OK, so, for those who haven't seen the notes Ben and I have been knocking back and forth, he'd like me to consider a patronage model project, and I think it's a good idea, but doesn't suit Tin Islands. So, I went looking for some research for some other stuff. So, I'm listening to the Librivox version of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" and I have come to a startling discovery.
There was no Order of Mercury.
Let me expand that.
One of Gibbon's main premises is that the Praetorian Guards were responisble, as a major contributing factor, in the fall of the Empire, because they alone had the power, at one point, to make or destroy emperors, so they did, and were in turn rewarded by the emperors they had made, until it reached a point where they were not able to be reformed or replaced.
Now, at what point is the Oroder of Mercury active? Why don't they stabilise the Empire? Or did they, like the Praetorians in our world, destroy it through a mixture of kingmaking, corruption through donatives, and factional war? Basically, can you find me a hundred years of peace in the history of the Order of Mercury? If it is called togther by Augustus, I find it hard ot work out how the Year of Five Emporers happens. If it peaks during the Antonines...then what is it foing during the great chaos after the death oif Marcus Aurelius? There basically isn't any time for the Order of Mercury to claim as a time of greatness.
So: I think the people suggesting its existence were lying, for political reasons. It explains to me why, for example, House Verditius, House Jerbiton and House Tytalus, who are all said to be offshoots from the same rootstock, are so different: it's because the Order of Mercury as presented, is a convenient lie. I think the Orderof Mercury was little more than a couple of covenants, at best. When we say the Mercurians were wiped out in the Schism...and that the golden tablets of the Order of Mercury were lost, well, I find that very difficult to believe.