Weite - Breaking the Shackles
(-2204 to -1776) Also known as the Rule of Man.
A short-lived interstellar empire formed after the conquest of the Vilani Imperium by the Terrans. The conquered territories were under military rule from -2219 to -2204. Vilani military forces were incorporated into the Terran forces. Terran naval officers took over key posts in the Vilani bureaucracy (which was otherwise retained intact).
In -2204, the Terran Secretariat attempted to transfer control directly to Terra (Solomani Rim 1827) and to incorporate the conquered regions into the Terran Confederation. The commander in chief of the Terran Navy, Admiral Hiroshi Estigarribia, realized that the Confederation government could not possibly control the vast territories of the Vilani Imperium. He proclaimed himself Regent of the Vilani Imperium, and Protector of Terra, so both states were now united in the Rule of Man. Nearly all the fleet sided with Estigarribia both because it was composed largely of colonials, who were under-represented under the Terran Confederation government, and because of Estigarribia’s careful preparation. The Confederation was dissolved without significant resistance.
The Terran fleet headquarters on Dingir became the capital of the Rule of Man. The bureaucratic center of the Imperium remained on Vland, although arrangements were undertaken to gradually transfer it elsewhere.
Upon Estigarribia’s death, he was succeeded by his chief of staff, who crowned himself Emperor Hiroshi II. Estigarribia, even though he did not actually assume the crown, is therefore known to history as Emperor Hiroshi I.
Hiroshi II transferred all functions of government from both Vland and Dingir to a more centrally located world, renamed bilingually Hub/Ershur (Massilia 0402). This world was to remain the capital of the Rule of Man for the next four hundred years.
During the Rule of Man, large numbers of humans from Terra and its oldest colonies emigrated throughout the Imperium. People of Terran ancestry or culture (many of them assimilated Vilani) assumed positions of power on most worlds and became industrialists and administrators.
The problems of sheer size and scientific stagnation, which had brought about the fall of the Vilani Imperium, continued to plague the Rule of Man. The Vilani had coped with the problems of ruling a large empire by a rigid caste system with all citizens rooted permanently in their places, but this system could last only as long as there was no significant external threat. The Terrans did away with this system but were not able to replace it with a new social order. The destruction of the caste system swept away the foundations of society. Key industries fell apart as their workers became free to move elsewhere.
The -1776 date for the end of the Second Imperium is arbitrary, and it notes the financial collapse of the central government, which occurred when the Treasury at Hub/Ershur refused to honor a monetary issue of the branch treasury at Antares. The resulting lack of confidence within monetary circles marked the end of large-scale interstellar trade and of effective governmental power within the Rule of Man. Although the Imperium did not completely fall apart for many years, the Rule of Man had effectively ceased to exist as a viable interstellar community, and the period known as Long Night had begun.