Byrne's Revolt

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Byrne’s Revolt was a large-scale popular uprising seeking to overthrow Xeric launched and led by the labourer Byrne, who managed to put an end to the mage’s hundred-year dominion over the kingdom just seven days after erupting on either the 312th or the 332th day of the 47th decade in Kourend’s timeline.[5][6] Byrne succeeded Xeric as monarch after fighting him back past the borders of the kingdom, prompting the latter’s exile to Mount Quidamortem. Excerpts from Byrne’s address to the people on the occasion of his victory can be found in Byrne's coronation speech as well as the eighth Chronicle of Xeric.

History[edit | edit source]

The Revolt[edit | edit source]

Prior to the events of the uprising, Xeric’s dominion over Kourend had been infamous for its repressive nature and crimes perpetrated against the populace, leading it to be branded the Age of Strife. Limited acts of defiance had been attempted, most notable among them the storming of the Tower of Magic by the resistance group HAX, but none had been successful in toppling Xeric’s reign until a farmer of humble origin named Byrne entered onto the stage of history. According to tradition, Byrne was witness to the murder of an infant at the hands of a lizardman guardsman while working on his field together with other labourers, presumably engaged in haymaking activities.[7] Caught in a spontaneous rage at the sight of this infanticide, Byrne clasped firm his pitchfork and assaulted the lizardman, plunging its tines deep into the creature in retaliation.[8] Perched over the corpse of the slain lizardman, Byrne is then said to have addressed his fellow farmhands, stirring them to revolt with his bloodied pitchfork held high, sparking the people’s revolution against Xeric to begin.[9]
Byrne’s call to arms quickly spread throughout the kingdom, and was answered by the people of Kourend in large numbers, arming themselves by whatever means they could. While Xeric commanded a large host of lizardmen soldiers, soon Byrne’s militia grew to outnumber them, allowing Xeric’s military supremacy to be contested through overwhelming forces.[10][4] While it is unknown how many career soldiers employed by the various houses of Kourend joined Byrne’s cause – if any did at all – it should be noted that its aspect of strength through sheer numbers, as well as its prominent use of improvised weaponry and provincial origins, all point to the popular character of Byrne’s uprising, allowing it to be classified as a peasant’s revolt. With regards to the makeup of the opposing forces, the sources mostly seem to suggest lizardmen comprising the greatest bulk of them, though there are signs that Byrne may have faced human enemies as well. The Vanguard, three of Xeric’s highest ranking officers, are known to have played a part in the attempt to suppress of the rebellion, and are presumed to have been human due to their proficiency in matters of internal security and interrogation.[11] Whether in command of lizardmen forces or Shayzien soldiers, they nevertheless proved incapable of smothering the insurrection, and deserted their post once they saw their armies fortunes turn, fleeing beyond mainland.[3] In addition to possessing a numerical advantage, the rebel forces were also notable for the tempo in which they swept through the lands: the uprising culminated just seven days after it had kicked off, and there is indication that this unexpected speed contributed to their success.[12][13] Superior initiative may have allowed Byrne to rout an otherwise dominant force.
Xeric’s forces were fought back beyond the edges of the kingdom where it borders the Kebos swamp, which still constitutes the frontline of the lizardmen conflict to the present day, but this was not the only location which saw major engagements. Fighting was concentrated to the north of Arceuus as well, where rebels razed the temple that had been built to encase the Dark Altar.[14] There exists some ambiguity whether the destruction of the temple was intentional, or may have been the result of collateral damage, though given that the Dark Altar was one of the chief sources of Xeric’s power, it may well have been a deliberate and fiercely contested military target.[15] The Dark Altar itself evidently survived the conflict; the motivations for leaving it intact may only be guessed at, beyond the general observation that an ‘instinct for self-preservation’ is at times attributed to it.

