Irene of Metterden
Irena Ceciliya Sarkozic neé Ruthovic (Common: Irene Cecilia Sarkozy neé Ruthern) was the ninth Speaker and the second woman to ascend to the position of Lady Speaker under the Aulic Council of the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska. With her prior renowned betrothal at age eleven to the Emperor John VIII, later marriage to the Archancellor of Oren, Franz Sarkozy, while in office, and her subsequent death by being hung, drawn, and quartered after her planning and enacting of an attempted assassination plot against her grandnephew King Heinrik II known as the Wives' Plot of 1814, Lady Irene was notoriously known for her controversy across humanity while a stateswoman, scholar, and noblewoman. She was one of the three prominent Ruthern sisters known as the Daughters of Metterden.
Irene of Metterden was born on the 11th of the Amber Cold, 1759, to the Count of Metterden, Konstantin Ruthern, and his wife Kathering of Nenzing. Her birth was miraculous; commended as a blessing yet too remarked as a curse, for she would nearly take the life of her aging mother in the process. Her mother was forty-nine years of age upon the birth of Irene, and had already three children before her; Lady Viktoria, Lord Aleksandr, and Lady Elizaveta. She was raised as a babe under the care of her mother and her toiling law-occupant father, although her mother soon sought alternative schooling for the youngest of the Ruthern children. Both her sisters were taken as wards under the Queen-Mother, Maya of Muldav, while she was kept in the walls of Helmholtz, Metterden; considering she was only a few years old.
With Irene’s sister, Lady Viktoria, swiftly betrothed to the young King of Hanseti-Ruska, Sigismund II, and her other sister, Lady Elizaveta, being sent off to imperial court to ward under the then Princess Imperial and heiress, Anne Augusta, her mother neglected the young Irene and sent her off to the Kaedrini countryside to be tutored by a princess of the since-dissolved Pertinaxi regime, Maria Tiberia. With little to pack for the Metterden girl, she was briskly sent off by carriage with her only handmaiden to the Commonwealth of Kaedrin and henceforth under the tutelage of Princess Maria. The last remnant of her Haeseni heritage was soon stripped with the dismissal of the singular handmaiden to return to the County of Metterden.
Her tutor was not kind, instead favoring severely strict tendencies in education; using brutal and abusive tactics to instill etiquette upon the youth. The cruel strategies were effective in ingraining Irene with the lessons brought onto her each day come the rise of the sun. She was thoroughly prepared in courtly mannerisms, history, modern and past fashion, and music. Tidbits of Flexio and Naumariav linguistics were amongst her studies, with the Haeseni national language only being taught after the girl’s desires to have some piece of her homeland. Using the language intermixed with the common tongue was forbidden, however, unless in the midst of a lesson. Her tutor adamantly attempted to remove all remnants of her Haeseni accent, desiring for the young girl to one day be empress. Her punishments were known to be abrasive, whipping the back of Irene’s hands with a stick until the first draw of blood. These penalties led to the mangling and scarring of her hands that would remain for the rest of her life.
From afar, Irene spent her evenings reading through the little she could about the ongoings and whereabouts of her sister, Queen Viktoria. She was forbade from seeing the royal wedding of her sister in 1766, and instead found solace in any publishings her sister made regarding the court. Although she did not know her sister, she idolized her and expressed deep admiration and fondness of the warrior queen in her personal journals as a child. A year following the marriage, the Countess of Metterden requested Irene's return to her homeland. She spent one year in the Kingdom of Haense before her sister sent her off to imperial court. After one visit from the royal family, the Princess Imperial took interest in the Queen's sister; inviting them to several revelries and a joint family banquet betwixt the House of Novellen and the House of Barbanov, with Irene receiving a personal invitation. After the repast, Princess Anne and the Queen-Mother deliberated the potential betrothal and future of Irene. Unbeknownst to her, she would be taken on as a ward to Princess Anne and given fine living quarters in the imperial apartments.
