happy one. Both had a mutual understanding of each other and spent countless hours cuddling and talking. It was because of these circumstances that their first child was born roughly a year later. Princess Lukrezia came into world on Recoluit 25th 1743 and was blessed with strikingly rose coloured hair, being a sign of her magical potency. Steve and Belle took advantage of the relatively relaxed situation in politics and left the court for half a year in summer 1744. While living at Lac Miroir, they spent a wonderful time with the young princess. It was noted in Stéphanes diaries that "[...] the time here was such a special gift for [the young family]". It's hardly surprising that the birth of Florian coincided half a year after their return to Lucrécy. He was born on Poussatre 22nd 1745. The last child, Emilia, came into world on Neigouze 6th 1748.
As his father died on 17th Venteux 1742, and the marriage with Belle happening on 29th Germois 1742, the coronation of the young couple was situated 3 months later on 21st Rosix 1742. Even as everything regarding the preparations of the ceremony was completed even before the late Empereur died, the 3 month break is a usual time to embrace public mourning. The ceremony was held in Angelic Cathedral in Lucrécy, the coronation cathedral since the beginning of the Empire. It was a wonderful ceremony with many high dignities from surrounding nations, followed by a banquet in Palais Castaire.
|“||Why all the stairspam? - It is Castaire, the name says it all.||”|
– Steve I
Stéphanes reign started with several alterations: he abolished torture as a mean of investigation and also the death sentence for most crimes. Then, he reformed the monarchy into a semi-constitutional system, and gave his younger brother Michel the order to hold general elections for a new parliament. This happened on 1st Fleurcin 1745, when the Parlement Impérial was extended by a new chamber, called Corps Législatif. Its members were elected from all the people of Castaire. Michel then formed a new government and got the title of a Chancelier. Many of Nathanaëls advisors were retired, but some of them, like Nergobert von Bösendorff were allowed to take a place in the new government because of their extraordinary (and indispensable) achievements.
Stéphane also tried to improve the living standards of the poor, and created several laws tackling poverty. Another milestone was the enaction of the Habeas Corpus Act (which disallows the imprisonment of people for more than 24 hours without judicial decision). Many of his decisions were strongly influenced by Belle, as she was educated (similarly to Stéphane) to understand the peoples problems. They understood their imperial office merely as "servants of the state" than to be absolute rulers. This lead to an immense popularity of the imperial couple, especially amongst the poor people of the Empire.
The Legislation Crisis
Following the creation of the second chamber, it became obvious that it was one of Stéphanes goals to decrease the power of the nobility, in order to strengthen the Crown and the government. The governing system of Castaire until not too long ago was heavily based on feudal rights: the nobility owns and the peasantry serves. Those remnants of an obsolete system were rigorously fought by Stéphane and his brother, as their main intent was to centralize the power in Monarchs hands, to be only used by the government. For sure, that opposed the nobility, who feared a substantial loss of their rights and powers. Nonetheless, especially the bourgeoisie and the educated society strongly supported those ideas. The nobles now realized that they might much of their power to the Corps Législatif and insisted to keep their privileges. Furthermore, they demanded to retain the legislative power, which was to be transferred to the Corps within half a year. Steve ordered a parliamentary decision to solve this issue, probably aware that the lords would vote against the law. But somehow it happened, that the lords didn't attend the highly important session and couldn't vote, so the legislative power was transferred to the Corps. The lords were extremely upset, thus starting to revolt against their rightful Empereur.
|“||The Crown's power is absolute, calling it into question is high treason. Whoever does so will get to know the real extent of Imperial power.||”|
– Steve I Stéphane, Manifest against the Duke of Verelon
Following the Legislation Crisis and the abolition of serfdom in Ordix 1749, several lords schemed a revolt against the Crown, and in late Germois 1750, some days after the glorious ceremony of the Anniversaire de l'Empereur (Empereurs Birthday), they sieged the important trade hub of Mallais. Stéphane was rather shocked because he didn't think the nobility would opt for rebellion. He took personal command of the penal expedition, consisting of the Garde Impériale and several loyal regiments and led it towards the sieging army. Contrary to most other monarchs, Stéphane didn't watch the course of the battle from his command post, but directly engaged in battle together with the infamous cavalry of the Garde de l'Empereur. They broke through the lines of the enemies gunners and made it to their command post, where Stéphane captivated most of the figureheads of the revolt. Instead of outright executing them, he had a serious conversation with their leaders and tried to find a compromise benefitting everyones interests. As this was quite impossible, he eventually accepted the Conseil de l'Empire retaining most of its powers, but split the legislation into two parts, where each chamber has to agree to a law before being enacted. Also, the financial control was split into civil and military matters, with the Corps managing the civil expenditure of the Empire and the Conseil retaining control of the military. This compromise led to a rather unique system of bicameralism, but is working quite well since its establishment in 1750. The mercy shown by Stéphane was also not perceived as weakness, but as interest in compromise, which boosted the loyalty of the nobility to unseen levels.
|“||While Our great nation's past was signed by military efforts and expansion, a new era will start with this law, an age of science, trade and welfare.||”|
– Steve I Stéphane, Speech before the ballot of the Foreign Relations Act
Completely contrary to the policy of violent annexations his father preferred, Stéphane created a dense web of international alliances to ensure security and economical boosts through the repeal of tariffs. Especially with its former "hereditary enemy" Cantoras, Castaire drastically improved their relations, on the one hand via the marriage of Princess Belle, but also with economical support for the giant agricultural state. Most of these works were supervised by Julien Roisseau, a notable statesman from Castaire. With the economical help of Castaire, Cantoras could replace many of its outdated industries and became an even more important hub of trade from all over the world.
