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Altmer Part 4: History of the High Elves

  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.

     

    History of the High Elves

    Due to the relative isolation and lack of written language in Argonian Jel, and a similar case with the Khajiit, the Aldmer and thus the Altmer have the longest history in Tamriel. So often we think of the Altmer merely in the context of what they have done to others or have provided without looking at the reciprocal nature of others impact on the High Elves. Hopefully this will rectify things and help see situations, attitudes, culture, and history through a new lens.

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    The Elf Lands: The Merethic Period

    The earlier years of the Aldmer in the Summerset Isles was marked by the communal and egalitarian ideals of the Old Ways. Of course, it was a rapidly expanding culture and facing new threats on a regular basis, thus moving inland within the Summerset Isles as well as taking to the seas in order to explore their new surroundings. Symbols of unity such as the Crystal tower were erected, taking inspiration from the famous Adamantine tower glimpsed in their expeditions to High Rock, and from nearby Ceporah tower in Artaeum which would later act as inspiration for the famous White Gold Tower.

    Sources indicate that the early Aldmer didn't write as much as they did later on, and what literature that did exist, was later destroyed by the Cyodiilic first Empire. The Islands themselves contained a wide variety of peoples and creatures that were both helpful and hostile to the Mer. While it is mostly conjecture, the Sload seem to be one of the early opponents of the Mer who would have driven them from the islands and towards modern Thras to the north east of the Islands. The Remoran tapestries and many sculptures that were housed in the Crystal tower depicted various instances of creatures said to be terrible to look on to the point that many are unsure if they were real or not. Several marked examples from various sources depict creatures such as the Ghetus: A man, men (possibly a Nedic tribe or a completely different civilization as men in context can mean non-elf soul) who were formed from Nirn itself and its elements. Then there was the Welwa, a strange but holy beast with a face covered in horns with a maw full of teeth that were said to be both the ravagers and saviors of the land itself. Then there was the Ilyadi which were enormous giants taller than trees with heads covered in eyes. These creatures occur frequently enough that they are considered historical fact (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition).

    Exploration of the Summerset Isles was just a beginning, many were already trying to find routes back to Old Ehlnofey, but in the process the Summerset Isles discovered Tamriel. The most famous was Topal the Pilot who commanded the vessel Niben, and was part of a three vessel expedition from Firsthold to find the lost Aldmeri homeland of Aldmeris. While only his original maps and 4 short verses remain, they point to a very rich tale of the discovery of Tamriel and the first interactions with other races. Topal, setting out with his vessel the Niben, set out north-east while the Pasquiniel under Pilot Illio set out south-west, and an unnamed third ship headed north-west. Topal himself took 66 days before he made landfall, sailing the longest possible rout to land near Anticlare High Rock where cannibalistic Orcs were said to have tried to kill his crew. He then took 8 months, sailing to the other edge of Tamriel in modern Vvardenfell where he wrote about the enormous proto-Cliffracers. Sailing past Black Marsh he made a poor decision and got lost in the bay that now bears his name before traveling up the Niben River to the spot where the Imperial City would stand. The birdmen of the Rumare isles spoke a dialect of Aldmeri there, and Topal provided the written language for them. In return he was given the 8 islands of the Rumare. Returning to Firsthold laden with exotic treasures most of Topal's narrative is lost; but what we do know is he never did manage to return to his Rumare isles and the Birdmen of the area disappeared afterward, possibly destroyed by the Early Khajiit who occupied the western banks of the Niben (Father of the Niben).

    The social and cultural history of the Altmer was changed not long after in a very dramatic fashion. It might have been a combination of difficult living in the Summerset Isles, the renewed Maormer presence which led to the butchering of coastal communities, and social stratification that was setting in, or perhaps just the wide tales of wonder that set the stage for the Second Exodus (The Changed Ones)where many elves left the island for the mainland of Tamriel and the Psijics settled in Artaeum (On Artaeum). Nevertheless, the Aldmer, by now the Altmer, had set up settlements in Hammerfell and High Rock as well as Vvardenfell where they created a number of fortified wizard towers in Ald Redaynia, Val Fell, Tel Aruhn, and Tel Mora. Soon these other Elven factions begin to differentiate themselves, yet for all intents and purposes these early tribes which would become the Ayleids, the Falmer, and the Bosmer would be tribute kingdoms still in league with the High King of Alinor. Alinor too seemed to be gaining strength in the Summerset Isles, displacing its competition Firsthold and taking up the mantle of a pan-merethic capitol.

