House of Festil

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The House of Festil is a fictional royal family in the Deryni series of historical fantasy novels by Katherine Kurtz. Throughout the novels, various members of the family occasionally serve as antagonists of the plot, most notably in Camber of Culdi, Saint Camber, The Bastard Prince, Deryni Rising, and High Deryni. The family is a junior branch of the House of Furstán, the royal family of the Kingdom of Torenth, and the Deryni heritage of the family is juxtaposed by the human heritage of the House of Haldane, the main protagonists of the series.

Festillic Kings of Gwynedd[edit]

Festil I[edit]

Festil Ferencz Furstán is the progenitor of the House of Festil, born as the second son of King Kalman II Furstán of Torenth. Eight decades before the events of Camber of Culdi, Festil launches a surprise attack on the neighboring Kingdom of Gwynedd and succeeds in overthrowing King Ifor Haldane. He is crowned King of Gwynedd shortly thereafter, and quickly establishes a new government that essentially replaces the human peerage of Gwynedd with his own Deryni allies. Festil's actions establish much of the social and political landscape that is depicted at the beginning of Camber of Culdi, a cultural setting which is markedly different from that depicted in Deryni Rising. After a reign of over seventeen years, Festil dies at the age of 59 in 839. He marries once, fathering nine children, and he is succeeded by his firstborn son and heir, Prince Festil II.

Festil II[edit]

Festil Avgust Fyodor Furstán-Festil is born in 800, and he succeeds his father upon the throne of Gwynedd at the age of 39 in 840. His reign lasts for over eleven years, until he is killed when his carriage overturns on journey from Valoret to Rhemuth. Festil II dies at the age of 51 in 851. He marries four times, fathering six children, and he is succeeded by his firstborn son and heir, Prince Festil III.

Festil III[edit]

Festil Istvan Furstán-Festil is born in 818, and he ascends to the throne at the age of 32 in 851. Well-versed in the art of diplomacy, Festil makes several alliances with foreign kingdoms during his reign to produce a unified defense against repeated barbarian incursions. He suffers a paralyzing stroke in 878, and although he eventually regains his ability to speak, he is left partially lame for the rest of his life. After a reign of almost 34 years, Festil III dies at the age of 66 in 885. His reign is the longest of any Festillic king, and he is the oldest Festillic king to sit upon the throne. He marries twice, producing eight children, and he is succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Prince Blaine.

Blaine[edit]

Blaine Godomar Radislaus Furstán-Festil is born in 842 as a third son who is never expected to rise to the throne. He is ordained a priest in 860 and quickly rises through the ecclesiastical ranks until he is elected Archbishop of Rhemuth in 867. However, Blaine resigns his priestly vows in 872, ascending to the throne of Gwynedd at the age of 42 in 885. He is the oldest member of the House of Festil to ascend to the throne, only two months older than his great-grandfather, King Festil I, at the time of the Festillic Coup. Later that year, he becomes the first Festillic king to face a rebellion centered around a descendant of the House of Haldane, though the revolt is quickly put down. After a reign of almost fifteen years, Blaine dies at the age of 57 in 900. He marries once, producing six children, and he is succeeded by his only surviving son, Prince Imre.

Imre I[edit]

Imre Istvan Ingwar Furstán-Festil is the fifth and final Festillic King of Gwynedd. As the primary antagonist in Camber of Culdi, he is the embodiment of everything negative about the House of Festil and the ruling Deryni class in Gwynedd. Born in 881, he ascends to the throne at the age of eighteen in 900, becoming the youngest Festillic king in Gwyneddan history. He is depicted as being both vain and arrogant, and he surrounds himself with Deryni sycophants while displaying cruel disregard for the human commoners. As his reign threatens to descend into despotic tyranny in 903, Imre's character degrades even further as he murders a close friend, drinks heavily, and begins an incestuous relationship with his sister, Princess Ariella. He even uses his Deryni powers to break the mind of a priest in an attempt to gain information on his enemies. On December 2, 904, Earl Camber MacRorie of Culdi and his allies successfully overthrow Imre in favor of Prince Cinhil Haldane, whose strong morality and piety are a stark contrast to Imre's character. After Cinhil defeats Imre in arcane combat, Imre commits suicide rather than face his defeat. He never marries, but his relationship with his sister does produce one son. Imre's four-year reign is the shortest of any Festillic king, and he dies at a younger age than any of his predecessors.

