- See also: Reville
Modern history often forgets that "Mad Emperor Reville" was, at first, celebrated as a military genius. Despite the warnings of his twin brother, Gratien (younger by a mere hour), he committed Orlais to an invasion of Ferelden—an invasion that proved wildly successful. In the breadth of one campaign, Reville had expanded the reach of the empire across all of southern Thedas and allowed the court to dream of achieving even greater heights. The victory came at a cost, however, and when Gratien's prediction of war with an opportunistic Nevarra proved true, the Orlesian chevaliers met spectacular defeat. Everything we know of history states that Grand Duke Gratien had nothing but his brother's best interests at heart. The man was a kind soul, much in love with his wife and many children, and—according to all letters recovered—vastly relieved not to be burdened with the throne.
Reville, however, went from reveling in the approval of his court to being the butt of jokes and the target of whispers. He was surrounded by courtiers who said his brother was behind this criticism, and as rebellion in occupied Ferelden began, things grew worse. There was open talk of placing Gratien on the throne. When Marquise Yvette, Reville's mother and a calming influence, died and threw him into mourning, he snapped. Reville ordered the assassination of Gratien and his entire family at their estate of Sablissent on the Feast of Ascension. Gratien, his wife, their three grown children and eight grandchildren—the youngest, Camille, only eight months old—all slaughtered and thrown into a mass grave, their bodies burned.
The brutal slaughter sent a chill through the Imperial Court, as even the emperor's own children feared to speak out against him. He became increasingly paranoid and began wearing armor every time he left his rooms. His health began to decline, but he refused to allow physicians of any kind into the palace. By 8:50 Blessed, Reville refused to leave his rooms at all. His paranoia had grown so great that only a single cook was permitted to prepare his food, and only under the supervision of ten chevaliers. He no longer ate anything but venison, and his health, unsurprisingly, was poor. In 8:51 Blessed, Emperor Reville finally died, and upon entering his rooms, his sons found that he had boarded up the windows and surrounded his bed with rows upon rows of daggers.
—From The Emperors of Orlais by Brother Harlon Ascari