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"I can see in your eyes that you fear this enemy. I can see in your eyes that you wonder how we can fight such terrible monsters. Men of the Empire, I have the answer: We fight them with our steel, we fight them with our courage, but above all we fight them with our faith in Sigmar!"

—Magnus the Pious at the Battle of the Gates of Kislev.[3a]

Magnus the Pious, whose true name was Magnus von Bildhofen, was the emperor of the Empire of Man who reigned between 2304 and 2369 IC. In his lifetime he was a famous Imperial general and war hero who led the people of the Empire to victory in the Great War Against Chaos (2301-2304 IC). Following the victory over Chaos, Magnus was crowned emperor, the first to be elected to the Imperial title in several centuries, and he chose Nuln as his capital.

Magnus is still venerated today as the second greatest hero in the Empire's history after its divine founder, Sigmar. Magnus' achievements include not just victory over the Chaos horde of Asavar Kul, the 12th Everchosen of Chaos Undivided, but overseeing the creation and introduction of state-sanctioned Human magic-users into the service of the Empire.

History

"And thus I command Thy Soul to the eternal grace of Sigmar Divine. Few, if any, have done more for this illustrious Empire the Lord Sigmar entrusted to us, and it is indeed a united Realm that mourn Thy Departure. Fare well, Magnus, most pious of Servants."

—Excerpt of the mourning for Emperor Magnus the Pious, made by Grand Theogonist Kazgar XIV.[source?]

Early history

Magnus was born to the von Bildhofen family of Nuln after the turn of the twenty-third century. This was in the aftermath of the Age of Three Emperors - a civil war that had bled the Empire white for centuries, leaving the nation leaderless and divided. Magnus rallied the people and led them to victory over the forces of Chaos.

Prior to the Great War

In the Chaos Wastes to the North of the Warhammer World, the Dark Gods of Chaos united to conquer the world. The Wastes swept beyond their borders to engulf the Troll Country. Rumours abounded of a monstrous Chaos host readying to invade as portents grew dire. To the men of the Old World, it seemed the End Times were finally upon them. In Nuln the Magi, a powerful cult of Tzeentch, led an uprising, unleashing daemons on the city streets. Those who remained loyal to Sigmar prayed for deliverance, receiving an answer as the twin-tailed comet, the symbol of Sigmar, blaze through the night sky. Inspired the comet, Magnus rallied the people. Under his leadership, Chaos was purged from the city. Magnus took his crusade across the Empire. An army began to assemble as the Electors lent their strength to Magnus's cause. Magnus was soon leading the largest army ever assembled within the Empire. Eventually Magnus reached Middenheim, where he sought an audience with Ar-Ulric Kriestov. After Kriestov denounced Magnus as a liar and charlatan, Magnus walked through the Flame of Ulric unscathed, proving the righteousness of his cause. Magnus tactfully appointed Kriestov as the leader of his cavalry force, and Ulrican and Sigmarite turned to face the common enemy.

The Road to Kislev

Just as the Empire finished uniting behind Magnus, a message was received from Tzar Alexis Romanoff of Kislev. It told of a crushing defeat inflicted on his armies, leaving fair Kislev's cities open to attack. Magnus heeded the news and set out for Kislev, intent to take the fight to the enemy. As the new year began the Imperial cavalry force thundered ahead towards Kislev.

In Talabheim Magnus met with Pieter Lazlo, who was accompanied by three High Elves. The Elves were powerful archmages, namely Teclis and his two comrades, Finreir and Yrtle. Although Magnus had a strong faith in Sigmar he did not have the same faith in the men he led. Although he had no doubt the Empire's troops could defeat any mortal enemy, the daemons of Chaos were not mortal. Magnus knew the Chaos armies had one grave advantage over his own: magic. In the Empire anyone who dabbled with magic was seen as a pawn of Chaos. With the help of the High Elves, however, humans could be trained to wield the winds of magic without corruption. Magnus declared an immediate amnesty for all magic users, if they agreed to join his cause and serve under the watchful eyes of the High Elves. Teclis and his brethren used their magical arts to assemble those who could be taught, and trained the first true Imperial Battle Wizards. 