Festillic Pretenders[edit]

Ariella I[edit]

Ariella Festila Nimura Furstána-Festila is the sister and lover of King Imre, serving as a secondary antagonist in the plots of Camber of Culdi and Saint Camber. Born in 875, she becomes the first Festillic Pretender after her brother is overthrown in the Haldane Restoration of 904. After Imre's death, Ariella escapes to Torenth, where she proclaims herself the rightful Queen of Gwynedd and bears Imre's son several months later. In addition to being both ambitious and ruthless, Ariella is depicted as being much like her brother, including her arrogance, her cruelty, and her use of Deryni powers to facilitate her political goals. She attempts to regain the her brother's crown by mounting an invasion of Gwynedd in 905, but her army is defeated at the Battle of Iomaire and she is slain in personal combat with Father Alister Cullen. Ariella dies at the age of 29, and she is succeeded by her only child, Prince Marek. Ariella is one of five Festillic Pretenders to hold the title for less than a year, the others being Marek II, Marek III, Ariella II, and Wencit. In addition, Ariella is one of only four Pretenders (including Marek I, Imre III, and Marek II) to be succeeded by a son.

Marek I[edit]

Marek Imre Usbert Furstán-Festil is the second Festillic Pretender and the son of King Imre and his sister, Princess Ariella. He appears briefly as an infant at the beginning of Saint Camber, and inherits the Festillic claim upon his mother's death later in the novel. He spends the next sixteen years in Torenth, reappearing in King Javan's Year when he secretly attends the coronation of King Javan Haldane in Rhemuth. He is a secondary antagonist in The Bastard Prince, in which he participates in a brief, unsuccessful invasion of Gwynedd. Marek is determined to regain his father's crown, but it is another two decades before he attempts another Gwyneddan invasion. Although Marek's forces succeed in killing King Owain Haldane, Owain's brother Uthyr ultimately drives the invaders back to Torenth. After seven decades as the Festillic Pretender, Marek eventually passes his claim to his son when he suffers a paralyzing stroke in 975. Marek dies at the age of 76 in 981. He marries once and fathers seven children. Although Marek inherits the Festillic claim at a younger age than anyone else, he holds the title longer than any other Festillic Pretender. In addition, Marek is one of only four Pretenders to be succeeded by a son, the others being Ariella I, Imre III, and Marek II.

Imre II[edit]

Imre Nimur Tamás Furstán-Festil is the third Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from his father at the age of 46 in 975. Eight years later, he leads an invasion of Gwynedd that lasts for almost three years. King Nygel Haldane is killed in the first year, but his successor, King Jasher Haldane, soundly defeats Imre at the Battle of Grecotha in 984. The following year, the last of Imre's forces are defeated by the Gwyneddan army, and Imre, like his grandfather, commits suicide after his defeat. After a decade as the Festillic Pretender, Imre II dies at the age of 57 in 985. He marries once and fathers seven children. Imre and Chriselle are the only two Festillic Pretenders to be succeeded by a grandchild.

Imre III[edit]

Imre Festil Nimur Furstán-Festil is the fourth Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from his grandfather at the age of thirteen in 985. His sole attempt to press his claim to the throne of Gwynedd is aborted due to abnormal weather conditions in 995, and it is three decades before he participates in another invasion of Gwynedd. Imre abdicates his rights to the Festillic claim in favor of his son in 1024, but he still accompanies the joint Torenthi-Mearan assault on Gwynedd the following year. However, he is killed at the Battle of Killingford with his son and grandson several months later. After almost four decades as the Festillic Pretender, Imre III dies at the age of 53 in 1025. He marries once and fathers five children. Imre is one of only four Festillic Pretenders to be succeeded by a son, the others being Ariella I, Marek I, and Marek II.

