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The Orlesian Civil War started in 9:40 Dragon between Empress Celene I and Grand Duke Gaspard de Chalons.

Background


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire.


The Empress Celene I's reign in the Orlesian Empire has been met with criticism, to the point where the Grand Duke Gaspard de Chalons was plotting to overthrow her. During a royal ball, in which Bann Teagan Guerrin, Ferelden's ambassador, was present, Gaspard had his bard Melcendre sing a song pertaining to Meghren's miserable stewardship of Orlais' former province, before flaunting a sword allegedly taken from Moira Theirin, the Rebel Queen, mockingly claiming that it was used by the servants to kill rats. This was an effort to enrage Teagan and sour relations with Ferelden to provoke another war. Celene managed to resolve the situation by having her champion, Ser Michel, challenge Teagan to a duel on Orlais' behalf and ordering them to fight with feathers, which happened to be the yellow feather the chevalier wore on their masks. However, some members of the nobility were offended by such a comical use of the chevalier's symbol, most notably Duke Remache of Lydes.[1]

While accompanying Celene on a hunting trip, Gaspard proposed marriage to her. While she realized such a match could unite Orlais and avert civil war, Celene declined. Gaspard drew his sword on her, only for the Empress to slash his sword arm with a hidden dagger. Upon rejoining the other nobles in their party, Celene considered raising the alarm, predicting that even Gaspard's allies would be appalled at his blatant assassination attempt. However, she let him go, realizing that, if she were to imprison him, the opposition would be inflamed and civil war would erupt.[2]

At the same time, Melcendre kidnapped Ser Michel to get him away from the empress and interrogated him for information to use against Celene, discovering that not only was his noble status falsified, but he was also elf-blooded, which would cause a massive scandal and humiliate Celene. Michel managed to escape and kill Melcendre before she could deliver the information to Gaspard.

As tensions escalated, some mages speculated that the Circle of Magi would be called upon to assist in the event of war, potentially strengthening the Mages bargaining position.[3]. Gaspard attempted to recruit Archmage Wynne as she traveled through the Dales and eastern Orlais on her way to the White Spire and sent troops to collect her at Jader. However Wynne refused him and escaped custody before continuing on to the capital[4]. The outbreak of the Mage-Templar War ultimately prevented the Circle's involvement.

Battle of Halamshiral


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire.


The Grand Duke criticized Celene's response to the City Elves' riots in Halamshiral by spreading rumors of her relationship with her handmaiden, Briala, and commissioning a play in the Grande Royeaux Theater that insinuated Celene's affection for elves, thus scandalizing her reputation. The conflict began in earnest when Empress Celene, in an attempt to save face against accusations of favoring elves, led a force to violently end the elven rebellion at Halamshiral. Expecting to deal with disorganized mobs, Celene's army put down the rebellion only to be outnumbered and unprepared when Gaspard attacked with his own force of chevalier. The Empress' forces were routed, Celene herself fled into the countryside with Ser Michel, and Orlais descended into chaos.

Interlude


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire.


Celene and Michel attempt to make their way to Jader, the home of Celene's ally, Lady Seryl, but were forced to head to Val Royeaux instead. Upon reuniting with Briala and her mentor Felassan, they decide to find a Dalish clan to ally with to gain safe passage to Val Royeaux, the empress promising to grant the Dalish Halamshiral in return. However, upon meeting with Clan Virnehn, the dalish elves refused Celene's offer, believing that it was a hollow promise and that they'd be better off waiting for Celene and Gaspard to kill each other so the Dalish could reclaim the Dales. While the Dalish debated whether to execute Celene or hand her over to Gaspard, Celene and her party escaped after learning that the Dalish had summoned and bound a demon named Imshael to obtain a keystone to unlock the ancient Eluvians, capable of instantaneous transportation; not only would Celene be able to return to Val Royeaux, she intended to use them to harry Gaspard without him being the wiser. Celene's party managed to obtain the keystone but unknowingly unleashed the demon, who proceeded to slaughter Clan Virnehn.

Meanwhile, Gaspard attempted to pursue Celene, knowing that if he attempted to claim the throne without confirmation of Celene's death, her allies would resist him while his nobles would be demanding political favours. Upon finding what remains of Clan Virnehn, he allies with the sole survivor, Mihris, the late Keeper's First to pursue Celene. They track Celene through the dimension connecting all the eluvians, inadvertently saving Celene's party from the undead that lingered there. The two sides agreed to a temporary truce until they reached the central chamber to activate the eluvians. In the middle of the journey, during a varterral ambush, Gaspard's ally, Duke Remache, attempted to assassinate Celene in the middle of battle. After the varterral is neutralized, Gaspard promptly executes Remache for his dishonour.

Soon after, Gaspard and Michel duel for the fate of the Orlesian Empire and control of the eluvians. Unbeknownst to them, Lienne de Montsimmard and Mihris were secretly hexing Michel while healing Gaspard's wounds. Briala managed to kill Lienne while deducing that Mihris was possessed by Imshael, who was convinced to leave her body by Felassan. Just before Michel could deliver the final blow, Briala ordered him to yield, calling on the favour she owed him from weeks before. This cost Celene her champion, her handmaid and her empire. Deciding that Celene could not be trusted with the fate of the elves, Briala took controls of the eluvians for her people but allowed the humans to go on their way.

Present Situation


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Asunder.


When news of hostilities in the east hit Val Royeaux, the capital of Orlais, the Imperial Chancellor called in for conscription and press gangs were hired by the nobility which was met by riots among the populace. The city's Sun Gates were eventually sealed.[5] Riots also took place in the city of Val Foret.[6] The Marquis de Chevin, one of Celene’s closest allies, rallied several of the northern Orlesian nobles and their forces at Val Royeaux to support her including Ghyslain, Morrac, and the Countess d’Argent.[7]

While most of Celene's closest allies are occupying the capital, the Empress' status is unknown to them. Rumors circulate that she is being held captive, that she is dead, or that she is staying at Jader with her army, Gaspard having cut off the western highway.[8] By the time the Mage host gathered at Andoral's Reach there was rumored to have been a major battle in the Heartlands and Val Royeaux had been set aflame.[9]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire.


Celene later appeared at the Winter Palace outside of Halamshiral, having been magically transported there by the Eluvians. She managed to cow Comte Pierre, ruler of Halamshiral, into reaffirming his loyalty to her by inviting him to the Winter Palace and revealing herself.

At the same time, Grand Duke Gaspard similarly appeared outside his own stronghold of Val Chevin, prepared to regroup his forces and continue the war.[10]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Inquisition.


With many wild rumours circulating as to how, Empress Celene somehow managed to return to Val Royeaux. In The Dales, however, loyalists continue to clash against Grand Duke Gaspard's rebels.

Celene has declared that wearing violets (the colour of the Valmont family), is a sign of supporting her rule.

At some point a peace talk is held in the form of a ball in the Winter Palace.[11]

References


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