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For the Isles in general, see Isles.

The Empire of the Isles is the foremost constitutional monarchy in the known world, encompassing the Isles of Gristol, Morley, Serkonos, and Tyvia.

Formed at the end of the War of Four Crowns in 1625, with the crowning of Emperor Finlay Morgengaard I on 2nd Day, Month of Nets, 1626, the Empire, aided by the Imperial Navy, became the primary hegemonic power across the Isles. It was later supported by its prodigal religious body, the Abbey of the Everyman. Ruled by a hereditary Emperor or Empress, a legislative Parliament helps curb possible excesses of the monarch, and a long line of aristocrats and other influential members of high society largely dominate its political affairs.


The Empire encompasses four large islands and several smaller ones, which make up the Isles.

  • Gristol — Home to the Imperial capital of Dunwall and half the population of the Isles. Gristol is a large, centrally located Isle known for its farming, shipping, whaling, and mining, and is a proud supporter of the Imperial Navy.[2]
  • Morley — Isle in the Empire known for its poets, musicians, philosophers, and food.[3]
  • Serkonos — Southernmost Isle in the Empire known for its hardworking people, exotic climate, and as the preferred retreat for the nobility.[4]
  • Tyvia — Northernmost Isle in the Empire known for its cold, harsh climate, independent people and valuable ores.[5]




The Empire has repeatedly tried to colonize the Pandyssian Continent, attempting to build a port city there to rival the Imperial capital city of Dunwall. Despite these efforts, all colonization ventures have failed.[6] Between 1800 and 1810, Lord Preston Moray and his wife Vera explored the continent, from which she returned marked by the Outsider. In 1808, Anton Sokolov participated in an expedition to Pandyssia during which the majority of the crew members died before reaching the continent, and the philosopher himself had to lead it after the captain perished.[7] The Abbey of the Everyman has invaded Pandyssia at least once. Scott Grafton is known as being the "First Overseer to forge into Pandyssia, to purge darkness wherever it might be found."


Main article: Timeline

Foundation (1626-1700s)[]

The Empire of the Isles was founded after the end of the War of Four Crowns in 1625. On the 2nd Day of the Month of Nets 1626, Finlay Morgengaard I was crowned Emperor. In the same year, the Parliament was formed in Gristol on the 26th Day of the Month of Timber, officially designating the Empire as a constitutional monarchy. Morgengaard's dynasty lasted 43 years before he was succeeded by the Rhydderch family who subsequently ruled the Empire for 9 years. Hurien Morgengaard came to the throne in 1678 and was the last Emperor of his name.[1]

The Rise of the Abbey (1700-1800s)[]

Benjamin Holger statue

Benjamin Holger.

The Abbey of the Everyman founded by Benjamin Holger gained influence during the reign of Hurien Morgengaard in the late 17th century. Holger's successor, John Clavering, ordered the construction of the Abbey in Dunwall in 1701, then initiated the Rectification War in 1705 in order to purge the region of those deemed followers of the Outsider. During that same year, the coronation of Yefim Olaskir took place. In 1708, the completion of the Abbey led to many Overseers gathering for the Siege of White Cliff, which marked the end of the war with their victory following the 'purging' of those deemed heretical by the Abbey. Following these events, the Abbey of the Everyman was named the official state religion in 1711.[8][1]

The Morley Insurrection and the First Regency (1801-1803)[]

The Olaskir dynasty was the longest in the Empire's history, spanning over 96 years. However, it was marked by a major crisis. On the 1st Day of the Month of High Cold, 1801, the Isle of Morley started a violent uprising against Gristol and the Empire. Warfare between the two nations was largely naval, which led to the fortification of Kingsparrow Island to protect Dunwall's maritime entrance. However, the city's poorly maintained sewers allowed rebels to access important locations, which led to the assassination of Empress Larisa Olaskir on the 8th Day of the Month of Clans, 1801.[3]

With no time to name a proper successor to the throne, a regent was elected by the Parliament ten days later to rule the Empire through the crisis. The war ended with Gristol's victory on the 15th day of the Month of Seeds, 1802. The victory was due in part due to the superiority of the nation's naval fleet, but also with the efforts of the acting Royal Spymaster. This position, held secret since the foundation of the Empire, became public knowledge after the insurrection.[9]

The Regency lasted one more year and ended with the coronation of Euhorn Jacob Kaldwin I on the 3rd Day of the Month of Seeds, 1803. A few months later, the Morley Famine was officially declared on the 13th Day of the Month of Winds, forcing some natives to settle in Karnaca, Serkonos.[1]

The Industrial Age (1800s)[]


Kaldwin's Bridge.

