London and Empire

From London Requiem

<<< The 18th Century

By the dawn of the 19th century London was increasingly the dominant city in the world. The population reached a million by 1811, and expansion continued at an even greater rate throughout the century. It was a centre for trade, politics and government. And as the demographics of population and loyalty in the mortal world began to undergo rapid upheaval, kindred society faced changes of its own.

With the population so large by the start of the 19th century, and growing hugely so that it reached roughly 6million by the start of the 20th century, this was the century in which London became able to support a truly large kindred population. The Lancea Sanctum's long held influence in the areas outside the city fell away to its lowest point - huge growth meant that they could no longer aim to hold sway over all but a portion of the city. After some two centuries or so leading the Covenant in London, Andrew Owenden had become increasingly morose as the 18th century drew to a close, depressed at the increasing faithlessness of both the mortal and kindred populations, and the Lancea Sanctum's increasing inability to maintain any degree of real power. It is believed he took himself into torpor as the new century dawned. Bereft of their long standing leader the Lancea Sanctum became more insular, less willing to interfere even in kindred life as a group, although individual members of the Covenant were still often outspoken.

In addition, the numbers of the Ordo Dracul, which had grown slowly but steadily throughout the 18th century, seemed to drop relatively quickly following Lucius' regaining the position of Lord Mayor. Whether through emigration, death, torpor or otherwise, a number of previously active members of the Ordo were no longer seen in general kindred society.

The Invictus meanwhile, now that Mayor Lucius had taken a strong grip on his domain, were at their peak during the century. London was a safe haven for money, their merchant bankers became world financiers as Britain's empire expanded. The City saw new developments as insurance companies and banks built new premises, and holding sway over what kindred influence existed over this bounty were the Invictus of the Square Mile. There was no challenge to Lucius. None needed to. The Square Mile Elysium remained the centre of kindred life in the city, for all that London expanded so rapidly. Though there were other kindred gathering spots - in Spitalfields, Holborn, Camden, often gathered where London traders would meet during the daylight hours, the Square Mile remained dominant. There was no reason for Lucius to make attempts to extend his power outside of the Roman walls, and so he did not.

For the first time since Roman times, however, the Lancea Sanctum and Invictus found that their numbers were equalled if not exceeded by those who claimed allegiance to other beliefs, or indeed subscribed to none at all.

As the expansion of Empire continued, it brought back news and stories of strange tribes and cultures, of new beliefs. An interest in the Pagan and the occult grew fashionable among mortal society. This new found acceptance of non-Christian practices saw the first return (at least openly) of the Circle of the Crone for more than a millennia. Astrid Graves of Fulham was the first to announce herself at a courtly gathering as being a Crone, and although this caused some gossip and disapproval it seems that she was, in the main, accepted. The Lancea Sanctum tried to speak out against this growth, but their lack of influence or true leadership meant that their voice was quieter.

Of perhaps a greater impact on the more embedded kindred interests in London was the increasing numbers of young vampires claiming the right to a different form of government. The seeds that had been sown first by Julian, son of Richard of Lincoln, several hundred years before were finally beginning to bloom. They proved unwelcome in the City of London, but by this time numerous meetings of kindred occurred all over the city and one did not have to visit the Square Mile to have a voice that was heard and a face that was known. The impetus among kindred that would soon see the Carthian Movement recognised as a covenant was reflected by the number of kindred who identified themselves with the ideals of the Chartist movement. A number of them based themselves in Bloomsbury, near the regular haunts of a number of prominent Chartists, and remained there when the mortals they so admired were deported for sedition in the 1840s. The Great Reform Act of 1832, and subsequent acts throughout the century seemed to ensure that these proto-Carthians' existence was set, and secure. Yet for some reason, the momentum petered out. Perhaps due to the existence of a seemingly immovable Invictus power centre, the existence of a pro-democratic faction in London as a significant power was short lived, and over the course of the century they dwindled. Modern day London has almost no Carthian presence.

For the first time also, there were significant numbers of kindred who claimed allegiance to no Covenant. These unaligned spread across the city, initially in poorer areas but also gravitating towards Soho, where they often clashed with the Lancea Sanctum, and elsewhere.

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