Great War against Chaos

Despite the speed of Magnus's cavalry force it failed to reach Kislev in time to stop the fall of Praag. As Chaos triumphed, the raw power of Chaos coursed through the city, melting stone and flesh like wax. People were merged with stone; buildings became monsters. Praag had become a nightmare incarnate, and a taste of what awaited the wider world if Chaos triumphed. When news of the defeat reached Magnus he wept and vowed before Sigmar to avenge the horrors done that day.

Magnus's cavalry force pursued the Chaos army. In a carefully prepared ambush, the cavalry destroyed the Chaos rearguard, leaving Asavar Kul, the Chaos leader, entirely oblivious. Kul's horde continued towards the city of Kislev, laying siege as Magnus' wearied army arrived. The time had come for the two armies to face each other, the brave humans and their Dwarfen allies from Karaz-a-karak who had joined them not long after the fall of Praag were vastly outnumbered. Before the battle Magnus stood before his troops and spoke:

"I can see in your eyes that you fear this enemy. I can see in your eyes that you wonder how we can fight such terrible monsters. Men of the Empire, I have the answer: We fight them with our steel, we fight them with our courage, but above all we fight them with our faith in Sigmar!" 

Magnus planned his attack with High King Alriksson of the Dwarfs. In a pincer movement Magnus would attack Kul's western flank, whilst the Dwarfs charged into the horde's southern flank. Freed, the Kislevites would breakout and join their allies. The Chaos horde would be assaulted on three fronts and destroyed. Having agreed their strategy, the allied armies deployed.

At break of dawn, Magnus charged the Chaos troops, slaughtering and routing thousands of the tainted foe. As Kul noticed the new army he quickly divided his army, personally leading the force to contain Magnus. The Imperial army's momentum stalled and was driven back on the defensive. Fearing their saviours would be destroyed before their eyes, three hundred Dwarfs attempted to break out and aid Magnus. Though the Dwarfs were courageous and claimed many lives, the army surrounding Kislev was simply too large and drove the Dwarfs back with heavy losses. Asavar Kul ordered his shock troops forward into position, intent of crushing Kislev for all time. Defeat seemed inevitable.

Imperial Victory

Magnus the Pious victorious in the Battle of Kislev's Gate. Note the anachronistic insertion of the current Tzarina Katarin in this scene; it is an artistic tradition of the Kislevites to depict their current leaders at pivotal moments of the nation's history.[5a]

It was then that the Imperial cavalry force arrived. Seeing their last chance to turn the tide, the human force plunged into the horde with a ferocity born of hatred. In moments the northern flank had been crushed, bowing to the humans' implacable anger. As panic spread through the enemy horde, Magnus ordered his men to charge one last time.

Caught between the hammer and the anvil of the Empire's forces, the horde collapsed into anarchy. As Magnus took stock of the situation, a voice warned him of a 'beast in human form' approaching, the enemy leader, Asavar Kul. The Everchosen immediately challenged the champion of Sigmar to single combat, as a test of might between their respective Gods. After an awesome conflict Magnus eventually triumphed, beheading Kul. At the same time, the Kislevite and dwarf troops broke through and charged the Chaos army. Caught on three fronts, the Chaos horde was ground down and destroyed, saving the Old World from being Chaos' thrall.

The allied armies turned to relieve Erengrad and levelled the tainted city of Praag. On its return to the Empire, Magnus's army destroyed the cursed city of Mordheim, freeing Ostland and the Ostermark from beastmen. At last Chaos had been driven back to its domains.

Emperor Magnus I, the Pious

"Three things make the Empire great; faith, steel, and gunpowder."

—Emperor Magnus the Pious[2a]

Emperor Magnus the Pious as seen in Warhammer: Chaosbane

In 2304 IC Magnus saw his dream of unity realised and was elected emperor of the Empire of Man by acclamation of both the Elector Counts and the citzenry. At Magnus's request Teclis founded the eight Colleges of Magic in Altdorf, while Magnus ruled from Nuln. The Empire's infrastructure was revived, corruption rooted out, and ties with other lands renewed. A regular Conclave of Faith in Altdorf was established for the High Priests of every major faith in the Empire to gather, letting them air their disputes before the Emperor. At the urging of the Shallyan Sisters, the Empire's prisons were reformed.