Euhorn's reign was marked by industrial advancement for the city of Dunwall. Under his rule, the City Planning Department reinforced and expanded the sewers beneath the city to prevent deterioration. The Emperor also commissioned the construction of a large bridge spanning the Wrenhaven River, Kaldwin's Bridge. It was also during his reign that the City Watch was formed to protect Dunwall, the 1st Day of the Month of Timber, 1809. Finally, the work of the natural philosopher Esmond Roseburrow led to the creation of new whale oil-powered technologies, such as electric lampposts.[10] In 1820, Roseburrow came into acquaintance with Anton Sokolov, who brought new ideas to the production and exploitation of whale oil. Sokolov was named Royal Physician and Head of the Academy of Natural Philosophy in 1822, and his new technologies initiated an industrial and economical boom across the Empire in 1825.

The Empress and the Empty Set

Empress Jessamine Kaldwin I.

Euhorn died the 19th day of the Month of Darkness, 1825, and was succeeded by his daughter, Jessamine Kaldwin I, crowned the 1st Day of the Month of High Cold.[11][10] During Jessamine's time on the throne, "...political intrigue and minor conflicts created cracks in the Empire, undermining unity across the Isles."[12]

In 1830, Hiram Burrows was appointed to the position of Royal Spymaster and sponsored the development of new technologies for the City Watch, such as the arc pylon and the wall of light in 1833, and tallboys later in 1836.[10] Burrows also developed a network of informants called the Responsible Citizens Group, dedicated to reporting on any suspicious activities, particularly in regard to criminal organizations and foreign spies.[13]

The Plague Crisis (1835-1837)[]

Sr corpses2

The corpses of plague victims piled in front of a barrier containing a warning about the plague.

Many new whale oil-powered technologies soon became lethal tools of repression, focused particularly on impoverished areas. Following his own agenda to eradicate the poorest citizens of Dunwall, Burrows secretly introduced Bull Rats, a species from the Pandyssian Continent and carriers of the rat plague, into the city's poorest districts.

The rat plague first struck Dunwall during the Month of Clans, 1835.[10] The disease quickly spread out of the intended impoverished districts to the rest of the city, leaving Burrows' agents unable to control its spread. As districts were abandoned due to infection, gang activity increased, leading to street warfare between Dunwall's various cartels and the City Watch. Eventually, this chaos led to the clash of Drapers Ward during the Month of Songs, with the Dead Eels and Hatters warring over the now-decimated territory. In addition, the thriving Rudshore Financial District was flooded in 1836 due to poor levy maintenance, becoming known as the Flooded District.[14]

The plague's infection rate continued to increase despite the introduction of anti-plague remedies such as Sokolov's Elixir and Piero's Spiritual Remedy, which were often too expensive for the average citizen. Reluctant to use extreme methods to deal with citizens suffering from the disease, the Empress requested aid from the other Isles, sending Royal Protector Corvo Attano to petition for assistance on the Royal Spymaster's advice. Concurrently, the Empress ordered Burrows to open an inquiry into possible causes of the outbreak.[15]

Burrows used this opportunity to plot the assassination of the Empress and the abduction of her daughter Emily Kaldwin, to avoid the exposure of his actions. With the complicity of High Overseer Thaddeus Campbell and various members of Gristol's nobility, he offered the contract to Daud, an assassin known for his efficiency and supernatural abilities. The plot was to be carried out on the 18th day of the Month of Earth, 1837 at Dunwall Tower, two days before Corvo was scheduled to return.[15]


Corvo is framed by Burrows and Campbell for the Empress's assassination.