Marek II[edit]

Marek Malachy Moyslav Furstán-Festil is the fifth Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from his father at the age of 34 in 1024. Both he and his father take part in the Torenthi-Mearan invasion of Gwynedd later that year, but Marek, his father, and his eldest son are all killed at the Battle of Killingford in June. After only six months as the Festillic Pretender, Marek II dies at the age of 35 in 1025. He marries twice and fathers four children. Marek is one of five Festillic Pretenders to hold the title for less than a year, the others being Ariella I, Marek III, Ariella II, and Wencit. In addition, Marek is one of only four Pretenders (including Ariella I, Marek I, and Imre III) to be succeeded by a son.

Marek III[edit]

Marek III Furstán-Festil is the sixth Festillic Pretender, though he only holds the title for a week in June 1025. He inherits the Festillic claim after the deaths of his grandfather, father, and elder brother at the Battle of Killingford on June 17, 1025. Although Marek manages to survive the battle, he is captured and executed a week later by Gwyneddan forces, making his tenure as the Festillic Pretender the shortest in history. Following his death, the Festillic claim passes to his grandfather's sister. Marek is one of five Festillic Pretenders to hold the title for less than a year, the others being Ariella I, Marek II, Ariella II, and Wencit.

Ariella II[edit]

Ariella Athénodóra Furstána-Festila is the seventh Festillic Pretender, and the first woman to hold the title since the first Ariella over a century earlier. Following the deaths of all the male descendants of the House of Festil at the Battle of Killingford, Ariella inherits the Festillic claim at the age of 54 in 1025, making her the oldest person to become the Festillic Pretender. One month later, citing her advanced age, she abdicates her rights to the Festillic claim in favor of her younger sister, Princess Imriella. Ariella marries once, but neither she nor her sister bear any surviving heirs, and Imriella eventually dies before Ariella. As a result, the senior line of the House of Festil becomes extinct upon Ariella's death at the age of 74 in 1045. Ariella is one of five Festillic Pretenders to hold the title for less than a year, the others being Ariella I, Marek III, Marek III, and Wencit. In addition, Ariella and Wencit are the only Festillic Pretenders to be succeeded by their sisters, and the only two Pretenders to be older than their immediate predecessors.

Imriella[edit]

Imriella Elizabeth Furstána-Festila is the eighth Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from her older sister at the age of 49 in 1025. Although she holds the title for almost thirteen years, she never makes any significant effort to press her claim to the throne of Gwynedd. She marries once but bears no children, leaving her older sister, Princess Ariella, as the sole member of the senior line of the House of Festil upon Imriella's death. Imriella dies at the age of 62 in 1038, and the senior line of the House of Festil becomes extinct upon Ariella's death seven years later.

Elinora[edit]

AriElinora Imrietta Furstána-Festila-Mór is the ninth Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from her distant cousin at the age of 52 in 1038. Elinora is the first Festillic Pretender from the junior line of the House of Festil, which is descended from the daughter of the third Festillic Pretender, Prince Imre II. Although Elinora holds the title for over twelve years, she makes no attempt to press her claim to the throne of Gwynedd. Elinora dies at the age of 65 in 1050. She marries once, bearing four children, and she is succeeded by her eldest surviving daughter. Elinora is one of only two Festillic Pretenders to be succeeded by a daughter, the other being Hogan in 1105.

