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Khajiit Part 4: History

  • July 2, 2014


    Disclaimer: This lore article was written by Loremaster Vix but was inexplicably deleted. I have recovered it for your reading pleasure.

      In our final section dealing with the Khajiit we will discuss their history from the Merethic to the present. The history of the Khajiit is insular, tales are told amongst the Khajiit and rarely shared to outsiders. As such most of their history is recorded by others and interpreted by others. This has, on occasion, caused translational problems revolving around the different emphasis placed on various events across cultures.

          The Khajiit contribution to history has been in its firm record keeping. Often when the Khajiit record an event occurring in a specified time, that time frame is adopted by scholars across Tamriel.  Two such incidents of this historical primacy can be found when considering the Dragon Break in the Alessian Era as well as the times between empires in the Interregnum. These are all tracked by the Mane using lunar rotations and are regarded as being accurate.



          Modern Tamrielic beliefs state that the Khajiit do not originate from any other group or people, but rather that they were the smart sentient cats of the dunes of modern Anequina that evolved into their present form. (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition) However, soon after they admit that the original expanse of the Khajiit was far broader, at least including Valenwood and Cyrodiil which casts doubt on the desert origin theory. The original Khajiiti kingdoms were quite expansive, in Elsweyr there were sixteen separate kingdoms by the first era. This didn't include the much larger Merethic era kingdoms which repelled the early Bosmer colonization of Valenwood.  A larger empire is also confirmed by Altmer explorer Torpal the navigator which sailed up the Torpal bay and to lake Rumare having seen both bipedal and quadrupedal felines that they called 'Demons' (Father of the Niben). This made the Khajiit dominant territorial power of early Merethic Tamriel.

          It seems that these societies were preliterate, having the Ta'agra but no written component to their language. This did not retard their growth or social development which was said to have progressed quickly and had developed into something approximating modern culture by the time of the Atmorans arrival and even the Aldmer's consolidation phase (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition).

          In Elsweyr itself there were sixteen Kingdoms rather than that two remaining ones we know of today. However, the legacy left by this is mixed and might very well be colored by propaganda during the late second era. Some sources suggest that the early kingdoms were a warlike group of tribes vying for supremacy and dominance (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). However, the more recent source in the Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition says that this was in fact not the case. Rather, the kingdoms were atypical and quite different from the human and elven kingdoms as they worked together in a complicated series of exchanges that ensured each realm possessed its own uniqueness which was exported and used to the betterment of the others. This seems to fit with the pattern of trade that existed throughout Elsweyr's early history. These kingdoms supplied unique goods, the Tenmar region supplied moonsugar, others like Torval supplied fish from its ports, Ne Quin-al supplied guards and soldiers as well as the original training for the Temple of Two-Moons-dance, and so forth. 

          This inherent power balance let the Khajiit, under the guidance of Alkosh (Akatosh) rebuff Pelinal Whitestrake's Aldmeri pogroms which had cut into the northern Kingdoms. This made the Alessian Empire wary of expanding southward by force. This ensured that each kingdom was codependent and reliant on others, thus minimizing fighting and tribal strife.


    Sickness and Slaughter:

          While the territory outside Elsweyr had been contracting for some time the sixteen kingdoms flourished in a harmonic balance. This changed irrevocably in 1E 2260 with the coming of the Thrassian plague. While the plague itself wiped out enormous portions of the Tamrielic population, wiping out half the population, it was able to destroy areas of the Khajiiti kingdom entirely. The Khajiit suffered worse than most. The trade routs that had been its strongest ties to the rest of Tamriel and were part of its very culture carried the plague to every area of the kingdom. There were no safe places. This disrupted the intricate balance and likely is the cause for the warfare that erupted in its wake and likely led to the speculation on behalf of the Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition.

