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merethic era

Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation

Author: 
University of Gwylim Press

Frontier, Conquest
and Accommodation:
A Social History of Cyrodiil

University of Gwylim Press
3E 344
 

Historians often portray the human settlement of Tamriel as a straightforward process of military expansion of the Nords of Skyrim. In fact, human settlers occupied nearly every corner of Tamriel before Skyrim was even founded. These so-called "Nedic peoples" include the proto-Cyrodilians, the ancestors of the Bretons, the aboriginals of Hammerfell, and perhaps a now-vanished Human population of Morrowind. Strictly speaking, the Nords are simply another of these Nedic peoples, the only one that failed to find a method of peaceful accommodation with the Elves who already occupied Tamriel.

Ysgramor was certainly not the first human settler in Tamriel. In fact, in "fleeing civil war in Atmora," as the Song of Return states, Ysgramor was following a long tradition of migration from Atmora; Tamriel had served as a "safety valve" for Atmora for centuries before Ysgramor's arrival. Malcontents, dissidents, rebels, landless younger sons, all made the difficult crossing from Atmora to the "New World" of Tamriel. New archeological excavations date the earliest human settlements in Hammerfell, High Rock, and Cyrodiil at ME800-1000, centuries earlier than Ysgramor, even assuming that the twelve Nord "kings" prior to Harald were actual historical figures.

The Nedic peoples were a minority in a land of Elves, and had no choice but to live peacefully with the Elder Race. In High Rock, Hammerfell, Cyrodiil, and possibly Morrowind, they did just that, and the Nedic peoples flourished and expanded over the last centuries of the Merethic Era. Only in Skyrim did this accommodation break down, an event recorded in the Song of Return. Perhaps, being close to reinforcements from Atmora, the proto-Nords did not feel it necessary to submit to the authority of the Skyrim Elves. Indeed, the early Nord chronicles note that under King Harald, the first historical Nord ruler (1E 113-221), "the Atmoran mercenaries returned to their homeland" following the consolidation of Skyrim as a centralized kingdom. Whatever the case, the pattern was set -- in Skyrim, expansion would proceed militarily, with human settlement following the frontier of conquest, and the line between Human territory and Elven territory was relatively clear.

But beyond this "zone of conflict," the other Nedic peoples continued to merge with their Elven neighbors. When the Nord armies of the First Empire finally entered High Rock and Cyrodiil, they found Bretons and proto-Cyrodiils already living there among the Elves. Indeed, the Nords found it difficult to distinguish between Elf and Breton, the two races had already intermingled to such a degree. The arrival of the Nord armies upset the balance of power between the Nedic peoples and the Elves. Although the Nords' expansion into High Rock and Cyrodiil was relatively brief (less than two centuries), the result was decisive; from then on, power in those regions shifted from the Elves to the Humans.

Father of the Niben

Author: 
Florin Jaliil, trans.

Father of the Niben

Translated and With Commentary
by Florin Jaliil

Introduction:
Writing the biography of anyone is a challenge. Usually the problem lies in assessing one's sources, comparing the prejudices of one chronicle versus another versus another. Waughin Jarth, I have been told, in writing his well-regarded series on the Wolf Queen of Solitude used over a hundred contemporary narratives. I cannot complain about my task having a similar issue.

There is but one record of the man called Topal the Pilot, the earliest known Aldmer explorer of Tamriel. Only four short verse fragments of the epic "Father of the Niben" have survived to present day, but they offer an interesting if controversial look at the Middle Merethic Era when Topal the Pilot may have sailed the seas around Tamriel.

Though "Father of the Niben" is the only written record of Topal the Pilot's voyages, it is not the only proof of his existence. Among the treasures of the great Crystal Tower of Summerset Isle are his crude but fascinating maps, his legacy to all Tamriel.

The translation of the Aldmeri Udhendra Nibenu, "Father of the Niben," is my own, and I accept that other scholars may disagree with some of my choice of words. I cannot promise my translation lives up to the beauty of the original: I have only strived for simple coherence.

Fragment One:

Second ship, the Pasquiniel, manned by pilot
Illio, was to follow the southern pointing
Waystone; and the third, the Niben, manned
By pilot Topal, was to follow the north-east
Pointing waystone; the orders from the
Crystal Tower, they were to sail forth for
Eighty moons and then return to tell.
Only Niben returned to Firsthold, laden high with
Gold and spice and fur and strange creatures,
Dead and live.
Though, alas, Old Ehlnofey Topal never found, he
Told the tales of the lands he had visited to the
Wonderment of all.
For sixty-six days and nights, he sailed, over crashing
Waves of dire intent, past whirlpools, through
Mist that burned like fire, until he reached the
Mouth of a great bay and he landed on a
Sun-kissed meadow of gentle dells.
As he and his men rested, there came a fearsome howl,
And hideous orcs streamed forth from the murky
Glen, cannibal teeth clotted with gore

For centuries, strange crystalline balls were unearthed at the sites of ancient Aldmer shipwrecks and docks, peculiar artifacts of the Merethic and Dawn Eras that puzzled archeologists until it was demonstrated that each had a tendency to rotate on its axis in a specific direction. There were three varieties, one that pointed southward, one that pointed northeast, and one that point northwest.

It is not understood how they work, but they seemed attuned to particular lines of power. These are the "waystones" of the fragment, which each of the pilots used to point their craft in the direction they were assigned to go. A ship with a name not mentioned in the fragment took his vessel north-west, towards Thras and Yokuda. The Pasquiniel took the southern waystone, and must have sailed down toward Pyandonea. Topal and his north-east waystone found the mainland of Tamriel.

It is clear from this fragment what the three ships were assigned to do - find a passage back to Old Ehlnofey so that the Aldmer now living in Summerset could learn what became of their old homeland. As this book is intended to be a study of Topal the Pilot, there is scarcely room to dedicate to different theories of the Aldmeri exodus from Old Ehlnofey.

If I were using this poem as my only source, I would have to agree with the scholars who believe in the tradition that several ships left Old Ehlnofey and were caught in a storm. Those who survived found their way to Summerset Isle, but without their waystones, they did not know what direction their homeland was. After all, what other explanation is there for three ships heading in three opposite directions to find a place?

Naturally, only one of the ships returned, and we do not know if either or both of the other two found Old Ehlnofey, or perished at sea or at the hands of the ancient Pyandoneans, Sload, or Yokudans. We must assume, unless we think the Aldmer particularly idiotic, that at least one of them must have been pointing in the right direction. It may well have even been Topal, and he simply did not go north-east far enough.

So, Topal setting sail from Firsthold heads north-east, which coincidentally is the longest one can travel along the Abecean Sea without striking land of any kind. Had he traveled straight east, he would have struck the mainland somewhere in what is now the Colovian West of Cyrodiil in a few weeks. Had he traveled south-east, he might have reached the hump of Valenwood in a few days. But our pilot, judging by his own and our modern maps, sailed in a straight line north-east, through the Abecean sea, and into the Iliac Bay, before touching ground somewhere near present day Anticlere in two months time.

