John, Prince of Kiev
Sir John Vasa, Prince of Kiev
Official state portrait of the Prince of Kiev, 2023.
Prince of Kiev, of Carodia and Aurea, of Cordias and of Rosendal, Earl and Lord Mayor of Sarholm, Count Palatine of the Nafets, Grand Master of the Most Noble Order of the New Sarovian Empire, and Lord President of His Imperial Majesty's Privy Council.
John, Prince of Kiev (birth: Johannes Karl Gustaf Oxenstierna Zor-Mako-Vasa-Nassau) is the current heir apparent to the Sarovian throne, as well as a prominent politician, military officer, and artist. Born in 269 AS to Emperor Constantine IX and Empress Consort Katherine, he is the sixth member of the ruling House of Vasa of that name since the New Sarovian Empire's founding, in line with a longstanding family tradition of giving that name to incumbent male heirs. An infant during the Imperian Campaigns, the then-Viscount Lochland did not want his son potentially falling into Imperian hands, and so in secret, John was given refuge with a family of gnomes in what is today Swamptown, just north of the Free City of Oldenburg. Eventually, he returned to his father's side, possessed of a strong distaste for war but also of an equally strong intelligence and acumen for administration. Under the Viscount's tutelage, John grew into adulthood and became his father's right hand man, eventually being invested as Prince of Kiev, just after his father's coronation as King of the Sarovians and Emperor of the Sarovian Commonwealth.
Since then, the Prince has distinguished himself as both a hero of war and peace, spearheading the execution of his father's civil and governmental reforms as well as leading the war effort during the Jacobite Rebellion and even serving briefly as Prince Regent. He has proven himself to be a rare jack-of-all-trades, serving simultaneously as commander of the Blue Guard Corps, commander of the Far West Fleet, and as Minister of both Foreign Affairs and Defense under numerous governments of different political parties. So extensive did his purview become that in 297 AS, when the Emperor reorganized the civil bureaucracy under the umbrella of His Imperial Majesty's Privy Council, he was appointed as the first and so far only Lord President of said Council.
Accordingly, like his father, the Prince has been attributed many epithets throughout his life, such as "John the Diplomat" due to his commanding role in Sarovian foreign affairs, "John the Navigator" due to his key role in the development of the Imperial Navy and Sarovian expeditions abroad, and "O Unificador" ('The Unifier'), due to his tireless efforts ever since his brief tenure as Prince Regent towards encouraging unity between Anglophone and Lusophone Sarovians. It is well known that this epithet is the one of which the Prince is most proud, as he has often spoken at length about his dream to build a multicultural Sarovian society.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early Life[edit | edit source]
Born as Johannes Karl Gustaf Oxenstierna of Zor-Mako-Vasa-Nassau, or John for short, he is the first son of Emperor Constantine IX, who promptly gave him to a Gnomish family in what is today Swamptown, within the Southern Occupation Zone. The Imperian Campaigns were ongoing, and Constantine, then known as Charles Alexander, Viscount Lochland, did not want his child in possible danger of falling into Imperian hands, and as he had previously saved this family from an Imperian attack earlier in the war, they owed him a favor. In addition, the Viscount was serving as an honorary Lieutenant in the Sarovian Army at the time, and as he - a noble of a prestigious family - had fought in multiple battles, he could have been a prime Imperian military target at any time.
While staying with the gnomes, John, though young, began to take a keen interest in statecraft, as he had a unique perspective on Graal at the time. A child prodigy, he quickly learned and understood the cultural and political intrigues between the various states of Graal, covertly observing how his family did business in the cities. As well, unlike most noble children of his time, John was not taught how to fight let alone how to command armies, as he was far too busy helping around the house, alongside . It was this environment that gave John a strong distaste for war but an equally strong propensity towards politics, as he came to believe that no war can be won on the battlefield, but rather through subterfuge.When the Imperian Campaigns ended, Charles Alexander quickly came to the gnomes' family home to retrieve his son. The Viscount inquired with them about his progress and whereabouts, wherein the family's elderly father conveyed to him that, though he was weak with a sword and not very charismatic, he had been beyond helpful in the upkeep of the home and its farm and, as he had gotten older, had taken on increasingly complex and significant roles in ensuring the premises were both well-managed as well as safe from the war beyond. The Viscount took note of both these things, and as peace began to reign once more over the land, he sought to mold his son's potential into what would become one of the Empire's finest and most accomplished politicians.
