Eighteen Years' War
The Eighteen Years' War (High Imperial: Bellum Duodeviginti Annorum), 1529 to 1547, was a series of punctuated conflicts waged between the Holy Orenian Empire and the Grand Kingdom of Urguan and their various allies for dominance over the other - dwarves wishing to see the reunified human empire divided and split, and humans desiring to break the Urguanite realm and protect against further dwarven incursions and military interference. It was started by Grand King Midgor's ambition to reclaim the realm once conquered by Grand King Thorin Grandaxe nearly a century before, as well as reasserting dwarven dominance after the humiliating defeat in the Schism War. Grand King Midgor also envisioned a Urguanite superpower, wishing to divide the humans once again and place them under the dwarven yoke.
The dwarven nation held an invalued grudge against the Orenian nation, stemming from the First Human-Dwarven War in 1415, which led to off and on fighting between to the two nations for nearly a century and a half. Dwarves continued to maintain claim over the majority of human lands from Grand King Thorin's victory over William I after the previous Holy Orenian Emperor, Horen I, sailed to Aeldin to claim its imperial throne. When John I restored the imperial monarchy of Oren in 1526, a large mass of dwarven statesmen demanded the Urguanite government contain the Orenian Empire. In 1529, war was officially declared upon the Empire by the Grand Kingdom of Urguan. The first large scale battle would not be until 1536, the Battle of White Mountain, and fighting continued until the defeat of the Second Rurikid Uprising of 1547.
John I had an alliance with Grand King Uldar Irongut (Who reigned from 1525-1529) and this alliance was a very rare détente between the two major world powers of the Holy Orenian Empire and the Grand Kingdom of Urguan. This alliance was exceptionally unpopular with many of the dwarven people, most of them had lived through a war with humans and hated the Holy Orenian Empire. This caused Uldar to be regarded as a puppet of the Empire, even though the weakened Oren (drained from the recent War of the Ducal Coalition) ostensibly wanted the dwarves to leave them alone.
Dwarven society was divided into two factions, pro-Uldar and anti-Uldar whom was the far greater number, the latter group was consisted of influential dwarves such as Hogarth Irongut, Belegar Ireheart, and Midgor Ireheart, whom operated off a pro-war platform.Eventually, after many assassination attempts and other attempted coups, Uldar was deposed of and the anti-Uldar party, which was anti-Oren and pro-war, prevailed in the early 1529's.
In the chaos of the throne’s vacancy, Emperor John, fearful of the election of a pro-war dwarven monarch, attempts to impose Uldar’s distant relative Gauldrim Irongut onto the throne of Urguan. The subterfuge fails, and John I issues the Statement of Solidarity (1529) declaring his public support for Gauldrim’s claim. In fear of the Holy Orenian Empire, this action serves to inadvertently galvanize the dwarven populace behind the pro-war candidate, Midgor Ireheart, who is elected Grand King of Urguan without real opposition.
Gauldrim is banished and expelled, as are any of Uldar’s former supporters.
- 1536 - Battle of White Mountain - Imperial victory
- 1537 - Siege of Rhewengrad - Imperial victory
- 1538 - Siege of Khro’nogaak - Dwarven victory
- 1540 - Battle of Cape Bronson - Imperial victory
- 1541 - Battle of Hoar Hill - Imperial victory
- 1542 - Siege of Kal'Valen - Imperial victory
- 1543 - Siege of Kal'Ordholm - Dwarven victory
- 1546 - Battle of Marnadal - Imperial victory
- 1547 - Siege of Fort Dunamis - Dwarven victory
- 1547 - Battle of Seahelm - Imperial Victory
- In late 1529, Midgor Ireheart amasses a host of dwarves and Dunamis and marches to Felsen, demanding that the Emperor renounce his crown and split up the Empire, or else Urguan will invade and conquer it. John refuses the demand, and so the Ireheart king declares war immediately, however his host is beaten back to to the dwarven capital.