Death of Belle
In the second half of the year 1754, an unknown disease started to bother the Impératrice. None of the countless doctors called by Stéphane was able to examine what disease it was as the symptoms were never seen before. In the early morning of Neigouze 17th 1754, her struggle had an end and she died in the arms of her husband Steve. Her state funeral was held 3 days later, on Neigouze 20th 1754, where most of Lucrécys inhabitants and many foreign dignities attended the enormous funeral.
Upon her death, Stéphanes grievance was so enormous that he simply stopped working for around a month. He was completely unable to rule the country as he couldn't process the loss of his one true love. Rumours were heard the he got mad about Belles death as well. His struggle lasted for two weeks in which he never allowed any of the many courtiers to enter his private rooms. The one person who kept his contact to the world was his butler Jomes, an old friend and most loyal servant to the Empereur. He was the one to convince Steve that his grieve wouldn't bring Belle back and that his children need him as much as Stéphane needs them, to stay unitary as a family, even after that horrible incident. As they all were rather young, they were not less shocked than Stéphane and needed his attention and encouragement to deal with their mothers death. He quickly rearranged apartments within the palace and had a common sleeping room established for the small family.
To commemorate her death in a personal way, he ordered his architects to conceive a small garden area called Solitude for him and the children to retreat to for relaxation. Nowadays, Stéphane is often found wandering through the gardens there and taking a seat at the statue of his beloved wife. Eventually, he left the capital with his children for around a year and returned in Fleurcin 1756 to take the reigns in his own hands again. This time is called La Régence, having the Chancellor, Stéphanes brother Michel as the acting regent of the Empire. Some months later, he also decided to give the public an option to pray for Belle. As there already were some plannings for a new splendid cathedral for Lucrécy around, he ordered it to be built in commemoration of Belle and personally paid the construction costs from his enormous fortune. The Kingdom of Cantoras also sent a substantial contribution and bore the expenses of the complete gilding. This new cathedral was constructed since the beginning of the year 1755 and finished in 1765.
The time without Belle brought Steve to many new decisions, especially regarding the health system. It was quite fine before, and one of the most advanced in the world, but he and his brother Michel then created the so called health insurance to further improve the medical advancement of the Empire. Furthermore, every big city got a stately payment to be able to erect a hospital. Following that and by Supreme Order, every city with more than 30,000 inhabitants now has at least a small hospital able to cure many of the common diseases. The Université de Lucrécy got a medical faculty with a teaching hospital attached to tackle more rare diseases.
He also passed several laws to boost economy and overseas trade, which enabled Castaire to reach a new peaks of wealth and welfare. Recently, the interests of the Empereur shifted towards his overseas dominions in Nouvelle Castaire and Indh, where Castaire was able to aquire a large portion of land from the Narayani Empire. It is to be seen where these actions lead to.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
22 Germois 1720 – 17 Venteux 1742: Son Altesse Impériale Prince Steve de Castaire
since 18 Venteux 1742: Sa Majesté Impériale l'Empereur de Castaire
Full Title as Empereur de Castaire
Sa Majesté Impériale Stéphane IV, par la Grâce de Cadriel
Empereur de Castaire et Roi de Chastain,
Chevalier de l'Archon, Duc de Lucrécy,
Prince of Cantoras et
Defénseur de la Vraie Foi
- Empire Castairien
- Ordre du Saint Cadriel: Knight Grand Cross (1736), Sovereign (1742)
- Ordre de l'Empire Castairien: Knight Grand Cross (1736), Sovereign (1742)
- Ordre des Roses: Sovereign (1742)
- Ordre du Faucon Or: Sovereign (1742)
- Privy Council: Prince Consultant (1736-1742)
- Royaume de Chastain/Family Orders
- Imperial Family Order of Nathanaël I: Princely Member (1736), Sovereign (1742)
- Supreme Commander of the Armée Impériale (1742)
- Supreme Commander of the Marine Impériale (1742)
- Supreme Commander of the Armée De L'Air Impériale (1742)
- Colonel-in-chief of the Garde Du Corps Impériale (1742)
Equipment & Mounts
- His favourite flowers are sterling silver roses. They are mainly cultivated at Ascort Manor, a royal residence in Cantoras.
- His favourite colour is red. This coincides with his clothing and interior choices very much.
- His favourite drink is raspberry-flavoured lemonade.
- Besides Castairien being his native language, he speaks Cantorian and Reikenian fluently and understands Escalonian. Conversations between Belle and him were often a weird mixture of both their native languages. Their children grew up bilingually.
- Imperial Family Sacrecouronne, emphasizing on the dynasty
- Steve and Belle, an overview of shared memories between Stéphane and Belle
22nd Germois 1720 - 17th Venteux 1742
as Princesse Impériale
Empereur de Castaire
since 18th Venteux 1742
Roi de Chastain
since 18th Venteux 1742