De Septem Cathedras Imperialis Potentia
The human race has created many things, many great and terrible things. The Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China, created via slave labor. So many lives lost, just to showcase the power of the ruling class. But what kept the ruling class in power, besides military might? Religion, some argue. Charisma, others say. Perhaps the fact that the general population is easy to fool. These all were factors in how those in power were able to keep control, but there is another, hidden explanation. De Septem Cathedras Imperialis Potentia, or The Seven Seats of Imperial Power, were seven chairs created by the Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, the sixteenth Emperor of Rome. Marcus Aurelius is well known as one of the greatest Roman Emperors, and was considered a philosopher king. During his war with the various Germanic tribes and the Sarmatians, Aurelius discovered an enormous tree, in what is now the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic.
The tree in question was colossal, a yew. According to secret journals of Aurelius, the Germans believed that the tree was planted by the goddess Thrud, granddaughter of Wodan. They believed that whoever controlled the tree had the favor of the gods. Marcus Aurelius, upon slaughtering the Germans, he ordered the tree to felled, and brought back to Rome. There, he had his master artisans create the Seven Seats of Imperial Power. Each chair was was crafted in the image of the six most powerful gods of the Roman Pantheon―Jupiter, Minerva, Apollo, Venus, Mars, and Neptune. The seventh chair was crafted with the image of the Caesar in mind.
Upon the completion of the chairs, Marcus Aurelius had them put away in a hidden cache in the Alps, except of course, the chair that was crafted in the likeness of the Caesar. This chair, the First Seat of Imperial Power, would be passed on down the line of Emperors until the fracture of the Empire. It would then be taken to Constantinople. There it remained, to be used by the Byzantines Basileis, and Ottoman Sultans, until the first World War, when it was taken by the British. They then took it to India to help cement their power there. Unfortunately, it was lost during the independence movement, and the new Indian government gained control of it.
The remaining six chairs would stay hidden within their cache in the Alps for several centuries, until Pepin the Younger, King of the Franks, discovered them shortly before his death. The chairs were willed to his son Charlemagne, who would form the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne chose to distribute the chairs to his chief advisers, giving one to Viceroys of Neustria, Austria, Aquitaine, Lombardia, and one to Pope Leo III, in return for his crowning of Charlemagne as the Holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne decided to keep one of the chairs for himself at the Imperial Capital of Aachen.
For many centuries, the chairs remained dormant, not surfacing during the time of the Karlings, or the first few crusades. The chair given to Pope Leo III―the Fourth Seat of Power―remained within the walls of the Vatican, and is currently occupied by Pope Francis. Much like the First Chair of Power, it moved very little.
The chair granted to the Viceroy of Lombardia―The Third Seat of Power―has a more bloody history. It remained in Lombardia for several centuries, and its power was forgotten by almost all. So, in a gesture of good faith, the Duke of Milan gave it to the Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick III von Hasburg, the first of the Hasburgian Emperors. Fredrick knew of the power that the chair possessed, as Hasburgs held the Sixth Seat of Power. In an attempt to improve their diplomatic reputation, and their relations with the newly formed Spain, Fredrick gifted the Third Chair of Power to Isabella I of Castile, and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon. The chair was used by the Spanish to fuel their conquest of the New World. It was at one point sent to the new world, to provide more power for the regional governors. It was seized by the Americans during the Spanish-American War. It was brought to Japan after WWII, and was gifted to them after the withdrawal of American troops. The Sixth Seat of Power, the one held by the Hasburgs, was the same that was granted by Charlemagne to the Viceroy of Austria. The Hasburgs would use the power of this chair to secure the Holy Roman Empire for the five centuries, eventually gaining control of the crowns of Bohemia, Germany, Hungary, and Bavaria, and beyond. The chair would be taken by the British during WWI, and taken to Hong Kong to secure British trade dominance. Shortly before the British were to return Hong Kong, they made plans to bring the chair back to England. Their plan did not see fruition though, as Chinese agents intercepted the shipment. The chair now resides within The Great Hall of the People in Bejing.
Charlemagne's chair, the Second Seat of Power, would pass through many hands over time. It stayed in northern Germany though, and it was utilized by the Fredrick the Great when he formed Prussia, and the First Reich. The chair stayed in the hands of the Germans through World War II, when it was taken to Moscow by Stalin. It remains within Kremlin, and is currently held by Vladimir Putin.
The Seventh Seat of Power was granted by Charlemagne to the Viceroy of Neustria. The chair would remain in the region for quite some time, finding its home in what is now known as Normandy. The seat eventually ended up in the hands of William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy. It was through the Seventh Seat's power that William was able to take England, becoming William the Conqueror. The chair remains within Britain. The exact location of the chair is uncertain though, as during the London air raids in World War II, Prime Minister Churchill had it moved to a protected, undisclosed location.
The fifth one ended up in France. The Fifth Seat of Power was granted by Charlemagne to the Viceroy of Aquitaine, which was his son, Louis the Pious. The chair was passed on to his son Charles the Bald, and his son Louis the Stammerer. It would be passed back and forth between the rulers of the Kingdoms of Aquitaine and West Francia until their eventual union, with the formation of the Kingdom of France. It was during the the reign of King Louis XVI that the Fifth Seat of Power finally was moved again. Louis XVI, facing massive internal strife, and being good friends of the Americans, gifted the chair to General Washington. Washington used it to win the Revolutionary War, and it was passed from that point on from president to president, and is currently held by President Obama.
That is the story of De Septem Cathedras Imperialis Potentia; The Seven Seats of Imperial Power. Crafted from a yew sacred to the Germanic tribes of Bohemia by Caesar Marcus Aurelius, the chairs were used by the rulers of nearly every major Western power after. From the German Kaisers to Spanish Kings and from the Austrian Archdukes to the American Presidents, the chairs were used by those in power to rule over their citizens, and to expand their spheres of influence across the globe.
―Special Thanks to Chris Van Allsburg, Whose Picture Inspired This Story. And to Ms. Jan Priddy, Who Gave Me The Assignment That Prompted This Story.