the age of cathedrals

Calendars of Thedas: Systems, Ages,Months,& Holidays

Calendar Systems:

There are three Calendar systems in Thedas; The Chantry Calendar, The Tevinter Calendar, and the Elven Calendar. 

Chantry Calendar: The most commonly used system, the Chantry calendar began with the appointment of the first Divine, Divine Justinia I. Unlike the other two systems, the Chantry calendar marks time with the use of Ages, with each age being 100 years long. After the conclusion of every Age the scholars of the chantry come together to name the next one. Any time prior to 1:1 Divine is known as the Ancient Age, and is marked by negative numbers. 

Tevinter Calendar: In the Tevinter Imperium the authority of the chantry isn’t recognized, and thus the Imperium has it’s own Calendar. A system that predates the Chantry Calendar by well over a thousand years. Their calendar begins on the day the Imperium was founded and is marked by 0 TE. Any time prior to the founding of the empire is marked by negative numbers, much like the Chantry Calendar. 

For a short time, Tevinter abandoned it’s calendar system for the Chantry system. After the Schism the Imperium returned to the use of it’s own Calendar system. 

Elven Calendar: The Elven Calendar was established with the formation of the city of Arlathan. It was used for over six thousand years before it was banned after the Tevinter Imperium sacked Arlathan and enslaved the elves. Only a few significant Elven dates survived the passage of time including the Fist contact with the dwarves in 3000 FA, the arrival of humans in 4500 FA and the founding of the Tevinter Imperium in 6405 FA. The beginning of the Elven Calendar is marked as 1FA and is the oldest recorded date in the history of Thedas. 

Ages:

The use of Ages began with the formation of the chantry, there has been 9 Ages to date with Thedas currently in it’s 9th Age. 

Divine age (1:1-1:99) Named in celebration of the appointment of the first divine 

Glory Age (2:1-2:99) Named for the prediction of a grand rebirth after the devastation of the 1st Blight. 

Towers Age: (3:1-3:99) Named for the completion of the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux, its towers visible for miles around. 

Black age: (4:1-4:99) Named as the chantry called for retribution against the Tevinter Imperium for its installment of the “Black Divine” to rule the Imperial chantry following the Schism.

Exalted Age: ( 5:1-5:99) Named during a period of near constant war with the Tevinter Imperium that included multiple exalted marches.

Steel Age: (6:1-6:99) Named after the assassination of Queen Madrigal of Antiva. She was found with three steel swords in her chest. 

Storm Age (7:1-7:99) Named during the war with the Qunari and the leaders of Thedas called for a storm of Violence to expel the Invaders. 

Blessed Age: (8:1-8:99) Named by the chantry as the age of bounty and prosperity. 

Dragon Age: (9:1-present) Named after the reappearance of dragons which were long thought to be extinct. 


Months:

Twelve thirty day months and four seasons are what currently make up a year in Thedas. The months have roots in the Early days of the Imperium and, with the exception of addition of chantry holidays, the month and primary seasonal holidays have remained unchanged for more than two thousand years. 
Each month has a Low Name, largely used among the common classes, as well as official high names based in the original Tevinter. Only scholars and members of courts use the months’ High Names. The common names will be listed first, with the High names in parenthesis followed by the holiday celebrated in that month. 

1st Month: Wintermarch (Verimensis); Holiday: First Day

2nd Month: Guardian (Pluitanis); Holiday: Wintersend

3rd Month: Drakonis (Nubulis)

4th Month Cloudreach (Eluviesta)

5th Month: Bloomingtide (Molioris); Holiday:Summerday

6th Month: Justinian (Fervenris

7th Month: Solace (Solis

8th Month: August (Matrinalis); Holiday: Funalis

9th Month: Kingsway (Parvulis

10th Month: Harvestmere (Frumentum

11th Month: Firstfall (Umbralis); Holiday: Satinalia

12th Month: Haring ( Cassus  

Holidays:

Throughout Thedas a majority of people celebrate five major holidays, each tied to a season transition or the start of a new year. Each Holiday is celebrated at the beginning of the associated month.  

First Day: The traditional start of the new year, this holiday is celebrated by visiting friends and family (in remote areas this was once an annual check to make sure everyone was still alive), as well town gatherings to commemorate the year past with drink and merriment. 

Wintersend: Once called “Urthalis” and dedicated to Urthemiel, the old god of beauty, this holiday is now a celebration of the Maker. It stands for the end of winter in many lands and coincides with tourneys and contests and the Proving grounds in Minrathous. In the southern lands this holiday has become a time to gather for trade, theater,  and in some areas, arrangements for marriage. 

Summerday:  Once called “Andoralis” and dedicated to Andoral, The Old God of Unity, this holiday is universally celebrated as the beginning of summer,a time for joy and, commonly, marriages. Boys and Girls who are soon to become of age done white tunics and dresses and join grand processions that cross the settlement to the local chantry. There, they learn the responsibilities of adulthood. Summerday is a particularly holy occasion in Orlais. 

