Between FY 963 and FY 994, the nations of the Westlands were unified under a single ruler, the High King Artur Paendrag Tanreall, better known as Artur Hawkwing. Artur Hawkwing's Empire consisted of the lands between the Great Blight and the Sea of Storms, the Aryth Ocean and the Spine of the World, with the sole exception of the city-state of Tar Valon and its rulers, the Aes Sedai.
Born in FY 912, Artur Paendrag Tanreall became King of Shandalle upon the death of both of his parents from the Black Fever epidemic in FY 939. The same year, Guaire Amalasan declared himself the Dragon Reborn in the far western kingdom of Darmovan. At the request of the Aes Sedai, many of the nations united to defeat Amalasan in the War of the Second Dragon, but the results were inconclusive until Tanreall, now nicknamed "Hawkwing" for the speed with which he could move his armies, defeated Amalasan at the Battle of the Jolvaine Pass, despite being outnumbered three-to-one.
Amalasan was taken to Tar Valon for trial and gentling. Hawkwing brought his entire army to camp on the northern banks of the River Erinin, defying the will of the Amyrlin Seat, Bonwhin Meraighdin, who ordered Hawkwing to remove his army within five days. Hawkwing was instead called upon to save Tar Valon when two of Amalasan's generals attacked the city with an army of over 100,000 men. Hawkwing won the battle, but in the process had humiliated the Amyrlin Seat, earning her ire.
After returning to Shandalle and disbanding his army, Hawkwing discovered three armies, from neighboring Caembarin, Tova, and Khodomar, had been dispatched to destroy him. Hawkwing reformed his troops and in a surprising campaign defeated the forces sent against him. His counterattack delivered large parts of all three kingdoms to him by the end of the year. In FY 944 the kingdoms of Aldeshar, Ileande, and Talmour joined the fight. Hawkwing defeated them as well. Over the next nineteen years Hawkwing conquered the entire continent, sparing only the city of Tar Valon and its surrounding territory. His final victory came in FY 963 with the defeat of Aldeshar and the surrender of its king, Joal Ramedar. In a surprising move, as Hawkwing was famed for his leniency and mercy towards honorable foes, he had Ramedar executed, claiming that he had a hand in the murder of his first wife, Amaline Tagora, and their two surviving children two years earlier. He also had Ramedar's heirs and family stripped of all their titles and scattered across the land. This is known as the Black Years of his reign.
Several years later Hawkwing repented this action and restored honors and privileges to Ramedar's family, making his daughter Endara Casalain Imperial Governor for the Province of Andor, which included part of Aldeshar's former territory. Hawkwing's change of heart is attributed to his marriage to his second wife, Tamika.
Provinces of the Empire
Due to the chaos of the War of the Hundred Years, only fragmentary records remain of how the Empire was organized. We know the Empire was split into numerous provinces, each under the control of an Imperial Governor appointed by Hawkwing. Hawkwing used former rulers or the heirs of those rulers of the preexisting kingdoms where he felt they were suitable, but to prevent them building up power bases and rebelling, he would transfer them to remote parts of the continent from their homeland (with the sole exception of Endara Casalain). To this end he also appears to have changed the borders and names of the provinces to prevent a resurgence of nationalist feeling within those lands.
The sole exception seems to be the case of Moreina. Unlike the other kingdoms, Moreina had surrendered to Hawkwing and joined the Empire peacefully. It appears that Moreina's borders, name, and rulers were maintained intact.
It is known that Andor, Cairhien, Saldaea, Kandor, Arafel, Shienar, and Malkier were provinces, along with Moreina. However, it is unclear if these provinces had the same borders as the later kingdoms of the same names.
Artur Hawkwing ruled over the entire Empire as the High King, although it is unknown where his capital or administrative center was located; it is possible he continued to rule from Shandalle. Hawkwing planned to build a new capital city in an abandoned stedding in the Caralain Grass, a site selected for its central location with respect to the rest of the Empire, its lack of preexisting historical ties and symbolism, and the barrier that prevented usage of the One Power. However, construction of the capital never advanced beyond the completion of a great statue of Hawkwing, and that was pulled down soon after his death.
