- "Our history teaches us that the heart of the Empire once beat in the chest of a single man. His name was Sigmar. On the day of his coronation, the creation of our Empire, he planted that heart in Reikland. Since that day, that heart has been uprooted and carried to each corner of our nation. On its long journey it has gained great victories and suffered terrible scars; it has been split into pieces and been reformed; it has learned fortitude, defiance, justice and nobility. ‘Now it has returned to Reikland. Sigmar grant that it may be sustained here and its stay be so pleasing that this honour never depart."
- —Emperor Wilhelm III, Elector Count of Reikland, Prince of Altdorf, Founder of the Reiksguard, 2429 IC[6a]
Emperor Wilhelm III, also known as Wilhelm the Wise, was the first Emperor of the Holswig-Schliestein line, the house that still holds the position of Emperor today. Prior to his election, he was Prince of Altdorf, and cousin to the current Emperor of the time. His efforts saw the Empire preserved from utter destruction when Waaagh! Grom rampaged the Empire and sacked the then-capital of Nuln.
When Dieter IV sold Marienburg its independence for massive "donations" to the imperial coffers, Wilhelm was quickly elected Emperor. One of the first things he did was to issue an edict separating Talabecland and Talabheim. Dieter became Grand Duke of Talabecland, while the old Duke, Frederik, retained control of Talabheim. Next, Wilhelm attempted to retake Marienburg by force. He was defeated at the Battle of Grootscher Marsh and had no choice but to recognize Marienburg as an independent state.
Wilhelm felt that one of the reasons that the Empire had lost the battle was their lack of battle magic. Thus, in 2430 he reestablished the Colleges of Magic[7a] and throughout the early years of his reign collaborated with magisters of the Celestial and Grey colleges.[8a]
Around the same time, a trio of illusionists travelling with a theatre company made off with much of the Emperor's treasure. In response, Wilhelm ordered a mass trial of wizards on charges of witchcraft and Chaos worshipping.[8a]
Following the failures of his early reign, Wilhelm rehabilitated his reputation by conducting several infrastructure projects, including improving the Imperial road system, sanitation in Altdorf, and the Altdorf Watch. He also oversaw the rebuilding following the Great Fire of Altdorf and enacted laws further restricting the practice of magic.[8a]
Later in his reign, Wilhelm devoted more time and resources to roads, communication, and infrastructure. In 2453 IC, he established a system of imperial messengers.
When he went to war, he was famous for his superior pikemen and heavy cavalry. It is unknown when Wilhelm died, but he was succeeded by his son, Matthias IV. His family retains control of the Empire to this day; Karl Franz is his great-great-grandson.[3a]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: The Empire (8th Edition)
- 1a: p. 21
- 2: Warhammer Rulebook (8th Edition)
- 2a: p.172
- 3: The Enemy Within (WFRP 1st Edition)
- 4: Sigmar's Heirs (WFRP 2nd Edition)
- 5: Marienburg: Sold Down the River (WFRP 1st Edition)
- 5a: p. 21
- 6: The Empire: Reiksguard (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- 6a: Chapter: One
- 7: Core Rulebook (WFRP 4th Edition)
- 7a: pg. 275
- 8: Altdorf: Crown of the Empire (WFRP 4th Edition)
- 8a: pg. 12