Vanell's War, also known as the Abaed War, was a conflict between Alphean settlers and the Laefan Takers in the colony of Eos from 1380 AS to 1382 AS. The war is named for Willem Vanell, then Director-General of Eos.
Appointed director general by the Alphean Outer Arm Company, Willem Vanell arrived in Eos in April 1375 AS. Without obvious experience or qualifications for the job, Vanell was likely appointed through family political connections. The year before, the Ermarch colonies Boreas Bay, Goodwater Plantation, and Adesa, allied with the Anfald and Nafela tribes, had annihilated the Alphean-allied Aefnan Tribe. The Aefnan defeat eased the way for an Ermarch takeover of the northern reaches of Eos, along what is now called the Eurus Strait. Two weeks before Vanell's arrival, Roy Howard Midnight, a former director-general of Eos, established a rogue Varani settlement (New Varan) in the poorly developed southern reaches of the colony, along what is now called the Hesperan Strait.
Along the Erebus Strait, Eos had taken better root despite years of being hamstrung by the Outer Arm Company's monopoly and mismanagement. The company continued to run the settlement chiefly for trading, with the director-general exercising unchecked corporate fiat backed by soldiers. Evora and the other settlements of the Erebus Strait had developed beyond company towns to a growing colony. In 1377 AS, the company finally surrendered its trade monopoly on the colony and declared Eos a free-trade zone. Suddenly Vanell was governor of a booming economy.
The directors of the Alphean Outer Arm Company were unhappy. Largely due to their mismanagement, the Eos project had never been profitable. The company's efforts elsewhere, by contrast, had paid handsome returns. The directors were anxious to reduce administrative costs, chief among which was providing for defense of the colonies. Within this category were land "purchase" agreements with the Taker tribes which shared the lands. (These were really payments for recognition of common rights to exploitation of the land, in return for friendly relations and mutual defense.
Vanell's first plan to reduce costs was to raise taxes on the tribes' living in the region. Long-time colonists warned him against this course, but he pursued it, to outright rejection by the local chiefs. Determined to force more deference, Vanell seized on the pretext of pigs stolen from the farm of Henry Cutter to send soldiers to raid a Naepseed village. His forces killed several Naepseed. When the band retaliated by burning down Cutter's farmhouse and killing four of his employees, Vanell "put a price on their heads". He offered payment to rival Taker tribes for the severed heads of Naepseed. (Later, colonists determined Cutter's pigs were stolen by other Alphean colonists.)
Shortly thereafter, in August of 1378 AS, Calvin Sharpe, an elderly immigrant from The Holy Phaëton Empire, was killed by a Godwraec of his long acquaintance. Sharpe ran a popular public house, frequented by Broadeyes and Takers. It was along the Godwraec Trail at what is today the Tiger’s Bay neighborhood of Kent. The murder was said to be a matter of the native's paying a "blood debt". He had been the sole survivor of an ambush of Godwraec traders by Broadeyes 15 years before. Vanell was determined to use the event as a pretext for a war of extermination.
Frustrated with the public resistance to his Taker initiatives, Vanell moved to use the Sharpe incident to build popular support for war. He created the Council of Twelve Minds, the first popularly elected body in the Eos colony to advise him on retribution. However, the council balked at Vanell's proposal to massacre the Godwraec village if they refused to produce the murderer. The colonists had lived in peace with the Takers for nearly two decades, becoming friends, business partners, employees, employers, drinking buddies, and bed partners. The Council was alarmed about the predictable consequences of Vanell's proposed crusade.
The Takers were far more numerous and reprisals against Broadeye life and property would be easily achieved. Perhaps as importantly, the Takers supplied the furs and pelts that were the economic lifeblood and the raison d'etre of the colony. With Henry Cutter as its President, the council sought to stall, delay and cajole Vanell away from war. They also began to advise on other matters, using the new Council as a means to press colonist interests with their corporate rulers. They called for establishing a permanent representative body to manage local affairs (as was traditional by then in the Alpheus). Vanell responded by dissolving the council and issuing a decree forbidding them to meet or assemble.
Vanell sent a punitive expedition to attack the fugitive's village, but they got lost. He accepted the peace offerings of Godwraec elders. On February 23, 1380 AS, two weeks after dismissing the Council, Vanell launched an attack on two camps of refugee Godwraec and Cylcan. Expansionist Agu and Wealdan in the North (armed with guns traded by the Proteans and Ermarch) had driven them south the year before, and they sought protection from the Alphean. Vanell refused aid despite the previous guarantees made the tribes. The refugees had settled at Neardun and Hereburn Hook. In the initial strike, since called the Neardun Massacre, 129 Alphean soldiers descended on the sleeping village and killed 120 Takers, including women and children. Having made an attempt to dissuade Vanell from this action, Cutter described the events in his journal.
Historians differ on whether or not the massacre was Vanell's idea, but all sources agree that he rewarded the soldiers for their deeds. The attacks united the Lichtanian peoples in the surrounding areas, including Laefan and Abaed, to an extent not seen before.
In the fall of 1380 AS, a force of 1,500 natives invaded Eos, where they killed notable dissident preacher Elizab Farmer, among others. They destroyed entire villages and farms. Two decades of building was undone in months. In retaliation that winter, Alphean forces killed 500 Godwraec. As Evora became crowded with destitute refugees, the colony moved to open revolt. New taxes ordered by Vanell to pay for the war were flouted, and the colony began to lose population as people took ship. As private letters of appeal to the directors of the Alphean Outer Arm Company and the Republic to intervene produced no result, the colonists banded together to formally petition for the removal of Vanell.
For the next two years, the united tribes harassed settlers all across Eos, killing sporadically and suddenly. The sparse colonial forces were helpless to stop the attacks, but the natives were too spread out to mount more effective strikes. The two sides finally agreed to a truce when the last of the eleven united tribes joined in August of 1382 AS.
The resulting attacks by the natives caused many Alphean settlers to return to the Broadworlds, shaking confidence in the Alphean Outer Arm Company's ability to control their territory in the New World. Vanell was recalled to the Alpheus to answer for his conduct in 1384 AS, but he died in a shipwreck near Acheron before his version of events could be told. His successor was Richard Paellen, who ran Eos until it was ceded to the Ermarch.
The war was extremely bloody in proportion to the population at the time: more than 1,600 natives were killed in Vanell's War at a time when the Broadeye population of Evora was only 250. A relative peace lasted until the early hostilities of the Awensis Wars began in the 1390s AS.