    These various tribute kingdoms would become independent soon after due to the impracticality of maintaining long lines of communication. With these ties severed the Altmer of Summerset became more isolated which led to the decline of exploration in favor of a more secured future of seclusion, abandoning most of their overseas holdings or ceding them to their older colonies which became separate Mer races.

    At this time the Nords, the last group of Nedes from civil war torn Atmora (Elven Altmora) landed in Skyrim at Hsaarik Head (Before the Ages of Man). However, he was far from the first, from 1000 -800 ME other Nedic people from Atmora had come from the war-ravaged human land and settled peacefully with the elves of that region. It wasn't until this last group arrived under Ysgramor, likely 600-400 ME, that friction started which would later erupt into open warfare (Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation: A Social History of Cyrodiil).

    It seems that the settlement of what is now Saarthal had an object of enormous power beneath it that the humans had uncovered. While Ysgramor tried to conceal it, the Altmer heard about it as well. To prevent the humans from misusing it an 'Aldmeri' expedition was dispatched with help from internal sources. This attack was focused as a single pinpointed location; it was conceived in the usual Altmeri attention to detail, bypassing major civilian areas and military installations to focus around a single goal. Ysgramor, rallying his people, turned the operation into a bloodbath by stalling it which led to mass destruction. Slaughter was not the goal, fires broke out afterward and the city was abandoned while Ysgramor fled from Skyrim back to Atmora (Night of Tears, Imperial Report on Saarthal). The remaining humans seem to have been integrated with the Falmer and Direnni Altmer as the Aldmer soldiers withdrew, creating the Breton race (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition).Ysgramor's return, his exploits, and that of King Herald is a matter for the Nords, Bretons, and the history of Skyrim. Humans wouldn't play a role in the Altmeri sphere of influence for several more centuries and then it would come from a very different group.

     

    Fortress of Solitude: The First era, the Fall of two Kingdoms

    During the early period of the First era we see several Altmeri actions, but for the most part they become a more reclusive and insular people. Internal politics and squabbles erupt and open warfare occurs, this becomes a typical pattern and a long lasting event with Firsthold and Skywatch being at odds as is Alinor and Lilandril being at each other's throats (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition). Lilandril itself seemed to have come into conflict with Alinor for a number of reasons, but by 1E 470 they found a magic flask that absorbed magicka, and used it for the various barons, most notably, to keep the wild magicka from Valenwood in check (Elven Artifacts).

    The Nords weren't the greatest threat to the Elves, they were enablers which led to the first fall of the Altmer lands. The Alescian order had over-turned the Ayleid in the 3rd century of the 1st era and the extremist Maruhk Doctrines came into effect. This led to four separate consequences, human initiated pogroms for Alessian rebels to slaughter any and all elves or half elves they found under Pelinal Whitestrake and his followers (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition),This is a matte rof debate given the intense tribal nature the Ayleids exhibited which led to their own fractured identity which was partially absorbed under Saint Alessia; nevertheless, at the time of Pelinal Whitestrake it seemed few if any elves were spared. The second consequence was the destruction of all elven works of art and literature which left only a dozen or so surviving works to the modern period (Cleansing of the Fane). The third notable consequence was the second Dragonbreak by the human Maruhkati selective. The prophets Maruhkati selective attempted to physically destroy the elven God Auri-El by tearing him away from what they thought was their time deity Akatosh. This broke time itself, causing a relative space of 1,008 years in which time acted and flowed differently everywhere from the 13th to 23rd centuries (Where Were You when the Dragon Broke?). The Maruhkati doctrines themselves were formulated for a numer of purposes, but the extremist Empire was focusing on removing the Elves, and the legacy of the elves while retaining all the knowledge, power, and advances they left behind. And finally, the forth, was the creation of the 'Divines' which emerged into the 8 Divines we know in Tamriel today.

