Veddel Markwell was a diplomat, noble, steward, and eventually Proconsul of the Farrowhalt Freehold, ruling over it's affairs from its founding in 326 AC until its deposition in 331 AC. He is best known for founding the Farrowhalt Freehold, along with his close friend and compatriot Michael Avleston, in 326 AC, and provoking the 326 AC rebellion in it's wake. Before the Freehold, he was known in the Kingdom of Andoras as a young, imposing diplomat, who had a shrewd sense of business, ethics, and morality. His brother, Malric, also became a diplomat, and still lives today, in the service of House Karthmere. He was executed alongside Michael Avleston on January 27th, 331 AC, then marking the end of the rebellion and the Freehold.
Veddel was the firstborn son of Duverius Markwell and Marella Crewdell, born in Dormendell, Thyllanor, a farming town in the Duchy of Farrowhalt. Duverius was a painter and architect, while Marella was primarily a midwife and assisted women with their pregnancy. Both of his parents had the pleasure of working with royals far more often than the common folk, and so they would teach Veddel of how the nobles reacted when they did certain things, and how to please a noble, be it through flattery, hard work, or one's lineage. While the Markwells were well-off and could consider themselves wealthy, they were not exactly noble, and so did not fit in around the many courts of Thyllanor. He was just about 3 when his brother Malric -- famous in his own right -- was born. These two would often compete as the years went on, each pushing the other to succeed. The key difference between them, however, was that Veddel was more of a natural talent; what Malric could do with hours of pertinent research and study, Veddel could recite and improvise on the spot. Despite this, however, it was first Malric who considered being a diplomat. Originally, Veddel wished to follow in his father's footsteps and showed proficience in both fine art and design, being something of a polymath. His brother watched with silent jealousy as he indirectly became the favorite child, but never made any effort to stop it -- Veddel was allowed to grow unchecked, and it resulted in creating the breeding grounds for one of the greatest diplomats in recent history.
Attending Academia Faercrest and graduation
Veddel had attended a small private academy from the time he was 8 until he was 16, and then it was determined that he would attend the Academia Faercrest, one of the greatest educational institutions in the known world. He enrolled in 303 AC, the same year that similar diplomat prodigy Dominic Pavellan was wooing the courts of Doras Edrossi, similar to that of Victor Damius nearly 70 years earlier. It was here that Veddel started developing his political beliefs, especially Con-crownism; there was a popular movement that emerged partially in the higher places of learning in the 290s AC, especially the Academias, that prodded at the idea of democracy, as it was (somewhat) practiced in the old Edrossi city-states of the Third and Fourth Eras. Markwell felt himself sucked into the writings of Damius and Develan, and even those of Folthys Dimaeron, notorious for his extremist and racist views. He absorbed any political-themed paper he could get his hands on, and it was something of an obsession for him. Soon, he picked up on the Drakonteios philosophers of the old eras, such as Haerys of Eukylon and Taigon.
Con-crownism was not a new movement; philosophers were praising the concept in the 500s BC, and it took a more modern form when a peasant revolt in the early days of the Kingdom of Andoras was said to have fought for it as a cause. Veddel was hooked in by the idea when he started consulting with his close friends; many of which would later become close members of his entourage when he set forth the plans for the Farmers' Revolution. Some of those who consulted with him were also Thyllanorian nationalists, which was a key factor in making Thyllanor the home of the rebellion later on.He graduated from the Academia after eight years of attending as the top member of his class, giving a rousing speech as a result that many cited as his first segue into politics.
Life as diplomat, revolutionary thoughts
Starting almost immediately after his speech at the Academia Faercrest, Veddel was approached with offers of being a fief's personal diplomat or a lord's chancellor. He turned away the offers at first, giving himself some time to think. He went into seclusion for a year, living as a hermit and relying on the kindness of strangers. In 312 AC, he finally took up his first job as a diplomat, working for the courts of a "Lord Dyrebolde", who ruled the county of Adellanor in the northern Kingsland. He held this job until 319 AC, when the lord died of old age and his son came to power. His son was the now-notorious Vincent Dyrebolde, and he exiled Veddel on the sole grounds that he was Thyllanorian. Now out of work, Veddel returned to Dormendell to dwell in his old family house for some time, until he made the journey northeast to Faercrest, where he joined up with his brother Malric in advising Lord Paramount Dalan I Karthmere. The two became fast friends, and Veddel was able to put his con-crownist ideals behind him when the two talked. Eventually, it came up between the two that no one was too happy about the state of affairs in Andoras, and that a great change should be brought about. These thoughts, however, would not be acted upon until after King Aeramor died, and King Aegor IV came to the throne. Veddel refrained from telling Dalan of his true feelings, afraid that he would view it as a threat to his own rule. By this point, Veddel Markwell had built up an impressive reputation for himself; he was known as a hard bargainer, and opportunistic. His aggressive style of debate led him to make many enemies, but also many friends. One of these many friends was Michael Avleston, a man instrumental to forming the Farrowhalt Freehold with Markwell in 326 AC.
