The History of Aquila
Ages ago, human beings united to form a single Empire. The Early Empire existed in the years between 2250 and 2417 A.D., in a time when space travel was slow, but ever broadening, and becoming gradually cheaper, so that interplanetary trade became much easier.
In 2400 A.D., a group of wealthy merchants, who believed they could trace their diverse lineages to the contrades of Siena, Italy, back on earth, founded a colony on the distant, dusty planet they named Aquila, after a contrade believed long-lost. The merchants, including a family called Lasse, began terraforming the planet, to cultivate it into a vacation paradise for their families. In 2415, an ore was discovered on Aquila, which, in 2417, was implemented as the hull of a new starcraft. The super-strength of the metal, combined with its phenomenal quality of near weightlessness made it ideal for constructing stellar craft, and so turned Aquila into a mining colony of great wealth.
The Emperor at the time made the discoverer of the ore, one Erasmus Niklaus, hereditary lord of Aquila, naming him Duke, and investing him with authority to rule Aquila as he liked, so long as they were all loyal to the Empire.
Niklaus took his authority very seriously. He changed his name to Aquila, to replace the lost contrade, and tie his family forever to the planet, by name. Niklaus Aquila, First of His Name, he made the other families who were helping to terraform the planet his Lords and vassals: Anderon, Hoberty, Bahlmis, Maun, Carlysle, Mountjoy, Lasse, de Mur, Clover, Rostray, Windhaven, Lagoran, Noyen, Martts, Termontaine, Cavendish, Rutherwold, Silverbridge, Quincey, Ffrench, Burgess, and Oswestry.
He created the current system of government known on Aquila today, though when he founded it, it was more out of love of ceremony than necessity for order. He also established that the capitol city of Aquila, like Siena, would be divided into diverse districts, and that each Lord would base his House in his own district of the city.
The system of government functions in this way:
A man grows up or arrives on Aquila, and wishes to practice a particular trade. If his trade is particularly dangerous, or requires training, it is presumed to be the duty of the Duchy to see that he is properly protected by the Aquilan guard, and licensed by Aquilan officials. Also, taxes must be collected on every sale and transaction made.
Therefore, all the Houses of Aquila are given charge of regulating a given trade or profession. Anyone wishing to practice that trade or profession must "look to" a House; by which it is meant that he trains under House-certified practitioners, applies for license to the House, pays license fees to the House, and keeps the House abreast of all financial transactions his business conducts, for tax purposes.
House Maun was originally created as an independent authority charged with collecting all the tax information, including the data on the various Houses, and to see that all taxes were being paid. It should be noted that every House, including House Maun, is expected to pay the Ducal House for these various privileges.
When Anton Aquila, First of His Name, perished in 2483, he died without heir. The head of the House of Law, the Dragon family of Mountjoy, took his stead, as his cousin. He abolished the House of Aquila, to ensure that his takeover would not be disrupted, but because there were no direct Aquilan descendants left on the planet who could use the name, anyway, it passed largely without comment.
Lars Mountjoy, First of His Name, and Anton Mountjoy, Second of His Name, were each executed, by law, for failure to comply with the Code of Niklaus, the law originated by Niklaus Aquila when the planet was founded; their offenses, however, were never properly recorded, and it is unclear their violation of the law, but it is very clear that House Mountjoy believe everyone, including the Duke, to be subject to the confines of the Law.
Anton IV, of House Mountjoy, died in 2547, not long after the murder of his sons. His cousin, Harmon of House Silverbridge, the Viper family and the House of Bankers, mournfully took the coronet in his place.
Harmon would later be murdered by his brother, and his son, Jarvis would take the coronet in 2563. His nephew would inherit next, as Jarvis left no sons after his death. His nephew was Lewis, who would later be executed for slaying the Lord of House Noyen in an illegal duel. Subsequent to the execution, the House Mountjoy ruled that the House Silverbridge be disbanded, and that the Anderons become the new Bankers.
Niklaus II, of House Anderon, rose to power next, seizing the coronet in a daring move, supported by the Dowager Duchess of Aquila, a lady of House Oswestry, and a powerful politician. The Anderon reign ended, in 2751, with the ascent of Divis Mal at the center of the Empire, and the coming of the miracle ore, Imperium, which rendered Aquilanium entirely obsolete, and plunged Aquila itself into an economic and political Dark Ages.
