Saul D'Alessio is where it all began, but at the beginning of his tale he doesn't seem like the obvious choice for a leader. His history's not a pretty one. In endeavoring to dig himself out of one mess, he landed in another. Rinse and repeat until you wind up with poor drunken Saul facing a debt he can't repay, in way over his head with a local gambling guild, and convicted as a thief. Justice was pretty straightforward: exile. Saul was blindfolded, and the local authorities rode with him for three weeks before abandoning him in the wilderness. From here on out, all we have to go on is the word of Saul D'Alessio.
He's got quite an interesting tale to tell. After four days of wandering, Saul was pretty much done in. Lost, exhausted, and starving, he found -- or claims to have found -- a marvelous city inhabited by golden-skinned beings that he named as gods. He returned to Kryta a changed man. He was healthy, the desire for drinking and gambling was gone, and his rags had been replaced by a white and gold robe.
Saul D'Alessio had no hard evidence to back his claims, his reputation was terrible, and nobody else ever saw the mysterious city or its citizens, so how did he gain any sort of following at all? Well, there had to be some sort of explanation for his dramatic change, not to mention his completely improbable safe return. In addition to that, the people of Kryta weren't in the best shape. Torn between Charr attacks and infighting in the form of guild wars, they badly needed a leader -- someone to stand up and take charge. Saul D'Alessio was so passionate about his new gods, promising that they could help, that he gathered a following pretty quickly. Saul and his followers traveled, promising help and gaining new followers.
The tide turned for the White Mantle during a pivotal battle with the invading Charr, a battle that we got to participate in thanks to the Bonus Mission Pack. The White Mantle teamed up with some of these mysterious new gods -- the Mursaat -- to defeat an army of invading Charr.. The official story goes that Saul D'Alessio and most of his followers were slain by Charr, and only Thommis, Hablion, and Dorian escaped with their lives. But our participation in The Rise of the White Mantle shows otherwise: the Mursaat turned on the Mantle, slaughtering all but the aforementioned three before taking Saul away. That was the last we saw of Saul D'Alessio, and Thommis, Hablion, and Dorian returned to continue spreading the word about the White Mantle, as well as the false story about what happened to their fellow Mantle and leader.
It can be said that this is where it all went wrong. Why not tell the truth of what happened in that battle? We can only guess, but there are a few possibilities that stand out as the most likely. Was it fear that they would meet a similar fate if they blew the whistle? Giving the three survivors the benefit of the doubt, could their devotion to their gods lead them to believe that the Mursaat and their superior wisdom knew what they were doing, and should not be questioned? The third, simplest explanation is that they simply didn't want to give up their power.
In either case, the current iteration of the White Mantle seems to have strayed far from what Saul D'Alessio had in mind. We're currently keeping up with the Mantle vs. Blade developments via warinkryta, and the Mantle fiercely defend the story originally touted by the survivors of the Charr battle. Claims that the White Mantle and their unseens gods are not all they're cracked up to be are labeled treasonous and blasphemous: "Blasphemous liars will claim that the Unseen Ones are not gods, but are rather demonic spellcasters. If you hear a fellow Krytan spreading such treason, report them to the nearest White Mantle member immediately for re-education."
The Mantle claim to stand for peace, enlightenment, and all things warm and fuzzy, but even our main source of current information says that "the saviors became tyrants."
We know for certain that the Mantle lied about what happened to Saul D'Alessio and the other soldiers that day in the Charr camp, and that the current White Mantle rule is nothing like what Saul had in mind originally. But their motives bear closer inspection. Why do the Mantle cling so hard to something based on a falsehood? The theories mentioned before all ring true: simple fear, love of power, or true belief. However, given the iron fist with which the Mantle seek to rule Kryta, a love of power rings the truest.
I'd love to hear your theories regarding the Mantle. What are they thinking? What is their goal, and why? We fight against them through most of the Prophecies campaign, but there are two sides to every story, so what's theirs?
And most importantly, why do they wear shiny white minidresses?