The rolling verdant hills of southern High Rock are unmistakable in this verse, recognizable to anyone who has been there. The question, of course, is what is to be made of this apparent reference to orcs occupying the region? Tradition has it that the orcs were not born until after the Aldmer had settled the mainland, that they sprung up as a distinct race following the famous battle between Trinimac and Boethiah at the time of Resdayn.

It is possible that the tradition is wrong. Perhaps the orcs were an aboriginal tribe predating the Aldmeri colonization. Perhaps these were a cursed folk -- "Orsimer" in the Aldmeris, the same word for "Orc" - of a different kind, whose name was to be given the orcs in a different era. It is regrettable that the fragment ends here, for more clues to the truth are undoubtedly lost.

What's missing between the first fragment and the second is appreciable. It must be more than eighty months that have passed, because Topal is on the opposite side of mainland Tamriel now, attempting to sail south-west to return to Firsthold, after his failure at finding Old Ehlnofey.

Fragment Two:

No passage westward could be found in the steely cliffs
That jutted up like giant's jaw, so the Niben
Sailed south.
As it passed an sandy, forested island that promised
Sanctuary and peace, the crew cheered in joy.
Then exultation turned to terror as a great shadow rose
From the trees on leathered wings like a unfurling Cape.
The great bat lizard was large as the ship, but good pilot
Topal merely raised his bow, and struck it in its Head.
As it fell, he asked his Bo 'sun, "Do you think it's dead?"
And before it struck the white-bearded waves, he
Shot once more its heart to be certain.
And so for another forty days and six, the Niben sailed south

We can see that in addition to Topal's prowess as a navigator, cartographer, survivalist, and raconteur, he is a master of archery. It may be poetic license, of course, but we do have archeological proof that the Merethic Aldmer were sophisticated archers. Their bows of layers of wood and horn drawn by silver silk thread are beautiful, and still, I have heard experts say, millennia later, very deadly.

It is tempting to imagine it a dragon, but the creature that Topal faces at the beginning of this fragment sounds like an ancestor of the cliff-racer of present day Morrowind. The treacherous cliff coastline sounds like the region around Necrom, and the island of Gorne may be where the nest of the "bat lizard" is. No creatures like that exist in eastern Morrowind to my knowledge at the present day.

Fragment Three:

The fetid, evil swamp lands and their human lizards
Retreated to the east, and Topal and his men's
Hearts were greatly gladdened by the sight of
Diamond blue, pure, sweet ocean.
For three days, they sailed in great cheer north-west
Where Firsthold beckoned them, but hope died
In horror, as land, like a blocking shield rose
Before them.
Topal the Pilot was sore wroth, and consulted he
The maps he had faithfully drawn, to see
Whether best to go south where the
Continent must end, or take the river that
Snaked through a passage north.
"North!" cried he to his sad men. "North we go
Now! Fear not, north!"

Tracing Topal's movements, we see that he has skirted the edge of Morrowind and delved into southern Blackmarsh, seemingly determined to follow his waystone as best as he can. The swamp he is leaving is probably near present day Gideon. Knowing what we now know about Topal's personality, we can understand his frustration in the bay between Black Marsh and Elsweyr.

Here is a man who follows his orders explicitly, and knows that he should have been going south-east through river ways to reach Firsthold. Looking at his maps, we can see that he attempted to find passages through, as he has mapped out the Inner Sea of Morrowind, and several of the swampy tributaries of Black Marsh, no doubt being turned away by the disease and fierce Argonian tribes that dissuaded many other explorers after him.

With a modern map of Tamriel in hand, we can see that he makes the wrong choice in electing to go north-east instead of pushing southward. He could not have known then that what he perceived to be the endless mainland was only a jutting peninsula. He only knew that he had traveled too far southward already, and so he made a smart but incorrect decision to go up the river.

It is ironic that this great miscalculation would today bear his mark of history. The bay he thought was an endless ocean is now known as Topal Bay, and the river that took him astray shares the name of his boat, the Niben River.

Fragment Four:

The cat demons of four legs and two ran the river's
Length, always keeping the boat in their
Green-eyed sight, hissing, and spitting, and
Roaring with rage.
But the sailors never had to brave the shores, for
Fruit trees welcomed them, dropping their
Arms down to the river's edge as if to
Embrace the mer, and the men took the
Fruit quickly before the cats could pounce.
For eleven days, they traveled north, until they came
To a crystalline lake, and eight islands of
Surpassing beauty and peace.
Brilliant flightful creatures of glorious colors
Greeted them in Aldmeri language,
Making the mer wonder, until they
Understood they were only calling back
The word they were speaking without
Understanding it, and then the sailors
Laughed.
Topal the Pilot was enchanted with the islands
And the feathered men who lived there.
There the Niben stayed for a moon, and the bird
Men learned how to speak their own words,
And with taloned feet, to write.
In joy for their new knowledge, they made Topal
Their lord, giving him their islands for the
Gift.
Topal said he would return someday, but first he
Must find the passage east to Firsthold, so
Far away.

This last fragment is bittersweet for a number of reasons.

We know that this strange, friendly feathered people the Pilot encounters will be lost - in fact, this poem is the only one where mention is made of the bird creatures of Cyrodiil. The literacy that Topal gives them is evidently not enough to save them from their eventual fate, likely at the hands of the "cat demons," who we may assume are ancient Khajiiti.

We know that Topal and his crew never find a route from the eight islands which are the modern day Imperial City through to the Iliac Bay. His maps tell the tale where this lost poem cannot.

We see his hand as he traces his route up the Niben to Lake Rumare; and, after attempting a few tributaries which do not lead him where he wants to go, we can imagine Topal's frustration -- and that of his long-suffering crew -- as they return back down the Niben to Topal Bay.

There, they evidently discovered their earlier mistake, for we see that they pass the peninsula of Elsweyr. Eventually they traveled along its coastline, past the shores of Valenwood, and eventually home. Usually epic tales end with a happy ending, but this one begins with one, and the means to which it was accomplished is lost.

Besides the extraordinary bird creatures of present day Cyrodiil, we have caught glimpses of ancient orcs (perhaps), ancient cliff-racers, ancient Argonians, and in this fragment, ancient Khajiit. Quite a history in a few lines of simple verse, all because a man failed to find his home, and took all the wrong turns to retrace his steps back.

Before the Ages of Man

Author: 
Aicantar of Shimerene

Timeline Series - Vol 1

Before the Ages of Man

By
Aicantar of Shimerene

 

Before man came to rule Tamriel, and before the chronicles of the historians recorded the affairs of the rulers of Tamriel, the events of our world are known only through myths and legends, and through the divinely inspired teachings of the Nine Divines.

For convenience, historians divide the distant ages of prehistory into two broad periods of time -- the Dawn Era, and the Merethic Era.

* The Dawn Era *

The Dawn Era is that period before the beginning of mortal time, when the feats of the gods take place. The Dawn Era ends with the exodus of the gods and magic from the World at the founding of the Adamantine Tower.