Life at Imperial Court
Irene's presence was sourly unwelcome as a foreigner, albeit her homeland was still a vassal. The tensions between the empire and its' vassal, Haense, were only growing with her brother-in-law's adamant stubborness against Emperor Peter III and his councillors. Many lady courtiers were fighting for the hand of the crown prince, Prince John Charles, and appeared threatened by Irene's sudden wardship. Among those who were strongly against her presence was most notably that of the eldest daughter of Anne Augusta, Princess Elizabeth. She refused to be in the same space as Irene for most of her stay, claiming that the spirit of the Empress-Mother of Alexander II, Cesarina Louise, followed her at all times. She too claimed Irene was undoubtedly cursed, and that one day the floors would be covered in blood as a result of her presence, akin to her father's brutal death by the Scyflings. Word of these accusations spread across the courtiers as well as false accusations that Irene had bothered the Princess Elizabeth by trickery and 'pranks'. Irene was taunted for being 'uncaring' after her return to imperial court, having sought her father in his final moments before his inevitable passing due to fatal wounds dealt to him in his search for her only brother, Aleksandr. She became an outcast of the imperial court, further separated by the ire of Peter III's mistress, Madame Rothesay, who desired for the Duke of Cathalon's daughter, Lady Wilhelmina Beatrix, to be the future empress in Irene's place. To her fortune, Lady Irene was defended frequently by the princes (furthermore, the sons of Anne Augusta); Prince John, Prince Peter, and Prince Philip, and given solace with her only friends exterior to the Novellens; being two servants, known as Casper and Thomas.
In an estranged fashion, the Queen-Mother and Princess Anne Augusta announced the betrothal to the pair after insisting they be put on a small boat together in the middle of the pond behind Helmholtz, Metterden. After the announcement, the boat was allegedly tipped over by Queen Viktoria. The arrangement was to be publicly announced at a masquerade, yet as soon as word spread of what would be said to Madame Rothesay and the Majordomo, the event was swiftly cancelled. In place of the event, a wedding announcement and date was set. The wedding was to be one of grandeur and to have festivities last over the course of a year with a grand tour of the empire headed by the newlyweds.
After an affair where Irene saved the life of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Anne through medical workings- her ruthless treatment from one aspiring alchemist, Ostromir Carrion, led to the final straw for the Ruthern. She heard of his ascension to Court Alchemist after seeing him, allegedly to her account, torture the future empress through alchemist experimentation to stop the continuous bleeding (that had since been mostly stopped at the medical work of Lady Irene). Seeing as Princess Anne could not recall these occurrences and none were to testify to her claims, she demanded his removal from court life to the Governor of the Palace or else she was to end her betrothal. Within several days and seeing no change, Lady Irene disappeared from the Novellen Palace months before her marriage to Prince John. This sudden disappearance led to many claiming her to be sick and sent to the County of Metterden, yet Lady Irene's whereabouts during this period are completely unknown.
Return to the Kingdom of Haense
The exact date of Irene's return is untold with her various whereabouts, having allegedly been all across the lands of Arcas during the period after her betrothal was ended with the future emperor. However, it is believed two years prior to the Edict of Separation (enacted on the 11th of Amber Cold, 1786), Irene returned to her homeland under the alias of 'Ania Dominika Petrovic'. This can be correlated with Miss Ania's, later revealed as Irene's, studies as a researcher and scholar for the Northern Geographical Society under Dame Celestine Herbert. Her first renowned work was titled Consorts of Haense; an in-depth study of the Queen consorts of Haense done alongside Sir Otto 'the Tarcharman'. She went on to do numerous other biographies of figures such as Milena of Adria, Grand Prince Kazimar I of Muldav, Klaudia of Vasiland, and the royal scribe Swithun Aldor under the reign of King Sigmar I and the courts of Queen Sophia of Castor. As noted by courtiers, 'Miss Ania' was seen frequenting the side of Prince Lothar Alimar (later Lothar I, Grand Prince of Muldav). Other than her scholarly work and time spent in the Muldavian palace, Lady Irene kept away from any public life for paranoia of assassination.