The Aftermath[edit | edit source]

King Byrne I following his coronation

At the end of seven days of uprising, Xeric’s armies had been defeated, and its remnants driven beyond the kingdom. As to the tyrant mage himself, a similar fate had long be thought to apply: while no one could confirm that he had succumbed in battle, it was believed that he would not have been able to extend his life much further after his access to the Dark Altar had been cut off.[16] Recent discoveries however have made it clear that Xeric survived the revolt that had deposed him, and afterwards led a small contingent of loyalists to Mount Quidamortem.[17][18]
Byrne was able to quickly consolidate the position of prominence he had held as leader of the revolt, as he was coronated as King Byrne I just a week after hostilities had begun.[5] His coronation marks the restoration of a limited monarchy following Xeric’s dictatorship, although the system of rotating monarchs that had existed under the provisions of the Royal Accord of Twill was not re-established. King Byrne I nevertheless elected to reinstate some of the laws contained in the Accord, resulting in a less absolutist constitutional arrangement than the one prescribed by the Royal Charter.[19] Other reforms enacted by King Byrne I included breaking up the monopoly on violence held by the Shayzien army, on the one hand by opening up recruitment to residents hailing from the other four cities, and by establishing a Royal Guard that operates independently from Shayzien on the other.[20][21] This measure illustrates to what extent Shayzien military supremacy was perceived to have been entangled with Xeric’s domination over Kourend.
In the speech he gave when he ascended the throne, King Byrne I also appealed to the people of Kourend to embark on a comprehensive iconoclasm of Xerican imagery.[22] Many public projects had been erected with the aim of promoting a cult of adoration around the figure of Xeric, some of them under the supervision of his lead artisan, Tekton.[23] This resolve to erase all traces of Xeric’s oppression proclaimed by King Byrne during his inauguration is likely to have been met with enthusiasm, as Xerican symbols have presently almost fully been eliminated from the bounds of the kingdom proper, to the point of garnering little recognition for many.[24]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The records of Byrne’s revolt against Xeric mirror in some ways the account of Eathram’s rebellion against King Rada III during the Rebellion of the Five Houses: both are charismatic leaders of a low-born origin who inspire a popular uprising against an unjust ruler, resulting in the institution of a new form of government and personal ennoblement. (Albeit not explicitly stated, it could be considered likely that Byrne was a Hosidian, given his occupation as a farmer, which would form another point of communality between him and Eathram.) In general a few thematic parallels can be said to exist in Kourend’s history, one of which is the motif of popular uprising as described above, which is played out once more during the events of A Kingdom Divided, in which the figure of Martin Holt or arguably the player take on the role of a Byrne or Eathram.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Byrne's coronation speech, Old School RuneScape. "Our freedom is not without cost. Many died and much has been destroyed."
  2. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "However, for all that we have gained today, we have suffered many losses in our yesterday."
  3. ^ 3.0 3.1 Vanguard judgement, Old School RuneScape. "Had the Vanguard performed their duty, perhaps disaster would have been averted, and Lord Xeric would have remained on the throne of Kourend. However, even the legendary Vanguard were frail. As their troops were slaughtered around them by the rage of the proletariat, the Vanguard fled the kingdom to protect their own skins."
  4. ^ 4.0 4.1 Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "The lizardmen, while strong and powerful, were simply outnumbered. In a matter of days, they had been driven back into the Kebos Lowlands."
  5. ^ 5.0 5.1 Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Date: 339 – 47. Summary: A snippet of King Byrne's coronation speech, one week after he sparked a successful revolution against Xeric."
  6. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "'Twas the 312th day of decade 47."
  7. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Byrne, a farmer by trade, is said to have witnessed a lizardman guard murder a child whilst working his farm."
  8. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Outraged at what he had just seen, Byrne grabbed his pitchfork and sprinted towards the guard. Blinded by fury, Byrne attacked the guard, slaughtering the lizardman in plain sight of all around."