The term 'Merethic' comes from the Nordic, literally, "Era of the Elves." The Merethic Era is the prehistoric time after the exodus of the gods and magic from the World at the founding of the Adamantine Tower and before the arrival of Ysgramor the Nord in Tamriel.

The following are the most notable events of the Dawn Era, presented roughly in sequence as it must be understaoo by creatures of time such as ourselves.

The Cosmos formed from the Aurbis [chaos, or totality] by Anu and Padomay. Akatosh (Auriel) formed and Time began. The Gods (et'Ada) formed. Lorkhan convinced -- or tricked -- the Gods into creating the mortal plane, Nirn. The mortal plane was at this point highly magical and dangerous. As the Gods walked, the physical make-up of the mortal plane and even the timeless continuity of existence itself became unstable.

When Magic (Magnus), architect of the plans for the mortal world, decided to terminate the project, the Gods convened at the Adamantine Tower [Direnni Tower, the oldest known structure in Tamriel] and decided what to do. Most left when Magic did. Others sacrificed themselves into other forms so that they might Stay (the Ehlnofey). Lorkhan was condemned by the Gods to exile in the mortal realms, and his heart was torn out and cast from the Tower. Where it landed, a Volcano formed. With Magic (in the Mythic Sense) gone, the Cosmos stabilized. Elven history, finally linear, began (ME2500).

* The Merethic Era *

The Merethic Era was figured by early Nord scholars as a series of years numbered in reverse order backward from the their 'beginning of time' -- the founding of the Camoran Dynasty, recorded as Year Zero of the First Era. The prehistoric events of the Merethic Era are listed here with their traditional Nordic Merethic dates. The earliest Merethic date cited by King Harald's scholars was ME2500 -- the Nordic reckoning of the first year of time. As such, the Merethic Era extends from ME2500 in the distant past to ME1 -- the year before the founding of the Camoran Dysnasty and the establishment of the White Gold Tower as an indepenent city-state.

According to King Harald's bards, ME2500 was the date of construction of the Adamantine Tower on Balfiera Island in High Rock, the oldest known structure of Tamriel. (This corresponds roughly to the earliest historical dates given in various unpublished Elvish chronicles.)

During the early Merethic Era, the aboriginal beastpeoples of Tamriel -- the ancestors of the Khajiit, Argonian, Orcish, and other beastfolk -- lived in preliterate communities throughout Tamriel.

In the Middle Merethic Era, the Aldmeri (mortals of Elven origin) refugees left their doomed and now-lost continent of Aldmeris (also known as 'Old Ehlnofey') and settled in southwestern Tamriel. The first colonies were distributed at wide intervals on islands along the entire coast of Tamriel. Later inland settlements were founded primarily in fertile lowlands in southwest and central Tamriel. Wherever the beastfolk encountered the Elves, the sophisticated, literate, technologically advanced Aldmeri cultures displaced the primitive beastfolk into the jungles, marshes, mountains, and wastelands. The Adamantine Tower was rediscovered and captured by the Direnni, a prominent and powerful Aldmeri clan. The Crystal Tower was built on Summerset Isle and, later, White Gold Tower in Cyrodiil.

During the Middle Merethic Era, Aldmeri explorers mapped the coasts of Vvardenfel, building the First Era High Elven wizard towers at Ald Redaynia, Bal Fell, Tel Aruhn, and Tel Mora in Morrowind. It was also during this period that Ayleid [Wild Elven] settlements flourished in the jungles surrounding White Gold Tower (present day Cyrodiil). Wild Elves, also known as the Heartland High Elves, preserved the Dawn Era magics and language of the Ehlnofey. Ostensibly a tribute-land to the High King of Alinor, the Heartland's long lines of communication from the Summerset Isles' sovereignty effectively isolated Cyrodill from the High Kings at Crystal Tower.

The Late Middle Merethic Era is the period of the High Velothi Culture. The Chimer, ancestors of the modern Dunmer, or Dark Elves, were dynamic, ambitious, long-lived Elven clans devoted to fundamentalist ancestor worship. The Chimer clans followed the Prophet Veloth out of the ancestral Elven homelands in the southwest to settle in the lands now known as Morrowind. Despising the secular culture and profane practices of the Dwemer, the Chimer also coveted the lands and resources of the Dwemer, and for centuries provoked them with minor raids and territorial disputes. The Dwemer (Dwarves), free-thinking, reclusive Elven clans devoted to the secrets of science, engineering, and alchemy, established underground cities and communities in the mountain range (later the Velothi Mountains) separating modern Skyrim and Morrowind.

The Late Merethic Era marks the precipitous decline of Velothi culture. Some Velothi settled in villages near declining and abandoned ancient Velothi towers. During this period, Velothi high culture disappeared on Vvardenfell Island. The earliest Dwemer Freehold colonies date from this period. Degenerate Velothi devolved into tribal cultures which, in time, evolved into the modern Great Houses of Morrowind, or persisted as the barbarian Ashlander tribes. The only surviving traces of this tribal culture are scattered Velothi towers and Ashlander nomads on Vvardenfell Island. The original First Era High Elven wizard towers along the coasts of Tamriel were also abandoned about this time.

It was in the Late Merethic Era that the pre-literate humans, the so-called "Nedic Peoples", from the continent of Atmora (also 'Altmora' or 'the Elder Wood' in Aldmeris) migrated and settleed in northern Tamriel. The Nord culture hero Ysgramor, leader of a great colonizing fleet to Tamriel, is credited with developing a runic transcription of Nord speech based on Elvish principles, and so Ysgramor is considered the first human historian. Ysgramor's fleet landed at Hsaarik Head at the extreme northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape. The Nords built there the legendary city of Saarthal. The Elves drove the Men away during the Night of Tears, but Ysgramor soon returned with his Five Hundred Companions.

Also during the Late Merethic Era the legendary immortal hero, warrior, sorceror, and king variously known as Pelinal Whitestrake, Harrald Hairy Breeks, Ysmir, Hans the Fox, etc., wandered Tamriel, gathering armies, conquering lands, ruling, then abandoning his kingdoms to wander again.

High Hrothgar Tablets

Author: 
Anonymous

Before the birth of men, the Dragons ruled all Mundus. 

Their word was the Voice, and they spoke only for True Needs.

For the Voice could blot out the sky and flood the land.