Funalis (All Souls Day):Once this holiday was dedicated to the Old God of silence, Dumat. However since the rise of Dumat during the First Blight,Thedosian’s turn a blind eye to any old ties between the day and the dragon. The holiday is now known across Thedas as All Souls Day, and spent in somber remembrance of the dead. In some of the Northern lands people dress as spirits and walk the streets in parade after midnight. The chantry uses this holiday to remember the death of Andraste, with public fires that mark her immolation and plays that depict her death. 

Satinalia: Once dedicated to the Old Goddes of Freedom Zazikel -now attributed more to the second moon, Satina- this holiday is accompanied by wild celebration,the wearing of masks, and naming the town fool ruler for the day. In Antiva, Satinalia lasts for a week or more while a week of fasting follows. In more pious areas large feasts and the giving of gifts mark the holiday.  

Source: 

The World of Thedas Vol. 1, Pg 19-23

“I was first exposed to ballet at the age of seven when a traveling company came to my church in North Carolina. By the time I was eleven I was practicing six days a week. It became my all-consuming monastic devotion. I eventually made it to the New York City Ballet. I’ve always seen ballet as my way of serving God. I think it’s what God has called me to do. You can call it frivolous, or superficial. But you can stretch that argument to infinity. Why do we have painting? Why do we have architecture? I think it’s all a form of worship. In a secular age the theater becomes the cathedral. There can be such a lack of empathy and collaboration in this world. But in the theater we see beauty and order and harmony modeled for us– two hours at a time. And it took a lot of sacrifice to make that possible.“

flickr

Reminders of the dark medieval ages in the centre of a modern city @ Sveta Nedelya cathedral, Sofia, Bulgaria by Babis Kavvadias

Last lightSt. Pierre Cathedral, Geneve, Suisse 2010

Correction: This was erroneously labeled St. Paul’s previously. Sincerest apologies to Pete.

The Tale of the Dragon Slayer and the Sun’s Firstborn

A lore interpretation of Ornstein and the Nameless King

By slaughtering the Everlasting Dragons, Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, put an end to the Age of Ancients and ushered in an Age of Fire. He built the magnificent city of Anor Londo, also known as the City of the Gods, where he resided with his family. He had three children – Gwyndolin, the youngest son with a strange affinity of the moon, Gwynevere, Princess of Sunlight, and his eldest son, who is now unknown to the world. There is a big mystery revolving around the identity of that son, all that was known up to now was that he had been the one to be banished by his own father for losing the precious annals. But now Dark Souls 3 shines a new light upon the identity of Gwyn’s long lost son and parts of his life.

What follows is my own free interpretation of the facts that are given to us by various item descriptions in the game, and common knowledge about Souls lore. Every time I quote something I’ll put the source right behind it – everything else is my own version of the story created by simply filling the gaps left open by the canon.

The story starts quite a while after Gwyn has settled down in Anor Londo with his family. His first born son has just come of age and is now ready to follow in his father’s footsteps. He has “inherited the light of Gwyn, the first lord” (Ring of the Sun’s Firstborn, Dark Souls 3), suggesting that he has the same lightning powers as his father. With those powers, he is now sent out to find and kill the last remnants of the Ancient Dragons (“Once a slayer of dragons […]”, Lighning Storm, Dark Souls 3). But Gwyn knows of his son’s temper and his tendency to get himself into trouble (suggested by the fact, that he is called “foolish” several times in item descriptions), and so he chooses one of his faithful and loyal knights to accompany his son. Out of his four knights he appoints the captain, a man known as Ornstein. This is an important new information Dark Souls 3 gives. When looking the rings of the Four Knights of Gwyn one can see that the first line always says

“Ring associated with [name], one of the Four Knights of Gwyn, the First Lord.”, followed by a short story about the character. In the description of the Leo Ring, that story tells

“Ornstein was the first knight of the sun’s eldest born, and his cross spear is said to have pierced scales made of stone.”

So Ornstein isn’t only a knight of Gwyn, he is actually also the knight of Gwyn’s son. Now, the short description of the ring can be broken down and analysed quite a bit. It is worth noting that, while in the first lines of the description it clearly says “Ring associated with Dragon Slayer Ornstein”, the title “Dragon Slayer” is dropped in the second part, and he is simply called “Ornstein”. That suggests that he hasn’t always been a slayer of dragons, but that he had to earn his title first. Furthermore, the fact that right after “[he] was the first knight of the sun’s eldest born” the description follows up with “his cross spear is said to have pierced scales made of stone.” can be another hint towards Ornstein being a brother in arms to Gwyn’s son, who fought with him against the dragons. So the two of them were a fierce and gallant duo, maybe even friends, and they slaughtered dragons together, earning Ornstein the title of “Dragon Slayer”.

