Imperial Magischola Founding Timeline
Among the earliest European settlers to North America were magic users, mages who traveled from mundane France, Spain, England, and Holland to escape persecution in their lands and to discover what opportunities could be found in this “new” one. These mages hid among the mundanes but quickly founded their own communities, seeking out other magic users among the native peoples they met in North America. Some were fascinated by the magical arts practiced by these North American mages and shamans, eager to share knowledge and learn. Others were threatened by the difference and the power of this magic, largely done without a focusing or channeling object, such as a wand.
These European mages also were surprised to discover that magic was openly practiced among the native peoples they met. They were both pleased and frightened to see how magic was revered, respected, and considered a natural part of the world, not shamed and hidden from mundanes as it had been in their homelands. Unable to put their fears aside, however, especially as the numbers of Europeans in North America grew, colonial mages, witches, and wizards replicated the statute of secrecy that they had lived under in the Old World. With the Edict of Separation and Secrecy in 1612, the foundation of the Magimundi — the magical world — was laid. All known magic users were asked to swear to abide by it, by the pain of death. Thus did witches, wizards, shamans, and mages begin to police each other, and the Europeans enforce their views, fears, and edicts upon the native peoples, changing the cultures and practice of magic on the Continent as the Magimundi expanded in influence and power. While many sought to integrate, appreciate, advocate for, and collaborate with the native peoples and their magic, the requirement of secrecy and separation from non-magic users was absolute, and fostered division and fear between mages and mundanes.
1623: The Founding of Imperial Magischola
As mundane English settlers created their “New England” in the northeast of North America, Wizards came to join them. One of these was Galahad Theocratus Bombastus Leodegrance, a pious Separatist of Norman descent who believed it was his duty to remove the influence of Renaissance reforms in magical theory and social practice. Leodegrance also staunchly felt that now that there were European (particularly English) wizards in the New World, their children should be taught only according to his principles of proper magic and virtue. Leodegrance gathered a few like-minded wizards — all men, all Unsoiled, all of European heritage — to join him in teaching and in administering a higher level school of magic. He called these wizards the Praestantes.
At its start, Imperial Magischola of Massachusetts Bay was a university attached to the magical primaschola or lyceum founded in 1619, Providence Preparatory Academy for the Advancement of the Arcane Arts. Both taught boys and young men from Unsoiled English families and shared some facilities and faculty. Leodegrance envisioned creating an elite class of wizards with university training, and selected the most promising young mages to attend Imperial Magischola as the eligeri, or elect, to attend and take their places as leaders of a new magical society. Admissions standards to Imperial Magischola were extraordinarily strict, and the physical location of the school was a closely-hidden secret. This stemmed partly from safety concerns: as the Puritans gained power in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, any association with magic brought the risk of violent persecution.
In 1633, Virginia Dare petitioned the Praestantes to admit her daughter, Ophelia Samson, but they rejected her: not only did they not want to admit women, but they feared the presence of outsiders. Two years later, she (along with Tituba, Calisaylá, and Étienne Brûlé) formed New World Magischola in response, to provide a more open and inclusive place for the study of magic in North America.
1658: The Fall of Leodegrance and the Founding of the Courts:
In 1658, the four Courts of Imperial — Agrippa, Paracelsus, Ptolemy, and Callimachus — were established, and its second Chancellor, the longstanding and beloved Peregrine Myles Brewster, ascended to the head of the Praestantes. This transfer of power was shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years, but through private notes uncovered in 1999, a more complete story of the end of Leodegrance’s term came to light. The Chancellor had always been insular and distrustful, and The Voice of The Serpent — a powerful Corruptor of Lies — took advantage of those character traits. It has been surmised that this Corruptor was caused by scarring incurred by the secrecy wards on Imperial’s campus. It appeared first as a small voice in Leodegrance’s head, echoing words of colleagues. Then it took form as a vision to Leodegrance, with an image of Leodegrance living another two centuries as a beloved Chancellor. It began to sense the distrust Leodegrance had in the other faculty and even his friends, and it stoked his doubts just enough to inflame them into paranoia. As Leodegrance’s trust in other wizards fell, his faith in the Corruptor grew, and thus so did the Corruptor’s presence as well as the magnitude of the half-truths that it whispered to him. Finally, it predicted that Imperial would be altered forever under Leodegrance, but that his giving up power would result in Mundane-borns and women attending the school, and the magical purity that Leodegrance held so dear would be “muddied.” Under the Corruptor’s influence, Leodegrance became increasingly suspicious of outsiders and even began to push away close colleagues and friends.
One of those colleagues was Peregrine Myles Brewster, professor of magic theory and hermetics, who had been Leodegrance’s protégé. While Brewster did not know about the Corruptor, he saw that Leodegrance’s insularity and paranoia were not only harming himself, but harming Imperial: refusing to teach the latest magical practices meant that the university was beginning to fall behind New World Magischola and other wizarding universities in Europe. He gained enough support among the Praestantes to recruit and hire a few new professors from other North American magical communities who had a more progressive approach.
The new additions were: Isaac de Lucena, an alchemist and magi-botanist; Vitruvius Henry Peter Steinkraft, a phantasmologist and master duelist; Thomas Woodhouse, an astromancer and navigator; and Maestro-Wizard Firenzum Edward Smith Radcliffe Zephyrous, a librarian and researcher of ancient languages. These new additions were more inclusive in other ways, too: Steinkraft’s father was Penobscot, and de Lucena was Jewish. This openness only went so far, though. Nobody, not even Brewster, considered approaching people of mixed or mundane birth or admitting women.
Despite the distinguished careers from which these new professors had come, many of the more conservative Praestantes still opposed their inclusion on the faculty. Therefore, Brewster invited his new professors to prove their worth by performing a Great Deed. De Lucena inscribed a living labyrinth at the center of the grounds. Woodhouse created a path that enables a sufficiently skilled sorcerer to physically climb to the stars. Firenzum created the Arca Tenebrarum (the Black Box) that still forms the heart of the Imperial library. Steinkraft took on the most perilous task of all: trapping the Corruptor that had been plaguing Leodegrance.
Leodegrance was so weakened by the Corruptor’s influence that after its removal he was no longer able to fulfill his duties as Chancellor and died soon after. Few people outside of the Praestantes and the Imperial faculty knew of the Corruptor’s presence; the public story was that Leodegrance had died after a short illness.
Brewster succeeded Leodegrance as Chancellor. Under Brewster’s leadership, the curriculum and structure of Imperial Magischola were brought in line with other comparable universities. It was divided into four Courts, each dedicated to the area of study of one of the new professors. The Praestantes agreed to name the courts after Classical and Renaissance alchemists, magicians, and sorcerers, and to create an institution of pure and theoretical learning that rivaled European institutions. Firenzum chose Callimachus for his poetry and work on the Great Library of Alexandria, Steinkraft chose Agrippa in honor of his mother’s ancestry. Woodhouse chose Ptolemy, who mapped the stars and divined their inner meanings. De Lucena chose Paracelsus, an alchemist who had family ties to Leodegrance.
Every year Imperial hosts a Founders’ Day Celebration, during which the students of each Court collaborate on a Great Deed for the glory of their Court and the memory of their Founder.