Men were born and spread over the face of Mundus

The Dragons presided over the crawling masses

Men were weak then, and had no Voice

The fledgling spirits of Men were strong in Old Times

Unafraid to war with Dragons and their Voices

But the Dragons only shouted them down and broke their hearts

Kyne called on Paarthurnax, who pitied Man

Together they taught Men to use the Voice

Then the Dragon War raged, Dragon against Tongue

Men prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world

Proving for all that their Voice too was strong

Although thier sacrifices were many-fold

With roaring Tongues, the Sky-Children conquer

Founding the First Empire with Sword and Voice

Whilst the Dragons withdrew from this World

The Tongues at Red Mountain went away humbled

Jurgen Windcaller began His Seven Year Meditation

To understand how Strong Voices could fail

Jurgen Windcaller chose silence and returned

The 17 disputants could not shout Him down

Jurgen the Calm buit His home on the Throat of the World

For years all silent, the Graybears spoke one name

Tiber Septim, stiplingthen, was summoned to Hrothgar

They blessed and named him Dohvakiin

The Voice is worship

Follow the Inner path

Speak only in True Need

The Dragon War

Author: 
Torhal Bjorik

In the Merethic Era, when Ysgramor first set foot on Tamriel, his people brought with them a faith that worshipped animal gods. Certain scholars believe these primitive people actually worshipped the divines as we know them, just in the form of these totem animals. They deified the hawk, wolf, snake, moth, owl, whale, bear, fox, and the dragon. Every now and then you can stumble across the broken stone totems in the farther reaches of Skyrim.

Foremost among all animals was the dragon. In the ancient nordic tongue it was drah-gkon. Occasionally the term dov-rha is used, but the language or derivation of that is not known. Using either name was forbidden to all except the dragon priests. Grand temples were built to honor the dragons and appease them. Many of them survive today as ancient ruins haunted by draugr and undead dragon priests.

Dragons, being dragons, embraced their role as god-kings over men. After all, were they not fashioned in Akatosh's own image? Were they not superior in every way to the hordes of small, soft creatures that worshipped them? For dragons, power equals truth. They had the power, so therefore it must be truth. Dragons granted small amounts of power to the dragon priests in exchange for absolute obedience. In turn, the dragon priests ruled men as equals to the kings. Dragons, of course, could not be bothered with actually ruling.

In Atmora, where Ysgramor and his people came from, the dragon priests demanded tribute and set down laws and codes of living that kept peace between dragons and men. In Tamriel, they were not nearly as benevolent. It's unclear if this was due to an ambitious dragon priest, or a particular dragon, or a series of weak kings. Whatever the cause, the dragon priests began to rule with an iron fist, making virtual slaves of the rest of the population.

When the populace rebelled, the dragon priests retaliated. When the dragon priests could not collect the tribute or control the masses, the dragons' response was swift and brutal. So it was the Dragon War began.

At first, men died by the thousands. The ancient texts reveal that a few dragons took the side of men. Why they did this is not known. The priests of the Nine Divines claim it was Akatosh himself that intervened. From these dragons men learned magics to use against dragons. The tide began to turn and dragons began to die too.

The war was long and bloody. The dragon priests were overthrown and dragons were slaughtered in large numbers. The surviving dragons scattered, choosing to live in remote places away from men. The dragon cult itself adapted and survived. They built the dragon mounds, entombing the remains of dragons that fell in the war. They believed that one day the dragons would rise again and reward the faithful.

Night of Tears

Author: 
Dranor Seleth

Saarthal holds a prominent place in Skyrim history, even if most do not remember it by name. It is of course the site of one of the first major Nord settlements, one of the first cities of men in Skyrim, and the earliest known capital of their civilization. It was also the site of terrible bloodshed, when the elves attempted to drive the Nords out of Skyrim, to succeed only in incurring their wrath in the form of Ysgramor and his fabled Five Hundred Companions, who swept the elves from Skyrim and firmly established it as the home of the Nords.

All this is known, but little else. What happened on that Night of Tears, when Saarthal was razed to the ground? What provoked the elves to such a deliberate, vicious attack, and what prompted such a severe response from the Nords?

Vingalmo's Treatise on the Altmer Antecedent suggests that the elves of the Merethic Era, along with their counterparts the early Dwemer, possessed a degree of sophistication unparalleled in Tamriel. They displayed power beyond what could be expected of the time. While a distinct explanation is not given for this, I believe that this work, compared with the early writings of Heseph Chirirnis, suggest that something greater was at work on that night in Saarthal.

The true motives behind the Night of Tears have been obscured to us by the passage of time, but I believe this was not a simple war of territory, or of control of Skyrim. I believe that what happened was a significant event based around something very particular.

The Nords found something when they built their city, buried deep in the ground. They attempted to keep it buried, but the elves learned of it and coveted it for themselves. Thus they assaulted Saarthal, their goal not to drive the Nords out but to secure this power for themselves. I believe Ysgramor knew something of what the elves would find under Saarthal, and rallied together his people to keep the elves from gaining it. When Nords once again controlled Skyrim, this power was buried deep below the earth and sealed away.

Time has kept this knowledge from us, but it is my hope that Time will also reveal the truth of these words. Every effort will be made to relocate Saarthal, and find that which has been lost to us.

Merethic Era

Author: 
Xan

Circa ME 2500

Supposed date of construction of the Adamantine Tower on Balfiera Island in High Rock, the oldest known structure of Tamriel. Earliest historical date in unpublished Elvish chronicles.

Early Merethic Era

Aboriginal beastpeoples (ancestors of the Khajiit, Argonians, Orcish (goblin-kin), and other Beastfolk) live in preliterate communities throughout Tamriel.

Middle Merethic Era

The Aldmer (Elves) leave the doomed and now-lost continent of Aldmeris (also known as 'Old Ehlnofey') and settle Tamriel. Their first colonies are distributed widely along the entire coast of Tamriel. Later inland settlements are founded primarily in fertile lowlands in southwest and central Tamriel. The sophisticated, literate, technologically advanced Aldmeri culture drives the beastfolk into the jungles, marshes, mountains, and wastelands. The Adamantine Tower is rediscovered and captured by the Direnni, a prominent and powerful Aldmeri clan. Crystal Tower is built on Summerset Isle and, later, White-Gold Tower in Cyrodiil.

During the Middle Merethic Era, Aldmeri explorers map the coasts of Vvardenfel, building the foundation of the First Era wizard towers at Ald Redaynia, Bal Fell, Tel Aruhn, and Tel Mora in Morrowind.
For more information: Before the Ages of Man.

The Ayleids flourish in the jungles surrounding White-Gold Tower (present day Cyrodiil). Wild Elves, also known as the Heartland High Elves, preserved the Dawn Era magicks and language of the Ehlnofey. Ostensibly a tribute-land to the High King of Alinor, Cyrod was often so isolated from the Summerset Isles as to be its own sovereign nation.   

Late Middle Merethic Era

The Dwemer (sometimes referred to as 'Dwarves'), a free-thinking, reclusive Aldmeri clan devoted to the secrets and exploitation of science and myth, establish underground cities and communities in the mountain range (later the Velothi Mountains) separating modern-day Skyrim and modern-day Morrowind.For more information: The Annotated Anuad.

