| Wilhelm Albrecht|
3rd Viscount of Blackmarsh
Viscount of Blackmarsh
Wilhelm Albrecht (also known as "William the Wanton") was the 3rd Viscount of Blackmarsh. Though he showed great promise in his youth, his hedonistic ways and ostentatious lifestyle married to his strong sense of authoritarianism that could not be applied as effectively as his father's rule, made him a greatly unpopular ruler.
His reverence for the teachings of the Church of Light in Lordaeron and his general favoring of the capital's trends, greatly clashed with the quiet austerity of the people of Blackmarsh. His greatest achievement was the construction of the Great Cathedral in Dawnhaven and beginning the Elucidation of Blackmarsh. Ultimately, his ineffective leadership and extravagence led to the Spring Campaign and many believe, began the events that would one day culminate into his son, Hadrian's War.
A considerably handsome man in his youth, Wilhelm was noted for possessing the tall and lean build of a trained soldier and the acuteness of a scholar's mind. It is said that since first he knew what desire was he was already desired and that women in Blackmarsh and abroad favored him for what traces of elven blood remained in him from his mother's ancestry. As the first Albrecht to be born with their distinctly red hair, he stood out in many battle formations while wearing his white gold armor, lined in red steel. His beard was full, but was kept trimmed nicely and evenly measured.
But as he aged, he was changedg reatly by his opulent nature and the corpulence they encouraged. The muscle he had acquired quickly overcame him and the many sins he committed upon his body left him incapable of sleeping well at night for the many odd burns and aches he would feel. He was gouty and, if rumor holds, syphilitic. Not infrequently, when he stood for long periods of time he took to breaking out into sweats and his cheeks became constantly flushed while his eyes blearied.
Born the first son of Dedrick Albrecht and his lady wife Alaryana, Wilhelm was destined from an early age to rule in his father's wake. Quite unlike his father, whose childhood was riddled with infirmities and maladies, Wilhelm was a vibrant and rambunctuous lad, who routinely participated in adventures he concocted for the sake of his own greatness. At Alaryana's behest, he was sent to Capital City to be properly educated, which his father's immediately accepted as a viable option. In Dedrick's mind, expansionism was the future and the isolationist policies of his forefathers had to be abandoned if Blackmarsh was to survive into the new day.
Wilhelm took to his studies with incredible ease, no doubt aided by his elven ancestry, and became fluent in many languages. It was in physical exercises that he excelled though, for at his larger height than most of his peers he was not only strong as a bear but also agile as a wolf. He was learned in the history of the Light and many of the promising concepts he'd later introduce into Blackmarsh came from his studies in his youth.
It was also here that he met a lifelong friend, Charles Roland, a young man of Highpass whose knighthood was assured but sought education on the Light to further his understanding of what was good and proper. Impressed by this strapping lad's dedication to excellence, he invited him back to Blackmarsh to serve as one of his primary retainers. In years to come, this decision would greatly help mold the future of the viscounty, long after Wilhelm himself had died.
Upon his return to Blackmarsh, Wilhelm was greatly displeased with the drab and superstitious nature of the people he was one day to lead. He felt that they clung too readily to mysticism and shadows, which had their place in the past but not the morrow, and greatly desired to see them embrace the Light's warmth. His father was not easily swayed on the matter though, having struck a delicate balance between the factions of his time, and did not seem likely to leave the world soon. For two years did he leave to fight in Eastern Lordaeron, where he often impressed his commanders with daring and cunning against the troll forces they encountered. He was introduced not only to the harsh realities of war here, but also the House of Bala'Thustraes, from which his mother had come.
When he returned from the eastern front, Wilhelm was more certain than ever that his people had to be led away from darkness. To see his son slowed, Dedrick used what influence he had in his burgeoning relationship with the House of Buzan to wed his son to the Count Konstanin Buzan's eldest daughter, Claudia. From the outset the two were a poor match as Claudia very much appreciated the ways of old, while her husband advocated for a great leap into the future. Regardless of their personal misgivings though, Wilhelm did see his wife with child before very long but quickly lost interest in her after.