However, Corvo arrived in Gristol early to inform the Empress that the other nations of the Empire had ordered a blockade of Dunwall's harbor to keep the plague from spreading to the rest of the Empire. Following a struggle with the Royal Protector, Daud and his men carried out the assassination and kidnapping as planned, leaving Burrows to frame Corvo as a providential culprit.[15]

The former Royal Protector was confined to Coldridge Prison and tortured for six months to elicit a false confession prior to his execution. Meanwhile, Hiram Burrows was elected Lord Regent by parliamentary vote, due in part to the influence of Lords Morgan and Custis Pendleton on the majority block. He deployed repressive measures in Dunwall in order to control its citizens and contain the rapid spread of the plague. Sokolov technologies were put to regular use, and Burrows ordered the fortification of strategic locations such as Dunwall Tower and Kaldwin's Bridge. He also initiated the construction of a monumental lighthouse on Kingsparrow Island, equipped with the latest technologies to be used as a safe house. Finally, he granted civil authority to the Overseers led by Campbell, giving them the power to persecute religious crimes.[15]

During this time, a loyalist conspiracy was formed, headed by former admiral Farley Havelock, Lord Treavor Pendleton, and Overseer Teague Martin with the aim of returning Emily Kaldwin to the throne. With the help of Piero Joplin, they orchestrated Corvo's escape from Coldridge Prison on the day before his execution was set to take place. They then tasked the Royal Protector with rescuing Emily and eliminating each of Burrows' allies, weakening his power base.[15]

The Lord Regent soon lost his hold on the Overseers, majority support in Parliament, and the means to continue financing the City Watch. Eventually, Corvo neutralized Burrows himself, returning the seat of power to Emily. However, the Loyalist leaders in turn eliminated their accomplices in order to conceal their conspiracy and seize control of the Empire for themselves, leaving Corvo for dead.[15]

Havelock was then appointed Lord Regent until Emily came of age to rule the Empire, and took refuge atop the lighthouse on Kingsparrow Island. However, Havelock's reign was short-lived, as Corvo recovered from the attempt on his life and rescued Emily from his former allies. Emily Drexel Lela Kaldwin was crowned on the 1st day of the Month of Timber, 1837. The Rat Plague ended some times later after these events, thanks to a cure developed conjointly by Piero Joplin and Anton Sokolov.[10][15]

Reign of Emily Kaldwin (1837-1852)[]

Following the deposition of both Hiram Burrows and Farley Havelock, Emily Kaldwin presided over the Empire, guided by Corvo Attano, who had been appointed as both Royal Protector once more, as well as Royal Spymaster, following a merging of the two positions. It was during this time that Dunwall would be re-opened to trade with the other nations of the Empire, following a period of restoration and gentrification in the city. Despite the threat of usurpers, such as the fanatical Regenter faction, which attempted to restore the oppressive methods used by Lord Regent Hiram Burrows into Dunwall,[16] the Empire maintained a semblance of stability until around Emily's early adulthood, in the years 1850-1852.

By 1852, the Empire was slowly being frayed apart by criticism towards Emily Kaldwin's reign. Notable aristocrats and nobles from Dunwall, such as Ichabod Boyle, had openly criticized the Empress for perceived economic sanctions on the nobility. In what seemed to be a response to these protests, many of Kaldwin's most notable critics were violently silenced in what was known as the "Crown Killer" murders. These served to further fear-mongering against Empress Emily, as well as her Royal Protector/Spymaster, Corvo Attano, with some suspecting that Emily herself or Corvo was behind the grisly murders.

Internal strife and civil discontent within the Empire came to a head on the commemoration of the late Empress Jessamine Kaldwin's murder on the 18th day of the Month of Earth, in 1852, when the witch Delilah Copperspoon took the throne in a coup from Emily, with the compliance of Duke Luca Abele of Serkonos, Dunwall City Watch Captain Mortimer Ramsey, and various treacherous members of the Grand Serkonan Guard and the Dunwall City Watch. With the Empress and her Royal Protector now framed for the Crown Killer murders, Delilah took the throne, assuming the name "Delilah Kaldwin", claiming to be the true heir to the Kaldwin dynasty.

