High Pontiff Everard II

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High Pontiff Saint
Everard II
Reign: 1525-1537
Enthronement: 7th of the Sun's Smile, 1525
Predecessor: Daniel II
Successor: Lucien III
Born: 24th of Malin's Welcome, 1497
Montfort, Adria, Oren
Died: 4th of the Amber Cold, 1537 (aged 39)
Felsen, Oren
House: de Montfort
Father: Paul de Montfort
Mother: Emma Vladovic

Everard II (Common: Everard II; High Imperial: Everardus II) (24th of Malin's Welcome, 1497 – 4th of the Amber Cold, 1537), born as Edmond de Montfort, served as High Pontiff from his election in 1525 to his untimely assassination at the hand of Church dissenters in 1537. During his life, he was commonly called the Watcher for his refusing to draw arms against Canonists during the Dukes' War, and posthumously called the Wise for his role in the renaissance and revitalization of the Church of the Canon.

The beginning of Everard II's reign coincided with the death of Guy de Bar (which he himself help plot to achieve) and the Horen Restoration which saw John Frederick crowned and the Holy Orenian Empire restored. Through his close contact with John I and control over the former crusading forces of the Tarchar Crusade, Everard led a path of reform throughout the entire church. Paired with his close adviser and long time companion, Archbishop Adrian Chivay, he would pass the most Golden Bulls out of any High Pontiff to date, solidify the Church's neutrality, and found numerous missions to both the elven states and the Grand Kingdom of Urguan.

However, Everard's policies of expansionism and non-human conversion did not sit well with every clergyman. The last five years of his reign would be stained by the controversial Turnbull Affair, which the monk James Turnbull created petition to have the pontiff step down and guarantee a limited religious freedom within the Empire. Numerous lords (including Everard's own nephew, Otto Sarkozic) and clergymen (most famously the Bishop of Kvasz and the Bishop of Metz) signed the petition, which eventually forced John to intervene at the Second Diet of Metz in 1534. There, the Emperor sided with the High Pontiff and arrested the clergymen, including Turnbull himself. Despite the lords involved being pardoned, both the Bishops of Kvasz and Metz were executed, leading many minor clergymen to become disillusioned with their leader. The souring of his relations with the Istriot clergymen would prove his downfall, with he and Adrian Chivay being stabbed in the streets of Felsen by a pair of dissenter monks.

Everard II would prove to become one of the greatest High Pontiffs to have lived, successfully coordinating and safeguarding church power in the increasing centralization and absolutism of the Empire. He would also be the second and last pontiff to be unanimously elected, with the first being his uncle Daniel I. His reign and growth of the church took up majority of the period what is known as the Everardian Period.