Chapter 70: Trial for 8 People
The capital, Cardinal, was stable; it was hard to believe that aristocrats had just been purged.
There were several reasons for this. I had spent a week interrogating the aristocrats. If I had only wanted to punish the aristocrats for convenience then I would have conducted a formal interrogation and held a trial immediately, but because I had interrogated them privately and didn’t hold the trial… the barons and knights who couldn’t attend my coronation ceremony has decided to sit back and watch.
The merchants were doing the same. I should call them former Chancellor and Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies now since they’ve been stripped of their title. The merchants who were influenced by them are potential enemies. They are still not cooperating with the emperor, but I haven’t taken any action against them since they have value.
And the citizens. They are very cooperative with the emperor because of my speech, but I was also most careful with them since one mistake can turn them against me.
Only the Western Church was hectic, but interfering with them now would be like putting myself in harm’s way for someone else. I’ll just leave them alone for a while.
… The Western Church would need to be completely reformed… To cure the corruption within it. They would have to fight it out until they acknowledge that they need the intervention of the emperor.
Two major pieces of news arrived almost at the same time in the otherwise peaceful capital.
The first son of the former Duke Raul, Sigmund du van Raul, the Cavalry Chief, declared his succession.
The second piece of news was that Augusto de Aquicurl, the second son of the former Duke Aquicurl and the current Marquis Aquicurl Diederich, has declared his succession.
Both of these men have raised their armies to go against the emperor.
This was the beginning of a civil war.
Inheriting the Duke Raul and Duke Aquicurl titles and raising armies. I summoned Lord Warung and Count Chamneaux, who had returned to the capital, and Count Newnbal, who had remained in the capital, Count Palatine Vedett, and Fabio, who had become Marquis L’Mitedeau.
I didn’t summon them to talk about how to deal with the rebels… I had summoned them to open the trial against the aristocrats who were being locked up.
I declared the start of the trial when I saw that they were seated in the chairs provided.
“I exercise the jurisdiction held by the Emperor to declare that this trial will now begin.”
You may wonder if it’s alright for me to do things like this at this time, but I’ve already begun to stall Lord Raul’s army and I have a plan to stall Lord Aquicurl’s army as well. It’s fine.
The ‘Ceremonial Great Leader’ and the ‘Records Great Leader’ were also here along with the five aristocrats. They started to give their declarations as witnesses.
They ranked under Daniel in the Western Church and were the two who were fighting for the position of Great Leader. They were trying to make this trial go the way the emperor wants to improve their reputation as much as possible.
Daniel wanted to stay out of their fight. He probably won’t show up at the palace for a while to avoid having them put up their guard against him. Other clergy who foresaw that this conflict would be messy all seem to be distancing themselves from it. One of them, Count Palatine Vedett’s son, Defrott le Moissan, who had led Georg V’s purge, apparently returned his priest robes because ‘everything had proceeded too hastily’.
He came to serve me a short while after he stopped being a clergy. He said, “My status as a clergy has been useful for the Empire, but it’ll just get in the way from now on”. A clergy shouldn’t be able to quit so easily, but he was allowed to do so this time because they were making him take responsibility for his actions.
… This man really doesn’t care about the Holy One Church’s ‘God’ does he?
But it is true that I’m short staffed. I hired him on the spot and immediately sent him as an emissary to the self-governing Gotilova.
He showed up right after my meeting with the Gotilova Chief, Genadieffe. The ‘Storyteller’ Daniel had arranged this meeting. I guessed that Genadieffe and Defrott knew each other since Defrott is Daniel’s messenger… and I was right.
I heard the emissary had already arrived and that the Gotilovans have invaded Lord Raul’s fief after expressing that they support the Emperor in his fight against the new Lord Raul, Sigmund who had raised an army. Sigmund remained in his fief with Lord Raul’s main army because the Gotilovans were preparing for war. He had no choice but to response to opponents who he was on guard against if they make a move even if he wanted to rebel against the Emperor.
The Gotilovans have been instructed to focus on drawing the enemy’s attention while minimising their casualties, but if the Raul army ignores them then they were instructed to ravage the fief and weaken their ability. I wish they could drag the Raul army into the mountains and lessen their numbers… but that was too much to ask for.
Let’s go back to the trial.
“The trial for aristocrats who rank below viscount will be held at a later date due to time restraints. First, I would like to confirm ‘Lord Aquicurl’ and ‘Lord Raul’s’ punishments.”
I wanted to review the former Duke Raul, Karl and the former Duke Aquicurl, Phillipe’s punishments, which would respectively declare the punishments of Sigmund and Augusto, who had inherited their titles, because the punishments were declared for the ‘Head of the Dukedom’ and not for the individual. So, it would apply to those who had succeeded them. Well, the aristocrats need to agree before the sentence could be passed down again.
There was no one who could stop me. Sigmund and Augusto were sentenced to death with their heads put on display and all their titles and fortune will be seized.
Incidentally, the residences of the two dukes in the capital were seized during their trial. They had furnishings and pieces of art that could be sold for money, but it wasn’t enough to help the Empire’s financial situation, and there wasn’t much hard currency at their capital residences.
