During the second half of the 2nd century PC the Holy Sigmarite Empire remained prosperous. However the expansion of the realm had slowed, her campaigns wained and, like her Emperor, the Empire was becoming tired and reflective. Konrad was getting old, and the HSE waited for the new king to breathe new life into the Empire of man.
Konrad died in summer 171PC, the oldest of the Emperors at 73 and the longest on the throne, having reigned for an astonishing 62 years. Frederick was crowned the following year and by 174PC the Emperor was beginning to make plans to reinvigorate the stumbling fortues of the land.
Frederick backed private enterprise, especially the sailors and traders of Sudhafen. A great tradition of privateering, trading and downright piracy established itself in the Empire, leading to several brushes with other nations' navies, most notably the fleet of Karak Debaz in 174, which saw the loss of several Empire warships. Later, in 185PC the fleet of Mellvellon encountered Empire vessels near the great cape, and destroyed it. Even so the fleets of the Empire were rebuilt with wood from Armaethor, and the exploration and exploitation of the Pan Coron Ocean continued.
None-the-less the Empire now had the taste for overseas adventure and continued to send her navies forth, always thankful that the Dark Elves of the Dominion seemed to show no interest in their affairs. However the swashbuckling spirit of the Sigmarites was dented in 175PC, when an outbreak of red pox decimated the population of Sigmarheim, claiming the lives of Emperor Frederick and his only daughter and heir.
The death of Frederick threw the Empire into chaos. The Emperor had died, aged 39 with no heir. His wife, Queen Sarah, attempted to rule on her own for a time, but it soon became clear that this was unacceptable, especially in the south of the realm who supported the claim of Heinrich, who was the legal heir to the crown. Months passed with much legal wrangling. The Grand Theogenist, to his credit, kept out of the affair, and eventually Heinrich II was proclaimed, Grandson of Otto III and cousin to the deceased Frederick.
The succession crisis had left the Holy Sigmarite Empire and uncertain place, and Heinrich's hold on the crown was not a secure one. Heinrich needed the presence of the army to maintain his posiion, a deterrent to those who would establish other forms of government or attempt to seize the throne. For this reason the armies of the HSE stayed within their borders, and until late in the 2nd century the nation looked inward, with only the privateers of the HSE navy exploring the oceans.