Early Career and Regency[edit | edit source]
The world John entered, however, was already one very different from the one he was born into. He first discovered that he had a new brother, Sevirax Vasa, born at the tail end of the war. Mainly, however, the New Sarovian Empire, though victorious, was war-weary after over a decade of conflict. The Empire had been remodeled along ethnic lines into the Nafets Union, composed of the Kingdoms of Reuss and Nassau. This project, originally proposed by King George I and implemented by his cousin Edward II, was meant to allow for ease of administration in order to accelerate the rebuilding process and reform the Army. The Viscount Lochland, Edward II's older brother, had previously refused the throne when George I offered it, citing no desire to rule a decentralized union.
Many in the Union had become used to its decentralized nature and come to prefer it to the old Empire. Edward II was now the King of Reuss only, though he still possessed informally the title King of the Sarovians, with Nassau having its own king, equal to him in rank and power. Ancient institutions were being neglected and the City of Sarholm had long since fallen into disrepair, with the capital moving to Vurgos City on the mainland, considered by the Union to be 'neutral ground' between the Anglophone center of Modena in Preuze Province and the Lusophone center of Kiev in Kiev Province.
Upon the death of Edward II, the Union's Assembly of Peers had decided that enough was enough and that the Union's benefits had come to be outweighed by its drawbacks. Accordingly, a unanimous vote was taken to reestablish the Empire, with Charles Alexander elected as the new federal monarch, taking the regnal name Constantine IX. Almost immediately after, John was invested by the Emperor as Prince of Kiev, with a prominent army commander, Jafar al-Assad, being invested as King of Reuss, and the then-King of Nassau, Jacob Vasa-Nassau, a distant cousin of the imperial family, continuing in his position.
Jafar would later fall ill, causing him to abdicate the throne of Reuss to John's mother, Dame Katherine Vasa, the Empress Consort. Jacob, meanwhile, would go on to attempt an unsuccessful mutiny and die in prison, being succeeded by his son Legarius, who took the regnal name Matheus. Undeterred by these developments, however, Constantine and John began the series of reforms that would define the early years of Constantine's reign. Constantine knew that his son was not an effective battlefield commander nor did he have the propensity for it. Therefore, John's primary focus as Prince of Kiev was to ensure internal stability, to rebuild the old capital at Sarholm, and to ensure effective bureaucratic administration while the Emperor fought various wars abroad.
Accordingly, John supervised various elected governments as well as the Kings of Reuss and Nassau, working behind the scenes to deemphasize ethnic nationalism in favor of traditional Sarovian nationalism. While Reuss took to this well, eventually abandoning its autonomy entirely, the Nassauvians were more divided on the matter, with some embracing their old Sarovian identity while others preferring their new, separate one. These separatist elements, who more often than not also had a predilection towards racism, would become a consistent thorn in John's side as he worked to knit the Empire together and developed his dream of a multicultural society.
Things kicked into high gear, however, in 280 AS, when the Emperor suddenly fell ill and retired to Rosendal Palace in Philippia. John, accordingly, assumed the office of Prince Regent, and formed a Regency Council made up of numerous civil and military officials, chief of whom were himself, the Queen of Reuss and commander of I Corps Dame Katherine Vasa, the then-commander of the Blue Guards Koji Campbell, and - most infamously - King Matheus of Nassau, who was also commander of II Corps. John skillfully convinced both him and his mother Katherine to wear their military ranks before their noble ones in order to ensure stability during the Regency and further advance national unity, and this practice, though born out of political necessity, eventually would become the cultural zeitgeist amongst the nobility in the later years of Constantine IX's reign.
Over the course of the Regency, numerous achievements were made, such as a lavish New Sarovia Day celebration as well as the discovery of Boreas in 283 AS. Wars were also fought abroad, in particular against Loganite rebels seeking to overthrow Constantine's lawful rule of the State in favor of a military junta that would have been known as "The Unified State". Though in general all obstacles were surmounted and the Empire continued to expand and unite, now-General Legarius proved to be a frequent thorn in John's side and the locus around whom Nassau's separatist elements would unite, with most days during the Regency filled with raucous arguments between the two.
Though at the end of the day these arguments were resolved and managed, Lusophone Sarovians began picking sides between John and Legarius, with pro-unity Sarovians supporting the Prince Regent and pro-separatist Sarovians supporting the ambitious General. Though the Emperor would return in 284 AS, disbanding the Regency Council and returning to full power, these internal divisions would soon lead to a rebellion and civil war, and John himself would soon become a war hero.
