The Imperial Interregnum (Eurasian: Interregnum) was the period from 1316 to 1326, in which Clovus Eurasius and Potema Eurasia seized the imperial throne and attempted to take control of the Eurasian Empire. It occurred at the same time as the War of the Usurpation, and was preceeded by the War of the Red Diamond. It ended with the death of Clovus and the coronation of the Emperor Cephorus I.
In 1316, Potema executed Catarina in the forum of Julium, which proved to be the final straw for many loyalists to the throne. The provinces of Stabiae, Saepinum, and Civitius all declared independence from the Empire and announced for formation of the Catarinian League, and the Senate fled the capitol to Civitius and declared Clovus a usurper, rescinding its recognition and announcing that the Imperial throne sat sede vacante.
Following the perceived betrayal of three of the most strategic provinces, Potema unilaterally dissolved the provincial system in favor of a unitary state in 1318. Many praetors and their governments fled to Civitius, which had become the de facto capital of the loyalist forces and a haven for those fleeing Potema’s wrath. The imperial forces had destroyed all bridges across the river that defined Civitius’ border, and thus it was near impossible for hostile forces to cross. In 1320, Cephorus officially declared himself in alliance with the Catarinian League, and announced that his forces were in open rebellion to Potema. However, Cephorus was still hampered by the lack of resources that plagued the loyalist forces. Civitius, Saepinum, and Stabiae were strategic and cultural hubs for the Empire, but were simply unable to match the raw output of industrial centers such as Virconium, Argentomagus, and the Asticus Peninsula.
This changed, however, in 1321, when the entirety of the Asticus Peninsula seceded from the Empire and declared alliance with the Catarinian League, which had now been called the Cephorean League. With the increased resources and money, Cephorus was able to strike out across the Civitian border at Potema’s forces in Falcrine, securing several border villages. While strategically not an impressive victory, it was indeed a massive success for morale, as it showed that Potema’s forces were not invincible and that there were people who would fight her tyranny. With that battle, the War of the Usurpation had begun.
In 1322, Novem Deosians, invigorated and emboldened by the victory Cephorus had scored against Potema, rioted in Julium, nearly burning down the Imperial Palace. In response, Potema, who had declared herself regent, banned the practice of Novem Deos outright, and began a systematic persecution of Deosians throughout areas under Imperial control. Tens of thousands of Deosians died fleeing her armies, with many perishing during the cold winter months, trekking through the mountains toward Civitius or braving the seas for Asticus, Saepinum, or Stabiae. This is now referred to as the Nox Obscurissima, or “Darkest Night”.
1323 saw the costliest battle of the Usurper’s War, with the Cynegaean Pass costing tens of thousands of lives on both sides, with Cephorus losing the battle and being forced to retreat back into Civitius. However, Potema had no time to recoup after the battle, as her forces had been nearly destroyed. The battle, now considered a Pyrrhic victory, severely hampered her ability to defend her border with Civitius. Yet, Cephorus was equally weakened, and was in no position to take advantage of this. For the remainder of the year, a stalemate ensued, until Mosa Trajectum and Vicus Leodicus declared independence from the Empire and allied with the Cephorean League. The massive profits from the salt mines located in Mosa Trajectum allowed Cephorus to finance the creation of new armies, as well as the hiring of Lyrian and Ascanian mercenaries.
Thus, in 1324, Cephorus used his navies to sever Potema’s supply lines, and launched the Vernal Offensive against Potema’s forces in Argentomagus. Using Lyrian mercenaries as shock troops, he cut a deep swath through her forces, driving her into retreat towards Julium. Potema’s armies stationed in Falcrine attempted counterattacks but were rebuffed, as the mountain passes which they were forced to use were held by Cephorus. This continued throughout the year, during which Julium was surrounded and besieged. Potema managed to flee and escape through Cephorus’ lines to Falcrine, but her son Clovus was trapped in the city.
The remaining Imperial forces were trapped in Julium following the Battle of the Pale Pass, and as a result Julium fell within a few months in 1325. Clovus was captured, but was murdered by an enraged mob of civilians en route to trial. With his death, the Interregnum and the War of the Usurpation had finally ended. The Senate, which had reconvened in Julium, declared Cephorus Emperor of Eurasia, a title he accepted. All provinces, with the exception of Falcrine, swore fealty to Cephorus.
Cephorus, wishing to consolidate his authority and prevent further internal threats to the Empire, launched the War of Reconquest in mid 1325. Imperial forces struck deep into Falcrine, but the remainder of Potema’s loyalists fought back fiercely, leading to massive casualties on both sides. Eventually, after almost a year of nonstop fighting, Potema and her remaining forces were forced into Noviomagus Reginorum in 1326, with the remainder of Falcrine liberated by the Imperial forces. Potema herself was captured in the climactic final battle, when Noviomagus Reginorum fell in the early winter of that year.
Potema did not live to see trial. She took her own life before Cephorus could try her for treason, through means still questioned today. Imperial records indicate she hung herself using bedsheets from her cell’s window. Others say she flung herself from a high wall outside Arbor Felix in Civitius. The location of her grave is unknown today, but it is thought that Cephorus had her body tossed into a canal.
With the reunification of the Empire, after almost two decades of strife and bloodshed, Cephorus was able to institute a series of reforms that modernized the internal structure of the Empire, in a manner still used today. The Writs of the Sertertiamillenniary, commissioned under Cephorus, reorganized how the powers of the Empire were operated. Cephorus willingly surrendered many autocratic Imperial powers to the Senate and the Courts, ensuring that something such as the Interregnum and Potema’s horrific abuse of the Emperor’s authority would never happen again.