Imperial Magischola Court Founding Timeline
Among the earliest European settlers to North America were magic users, wizards and witches who travelled from mundane France, Spain, England, and Holland to escape persecution in their lands and to discover what opportunities could be found in this “new” one. These wizards hid among the mundanes, but quickly founded their own communities, seeking out other magic users among the native peoples they met in North America. Some were fascinated by the magical arts practiced by these North American mages and shamans, eager to share knowledge and learn. Others were threatened by the difference and the power of this magic, largely done without a focusing or channeling object, such as a wand.
These European mages also were surprised to discover that magic was openly practiced among the native peoples they met. They were both pleased and frightened to see how magic was revered, respected, and considered a natural part of the world, not shamed and hidden from mundanes as it had been in their homelands. Unable to put their fears aside, however, especially as the numbers of Europeans in North America grew, colonial mages, witches, and wizards replicated the statute of secrecy that they had lived under in the Old World. With the Edict of Separation and Secrecy in 1612, the foundation of the Magimundi — the magical world — was laid. All known magic users were asked to swear to abide by it, by pain of death. Thus did witches, wizards, shamans, and mages begin to police each other, and the Europeans enforce their views, fears, and edicts upon the native peoples, changing the cultures and practice of magic on the Continent as the Magimundi expanded in influence and power. While many sought to integrate, appreciate, advocate for, and collaborate with the native peoples and their magic, the requirement of secrecy and separation from non-magic users was absolute, and fostered division and fear between mages and mundanes.
1610: The Agreed Estimation of the Provinces Destiny and Solaris
The formal documentation drawn up by Herodotus Forsyth and Gilles Charpentier stating that the Provinces of Destiny and Solaris are divided by the Potomac River is signed by both parties, bringing the Magimundi into existence.
1623: The Founding of Imperial Magischola
As mundane English settlers created their “New England” in the northeast of North America, Wizards came to join them. One of these was Galahad Theocratus Bombastus Leodegrance, a pious Separatist of Norman descent who believed it was his duty to remove the influence of Renaissance reforms in magical theory and social practice. Leodegrance also staunchly felt that now that there were English wizards in the New World, they should be taught only according to his principles of proper magic and virtue. Leodegrance gathered a few like-minded wizards — all men, all Unsoiled, all of European heritage — to join him in teaching and in administering a higher level school of magic. He called these wizards the Praestantes.
At its start, Imperial Magischola of Massachusetts Bay was a university attached to the magical primaschola or lyceum founded in 1619, Providence Preparatory Academy for the Advancement of the Arcane Arts. Both taught boys and young men from Unsoiled English families and shared some facilities and faculty. Leodegrance envisioned creating an elite class of wizards with university training, and selected the most promising young mages to attend Imperial Magischola as the eligeri, or elect, to attend and take their places as leaders of a new magical society. Admissions standards to Imperial Magischola were extraordinarily strict, and the physical location of the school was a closely-hidden secret. This stemmed partly from safety concerns: as the Puritans gained power in Massachusetts Bay Colony, any association with magic brought the risk of violent persecution.
In 1633, Virginia Dare petitioned the Praestantes to admit her daughter, Ophelia Samson, but they rejected her: not only did they not want to admit women, but they feared the presence of outsiders. Two years later, she (along with Tituba, Calisaylá, and Étienne Brûlé) formed New World Magischola in response, to provide a more open and inclusive place for the study of magic in North America.
1658: The Fall of Leodegrance and the Founding of the Courts:
In 1658, the four Courts of Imperial — Agrippa, Paracelsus, Ptolemy, and Callimachus — were established, and its second Chancellor, the longstanding and beloved Peregrine Myles Brewster, ascended to the head of the Praestantes. This transfer of power was shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years, but through private notes uncovered in 1999, a more complete story of the end of Leodegrance’s term came to light. The Chancellor had always been insular and distrustful, and The Voice of The Serpent — a powerful Corruptor of Lies — took advantage of those character traits. It has been surmised that this Corruptor was caused by scarring incurred by the secrecy wards on Imperial’s campus. It appeared first as a small voice in Leodegrance’s head, echoing words of colleagues. Then it took form as a vision to Leodegrance, with an image of Leodegrance living another two centuries as a beloved Chancellor. It began to sense the distrust Leodegrance had in other faculty, and even his friends, and stoked his doubts just enough to inflame them into paranoia. As Leodegrance’s trust in other wizards fell, his faith in the Corruptor grew, and thus so did the Corruptor’s presence as well as the magnitude of the half-truths that it whispered to him. Finally, it predicted that Imperial would be altered forever under Leodegrance, but that his giving up power would result in mundane-borns and women attending the school, and the magical purity that Leodegrance held so dear would be “muddied.” Under the Corruptor’s influence, Leodegrance became increasingly suspicious of outsiders, and even began to push away close colleagues and friends.