When no longer under the veil of an alias upon the Haeseni independence being announced, Lady Irene returned home to Metterden to meet her brother for the first time (as he had been captured by the Scyflings since she was sent off to Kaedrin), and see many other members of her family after years of her unknown whereabouts. Her brother Aleksandr and his wife, Lady Keldra, insisted on hosting a ball in her honor. The ball was monikered the Ruthern Homecoming Ball of 1787. However, it is said that Irene did not attend her own ball in fear of social interaction or seeing those of her past present (notably, members of the imperial family). This alone gives nod to her introverted behavior that would persist throughout all her life, unlike her actress, frivolous sister Elizaveta Angelika, the Baroness of Woldzmir.
Following the ball, Irene insisted to her brother that she would redeem what she had lost for the family in not fulfilling her betrothal to Prince John, and becoming the first Ruthern to be empress-consort. He sought to arrange a courtship between her and her confidant, Prince Lothar, yet - in spite of the pair's interactions having been presumably ardent - his endeavors would fall through. Irene refrained from most court life, although offered occasional advise to her niece-in-law, Isabel of Valwyck, in palatial affairs. She was soon employed as a professor of history and Naumariav, one of the few fluent speakers in Hanseti-Ruska; dually working as a researcher and historian. Later, she further expanded the language of New Marian in its entirely with her tome Guide to the New Marian Language, and wrote a joint-effort novel with Miss Tanith Vurser and Miss Henriette Marna de Rafal surrounding the most influential women of humanity's history. She studied the women of the more modern era in her particular portion of the study, writing brief biographies over Ester of Avalain, Maya of Muldav, and Mariya of Reza.
However, she still remained out of public life save for the affairs of the royal family where her sister had since been absent as a mother in. She took on a maternal role for Princess Nataliya, specifically during the time of her disownment for her marriage to her brother-in-law, Petyr Wick. She privately tutored many of the Haeseni noblewomen in etiquette. She remained in obscurity, later engaged to a commoner (causing some minor controversy) known as Mister Jericho ben Tertulian after their long-lasting friendship while she was his secretary as the Royal Envoy. Briefly, she served as the Ambassador of Sutica yet for not notable enough of a time. While serving as a professor, ambassador, tutor, and secretary, Irene took another occupation as the duma clerk to Sir Osvald Barclay. Even with her minimal public involvement, several assassination attempts were made on Irene's life during this period of her life.
As Lady Speaker of the Royal Duma
Lady Irene became the Lady Speaker in 1797 by declaration of her nephew, King Josef I, after the office had been unoccupied for a numerity of years following the firing of Sir Osvald Barclay. Before her ascension to the position, Lady Irene served under Sir Osvald Barclay as the unofficial pro tempore of the Royal Duma and a duma clerk. She was nominated by the Royal Duma alongside two other candidates; that being, Mister Lukas Rakoczy and her nephew, Lord Maric Ruthern. Her support from the House of Barclay led to her approval from the majority, seeing as she was previously employed under Sir Osvald. Lord Maric (later the Lord Palatine of Hanseti-Ruska), however, would be first offered the position. He declined after facing troubles of bias, and duelling one of the lords after disagreeing with a controversial bill presented by the representative of House Ruthern. The office fell onto the shoulders of Lady Irene, who accepted the position and ascended to it officially in 350.
Lady Irene was often referred to as “more Orenian than Haeseni” for her lack of time spent in the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska. In her youth, she was raised by a Pertinaxi princess by the name of Tiberia in Kaedrin, and later sent off by her sister, Queen Viktoria, to the imperial court at the Novellen Palace and was betrothed to be the future empress to John VIII. The betrothal fell through as she ran away months before the wedding was set to take place. These factors, once taken note of, were the major reasons of uneasiness amongst several duma members who did not want to see her as Lady Speaker.
