High Pontiff Owyn
Owyn I (Common: Owyn I; High Imperial: Owynson I) (1381 – 10th of the Grand Harvest, 1437) was the second longest reigning High Pontiff of the Church in recorded history and First King of Ruska. During his long and tumultuous Pontificate he dismantled the Empire and begun the Carrion Hegemony by crowning himself "Apostolic King of Ruska". Widely regarded as corrupt and venal, many of his redeeming quality's are often forgotten in favor of his highlighting his abstain clerical abuse. Born as Goddard Barrow, a bastard of Vladirusk Carrion and a unknown Stafyr lady, he was uncle to the Exalted Sigismund.
Owyn I begin his clerical career as a simple Prior, establishing a priory in Asulon under High Pontiff Adeodatus I. The priory begun to flourish when it was sponsored by the King of Salvus; James I, as his personal chapel for sermon and confession. In these years, he took in many students to learn under him, most notable being Blessed Osterwald of Renatus (Later Court Chaplain to Godfrey I and Archbishop of Renatus) and Signus Cross (Later High Pontiff Lucien II). His renown quickly spread across the Empire of Humanity, with the tiny priory full to the brim with devout followers who had made pilgrimage to hear the stunning sermons of Goddard.
Following the migration to Anthos, Adeodatus resigned under pressure from the nobility, in the ensuing synod a priest and cleric of the White Rose and personal friend of Goddard took the Papal nomination and was elected, taking the name Lucien I. Lucien was widely regarded as an grand administrator took the opportunity to promote Goddard to Pontiff and Archbishop of Saluvs & Metropolitan-Bishop of Kingston. Following the promotion, Goddard selected Frances LeTroux as his sub-bishop and the two established various Papal Edicts which allowed for the Church to tax the peasants of Salvus; vastly increasing the Papal Coffers and the personal coffers of Goddard.
Using the newfound riches, Goddard sought to restore the once grand Cathedral in Salvus which had falling in disrepair; the ribbing collapsing and the bell-tower being struck by lightning on multiple occasions. At the request of Goddard, "Grand-Mason Senda of Renatus" was called to Salvus, and within five years the repairs completed, with a total cost of 27,811 Minas. Next, at the request of Chancellor Aron Bedevere, Goddard was granted the Bishopric of Emperor's Forest (Later recognized as County of Kzav in the Second Empire), where he established a large fort and called for any fledgling knight of the faith to make pilgrimage. Of the many knights whom heeded the call, a sellsword by the name Guy Varodyr appeared, who had a following of 50,000 levies. Goddard purchased the mercenaries and organized them into a group now known as the Order of Saint Amyas, granting Guy the title of Grand-Cross and the title "Defender of the Faith". It was during this time that the Holy lands of Balion had been defiled by the Uruk Hordes, an action which angered High Pontiff Lucien I gravely; who then called a crusade against the Uruks.
In the following years, Goddard commanded the Knights to establish a Fort in the holy lands and to protect it until the excavation of the bones of the martyr was completed. Within two weeks, the knights had suppressed two orcish raids of over 100,000 Uruk Sreamers, and with the support of the Knights of the White Rose the bones of the martyr where recovered and the crusade was called off, returning to the Empire and showered with Prestige. The knights where then contracted by Emperor Horen into his personal regiment and sent off to quell several rebellions.
Goddard then returned to the Prince-Archbishopric and begun administration of the Prince-Archbishopric of Savoie in the High-Pontiff's stead, who had been off exploring lands with the Emperor. Apon the return of the Vicar of God, the Emperor proclaimed a "Great Pilgrimage" to the lands of Aeldin. The High-Pontiff abdicated and left all his personal riches to Goddard. The Synod of Savoie 1421 was called and Goddard was the first unanimously elected High-Pontiff in church history.
With the mass amounts of Oren nobility following Horen on his pilgrimage, William Horen then inherited the Imperial Crown, however he had contracted consumption and was bedridden. Feeling he was unfit to rule, he selected Goddard as the Reagent of the Emperor. Goddard, now was left with a failing state and multiple rebel houses who sought to take the Great Exodus as an opportunity to increase there power tenfold. With the Duchy of Furnestock now in open rebellion, soon the Kingdom of Salvus followed suit turning coat and swearing fealty to the Grand-King of Urguan, next was the Flays of the dreadlands who took the Isles east of Abresi into there hands and established many forts preparing for an invasion. Goddard now under immense pressure signed multiple Edicts freeing the Church and her lands from Imperial fealty. The Empire had been splintered.
Using this opportunity, Goddard signed the highly controversial "Edict of Three Kingdoms" which recognized the Flay King in the East as the "Petty-Kingdom of Galahar", abolished the Empire and established the heartlands as "The Kingdom of Oren" as well as creating the "Apostolic Kingdom of Savoie" which was then only the Prince-Archbishopric of Savoie and the Bishopric of Emperor's Forest. The Duke of Carpathia, Edward Greymane was a known opposer of William and ceded from the Kingdom of Oren swearing fealty to the High-Pontiff and his Apostolic Kingdom, during this time Marquess Sigismund returned from a pilgrimage in which he had recovered the Scrolls of Auspice (which he brought before the High-Pontiff to translate, as it was in the ancient language of Flexio) and he too swore fealty to his cousin, High-Pontiff Goddard.
In the following years, Goddard sought to continue to increase his influence and his last act as King was to permit the invasion of Kaedrin (which at the time was occupied illegally by the Adunians), after the successful invasion he abdicated in favor of his cousin, then Duke of Greater Kralta, Siegmund Carrion, whom assumed the title and request the High-Pontiff crown him. In response, Goddard renamed the Kingdom Ruska and crowned Sigismund as Apostolic King.
Goddard, now aged seventy felt that he had gravely ignored the church, and issued various Golden Bulls which he believed would reinvigorate the Church as well as commanding the army's of Oren which had been preparing to invade Ruska to return home, and forsake William Horen. Taking the name Owyn I as a sign that he had truly begun his papacy, he passed not even a year later peacefully while studying with his favored pupil Franz-Joseph Carrion, (Later High-Pontiff Radomir I and the King of Oren as Franz I)
Prior to Owyn, Pontiffs duty was strictly secular and many church titles where used in a way to further Orenian noble family influence. However, many of the following High-Pontiff's where former students of Owyn, choosing to continue his legacy as Prime Vicar and supreme authority, many of them too following his example and injecting themselves into Orenian Secular affairs. This tradition was finally put to rest by his former student and Pontiff, Regulus I.
Owyn's sub-bishop Frances LeTroux had kept a journal of the various events in Owyn's life, however this diary is highly attested for its accuracy and painting Owyn in a prophetic role similar to Exalted Sigismund, for this vary reason the church has never released this diary to the public as it they rather keep Owyn's image as one of an Abuser and Corrupt.
Owyn's role in the start of the Carrion Hegemony and his actions dissolving the Empire ensured that future Kings, Emperors, and Pontiffs always kept a watchful eye on the inner workings of the Church. His role in founding the Order of St. Amyas and financing it led to a lasting Order which continued its lineage into Athera where it successfully installed it's leader as King of Oren, Guy de Bar.
He is regarded as the most powerful High Pontiff in the history of humanity, and without a doubt held the most land and riches of anyone in Oren. For this very reason, he is a widely controversial character who has been the center of debate for centuries.