The Great Refusal. Back in the day, the Free Council was just a collection of Apostate mages calling themselves the Nameless, who didn't care for either the Pentacle Orders or the Seers of the Throne, instead focusing on implementing modern mortal ideas in the study of magic. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Seers approached the Nameless, asking them to join together against the Pentacle Orders so they could hoard all the magical power for themselves. The Nameless reacted poorly, as the name suggests, slaughtering large numbers of Seers and formally aligning with the Pentacle Orders by declaring themselves a new mage Order.
You can say whatever you want about the Exarchs, and you're probably right to boot, but know that they broke reality's spine and bend it to their will, know that they killed and enslaved gods, know that they have been grinding down humanity since time immemorial, know that they have won. Truly, truly, won and mankind has payed for their hubris forever since.