Reign of "Delilah Kaldwin" (1852)[]

Under the short, chaotic reign of Empress Delilah Kaldwin, tensions within the Empire rapidly increased. Delilah already had the backing of Duke Luca Abele and therefore Serkonos, and she dissolved parliament to strengthen her grip on Gristol, but the governments of Morley and Tyvia both questioned the legitimacy of her claim to the Imperial throne. This dispute pulled the Isles to the brink of a civil war for the first time since the Morley Insurrection.[17] Civilian dissent against Delilah's reign was not unheard of, as publications and newspapers such as the Silver Spike in Karnaca openly criticized Delilah's reign and the oppressive nature of her allies.[18] Military unrest also unfolded; while members of Karnaca's Grand Guard backed the Duke and Delilah, infighting was seen within the Dunwall City Watch as loyalists to Kaldwin openly fought, to no avail, against supporters of Delilah.


A propaganda banner in Karnaca declaring Delilah as Empress.

Delilah's ascension also weakened the Abbey of the Everyman. Although the Oracular Order issued missives encouraging the Abbey to formally recognize the new Empress, High Overseer Yul Khulan, who narrowly escaped Dunwall Tower during the coup, was suspicious of her intentions and chose to remain neutral in light of rumors that she was involved in witchcraft. Eventually, when Delilah's occult activities became obvious, Khulan rallied every Overseer in Dunwall and marched on Dunwall Tower to depose her, but the assault was in vain. The Jindosh clockwork soldiers Delilah had brought with her from Karnaca easily defeated the Overseers, and Khulan was killed in a brutal fashion. It later emerged that the Oracular Order had been unknowingly manipulated by black magic performed by Delilah's coven, which meant a witch had come perilously close to attaining control of the Abbey.

The citizens of Dunwall became so fearful of the Empress that they abandoned and barricaded the Tower District in an attempt to contain her, but this did nothing to impede her preparations for her master plan: using witchcraft to reshape reality itself so that she could become the universally beloved, absolute ruler of the Empire for all eternity. Meanwhile, Delilah's powerbase in Karnaca, consisting of Duke Abele, Grand Inventor Kirin Jindosh, Breanna Ashworth, and the Crown Killer, was systematically incapacitated by her opponents through various means. In the end, Empress Delilah was denied her final victory and deposed, and Emily Kaldwin was restored to the throne.

Restoration of Emily Kaldwin (1852-1853)[]

Empress Emily worked swiftly to undo the damage wrought by her usurper. Parliament was reconvened, relations between the Isles were mended, and the reconstruction and renovation of parts of Dunwall were made a high priority during the Months of Nets and Rain. Concerns that another tyrant like Delilah could rise to power spurred members of parliament such as Archibald Wainwright to advocate for reforming the Empire's government towards a more democratic institution and dissolving the Imperial Throne. Amidst this debate, the anarchic Rat Gang, led by the sadistic Luella Price, launched a campaign of terrorism across Dunwall in an effort to seize power from the Imperial government. They targeted multiple reconstruction work crews and bombed various buildings and landmarks, including the famed Clocktower. When the Rat Gang was finally suppressed and Price apprehended, the Empress condemned her to hard labor as a city reconstruction worker instead of execution in Coldridge as expected. This merciful punishment helped solidify Emily Kaldwin's image as a fair and just ruler in the eyes of many people across the Isles, especially among her former detractors in Parliament.