First true desires for revolution, meeting Michael Avleston
It was around 320 AC, near the time of the Thysian Conflict, when Veddel Markwell and Michael Avleston met. At the time, Michael Avleston was far more outspoken but less noteworthy than Markwell, being more famous because of his controversies rather than his accomplishments. Avleston himself had tried just about everything at this point; activist, strategist, prophet, writer, and visionary, just to name a few professions he had undertaken at the time. House Avleston, while an officially recognized house by Thyllanor, had fallen into debt decades ago, and Michael was just another from the bunch of barely-nobles.
A comparable polymath like Markwell, Avleston was viewed as one of the smartest -- but eccentric -- men in Andoras, and he embraced this. What Markwell had known of him prior was that he had published several works on controversial topics such as being godless; The Mystery of Salvation being his primary work. Veddel personally cared less, and while the two men were something of a bitter rivalry at first, they began to accept their differences and they soon became close friends and compatriots. Michael Avleston was also a con-crownist like Veddel, which helped the two get along.
Michael Avleston was arrested in January 321 AC for disturbing the peace and was kept in prison for far longer than he was sentenced to. He was allowed to correspond through letters, and his communications, especially with Veddel, were instrumental in fueling the flames for con-crownism. Their correspondence, from 321 to his release in 325 AC, told the story of everything from a Planned Union of Freeholds, to entire world change via universal democracy. Michael was still inclined that Aegor was tyrannical, as he remained in prison over the time when Aegor's rule was actually viewed as brilliant (Aegor's First Five). When he was released, he felt things had not changed much and thus had felt much stronger about his whims than Markwell. Veddel instead saw to use this to his advantage, as he not only desired a movement for con-crownism, he also desired a place in the annals of history; a place on the level of Victor Damius, or even better.
Leading into war
Leading up into the war-time era, Veddel went on a pilgrimage of sorts around Andoras in early 323 AC to gather those who would join his cause. The original intention was not to cause any harm to the kingdom or her people; Veddel, instead, simply wished to start a guild of those with like-minded beliefs. By late summer in August of the same year, Veddel had amassed around fifty people, all of who endorsed con-crownism, and they returned to Thyllanor. Using part of the inheritance that Markwell had been granted as a result of his mother's death in 314 AC, he purchased a manor outside of the town of Farrowhalt, and dubbed it the new guildhall for his people on August 23rd. During this time, Markwell and Avleston continued to correspond, and Markwell began to use the guild as an outlet for publishing papers that Avleston had asked for him to distribute. These were mostly things he had written in jail, or old material that was deemed too extreme to publish by those who he had originally asked to do so. Farrowhalt was only an administrative center, and had never experienced many citizens; that is, until Markwell establised the Farrowhalt Freehall there.
At first, the public reception was negative, but over time the populace who lived near the guildhall became generally tolerant of them and accepted their presence. The majority of people that Veddel met with and brought along for the trip were of the higher classes; some were painters and architects like his father, and others were lawyers, statesmen, backwards politicians, and diplomats like him. A select few were from the lower class, such as farmers and merchants, and others still were military-based. All men had one thing in common; they believed that feudalism was decrepit and in need of replacement; if not at the very least, reformation.
It was about a year past from when Veddel had purchased the manor that the guild truly took on a name; "The Farrowhalt Freehall". An obvious precursor to the later Freehold, the Freehall was dubbed so because a good portion of the population, enticed by Avleston's writings, turned to con-crownism, and soon it was something of an epidemic within the town. Akin to something of a zealous cult from the perspective of bystanders, propaganda posters promoting the Freehall popped up around the town, and the men became uplifted by the populace who supported the movement. Markwell wrote most frequently to Avleston during this time; most of the time they wrote to each other two times a month, but now, with their exponentially rising popularity and hysteria surrounding their prospect of abolishing feudalism, Markwell confided in Avleston at least once a week. Couriers kept up when they could, and the ultimate result was that Farrowhalt became something detached from the rest of normal Thyllanorian society. 'Missionaries' were sent around the Kingdom to bring back any more people who believed in this same doctrine, and before long, the original 50 became twice that, and more. The guild hall became far too cramped, and so members began building their own shelters in Farrowhalt itself; something that posed little issue, as most of the town already fully supported the Freehall.
Markwell himself was surprised at what he'd created, and felt unprepared for what he was achieving. Somewhere in between the purchase of the guildhall and the establishment of the Freehold, he had become de facto ruler of Farrowhalt, and eventually the entire barony surrounding the town. He faced opposition from the actual baron of the region, who demanded he step down or face consequences. The baron in question was found dead with his entire family two weeks later, and the local count was forced to nominate a new baron; Veddel was the most likely candidate. Thus, in September 324 AC, Veddel became the Baron of Farrowhalt, his first (and only) official title. Avleston mocked him for this, albeit somewhat jokingly. It was from here that Markwell had his first real base of operations, and would later be the capital of his Freehold.