She adamantly voiced her opinions for the rights of the nobility, frequently arguing for the betterment of their position in the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska with her nephew– claiming that the nobility had lost their sense of “prestige” and that needed to be restored. She sought competence, meeting with individual members of the peerage and elected officials, ensuring that they had not simply been slacking off as had been seen for many years in the troubles of leadership in the duma (after Sir Osvald’s removal from office).
To promote further civilian participation and to, as frequently said by her, “bring the duma to one voice”, Lady Irene reformed the duma with approval from Josef I after much deliberation to get the reformations through. Throughout the process of the reforms to allow for there to be three aldermen, four tribunes, and a maer seat, the Lord Palatine Sir Konstantin Wick was her greatest ally, and her fianceé, Mister Jericho ben Tertulian. The duma was no longer on a cohort-based system for the nobility, which ultimately led to a far greater voice for the nobles of Hanseti-Ruska as she had planned.
Lady Irene lost a great deal of support after her controversial unsuspected marriage to the Archchancellor of Oren, Franz de Sarkozy in 1803. The two were said to have met through a scholarly endeavor, ironically over the Edict of Separation enacted by the co-monarchs, Anne I and Joseph II; an edict that separated the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska from the empire. Brazenly in their first interaction, the Lady Speaker made remarks against the Archchancellor's wig (unbeknownst of his name), openly calling it 'foolish' and 'silly' before the Augustine Palace, only to learn of his true identity in their proper introduction. Their courtship came into fruition after several 'eccentric' letters penned at the hand of Irene's sister, the Queen-Mother, Viktoria. The arrangement of the courtship by Queen Viktoria would be the final act before her death in order to protect her youngest sister. Viktoria would die of health complications and was said to have passed away in Irene's arms in the gardens of the Nikirala Prikaz. The estranged relation between both the Archchancellor and Lady Speaker would be kept quiet other than hearsay by the few courtiers, both Haeseni and imperial, who were able to catch glimpse of the pair together.
She had been set to marry Mister Jericho, the Royal Envoy, until their sudden halt in courtship and her marriage to the Orenian statesman. Many considered the integrity of the position of Speaker at stake, yet she continued on in her position in spite of her audacious marriage. Seeing the new king soon to be crowned, her great nephew King Heinrik II, Lady Irene stepped down from her position in the name of her successor, in order for him to experience the Speaker’s integral role in the coronation of a Haeseni King (as she had seen many, ever since the marriage of her sister to Sigismund II). She began preparations for her retirement after her successor had been elected as Lord Speaker, Igor Kort, and concluded her tenure while - most strangely - she was blind after an assassination attempt on her life. Irene's eyes were covered by a white bandage and went forth with the ongoings of duma without her sight.
In her final memoir as Speaker, The New Haense, she urged her fellow statesmen who had yet to retire and step down from their position to do so; speaking out against stagnancy and insisting on an entirely new council for the upcoming king. Contentiously, she argued that the kingdom had been so vehemently entangled in their desire to separate all ties from the empire that they had made a culture in itself simply from the hatred of the Holy Orenian Empire;
"We worry too often of our comparison to the empire that we used to be under. We worry inanely whether the way we dress is too lenient towards their ways, the way we speak or hold ourselves is too akin to their mannerisms, or if the way we conduct various governmental affairs is too similar to their ideals. We can be our own people without outright disallowing all minimal aspects of their culture."
-A portion of The New Haense scribed at the end of Irene's incumbency as Lady Speaker, reflecting upon her past several years in office while announcing her retirement publicly.