Under the High King in the Empire's hierarchy were the Imperial Governors. Each governor had responsibility for a huge territory and sometimes vast populations, granting them power equal to one of the former kings or queens. The major difference was that Hawkwing promoted strictly by merit. Nobles had to prove their worth to rule as governors as they did in the military, and it was not unknown for commoners of exceptional ability to rise to these high positions.
After Hawkwing restored friendly relations with Tar Valon, he increasingly came to rely on Aes Sedai administrators and governors, mainly due to their lack of corruptibility compared to others. By FY 973 over one-third of the high administrative offices in the Empire, including the governorships, were held by Aes Sedai. However, some claimed that these Aes Sedai were more loyal to the Amyrlin Seat than the High King.
During this time Hawkwing also sponsored many great public works, such as the building or rebuilding of many major roads, the construction of new towns and fortresses, and the establishing of militias ("circuit rovers") and police forces (the "Civil Guard") to reduce crime and banditry within the cities and on the roads.
The Empire, consisting as it did of all the military forces of the former kingdoms combined, possessed vast manpower stretching into many hundreds of thousands of troops. Hawkwing, as befitting the greatest military commander in history, kept his armies well-trained and motivated even in times of peace. He rotated military formations through different provinces to ensure their freshness, and promoted strictly by merit.
Relations with other lands
In FY 964, Hawkwing launched an invasion of the Aiel Waste. The invasion was aborted after several months due to severe losses to the Aiel guerrilla tactics and their refusal to engage in an open field battle, as well as the harsh climate and terrain. Relations between the west and the Aiel do not appear to have improved much beyond this time.
It is unknown what role the Sea Folk played within the Empire, although it is believed they maintained their independence from the High King's rule.
For most of the existence of the Empire, it had very limited contact with Shara, and it is believed that Sea Folk traders and merchant ships from the Empire continued to stop at the Sharan trade ports as they had always done. However, in FY 993 Hawkwing attempted an invasion of Shara by sea, through an army led by one of his daughters. The invasion was defeated and the army and fleet destroyed.
In FY 992 Hawkwing dispatched his son Luthair Paendrag Mondwin to invade and subjugate the continent of Seanchan across the Aryth Ocean. It is unknown how Hawkwing first learned of the existence of Seanchan, since the Sea Folk refuse to sail beyond the Aryth. Although Luthair and his descendants eventually succeeded in unifying the Seanchan continent in the name of the Hawkwing, Artur did not live to learn of this great victory.
The Later History of the Empire
Following the murder of his wife and children in FY 961, Hawkwing entered a period called the Black Years, a time of anger and depression when he made many questionable decisions, including the hasty and ill-thought-out invasion of the Aiel Waste. Upon his return from the Waste, he met and fell in love with a young woman named Tamika, who became his second wife and lifted him from the gloom of the Black Years, giving him several more children including Luthair and Laiwynde.
In FY 973, a man named Jalwin Moerad arrived at Hawkwing's court and rapidly won the ear of the High King, despite reports of unorthodox and unstable behavior. Known for having a strong contempt of Aes Sedai, he quickly became Hawkwing's closest adviser, and in FY 974 Hawkwing abruptly dismissed all Aes Sedai from posts within the Empire. The following year, Hawkwing's armies overran Tar Valon's territory and laid siege to the city, a siege that would last the remainder of Hawkwing's life. The reasons for this sudden collapse of relations are unknown, although many conspiracy theories have been present. One of the most plausible is that Moerad presented the High King with evidence that it was Bonwhin who had ordered the deaths of Amaline and their children, but this remains pure supposition.