  9. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Legend has it Byrne then gave a galvanizing speech, standing over the butchered guard with his bloodied pitchfork held aloft in the air, urging the people to fight back.(…) Whatever Byrne said, the people responded. Together, the citizens of Kourend revolted, grabbing whatever they could use as a weapon. They fought the lizardmen." Some aspects of the story of the revolt’s inception, such as the mutually conflicting accounts of the contents of his rousing speech, as well as its qualification as a ‘legendary’ retelling, could indicate that the story may have been subject to later embellishments. If so, one could plausibly point to its status as a ‘heroic tale of defiance’, the hypothesis being that it underwent rapid iterations as it spread throughout Kourend, soon gaining a life of its own, inciting rebellion with each unique retelling. A more cynical hypothesis could also be proposed which would explain the embellishments as intentional additions of a later date aiming to aggrandise Byrne’s revolutionary exploits in order to help legitimise and solidify his new-found royal authority, and possibly deflect challenges from the established Kourend nobility, whom were formerly granted a claim to the throne by the Royal Accord. Byrne’s tale of defiance would then be interpreted as a ‘foundational myth’ serving to fulfil a need for royal justification.
  10. ^ Imerominia, Old School RuneScape. "Xeric ruled Kourend for more than ten dark decades using an army of lizardmen."
  11. ^ Vanguard judgement, Old School RuneScape. "The most prominent commanders of Lord Xeric's army were known as the Vanguard, three elite officers who rose quickly through the ranks. Their cunning on the battlefield, their ruthlessness in the interrogation chambers and their loyalty to our Lord were exemplary."
  12. ^ Vanguard judgement, Old School RuneScape. "Then came the fall. A proletarian uprising caught the army by surprise."
  13. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "For ten decades we have been oppressed; and in just seven, short days we have driven Xeric and his lizardmen beyond our kingdom."
  14. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "During the battle, the temple surrounding the Dark Altar was destroyed, weakening Xeric's power."
  15. ^ Gnosi, "Tale of the Righteous", Old School RuneScape. "The Dark Altar was the key to Xeric's power. Because of it, he was able to rule Kourend unopposed for nearly a hundred years."
  16. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Some say Xeric was actually killed during the revolt, but we have no record of his remains being discovered. (…) Xeric was incredibly powerful but we can reasonably assume that he soon perished. Without the power of the Dark Altar, Xeric would have become mortal."
  17. ^ Transdimensional notes, Old School RuneScape. "We have faced many dangers since our departure from Kourend, and every single one has been overcome. The privations of the journey to Quidamortem, the ferocious beasts that dwelt here, even the weakness and treachery of our former allies - we have survived them all, and marched on triumphantly."
  18. ^ Dark journal, Old School RuneScape. "Our lord's followers have dwindled in number, it is true. Few of us who shared his exile from Kourend are still alive to serve him today."
  19. ^ Imerominia, Old School RuneScape. "The full set of laws within the Accord haven't been followed since. However, some of them were reinstated in the 47th decade, by King Byrne I."
  20. ^ Captain Bruce, Old School RuneScape. "Well at one time only citizens of Shayzien could join the army. It wasn't until the reign of King Byrne I that people from other parts of the kingdom were allowed to enlist."
  21. ^ Commander Fullore, Old School RuneScape. "The Royal Guard was established by King Byrne I. He felt that it was dangerous for Shayzien House to control the only military in the kingdom, so he decided to establish a small one of his own."
  22. ^ Byrne's coronation speech, Old School RuneScape. "Many died and much has been destroyed. Yet more needs to be destroyed before we can heal the wounds of this past century. All icons and imagery that betray our freedom must be cast down."
  23. ^ Tekton's journal, Old School RuneScape. "Tekton built huge buildings, clever buildings with magic in the walls. Tekton made buildings for people to praise Master in, big buildings with pretty decorations so everyone knows how great Master is."
  24. ^ Swamp Priest, Old School RuneScape. "[Player: What is the symbol on the shrine?] You do not recognissse it, adventurer? It would ssseem hissstory is written by the winnersss, for that isss the sssymbol of the Great Lord Xeric."