Jacobite Rebellion and First Premiership[edit | edit source]
When Constantine IX returned from Rosendal, he quickly found himself mired in these tensions, but managed to remain above it all, both hoping to cast himself as impartial and confine these tensions to the arena of party politics by calling new elections. Parliament had already become deadlocked due to the situation, and as the small Dominion of Metternau had recently rebelled against the Empire, it seemed a simple enough solution to ensure the matter remained safely caged until Metternau was dealt with. However, the internal tensions made elections too difficult - and even risky - to organize in the first place, so instead the Emperor threw lavish parties and social events with the hope that these would increase internal social chemistry and thereby loosen the tensions in an alternative way. However, they had the exact opposite effect.At one fateful party near the end of the year, late into the night, a group of pro-separatist Imperial Army officers, perhaps drunk or perhaps just looking for trouble, calmly walked up to the imperial family's table and demanded to speak to the Emperor, demanding in an only somewhat coherent series of ramblings that that Nassau's full independence be restored. The Emperor, however, had left earlier that night. John, sitting in his place, quickly stood up from his seat, chastising them for their insolence and questioning their discipline. After a lengthy argument, it became clear that the commotion had spread throughout the room and that officers were beginning to take sides. Finally, John, furious, ordered the Blue Guards to arrest the separatists. Half of them moved to do so. Half did not.
Sir Henry Vasa, a distant cousin of the imperial family descended from Emperor William who had secret Jacobite sympathies, was summoned by the Emperor, alongside other retired officers and commanders, to assist him in suppressing the rebellion. However, John discovered Henry's Jacobite sympathies, and after a closed-door meeting of the Assembly of Peers, John convinced the nobles of the Empire to exile Henry. As a result of this, Henry bore a personal grudge towards John, one which Jacob took full advantage of. Though he kept the name Jacob, he transferred his false claim over Nassau to Henry, who also claimed the title King of Reuss, but more importantly, reshaped the rebellion from a separatist movement into a full-scale civil war, lodging a formal false claim to the titles of King of the Sarovians and Emperor of the Sarovian Commonwealth, and reorganizing the Jacobite militias into an organized and equipped army.
Jacob, meanwhile, proclaimed himself as the new Prime Minister to "Emperor Henry III", staging a mock "election" amongst his troops in which one of his officers and longtime friends, Lancelot Falkhart, was the opposing candidate. This, in turn, gave John an idea - not since just before the Regency had a general election been held, and if he became Prime Minister himself, he could reform and restore the constitutional government. John therefore petitioned the Emperor to hold an election, and subsequently took over the Hats Party, rebranding it as the Sarovian National Union Party or SNUP, based on an old political party of the same name during the reign of Emperor Constantine VI.
Under John's premiership, the Imperial Parliament passed the Pathé Network Act, Guard Reform Act, and Conscription Act, amended numerous other pieces of legislation, and invoked the Emergency Measures Act in order to help suppress the rebellion. The result was a completely reformed Imperial Armed Forces, which would later go on to win the decisive Battle of Kiev, severely weakening the rebel army. More importantly, however, John's premiership also created a completely reformed and revitalized government. To this day, the Sarovian Government still abides by many standards and customs introduced under John's premiership, and John himself has gone on to advise numerous Prime Ministers who have succeeded him, including but not limited to his handpicked successor, Sir Itteus Kaine. Following Itteus' election victory, John remained on the Cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and soon negotiated a peace deal - alongside the Emperor - with Henry and Jacob, whose ability to wage war never recovered after the Battle of Kiev.
The Conquest of Aurea and Second Premiership[edit | edit source]
In the peace deal with the Jacobites, the Jacobite army dissolved completely and all its senior officers were exiled from the Empire, except for Henry due to his Vasa lineage. Henry, however, was still exiled, though within the Empire - he was sent to the colonies in Ostos and given the courtesy title Duke of Belbata. John, following the end of the war, heavily pushed for the constituent kingdoms to be finally dissolved, a proposal his father readily accepted and executed, at last fully restoring the New Sarovian Empire as a unitary state. However, it was discovered soon after that the Aurean Empire, an old enemy, had secretly funded the rebellion after Henry made his false claim to the throne. Though attempts were made at remedying relations by both sides, Aurean Emperor Kevlar V finally put the nail in the coffin of Saro-Aurean relations when it was discovered by CISA that he was hiding Loganite rebels in Aurean territory and intended to attempt to claim the throne of the State for himself.