The Chimer (ancestors of the Dunmer, or Dark Elves), dynamic, ambitious, long-lived Aldmeri clans devoted to fundamentalist ancestor worship, follow the prophet Veloth out of their ancestral Aldmeri homelands to settle in the lands now known as Morrowind. Despising the secular culture and profane practices of the Dwemer, the Chimer also covet the lands and resources of the Dwemer, and for centuries provoke them with minor raids and territorial disputes.For more information: Lives of the Saints, A Short History of Morrowind,

Trinimac (strongest of the Aldmeri ancestor spirits) and his people try to halt the Velothi dissident movement. However, the Daedric Prince Boethiah, one of the masterminds of the movement, eats Trinimac. Trinimac's body and spirit are corrupted, and he emerges as the Daedric Prince Malacath. His people are changed accordingly and become the Orsimer, or Orcs.

For more information: The True Nature of Orcs, Varieties of Faith in the Empire, The Anticipations.

Circa ME 1000

Fleeing civil war and an increasingly frigid climate, Ysgramor and his men set sail from the northern continent of Atmora and land at Hsaarik Head, the extreme northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape. There the Atmorans build the legendary city of Saarthal and make first contact with the Aldmer or Elves of Tamriel.

The Atmorans and the Elves live in harmony for some time, but the relationship quickly turns hostile. In the city of Saarthal, the Atmorans find the Eye of Magnus. An unknown but powerful artifact that could endanger the world. The Elves learn this and decides to secure the artifact. The 'Night of Tears' happens, the city of Saarthal is sacked and destroyed. Ysgramor escapes to Atmora and soon returns with his legendary Five Hundred Companions and eventually takes the whole Skyrim from the Elves, laying the foundations of first human empire in Tamriel. His people would later come to be known as the Nords of Skyrim. The Dwemer in Blackreach, deep beneath Skyrim, are not affected by the war with the Nords.

Later on, Ysgramor develops a runic transcription of Nordic speech based on Elvish principles and is the first human historian.

For more information: Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation: A Social History of Cyrodiil, University of Gwylim Press, 3E 344, Night of Tears.

Late Merethic Era - 1E 668.

One faction of the Elves, known as the Snow Elves are cornered in the eastern island of Solstheim. In the 'Battle of the Moesring,' the Snow Prince, the leader of the Snow Elves army is killed. The Snow Elves are scattered and seek refuge to the Dwemer in Blackreach. The Dwemer trick the Snow Elves, make them blind and enslave them. They are now known as the Falmer. In some point in time, the Falmer rebel and the 'War of the Crag' enrages in Blackreach. The war is ended when the Dwemer vanished in the 1E 668.

For more information: Fall of the Snow Prince, The Falmer: A study.

Late Merethic Era - Circa 1E139

The Nords brought with them the Atmoran worship of animal gods. It is unknown how the situation came about, but in time the dragon priests had come to rule the Nords with an iron fist. They are however unable to maintain control and a rebellion known as 'The Dragon War' starts. Initially the Nords are crushed by the priests and dragons. However a few dragons take the side of the Nords. The dragon Paarthurnax teaches the Nords the magical language of the dragons to form the Thu'um or shout. The Nords eventually overthrow the dragon priests and the dragons are scattered. Even so, hold outs of dragon cultists remain well into the First Era, believing that the dragons will return.

For more information: The Dragon War, Skorm Snow-Strider's Journal.

Late Merethic Era

Velothi high culture disappears on Vvardenfell island. The earliest Dwemer Freehold colonies date from this period. The degenerate Velothi civilization devolves into tribal cultures, which, in time, evolve into the modern Great Houses of Morrowind, or persists as the barbarian Ashlander tribes. The only surviving traces of this tribal culture are scattered Velothi towers and Ashlander nomads on Vvardenfell Island. The original First Era High Elven wizard towers along the coasts of Tamriel are also abandoned about this time.

For more information: Before the Ages of Man.

 

Meanwhile, other human tribes live scattered throughout Tamriel, often under the dominion of the culturally superior Aldmer:

"The Nedic peoples were a minority in a land of Elves, and had no choice but to live peacefully with the Elder Race. In High Rock, Hammerfell, Cyrodiil, and possibly Morrowind, they did just that, and the Nedic peoples flourished and expanded over the last centuries of the Merethic Era."
- from Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation: A Social History of Cyrodiil, University of Gwylim Press, 3E 344.

Merethic Era - Circa 1E 660

An immortal hero, warrior, sorceror, and king variously known as Pelinal Whitestrake, Harrald Hairy Breeks, Ysmir, Hans the Fox, etc., wanders Tamriel, gathering armies, conquering lands, ruling, then abandoning his kingdoms to wander again.

 

The Blessed Isle: Alinor and The Summersets

Author: 
Imperial Geographical Society

Map of Summerset Isle

Not a single isle at all but an archipelago of two major islands and a dozen smaller ones, the land called Summerset is the birthplace of civilization and magic as we know it in Tamriel. On its idyllic sea-kissed shores live the Altmer, the High Elves.

History

The Aldmer, the progenitor races of all elves, arrived in Tamriel from their original home in Aldmeris or Old Ehlnofey in ancient times. We don’t know what precipitated this exodus or even the location of Aldmeris if it still exists today. Most scholars believe that the Aldmer settled Summerset first, and then spread out across the rest of Tamriel, but there is some evidence to support the theory that Summerset was only one of several initial settlements of the earliest Aldmer. In any case, Summerset became one of the earliest centers of Aldmer civilizations, which developed over thousands of years into the Altmer of historical times.

Altmer RaceWhat creatures and prehistoric civilizations these Aldmeris refugees faced have largely been lost in the mists of time. Cloudrest, atop Eton Nir, the highest mountain in Summerset, is a decidedly odd mixture of architectural styles, with buildings like strangler vines, built on top of other, older structures. The oldest of all ruins there, and in a few isolated spots throughout the island, are made of coral, which must have been carried many, many miles away from the sea. The material and the style of the ruins strongly suggest that the Sload may have once counted Summerset as a part of their kingdom of Thras. More evidence of this may be found in the section on Thras in this Pocket Guide.

The treasury of the Crystal Tower and the private collections in Summerset offer suggestions of other creatures the early Aldmer may have met in their new home, portrayed in sculpture and tapestry. Some of the beasts are surely (and hopefully) the work of the artist’s imagination, but others appear with such regularity, it can only be that they once existed, as bizarre as they seem. Though no one alive has ever seen them, they have names out of legend: Gheatus, a man or a group of men who are formed by the earth itself; the Welwa, strange, holy beasts of horns and savage teeth, depicted as ravagers and saviors of the land; the Ilyadi, giants taller than trees, with eyes that cover their head. These extinct monsters, and others like them, had to be defeated by the Aldmer in the days of yore.

Early Aldmer society was agricultural and politically egalitarian. A system of ancestor worship had been exported whole from Aldmeris, and it brought with it a communal spirit that served the early settlers of Summerset well. When the Aldmer came together as a people to create the Crystal Tower, it was not a monument to any king or god, but rather to the spirit of the elven people, living and dead. Within the glittering walls of the Tower are housed the graves of the early Aldmeri settlers, preserved forever as a lasting symbol of the power of the people for that brief moment in history, fully unified.

