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The Kirkwall Rebellion refers to the conflict surrounding the annulment of the Kirkwall Circle of Magi in 9:37 Dragon. Spurred by the destruction of the Kirkwall Chantry by an apostate mage, Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard of the Templar Order invoked the Right of Annulment upon the Gallows, leading to widespread violence across the city. After the deaths of many of Kirkwall's mages, including First Enchanter Orsino, as well as Knight-Commander Meredith herself, the templars and the city guards were able to restore order to the city. However, the rebellion ultimately led to the collapse of the Circle of Magi system across all of Thedas within a few years.


Living conditions within the Gallows became stricter under Knight-Commander Meredith. Mages were locked in their cells, denied appearances at court[1] and physically abused by templars.[2] They were made Tranquil in greater numbers and for the slightest of crimes, including mages known to have passed their Harrowing. Since it is illegal under Chantry law to make Harrowed mages Tranquil, some people accused the templars of abusing the Rite of Tranquility for punitive purposes and to silence dissent.[3] Templars such as Ser Otto Alrik began using the Rite of Tranquility to facilitate abuse of their charges.

Many mages were terrorized into compliance while some templars were divided on whether these inhumane tactics served the Templar Order's noble tenets. However, as Knight-Commander Meredith only empowered her sycophants, anyone who criticized her authority eventually became muzzled pariahs or chose to leave the Order.

Meredith's treatment of mages led to the creation of the mage underground, a network of apostates and Kirkwall citizens helping mages escape the Gallows and find refuge in faraway areas where the templars couldn't reach them.

Some mages turned to blood magic to counter Meredith. Tarohne, a fanatical apostate with a great hatred for templars, led her fellow maleficarum in subverting the Templar Order from the inside by kidnapping templar recruits and having demons possess them. Decimus, a mage who had fled from Starkhaven's Circle after its destruction, also resorted to blood magic to avoid recapture. Both Tarohne and Decimus were killed by Hawke. Such resistance only convinced Knight-Commander Meredith to impose harsher sanctions on the Kirkwall Circle.

Tarohne and her fellow maleficarum

Following the death of Viscount Marlowe Dumar during the First Battle of Kirkwall in 9:34 Dragon, Knight-Commander Meredith stepped in to take control of Kirkwall. For three years, she blocked the election of a new viscount, and transformed Kirkwall into a templar-run police state. She claimed that martial law would end when a suitable successor could be determined and the city was purged of all blood mages.

Templars all but destroyed the mage underground and some of those who remained turned to blood magic as their only recourse, spurring Meredith and her templars to institute ever more draconian measures of control. Some of Meredith's sycophants began openly abusing their new power, harassing city guardsmen and taking great liberty in dealing with mage sympathizers however they wished.[4][5]

Using rumors that Guard-Captain Aveline had weakened the city guard at a crucial time, the templars called to have Knight-Captain Cullen assume her authority and take full control of the Kirkwall City Guard.[6] This worried both the nobility and the mages, who began to look to the Champion of Kirkwall for aid.[5] First Enchanter Orsino also appealed to Hawke, as he believed Meredith had lost her mind. Even some of her own templars shared the view that she was seeing enemies where none existed, in addition to privately believing that she was violating their order's tenets by seizing worldly power. The Seekers of Truth secretly investigated Meredith's sanctions early on, but determined that her actions were justified given the shocking number of magical corruption they uncovered.[7]

Eventually, Orsino attempted to publicly rally the city's nobility into rebelling against Meredith. When Knight-Commander arrived to personally put an end to the rally, both sides called on the Champion to support them. The commotion attracted Grand Cleric Elthina, who reprimanded both Orsino and Meredith for causing a scene in the middle of Hightown. She had Orsino escorted back to the Gallows by templars, and demanded that Meredith return there as well. Despite her power and authority over the Kirkwall Circle and Templar Order, she once again refused to take sides, claiming neutrality, believing that Meredith and Orsino should be given time to sort out their differences.

Following the Hightown dispute, mage sympathizers within the templar ranks destroyed a number of phylacteries to allow a small number of Circle mages to escape. Most of the mages only fled to their families and were summarily recaptured, while the insurrectionists were punished by Meredith for abandoning their duty. However, three apostates, Huon, Evelina and Emile de Launcet, remained at large, so Meredith called on the Champion to track them down. The Champion was forced to kill Huon, who turned to blood magic, and Evelina who had become an abomination, while Emile was revealed to be busy partying at the Hanged Man, wanting to experience some of life's pleasures before being locked away in the Kirkwall Circle.

Elthina soon received word that Divine Justinia V feared the Free Marches becoming another Tevinter Imperium and had dispatched an agent into the city to assess the danger. Elthina sent the Champion and her trusted acolyte, Sebastian Vael, to meet with the agent and convince her that drastic measures weren't necessary, fearing more chaos if the Divine moved against Kirkwall. When they went to the meeting place in the Viscount's throne room under cover of night, they were attacked by Resolutionists, members of an offshoot of the Libertarian fraternity determined to free mages at all costs, who had mistaken them for the Divine's agents. After dispatching all the mages, Hawke met with the agent, who warned that Justinia believed a rebellion in Kirkwall was sure to follow and advised Grand Cleric Elthina to flee to Val Royeaux for safety. The Champion and Sebastian attempted to convince Elthina to flee, but she stubbornly refused to leave her flock, believing that no one would be foolish enough to attack her and that she could calm any conflict.