Civil war followed, in which two entire Houses went extinct: Houses Ffrench and Martts. At the end of the Interregnum, in 2796, Vladmir of House Bahlmis, First of His Name, emerged the victor. A distant cousin of the last Anderon, Mikhael III, Vladmir's rule proved just the stabilizing factor Aquila needed so badly.
Among other legislation, Bahlmis passed the now-infamous Act of Succession, by which he decreed the following:
There are Two Orders of Houses. Houses Major and Minor. Only Major Houses may claim the Duchy under their own names, and all successions must be ratified by the heads of the Houses Major, known collectively as the Greater Cabinet. All other questions crossing House boundaries would be decided by the entire Aquilan Cabinet, composed of the Heads of all the Houses.
The Houses Major were defined as those Houses whose members had already been Dukes, Bahlmis House, and those Houses currently married into Bahlmis House. Thus, the list became Quincey, Hoberty, Carlysle, Maun, Bahlmis, Anderon, and Mountjoy.
Further, every House Minor now must look to a House Major, as the House Major in turn must look to the Duke.
Education, he ruled, and medicine and religion would be taken out of the hands of the Houses altogether. The Catholic church, long the staple religion of Aquila, would now have total authority over the persons in its ecclesiastical body, and all the physicians and scholars were instructed to form independent colleges for instructing new members.
House Quincey, formerly of Medicine, was now given the task of supervising public libraries and the fine arts, and was called the House of Enlightenment.
House Lasse, formerly merely in charge of slavery, had not been affected by the political/economic shift, because almost all of its economic resources were already off-world. Subsequently, quiet arrangements were made between House Lasse and the Duke that House Lasse would ensure the safety of Aquila, by disarming it, if in return House Lasse could use whatever technology it wanted to do so, to step down (by force, if necessary) the technological level of life on Aquila, and to maintain their Aquilan fief as a palatial vacation retreat, as had been intended all along. In the face of their vast wealth and not inconsequential army of mercenaries, Duke Vladmir felt compelled to agree.
Talaren Bahlmis, the last Bahlmis Duke, died of a stroke, in 2910, and the son of his maternal uncle, Nelson, Head of House Quincey, took the coronet.
Antioch and Lars Quincey, brothers, and Dukes in that order, each succumbed to the same fatal illness, within months of each other. Their uncle, Anton Quincey, also called Anton V, assumed the coronet, but would be exiled for treason, in 2955, whereupon his House would be disbanded by the following Duke.
The Hobertys took power next, in the person of Faulborn Hoberty. Towards the end of the Hoberty reign, however, his heirs became over-anxious for succession, and Wilson, Jarvis III, and Jarvis IV were all murdered; clubbed to death, run through, and gutted respectively.
This would be nothing compared to the next dynasty, the Carlysles. Osgood Carlysle, the Second of His Name, was first the of the Carlysle Dukes, a general who insisted on obliterating every mass of biomatter on Aquila that either wasn't human, or had yet to swear fealty to the Coronet. Thankfully, his staff managed to stifle his efforts through thirty-six years of bureaucratic red tape, until he finally was executed for madness, in 3100.
Nearly every successive Carlysle Duke was murdered or executed. In fact, it became so predictable an occurrence that Osgood IV, sensing a murder plot in the works, abdicated in his twenty-first year of rule, and retired to the relatively safe planet of Gehenna. In the course of the Carlysle reign, two more Houses were brought to extinction: Noyen and Rutherwold.
When the wife of Leopold III, of House Carlysle, stabbed him to death in his own bed, the Greater Cabinet at last decided to shift dynasties to the non-Carlysle cousin House of Maun. The Mauns have enjoyed a fairly peaceful existence on Aquila, and are still the ruling family, today.
In the year 3499, House Bahlmis attempted an insurrection against the most recent Maun, Duke Atropos II. However, the threat was averted when loyal Houses, including Hoberty and Anderon, marched to the Duke's aid. Afterwards, Atropos would spend his final months trying to salvage the dignity of Aquila, by re-integrating the Bahlmises into Aquilan politics and society.
His efforts had been cut short in the year 3500, when immediately after his marriage to Lady Lilly of House Clover, an assassin across the street from the Cathedral fired a crossbow bolt into his side. Lady Lilly delivered Atropos's son, whom she'd been carrying for months, moments later, and less than an hour after that, Atropos himself succumbed. In the hours after the Duke's passing, Lady Nira, his former wife, delivered a second son to Atropos.
It is uncertain which son of Atropos will reign Aquila when he reaches the age of majority. The planet is currently governed by Delan, Lord Anderon, designated as Regent by Atropos himself on his deathbed.
Individual House Histories: