The Heinela (pron: hay-in-AY-lər) were a dynasty that first appeared in Dwy-Earde around seven thousand years ago. Roughly translating as the hidden people, they were a group of twelve families, self-styled Dukes, who were ruled by a king chosen from their ranks.
Over millennia, the ruling family changed, normally as the result of long and bitter wars that ruined and weakened the empire. This instability never allowed the Heinela to achieve the same level of power and expansion as the Haftens, their bitter enemies.
Confined to the continent they referred to as Heinelina, later to become The Prelates, they did however control most of the land for many centuries, fighting back incursions from the Haftens who controlled most of the eastern seaboard. At their weakest, towards the end of the dynasty, they ceded nearly half of the continent to the Haftens before both dynasties collapsed.
The twelve families were:
The power struggles between the families became so extreme that it was decided to install the Cwendrina as the figurehead of the Dynasty. That she was not a member of any of the families and she was not a man, meant that she could be a unifying figurehead, even if she wielded no actual power. The dynasty would now be ruled by the Dukes, but in co-operation with no single family having full control. Inevitably, certain families, most notably the Harnon, controlled more land and had more power within the council.
The stability brought strength to the empire and saw it at its most powerful. At this time, as in earlier times, their capital was in the far west, protected by the near impenetrable barrier of the Western Alps.
With the collapse of the Heinela Cwendrin, the families retreated into the west beyond the Western Alps where they faded and were superseded by the growth of the Prelates following the teachings of Oran Helting. However, the new Prelatehoods never joined with the Prelature and all but cut themselves off from the rest of the continent for many centuries.
During this time, the power of the prelates in this region waned and new controlling families grew up in imitation of the Heinela Cwendrin of old. There is much dispute whether these new families had any true blood connection to the old families.
The new "Kingdom," as the dukes decided to style it, installed a regent in the capital of Dein Heinela, in the duchy of North Loden. Here was also the "empty thrown" and a search was made to find the line of the Cwendrina and to crown a new figurehead queen.