Friday Lore Post: House ven Sancte

The royal family of Dolovai needs little introduction. Their dynasty and the Dolovin monarchy stretches back to the end of the fifth wave of the Flame War, when they claimed the throne of Dolovai for themselves, growing their timeless noble family into a two thousand year monarchial tree that has been uninterrupted since its planting. But the roots of this tree are a little bit more tangled than its modern branches would have us believe.

The oldest historical record of the family that became House ven Sancte is a loan receipt signed in SC 1505 by one Goby the Fenseeker, who borrowed ten silver coins from a moneylender to finance his expedition to go on a treasure hunt in the fens south of the Saffron River, which is now called the Crying River, in northern Dolovai. How well this venture went is unknown, but it can be assumed he had some success, as roughly one hundred years later in SC 1604, a merchant named Gabriel Fenseeker in Harkvale, which is now Pelican Bay, was able to spend a hundred gold coins to hire a mercenary army to protect his caravans travelling through Porean. Gabriel is believed to be the great-grandson of Goby. His exploits fighting against the forces of a Poreanal bandit named Ennis of Tusk became well known in local legend, due in no small part to the fact that all three of Gabriel’s children were bards who wrote songs about their father.

Occasional records of people named Fenseeker from the next hundred years or so, in successively high-status positions, probably caused by their fame. Gwendolyn Fenseeker, Gabriel’s granddaughter, is known to have been a military advisor to Lady Candace Wailtain and leader of her armed forces, and helped fight off Jesperi forces when they made it to Menechit’s west coast in the second wave of the invasion. It is believed that this is how they gained the attention of House Highquail of Dolovai, whose borders at this time did not extend to Harkvale. At least some Fenseekers came into House Highquail’s employ, and they became a lineage of generals throughout the rest of the Flame War, and eventually became the House of Fenseeker, owning forested land at the foothills of the southern Amaran Mountains. Throughout this time, the Fenseekers were gaining allies among noble houses of many other nations, many of which were destroyed and absorbed by Dolovai during the war.

The last Highquail king, Pascal Highquail XI, believed that House Fenseeker was seeking to usurp him as the Flame War was coming to a close. No record exists of whether this was true, but his attempt to have them all killed is believed to be what triggered them using their allies, Kyaine’s House DiCauro, to assassinate him. Pascal XI’s young daughter Prudence took the throne for two weeks before dying of a sudden fever, leaving a power vacuum that Geneva Fenseeker stepped into. House Fenseeker restyled themselves to the phonetically similar House ven Sancte, drawing on Catechismal belief in the divine ordination of monarchy, and spent the next few hundred years solidifying their power and absorbing nearby states to grow Dolovai’s borders in the destructive aftermath of the Flame War.

Key to House ven Sancte’s early expansionism was their alliance with House DiCauro, which became the royal family of Kyaine. The alliance between the two houses meant that the two proximate operated mostly in concert for many generations (which is not to say they didn’t fight wars with one another), and allied with each other in their expansionist tendencies. House ven Sancte remained in a state of uneven stasis with Houses Hardtusk and Nascre for several centuries, until eventually a border dispute in DN 873 over the Crying River led to a full-scale invasion of Porean and the eventual fall of that nation. To House ven Sancte’s credit, they did not start the war that destroyed Dallarjon, but responded to the Dallarja invasion in DN 960 with disproportionate violence, taking the opportunity not only to win the war but to claim all of their new enemy’s territory.

Rather than attempting to invade any of the smaller southern nations, at this point House ven Sancte’s attentions seemed to turn to helping unify the remainder of Menechit under the Kyainese flag. Aside from historical loyalty to House DiCauro, it is not clear why House ven Sancte chose to do this. It did ensure a period of relative peace in Menechit, a few wars between Kyaine and Dolovai notwithstanding. The relative balance of power between the two nations, even in the four times when House DiCauro was usurped before finally being permanently replaced by House DiGorre in DN 1516, has been consistent for all of modern history.

One potential reason for House ven Sancte’s initial lack of enthusiasm for interfering in Kyainese politics is that the Ovelmach Rebellion began not long after Kyaine was unified, in DN 1563. The ensuing civil unrest lasted for five decades and called into question the legitimacy of the ven Sancte monarchy. This was not the first time this had happened—there were also civil wars through the entire 200s, in the late 700s and the early 1300s, as challenges to ven Sancte legitimacy, often revolving around the legitimacy of certain members of House ven Sancte, was questioned. In almost all cases, though the main branch of House ven Sancte always claimed victory, when looked at closely, the line of succession was not actually unbroken. This was the case in DN 742, when the ven Sancte who became Mona III claimed the throne after the death of the childless Gabriel II, even though nobody could prove she was really his illegitimate sister as she claimed. Her rule was contested for the entirety of the thirty-two years she reigned, and her son, Matthias I (who was actually her nephew Gabriel adopted from another illegitimate sibling, Grant), similarly was faced with unrest for his entire rule, despite marrying Gabriella Huntrose, who was descended from House ven Sancte as well through her maternal grandmother. Matthias I’s successor, Mark I, was not his son though he claimed to be; he was Gabriella’s little brother who changed his name to ven Sancte.

Not all instances of contested legitimacy are dealt with via a civil war. Mark I’s great-granddaughter, Gabrielle VI, was generally thought not to be a true heir to house ven Sancte, with persistent rumours that she and the true heir had been switched at birth, and was assassinated after eight months on the throne by her successor and brother, Godric II. Similar events throughout Dolovin history are often framed by House ven Sancte as rectification of errors caused by things such as infidelity or incorrect succession, which serves to disguise that their lineage is more of a forest than one tall tree. House ven Sancte has historically married into every noble family in Dolovai, which means that anyone who is in a position to usurp the throne can claim to be related to the ven Sancte family, and can therefore claim the lineage for themselves. The name ven Sancte is, in many ways, more important than the person who bears it.

The crown legally owns all land in Dolovai and individual members of the royal family own farms and orchards and other pieces of land across the nation. House ven Sancte’s personal lands surround Dolovai’s capital of Three Hills and encompass most of the nation’s most economically important forests. House ven Sancte’s wealth continues to come from lumber and fruit, a historical coincidence that gives the tree that is their sigil a double significance. They have stakes in every piece of wooded territory in Dolovai, including those deep in other lands, and often own them outright.

Under the leadership of house ven Sancte, Dolovai as a nation has grown considerably both in size and military power, as well as economic influence on a global scale. Whether or not the current people using the name are the actual descendants of the original people who used it is immaterial; they claim to be and the dynastic power of that name and that house is part of what makes their family such a consistently tall tree in the world’s political forest.

From “A Primer on Menechit’s Politics Past and Present,” by Tam Son of Matthew, published in the Citadel and updated DN 1991.

6 thoughts on “Friday Lore Post: House ven Sancte

  1. Crazy theory time: the ven Sancte monarchy falls when it’s revealed that the true ven Sancte died out long ago, while Owen’s ancestry can be provably traced directly back to the last king of Dallarjon, thus giving him greater legitimacy than his spouse and sister-in-law.

    The monarchy in general falls shortly thereafter, when the newly-revealed Owen Nascre makes it plain that he has no interest being a king.

    At which point those ideas coming out of Djyekkan about “voting” and “elected representatives of the people” start gaining traction…


    1. This theory tracks for me! It feels in character for all involved. 😀 And I mean, Gavin might let his family fall if it meant good things for Owen. And then yeah, they just listen to some of those crazy ideas coming out of the south and then boom, an almost sensible political system!

      Great idea! 😀 Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s