Retirement & Wives' Plot of 1814
After announcing her retirement from the role as Lady Speaker, Irene left for the city of Providence in the Holy Orenian Empire to live in the upper apartments of the Chancellery Building with her husband and two children, Adeline and Victor. She fell out of touch with public life and remained absent from the imperial court besides brief communications with members of the chancellery under the Sarkozy Administration, the Princess Imperial, Elizabeth Anne, or Dame Celestine Herbert, President of the Northern Geographical Society (NGS). She continued to partake in the organization of the NGS as a researcher and historian, and would soon begin her tutoring as she had done before for a multitude of the imperial children of the court. Namely, she taught Amadea of Pompourelia after she and her husband had took a significant notice of the future empress's lack of any parental figure or mentor. Both would take on the role as an acting mentor and tutor for Lady Amadea, teaching her in governmental and foreign affairs.
Irene took a more active role in the lives of her nieces and nephews, as she on occasion would frequent her homeland to advise her nephew, Margrave Maric Ruthern (who was soon to be the Lord Palatine), and his twin brother the Knight Paramount of Hanseti-Ruska, Lord Alric Ruthern. In her few visits to the kingdom, she remarked seeing a 'substantial difference, not particularly positive' in comparison to what she had seen in her youth under the reign of her brother-in-law, King Sigismund II. She severed all ties to the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska after the believed execution of her niece, Princess Nataliya Reza of Haense, and another by burning at the stake for being 'witches'.
Shortly following the burnings without trial, Irene was visited by her great niece who she had previously mentored, Princess Katerina Ceciliya of Haense. She was informed of alleged abuse at the hand of her brother, King Henry II, and claimed that his wife, Mariya of Aurveldt had suffered similarly. Irene attempted to hide Princess Katerina, yet she was already under the care of another and hidden by a rather poor guise with her Haeseni accent still prevalent. Within several days, the Princess Katerina was found by Haeseni knights and taken back to the kingdom. After she last saw Katerina, Irene began to plan for the assassination of Henry II. She sought the advise of a multitude of Haeseni citizenry, who kept her plan secret and applauded her bravery– yet feared for her life.
Mid year 1814, Irene sent a letter to Henry II asking if she might advise him as his aunt on affairs of the state due to his extreme controversy amongst the people. As she awaited the letter to be received and returned with an answer, she and her sister, Lady Elizaveta Angelika, came together to scheme for the assassination to take place and to walk the layout of the palace. When the letter was returned, Elizaveta settled on the rooftop through a secret passageway while Irene was brought into the King's Office by her great nephew. There, Irene and Elizaveta both attacked the ragged king who, although claiming to be without anything on his person and only in rags in a public missive to his people, withdrew a crossbow and managed to free himself from their attack. Irene would slow her escape for her sister to break free, and was captured by Haeseni knights.
Irene, the previous Haeseni stateswoman and Lady Speaker, was surrounded by a crowd of shocked citizens as the king had announced her attempt. She was knocked unconscious and dragged to the cells of the HRA barracks, where she was questioned by previous members of the Aulic Council who she had once worked alongside who strived to understand her reasoning for attempted regicide, to which she shouted "This kingdom burns" for all those around to hear. She would bring herself to unconsciousness again before the trial, leading to a coma after medics attempted to heal her inflicted wounds. In spite of being in a coma, Irene was put on trial for crimes of treason and the attempted murder of King Henry II. She was inevitably found guilty and executed by being hung, drawn, and quartered with her remains sent to her husband, Sir Franz.
Titles, Styles, and Honors
Titles and Styles
- 1754-1779 Lady Irene Ceciliya Ruthern
- 1797-1809 Her Excellency the Lady Speaker of the Royal Duma
- 1809-1814 Lady Sarkozy
|Mr. Victor Hughes de Sarkozy||6th of the Deep Cold, 1804||Alive||Unwed||Firstborn son of Mr. Franz de Sarkozy and Lady Irene Ruthern.|
|Ms. Adeline Valera de Sarkozy||21st of Sun's Smile, 1806||Alive||Unwed|| Firstborn daughter of Mr. Franz de Sarkozy and Lady Irene Ruthern.