Chriselle[edit]

Chriselle Carola Carmina Furstána-Festila-Mór is the tenth Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from her mother at the age of 40 in 1050. She does little to press her claim to the throne of Gwynedd, instead placing all of her hopes upon her youngest son, Prince Marcus. However, Marcus' death devastates Chriselle, and she eventually dies on religious journey. After almost eleven years as the Festillic Pretender, Chriselle dies at the age of 51 in 1061. She marries once, bearing six children, and she is succeeded by her grandson. Chriselle and Imre II are the only two Festillic Pretenders to be succeeded by a grandchild.

Hogan[edit]

Hogan Zimri Marek Gwernach Furstán-Festil mac Tadhg is the eleventh Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from his grandmother when he was a year and a half old in 1061. He is the third member of the junior line of the House of Festil to hold the title, and the first male Pretender in 36 years. Through various inheritances, Hogan gains several titles of nobility in Torenth, and he is occasionally known as "The Marluk" in reference to his rank as Duke of Marluk. Although he holds vast estates in Torenth, he eventually agrees to press his claim to the throne of Gwynedd. He makes his move in 1105, but his forces are unable to defeat the army of King Brion Haldane. Hogan challenges the king to arcane combat, but he is defeated and slain by Brion in the battle. After 43 years as the Festillic Pretender, Hogan dies at the age of 45 in 1105. He marries three times (twice to the same woman), fathering six children, and he is succeeded by his daughter. Hogan is one of only two Festillic Pretenders to be succeeded by a daughter, the other being Elinora in 1050.

Charissa[edit]

Charissa Aymarine Festilliana Furstána-Festila-mac-Tadhg is the twelfth Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from her father at the age of eleven in 1105. She is the primary antagonist in the plot of Deryni Rising, and she is depicted as a mysterious and evil sorceress. From the time of her father's death, Charissa is determined to obtain her vengeance on King Brion Haldane. In the short story "Legacy", she relates the tale of her father's final battle to the Torenthi court, clearly establishing her determination and ambition at an early age. She is adopted into the royal House of Furstán by King Carolus III in 1105, and wed to Crown Prince Aldred the following year. She becomes Queen of Torenth when her husband ascends to the throne in 1110, but Aldred's cruelty and brutality prompts Charissa to depose him several months later with the assistance of his uncle, Prince Wencit. She renounces her title of Dowager Queen of Torenth shortly thereafter, and later declares Wencit and his sister to be her legal heirs. At the beginning of Deryni Rising, she finally avenges her father by murdering King Brion in 1120. Two weeks later, in the climax of the novel, Charissa attempts to seize the throne of Gwynedd by killing Brion's son, Prince Kelson Haldane. However, much as her father underestimated Brion, she underestimates Kelson, and the Haldane prince defeats the sorceress in an arcane duel. After more than fifteen years as the Festillic Pretender, Charissa dies at the age of 26 in 1120. Her only marriage produced no surviving heirs.

Wencit[edit]

Wenzel Zsubit Kyprian Nimur Furstán is the King of Torenth and the thirteenth Festillic Pretender. He inherits the claim from his niece at the age of 47 in 1120, but he is also the grandson of the tenth Festillic Pretender, Princess Chriselle. Although referenced and mentioned in several of the novels in the series, Wencit is most notable as one of the primary antagonists in the plot of High Deryni. A decade before the events of Deryni Rising, Wencit ascends to throne of Torenth in 1110 after conspiring with his nephew's wife, Queen Charissa, to overthrow his nephew, King Aldred. In exchange for his support in her efforts to secure the throne of Gwynedd, Charissa makes Wencit her legal heir, and he inherits the Festillic claim upon Charissa's death in the finale of Deryni Rising in 1120. He quickly proclaims himself King of Gwynedd, and his impending invasion of Gwynedd is a source of ongoing apprehension for the protagonists in Deryni Checkmate. In High Deryni, Wencit is depicted as a ruthless and ambitious monarch with a keen ability to manipulate people and events to his advantage. He is charming enough to lure a Gwyneddan noble into treason, but he also displays savage cruelty when he casually threatens the deaths of hundreds of prisoners. In addition, he is an extremely powerful Deryni adept, and he has no qualms about using his powers to break the mind of a captured spy. As a character, his pitiless malevolence is a sharp contrast to the youthful naivety of the novel's primary protagonist, Kelson Haldane. Ironically, Wencit is ultimately betrayed himself when he is poisoned by one of his allies during an arcane battle with Kelson in the climax of High Deryni. Wencit dies at the age of 48 in 1121. He marries once, fathering two children, but the Festillic claim is passed to his sister, Princess Morag. Wencit is one of five Festillic Pretenders to hold the title for less than a year, the others being Ariella I, Marek II, Marek III, and Ariella II. In addition, Wencit and Ariella II are the only Festillic Pretenders to be succeeded by their sisters, and the only two Pretenders to be older than their immediate predecessors.

