At its start, Imperial Magischola of Massachusetts Bay was a university attached to the magical primaschola or lyceum founded in 1619, Providence Preparatory Academy for the Advancement of the Arcane Arts. Both taught boys and young men from Unsoiled English families and shared some facilities and faculty. Leodegrance envisioned creating an elite class of wizards with university training, and selected the most promising young mages to attend Imperial Magischola as the eligeri, or elect, to attend and take their places as leaders of a new magical society. Admissions standards to Imperial Magischola were extraordinarily strict, and the physical location of the school was a closely-hidden secret. This stemmed partly from safety concerns: as the Puritans gained power in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, any association with magic brought the risk of violent persecution.
In 1633, Virginia Dare petitioned the Praestantes to admit her daughter, Ophelia Samson, but they rejected her on account of her gender. Two years later, she (along with Tituba, Calisaylá, and Étienne Brûlé) formed New World Magischola in response.
In 1658, the four Courts of Imperial — Agrippa, Paracelsus, Ptolemy, and Callimachus — were established, and its second Chancellor, the longstanding and beloved Peregrine Myles Brewster, ascended to the head of the Praestantes. This transfer of power was shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years, but through private notes uncovered in 1999, a more complete story of the end of Leodegrance’s term came to light. The Chancellor had always been insular and distrustful, and The Voice of The Serpent — a powerful Corruptor of Lies — took advantage of those character traits. It has been surmised that this Corruptor was caused by scarring incurred by the secrecy wards on Imperial’s campus. It appeared first as a small voice in Leodegrance’s head, echoing words of colleagues. Then it took form as a vision to Leodegrance, with an image of Leodegrance living another two centuries as a beloved Chancellor. It began to sense the distrust Leodegrance had in the other faculty and even his friends, and it stoked his doubts just enough to inflame them into paranoia. As Leodegrance’s trust in other wizards fell, his faith in the Corruptor grew, and thus so did the Corruptor’s presence as well as the magnitude of the half-truths that it whispered to him. Finally, it predicted that Imperial would be altered forever under Leodegrance, but that his giving up power would result in Mundane-borns and women attending the school, and the magical purity that Leodegrance held so dear would be “muddied.” Under the Corruptor’s influence, Leodegrance became increasingly suspicious of outsiders and even began to push away close colleagues and friends.
One of those colleagues was Peregrine Myles Brewster, professor of magic theory and hermetics, who had been Leodegrance’s protégé. While Brewster did not know about the Corruptor, he saw that Leodegrance’s insularity and paranoia were not only harming himself, but harming Imperial: refusing to teach the latest magical practices meant that the university was beginning to fall behind New World Magischola and other wizarding universities in Europe. He gained enough support among the Praestantes to recruit and hire a few new professors from other North American magical communities who had a more progressive approach.
The new additions were: Isaac de Lucena, an alchemist and magi-botanist; Vitruvius Henry Peter Steinkraft, a phantasmologist and master duelist; Thomas Woodhouse, an astromancer and navigator; and Maestro-Wizard Firenzum Edward Smith Radcliffe Zephyrous, a librarian and researcher of ancient languages. These new additions were more inclusive in other ways, too: Steinkraft’s father was Penobscot, and de Lucena was Jewish. This openness only went so far, though. Nobody, not even Brewster, considered approaching people of mixed or mundane birth, or admitting women.
Despite the distinguished careers from which these new professors had come, many of the more conservative Praestantes still opposed their inclusion on the faculty. Therefore, Brewster invited his new professors to prove their worth by performing a Great Deed. De Lucena inscribed a living labyrinth at the center of the grounds. Woodhouse created a path that enables a sufficiently skilled sorcerer to physically climb to the stars. Firenzum created the Arca Tenebrarum (the Black Box) that still forms the heart of the Imperial library. Steinkraft took on the most perilous task of all: trapping the Corruptor that had been plaguing Leodegrance.
Leodegrance was so weakened by the Corruptor’s influence that after its removal he was no longer able to fulfill his duties as Chancellor and died soon after. Few people outside of the Praestantes and the Imperial faculty knew of the Corruptor’s presence; the public story was that Leodegrance had died after a short illness.
Brewster succeeded Leodegrance as Chancellor. Under Brewster’s leadership, the curriculum and structure of Imperial Magischola were brought in line with other comparable universities. It was divided into four Courts, each dedicated to the area of study of one of the new professors. The Praestantes agreed to name the courts after Classical and Renaissance alchemists, magicians, and sorcerers, and to create an institution of pure and theoretical learning that rivaled European institutions. Firenzum chose Callimachus for his poetry and work on the Great Library of Alexandria, Steinkraft chose Agrippa in honor of his mother’s ancestry. Woodhouse chose Ptolemy, who mapped the stars and divined their inner meanings. De Lucena chose Paracelsus, an alchemist who had family ties to Leodegrance.
Every year Imperial hosts a Founders’ Day Celebration, during which the students of each Court collaborate on a Great Deed for the glory of their Court and the memory of their Founder.