          In the aftermath of the plague the structure of the area was all but destroyed, forcing the survivors to diversify. Part of this was necessary for survival, others was because of the decimated kingdoms had fled to the surviving kingdoms. When the region stabilized more realms had been destroyed leaving just two, Anequina and Pellitine. The people of these kingdoms still contained their principle trades but the plague had forced them to take on roles they were unaccustomed to and unmeant to. With the confusing caused by fleeing masses from other collapsed realms it further widened the gap between the two kingdoms. This, in a strange philosophical way, brought things back into an example of Khajiiti balance by being at the two extremes of the spectrum. However, it caused even more conflict.

          Anequine and Pellitine fought each other for dominance, spurred on by the massive growths of other Khajiiti kingdoms folding into their territory. This civil war lasted for almost a millennium, further solidifying cultural expectations, making the north into a nomadic warrior kingdom while the south became a mercantile empire that reached to foreign lands, combating northern experience by bringing in mercenaries. This led to a stalemate which saw the separation of the kingdoms again. A large number of the peripheral areas split off and joined into the Reman Cyrodiilic Empire. This further sapped Khajiit unity though established a system of trust with outside powers. The Khajiit would remain loyal but non-enthusiastic about Imperial power and were one of the few supporters of the Akaviri Potentate Versidue Shaie who moved the Imperial court from the Imperial City to Senchel (Brothers of Darkness).


    The Confederation of Elsweyr:

          In 2E 309 the two kingdoms of the Khajiit seemed no closer to unification in practice though in principle it was discussed. The people were just as divided along sectionalist lines as they had since the Thrassian plague. However, Keirgo of Anequina and Eshita of Pellitine moved forward with a radical motion, they signed pact and a marriage that would combine their kingdoms into a single entity. In the light of the negotiations it is suggested the old Khajiiti saying was issued, “a perfect society is always found elsewhere”. With this, the Kingdom of Elsweyr was created, it's capitol to be in Ne Quin-al.

          It was, however, not always so well received. It did little to smooth the tensions between the two separate kingdoms, instead, both felt betrayed and led to a period of warfare and rebellion lasting fifteen years. The Akaviri Potentate was embittered in a Tamrielic and Skyrim spanning war that sapped his ability to quell the rebellion in Elsweyr (History of the Fighters Guild). In 2E 324 Potentate Versidue Shaie was murdered by the Morag Tong in Senchal, the Empire was close to impoverished, and the rebel Khajiit had sacked Ne Quin-al forcing the royal family to flee.

          Peace was restored by the Mane Rid-T'har-ri'Datta. Ri'Datta set out the cyclical pattern of power sharing that relied on the lunar patterns. He stated that Ne Quin-al would hold power during a full moon, Senchal the new moon, and Torval his own capitol, would hold power when the moon was at half. This left him with the most time shared in power but it was often divided into a number of other small kingdoms that rose and fell during this time. This act, called the Riddle'thar, created a principle foundation of power sharing that was able to appease all parties involved while remaining under the overall auspice of the Mane. Thus the Mane gained power and prestige as a figure for internal and external politics. In the strife following the collapse of the Cyrodiilic empire the Mane granted asylum to the Tsaesci fleeing persecution of Attrebus, one of the warlords to claim then lose power. The Mane let the Akaviri settle in the area around Rimmen which provided them a buffer area against any Cyrodiilic hostility.

          While this has created a state of relative peace in the kingdom it has not alleviated all of the problems and as such there were still internal and external problems. In 2E 560 the Knahaten flu laid waste to areas of Senchal which only recovered a full seven hundred years later. Rimmen seceded from elsewhere in 2E 812 during the Interregnum period between the second and third empires. So while Rimmen became nominally independent it was still under the control of the Mane and remains in that manner throughout the third era.


    Five Year War:

          One of the few major conflicts to which the Khajiit have been involved has been the five year war during the Imperial Simulacrum. The Bosmer claim that it was started by a series of border raids, however, this was common for both realms far into their past. The major action came with a Bosmeri assault from southern Valenwood to the Mane's capitol of Torval in 3E 396 where they slaughtered over a thousand civilians before being driven off when reinforcements arrived. The war turned north and escalated, goading the Bosmer to fight and systematically defeating larger forces piecemeal.