Morag[edit]

Morag Máriah Khadijah Furstána is the fourteenth Festillic Pretender, inheriting the claim from her elder brother at the age of 41 in 1121. She makes a brief appearance with her brother, Wencit, in Childe Morgan, but her first significant subplot in the series occurs in The King's Justice. Following Wencit's death in High Deryni, Morag's eldest son, Prince Alroy, becomes King of Torenth, but he dies shortly after attaining his legal majority in 1123. He is succeeded by Morag's second son, Liam Lajos, and Morag accompanies Liam when the young king travels to Rhemuth to acknowledge King Kelson Haldane as Overlord of Torenth. Although she performs the necessary ceremonies while in Rhemuth, she is openly hostile to Kelson, and her significant Deryni powers cause considerable concern in the Gwyneddan court. Kelson detains Morag in honorable confinement for the next year, and she later returns to Torenth without Liam. As a character, she is often compared to her brother, and she displays the same strength, power, and arrogance as Wencit. She is also acknowledged as a cunning politician, earning such a formidable reputation that other characters occasionally believe her ambition outweighs her maternal instincts. That question is ultimately answered in King Kelson's Bride, when Liam returns to Torenth to take up his throne after four years in Gwynedd. When Liam is attacked during his enthronement, Morag immediately defends her son, joining her powers with Kelson's to protect the young king. Over the next several weeks, Morag uses the mind of a Gwyneddan noble to spy on Kelson's court, but she eventually begins to realize that the Haldane king bears no malice toward Liam or Torenth. Although Morag holds the rights to the Festillic claim for over seven years, she makes no effort to press her claim during that time. She is murdered at the age of 48 in 1128, several weeks after Liam's return to Torenth. Morag marries once and bears six children.

Teymuraz[edit]

Teymuraz Tivadar Termöd Theodorik Furstán d'Arjenol-Brustarkia is the fifteenth Festillic Pretender, though he does not directly inherit the legal rights to claim. He is one of the primary antagonists in King Kelson's Bride, joining his elder brother, Duke Mahael, in an attempt to murder their nephew, King Liam Lajos II of Torenth. Throughout the novel, Teymuraz is depicted as being both sly and ambitious, possessing a cold-blooded determination to achieve his goals. However, the assassination plot is disrupted by the combined efforts of King Kelson Haldane, Liam's mother Princess Morag, and Teymuraz' younger brother, Count Mátyás. Although Mahael is executed for his crimes, Teymuraz escapes and flees from Torenth. He later murders Morag when she refuses to assist him, but an attempt to kill Mátyás is unsuccessful. After the novel, Teymuraz seeks refuge at the royal court of Byzantyun, where he acquires foreign support for his political goals. In 1129, a year after the conclusion of King Kelson's Bride, Teymuraz issues a proclamation declaring his claim to the crowns of both Torenth and Gwynedd. Although the direct Festillic claim legally passed to King Liam-Lajos II after Morag's death, Teymuraz' claim to the throne of Gwynedd may be based on the fact that he is the great-grandson of the ninth Festillic Pretender, Princess Elinora. His legal basis for claiming the throne of Torenth is unknown.

Sources[edit]