Gradually, as the society grew, social stratification increased. A hierarchy of classes began to form, which is still largely enforced in Summerset to this day. At the top are the Wise, teachers and priests, followed by the Artists, Princes, Warriors, Landowners, Merchants, and Workers. Below Workers were the beasts, such as the enslaved goblins, who the Aldmer used to perform the jobs beneath the dignity of the very least of them. The religion of the people also changed because of this change in society: no longer did the Aldmer worship their own ancestors, but the ancestors of their "betters." Auriel, Trinimac, Syrabane, and Phynaster are among the many ancestor spirits who became Gods. A group of elders rebelled against this trend, calling themselves the Psijics, the keepers of the Old Ways of Aldmeris. With their mystical powers, they were able to settle in Arteaum, away from what they considered the corruption of their society. They continued to return to the land to act as advisors, but never again would they call Summerset home.

It was about this time that many Aldmer left Summerset to settle the mainland of Tamriel. There was probably no single reason for this second exodus of the Aldmer, but some evidence, such as the famed Ramoran Tapestries - the very ones that show some of the creatures mentioned above - show how untouched and beautiful the mainland was considered to be by the Aldmer. Expeditions, such as those taken by Topal the Pilot and others, had painted an image in their minds of a great land where even workers, at the lowest end of the Summerset hierarchy could live as kings. The Prophet Veloth was among those who led a group of discontented Aldmer away from Summerset to a new promised land.

According to the traditions of Summerset, the Aldmer who went to be free on the mainland became all the disparate elven folk of history: Chimer, Bosmer, Ayleid. The ones who stayed behind became the Altmer. Even the earliest records of Summerset, however, shed no light on the origins of the Dwemer, who already occupied the northeast of Tamriel when Veloth and his people arrived there.

The history of the Summerset Isle in the First Era and most of the Second is very much removed from the rest of mainland Tamriel. The rise and fall of Empires, the battles between man and mer, none of these touched the Altmer as a society. Internal conflicts between Skywatch and Firsthold, and between Alinor and Lillandril, often sparked into full war, but far deadlier were the repeated attempts at invasion from the alien lands of Thras and Pyandonea.

The Sloads of Thras, as we have mentioned earlier, may have been original inhabitants of Summerset, and so their repeated attempts to take the islands could be regarded sympathetically, if not for their methods. Physically unable to fight due to their massive girth, the Sload used necromantic magic and infernal machines to attack the Altmer. Though they never succeeded in reclaiming Summerset, if that was even their goal, they visited horrors upon the land which are still remembered today: the Sack of Skywatch in 1E 1301 and the War of the Uvichil from 1E 2911 to 1E 2917 are surely among the most terrible events in Tamriel’s history.

Summerset IsleThe Maormer of Pyandonea (described more fully in a later section of this Guide) were even more relentless in their drive to conquer Summerset. The chronicler can scarcely find a year throughout the First or Second Eras when the Maormer did not ravage the coastlines of the Altmer. As terrible as it was, it did force the Altmer to build a great navy to defend itself, and to this day, it is on the seas that the High Elves excel in combat. There are villages in the central valleys of Summerset that have never seen battle, but so much blood has been spilled along the coasts, it is a wonder it is not stained permanently crimson.

The formation of the Aldmeri Dominion in the Second Era is discussed in the section on Summerset’s ally, Valenwood. For Summerset, the kings of Colovia were no threat, but the Dominion allowed them to eliminate the Maormer outposts that had been established along the western coast of the mainland. Thus, the Dominion thrived until the coming of Tiber Septim.

The conquest and assimilation of Summerset into the Empire is remembered by many a living Altmer with horror only partially diminished by time. Certainly, the pride of the people has never recovered. During the War of the Isle in 3E 110, the Maormer of Pyandonea were very nearly successful in conquering their ancient enemy, and the Altmer had to call upon the aid of the Psijics and the Empire to help defend themselves. Even as recently as twenty years ago, during the Imperial Simulacrum, when the Altmer invaded Valenwood, their former allies in the Dominion, Summerset was only successful in capturing a small sliver of the coastline that used to be theirs. It is hardly surprising that to many in Summerset, particularly the young, it is time to reinvent what it is to be a High Elf.

 

Current Events

In the last few years, Summerset Isle has been at peace with its neighbors. To all outward appearances, it has returned to its normal state of unchanging tranquility. In fact, the Altmer are perhaps the most bitterly divided society in the Empire. The war in the province today is a cultural one, which has its origins with the surrender to Tiber Septim four centuries ago which shook Altmer society to its foundation. While in Skyrim and Morrowind more blood has been shed in recent years, this struggle between the old and the new may have even more radical end results. The very future of the oldest province in the Empire of Tamriel is at stake.

For thousands of years, the Altmer have implicitly believed in their superiority to all other races and cultures in Tamriel. For much of this time, they may have been right. But after the incorporation of Summerset into the Empire, doubts began to creep in. With the insularity of the Summerset decisively broken, many Altmer, particularly the young (which among the High Elves is a fairly loose term), began to take a more critical view of the rigid hierarchy of Altmer society and its strict cultural xenophobia. While there had always been discontent on the fringes of Altmer society, which was traditionally resolved by exile of the malcontents, for the first time a significant element of Altmer began to agitate for social change.

This nascent revolution in the Summerset Isle has taken many forms. Most constructive, surely, is the acceptance of new cultures and races onto its shores, some occupying positions that would have been forbidden just a century ago. The Queen of Firsthold, for example, is the Dunmer Morgiah, daughter of Barenziah and sister of the King of Morrowind, Helseth. Her children, Goranthir and Rinnala, though half-Altmer, are fully Dunmer in appearance, and stand to inherit the throne.

A darker side of this movement, however, is exhibited by a shadowy group who call themselves the Beautiful. Originally a salon for artists with the reasonable philosophy that Summerset must let go of its past in order to move forward, the Beautiful became a revolutionary gang dedicated to the destruction of the greatest monuments of Altmer civilizations. The Crystal Tower was naturally an early target, and fortunately attempts against it have failed, but many other great, ancient sculptures and emblems of the past have been vandalized. Lately, the Beautiful have turned their attention to living symbols of the Isle, the royalty of Summerset. The particularly gruesome murder of the daughter of the King of Shimmerene has horrified and outraged the public.

Finally, some of Summerset’s youth are rebelling against the present, ironically, by embracing the past. The Imperial Geographical Society is not allowed to visit Artaeum to survey and document it, but there is little doubt that the Psijic Order is increasingly popular among the young, and is willing to exploit this. Over the past thousand years, only seventeen new initiates were brought into the order. In the past two years, however, another thirty have joined. Thirty new members of an Order may not be enough to be a surprising trend in most circles, but to the tradition-bound graycloaks of Artaeum, it raises many questions. What the Psijics’ aim in this recent recruitment, however, is anyone’s guess at this time.