Avleston's Release; Escalation between the Kingdom and con-crownists
Around this time in 324 AC, Michael Avleston began sending papers and pamphlets already written by older diplomats, especially those that the two men were influenced by. A reply back from Markwell indicates that Avleston intended to teach people the roots of their newfound movement, and that it was best if everyone participated. With each issue, the number of members grew, as men trusted the names Damius and Haerys more than they trusted the names Markwell and Avleston. The other helping factor was that Aegor had begun his decline; he could only remain a good king for so long, and after five years, he slowly crept into madness and an irrational hatred for things not Dragomyr.Finally, in the beginning of 325 AC, after serving a four year sentence, Michael Avleston was finally released and saw what he had believed to be zero positive change for the better; as indicated by the mounting membership numbers and poor treatment of subjects by Aegor. Markwell knew otherwise, but he was not going to ruin his opportunity to shine.
It was around this time that Avleston came into action and used his power as co-leader of the Freehall to arm the members. Markwell did not approve of this at all -- he knew that a war would destroy their cause, if Aegor Dragomyr had anything to say about it. It was here when Markwell finally, ultimately realized that Avleston was fanatic about this, and truly wanted to see the change he was trying to bring. The member count had now just peaked over five thousand, and the once-small town of Farrowhalt had grown into a city with the massive immigration. In other places in the city, it had become the haven for another movement; the godless movement, which involved the worship of no gods, such as the Five Paragons or the Dragonlord. Several con-crownists had also turned to these ideals, and Andoras had suddenly acquired an army of democratic-minded atheists that were looking to pick a fight.
Mass distribution of pamphlets, rise of national con-crownism
Instead of immediately arming the men and preparing for war, Veddel instead convinced Avleston that he needed to make the likelihood of such an event succeeding a reality. Until that point, the propaganda spread by the Freehall had only been sent to the immediate region; Parrem, Faercrest, Morano, and other cities in Thyllanor. Giving the couriers a period of four months, they were dispatched to all corners of Andoras to distribute pamphlets supporting the Freehall's cause. People, for the first time, were willing to listen, with the weight of a tyrant potentially pushing on their backs. While many who were recruited did not last much longer than a few months after the war broke out, it was enough to boost the Freehall to massive proportions and enlarge its base to more than a hundred thousand. The movement was now picking up enough speed for someone to get suspicious; namely, that someone being Aegor. He commanded Markwell and Avleston to cancel their operations, but at that point it had been too late. The couriers returned home on time, and con-crownists were flocking by the thousands to Thyllanor, in preparation for something big.
During this whole time, Markwell himself felt uneasy about the situation. He had put something into motion that would be too hard to stop now, and the threat of war loomed over his head and the whole movement that he had worked tirelessly to bring up from the ground. Several people close to him said that at this point, Markwell had a temporary period of breakdown, before he was able to regain his composure and face it head-on. He emerged from this temporary dark period with an equally dark demeanor, and proposed to Avleston that they should assassinate Aegor.
Aegor's tour of Andoras; assassination attempt, declaration of war
No one could stay quiet about the proposed assassination for long, and soon Markwell and Avleston were forced to go into hiding as a result. They were now wanted men, and had their names known by the majority of the kingdom. While the publicity may have helped their cause, it also hindered it -- several recruits now seriously reconsidered their decision to join the Freehall and deserted before war even began. While in hiding, the Farrowhalt Freehall was quietly upgraded into a Freehold; the type of government that Michael Avleston had been endorsing in his letters. Regaining contact with Dalan Karthmere once more, Avleston and Markwell had successfully managed to secure his support in the war, but only if they could back up their claims. He would also allow them to claim a fair amount of southeastern Thyllanor as their own sovereign territory, encompassing most of the region that was already most densely con-crownist -- the Principalities of Colburgh and Voyatia proclaimed their fealty to the Freehold almost immediately, while the Duchy of Fraeduke was convinced to join the Freehold a week later, due to its proximity and large con-crownist minority. Already winning two major victories at home, it seemed that the newly-born Freehold was either preparing for war or preparing for an assassination, as quickly as the ideas had been suggested.
Aegor proceeded on a tour of the Kingdom in the summer, beginning in the Kingsland and ending in Thyllanor in November. He decided to go to the heart of the matter itself first; Farrowhalt. There, assassins laid in wait, where he was attacked and ambushed before he could even give a speech. Infuriated, he moved to Faercrest, where he was instantly met with tension, and was stabbed in the side while in the midst of his speech. The same day, the Farrowhalt Freehold officially declared its independence, and sent the letter to Dragonspire City marked precisely for Aegor himself. Time would prevail here, and in December, the message finally arrived, to enraged cries. By January, the Andorasi levies had begun to amass themselves, and war was nigh-inevitable. On January 18th, the inevitable then happened; the Farmers' Revolution had begun, and Markwell was frightened at what the future held.