First Empress of the Terran Empire TE 187-219
b. 24 January TE 123, Geled
d. 13 February TE 219, Tarantula Nebula, Lesser Magellanic Cloud
She was the third of seven children of Alb Thovold and Trinka Stenholz. The family, which had settled on Geled in the late 80s, was poor, and Maj and her siblings were introduced to hard work and strong discipline at an early age.
Maj was a fun-loving youth who enjoyed sports, while taking only a moderate interest in her studies. She passed her adulthood qualifying exams in TE 140, and then entered the Imperial Naval Academy at Zvezdy Gorodok. She excelled in soccer but injured a knee in her second year and was forced to stop playing. She graduated in the class of TE 145, ranking 488th academically and 998th in discipline out of the total of 1312 graduates.
She was commissioned an Ensign and was sent to Novy Stalingrad. She was assigned to patrol duties in the Transgeled, worked her way up to Commander, and received a Distinguished Service Medal for action against pirates near Cothar. From TE 152 to TE 154 she was assigned to the Tep Kecor squadron and there came under the inspiring influence of her commander, Rear Admiral Chev Fonnel. With Fonnel's assistance, Thovold was selected to attend the Navy's command and general staff school at Hafen. Then a Commodore, she graduated first in a class of 2200 in TE 146, and two years later she graduated from the Navy War College. She then served in Credix, writing a textbook on Formation Wars strategy and tactics, and in Patala before becoming an aide to Terran Fleet Admiral Donatela Padgham in 163.
Two years later she accompanied Padgham to Credix to assist in the reorganization of Naval operations, and there was awarded the rank of Rear Admiral and put in command of the Deletia Wing. She soon won the attention of Supreme Admiral Toris Gund for her role in planning war games involving the entire Credix and Phuctra fleets.
In 171, Gund appointed Thovold head of the operations division of the Imperial Navy on Terra. In June 172, Gund selected her over 120 senior officers to replace the retiring Padgham as Terran Fleet Admiral. When Gund retired in 175, the Imperial Council accepted his recommendation and promoted Thovold to Supreme Admiral.
Thovold's advancement in the Navy was due not only to her knowledge of military strategy and a talent for organization, but also to her ability to persuade, to mediate, and to be agreeable. Men and women from a variety of backgrounds and planets, impressed by her friendliness, humility, and persistent optimism, liked and trusted her.
In 179, when Geled's seat on the Imperial Council went vacant, Planetary Governor Delia Tattersall appointed Thovold to the seat. The following year, she won re-election handily.
In the next five years, Thovold's reputation in the Imperial Council grew as she built up alliances and avoided scandal, proving herself to be both a loyal friend and a tower of personal and professional integrity. As early as 180 she was mentioned as a candidate for Secretary-General. Her personal qualities and military reputation prompted all parties to woo her. As the campaign of 184 neared, Thovold let it be known that her sympathies lay with the Unionist Party, which advocated closer ties between the Provinces and more central control by the Empire. The Party's head, Trev Fodon, made an intensive effort to persuade her to seek the office.
Thovold campaigned tirelessly, impressing the population with her warmth and sincerity. She urged closer co-operation between Provinces, honesty in government, and promised to visit each Province to explore options for tighter unification of the Empire as a whole. At the same time, Unionists spoke of corruption among the ruling Leonov-Lütken coalition, and attacked the administration of Secretary-General Vernon Castiligoni for graft and influence peddling. Thovold forged an alliance with the Carroll-LaVerne-Fodon opposition, and together with the Unionists they won a majority in the Council elections of 184, and Thovold was confirmed as Secretary-General.
Because of her military background and limited knowledge of government, Thovold delegated authority to her advisers and Cabinet members and did not participate actively in the detailed work of administration. Her assistant, Tovi Baravic, was a powerful figure in the adminsitration. Thovold expected her staff to boil down, simplify, and expedite the urgent business that had to be brought to her attention, and to keep as much work of secondary importance as possible off her desk.
Through her secretaries of commerce and technology, Thovold decreased Imperial control over the economy and encouraged economic activity across Provincial borders, something which had been discouraged by the Leonov-Lütken coalition. She also used the Navy as a tool of integration, encouraging task forces composed of ships and personnel from different Fleets. In 186 the Navy put down a rebellion in Credix, and Thovold appeared personally to command the successful co-ordinated effort.
Thovold played Idara against Idara, while at the same time building support among the mercantile sector. By 187, she had developed an unassailable coalition in the Council, and commanded the absolute loyalty of the Imperial Navy. On Empire Day 187, with the Imperial Council in recess, Maj Thovold placed Navy garrisons around the homeworlds of the major opposition Idara, then appeared on a galaxy-wide broadcast to address the Empire. Her stirring speech, which lasted a bare fifteen minutes, dwelt on the dangers of fractionalism and the benefits of unity, and she finished:
"If we continue along our current path, our great Empire will splinter into eight or more little Empires. We will become hounds squabbling over our meat; jackals, fighting over a pitiful corpse.
"My fellow citizens, I do not believe that this is the destiny we want. I do not believe -- will not believe -- that you have put me here to preside over the dissolution of this Empire which our ancestors struggled and fought to create. Just as we are one people, all sharing the common blood of Terra -- so I say that we are one culture, one race, one Empire. And I swear to you, I will not allow this Empire to splinter. I will not allow the forces of greed and vanity to tear us apart. I will do everything within my power to preserve this Union. With your help, I shall establish a new peace, a Pax Terranica that will last far beyond our time.
"When Joradankov and the Founders created this Empire, they gave us a Throne and a Crown, as symbols of our essential unity. And to protect us from despotism, they chose to leave that Throne vacant, that Crown unlifted. Today I come before you, in this time of crisis, to ask your permission to lift that Crown, to take that Throne. I ask your permission to establish, once and for all, one rule that will unite the sons and daughters of Terra. Humbled in the sight of the Heavens and before the souls of our ancestors, I ask that you make your will known, to the Council and to your other officials. Shall we continue on our current path of destruction, or shall we lift the torch of liberty, and take the path that will lead to a new peace?"
Public response was tremendous, and Thovold's display of military power was most convincing. The opposition could do nothing but refuse to vote. By a vote of 161 to 2 (with 38 abstentions), the Council sent Thovold a formal request that she take the Throne as the Terran Empire's first Empress. The position of Secretary-General was eliminated entirely. On Yulestice Day TE 187, Maj Thovold was formally crowned.
Thovold's reign was a peaceful and successful time for the Empire. The economy boomed, as the number of inhabited planets nearly doubled. She worked tirelessly to curb the power of the Idara and to integrate the separate parts of the Empire. A wholesale reorganization of the Civil Service (190-196) was quite successful in breaking down regionalism and separatist feelings.
The most notable event of Maj Thovold's reign was the Engelbach Rebellion of 196-7. Dissidents, co-ordinated by the Idara Engelbach of Leikeis, held a galaxy-wide labor strike in protest against Thovold's rule. On the eleventh day of the strike, approximately 30,000 leaders were arrested and exiled to the Tarantula Nebula. Historians view the Engelbach Rebellion as showing that Thovold's power was still largely dependent on the Imperial Navy. However, it set the precedent that the Throne was more powerful than the nobility. The Imperial Council learned quickly . . . and resented.
The Tarantula dissidents proved to be her ultimate undoing. In 219, during a military expedition to the Tarantula Nebula, Thovold met her death in combat with rebels. Her hand-picked successor, Tsung-Dao Wu, became Emperor upon her death.