One of those colleagues was Peregrine Myles Brewster, professor of magic theory and hermetics, who had been Leodegrance’s protégé. While Brewster did not know about the Corruptor, he saw that Leodegrance’s insularity and paranoia were not only harming himself, but harming Imperial: refusing to teach the latest magical practices meant that the university was beginning to fall behind New World Magischola, and other wizarding universities in Europe. He gained enough support among the Praestantes to recruit and hire a few new professors from other North American magical communities who had a more progressive approach.
The new additions were: Isaac de Lucena, an alchemist and magi-botanist; Vitruvius Henry Peter Steinkraft, a phantasmologist and master duelist; Thomas Woodhouse, an astromancer and navigator; and Maestro-Wizard Firenzum Edward Smith Radcliffe Zephyrous, a librarian and researcher of ancient languages. These new additions were more inclusive in other ways, too: Steinkraft’s father was Penobscot, and de Lucena was Jewish. This openness only went so far, though. Nobody, not even Brewster, considered approaching people of mixed or mundane birth, or admitting women.
Despite the distinguished careers from which these new professors had come, many of the more conservative Praestantes still opposed their inclusion on the faculty. Therefore, Brewster invited his new professors to prove their worth by performing a Great Deed. De Lucena inscribed a living labyrinth at the center of the grounds. Woodhouse created a path that enables a sufficiently skilled sorcerer to physically climb to the stars. Firenzum created the Arca Tenebris (the Black Box) that still forms the heart of the Imperial library. Steinkraft took on the most perilous task of all: trapping the Corruptor that had been plaguing Leodegrance.
Leodegrance was so weakened by the Corruptor’s influence that after its removal, he was no longer able to fulfill his duties as Chancellor, and died soon after. Few people outside of the Praestantes and the Imperial faculty knew of the Corruptor’s presence; the public story was that Leodegrance had died after a short illness.
Brewster succeeded Leodegrance as Chancellor. Under Brewster’s leadership, the curriculum and structure of Imperial Magischola was brought in line with other comparable universities. It was divided into four Courts, each dedicated to the area of study of one of the new professors. The Praestantes agreed to name the courts after Classical and Renaissance alchemists, magicians, and sorcerers, and to create an institution of pure and theoretical learning that rivaled European institutions. Firenzum chose Callimachus for his poetry and work on the Great Library of Alexandria, Steinkraft chose Agrippa in honor of his mother’s ancestry. Woodhouse chose Ptolemy, who mapped the stars and divined their inner meanings. De Lucena chose Paracelsus, an alchemist who had family ties to Leodegrance.
Every year Imperial hosts a Founders’ Day Celebration, during which the students of each Court collaborate on a Great Deed for the glory of their Court and the memory of their Founder.
1692-1694: Terrified by the renewed violence against wizards in nearby Salem, the Praestantes enclose Imperial Magischola in a spell of Profundus Absconditus, rendering it completely inaccessible to the outside world for two full years. Students and professors are trapped inside, unable to communicate with anyone. Even after the Praestantes broke the spell, those who had been affected by it were unable to speak or even write about their time inside, so great was the secrecy imposed by it.
1735-1738: To accommodate its growing numbers, Imperial Magischola adds a second building. Throughout the three years of construction, the heads of four Courts debate about which of them will be housed in the new facilities; each of them making fervent and repeated claims as to why it should be their students that should receive this benefit. The Chancellor and Praestantes finally settle the dispute by declaring that the new building will rotate among the courts every ten years, and that it will bear the name of the head of the Court that occupies it. The first decade goes to Ptolemy Court – but its head, William Pembroke, refuses to abide by the agreement. Instead, he curses the building so that it will always bear his name and his name only, and so that nobody else can ever go inside it. There are rumors that there is a secret passage from the Ptolemy Court common room into Pembroke Hall, but that has never been confirmed.
1752: Providence Preparatory Academy officially separates from Imperial Magischola, since both schools have gained enough students to warrant their own campuses. Imperial continues its practice of only admitting Unsoiled male mages, although P2A4 begins educating the daughters of Unsoiled families as well.
1776-1783: American Revolution. Imperial Magischola officially remains neutral, viewing the war as a Mundane conflict that wizards need not involve themselves in. Since the time of Profundus Absconditus is still within living memory for many of the professors and Praestantes, they are very wary of any entanglement with Mundane politics. Most of the Praestantes and students who do takes sides agree with the Loyalists, viewing the colonists’ rebellion as a dangerous rejection of rightful authority. However, some students and alumni, especially those from Agrippa Court, secretly join with the colonists, and distinguish themselves in battle against the enemy wizards among the Hessian mercenary forces.
