The Empire of the Isles is a constitutional monarchy in Dishonored that is ruled by an Emperor or Empress, with a Parliamentary government as its legislature. In the absence of an Imperial head of state, a Lord Regent may rule the Empire until a new Emperor or Empress is crowned.


The Empire encompasses four large islands and several small ones, which make up the Isles. The four main islands are Tyvia, Morley, Gristol, and Serkonos, with Gristol acting as the head state of the Empire.


Main article: Rulers of the Empire of the Isles


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, Parliament was formed in Gristol on the 26th day of the Month of Timber, making the Empire a constitutional monarchy. Morgengaard's dynasty lasted 43 years and was succeeded by the Rhydderch family who 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

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 these events, the Abbey of the Everyman was named State Religion in 1711.[2][1]

The Morley Insurrection and the First Regency

The Olaskir dysnasty was the longest in the Empire's history, spanning over 96 years. However, it was marked by 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.[4]

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 the 13th of the Month of Winds, forcing some natives to settle in Karnaca, Serkonos.

The Industrial Age


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 deterioriation. 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.[5] 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.[6][5] During Jessamine's time on the throne, "...political intrigue and minor conflicts created cracks in the Empire, undermining unity across the Isles."[7]

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. 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.

These new means of protection 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 Plague Crisis

Sr corpses2

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

The rat plague first struck Dunwall during the Month of Clans, 1835. The disease quickly spread out of 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 gangs and the City Watch. Eventually, this chaos led to the crash of Drapers Ward during the Month of Songs, with the Dead Eels and Hatters Gangs warring over the territory. In addition, the thriving Rudshore Financial District was flooded in 1836 due to poor levy maintenance, becoming the Flooded District.

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. 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. At the same time, she ordered Burrows to open an inquiry into possible causes for the outbreak.

Burrows used this opportunity to plot the assassination of the Empress and the abduction of her daughter Emily, to avoid the exposure of his actions. With the complicity of High Overseer Thaddeus Campbell and other 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.


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 order a blockade of Dunwall harbor. Following a struggle with Corvo, Daud and his men carried out the assassination and kidnapping as planned, leaving Burrows to frame Corvo.

The former Royal Protector was confined to Coldridge Prison and tortured for six months to elicit a false confession prior to execution. Meanwhile, Hiram Burrows was elected Lord Regent by parliamentary vote, due in part to the influence of Lords Morgan and Custis Pendleton. 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.

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 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.

The Lord Regent soon lost his hold on the Overseers, majority support in Parliament, and the financial means to continue paying 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 the control of the Empire for themselves, leaving Corvo for dead.

Havelock was then appointed Lord Regent until Emily came to the age to rule the Empire, and took refuge atop the lighthouse on Kingsparrow Island. However, Havelock's reign was shortlived, 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.



While Gristol is the heart of the Empire, the remaining islands are mostly autonomous, with their own heads of state.[8]A king reigns in Morley,[9] while the title of marquis exists in some capacity within the Empire, and the nation of Serkonos is noted as having a duke.[10]

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.[11] The Kaldwin family is the current ruling dynasty, and over the course of Dishonored two Empresses hold power: Jessamine Kaldwin and her daughter, Emily Kaldwin. 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.[12]

The legislature of Gristol is the Parliament,[9] headed by a Prime Minister, which the Emperor or Empress is dependent upon to pursue his or her government policies. Parliament was formed in the year 1626, on the 20th day of the Month of Timber.[13]It is a largely aristocratic body, as Morgan and Custis Pendleton's positions in Parliament pass to their younger brother in the event of their deaths, and the rest is made up of "important figures."[9] Membership in Parliament is "based on holdings, inheritance, and special dispensation."[14] As voter priority is determined by the size of members' holdings and land, important families in Parliament may establish voting blocks that can have a greater influence than those of individual members and lesser aristocrats.[9] During the later events of Dishonored, Treavor Pendleton becomes Prime Minister of the Empire.

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 a 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.[15] Corvo Attano serves as Royal Protector prior to the events of Dishonored.

The Royal Physician serves as 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 standing Physician Anton Sokolov is 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[16], 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 of course 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.[16] During his tenure, Royal Spymaster Hiram Burrows advises the Empress to create blockades and install other means of social control to combat the rat plague.

Another position of recognition, though not as notable as the others, is the Royal Interrogator, who interrogates and executes criminals in Dunwall Tower and Coldridge Prison.



A soldier.

The Fleet, which is led by the Grand Admiral of the Fleet, is the Empire's naval force, and it protects the port city of Dunwall, as well as seafaring vessels from pirate incursions.[17] It has much prestige among the population of Gristol, and some families continue the tradition of enlisting at least one boy from each generation.[18] 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 an army, which is commanded by the Supreme Commander of the Combined Armies of the Empire 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.


During the events of Dishonored, 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. In The Knife of Dunwall, it is also revealed that hampering production in "critical industries" (such as whaling) is a high crime under Burrows' government.

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 worshiping 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.




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.[19] Between 1800 and 1810, Lord Preston Moray and his wife Vera explored the continent, from which she returned marked by the Outsider. Also 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.[20] 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."


  • Long ago, different languages were used among the people of the isles, but this is not so anymore.[21]


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