- John now manages to cultivate a sense of Imperial unity against the dwarves. The various elven provinces answer the call to war against Urguan.
- For seven years, nothing major happens in terms of battles. Dwarves and Dunamis constantly raid the various provinces of the Empire, decreasing Oren’s overall population.
- In 1534, Grand King Midgor chokes on his own blood from open sores in his mouth and is rumoured to have been poisoned. Rhewen Frostbeard is elected Grand King.
- In 1535, Decimus Rovin takes control of the Caliphate, reforming it into the canonist Kingdom of Vandoria. He negotiates an agreement with the Emperor to support Oren against the dwarves. This does not sit well with many of the Khalestinian denizens of the former Caliphate, chiefly the influential Kharadeens, who are virulently anti-Oren. Rovin outlaws Vandorian citizenry from fighting against Oren, however many of them disregard this and defect to Urguan’s side
- In 1535, the Emperor negotiates an alliance against Urguan with Rex Ubba’Ugluk of the Orcs
- In 1535, Henry of Rothesay is appointed commander-in-chief of the Imperial and allied forces by the Emperor
- In 1535, the steward of the dwarven fortress of Esterwick, Kolohe Finnigan, defects to the Empire, taking control of his castle with him. The fortress is incorporated as the Province of Esterwick, with Finnigan serving as the governor.
- On 12th of the Sun’s Smile, 1536 Imperial and allied forces march south from Felsen, through Erochland, to the eastern snow-plains of Urguan in a surprise attack. Led by Rothesay and the Emperor, they earn a decisive victory for the Empire by constantly soldiering through the snow and poor weather conditions. The decimated dwarven forces were commanded by Belegar Ireheart.
- Imperial and allied forces lay siege to the first of the dwarven castles, Rhewengrad, capturing it after a brief while due to the command of the Emperor and Josef Vladov, Count of Saintois. They annex a wide swathe of eastern dwarven land, dubbing it the Province of Cascadia. The dwarven forces were commanded by Belegar Ireheart.
- John I makes a blood pact with Rex Ubba’Ugluk of the Orcs, both swearing to never make peace until Urguan is subjugated.
- Imperial and allied forces march deeper into dwarven territory, into the main valley of their capital (Known as the Valley of Flowers), there they lay siege to the fortress of Khro’Nogaak, one of the last bastions before the dwarven capital, however after a lengthy and bloody siege they are repelled, the army sent back to Cascadia. The dwarven forces are commanded by Grand King Rhewen and Belegar Ireheart.
- The Imperial forces retreat back to their respective territories, awaiting the next call-to-arms.
- The Emperor begins to amass a sizeable fleet of both frigates and carriers with which to invade Urguan by sea.
- Richard Revlis, leader of Dunamis and a fierce patriot of Urguan, attempts to assassinate John I, however fails.
- Imperial and allied forces board the fleet, sailing from Felsen. They clash with the dwarven fleet off the coast of the island of Avar, off a cape known as Cape Bronson. The dwarven fleet is smashed and scuttled into the straight, being commanded by Belegar Ireheart. The Imperial fleet is commanded by the Emperor and Josef Vladov, which happened on 11th of the Grand Harvest, 1540.
- The Imperial fleet lands on the island of Avar, setting up a siege camp.
- The Lotharingian forces led by Augustus d’Amaury arrive to the siege camp, reinforcing it twofold.
- On the 12th of the Grand Harvest, 1541, led by the Emperor and his three best commanders ,Rothesay, Vladov and d’Amaury, the Imperial and allied forces wash over half of the island, annexing it along with a fortress known as Fort Jarnstrand. This is known as the Battle of Hoar Hill.