The Void Rift Crisis (1853)[]

It was not long before Isles were struck by yet another major crisis. The severance of The Outsider from The Void by Billie Lurk had unintended consequences for the Empire, and the World at large. Without a representative deity, the tenuous balance between the mortal world and the Void, which had already been severely strained by Delilah's revival in 1849, became even more unstable, and Void Rifts appeared across the Isles. Many cities were damaged by the rifts, and their presence afflicted countless people across the Empire with nightmares and insanity. The cosmological shift also reverberated through the Abbey of the Everyman and brought about its undoing: in an attempt to contain the growing void rifts, the Overseers of the Abbey resorted to strange and dark rituals, drawing concern from the Imperial government. These affairs culminated in the High Overseer going mad and killing some of the Abbey's top clergy, including the High Oracle herself.[19] Empress Emily ordered the dissolution of the Abbey in the spring of 1853. The Office of the High Overseer in Dunwall was occupied by Imperial soldiers from Whitecliff, Oracular Chapels across the Isles were stormed and torn down, and the title of Overseer was abolished.

Civil unrest returned to the Isles, particularly in Morley, where King Briam and Queen Eithne waged a three-day civil war following the appearance of a massive void rift in the middle of the city of Alba. The reason for the abrupt reconciliation between Morley's two monarchs was at first shrouded in mystery, but Billie Lurk discovered that Briam had gained the involuntary compliance of Eithne through an occult ritual, and he was also trying to alter the timeline of the Isles in a bid to shift the Empire's nexus of power to Morley and himself. Additionally, Lurk uncovered that mining operations in Alba conducted by the Leviathan Company were exacerbating the void rifts. Billie Lurk ultimately managed to repair the balance between the world and the Void, resolving the rift crisis, but the monarchs of Morley lost their lives in the process and the Leviathan Company's plans to build an Empire-wide railcar network centered on Alba were scuttled.


The Imperial banner under the Kaldwin royal family.

Despite Gristol's political influence over the other Isles, each island is mostly autonomous with their own heads of state.[20]A king reigns in Morley,[21] Tyvia is ruled by a council known as the "High Judges", while the title of marquis exists in some capacity within the Empire, and the nation of Serkonos is noted as having a duke.[22]

Officially, the Emperor (or Empress) is the head of state and government of the Empire, holding a great amount of political power. Each island in the Empire has its own lesser monarch, and diplomatic and trade relations between the nations vary.[23] In situations where a ruler is too young to assume the throne, or a proper successor cannot be determined, a Lord Regent chosen by Parliament may act as a temporary head of state.[24]

The legislature of Gristol is comprised of the Parliament, headed by a Prime Minister on which the Emperor or Empress is dependent upon to pursue his or her governmental policies. Parliament was formed in the year 1626, on the 20th Day of the Month of Timber.[25] An aristocratic and heredity body, members included influential members of society and other "important figures,"[21] with membership in Parliament "based on holdings, inheritance, and special dispensation."[26] As voter priority was determined by the size of members' holdings and land, important families in Parliament established voting blocks that could have a greater influence than those of individual members and lesser aristocrats.[21] Treavor Pendleton became temporary Prime Minister of the Empire in 1837.[27]

Positions and Ranks[]

There are a number of positions of note that serve in the royal court of the Emperor or Empress. The Royal Protector acts as the bodyguard to the Imperial head of state and his/her family. The Royal Protector keeps constant company with the Emperor or Empress and as such acts as a court figure, given "enormous latitude" by the demands of their position.[28] Corvo Attano was declared Royal Protector to Empress Jessamine on 7th Day, Month of Songs, 1817,[10] and was later appointed Royal Protector to Empress Emily Kaldwin.

The Royal Physician serves as a medical practitioner to the Emperor or Empress. While the specifics of the assignment are unknown, it appears to be tasked with matters of public health, as Royal Physician Anton Sokolov was charged with finding a cure for the rat plague by Empress Jessamine Kaldwin.

The Royal Spymaster, a formerly secret position that became public knowledge following the Morley Insurrection, is in charge of espionage operations throughout the Empire. Although the Spymaster officially serves as an adviser to the Emperor or Empress and his position is under the authority of the monarch, in practice the position is highly autonomous and therefore not accountable to the head of state. This autonomy allows the Royal Spymaster to act without the ruler's approval or knowledge.[9] Following the events of the rat plague and the Regency of Hiram Burrows, the positions of Royal Spymaster and Royal Protector were partially merged, with Corvo Attano serving in this position.