Sugar and Blood: The Cats of the South

Author: 
Imperial Geographical Society

Map of Elsweyr

It is said that a hundred civilizations are buried beneath the sands of Elsweyr, and it may be unwise to assume our current Empire will forever stand above the shifting sands of the desert province. The Khajiit who occupy the southern land between Black Marsh and Valenwood have always been a restless people, and prove regularly that nothing in Tamriel is immortal.

History

Khajiit are commonly considered one of the beast folks, one of the few survivors of the original inhabitants of Tamriel before the coming of mer and man, and Elsweyr is their home. This tradition is not, of course, accepted by one and all. Alternate theories abound that their origin, based mainly around the fact that one of the breeds of Khajiit, the Ohmes-Raht, so closely resembles the elven folk that they could be cousins. Some believe that the Khajiit are simply descendant of the original Aldmer settlers in Tamriel, who evolved, like the Altmer, Bosmer, Dunmer, and Orsimer, because of circumstance, ito the cat-like race that walks the dunes of Elsweyr. If so, they are just one more of the alien, sentient species who have made themselves so much a part of Tamriel to be confused for natives.

Khajiit RaceThe more commonly held belief, however, is that they were not foreign intelligent creatures who became cats to survive the hostile, arid land of Elsweyr, but they were indigenous cats whose knack for change allowed them to survive while other native creatures declined and disappeared. It is strange to think that so inhospitable a land, of blistering heat and crop destroying wind, would have been the fecund womb for one of the original predators of Tamriel, but that seems to be the unlikely likelihood.

Topal the Pilot in his peregrinations around Tamriel encountered the Khajiit not in Elsweyr, but far up the Niben River, close to the Imperial City, where they preyed on the native creatures, and caused his crew much distress as they stalked the river banks. We have records too from the Merethic Bosmer that certain parts of Valenwood were to be avoided for fear of the great jungle cat men. It may be comfortably surmised that the Khajiit, though most at home in the deserts, reigned as the dominant culture across southern Tamriel in ancient days.

The Khajiit kingdoms were simply a fact when historian began to put quill to paper and record life for posterity. When the early human settlers in Tamriel were only just beginning to understand what plants grew where under what circumstance, there were already mercantile caravans in modern day Rimmen; when the transplanted natives of Atmora and Aldemeris were vying for dominance in the north, the Khajiit had already developed a sophisticated culture in the south.

In the early First Era, there were sixteen independent realms in Elsweyr. Unlike typical human and elvish kingdoms, these regions did not compete with one another for land and power. Earlier versions of this Guide spoke of tribal conflict, but the truth was quite the opposite in the earliest Khajiit society. Recognizing their own idiosyncratic characters and strengths, each territory specialized in one specific duty, supplying its neighbors with its bounty in exchange for equal measure. Ne Quin-al, where great warriors were born and trained - its Temple of Two-Moons Dance is famous even in our day - might trade its warriors to Torval in exchange for fish and other bounties of the sea. The dominance of each region was checked by the moons. It was said that when both moons were full, Ne Quin-al was in dominance; when both moons were half, Torval; when both moons were new, Senchal. The other regions too had their days of power and influence.

For thousand years this delicate astronomic and political dance was equal to facing every threat posed against the Khajiit. The Alessian Empire chose not to extend its borders too far south, and Bosmer of Valenwood likewise knew how far eastward they dared to extend their kingdom. But the terrible Thrassian Plague of 1E 2260 finally upset this balance forever. Traveling down the trade routes into the heart of Elsweyr, the plague decimated the Khajiit, forcing the survivors into roles they did not choose. Thus was the province turned from sixteen states to only two: Pa'alatiin and Ne Quin-al, more commonly known by their Cyrodilic names of Pellitine and Anequina.

ElsweyrThe two kingdoms, of course, represented the moons at their extremes, but also radically different interpretarions of Khajiit culture, which they adopted from the tribes each had absorbed. The people of Pellitine considered their neighbors in Anequina to be uncouth barbarians, while the Anequinians looked to the south, and saw only decadence and depravity. For many more centuries, the two lands fought, neither gaining appreciable ground. The South had the wealth and could hire mercenaries and withstand sieges, but the North had a warrior culture, and could never be dominated.

When the two united in 309th year of the 2nd Era with the marriage of Kiergo of Anequina and Eshita of Pellitine, the two rulers fully recognized how historic their pact was, and renamed their land accordingly, to Elsweyr. The derivation of this unusual name has perplexed scholars. One commonly held rationale hinges on a particular Khajiit proverb that "a perfect society is always found elsewhere," suggesting that the new King and Queen had that aim, and that sense of humor. Another is that it is reference to Llesw'er, a paradise promised to the Khajiit by the Riddle'Thar. Either possibility points to an optimism which was not to be matched by reality.

The following centuries into and including the Third Era have been times of intermittent strife among the Khajiit of Elsweyr. Successive spiritual leaders, known as Manes, occasionally brought tenuous peace to the land, but never for long. The Khajiit have found security in being absorbed into the Cyrodilic and then the Septim Empires, only to rebel against both. They have sought solace in their rich literary tradition, finding the tales of Rajhin the Thief to speak to their people, but they have stopped the flow of books into their land, for fear of Imperial propaganda. They have tried to enrich their pockets with drug-trafficking, only to enslave their minds to moonsugar. They have engaged in wars with Valenwood on grounds that have constantly shifted, like the sands of Elsweyr itself.

It may be fair to say that Elsweyr is in crisis. And it may further be accurate to say that such chaos is home.

Current Events

The Five Year War with Valenwood shifted the borders of Elsweyr slightly west, taking both banks of the Xylo River. At the end of the Imperial Simulacrum, a diplomatic attempt was made to return the land to Valenwood, but the Khajiit settlers who had already claimed the land refused to move. The Empire eventually found that it was best to leave the situation as it was, possibly persuaded by legal proof that the land rightly belonged to the Khajiit by ancient treaty, and to keep a dangerous situation from getting worse.

Elsweyr's overall territory, however, has not increased, due to a border arrangement which was not it that nation's favor. In the east, the long disputed border with the Cyrodilic County Leyawiin was recently resolved in Cyrodiil's favor, after an agreement between the current Mane and the Count of Leyawiin. But a group of Khajiit bandits known as the Renrijra Krin has taken up the cause of returning the land to Elsweyr, and the West Niben remains a trouble spot.

The harbor city of Senchal, long considered one of the most dangerous slums in Tamriel, has had a remarkable renaissance, from principle port of the drug trade, to coastal resort for wealthy, powerful Khajiit. That glimmer of good news belies the fact that the moonsugar trade in Elsweyr has increased multifold in the last twenty years. Ya'Tirrje, the Gold Cat, is rumored to even have a luxurious villa in Senchal, and helps pay for the abundant security that keeps the city safe and crime-free, all the while continuing his drug-smuggling business in Torval, Corinthe, and Rimmen.

