Although Imperial was founded in 1623 by Galahad Theocratus Bombastus Leodegrance, the Court System was instituted in 1658, with four great Wizards who each chose a Classical or Renaissance magician whose work would create the foundation for that Court. These Court Founders were faculty at Imperial and the intellectual leaders of their respective courts. The Four Court Founders are:
- Vitruvius Henry Peter Steinkraft, founder of Court Agrippa
- Thomas Woodhouse, founder of Court Ptolemy
- Maestro-Wizard Firenzum Edward Smith Radcliffe Zephyrous, founder of Court Callimachus
- Isaac de Lucena, founder of Court Paracelsus
Imperial Magischola Brief History of the Courts
The first Magischola founded in North America was the Imperial Magischola of Massachusetts Bay. Begun in 1623, shortly after the founding of Plymouth by the Separatist Puritans, the school is known for its strict adherence to conservative magical traditions practiced in Europe. Its founder, Galahad Theocratus Bombastus Leodegrance, was a pious and upright wizard who disapproved of the Renaissance Reforms that ushered in the era of egalitarianism in European wizard culture. Along with other like-minded male wizards, Leodegrance sailed on the Fortune to the New World in order to escape what they saw as an irrevocably corrupted magical culture and to establish a school that reflected their values. They believed that magic is best left in the hands of rational-minded men, like themselves.
Leodegrance was the first Chancellor of Imperial, from 1623 to 1658, and the school was small and insular, housed on the same campus as the primaschola for the region, Providence Preparatory Academy for the Advancement of the Arcane Arts (P2A4).
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.