Other positions of recognition, though not as notable as the stated above, are the Royal Interrogator, who interrogates and executes criminals in Dunwall Tower and Coldridge Prison, and the Royal Tailor, who is at the Emperor or Empress' disposal in subjects regarding clothing.



A soldier.

The Imperial Navy,[2] led by the Grand Admiral of the Fleet, is the Empire's naval force, and protects the port city of Dunwall, as well as seafaring vessels from pirate incursions.[29] It held much prestige among the population of Gristol, and some families continue the tradition of enlisting at least one boy from each generation.[2] The Fleet is best known for its substantial role in claiming victory for the Empire over Morley during the Morley Insurrection.

The Empire also maintains a standing army commanded by the Supreme Commander of the Combined Armies of the Empire[30] and his generals, and its soldiers guard high-profile locations in Dunwall alongside the City Watch. The Overseers of the Abbey of the Everyman also serve in a military capacity, but are a separate group, and neither the City Watch nor the Overseers cooperate professionally.[31]


During the rat plague, Dunwall is ruled over by martial law: curfews are strictly enforced, nearly all supplies are rationed on pain of death, and the City Watch acts with impunity when enforcing the Lord Regent's decrees. It is also revealed that hampering production in "critical industries" (such as whaling) is a high crime under Burrows' government.[32][33]

In addition to secular law, the citizenry must abide by the state-sanctioned religious laws of the Abbey.


Main article: Abbey of the Everyman

The Empire's state religion is the Abbey of the Everyman, run by the High Overseer. Under Burrows, the Overseers have the judicial right to arrest and prosecute any citizen accused of worshipping the Outsider or participating in other occult practices, such as collecting runes or bone charms. Followers abide by seven core tenets, called the Seven Strictures, and draw teachings from their holy text, Litany on the White Cliff. The Abbey itself is located in Whitecliff, and the Office of the High Overseer stands in Holger Square in Dunwall.


  • Long ago, different languages were used among the people of the isles, but this is not so anymore.[34]
  • The symbol of the Empire, present on the Kaldwins' banner and the Imperial signet rings, has four keys pointing outwards, each with one to four teeth and an associated letter:
    • The bottom key has one tooth and the letter T for Tyvia.
    • The left key has two teeth and the letter S for Serkonos.
    • The right key has three teeth and the letter M for Morley.
    • The top key has four teeth and the letters GD for Gristol.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Isle of Gristol
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Isle of Morley
  4. The Isle of Serkonos
  5. The Isle of Tyvia
  6. Mysteries of Pandyssia
  7. Travel to Pandyssia
  8. The Abbey of the Everyman (book)
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Royal Spymaster
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
  11. Developer Commentary - Dishonored ages masterpost
  12. Empress Jessamine Kaldwin (book)
  13. The Whalers
  14. Donovan's Journal
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 Events of Dishonored
  16. The Child Empress
  17. Answer from Wyman
  18. THE SILVER SPIKE – Empress Delilah's Secret
  19. Dishonored: The Veiled Terror, Chapter 3
  20. Developer Commentary - Government, part 1
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Developer Commentary - Government, part 2
  22. Meeting Daud
  23. Discover Dunwall: The Isles
  24. Regency and Emergency Powers
  25. Developer Commentary - Parliament Formation
  26. Developer Commentary - Government, part 4
  27. "As Lord Regent, I hereby appoint the Lord Treavor Pendleton to the office of Prime Minister."
  28. The Royal Protector
  29. Admiralty and the Fleet
  30. "As Lord Regent, I hereby claim the titles of Grand Admiral of the Fleet, and Supreme Commander of the Combined Armies of the Empire."
  31. "...In addition, in this continuing crisis, the Overseers of the Abbey of the Everyman remain in service of the state, and are empowered to enforce whenever and wherever necessary. We owe our thanks to High Overseer Campbell for the generous loan of their services."
  32. "Attention: Under plague conditions, failure to report for work at industries deemed vital to state interests has been declared treasonous by the Lord Regent."
  33. "This is a reminder that collective bargaining in any industry deemed vital to the state is a capital offense..."
  34. Developer Commentary - Languages