The Imperial Chantry is a denomination of Andrastianism centered in the Tevinter Imperium. The Imperial Chantry does not recognize the Divine of the Orlesian Chantry, but elects its own Imperial Divine—informally known as the "Black Divine" in the south as opposed to Orlais' "White Divine." The Imperial Chantry's headquarters are presumably located in the Argent Spire in Minrathous, where the Imperial Divine is known to reside.
In contrast to the Orlesian Chantry, the Imperial Chantry allows men into the priesthood and embraces magic. The Imperial Divine is always male, as well as a member of one of Tevinter's Circles of Magi.
Ten years to the day after Andraste's death, Archon Hessarian converted to the Chant of Light, claiming that he had heard the voice of the Maker when his blade had touched Andraste, and the beginnings of the religion took root. He declared the Maker the one true god, made Andrastianism the religion of the Imperium (i.e., the Imperial Chantry), and publicly revealed Maferath's betrayal. Most of the high-ranking clergy, including nearly all of the ruling Altus magisters, refused to give up their Old Gods, but the non-mage Soporati class overwhelmingly supported Hessarian, beginning a period known as the Transfiguration. With the High Priests dead, Hessarian repurposed the Old God temples into schools for mages.
When Emperor Kordillus Drakon I of Orlais appointed Divine Justinia I as the head of the Orlesian Chantry, it greatly upset the Tevinters, who had been organizing Andrastianism long before Orlais had begun their campaign of religious unification and believed their country to be the Holy Land, as Andraste had lived and died there. In an effort to appease Orlais, authority over the faith of the Tevinter Chantry was transferred from the Archon to the grand clerics of Tevinter. However, despite repeated petitions, the Orlesian Chantry refused to recognize the Tevinter grand clerics, on the grounds that they allowed men into the priesthood, whom the Orlesian Chantry judged unfit for the priesthood due to Maferath's betrayal. At the time, the presence of multiple mages within the ranks of the Tevinter clergy was unknown to their Orlesian counterparts.
Tensions escalated when the Orlesian Chantry called for an Exalted March on Starkhaven in 2:80 Glory to free the Marcher city-state from Tevinter rule and prevent the Imperium from regaining power and influence in the region. After the Third Blight in the Towers Age, the Orlesian Chantry also started to promote the story that the ancient magisters of Tevinter had caused the Blights through their heresy, stoking anti-Tevinter sentiment and widening the divide between the two Chantries.
The greatest source of conflict ultimately arose from the second verse of Canticle of Transfigurations in the Chant of Light, "magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him." In Tevinter, where magic had long been a valued trait, prized and nurtured through selective breeding in the upper classes, the clerics preached that magic must serve the greater good and not be used to control the minds of others, which they believed was best accomplished by allowing mages to take part in government. When the Chantry finally learned of this in 3:87 Towers, Divine Joyous II demanded they revert to the Orlesian version of the Chant. Tevinter refused, claiming corruption within Val Royeaux. Divine Joyous II declared them all heretics, leading the Archon to appoint Grand Cleric Valhail, a man and a mage of the Circle, to the position of Imperial Divine.
The Imperial Divine (also known as the Black Divine in the south) declared a holiday to celebrate the death of Divine Joyous II in 3:99. The new White Divine named the next age the "Black Age" as a call for retribution against the so-called "Black Divine" and the perceived corruption in Tevinter. Four Exalted Marches were called between 4:40 Black and 5:10 Exalted to bring the heretics back into the fold. However, Tevinter withstood all attempted invasions. All four Marches failed to take the capital city of Minrathous or force the Imperial Chantry to surrender as the Imperium, further bolstered by foreign mages seeking refuge in Tevinter, unleashed its full magical might against its invaders, causing massive casualties among their forces. The Exalted Marches only came to an end with the outbreak of the Fourth Blight; Tevinter correspondingly refused to aid the Anderfels and Free Marches against the darkspawn in retaliation for the Exalted Marches.
Ultimately, the unsuccessful Exalted Marches only cemented the divide between Val Royeaux and Minrathous. To this day the White and Black Divines both refuse to recognize the legitimacy and authority of the other, though they cooperated during the New Exalted Marches to face the invading Qunari.
In 9:27 Dragon, Magister Urian Nihalias led a coup against the Black Divine, arresting him as well as five high-ranking magisters in a single night. After their trial, Urian assumed the title of Imperial Divine and led a violent purge of the Imperial Chantry.
The principal teaching of the Imperial Chantry (and the one which led to the schism with the Orlesian Chantry), is their interpretation of the words, "magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him." The magisters interpret this to mean that magic must serve the greater good, which they claim to be accomplished through the rule of the magisters. The Tevinter priests altered the Chant to reflect that magic must be used in the service of all mankind for their prosperity. This allowed the magisters to reclaim their ancient authority and once again rule the Imperium. Meanwhile, the Chantry in Orlais remains firm in its belief that magic is a corrupting influence and that mages should therefore be controlled. Both Chantries condemn each other's views on magic.
While the Chantry of Orlais believes that Andraste was divine, and was taken up to stand beside the Maker when she died, the Imperial Chantry maintains she was just a mortal prophet with considerable magical talent. While the Imperial Chantry still respects and honors Andraste considerably, they forbid the worship of her that is practiced in the Orlesian Chantry and instead focus only on worshiping the Maker.
Furthermore, while the Orlesian Chantry blames mortal pride for the Second Sin, and the subsequent creation of the darkspawn and the start of the Blights, the Imperial Chantry blames the Old Gods for mankind's corruption rather than an inherent flaw in human nature.
In the Orlesian Chantry, only women may attain a rank beyond that of mother; men may only be ordained as brothers. However, in the Imperial Chantry, men have access to all levels of rank. In fact, the Imperial Divine is always male.[note] Furthermore, while Orlesian Chantry priests are expected to remain celibate, nearly all priests in the Imperium marry, and work in the clergy tends to run in families.
Although all Chantries in Thedas have an Eternal Flame which is kept burning by magic, in the Imperium the day a spell is cast to renew it is a religious holiday. Magic is openly performed in the Imperial Chantry during all services.
There is an additional feast day for the "Visitations", celebrating the purported appearance of Blessed Andraste in the dreams to Tevinter mages as she crossed through the Fade.
The anniversary of the death of Archon Hessarian is also a religious holiday. He is considered the most important of Andraste's disciples and is more revered in Tevinter than elsewhere in Thedas, much like Kordillus Drakon I is revered in Orlais.
The Imperial Templar Order
- Main article: Imperial Templar Order
- While Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 1 states that the majority of Imperial Divines have been male, other sources, such as Dorian Pavus, state that the Imperial Divine has always been male.
- Mages of the Imperial Chantry believe blood magic was first learned from ancient elves of Elvhenan, rather than the Old Gods. However, there is not enough evidence to determine whether this is true.
- The Imperial Chantry receives a tithe for each slave sold.
- Codex entry: Chantry Hierarchy
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 123
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 125
- Mentioned in dialogue with Dorian Pavus at Haven.
- Based on the Imperial Reinforced Gloves description. This growing rift becomes known as "the Schism".
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 88
- Dragon Age: Origins: Prima Official Game Guide, p. 344
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 203
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 124
- Codex entry: In Hushed Whispers
- Mentioned in dialogue with Dorian Pavus after reaching Skyhold.
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 36
- According to Fenris when approaching the Kirkwall Chantry in Act 3.