The First Twenty Thousand Years: Pre-Imperium History Paper
The first twenty thousand years of human history is understood poorly even by the most gifted historians, but the key eras and their events are presented below:
Ancient Terra – Humanity united.This six thousand year era encompasses the discovery of fire through to interplanetary transport by early human civilisations. Little Diaspora – Collapse of central government
Humanity spread inside the solar system.
Social inclusion, limited by sub-light communications, failed in the new colonies causing inevitable revolt. Technological advances eventually made interplanetary warfare possible and resource imbalances eventually re-united the solar system.
Great Diaspora – Collapse of central government.
Driven by artificially inflated consumption requirements, competing commercial factions launched a program of stellar colonisation. The lessons of the Little Diaspora had clearly not been learned. This era lasted approximately six and a half thousand years and is also known as the ‘Time of Ten Thousand Emperors’ after the vast number of wildly different and fiercely independent planetary governments that arose.
Wars of Reunification – the First Golden Age
The polymathematics genius I. V. Holtzman is mechanically enhanced following an accident and flees ‘persecutors’. Transmissions from his ship comprise the now-famous Holtzman Equations and technical diagrams for their first use: instantaneous communication devices. Intersystem warfare again becomes possible and, after a hundred generations of bloodshed, a military stalemate between numerous interstellar powers results in a time of peace lasting approximately two and a half thousand years.
Lesser Dark Age – Holtzman returns.
The ship of the mechanical genius Holtzman re-appears, transmitting details of a second use of the equations: force fields that block fast-moving objects. Almost the entirety of military lore is rendered obsolete overnight and the stalemate collapses into many centuries of bloody warfare before government is restored.
Second Golden Age – The Era of the Machines
Paradoxically, the reliance of the governing powers on advanced mechanics for record keeping means that less is known about this era than practically any other. A high reliance on mechanical intelligence is certain and it is assumed, as most antique
atomic weapons date from this time, that some form of high-technology coercion was
responsible for its stability (nearly two millennia).
Butlerian Jihad – the End of the Machines
The undercurrent of resentment against the technological domination of humanity is finally sparked off. Machines all through the known universe are smashed and the Second Golden age ends by popular revolt. Mechanical apologists flee to the edges of colonised space with primitive sub-light drives. Holtzman returns a third time, but is killed by Butlerians as anathema. The next four centuries forces the evolution of planetary elites into the form of the quasi-feudal Great Houses
Battle of Corrin. Spacing Guild founded.
With warfare now dominated by ‘shielded’ infantry, the coronation of Saudir ‘the Great’ after the pivotal Battle of Corrin was made possible only by the unequalled swordsmanship of his Sardaukar legions. Shortly afterwards (80 years) a method of interstellar travel that, crucially, did not rely on ‘thinking machines’ was discovered and the Spacing Guild was officially founded. The Imperial calendar is reset to 0.
Emperor, Guild and Landsraad
Rapid interstellar transport allowed the Sardaukar to conquer the Known Universe and Saudir I was proclaimed Padishah Emperor. The Houses that had supported or surrendered to him formed a vast syndicate (CHOAM), ostensibly to regulate production and interstellar trade but actually as a vehicle for mutual protection against the Sardaukar. Its council, the Landsraad, met regularly to discuss policy and formed the third leg of the power tripod with the Spacing Guild and the Imperial House Corrino that still ruled the galaxy over ten thousand standard years later.
For a description of the social order that followed the ascension of House Corrino, see “The Great Convention”.