They used gold and silver in this time which was heavy and bulky unlike paper money. I had expected this, but they carried very little money with them. They left ‘bills’ with the merchants they were connected to and paid all of it when they returned to their fiefs.
Next was the aristocrats’ punishments.
Marquis Fred Aquicurl Nove, the eldest son of the former Duke Aquicurl and Secretary General, was sentenced to death and all his assets and title were confiscated for the crime of forging official documents. The death penalty was appropriate for him since forging official documents was a serious crime and we had evidence that he had covered up evidence of tax evasion for years.
His son, General Phillipe de Aquicurl, was also sentenced to life in prison for his role in the document forgeries.
In the Chancellor’s faction, Count Joseph Nummecht was sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in forging documents for the former Lord Raul.
Next was the sentence for the perpetrator of the ‘previous Emperor’s assassination’. Several palace doctors, who Count Palatine Vedett had interrogated and investigated for a long time, finally confessed to this crime, but testimonies obtained under coercion were ‘unreliable’ and would not be admissible in my previous life. I honestly wondered if it was alright to judge them based on their confession… but to my surprise, Count Gautier Voddi, who had been holding them, provided evidence of their crime.
He was in the Chancellor faction and held the office of ‘Palace Secretary’. He was at the palace when the previous Emperor was assassinated, so he was a reliable witness. He also stated that Count Boris Odameyom, who became ‘Head Chef’ TN: Not the word that was used… like the person in charge of palace meals., had covered up the evidence.
Count Odameyom readily admitted covering up the evidence when I questioned him about this under the condition that he wouldn’t be charged with a crime.
I now know why Daniel had said ‘he was just venting anger’. Interrogation wouldn’t have been necessary if there had been other evidence.
Anyway, the head doctor, Augusto Claudiano, and three other doctors were sentenced to death with their heads displayed, and the other two doctors were sentenced to death.
Next was the bribery cases. Those convicted of bribery were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count Bernardin Pecsar, the Minister of Palace Affairs, Count Marius Kalkus, and the Regent’s lover, Royal Sommelier, Count Jean Copardwall. They were removed from their official positions and fined. This was probably a very light sentence. I didn’t take away their peerage or demote their rank.
There was a good reason for this. Aristocrats don’t give bribes directly to other people. The bribe was handed over by the aristocrat’s messenger. So, they could claim that the ‘messenger mistook it for a bribe even though it was a donation’, so I had to reduce their sentences. It was an unsightly excuse.
Of course, my impression of them was the worst… Don’t think I’ll let you die peacefully.
The rest of the aristocrats were mostly acquitted. To name a few: Count Silvestre Kushad, Count Valaire Meyomlal, Marquis Theodore Arndal, Count Theophane Vadpo, Count Gautier Voddi, and Count Boris Odameyom. They will be released soon… but I have to time their release carefully.
There are other aristocrats whose sentences are still pending. One of them, Count Hubert Bunra, the Chief Imperial Guard, was under investigation for using the Imperial Guards for his own personal gain. Though, all of them used the Imperial Guards for their own personal gain… But this was just to buy time.
There was a difference between the verdict I ‘want’ to give vs the verdict I ‘can’ give even at this trial. For example, Count Bunra would be acquitted and released at a normal trial, but his fief was located to the north of Lord Warung’s fief and to the south of Marquis L’Mitedeau’s fief. If he were to be released and joined up with Lord Raul’s army… Then in the worst scenario, I would be cut off from Lord Warung’s fief. Strategically speaking, we cannot give up this important position that could potentially become a counteroffensive stronghold to the Raul army.
We are currently conducting various operations within Count Bunra’s fief, so we have no intention to proceed with his trial until those operations are complete. I will not waver in my decision even if people believe that I am detaining him unjustly.
And finally… Regent Alexia’s sentence.
Her crimes include helping others use the young Emperor for tyranny, unjustly imprisoning the former Crown Prince’s concubines, and directing the assassination of the servant who had fathered Jean’s child and the child. She may have also turned a blind eye to the assassination of the previous Emperor. She deserved to die for those crimes.
“I find no objection to the charges and find the Regent Alexia guilty. All her property and titles should be confiscated, and she will face the death penalty. Anyone who objects may speak up.”
Fabio raised his hand and said.
“I will allow it. Speak.”
“Your Majesty, no monarch throughout history has ever killed their own mother regardless of how tyrannical they may have been.”
Really? I think there was a Roman tyrant who killed his mother… But well, I guess it is unheard of in this world.
“And the citizens believe that parents must be respected. Public opinion is a fickle thing. If you were to impose the death penalty on Regent Alexia, then the resulting backlash might worsen the public’s opinion of you.”
“Would sentencing her to death have that much of an impact?”
“Yes, without a doubt. It would go against the reign you desire.”
… I see. Well, she doesn’t have to die. Besides, I have other means if she becomes troublesome like assassination. There’s no need to make the citizens distrust me.
“I understand your opinion. I will revise her sentence. All her property and titles shall be confiscated, and she shall be imprisoned for life. Anyone who objects may speak up now.”
Her sentence was decided since no one objected.
“The court will now adjourn.”
I let out a small sigh as I listened to the two clergy’s declarations.
|↑1||TN: Not the word that was used… like the person in charge of palace meals.|