In FY 986 the Borderland provinces were overrun by a surprise Trolloc invasion. Moving quickly, the Trolloc army penetrated several hundred miles into the Empire before Hawkwing's armies met them in battle. After several smaller engagements, Hawking brought the Shadowspawn to a decisive engagement at the Battle of Talidar in early FY 987 and utterly crushed them. Emboldened by his victory, and possibly wishing to busy himself with work after the death of Tamika the same year, Hawkwing began massive planning and in FY 989, two immense fleets began construction at the western and southern ports. He began a recruitment drive to assemble no less than 600,000 soldiers and settlers to dispatch on two expeditions across the oceans. In FY 992 he dispatched the first fleet from the western ports under his son Luthair, with orders to land in and subjugate the Seanchan continent. The following year, one of his daughters led another fleet from the southern ports to Shara, but this army was apparently destroyed and Sea Folk reported that the the fleet had been burned at anchor in the landing harbors.
The Fall of the Empire
Hawkwing fell ill in FY 994. He rejected an offer of Healing from the new Amyrlin Seat, Deane Aryman, that would have saved his life (Bonwhen had been deposed and stilled two years earlier). He was consumed by a raging fever and died, unaware that his surviving daughter Laiwynde and her son, Tyrn sur Paendrag Mashera, had both died of causes unknown. As a result, he had no heirs this side of the Aryth Ocean.
The Empire began to collapse almost immediately. The cities of Cairhien and Tear declared independence within months of his death, and the Borderland provinces broke away having sworn an oath of alliance to support one another. General Souran Maravaile, commanding the siege of Tar Valon, was convinced by Deane Aryman and Ishara Casalain, daughter of Governor Endara of Andor, to lift the siege and ally his forces to Ishara's, who proclaimed herself Queen of Andor. The following period of chaos and strife became known as the War of the Hundred Years.
While few thought much of it at the time, it became known in later years that, while this chaos was consuming Hawkwing's empire, Jalwin Moerad vanished abruptly and without a trace. It also became known in later years that Moerad had remained in the kingdom for exactly forty years, and that he had never appeared to age a single day in all that time. These oddities led Aran son of Malan son of Senar, a post-Breaking historian, to theorize that Moerad had in fact the Forsaken Ishamael, and that many of Hawkwing's more questionable decisions could be traced to his counsel. These decisions included Hawkwing's sudden about-face on his relations with Tar Valon, the invasions of Seanchan and Shara, and his refusal of Aes Sedai healing that led to his death. Additionally, he also speculated that Moerad was behind the sudden deaths of the rest of Hawkwing's family and the three most likely extra-familial contenders for the throne, in order to see to it that the High King had no obvious heirs. All of these events, Aran concluded, were part of a plan by Moerad/Ishamael to destabilize and ultimately destroy Hawkwing's empire, the existence of which had greatly stabilized the Westlands.
Hawkwing's remarkable success in unifying all the lands under one rule, and his belief in universal suffrage and equality, proved extremely unpopular with the nobility. During the War of the Hundred Years every statue and memorial to him, and almost every book which mentioned his name, was destroyed. A huge statue to him located on what is now Caralain Grass was pulled down and demolished. In many areas even mentioning his name was a crime. However, the people remembered and Hawkwing's name continued to be mentioned with honor even a thousand years later. The claim that Hawkwing's grandson Tyrn actually survived and rose to rule in the city of Mayene was enough to give the Mayeners hope and courage enough to defy the rulers of Tear and maintain their independence for another millennium.
Of course, not all believe that Artur Hawkwing's Empire truly fell. Beyond the Aryth Ocean Hawkwing's descendants fought a centuries-long war in his name to unify the lands of Seanchan, and more than a thousand years after his death dispatched a huge fleet and army to restore the Empire in the name of Hawkwing's descendant, the Empress Radhanan.
Aldeshar | Abayan | Balasun | Basharande | Caembarin | Dal Calain | Darmovan | Dhowlan | Elan Dapor | Elsalam | Esandara | Farashelle | Fergansea | Hamarea | Ileande | Indrahar | Kharendor | Khodomar | Masenashar | Moreina | Nerevan | Oburun | Oman Dashar | Roemalle | Rhamdashar | Shandalle | Shiota | Talmour | Tova
The Empire of Artur Hawkwing