”The church tried to seize control. The priests tried to conquer the world—for its own good, they claimed.
The Hierocracy is a government run by the Vorin Church that attempted to rule on Roshar politically rather than merely acting as a spiritual guide. The ardents attempted to conquer the world, claiming visions from the Almighty, but they were eventually defeated by the Sunmaker.
Rise of the Church
The main goal of the Hierocracy was to unite the world under the Vorin faith, ruled by the ardents. By the zenith of its power, the Hierocracy controlled nearly all of eastern Roshar. It is uncertain what nations aside from Alethela were controlled by the Hierocracy, but it is possible that the other primarily Vorin eastern nations of Kharbranth, Natanatan and Jah Keved also fell under the Church's influence. The Church tried to conquer the world and control the people for their own good. The most powerful ardents claimed to be receiving visions from the Almighty himself. These visions, which only the priests could receive helped to further solidify their control. They grained their rule legitimacy, while simultaneously obfuscating their own religion.
One of the other primary goals of the Hierocracy was to expunge knowledge of Shadesmar, the Knights Radiant and the Recreance, the first failure of Vorinism, from the records as best as they could. Many primary sources and other historical documents were tampered with and altered by the ardents in their attempts to repress history. They suppressed knowledge of the abilities of the Knights Radiant, as well as subjects related to them, such as their home city, the lost of city of Urithiru. This cleansing of history is present across all of Roshar; even the great libraries of the world such as the Palanaeum show signs of this tampering.
War of Loss
Main article: War of Loss
Before the Hierocracy could spread to western Roshar, the Hierocracy became embroiled in the War of Loss, a conflict spearheaded by the man later known as the Sunmaker. The Sunmaker united together the ten princedoms of Alethkar for the first time since the fall of Alethela into one nation. It is unknown if any other factions joined them, but working together the Alethi forces fought the Hierocracy in truly epic battles, whose like has not been seen on Roshar since then. The Sunmaker managed to cast down the Hierocracy. Its fall led to much chaos and destruction, many eastern cities were sacked and destroyed, with the notable exception of Kholinar.
The Sunmaker himself interrogated the remaining priests and went through their correspondences. He claimed that he had found no proof of any of the visions that they had claimed to be receiving from the Almighty, stating that it had been a massive fraud on the part of the Church. The central leadership of the Vorin Church was destroyed. From that point forward, Vorinism continued in as a decentralized religion, with each devotary working mostly independently, sometimes clandestinely competing with the others for followers.
”The days of the priests are gone. The days of lying to the people, of keeping them in darkness, are gone. Now, each man chooses his own path, and the ardents help him achieve closeness to the Almighty through it. Instead of shadowed prophecies and pretend powers held by a few, we have a population who understand their beliefs and their relationship with their God.
The ramifications of the Hierocracy's attempt at global control were still felt centuries after its collapse. The Hierocracy, along with the Recreance are considered the main two failings of Old Vorinism and are a persistent embarrassment to modern day ardents. They prefer not to speak of these past events, and focus on teaching doctrine such as the Ten Divine Attributes or the Ten Human Failings. The ardents are technically slaves, owned by and bound to serve powerful and wealthy lighteyes that are charged to ensure that the priests never rise above their station again. It is now the duty of the Church to simply teach morals, enforcing them is the job of the lighteyes. The ardents and the devotaries are also forbidden from owning land or property, and may not participate in politics of any sort. Despite this rule, the reality of the relationship between lighteyes and ardents means that the ardents are increasingly drawn into political situations by their owners.
The method by which doctrine was taught also changed greatly after the fall of the Hierocracy. Instead of obfuscating the beliefs of the Vorin Church, each and every follower is now encouraged to understand the religion develop their own relationship with the Almighty. Ardents guide the faithful to their Glory, and help them progress further in their Calling throughout their lives. Some of the mysticism remained though, for instance in the use of Soulcasters. The Church still hides how easy the fabrials are to operate. The Vorin aversion to prophecy continued, and was likely only strengthened by the revelation that the visions from the Church had been fabrications. Anything that appears to guess at the future, even simple games remained taboo. The memories of the Hierocracy and its attempts to unify the world made Brightlord Dalinar Kholin concerned about the origin and authenticity of his own visions with their messages of unity.
The revisions of history perpetuated by the Church are still difficult to avoid, especially for those that study pre-Hierocracy history or the Knights Radiant. Some ancient texts were highly revised to remove perceived contradictions, making it difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. This alteration is one of Brightlady Jasnah Kholin's frustrations with Vorinism and a major component to her interest in the city of Urithiru, where she hoped to find original ancient texts, unaltered by the ardentia.
Despite much of the ill-will towards the Hierocracy, there are still those that wish for a return to the days when the Vorin Church was the absolute power. The Sons of Honor are one such group that seeks to return power and authority to the church by returning the Voidbringers, which they hope will trigger a Desolation and cause the Heralds to return to Roshar as well. Other ardents, such as the zealot Pai, wonder why the Heralds did not return to denounce the Hierocracy if it was a force of evil.
System of Rule
”They were taught to follow the priests. Not the Almighty or the Heralds, but the priests.— Kadash 
During the Hierocracy, the ardentia assumed near absolute control of eastern Roshar. The ultimate authority of the Hierocracy was the ardents themselves, rather than the Heralds or the Almighty, and the ardents used mysticism as one of their greatest tools. Priests controlled what people learned, what religious paths they followed, and the overall doctrine, because they claimed that the common people could not understand theology. They justified this with visions and prophecies from the Almighty that they claimed to see. This flew in the face of traditional Vorin doctrine, which held that trying to divine the future was evil, and a part of the heart of Voidbinding.
The Church derived much of its power by controlling knowledge. They promoted beliefs that they knew were fabrications or lies to further their goals. The ardents also began to revise ancient texts in accordance with their own dogma, changing histories and other famous works of literature. For instance, the Church relied on the authority and connection to the Almighty that their relationship to the Radiants granted them. However, that associated them with the Recreance and failure of Vorinism as well. In order to remain consistent, the ancient Radiants of the shadowdays were celebrated, while those responsible for the betrayal were demonized. By the modern times of the Era of Solitude, few ancient records existed that had not been at one point or another passed through Vorin hands.
- The Way of Kings chapter 18 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 36 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 26 #
- Words of Radiance chapter 3 #
- Words of Radiance chapter 8 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 45 #
- Words of Radiance chapter 6 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 24 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 52 #
- Words of Radiance chapter 1 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 33 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 59 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 54 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 3 #
- The Way of Kings chapter 42 #
- The Way of Kings interlude I-6 #
- Words of Radiance chapter 88 #
- Words of Radiance interlude I-12 #
Windrunner (talk) 01:23, 21 November 2016 (MST)