But all things come to an end, and the comradery of Ornstein and Gwyn’s firstborn ends the day the latter loses the annals of his father (“[…]his foolishness led to a loss of the annals, and rescinding of his deific status.”, Ring of the Sun’s Firstborn, Dark Souls). It is unclear how exactly the tragedy happens, but as mentioned before, the son seems to be reckless in his youth, always searching for adventures, hence the “foolishness”. Gwyn is furious, so furious that he banishes his own son, erasing his name from the history books (Ring of the Sun’s Firstborn, Dark Souls). It must have been devastating for Ornstein, seeing his brother in arms and good friend leave. Considering that extremely harsh punishment, it is natural that Gwyn would also have one in store for the man who was supposed to take care of his son and control his temper – Ornstein. His armour description from Dark Souls tells us

Armor of the dragonslayer Ornstein, who guards the cathedral in the forsaken city of Anor Londo.”

Ornstein, a knight and fighter all his life is punished by being made protector of the cathedral and Gwyn’s remaining children in Anor Londo. There he is joined by Smough, an executioner who wants to become a knight of Gwyn, but isn’t quite cut out for it and thus has to be given another task (“Smough loved his work, and ground the bones of his victims into his own feed, ruining his hopes of being ranked with the Four Knights.”, Smough’s Hammer, Dark Souls). It almost seems as if the guard post of the cathedral is for the people Gwyn has no use for anymore otherwise. But Ornstein is still loyal to Gwyn, and what else is he supposed to do with the rest of Gwyn’s knights scattered throughout the world?

For ages Ornstein and Smough protect the cathedral from intruders without any other purpose. That is until one day the flames start to fade, and Gwyn sacrifices himself to keep the Age of Fire going. After that, the Gods are leaving the crumbling city of Anor Londo, with only Gwyndolin remaining there. It is then that Ornstein makes a decision all by himself for the first time.  He decides to leave the cathedral behind, seeing no purpose in protecting it anymore, even though there is still one child of Gwyn left. He leaves behind Smough, “the last knight to stand in defense of the ruined cathedral” (Smough’s Set, Dark Souls 3).

Then who does the Chosen Undead fight in Dark Souls? One theory would be that that version of Ornstein is just another illusion by Gwyndolin. While the illusion of his sister Gwynevere is rather fragile and fleeting, he has maybe put more effort into the one of Ornstein. It could be that he took one of the remaining knights in Anor Londo and manipulated his appearance to match the one of Ornstein. There must have been countless lightning weapons and miracles in Gwyn’s weapon chamber, so finding a lighting spear wouldn’t have been a problem. The fact that Ornstein is only an illusion could also be an explanation why Smough simply smashes his companion, even though he’s still alive. He knows he’s not killing the real knight of Gwyn, so it becomes just another execution of a useless knight for him.

In any case, Ornstein is gone. But where is a knight like Ornstein, who has lived for others his whole life, to go? Whose best memories come from a time where he fought side by side with an old friend?

In the dragonless age, this knight, who long guarded the ruined cathedral, left the land in search of their nameless king.” (Dragon Slayer set, Dark Souls 3)

Who is this Nameless King? From his soul in Dark Souls 3 we know

The Nameless King was once a dragon-slaying god of war, before he sacrificed everything to ally himself with the ancient dragons.

A dragon-slaying god of war seems awfully familiar, especially when looking at the Ring of the Sun’s Firstborn again. “Lord Gwyn’s firstborn was a god of war […]” Another connection can be drawn between the Ring, “Ring of the Sun’s first born, who inherited the light of Gwyn, the first lord.” and Nameless King’s Dragonslayer Swordspear “The swordspear is imbued with lightning, of which he was the heir.

So Ornstein doesn’t look for the Namless King because he has heard rumors of a once mighty Dragon Slayer with whom he now wants to exchange stories, no. He’s looking for his old friend, and his only lead are the stories of a former Dragon Slayer who has “sacrificed everything to ally himself with the ancient dragons” (Soul of the Nameless King, Dark Souls 3) Gwyn’s first born, who used to fight dragons just like his father, is now allied with them and has become a King of Dragons, and Ornstein is looking for him. What happens next is a mystey. Ornstein finds him, that’s for sure, but how does their meeting play out? Does Ornstein reunite with his old friend, joining him in his quest to protect the last of the dragons until he dies of old age? Or can’t he accept the fact that his friend is allied with the very foes they used to fight and so Ornstein dies in battle with the Nameless King?

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The love of a damned soul - entering a medieval cathedral : listen [HERE]

“Upon the face of this old queen of the French cathedrals, beside each wrinkle we find a scar” - Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris

Entering a medieval cathedral, with veiled women, monks, the smell of incense, prayers whispered. Lots of latin, Gregorian / Byzantine Chants, early polyphony. I hope you enjoy this! (cover credits)