House Tarres is a noble lineage, formerly of extensive power and influence,.
The Tarres family claim descent from Amdar, a legendary Divine Blood hero; be that as it may, they enter the historical record in the reign of King Brisil III of Eucarin, as bailiffs in the rebellious Morvine marches - a rough job, to be sure, and one that in a less distinguished lineage would be taken as prima facie evidence that they got their start as smalltime mercenary thugs. They were granted status as a cadet House under Brisil IV, with Adrim becoming the first Lord Tarres. In House lore, this was granted because Queen Vikaia so admired the beauty of Adrim's daughter Onica that 'her heart told it was not meet that a common girl should so outshine the gentry'; a more likely motive was Adrim's controlling interest in Eucarine tanneries, and national debts from the War of Halfway Back.
Crezia Edine TarresEdit
The twenty-sixth Lord Tarres, Crezia rose to lordship of the House at the age of fourteen. The House was deep in a succession struggle, with fifteen Lords in the previous eight years; initially viewed as a puppet of her cousin Ortili, Crezia had established a firm grasp over the House by the time she was twenty and ruled until her death at 92.
In popular culture, Crezia is best-known for exploiting the Irilean marriage code to the fullest possible extent: she had at least forty-four husbands (by some accounts many times that), divorcing some after periods as short as a single night. Since she married only men of lower or equal rank and invariably issued Extensions of Consanguinity, this enabled her to have one hundred and sixty-seven legal children through auxiliaries while never giving birth herself. By the time of Crezia's death, strategic marriage of these children, along with astute trade deals and two small but efficient wars, had propelled House Tarres from moderately-important Eucalin landowners to the pre-eminent dynasty of Amfal.
A patron of learning and the arts, effectively every great mind of the age was attendant at her court at one time or another; she also endowed Grantchester, the first truly secular university in Amfal (largely to provide a superior education for her children; Founder's College still guarantees undergraduate places to anyone who can prove direct descent from Crezia's legal children). Portraiture depicts her as aquiline-nosed, high-browed and fashionably short, often with a scroll half-unfurled in one hand; she is recognisably the model for Asyi in Recorba's Thrones of the First. Even more famously, it is generally assumed that the dramatist Tennim Mabai, Crezia's longtime favourite and auxiliary-mother of four of her children, intended Queen Mhar of The Mhariad as a fantastic portrait of Crezia. Innovations at her court included the polyalphabetic cipher, the Pirassan sonnet, the camera obscura, and creme brulee; her armies were among the first to employ cannon as an intrinsic part of normal battlefield strategy.
The Great Interregnum was in many respects a response to Crezia's legacy: it led to the reformation of the Irilean code (and some shuffling-around of religious doctrine) to prevent anything so audacious from being tried again. It ultimately failed, however, to dislodge many Tarres scions from positions of influence; by the advent of the Godking, almost every Amfalian monarch was related to Tarres by either birth or marriage.
Monta, Terfil, AralacEdit
Beginning with Monta, twenty-ninth Lord Tarres, the House adopted a policy of referring to the present head of the House exclusively as Lord Tarres, and pursued this policy exhaustively. While it is generally agreed that Monta at some point passed the title to Terfil and thence to Aralac, it is likely that the three passed the title back and forth between themselves for some time, that other members of the House may also have used the title, and that some of these may even have held the title at the same time. A considerable effort was made to concentrate on the role and title, rather than the individual holder; portraits and statues of the Lord always show a masked figure in gender-obscuring dress, though the lords themselves did not normally go masked. This may have been an attempt to avoid assassins, a tactic to strike fear into the hearts of enemies, or simply a convenient way to prevent the multitudinous branches of the family from squabbling over the titular honour of Lordship. (By this point, the actual running of the sprawling, many-limbed House resembled a guild or syndicate more than a noble family.) The practice was abandoned thereafter, but its sinister overtones were fertile ground for artists - in popular novels and stage melodrama, the black-cloaked, masked Tarres conspirator became a regular figure.
The Tarres-traitor archetype was never directly invoked by Mandri, but it was strongly suggested by much of his early rhetoric, including the Oration at Sarlanne. The sense that monarchs were not merely monstrous, but puppets in some grand and shadowy scheme, became commonplace, and House Tarres was frequently cited as the heart of this corruption. Ironically, this narrative was at full pitch at precisely the point when (as internal correspondence reveals) the House had become incapable of even simple coordination between its many branches. The sum total of Tarres power was still, undoubtedly, immense; but the ability no longer existed to bring that power to bear on a common end.
The rise of the Godking did what the Interregnum could not: it broke the power of House Tarres. While the House was not abolished, Lord Erwin Tarres was executed along with the heads of the principal branches - many of them monarchs in their own right. Princess Orithia's consort, Merwin Tarres (not Erwin; the two were third cousins), was quartered in public. Many members of the House fled into exile; those who remained disavowed the House to form their own minor Houses, or pledged allegiance to Mandri as the Blue Tarres. Nonetheless, many members of the First Godking Court were scions of former Tarres lines, and it is unclear to what extent this was exploited for political influence.
Today, three separate entities claim to be the true House Tarres: the exile Grey House, the Blue or Traitor House constituted by Mandri, and the Sunrise House reconstructed almost a century later by the marriage of Leticia Tarres and Brudo Tarres-Nolan. If you are a fan of abject tedium, I recommend researching which government entities recognise which versions of Tarres as authentic. None of them retain more than ornamental significance.