On the History of the Holy Grail War
There is little detail in Erisviel’s notes about the First and Second Grail Wars. Erisviel explains this as protecting the secrets of the ritual’s creation, as the Einzberns guard this knowledge jealously and sharing it would be met with swift retribution from Acht. The original ceremony was unable to be completed after fighting broke out among the participants, thus starting the tradition of the Holy Grail War. None of the seven mages gathered for the ritual could agree on who to entrust with the power of the Grail to open the gate to Akasha, and thus they began killing each other. The Second Grail War is described simply as “making adjustments to the rules.”
The First Grail War
The First Grail War took place in the early 1800’s. The site of the invocation was Ryuudou Temple. From the point of view of the Einzberns, the ritual failed before it could be completed.
The Second Grail War
The Second Grail War took place in the 1860’s. The site of the invocation was the Tohsaka manor in Fuyuki City. Little is written, other than the fact that it revealed “shortcomings” in the rules.
The Third Grail War
The Third Grail War took place in the 1930’s, in the lead-up to World War II. The fighting was particularly fierce, with multiple groups competing for possession of what is referred to as “the vessel,” including Nazi occultists and the Imperial Japanese Army. The Einzberns had grown frustrated with their previous failures and attempted to summon “a Servant greater and more powerful than any other.” However, their summoning attempt was deemed a failure, as the Servant they called forth was weaker than normal and defeated early in the war, though no details as to the Servant summoned or what made it so weak are given. It is also noted that twin Masters, the Edelfelt Sisters, were both able to summon a Saber class Servant, which manifested as two different personality aspects of the same unidentified hero. There is some discussion of replicating this with the Einzbern magic, but it is ultimately abandoned since the Einzberns do not possess the same Sorcery trait believed to have made this possible for the Edelfelts.
The site of the invocation was at Fuyuki Church. However, “the vessel” was destroyed during the fighting, leading to a failed and meaningless ritual. The final battle was between the Tohsaka Master and one of the Masters from the Edelfelt family. The notes indicate that it is suspected the Tohsaka Master was able to steal the Edelfelt family’s Thaumaturgical Crest and add it to their own, as the Edelfelt family is well known for their skill with the Gandr Curse, and the Tohsaka family had no knowledge of it prior to the Third War. The notes reveal there was much argument among the members of the Einzbern family over the reasons for their failure, including “the irregular summoning” and the need to strengthen “the vessel.”
The Fourth Grail War
The Fourth Grail War took place in the 1990’s. There is more discussion of “irregularities,” with the Caster Servant summoned during the war given as an example. The Einzberns have prepared a new “vessel” for this war, and dispatched it along with their hired magus, Kiritsugu Emiya, after determining that the family’s own mages are ill-suited to the combat of the Holy Grail Wars. Kiritsugu is described as a ruthless, cold-blooded mercenary, who will stop at nothing to see his contract completed, and is thus deemed an excellent candidate to obtain victory in the merciless free-for-all of the Holy Grail War.
The Einzberns are once again met with failure, however, as their hired killer turns against them and destroys the materialized Holy Grail. The reasons for Kiritsugu’s betrayal are debated amongst the members of the Einzbern family, but no consensus is reached. The theory advanced by Acht and his supporters is that someone else somehow gave Kiritsugu a better offer, while other members of the family argue that “the irregular summoning from the previous war” may have had some hand in it. There is reference to a statement given by Kiritsugu, but the actual content of that statement is not provided. Acht is said to have rendered Kiritsugu’s testimony irrelevant, as regardless of his reasons, the fact of his betrayal is enough to warrant his complete excommunication from their family. There is talk of having him killed, but this is deemed a low priority. Acht also mentions that Kiritsugu will never see his daughter Ilyasviel again, which is in itself a suitable punishment.
The summoning ritual for the Holy Grail is invoked at the fourth convergence of the Fuyuki City ley lines, Fuyuki City Hall. The invocation coincides with the final battle between Kiritsugu and the other remaining Master, Kotomine Kirei. The details of this final battle largely come from Kiritsugu’s own testimony, where he states that he ordered his Servant Saber to destroy the Holy Grail as the fight began. The reason for Kiritsugu’s action is again not stated, but the result is described in detail; the destruction of the Holy Grail leads to an outpouring of “black mud,” which engulfs both Kiritsugu and the dying Kirei, whose heart was pierced by Kiritsugu. It is speculated that the Holy Grail was still capable of granting a wish even in this damaged state, as Kiritsugu states that Kirei’s wish for destruction was granted in the form of an enormous fire which engulfed much of the surrounding area. The damage is estimated to be a total of 134 buildings, with casualties upward of 500. The “relatively low” number of casualties is attributed to the war taking place near the Japanese end of year holidays, when many families who lived in the area were on vacation and not present for the destruction.
The Fifth Grail War
Erisviel’s notes indicate that the Einzberns are supremely confident of their chances of winning the Fifth Grail War, though there is some concern over the fact that the Fifth War has started 50 years early for unknown reasons. Ilyasviel von Einzbern is chosen as the Einzbern Master, and she is an exceptional magus capable of fully controlling a stronger than normal Berserker class Servant. The Einzberns rate their chances of success as almost certain. They are once again thwarted however, as Ilyasviel’s Servant is killed and she later decides to abandon the Einzbern family to live with the Master of Saber, Shirou Emiya. This enrages the Einzberns, as Shirou is the adopted son of Kiritsugu, and thus they view this as a betrayal on par with Kiritsugu’s own. Further enraging the Einzberns, particularly Acht, is the fact that Shirou later goes on to become the victor of the Grail War, and he chooses the same path as Kiritsugu, the destruction of the Holy Grail at Ryuudou Temple. The “black mud” once again gushes forth as the manifested Grail is destroyed, but there is no widespread destruction like the end of the previous war. The Einzberns are again divided over why anyone would choose this course of action, arguing with each other at length, but again failing to reach a consensus.
Shirou takes things even further than Kiritsugu did, allying with Rin Tohsaka and attempting to dismantle the entire Holy Grail system. Details are not provided as to how exactly this was attempted, but the Einzberns and several other groups interested in prolonging the Holy Grail ritual bitterly oppose them. A fierce clandestine war on par with the Holy Grail War itself is undertaken, but in the end the Holy Grail System is believed to be dismantled.
The Sixth Grail War
The Einzberns are surprised that the Holy Grail War has recurred once again, as they thought the system to be dismantled. There is some debate over whether Erisviel is suitable for the war, but the decision is made to “use her.” She is deemed unsuitable as a Master however, and is tasked with recruiting Masters for the Einzbern cause instead.