The Moral Reforms are a pivotal moment in the lore about the history of Amarr. According to the primary fiction, these reforms were a period of civil war from 21987 to 21924 CE in which the Emperor Heideran V fought a war against the Council of Apostles that established the modern structure of Amarr. That is, the system with designated heir families and a Theology Council (See “Unchallenged Era of Amarr,” Unchallenged Era of the Amarr Empire - EVE Fiction). Despite being thousands of years before the current EVE setting, this key event establishes the core structure of Amarr. Unfortunately, the lore on this event treats the losing side’s perspective on the conflict as out of character fact, which creates problems for any character trying to roleplay an Amarr loyalist.
According to Primary Fiction, the Moral Reforms happened because the Emperor Heideran V “began to rewrite the Scriptures to concentrate power in his hands.” The lore describes the event as a “power grab” by the Emperor and presents the Council of Apostles as a group trying to restore the old norms through an attempt to “have Heideran V eliminated.” When this failed, Heideran declared a series of moral reforms to “expunge the Empire of the ‘prideful disobedience’ of those members of the Council of Apostles who had opposed his changes.” The Emperor was backed by the five families that became the heirs, and the lore makes it clear that at least two of the families backing him did so primarily because Heideran offered them “places of power and influence.” The rest of the Council rejected him, rose in revolt, and declared someone named Severian Astur their emperor.
The two sides fought a brutal war, but the military expertise of the Khanid and Sarum families turned the tide, eventually resulting in Heideran’s victory. In the aftermath of the war, Heideran established the Theology Council as an alternative to the old council of apostles and this body “set about scouring the Scriptures, looking for pieces of Scripture they could use to justify placing more power in the hands of the Emperor, while removing those pieces that stood against that purpose.” The original scriptures were destroyed, except for a copy secreted away by the Order of the Tetrimon.
By Heideran’s death in 21954, the scriptures had been rewritten and the new status quo was established, setting the stage for the Amarr that exists in the current state of play.
The problem with this narrative is that it only gives one side of the story, and the side of the story that it gives is one that would not be taught to Amarr characters raised within the current system. Heideran in the lore is clearly cast as the aggressor who successfully made a major power grab, changed scriptures at will, and corrupted the old establishment of Amarr. His supporters are presented as greedy for power, and not idealists of any form. This works if it is a story told by the supporters of the old system.
But as an OOC story of the Moral Reforms it creates a problem. There is no way that this narrative is the one taught by the Empire, as a reformer would never claim that their reforms were an open power grab. Even if every single word of the version currently in lore were true to the events that happened, there should be a counter narrative presented by imperial propaganda that justifies the war.
And it is this missing counter narrative that almost every Amarr player should have been taught, from birth, to view as the absolute truth. We have the perspective of the Tetrimon, a group that actively has opposed the current status quo, but we do not have the perspective of their opposition. Rather than telling us the story that an Amarr raised character should know, the lore tells us a story to which they would not have easy access.
If we read between the lines on the Lore, we can sort of see the outlines of a potential counter narrative. The narrative needs to both make a case against the former system and make a case that the changes to scripture either were not actually changes or that the changes were divinely inspired.
When it comes to the criticism of the prior system, there is a good deal of material in the lore to work with. First, and foremost, the Council of Apostles tried to “eliminate” the Emperor. Whatever they attempted must have been aggressive enough that it opened them up to counterattack. The core of the narrative Heideran would have pushed was likely that it was the Council of Apostles themselves who were attempting a power grab. Second, a lot went wrong for the Empire in the period before the Moral Reforms. Both the Equilibrium of Mankind and Sani Sabik Heresies happened during the period in which the Council of Apostles was ascendent. So, any attempt to break the Council would likely first focus on their failure to prevent heresy from spreading, and then turn to their attempt to remove a legitimate emperor from the throne.
The question of scripture is a harder one. I see two ways that a defender of Heideran might have rationalised it. The first is to claim that rather than a rewrite it was a restoration of scripture that the Council of Apostles had rewritten. This would cloak the reform in a performance of conservative values. The second is to make the claim that scripture was never intended to be immutable and that the Council of Apostles had defied God by attempting to establish a set canon of scripture. The evidence for the latter stance can be seen in the modern Amarr view that scripture is something that constantly grows and changes (Amarr Scripture, Amarr Scriptures - EVE Fiction ). It seems likely that both approaches would have been used simultaneously, though I would expect the stance to prioritise establishing the Emperor’s right to add to the scriptures.
The biggest ramification for playing Amarr in the current state of play is that the section on Moral Reforms needs to be read as a specific partisan take in favour of the old council of apostles. The version in the Lore should not be assumed to be something that all characters have access to, but rather represents a borderline heretical narrative associated with specifically the Tetrimon Order. As I see it, most Amarr should believe without question that the transition away from the Council of Apostles was good and god inspired. The moral reforms would almost certainly be portrayed as an entirely positive change and anyone suggesting otherwise would likely be viewed with great suspicion. We do not really have the tools needed to truly develop the narrative that most Amarr would take as fact, but what I can say with certainty is that it would not be commonly understood as a greedy power grab by the Emperor.