          As was typical the Khajiit sent for advisers who arrived from Solitude. This led to the battle of Zelinin, the Nords equipping the Khajiti battalions with heavy armor and working with Nord tactics. It lost the Khajiit the battle and subsequently the advisers were returned to Skyrim. Returning to their natural battle tactics they engaged the Bosmer in Northern Elsweyr and defeated them by 3E 399. This marked the turn of the engagement which would lead the Elsweyr victory over Valenwood (Mixed Unit Tactics). Subsequent territory was carved out of the eastern region of Valenwood along the Xylo river. At the same time the Layawiin territory was once part of Elsweyr in a border dispute. Both were settled at the end of he Simulacrum period.

          While the Imperials attempted to return the seized territory to the Bosmer the Khajiit refused to cede the land . Earlier legal proofs were offered that suggested the land had once been part of Elsweyr that was slowly taken over by the encroaching Valenwood forest. The Leyawiin territory was taken by Cyrodiil. This unexpectedly led to the rise of the rebel movement known as the Renrijra Krin. They do not answer to the Mane, thus the Imperials created a situation that couldn't be quite contained as it had in the past and led to countryside raids and attacks on Imperial columns (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition).


    End of Elsweyr:

          As noted before, the Khajiit have long been loyal though non-enthusiastic supporters of the Imperials. This remained the case during the third era and into the forth despite the crumbling empire. Black Marsh seceded then the Thalmor.  There is note that at some point in time during or prior to  the events of the Infernal City, the Mane had been assassinated and it's difficult to assertain if they had been replaced.  This event alone wasn't significant, but it may have acted as a catalyst to one crippling event.  In a sense everything in this series has led up to this point: the Void Night of 4E 98.

           It might sound strange, or ridiculous, or minor to any other culture but to the Khajiit the disappearance of the moons for two full years destroyed the single constant they have had for their whole existence. The Lunar cycles have been shown to be part of every critical working of Khajiti society. The loss of the moon leads to disorder in every area of society and undermines the basic structures of society. “Within most of the Empire, this was viewed with trepidation and fear. In Elsweyr it was far worse. Culturally the moons are much more influential to the Khajiit.” This quote from The Great Wardoesn't come close to doing the event justice but is exactly how many will see the situation.

          Looking back, we see several fundamental physical problems. With no moons there is no form to the Khajiit, this means there was a total lack of births or a complete randomness it doesn't say but given the lycanthropic nature of the Khajiit this is already a disaster. The second aspect to consider is the religious nature of Azurah's second command.  Azurah was to make the Khajiit the best climbers so they could climb on the breath of Kynareth and restore the Lunar lattice if it ever falls. This Latice did fall and the Khajiit were entirely helpless to restore it which is a quintessential disgrace of their religious beliefs and more importantly, the Clan Mothers and Mane.  They couldn't or didn't act as they were supposed to in order to restore the status quo. Then there is the power sharing issue, the moons had always passed the capitol from city to city, now it was gone entirely. It was the metaphorical decapitation and plunge into chaos and disorder. The Mane would lose all credit for stability while undermining traditional leaders in the kings, queens, and chieftains. When the Thalmor claimed credit it was easy to see where the power would shift too.

          In 4E 115 a coup led to the dissolution of the Kingdom of Elsweyr. The two independent realms of Anequine and Pallitine were re-established. These were, subsequently, placed under the auspice of the Aldmeri dominion as client states. Anequine served as the base for an Aldmeri expedition in the Great War but beyond that there has been little involvement by the Khajiit in external affairs.


          If this helped at all I'm happy to have helped.  It took quite a bit of work but I do believe that the potential for understanding one of the most enigmatic races was well worth the effort.  I'd like to thank RuneRed who helped pointing out a few minor typos and clarity issues.  If anyone has any questions you can ask them, if there's any complaints you can voice them,  but for now I'll leave off with this quote from the Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition:

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


    ←Part 3: Culture