Grand Theogonist Volkmar's reign as head of the Church of Sigmar is heavily influenced by Magnus's deeds, teachings, and sermons, and many believe under his reign Magnus's canonisation is imminent.

Concerning the Empire Reborn

Magnus's popularity was absolute, and quite impossible to relate in this simple manuscript. He had defeated an immeasurably powerful foe and personally slain the great enemy, Asavar Kul. More, he had united the Empire unlike any save Sigmar himself.[1a]

Some believed that Magnus must have been Sigmar reborn, and Sigmarite chronicles of the time feature countless accounts of miracles the great hero supposedly performed, all supporting this claim. Many more believed Magnus was certainly Sigmar's Chosen, which certainly seems to be the case. However, no matter what individuals believed, almost all claimed he must be crowned Emperor.[1a]

For the first time in almost a thousand years, the leaders of all the Great Provinces gathered in one place to elect an Emperor, and it was they chose Magnus to lead them.[1a]

Not all the nobles liked it, but they had little choice. They would have been lynched if they had refused Magnus. He was loved like no other— and this was something that Emperor Magnus of Nuln used to great effect when he implemented his many reforms.[1a]

In particular, two of his many decrees directly affected the cults.[1a]

In memory of the Cult of Sigmar's unflagging support of the Electoral Emperors, Magnus granted the cult three votes on the new Electoral Council to appoint Emperors. In recognition of the Cult of Ulric's unique position in the Empire's history, he granted them one vote. It is commonly believed that the Cult of Taal and Rhya was offered an Electoral position by Magnus, but it refused to accept it for unexplained reasons; however, this truth of this is impossible to verify. This split of the votes managed to infuriate most of the cults and the other Electors for different reasons, but Magnus ignored the complaints, for he had greater plans in mind.[1a]

Aware that the cults had been a primary reason for the original breakdown of the previous Empire, Magnus formed a council that all the important cults in his Empire had to attend by Imperial decree. The Grand Conclave (which is what Magnus called the council) would take place every five years at the Imperial capital, and would be chaired by the Emperor himself, who would ensure that any problems aired there were dealt with.[1a]

His choice of cults for inclusion was controversial. Beyond the five obvious cults of the Elder Gods, and those of the widely worshipped Sigmar, Shallya, and Verena, he also admitted Ranald and Myrmidia. The last was ostensibly included because the Knights of the Blazing Sun were the first knightly order to respond to his call to arms; but, it is widely believed that the real truth they were included is because of the cult's pervasive influence in Tilea and Estalia, which Magnus wished to both recognise and monitor.[1a]

Recognition of the Imperial Engineers School

Up to the time of Magnus, the Princes of Altdorf maintained their own Engineers School under their patronage for the creation of ingenious machines of war. As Magnus united the Empire and marched on the aid of Kislev, the prince of Altdorf answered the call and so many of the most lethal contraptions of the Engineering School went north with Magnus's army. Following his victory over the Chaotic horde and crowning as Emperor, Magnus recognised the potential value of the School to the Empire as a whole. And so he granted it the title of Imperial College of Engineers (or more fully the Imperial College of Engineers and Stephan Franz School of Mechanical Expertises), the school becoming an officially recognised Imperial establishment. In addition, the large number of foundries that the Reikland Princes had constructed in the at the time capital of Nuln became the Imperial Gunnery School.[4a]

Sources

  • 1 Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Tome of Salvation (RPG)
    • 1a: pp. 22-24
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: The Empire (8th Edition)
    • 2a: pp. 48-49
  • 3: Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition)
    • 3a: Back Cover
  • 4: White Dwarf 296 (UK)
    • 4a: pp. 52-57
  • 5 The Empire at War
    • 5a: pg. 77
  • Liber Chaotica (Background Book)
  • Terror in Talabheim
  • Warhammer Armies: Empire (4th Edition)
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Sigmar's Heirs (RPG)
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