The return of the tomb and the rise of the Pretenders

Just a few decades later, with the closure of the American mines by Baal, Cass, a junior Irin, needed to find other ways to secure illicit gold. He approached Roderic Llançol, of the House of Borgia, now Pope Alexander VI, offering support in the conquest of the Americas, and the return of Marduk’s tomb to Rome. In return, Cass was to receive a cut of New World gold. In 1494, newly armed with the knowledge of where the treasures lay, Pope Alexander VI negotiated an advantageous duopoly with his benefactors, the Spanish royal houses, and the Portuguese. He secured any future gold derived from the New World for the Vatican (and Cass), while the Spanish and Portuguese Houses kept the silver, and all other trading and land rights. The expeditions were financed by the Medici’s banks and in 1521, with Cass’ maps in hand, the huge gold reserves of the Aztecs were discovered, with those of the Incas shortly after in 1533. As the first deliveries of gold reached Cass, he was obliged to honor the second part of his agreement and return Marduk’s tomb.

Posing as Topuzli-Makarije, the long lost brother of the Grand Vizier, Sokollu Mehmed, Cass visited the Vizier in Constantinople. Showing unseen before technologies, Cass indicated that he and his brother, originally orphans from a Serbian monastery, were actually descended from the gods and that their father’s tomb was being used by the Sultan to give him magical powers. Cass persuaded Mehmed to steal back the tomb, with the help of loyal court guards. Having secured Marduk’s Asullḫi, Cass, posing now as a dervish, presented himself to share visions of the Grand Vizier’s future, and stabbed Mehmed to death. Cass kept Marduk’s Asullḫi in safe keeping from 1580 until the stately tomb was prepared in Rome six years later, and the details of his future income were secured.

Meanwhile Catherine of Medici, eldest daughter of the Patrician of the House of Medici, had married King Henry II of France of the House of Valois. Upon his death in a jousting match, Catherine became Regent for her young son Francis, who was married to Mary Queen of Scots, also a child queen. Eager to please the beautiful Mary, the young and doting Francis, along with his sister Elizabeth, revealed to her the Medici family secret plans. As niece of the Patrician of the House of Guise, Mary was told not to share the Medici secret with her French relatives – on pain of death; she learned that in twenty five years the Marduk tomb and all authority that goes with it would be delivered to the Medici family. However, a year after becoming king, Francis died, and Catherine had her second son, Charles IX, crowned. Mary, fearing for her life after surviving a poisoning, fled back to Scotland where, after much murder and intrigue, she escaped from prison to England and from 1569 was held in protective custody by the Earl Shrewsbury and Bess Hardwick. In 1571 Mary, during another suspicious illness and suspected poisoning, confided to Bess all she had been told of the Patricians and the arrival of Marduk’s Tomb. Recognising the importance of this information, Bess formed a tight knit group of conspirators, later known as the Pretenders, to plan a daring attempt to steal the tomb on its arrival in Rome. For the next fifteen years Bess kept Mary under suffocating house arrest, ensuring no word of message could reach the Medicis.

In early 1586, having realized that Bess, and not Queen Elizabeth, was her true captor and would likely kill her once the plot had been enacted, Mary made renewed attempts to contact Fernadino de Medici and warn him. Amias Paulet, on Bess’ behalf, intercepted Mary’s note and replaced it with forged messages linking Mary to the Babington Plot, resulting in her arrest and sentencing to death.

Bess had a formidable trio to arrange the stealing of Marduk’s Asullḫi: Thomas Cavendish, her nephew, Sir Francis Drake, and his cousin Sir John Hawkins. All three had already built fortunes as privateers raiding the Spanish Treasure Fleets, and during the previous decade had successfully planted Pretenders in Rome, many at the English College, a breeding ground for British Catholic martyrs, sent to agitate in Protestant England.

With Mary secure in the tower, Marduk’s tomb arrived in Rome in October 1586. As the Vatican Obelisk was being moved into place to complete the grand mausoleum, six trusted secretaries of senior Cardinals were chosen to move the Tomb from the treasury vault in Hadrian’s tomb to the ceremony, where some of Marduk’s relics would be interred within the ball atop the obelisk. Amongst them were two Pretenders, who killed the Vatican Guards and successfully escaped with the Asullḫi.

The Pretenders sought legitimacy through a Marduk bloodline, so Sir Francis Drake rewrote his family history, tracing a line to the House of Ashe which, through their mother Amy Grenville, could claim a direct line in eight generations to King Edward I, and through Edwards’s mother to the Italian House of Savoy, once Supreme Masters themselves.

