|Imperial Church of the Light|
|Type of Religion:||Spiritual/Metaphysical|
|Followers:||Either 0 or 11 billion|
|Leader Title:||High Priest|
|Leader:||None, post in abeyance|
The Imperial Church of the Light was, and according to some is the official religion of the Empire of the Twin Lamps
Shortly after the fall of the Empire of Shadow, the various nations united to form the Divine Imperium under the leadership of the Commander of the Forces of Light, Lord-Emperor Azrael the Great. Secular organisation was thus quickly secured; however spiritual organisation was nonexistent. With a view to securing the obedience of his new subjects, the Lord-Emperor established the Church of the Light under the guidance of the first high priest, Beldor.
Little is known of Beldor's history prior to his appearance at the Lord-Emperor's side, and all speculation was deemed heretical and totally suppressed. Whatever the truth might have been, it is now lost to the ages, fifty thousand fathoms under the sea.
Whatever Azrael's original intentions, High Priest Beldor quickly set out to turn the Church of the Light to his own vision. While ostensibly magic was banned from the Divine Imperium, Beldor and his priesthood made contact wherever and whenever possible with the servants of the defeated Shadowlords. While disdaining contact with those dark being themselves, Beldor would draw upon the talents of lesser mages as his creation grew stronger.
In public, Beldor would begin to preach a vision of a universe freed from magic, placing intense political pressure upon the legislative bodies of the new imperium to place the suppression and destruction of sorcery within the purview of the Church. In private, he and his Priests would comb the relics of ancient magic, seeking greater understanding of the art.
When Azrael realised what it was he had created, he attempted to block further power grabs by Beldor. Unfortunately, his sudden death from an old war wound would prevent him from checking the High Priest's power grab.
Church and State under the House of Annero MajorEdit
Azrael's son Nicoel I (Known to history as the Pious) had early fallen under the sway of High Priest Beldor. After the sudden death of his father, Nicoel was crowned and anointed by the ageing Beldor and proclaimed himself Champion of the Light. Beldor took advantage of Nicoel's faith (some would say, gullibility) to further tighten the bindings on all magical and religious traditions outside of the Church's careful eye, and pressed increasingly upon the Lord-Emperor to declare the Church of the Light not just the official religion, but the only tolerated expression of religious faith within the Imperium.
As the Divine Imperium was still weak and struggling to find its feet, the vibrant Church of the Light would increasingly entwine itself within the state, until the two became inseperable. Beldor's eventual goal might have been nothing less than the total union of the two and the re-establishment of a new unitary state under himself, but his death prevented him from carrying out his plans himslf, and any hopes he had for Nicoel failed with the Lord-Emperor's own passing mere hours later.
Schism and Suffering: The Reigns of Nicoel II (The Unfortunate) and Aleazaner I (The Conqueror)Edit
High Priest Calerna, Heresiarch Mattharon
Nicoel II's reign began in confusion, with the concordat chosen to elect a successor to Beldor struggling too much to crown and anoint him. Thus, to a legalist frame of mind one would hardly count him as a Lord-Emperor at all, especially as his reign lasted less than a year. The concordat would eventually split into two factions, the majority backing Calerna, but the Emperor and his court backing Mattharon. Calerna and his supporters were turned out of the Holy City (then still known as Valens) by the Imperial Legions, and Mattharon was proclaimed High Priest.
Calerna refused to take such a grave insult lightly, and proclaimed himself High Priest, declaring that it was the Church's business to crown the Emperor, not the Emperor's business to proclaim the High Priest. Calling upon the faithful, and those who believed that the increasing centralisation of power by Nicoel II's favourites could only harm their interests, Calerna raised an army and declared open warfare upon Nicoel and his puppet High Priest. Many of Azrael's surviving generals came out on Calerna's side, with the High Priest proclaiming that Nicoel and Mattharon were anathema and the secular authority viewing the Lord-Emperor as little more than a trouble-making upstart. Rumours circled that because Nicoel II had never been crowned, he was not Emperor at all!
With the High Priest's army at the very gates of the capital, Nicoel II prepared to flee the city for loyalist garrisons on the other continents. At this time, however, his younger brother Aleazaner, having made contact with Mattharon and many of the opposing generals before, killed his brother as a traitor to the Imperium and proclaimed himself Lord-Emperor. Leading a sudden assault upon the besieging forces, Aleazaner defeated the rebels at the very doors of his palace, then drove them before him to their stronghold of Valens.
Calerna's forces were stretched thin and the new Lord-Emperor showed every sign of placing Mattharon back within the holy city when the leader of the garrison, Sir Luciel, proclaimed himself the servant of the light and led a holy crusade out against Aleazaner's forces, severely bloodying the besiegers and in a close fight coming within a foot of the Lord-Emperor himself before being cut down.
Shocked by the passion of the defenders, Aleazaner called for a parley, proclaiming, "Enough of my subject's blood has been spilled in war against one another today. Let us see if we may resolve our differences in another fashion." Calerna proved amenable, and the Compact of Valens was signed.
Compact of ValensEdit
Under the terms of the contract, the Church was proclaimed an independent body within the Divine Imperium, subject to the Lord-Emperor but not at his command. The Lord-Emperor was bound to always respect the majority choice of any concordat to choose the High Priest, and the High Priest was bound to always annoint either the duly recognised heir of the Lord-Emperor, or, if no such heir exists, then whomsoever the Estates Imperial and the Houses Major and Minor deemed worthy.
No penalty was to be ascribed to those who had rebelled under Calerna's leadership, and a general amnesty was to be promulgated for all acts of warfare.
The Compact of Valens was to clarify all dealings between Church and State for several thousand years, until the reign of Caurentin Drakharn.
One of the riddles of the Compact of Valens was that there was no mention of Mattharon during its sessions. Indeed, he seems to have dropped from the historical record entirely shortly before the Battle of Valens. While the traditional view is that Saint Luciel slew him in combat, scholars suggest that Aleazaner had him removed when he no longer served a useful purpose.
Establishment of the Order of Saint LucielEdit
As part of the price Aleazaner paid for peace, he was obliged to permit the Church to form its own private army, dedicated to hunting down and destroying magic. As a deliberate snub to the Lord-Emperor, Calerna named it after the brave garrison commander who had done so much to prevent Aleazaner's total victory. Aleazaner's aide, Duke Cassius Drakharn, did his best to sweeten the pill by forcing Calerna to accept a forcelimit of 10, 0000. Calerna's words proved prophetic, however, when he said, "Their strength shall be as the strength of millions, for their hearts shall be pure."
Calerna would recruit his Knights from the orphans and shattered families of the war, quickly reaching his forcelimit and even going above it so as to be able to guard missionaries accompanying Aleazaner on his conquests and rediscoveries offworld.
Magic and Mysticism: The truth behind Saint Luciel?Edit
Scholars acting on behalf of Chief Justiciar Radmiel have said that they believe that Saint Luciel was, far from being a paladin of truth and justice, the victim of a Fanaticism spell with an additional levelling of various protective spells upon him. They point out that many of his actions, while plainly inconceivable for an ordinary soldier, would be easy for one magically assisted.
Scholars acting on behalf of Grand Vizier Daray generally reply that there is no evidence backing such unjustifiable claims, and that there ought to be a law forbidding such disgraceful attacks upon heroes of the imperium's past.
To which Radmiel's scholars reply that there's no surprise a churchmage and his trained scribblers would say that, but they were talking to actual historians, not propagandists for an oppressive theocratic prison that choked the advance of the Art for millenia.
And then begins the poking.
Fall of the Compact of ValensEdit
The Compact of Valens