1801: Faustino Díaz comes to an agreement with Herodotus Forsythe of Destiny and Gilles Charpentier regarding what would become Baja Province.
1807: The lake is closed for six weeks after the drowning of first-year student Heinrich Vogel, while Destiny Province Marshals investigate. The death is ruled a tragic accident, brought about by Vogel’s own failure to properly cast a spell that should have given him gills. For years after, students claim to have seen Vogel around the lake, either swimming underwater or waving for help.
1819: Duncan McDougall comes to an agreement with Diaz, Charpentier, and Forsythe regarding what would become Thunderbird Province
1827: Sterling McBride aggressively negotiates a territorial claim of what would be Mishipeshu Province, and engages in limited skirmishes with McDougall before Diaz, Forsythe, and Gilles Charpentier’s replacement, Gustav Milliken, intervene and vote McBride into the club.
1828: Provincial Concordat, which sets forth the relationship between the Provinces of North America and establishes the Council of Five to intervene in inter-Provincial matters and affairs of utmost importance On the first meeting of the five of them, Diaz calls for their positions to become official in order to prevent “a McBride from happening again,” and the term Justice emerges as the least hated title for their role. This later becomes Arch Justice.
1832: Upon his graduation, Jacob Vandermeer reveals that he is actually of Mundane birth, making him the first student of such ancestry to openly graduate from Imperial Magischola. Mundane-borns had already been present as servants, of course, and it is possible that one had concealed his ancestry to gain admission without disclosing it upon graduation as Vandermeer had. The Praestantes considered revoking his diploma, but ultimately decided that Vandermeer had proven his skill so well during his time as a student that they could not justify denying his degree. They had to conclude that it was possible – although not very probable – that powerful mages could be born outside established magical bloodlines. From this point onward, Imperial very selectively admitted Mundane-born students openly, though not all Courts did so. Callimachus Court was the first to embrace the practice.
1838: Hudson Unlimited opens Avernus Prison.
1841: Great Werewolf Epidemic. Lycanthropy plagues northern Destiny Province. Several students are forced to withdraw from Imperial when it is discovered that they are infected. When The Great Werewolf Epidemic of 1841 arrived at Casco Bay in Destiny, where Vitruvius Steinkraft’s family resided, the expansion of quarantined areas stopped, and the tide reversed. Through political cunning, Steinkraft convinced the Council of Five to drive an end to forced displacement of lycans by the British Empire to Canada. With the supply cut off, Vitruvius personally led lycan raids north of the St. Lawrence River, soliciting the aid of not only his 10,000 Lakes Lodge, but neighboring Loup lodges from Mishipeshu. Within mere weeks, remaining lycan were contained.
1861-1865 US Civil War: As was typical, the Magimundi attempted to stay out of mundane affairs, including this major upheaval all around them. However, formal slavery had been outlawed in Destiny since the earliest days of that province’s formation, thus abolition was adopted in all five provinces once they united. During the war, some students from Solaris withdraw from Imperial, and a few even join Thanatos Akeldama. After Akeldama’s shocking use of necromancy and attack on Magnolia Sun, all Imperial students, alumni, and Praestantes disavow any support.
1885: Destiny Province Justices order Imperial Magischola to admit women as students. Imperial appeals to the Council of Five to override the order.
1887: The Council of Five upholds the Destiny Provincial Justices’ decision. Rather than admit women, Imperial closes its doors to all students. The young men go home to their families, where most are taught by private tutors, some of them the very same faculty previously employed by Imperial.
1890: The Council of Five orders Imperial to open again and to admit women; and sends Marshals to escort the first women students onto campus. Imperial relents, and opens a new Court, Aspasia, for women students only. Women are permitted to study healing and botany, but no other subjects. The seven women in Aspasia Court’s first class were known as the Pleiades: Antonia Avila, Josephine Braithwaite, Nellie Burgess, Marie-Claire Charpentier, Tryphena Forsythe, Rachel de Lucena, Philomena Radcliffe. There is still a club for women healers at Imperial called the Pleiades Society.
1903: Mundane-born graduate Paul Rockefeller offers to donate money for the construction of a new residence hall – but only on the condition that all of the Courts admit Mundane-born students. Imperial accepts the condition and the donation. Mundane-born student Liam O’Grady is admitted to Ptolemy Court, which until then had excluded Mundane-borns, and construction of Rockefeller Hall begins.
1909: As a major milestone in Catoptrics, most families in magical societies are now connected.
1930-1934: In the intense final years of the Gorecaster Crisis, Imperial students and alumni distinguish themselves in the effort to combat dark magic. Several women in Aspasia Court earn particular commendation from the Council of Five for their valor.
1938: Women are finally fully integrated into Imperial Magischola. Aspasia Court is combined with Paracelsus Court, and women are admitted to all four Courts and allowed to study all subjects.