Holy Grail War
The Holy Grail War is a competition that decides the ownership of the Holy Grail through intense battle royale. While there have been many conflicts over supposed Holy Grails in the past, this term refers to those specifically based around Masters, usually proficient magi, summoning Servants, Heroic Spirits brought forth as familiars, and meeting in battle until only one pair is left to claim the Holy Grail.
The Holy Grail War of Fuyuki, also called Heaven’s Feel, is a ritual that has been ongoing for two hundred years. Established by the Tohsaka, Matou, and Einzbern families as a means to reach Akasha, it is currently thought to be only a competition for something recognized as a possible Holy Grail. Seven magi are chosen by the Grail as Masters and, with support from the Grail, allowed to summon seven Servants to do battle. The winning pair is supposed to be able to claim the Holy Grail and utilize it to grant a wish for each of them. There has yet to be even one true winner who actually claimed the Grail in all five wars. Overall, it is a minor event in the magi world. The stakes could be considered the highest up until the Second War, as the Church became involved afterward.
The original purpose of the ritual was to recover the Third Magic lost by the Einzberns, the “Cup of Heaven.” Justizia Lizleihi von Einzbern, Nagato Tohsaka and Zouken Makiri created the system in order to create a gate leading to Akasha. At that time, the Mage’s Association and the Church were locked in a battle to the death, so a land in the Far East, where the Church could not monitor, was chosen. Einzbern prepared the vessel for the Grail, Tohsaka called forth the Servants, and Makiri designed the Command Seals that command the Servants.
The Holy Grail War itself was devised by Justizia, and she was to become the key of the ritual. The Great Grail was created through forming a large circuit from many multi-layered Crests carved onto a bare rock over fifty meters in diameter. It was covered in multiple layers of circuits, while its many geometric figures turned in place. Justizia stood in the center of the it, and became the key to reenacting the Third Magic. The Holy Grail would have only been just a Holy Grail without her, as her will was required for Heaven’s Feel. The process was overseen by Kishua Zelretch Schweinorg.
Currently, only the Tohsakas want to reach Akasha, while the Einzberns and Makiri only want the completion of the Grail, that is, the revival of the Third Magic.
The Fuyuki Holy Grail system was created in 1790 by the Einzbern, Makiri and Tohsaka families in Fuyuki City, Japan. In the beginning, it was simply a ritual and wasn’t known as a Holy Grail War. The three noble families originally planned to use the Grail together but when they found that the Grail system can be only have one winner, there was internal strife with conflicting opinions and interests. This caused them to break off their alliance, where they agreed to proceed with the creation of the Grail system as usual, but they became enemies when the Grail was summoned. In order to conceive the Grail, seven Magus and seven Heroic spirits are required, so the three noble families sent out invitations to other Magus saying, “We’ve succeeded in manifesting the Grail. If you’d like to witness this miracle, join us and become Masters.” Originally, the outsider Magi only sought to learn about the ritual of activating the Grail.
It took about 10 years to gather enough mana to start the very first Holy grail war.
First Holy Grail War
The First Holy Grail War took place around 1800. With the internal quarrel of the three noble families, the outside Magi used this opportunity to participate in the Fuyuki rituals to further their own desires. From the Einzberns point of view, the first war ended before its completion.
The evocation site of the Grail was held at Ryuudou temple on Mount Enzou.
Second Holy Grail War
The second war was held around the 1860’s. This is when the name “Holy Grail War” began to be used.
The second Grail War pointed out shortcomings in the rules, where it became a murder spree in which nobody survived.
The evocation site of the Grail was held at the Tohsaka mansion.
Third Holy Grail War
The Third Holy Grail War took place in the 1930s, the eve of World War II. The evocation site was confirmed and established, later becoming the center of the developing residential area of Shinto, the Fuyuki City Hall. Jubstacheit von Einzbern prepared the Einzbern forest and castle as the family’s headquarters. The Tohsaka and the Edelfelt families were participants. The Edelfelts had two Masters, each with the same Saber-class Servant due to their unique Sorcery Trait. The Einzberns, tired of losing out on reclaiming the Third Magic, subverted the usual system in an attempt to summon the Zoroastrian god, Angra Mainyu. They obtained Avenger, which replaced the Berserker class, but he was a weak Servant without any abilities.
During the course of the War, there were battles over the Lesser Grail with the Imperial Army, and the Nazis as well, and the fighting unfolded in the Imperial Capital. Avenger was lost early during the conflict. While upholding the Saber class’ reputation, at least one of the Edelfelt sisters made it to the end. They were ultimately defeated by the Tohsaka, and the fate of the younger sister is unknown. The older sister ran away from the country, promising never to come back. The Lesser Grail was destroyed during the battles, before the victor could be decided, so the ritual became meaningless and failed.
The evocation site of the Grail was set to be at the Fuyuki Church.
There was a meeting held at a suitable time that appointed the then young Risei Kotomine as the supervisor for the next Holy Grail War. The ritual ended in failure, but Avenger, Angra Mainyu, was taken in and the Great Grail was contaminated. Up until that point, only true Heroic Spirits were summoned, but that contamination allowed for “something other than a Heroic Spirit” to be summoned during later Holy Grail Wars.
Fourth Holy Grail War
The events of Fate/Zero take place during this time.
Fifth Holy Grail War
The events of Fate/stay night take place during this time.
The First and Second Wars went unsupervised, but the chaotic Second Holy Grail War caused them to rethink the position. Japan had been in its period of civilizing at the time, so the possibility of witnesses spreading the serious damage occurring needed to be controlled, even in such a remote area. It is a conflict between magi, so there is no one in the Mage’s Association fit to act as a mediator because of the political implications. They instead sought out the Church, enemies to the Magi and an external authority. As the Holy Grail shares its name with one of their most sacred artifacts, it was not possible for them to let its name be used lightly.
The Church acts under the pretense that they cannot ignore the possibility that it actually is the cup that received the blood of Christ, but they already know that it is not related to that grail. They still send a supervisor because it is too powerful to ignore and because they don’t want someone to use the Grail for selfish desires. They are not concerned about Magi reaching the Root, but someone affecting the actual world is too large a threat. They wish to instead guide a magi seeking the Root towards victory to keep such a possibility from happening.
The Holy Grail War is unknown to the general population. The Church is responsible for the cover up work, in which they manipulates information by modifying the memories of victims and covering up the battle damage, while the Mage’s Association handles the media.