- Decimus Rovin resigns as ruler of Vandoria. The anti-Oren Qalasheen faction attempts to utilize this as a means by which to retake control of the country, rallying numerous provinces behind it. For a brief period of time they appear to succeed, swaying the citizens of the southern kingdom against the Imperial alliance. Harold Winter, an avaricious nobleman whose family have been exiled from the Empire for generations, takes control as the ruler of Vandoria, officially joining the dwarves in their campaign.
- The Imperial and allied forces continue their assault on the island’s dwarven settlements. On the 6th of the Grand Harvest, the Emperor and Augustus d’Amaury capture Kal’Valen, though this is largely due to the heroism of a single man-at-arms, Rael Acker. For his feat in braving the dwarven alchemist’s fire, the Emperor knights him as ‘the Unburned’ and he becomes a war-hero, being rewarded with hefty estates in the conquered territories.
- The island of Avar is totally annexed as of the end of the year, being incorporated into the Empire as the Province of Avar.
- The Imperial and allied forces sail across the straight to the dwarven mainland coastal fortress of Kal’Ordholm, laying siege to it. However, under the command of Jorik Grandaxe and Grand King Rhewen, the dwarven forces repel them, causing massive Imperial casualties. The army retreats and separates near Erochland, taking a while to recuperate.
- On the 16th of the First Seed in 1543, Oren signs the Treaty of Sutica, with the Principality of Sutica, a merchant state rebelling from Vandoria, offering it peace, neutrality, and support for its succession.
- Nafis Yar kills Harold Winter and takes over Vandoria in the chaos, establishing himself as Lord Protector and renewing the Vandorian-Imperial alliance.
- The Emperor broods in the capital, unwilling to relent in his campaign. He decides to attempt the new strategy of attacking the dwarven allies.
- While acting as his father’s diplomat, the Emperor’s son, Prince Charles, is mutilated by the Orvar tribesmen of Vandoria, who hate and fear the civilized Holy Orenian Empire. Furious, the Emperor promises a dire retribution upon the tribesmen, embarking upon several attacks to eradicate them, however he does not succeed in this endeavour.
- Ubba’Ugluk breaks the blood pact with the Emperor, moving to the dwarven side of the war.
- The Imperial and allied forces march south, with Rothesay’s force marching south from Erochland and d’Amaury’s force marching south from Lorraine. They meet in the field at Marnadal, a series of plains just west of Ard Ghorrock and east of the Dunamis fortress, where they unite against the Dunamis and dwarven host and win an Imperial victory under d’Amaury’s overall command. Richard Revlis is believed slain in the battle.
- Internal pressures arise within Oren from scheming nobles, specifically those unwilling to pay the flat taxes required to maintain the war’s upkeep and those who are resentful of his autocratic style of rule. They threaten to ally with the dwarven forces against the Crown. This is known as the Taxman’s Conspiracy, and forces John I to de-escalate the war and effectively declare a state bankruptcy. Unwilling to relent, the Emperor marches south to join his armies for one last time.
- The Imperial and allied forces continue to march west to the Dunamis fortress, where they lay siege to it with a massive force of trebuchets and catapult. They lay siege to the castle, led by the Emperor and Augustus d’Amaury, however they are quickly repelled in a bloody defeat on account of a number of factors such as subpar weaponry, diminished numbers and disease.
- The Imperial forces retreat, against the Emperor’s will. He begins to plan another assault, however is shot and drowned while crossing the Eroch river, thus bringing his twenty-one year reign to an end. He is succeeded by his son, the Prince of Alstion, who is crowned as John II.
- As, soon as John I died in 1547, the rurics, also known as rurikids as they’re called in imperial texts, led by Beo Thorsson Ruric, who controlled the island of avar, whom rebelled with dwarven support, however it was put down in the Battle of Seahelm of 1547 after which John II signed the Peace of West Avar ending the war with the Grand Kingdom of Urguan, ending the war. This uprising was also known as the first Rurikid rising.
Fun Fact: John I’s determination to continue the war and embark upon more and more assaults despite suffering numerous defeats led him to be known as John the Relentless in history.