For years the Lowland tribes of the Excalbian Isles had lived in tension with Highland Kingdom of Excalbia. The balance of power had always favored the Highlanders until the late 18th century, when the Yankee trader Narwhal carrying a New England crew and Virginian missionaries shipwrecked near a Lowland village. By 1801, the newly assertive Lowlanders, backed by the missionaries and by the guns of the ship's crew, had once again come into conflict with the Highland king, Ragarth. Low-level conflict continued until a truce in 1807, by which time the new American arrivals had reestablished contact with their homeland, bringing in new supplies for themselves and their Lowland allies. Seeing the balance of power tilting to the Lowlanders, Ragarth undertook a diplomatic mission to the Lowlanders’ new capital, Landing – the site of the Narwhal’s wreck. While in Landing, Ragarth’s still unmarried son Thorvald converted to Christianity and adopted the Christian name Joshua.
Joshua married Abigail Taylor, the daughter of a missionary, in 1808 and became king in 1809. At that point, he engineered a union between the Lowlanders and their allies and the Highland kingdom. On Christmas Day in 1809, Joshua proclaimed the Holy Empire of Excalbia, named Alvis Miller, the former Lowland governor of Landing, his Chancellor and established Christianity as its state religion. Emperor Joshua I also launched an aggressive campaign to bring modern education and knowledge to his kingdom.
Joshua's modernization of Excalbia included the development of his capital, Citadel Excalbia, into a modern city. Public works and building projects started in Joshua's reign continue to shape the city's administrative center during the reign of son and successor, Samuel I.