Two Churches, One Unicorn – A History
It is ironic that a country whose symbol is a unicorn, which is an animal with one horn, has two faiths that venerate and honour it. It is also ironic that Oberon’s mother, Maud of Kolvir uses the shape of the female unicorn as her favourite animal form.
The first is the Established Church of Amber, aka the Church of the Unicorn, which was founded at the same time as the Kingdom of Amber by the original settlers from Barrimanways who permanently adopted human form. There has only been one Archpatriarch or High Priest, Theobald Amblerash, younger brother of Bances of the Church of the Serpent. The theology and liturgy are seen as a kinder gentler version of the Church of Chaos, with a less harsh library of Canon law, and the Unicorn substituted for the Dragon. Unlike Chaos, there is no real persecution of heresy by the Amber Church.
The Church of the Unicorn suffered its first blow when Oberon, after 30,000 years of marriage to his half-aunt Cymnea, tired of her and wanted to marry a Karm Princess. Chaos reacted with fury, as a result of which Oberon swept away Chaos institutions with extreme prejudice. The Amber Parliament has been in a state of permanent recess for the resulting 70,000 years. Universities were crushed and never regained their power or influence, and the Church was persecuted and harassed as it refused to acknowledge the divorce. The resulting Civil War between Oberon and his elder sons, Finndo and Osric, did nothing to help the Church: Theobald did his best to remain neutral, but most of the clergy joined Osric and Finndo’s doomed rebellion. When King Swayville seized Amber City in retaliation, Cathedral and the Chaos Embassy where the only buildings which weren’t levelled. Alas, this did nothing to assuage Oberon’s anger at the Church, which he considered to be a Chaos institution.
After Faiella’s death in childbirth, Oberon’s fury subsided and over time, the Church was no longer suppressed as Oberon sought better relations with Chaos, and his uncles King Swayville and Lord Suhuy. Oberon again chose Chaos for a suitable Queen, the Helgram Princess Clarissa, who had been briefly married to Cymnea’s late son Lucian. During the “Helgram Summer”, the Amber Church underwent a renaissance as new art, culture and money raised new cathedrals, and created wondrous artworks across Amber and the Golden Circle. Unfortunately the marriage of Oberon and Clarissa, both of whom were redheads, was stormy and Oberon tired of his fiery wife. This divorce provoked a new round of Amber-Chaos wars, although not with the intensity of the Post-Cymnea wars.
Eventually, Oberon chose a new Queen, and with her ascendancy, religion in Amber changed forever. Rilga, a simple-living rural gentlewoman of a heritage that has never been confirmed, although has been the subject of discreet rumours, had a different vision of man’s relationship with the Unicorn. She wanted to eliminate the hierarchy, Canon law, the rites and rituals, and the art and icons. Once she became his wife, she convinced him the worship of the people towards the Unicorn should be through a simplified Reformed Church.
With Clarissa’s children by Oberon in exile or presumed dead, the King engaged in another another round of wars with Chaos. The Ygg line moved back and forth, and many Shadows were engulfed in massive wars which reflected those between the armies of Amber and Chaos.
Oberon unleashed Rilga on the Church of Amber, which he was persuaded required internal reforms due to its institutional nature, and because Theobald rarely engaged in purges, or punished corrupt priests and bishops. However, the Church institutions resisted her reforms, given that many clergy – and much of the Amber Government – were relatives of ex-Queen Clarissa, who would have preferred Rilga to be put aside, so that Oberon could reconcile with Clarissa.
As military losses mounted, and hundreds of years of on and off conflict became thousands, Rilga turned her ire on the pro-Clarissa Helgram block, claiming that they had colonised Amber, and demanded that “New Helgram” be shut down. Through a combination of religious hysteria and fanaticism, she rooted out the Helgrams in both Church and government, and broke the back of the Church of Amber, driving Archpatriarch Theobald into exile in Chaos. Then she established a new hierarchy on the basis of her “reformed” view.
It is possible that had she stopped there, then she might have managed to permanently enshrine these changes in Amber. However, she didn’t stop there. Instead, she declared that those who opposed her reforms were both traitors to her husband and Amber, and heretics. Burning pyres became a daily sight across the continent of Amber, anyone who disagreed with her – be they rich or poor, noble or peasant – were burned for their beliefs. It is estimated that 20 million Amber citizens, descended from the House Barriman demons who had chosen to become human, and 12.3 billion residents of the Golden Circle met their end during the “Burning Times”, when even merely serving a Helgram could got one consigned to the fire.
However with every fire the resistance grew, as an underground conservatism towards the original Church swept the land. Moreover, by virtue of his never-ending wars with Chaos, even Oberon came to the point where he could not replace the loss of the Barriman demon descendants quickly enough to maintain the population of Amber. At the height of Rilga’s power, Oberon decided that enough was enough, and she was “persuaded” to abdicate as Queen, with the strong “suggestion” that she nurture her church at a Unicorn Shrine. The couple divorced, and eventually Oberon found himself a last bride, in the form of Pauline, mother of Random.
Not wanting either his children, or the faiths of Amber, to be greater than himself, Oberon seized the opportunity to divide and conquer and came to terms with Swayville with respect to the Church, and the “Established” branch was finally restored, with Theobald once more returned to the position of Archpatriarch. The finances and Canon law of the Established Church are administered by the Synod, a de facto government ministry. The Head of the Synod its as a Minister in Cabinet.
Hierarchies of the Two Churches
The Church of Amber, aka the Church of the Unicorn
The King of Amber
Archpatriarch/High Priest – Theobald Amblerash
Archbishop of Amber City
Archbishop of Garnath
Archbishop of the South
Archbishop of the North
Archbishop of the Coast and Isles
Archbishop of the East (vacant)
Archbishop of Rebma
Patriarchs of Golden Circle States
Bishops headed by Bishop of Kolvir and other Auxillary Bishops in Amber City
Lay Clergy and workers
The Reformed Church of the Unicorn aka the Church of Rilga
Head and Chief Pastor of the Flock – Rilga
Great Assembly (meets when Rilga summons it)
Chair of the Assemblies and Alliances of the North – Rambault
Chair of the Assemblies and Alliances of the East – Ulrich (just proclaimed)
Chair of the Assemblies in the rest of Amber
Chair of the Assemblies in the Golden Circle and abroad
Chair of the Missionary Service
Chair of the Punishment of Sin
Chair of the Suppression of Heresy
Chair of the Prevention of Demons
Regional Assemblies with Chairs
District Assemblies with Chairs
Every Church has a Pastor, Assistant Pastors and Deacons
The Rilga Church has some authority over its people, but loses this should an individual renounced the Rilga Church, to join another faith.
(which probably won’t stop the church pursuing them for heresy!)