Thrask's rebels

Meanwhile, the templar Thrask was conspiring to unseat Meredith, uniting mages (including blood mages) and templars in their goal to depose the Knight-Commander. His activities were noticed, however, and the Champion was sent to investigate. The conspiracy responded by kidnapping one of the Champion's loved ones to keep them from interfering. When the Champion confronted the conspirators at their base on the Wounded Coast, one of Thrask's mage allies turned on him and killed him in a futile attempt to get revenge on the Champion for the death of her lover Decimus six years prior. The survivors of the conspiracy were taken into custody by Meredith's loyalists in order to dissuade further attempts. Both Meredith and Orsino believed the other to be responsible for the conspiracy.

According to Ser Karras, Meredith had already requested the Right of Annulment from the Divine in Val Royeaux, a clear indication of the extreme levels of tensions between mages and templars.

The last straw came when Meredith accused First Enchanter Orsino of harbouring blood mages and demanded a full search of the Gallows to root them out; Orsino refused to allow it and stormed off, intending to bring the matter to the Grand Cleric's attention. Things came to a head when Anders, an apostate healer, host to a Spirit of Justice, ex-Grey Warden, and companion of the Champion, intervened to say that the friction between the Circle and templars and the Chantry's apathy towards the abuses of its own military arm had gone on for too long.

The destruction of the Kirkwall chantry.

Seconds later, the bomb Anders planted inside the Kirkwall chantry exploded, killing Grand Cleric Elthina and everybody else inside. Deadly debris from the blast also rained over half of Kirkwall.[8] Anders stated that he had destroyed the Chantry and thus removed the chance of compromise because there was no real chance of compromise, and in order to show Thedas that the Circles of Magi weren't a solution.

Meredith immediately invoked the Right of Annulment - calling on the templars to execute every mage in the Kirkwall Circle - despite the Circle of Magi having nothing to do with the Chantry explosion. In turn, First Enchanter Orsino rallied the Circle together to fight the templars. Both factions petitioned for the Champion's assistance: Orsino arguing the Circle was innocent of any involvement in Anders' crime, while Meredith countered that Kirkwall would descend into chaos if the people were not granted retribution for Elthina's murder.

The Battle[]

Violence erupted when the Champion chose a side, then spread across the city from Lowtown to the Gallows as mages and templars engaged in open warfare. The city was in chaos - the mayhem exacerbated by some of the mages resorting to blood magic, becoming abominations and unleashing demons onto the streets. In the Gallows, Orsino once again attempted to bargain with Meredith to persuade her to revoke the Right of Annulment. But Meredith claimed that no amount of compromise could sate Kirkwall's desire for vengeance. After calling for a temporary ceasefire, Meredith led a full-scale attack on the Gallows that saw many on both sides slain. Orsino retaliated by resorting to blood magic, transforming into a monstrous fleshly construct. The Champion was forced to intervene by slaying the monstrosity Orsino had become.

A fight between a mage and a templar

After killing Orsino, the Champion was confronted by Meredith and a contingent of templars in the Gallows Courtyard. It soon became apparent that Orsino was correct when he'd accused her of going mad. This was due to the lyrium idol salvaged from the Primeval Thaig, which Meredith had forged into a sword; the corrupting influence of red lyrium within the artifact had preyed on her paranoia, both against mages and the Champion, whom she had come to believe was a threat to the city. Meredith ordered her templars to kill the Champion, but they refused, believing she had finally gone too far. When Knight-Captain Cullen ordered Meredith to stand down and declared her relieved of command, she angrily accused her templars of being enthralled by blood magic. Meredith battled against the Champion and their companions, their allies, and some of her own templars, with the accursed sword in her hand granting her superhuman abilities and the ability to animate the statues in the Gallows Courtyard.

When it became apparent that the Champion would prevail, Meredith refused to accept defeat and attempted to draw more power from the sword. Instead, the sword exploded, and the lyrium sank into her skin, petrifying her. Granted de facto command, Cullen silently ordered the remaining templars to cease hostilities against the Champion.


News of the slaughter of Kirkwall's Circle spread far beyond the city's borders. The Champion's name became a rallying cry, either as a symbol of mage resistance or of templar oppression. This in turn incited the Circles in other nations to rise up against the templars and the Chantry, bringing Thedas to the brink of a global war between mages and templars.

As for Kirkwall, more templars arrived to restore order to the city under Cullen's command. By 9:41, Kirkwall was ruled by Provisional Viscount Bran Cavin, who only reluctantly assumed the office because no one else familiar with the protocols wanted it. He saw his appointment as temporary. Bran spent much of his time negotiating with numerous would-be conquerors of the city while Captain of the Guard Aveline and the Kirkwall Militia ably defended it.[9] Kirkwall finally began to recover from the calamities of the previous decade in 9:44 Dragon, when Varric Tethras, a former member both of Hawke's circle and of the reformed Inquisition, was elected the new Viscount by the nobles.


  1. According to Anders during Tranquility
  2. According to Alain, who says that the templars beat them, and various other characters in the Gallows Courtyard.
  3. According to Anders during Dissent.
  4. The Last Holdouts
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Noble Agenda
  6. Letter: Favor And Fault
  7. According to Cassandra Pentaghast.
  8. Twitter icon.png Mary Kirbyhttps://twitter.com/BioMaryKirby/status/485140931352342528 . Twitter.
  9. Codex entry: The City-State of Kirkwall