John was present at the diplomatic talks with the Aurean Emperor both before and after the discovery, leading the Sarovian delegation. When John confronted Kevlar with the information, Kevlar did not deny it and revealed his intent to claim the State. Though John tried to convince him otherwise, Kevlar remained firm, even going so far as to break off talks. As a result of this, Sarovia declared war on Aurea in 295 AS. It was at this time that the previously small Far West Fleet of the Imperial Navy ballooned in size. John took over the Navy as First Sea Lord, and appointed Richard Lux, the Duke of Burvanica, and Sir Ajax Avidius, the Viscount Camrose, to run the Far West Fleet. John, as well as Richard, set to work engaging in operations to confuse and scare the Aureans, while Sir Ajax led the Fleet in battle, rapidly conquering the Aurean homeland in an impressive campaign that earned him knighthood and the status of war hero.
Following the signing of the Treaty of Leda - at which he was present - John returned his focus to Sarovia proper. Whereas in Ostos he saw the bombastic proclamation of the Dominion of Carolusburg, celebrated by Sarovian colonists and ethnic Aureans alike as the beginning of a new era, John was shocked at the political stagnation that had gripped the Sarovian government. With the sole exception of his first term in office, Sir Itteus had been unable to secure a strong majority in the Imperial Parliament, always either having a slim majority at best or losing to the Caps outright, who themselves only usually ever had slim majorities. Political gridlock had gripped Sarovia, with regular Sarovians beginning to forget the sense of urgency they had felt during the Jacobite Rebellion. John felt saddened that not only the Caps but also the Hats - the party he had built and revitalized - had sunk to such a state. Therefore, he decided to create the Alliance for Sarovia, an independent third party espousing traditionalist, monarchist philosophy, as opposed to the right-wing and left-wing populism of the Hats and Caps.
The Alliance would go on to win the election and form a government, establishing a coalition with the Hats. This not only allowed the Imperial Parliament to pass the Commonwealth Act, formally creating the Sarovian Commonwealth, but also allowed the Alliance to influence the Hats' philosophy, shaping the party into what it is today. A side effect of this, however, was that Alliance members began switching to the Hats, causing the Hats to finally win a strong majority in the next election. After this, John resolved to retire from partisan politics, instead pushing the Imperial Parliament to amend the Privy Council Charter and create the position of Lord President of the Privy Council, to which he was promptly appointed.
Privy Council Presidency[edit | edit source]
Since his appointment to the Presidency of the Privy Council, John has taken on additional positions and commitments, including that of Commander of the Blue Guard Corps - a position of which he is particularly proud - as well as Minister of Defense and Minister of Colonial Affairs. He also, for a time, served as the Lord Speaker of the Assembly of Peers, most recently in 305 AS, until he resigned and was succeeded by Scaebberd Temlar, the first Lord Speaker elected under the modern Assembly of Peers Standing Orders. John was present five years earlier, in 300 AS, at his father's coronation as Holy Graalian Emperor, playing a prominent role in organizing and executing the ceremony.
However, his primary position - the Privy Council Presidency itself - is the one in which he spends most of his time. John has supervised and advised five separate governments - three of which operated under the modern term length of 3 Stefanic Years. Many politicians and officers today look to him as a mentor and a personal friend, a fact that, alongside his powers as Lord President, has allowed the Prince of Kiev to continue to wield vast influence despite his formal retirement from politics. John is sometimes known as the "Man of Ten Thousand Titles" on account of his proclivity to assume numerous offices and titles in order to perform certain tasks, much to the chagrin of Constantine IX, who in recent years has worked with his son to systematically delegate certain offices and tasks. This work has produced such organizations as the Imperial Defense Staff, the Imperial Army General Staff, and the Parliamentary Committees, among numerous others.
Honours[edit | edit source]
Throughout his life, John has received many different honours, decorations and titles.
- Princely Crown of Kiev
- Crown of the Dauphin of Carodia
- Princely Crown of Cordias
- Princely Crown of Rosendal
- Crown of the Windsors
Coat of Arms[edit | edit source]
By virtue of holding various different titles within various different countries, John's arms will reflect the country in which he represents at any given time. In matters of cross-country importance, however, the Prince of Kiev uses his Sarovian arms, which can be seen below.