The War of the Red Diamond (Eurasian: Bellum Adamantis Rutilis) was a war that took place from 1315 to 1316 on the Laurentine Isle. It saw the worst bloodshed on within the Eurasian Empire in almost a millennia, and culminated in the overthrow of the Empress Catarina and the coronation of the usurper Clovus Eurasius, known as "Clovus the Bastard" (Eurasian: Clovus Cuculus). It cost the lives of thousands of Eurasians, both civilian and military. Following its end, the Interregnum began, which lasted until 1326.
For decades before the interregnum, Julium had grown lazy and decadent, with a succession of weak Emperors allowing the centralized structure of Eurasian government to erode. By the time of the coronation of the Emperor Marcus III in 1281, Julium had largely allowed the provinces of the Empire to function with a degree of autonomy. The Senate itself fought to maintain centralized control, but due to the archaic and autocratic nature of the pre-Cephorean government the majority of legislative powers were vested in the Emperor, and thus they were unable to reassert control.
Marcus himself grew increasingly paranoid as his reign continued, which culminated in 1294 when assassins attempted to have him poisoned. He instituted a variety of harshly repressive laws, going as far as to ban singing and dancing throughout the Empire. Many provinces ignored his edicts and continued to function, with Praetors beginning to act as independent rulers. Many provinces formed their own armies to defend themselves against raiders marauding attackers from Lyria in Duresia.
Marcus’ paranoia continued, and in 1304 he exiled his second-eldest daughter, Lucia Eurasia, for suspected treason against the throne. Historians from the time recorded that Lucia had not in fact committed any treasonous acts, and was innocent of the crimes of which she was accused. Provinces such as Civitius and Stabiae offered her safe haven, and the Praetorian Guard made very half-hearted attempts to capture her. Eventually, she fled to Arveyres.
Marcus died in 1306, and was succeeded by his eldest daughter, Catarina. She came to the throne highly inexperienced, and was thus subject to the whims of her advisors. Her father had excluded her from nearly every major decision he made, and thus she had very little inclination or understanding of how to rule. It was during this time that corruption in Julium reached its height, with widespread abuse of the Imperial treasury and seal.
Almost immediately after Catarina’s coronation, Potema Eurasia, Archduchess of Falcrine and sister to the late Marcus III, declared Falcrine as officially autonomous, unilaterally signing the “Compromise of Noviomagus Reginorum”, which was modeled after the Granadan Compromise. She then, in 1310, declared Falcrine fully independent from Julium’s reach. Catarina decried this as treason, and issued a call to arms for all loyal provinces. Very few actually answered the call, as many sympathized with Potema’s rhetoric. Some even offered alliance to Falcrine. In 1315, after several years of increasingly harsh rhetoric against Catarina, including decrying her as a bastard and as unfit to wear the crown, Potema officially declared war on Julium. Her armies leapt forth from hidden camps in the mountains near the Falcrine-Capitoline border and drove towards Julium. Imperial armies were caught off guard, and only barely managed to halt her advance. There were widespread desertions amongst the imperial ranks that further hampered their efforts to hold Potema’s forces at bay.
The imperial forces in Julium were thus quickly besieged, but were able to erect fortifications and rebolster the walls of Julium sufficiently enough to hold Potema back, starting the infamous Eight-Month Siege, during which thousands of civilians in Julium died due to disease and famine. Potema instituted a harsh blockade against the city, cutting off all food supplied by land. Julium continued to be supplied by sea, however Potema had hired numerous Lyrian mercenaries, and their seafaring acumen severely harassed the weakened imperial navy.
During this period, the majority of imperial forces had been enveloped into provinces, and most provinces refused to send aid to Julium, instead holding their forces back to see what the outcome might be. Most provinces seemed to believe that eventually Catarina and Potema would reach some sort of accord and the violence would end, and that there was very little real threat to the solvency of the Empire overall.
The commander of the Imperial forces, Cephorus Eurasius, uncle to Catarina and paternal cousin to Potema, did try to rally Imperial forces still loyal to the Imperial Government to fight against Potema, but due to wavering support and nonexistent coffers was unable to realistically fight against her in any way. His forces, based in Civitius, were frequently stalled by Potema’s powerful armies and were unable to advance past the border. Finally, in 1316, Julium fell after the lengthy, eight-month siege. Catarina was captured by Potema and executed, and Potema’s son, Clovus, was crowned Emperor of Eurasia. Historians and the Eurasian Government consider this to be the beginning of the Imperial Interregnum, as Clovus was a usurper and thus not considered a true emperor; thus, the imperial throne sat vacant, in the eyes of loyalists. The Senate, fearing reprisals from Potema, affirmed Clovus being considered Emperor.