1202 RE-- von Berga's Rebellion
Date: March 1202-December 1202
Outcome: Complacency on Both Sides (see below)
Parties: Redwood Throne, Imperial Loyalists
Principals: Emmerich von Berga, Emperor Ludovic II, Various Redwood Throne commanders.
To understand the causes of the Count Commander Emmerich von Berga's Rebellion against the Redwood Throne, one must first understand something of the nature of the current Emperor of the Principalities, and his relationship with that power. Crowned in 1195 RE, Ludovic II comes at the end of a series of forgettable Emperors. He has seen much of the Emperor’s prestige slip away in the eyes of the nobles, as his predecessors gave much of it away to the Patriarch of the Redwood Throne. Count Commander Emmerich von Berga became aware of the Emperor's waning power in 1200. Believing that the Emperor wished to reverse the trend of his predecessors, he began quietly mustering forces, particularly a faction of hardline loyalists within the Imperial Grand Army. He sought support from the guilds as well, but found that they were unwilling to take such a risk.
The rebellion itself began in earnest in March of 1202. It did not spread as von Berga had hoped, however. The Emperor turned aside from an opportunity to lend his tacit support, as the Patriarch had temporarily gained leverage over him by securing Crown Prince Caspar, installing him, "for safety," in the Prince-Bishopric of Brezha. The Emperor’s spies1, 2 crossed swords with a band of junior Throne Knights3, but failed to penetrate the Citadel of Brezha to recover the Crown Prince, at the time a youth of fourteen. In the face of the Emperor’s silence, the rebellion would founder after nine months of fighting.
The first blows of the rebellion were struck in the Battle of Elstra Prison, in which von Berga and a band of forty supporters4, 5 stormed the Left Hand chapterhouse at Elstra and freed several officers the Left Hand had arrested on suspicion of treason. The rebellion went underground for the next five months, with frequent clashes in the back alleys of cities and towns throughout the southern Principalities. Von Berga knew that his situation was dire, but he devised a plan to draw out the leadership of the Left Hand and the Throne Knights, where they might be captured or slain.
His opportunity came in the Battle of Ingolstadt. His forces, masquerading as the guards at the border crossing between Western Trempa and Trayal, interfered with the crossing of five high-ranking Accusers and their heavily-armed entourage. Von Berga’s ploy came within a hand’s span of succeeding, but Accuser Hartwin Bermont lifted his shield a fraction of a second too quickly, turning aside his attacker, Quintus Ignique's blade. The Accuser’s men swarmed Ignique, springing the whole ambush. The fighting that followed was bloody and confused, as neither side was able to draw together into formation. The battle became a rout for von Berga when the actual border guards, soldiers of the Imperial Grand Army, finally arrived. The soldiers, led by Sir Roderick Volger, apprehended von Berga after the Battle of Ingolstadt and delivered him to the Emperor.
The story splits wildly here. The earliest official reports state that Von Berga was executed in Luzerne City shortly after dawn on 1 December 1202. His body was not displayed, but hurried off to a quicklime grave. However, popular rumor in Luzerne City holds that that didn’t happen at all; instead, his dismembered body was replaced with a homunculus7, and the Emperor’s agents delivered von Berga’s real body to the Imperial Society of Alchemists. These tales hold that he was restored to life through alchemy and threaded with heavy black stitches. In the guise of an Alchemist’s homunculus (because, really, who looks too closely at homunculi?) he then went into hiding.
Further, the Emperor’s agents quietly leaked the idea that von Berga had not been executed at all, and the Emperor in his mercy had switched him with a convict who was already slated for execution. This misdirection has contributed to the Emperor’s reputation for cunning, and has had the curious effect of calming tensions on both sides of the conflict, as they each became convinced that they won, or at least didn’t lose.