The Sons and Daughter of the Direnni West: High Rock

Author: 
Imperial Geographical Society

Map of High Rock

High Rock, the westernmost province on the mainland of Tamriel, is a land of temperate climates and soft rolling hills, split in half by the towering Wrothgarian Mountains. The quaint charm of its hamlets and austere grandeur of its cities speak of a gentle life, something that was only a distant dream for most of the long, peculiar history of the Bretons.

History

With its fertile soils and generally clement weather, it is little wonder that the region that is now known as High Rock has attracted many cultures throughout history. The Gods were the first of these. The Adamantine Tower, in a little island in the middle of the Iliac Bay, is widely considered to be the oldest structure in Tamriel. If the ancient tales are to be believed, it was crafted in the Dawn Era by the Gods themselves to have a place for meeting and deciding what would be the fate of Nirn. Perhaps this is merely a myth, but it is true that when the earliest Aldmer came to the region, the Tower was already standing.

Breton RaceThere is evidence that early beast men of one variety or another may have been the original inhabitants of High Rock, but the Aldmer coming from Summerset Isle were the first to settle and form permanent communities. The early Nedic people who arrived next were stumbling upon a highly sophisticated culture, and were quickly overwhelmed and absorbed. One of the earliest tales of Khosey describes a Nord raiding party attacking a group of what they presumed to be Aldmer, but who were, on closer inspection, a mongrel race between elf and human, the remnants of the earlier lost Nedic tribe. They were somewhat awkwardly called "Manmeri," but we know them today as Bretons.

It took many centuries for the Bretons to become the dominant force in High Rock. For most of the First Era, the elves kept their hold on the land, with the Nords founding fortified towns along the coasts to support their pillaging parties, such as Daggerfall, which as a kingdom would have a profound influence on High Rock in years to come.

Of all the families of Aldmer who colonized High Rock, none did it so successfully as the Clan Direnni. So dominant were they that by the middle of the First Era, the whole of High Rock was commonly called "The Direnni Hegemony." As an economic and military power, they were formidable enough to pose a continued threat to the battle-hardened Nords and the nascent Alessian Empire of Cyrodiil. Taking advantage of the internal strife in Skyrim, the Hegemony began taking land north and south of High Rock, claiming portions of Skyrim and Hammerfell. At the peak of their power, they controlled nearly a quarter of Tamriel. But they had overextended their reach, and slowly, year by year, they lost all that they had gained, falling back to their fortress in Balfiera, the Adamantine Tower, now called the Direnni Tower.

The Bretons were operating beneath the eyes of history, and their rise in High Rock was through commerce and the foundation of small villages in well-chosen positions, such as the sleepy fishing hamlet of Wayrest on the coast between the Bjoulsae River and the Iliac Bay. Daggerfall, Camlorn, Reich Gradkeep, and many other Nordic cities became Breton not by any act of war, but simply by being assimilated by them. By the end of the First Era, High Rock was the land of the Bretons, and would be so ever after.

But High Rock was never a single cohesive Breton nation. The power vacuum left by the decline of the Dirennis fractured High Rock into a hundred fiefdoms of small, walled city-states. This has often left the Bretons at the mercy of the larger powers of Tamriel, but has also made High Rock surprisingly resilient during the times of chaos following the fall of the great empires.

Scarcely had the rule of the Dirennis passed into history before two new powers arrived in the region. The Redguards of Yokuda began their conquest of Hammerfell in the 808th year of the First Era, largely displacing beast folk in their attacks, but also supplanting Breton settlements along the southern Iliac Bay. The two cultures warred over dominance in the Bay, until they were faced with a common enemy in the Orcish kingdom of Orsinium.

The rise and fall and rebirth of Orsinium is detailed in a larger section, but suffice it to say for now that the discovery of the "monstrous" kingdom of the creatures, as they were regarded, was a very unpleasant surprise to both the Redguards and Bretons. An alliance between Daggerfall and the new kingdom of Sentinel led to the long war known as the Siege of Orsinium. The humans eventually prevailed: Orsinium was destroyed and the Orcs dispersed far and wide across Tamriel.

High RockHigh Rock fared relatively well during the long interregnum following the fall of the Cyrodilic Empire, but its multitude of fractious kingdoms were easily conquered by Tiber Septim. Indeed, many Bretons welcomed the rebirth of the Empire. Still, some of them managed to unite to stop the encroachment of the Camoran Usurper in his destructive march northward from Valenwood in 3E 267. With a weak Emperor on the Imperial throne, and no clear leadership from the usual powers of the west, the Usurper may have swept over High Rock had the smallest of regions of the Iliac Bay not banded together under the Baron of Dwynnen to defeat him. Once again, an overwhelming force had underestimated the Bretons, and been defeated.

The unity was lost when the threat was removed, and for the next one hundred and fifty years, internal and external conflicts continued. In the east, the Nords reclaimed some of their old kingdoms in the War of the Bend'r-Mahk. In the west, the War of Betony, though ostensibly between Daggerfall and Sentinel, spilled into Daggerfall's neighboring kingdoms. In the center, Orsinium reappeared as the home of the Orcs, threatening once again the fortunes of Wayrest. In the year 417, however, the province redefined itself in a most mysterious way.

They call the even the Miracle of Peace. On the 10th of Frostfall, a strange force exploded over the Iliac Bay, displacing armies and decimating whole territories. Though its nature is still unknown, most Bretons believe it was the ancient Gods who had once made High Rock their home scouring the land, making it whole once again. Though it was a painful process for most - the Miracle is sometimes spoken of as the Warp in the West - the result of it is a province that is more unified than it has ever been in modern history.

Where once there were a hundred small squabbling kingdoms, today, just two decades after the Miracle, there are five.

Current Events

Battle-weary, the kingdoms of High Rock have eschewed violence recently in favor of diplomatic solutions. This is not to say that there have been no tensions over the new borders between Daggerfall and Wayrest, or between Camlorn and Northpoint and Evermore, but they are localized skirmishes, and have yet to explode into war, as they might have done in the past. The royal family of Daggerfall has recently celebrated the marriage of their son Camaron to Lady Kelmena, the daughter of Duke Senhyn of Camlorn, suggesting a possible unified kingdom along the western coast of Tamriel. King Gothryd and Queen Aubk-i's own marriage twenty years before had cemented relations and formed the basis of the peace between Daggerfall and Sentinel, which continues to this day.

Northpoint and Evermore were not directly affected by the Miracle of Peace, but took advantage of it, swallowing up their small neighbors in the chaos of its aftermath. Far enough west to avoid the predations of Skyrim in the Bend'r-Mahk, and far enough north not to be targeted by Daggerfall and Wayrest, they have been quiet of late, watching their neighbors distrustfully.

The Queen of Wayrest, Elysana, is considered by many to be the most feared ruler in the West. It is hardly surprising, considering that in order to achieve the throne, she had to outmaneuver and defeat her stepbrother, Helseth, a man now renowned in the East for his cunning, as well as his mother, Barenziah. With her consort, Elysana continues to control and dominate politics in High Rock, and her recent alliance with Wayrest's old enemies, the Orcs of Orsinium, has many observers wondering what her next move will be.