Nearing 32 and still incapable of ruling, he was sent to Capital City once more, this time to act as his father's envoy. Women flocked to him with great interest, but the sedentary lifestyle of a man off the battlefield saw his weight do no different. When Dedrick was finally readied to leave the world, Wilhelm had sired two bastards and was nearly twice the size he had been when first he left for the capital.
Without his father about to prevent him from acting as he cared to and a decade's worth of frustration under his poorly fitting belt, Wilhelm began a sweeping series of changes to the land that left dire consequences. To raise revenue for his Great Cathedral, he taxed those that were known to practice dark magics or revere the Old Ways. More importantly, once he saw this was ineffective in both gaining revenue and destroying pagan worship, he simply abolishe dthe worship of any religion outside of the Light and made the bold request that the second born of each noble house be fostered at Dawnhaven, where they might learn the ways of the present nobility.
Mismanagement of his taxes and several expansionist wars on behalf of his mother's family, caused little gain and at a great expense for the people of Blackmarsh. To acquire further support, he nearly sold his sister Agnes (herself a favorite of Blackmarsh's nobility) to the harsh Margrave Auric Falomyr.
It was the final spring of his life that saw the culmination of what disdain he had wrought throughout his life. The Houses of Creed, Graves, and Willow rose in rebellion against the House of Albrecht in what came to be known as the Spring Campaign. It was to his benefit (and Blackmarsh's later troubles) that the Margrave of Falomyr held true to his vows and assisted him in defeating the upstarts. Beaten, the detractors were hardly broken. Their misgivings remained and their position was not yet weakened. He ventured to the capital with his son Hadrian to demand aid from his royal relatives, but it was refused.
Overcome with rage, he protested greatly until debated until a massive heart attack took his voice and life. Nearly a century later, it was discovered by Madelynne Albrecht in a diary left by her great-great-grandmother that Hadrian had in fact poisoned his father, as a means to prevent him from further ruining the viscounty.
While Dedrick's centralized authority came at the end of a rebellion, Wilhelm's attempt to further centralize it was during a period of convalescence.
Many of Wilhelm's policies were borrowed from Lordaeron's court system, which saw lords and their subjects pay taxes to a central authority. Wilhelm also enjoyed using taxes as a punitive measure and offered breaks and exemptions to those that had gained his favor, while others were charged heavily. Quite famously, when Sir Charles Roland attempted to pay his taxes he was informed by the collector that the viscount would accept no coin from a friend. Far too proud to allow himself to live off of charity, Sir Charles informed the collector that he and the collector were not friends and that he would fill the man's stomach with his coin if he did not take it in hand. The collector quickly acquiesced and later, Wilhelm called Charles forth to explain which led to this exchange:
- "You are my friend," the viscount said to his trusted retainer.
- "As children we were friends, my lord, but I am now your knight. A friend might betray another and seek forgiveness a week later: a knight will remain at his lord's side until he is no more."
Though Wilhlem disliked taking from Sir Charles, he accepted his tax nevertheless though did reduce it lower than others.
Many of the taxes that Wilhelm raised went toward one of three projects: the maintenance of a standing army for Blackmarsh, the construction of the Grand Cathedral, and the expansion of education in Blackmarsh. His most unpopular decision was the forced fostering of the second born sons of his lords to be fostered in Dawnhaven, where they might be raised "properly." This led to several disputes that eventually became the Spring Campaign.
Additionally, despite his great attempt to elucidate the people of Blackmarsh, his aggressive expansionism of the Light was met with middling success. It was ultimately his son, Hadrian, who would prove the champion of the Light and see the ways of old abandoned.
Despite these many failures, he did continue his father's policies of open trade, which saw new blood filter into Blackmarsh's economy and culture. The prestigious Dawnguard was also created under his rule.