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Of all the attempts to overcome the authority of the High Imperium, the Merithian Revolution came closest, and ended the most badly. A brief article cannot help but make this watershed event seem but a small episode in an age of prosperity, and yet one must never forget the ways in which idealism can blind people, and how harsh authority can be in protecting itself.
Origins of the Conflict
The Uvane Merith Province was one of the first acquisitions of the early Imperium. It wasn’t a terribly important gain, though it was a source of Fteigar Alloys, as well as agricultural goods. The Tawmerik emperors were wise enough to leave the existing aristocracy in place, as they seemed to have recognize some independent streak in the peoples who lived in some of the Province’s systems.
Under Emperor Niomar Dabrian, things changed greatly. Many of the compromises that the Tawmeriks had made to gain fealty of various systems were swept away in a series of administrative reforms to get rid of the Kaurium Government-like systems. Though, from the Imperium’s point of view, the vast number of government types was extremely difficult to deal with, many of these governments were held deeply as a symbolic independence from central authority. The replacement of the Uvane Merith Province’s indigenous governments lead to a severe crisis.
The Early Revolution (The Days of Declarations)
This replacement of local governments with ones more in keeping with the Imperium’s legal and constitutional norms lead initially to little more than peaceful protest. Imperium officials typically agreed to pass on demands and concerns, but almost inevitably did nothing of the kind. Clearly the Imperium governors failed to recognize the fervor of the people, and assumed that it would fade. Most people simply wanted a return of their old legislative and judicial systems (as unrealistic as such demands were), and open revolt was the farthest thing from their minds.
The Open Revolt (The Days of Liberty)
All revolutions require something more than simple dissatisfaction, and the Merithian Revolution was no exception. A number of local officials refused to step down when their Imperium replacements arrived to take over. Government buildings were surrounded by protesters to protect the men and women they viewed as their proper representatives. On the world of Epsilon Indi, nervous Imperium soldiers opened fire, killing hundreds (though word spread that it was thousands). The Epsilon Indi Massacre was the catalyst of what was to come.
Soon half the worlds in the Province were in open revolt. Tens of thousands were killed, though it must be stated that atrocities were committed on both sides. Imperium officials were imprisoned and sometimes tortured, while outside prisons revolutionaries sang songs of liberty and brotherhood. The Imperium was scandalized, but unsure as to what to do about such a flagrant rebellion. The mood of other peoples throughout the Imperium was mixed, and for a time it seemd as if the whole governing structure would collapse.
High-minded talk of liberty and freedom aside, the Revolution was in trouble. No single person or group could gain control and give the Revolution direction and purpose. Endless committees were formed, many to forge constitutions, plan military strategy, plan for new monetary systems and some simply to decide on the uniforms that officials of the new libertine state would wear. Outside these circles of unreality, chaos reigned, and revolutionaries even began to attack each other.
The Final Confrontation (The Days of Tears)
Finally the Imperium saw its chance. It’s vast fleets, carrying millions of soldiers, entered the Province under the command of Admiral Petras Godane. A brilliant naval tactician and charismatic leader, he lead this final campaign. The Imperium’s reprisals, once the revolutionaries had been knocked out of space, were terrible. Though completely unnecessary, nuclear weapons were used against some worlds, killing millions, to demonstrate the power of the Imperium and its willingness to do what it took. Stories of rape camps, mass torture, enslavement and other unspeakable acts by Imperium troops circulated, despite the best efforts of the Imperium to keep things quiet.
The Revolution took some five years to stamp out completely, and at the end of it, many of the systems were simply put under direct Imperium control, essentially private domains for the Emperor beyond even the scrutiny of the Imperial Congress. Those systems would remain a thorn in the Imperium’s side, as secret societies sprang up to continue the fight. The trials of revolutionary leaders went on for decades. The Imperium, however, had demonstrated its resolve. The continued centralization of power would continue, and there would not be such a defiance of central authority until the very end of the Imperium.
The nature of the Imperium changed as well. It had once been able to argue that it was a preserver of liberties, the Emperors as First Citizens, greater than the people but in a way of the people. The Merithian Revolution put an end to that particular conceit.
- Epsilon Indi
- Fteigar Alloys
- Kaurium Government
- Imperial Congress
- Petras Godane
- Uvane Merith Province