The Spanish and Italian Houses made a desperate bid to retrieve the Asullḫi through the military might of an armada and subtler channels of spies and assassins. All failed. While Drake did manage to call an Obeisance and received the curious from Europe, and the powerful in England, it was sparsely attended. Even his forged heritage did not give him the authority to call the Royal Houses. Drake died without children, and at Hawkins’ death, his son was in prison. The group of merchants, mainly directors and investors of the Virginia Company, had a strong ally in Robert Cecil, First Earl of Salisbury, who suggested they offer to lend money to the Crown in return for representation in a second attempt at a British obeisance. These secretive negotiations were given the title of the Grand Contract. Agreement was reached for the Pretenders to ‘buy’ the sprawling Duchy of Cornwall from Prince Charles, and the lucrative Duchy of Lancaster from King James I for 400,000 pounds without access to their income. The lands would now be managed by the Prince’s Council of the Duchy of Cornwall and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The council would be controlled by the office of the Admiralty which had been controlled by the privateers for nearly a hundred years. A Vice Admiral would always remain the chairman of the Council. In this way the Pretenders were able to gain financial control over the royal house. Robert Cecil, himself, became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Royal family thus reluctantly agreed to attend the Obeisance at which Henry Hastings, a director of the Virginia Company, stood as the Supreme Master, a strong descendant of the House of Plantagenets, Britain’s oldest Royal House. This obeisance was significantly more successful, albeit still relatively modest, and secured considerably more support.

The Pretenders’ first request was the opening of all the channels of trade East to Asia and West to the New World for the British Companies they controlled. The first of many companies were founded, in 1600 with the East India Company. The seeds of the largest financial empire in history were sown through the triangular trade of weapons to Africa; slaves to the Americas; spices, sugar, and tobacco back to Europe; and a four way trade of cotton cloth from England to India, where mills were banned; opium from India to China; and tea, and porcelain, back to Europe. In the next 250 years these two circular trades, free of silver or gold settlement, came to represent over half all the global trade in the world and made the Pretenders immense wealth and power.

However, on Henry’s death in 1643, the once malleable Duke of Cornwall was now King Charles I, and believed himself to be, by divine right, the King. Influenced by his father James I’s writings, Charles I’s refused to attend an obeisance. His regular refusal to listen to the Pretenders, installed as his advisers, led to tensions that boiled over into Civil War. The regicide of Charles I did little to help the Pretenders’ cause. Throughout the civil war no obeisance was called, and there was little communication between the British Patricians and their European Houses. William Cavendish, George Monk, a Devonshire man, and Edward Hyde, all members of the Pretenders, negotiated Charles II’s return, with agreement on what became known as the Clarendon Code. This did not restore the Roman Catholic church in name, or the power of the Pope, but converted many of the practices of the Church of England back to their Baalesque roots. This did much to please the Houses of Baal as the Pretenders sought a reunion. Charles II continued to outspend his income, ensuring the Pretenders continued to control the crown through loans. These loans were also conditional on the renewal of the trade monopolies the merchants controlled.

The Pretenders saw the ups and downs of trade: the Dutch East India Company was overwhelmingly more successful than the British Companies, and three wars to shift the Dutch trading posts had failed. The Pretenders saw that the only solution was to negotiate. The Dutch King, William III, was invited to England to replace his uncle-in-law, King James II. He received support in return for signing a Bill of Rights, reducing dramatically the powers of the King. He was stripped of his veto on laws, giving full control of all taxes to the Pretenders, and banning Catholics with European sympathies from high office. His annual income was halved, but in return the Pretenders committed to support and finance, through loans in perpetuity, his war on France. These loans were to be administered by a new national bank, The Bank of England, firmly in the control of the Pretenders. The Pretenders controlled the company through William Cavendish’s son-in-law the Duke of Portland, and eight agents holding shares in proxy, including two seats on the Board, initially William Scawen, and John and Abraham Houblon. William III was given a large shareholding with one Director, Theodore Janssen representing his interests. In return he negotiated a settlement with the Dutch East India Company, which saw the fortunes of the East India Company blossom and expand. The Pretenders were now in a position of considerable power at the turn of the 18th century and called an Obeisance for the Duke of Portland to be made Supreme Master, with King William III in attendance. It was the year 1700. The first act of business of the obeisance was to end the war with France and carve up Spain and the Spanish Netherlands between the Patricians that attended the obeisance. The Hapsburgs being absent, lost out on almost all fronts. The absent Houses of Baal, in protest, moved to the Gregorian calendar to ensure they did not celebrate Easter, or ‘Ishtar’ the marking of Marduk’s death, at the same time as their great enemies the Pretenders.