Matthaeus I

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Matthaeus I
King of Faramount
Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy (1580).jpg
King Matthaeus I
16 September 1567
16 September 1568
SuccessorPetrus I
Born8 July 1528
Lacomopolis, Rexheim
Died30 January 1580 (aged 52)
Lacomopolis, Faramount
SpouseQueen Sophia I
HouseTeruso
FatherAlberto Teruso
MotherIsabella Teruso
ReligionLutheran

Matthaeus I (Matthaeus Alberto Teruso; born 8 July 1528), commonly known as Matthaeus the Betrayer or Matthaeus the Turncoat, united the modern nation of Faramount, serving as the nation's first king. A skilled political strategist, Teruso transformed his house from that of a wealthy merchant family into one of the most powerful in the Levantia, in large part through shrewd military leadership. He fought on both sides in the Great Confessional War, carefully carving out for himself the territory that would ultimately be declared the Kingdom of Faramount. Ultimately, he aligned himself with the Holy League, gaining recognition for his newfound kingdom by offering material support, and also by promising to strictly enforce a policy of religious and ethnic toleration. He ruled the country he created for thirteen years before dying in 1580.

Matthaeus was born on 8 July 1528 to a wealthy Latinic merchant family in Lacomopolis, then the home of the summer palace of the kings of Rexheim. He grew up in luxury, enjoying the finest education available at the time, but as the youngest of three sons, had little opportunity to advance in his family's business. Interested in military affairs from a young age, Matthaeus decided to take advantage of the chaotic sixteenth century in Levantia by forming a mercenary outfit, initially to provide private security to merchants like his father. Yet Matthaeus quickly found himself drawn into proper combat when the King of Rexheim sought to hire any and all available private soldiers to combat Catholic forces in the Urcean War of Religion. The merchant's son soon became well-known throughout much of the Southern Holy Levantine Empire for his military leadership. He had by 1575 amassed a sizable private army.

The Holy League moved quickly to hire that army when the Great Confessional War broke out in 1575, offering substantial enough of compensation that Matthaeus happily turned on the Protestant forces for which he had been fighting. Matthaeus captured Lacomopolis in 1576, routing several Protestant nobles, and restoring Catholic control. He proceeded on a campaign Eastward along Rexheim's coastline until he had linked Lacomopolis to Catholic-controlled Eastern Rexheim. Donnchad III ended Matthaeus campaign in 1558 by making a surprise offer to grant Matthaeus control of the lands he had conquered, and to crown him a duke, provided that he switched size. Leo III was unwilling to match that offer, and tantalized by the offer to be made a nobleman, Matthaeus pledged allegiance to the Protestant Union. He was made Duke of Lacomopolis in January, 1559.

Matthaeus quickly unseated the Catholic nobles that had been appointed in the lands he had conquered, but he soon recognized that he had little ability to gain public support in his domains. Most of those in Lacomopolis and the surrounding areas viewed Matthaeus as little more than a sword-for-hire, and had little interest in respecting his rule. To curry support, Matthaeus enacted widespread land reform, redistributing to common citizens the property previously held by the church and the aristocracy. He soon became wildly popular, particularly after he furthermore adopted a formal policy of toleration, making it clear that the religious wars devastating the continent would not divide his duchy.

Donnchad III tasked Matthaeus with leading a new offensive in Eastern Rexheim in 1560, and using a combination of his own and allied forces, Matthaeus led a highly successful campaign against the Holy League over the next two years. By 1560, Protestant forces had captured all of modern Eastern Faramount, and even made forays into surrounding territories. Matthaeus in 1561 called for a new offensive into Geneseo and Anivania, but ultimately was unable to proceed. Most of Matthaeus' allies were forced to shift their forces Westward during that year as the Holy League made advances in Southern Urcea, however, and by late 1563, Matthaeus was cognizant that the tide of the Southern front had shifted. Unwilling to surrender the power he had so carefully accrued, Matthaeus approached Leo III about the possibility of once again fighting for the Holy League.

Leo immediately agreed to grant Matthaeus independence in return for his support in the war, provided that Matthaeus continued to strictly enforce a policy of tolerance. Matthaeus thus found himself once again fighting for the Holy league, and in 1564, launched a surprise assault upon his former allies. Matthaeus advanced rapidly through Eastern and Central Rexheim thanks partly to the unanticipated nature of his assault, and also partly to the fact that Rexheim's Protestant forces were locked in brutal combat with Urcean and Rexheim Catholic forces in the West of the nation. Matthaeus had essentially conquered all of modern Faramount by 1567, when the last Protestants in Rexheim surrendered to Holy league forces.

Emperor Leo III kept to his promise thereafter, and on 16 September 1567, recognized Faramount as an independent domain. Matthaeus declared himself a king, holding a formal coronation a year later. He spent the next twelve years establishing the basic apparatus of a state in Faramount, seeking to unite a country filled with Protestants, Catholics, German peoples, and Latin peoples. He saw great success in achieving that unification by continuing his policy of land reform, thus eliminating many of the causes of strife elsewhere in Levantia. Matthaeus furthermore advanced urbanization and technological development in his kingdom by accepting tens of thousands of Protestant refugees from around the Holy Levantine Empire, particularly after the end of the Great Confessional War in 1575. Most of these refugees settled in and around Lacomopolis, forming the modern megalopolis of Southwest Faramount, and creating the urban base necessary for industrial development. Matthaeus married in 1562, and had two children, the elder of whom, Petrus I, succeeded him in 1580, when Matthaeus died of pneumonia.