    Of the four the most important factor in the long run is the creation of the Divines. While the Aedra we generally say refers to the 9 Divines, the 8 Divines themselves are a mixture of Elven deities that the Ayleid enslaved humans refused to give up, melded with a number of Nordic deities. Akatosh (Auri-El) came from the Mer influence, as did Stendarr, Zenithar (Xen), while Dibella, Kynareth (Kyne), and Julianos(Jhunal) were Nordic. Mara and Arkay were more debatable having occurred in various forms for both. The Nords though wanted to worship Shor (Lorkhan), which they were allowed too but he was merely called 'The missing Divine' and worshiped as an extra Divine God. Shor from Nordic legend was a vicious, bloodthirsty, anti-Alemri warlord who led the Nords to war and victory. The Cyrodiils couldn't accept that, and yet couldn't dismiss him or the Nords would revolt. So they made it a null issue, creating the god Shezzar as 'the God of human endeavors' who was watered down to not be as offensive (Shezzar and the Divines). Given the attachment of the Cyrodiilic people to Aldmeri culture, though not the Mer themselves, which can also be seen in the use of Aldmeri training for battlemages, and the use of Aldmeris as the legal language of Cyrodiil continued until 1E 2813 (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition). However, the same religious issues could come back into focus later on.

    Trouble finds the elves whether they are isolated or not. The incessant Maormer invasions were repulsed but in their place was the first Sload invasion, the Sack of Skywatch in 1E 1301 was considered a vicious massacre. It was followed by the Thrassian plague in 1E 2260 which wiped out half the population of all of Tamriel, though it's noted it could have been worse without the help of Phynaster who was said to have helped ease the disease.

    This leads us up to the first critical event where humans directly impacted the Altmer and their new homeland. After the Akaviri invasion of Skyrim and Cyrodiil in 1E 2703, Reman Cyrodiil was afraid that the Altmer might try to invade Tamriel and went about on a propaganda campaign set to unite all of humanity in a pan-nationalistic Empire. However, the Altmer, equally disturbed by what seemed like Reman Cyrodiil's intentions to conquer the Summerset Isles, stepped up their own military as well. It's unclear exactly what happened but this mutual exchange, combined with the sudden influence of the tacticians and training afforded by the Tsaesci, allowed the Empire to subjugate Alinor seemingly without a fight. Instead of risking invasion, the Altmer let themselves be subjugated and paid imperial tithes to ensure there was no major military presence on the Island. However, it seemed that this was partially ignored, and there were a large number of 'chilling' incidents centered around Alinor that greatly soured Altmeri-Cyrodiil relations. Elves learned to hate Imperial human culture, not necessarily humans as a whole (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition).

    It led up to a great weakening before the war of Uchival in 1E 2911-2917 where, once again, the Sload invaded the Summerset Isles. The High Elves, in their weakened and pacified state, were faced with the full capability of Thras. It's not a surprise that not only did the Sload take grasp on the land for 6 years, but it was noted that the Altmer, military and civilian alike, suffered enormous casualties. It was later said by outside scholars to be one of the worst events in Tamrielic history (surpassing the earlier Thrassian Plague of 1E 2260, and the vicious Numidium created Warp in the west in 3E 417, both of which destroyed more than 50% of the affected population). The Sload utilized necromantic magics, and massive infernal engines of war trying to subjugate the Altmer but both were repulsed from the devastated land over the six year long war. The Thrassians routinely captured Aldmer and worked them to death as slave labor, though some escaped to tell tales of the terrible island of Thras. The Sload became the 'boogey men' of Altmeri culture (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition).

    As rule passed from the human Cyrodiilic dynasty to the Akaviri potentates under Versidue-Shaie things changed little for the Altmer. Under both the Altmer were a small regional power with their own navies, their own military, their own politics, and their own disputes. Their greatest addition to Tamriel as a whole was thanks to King Rilis XII's and Psijic Ritemaster Iachesis' acceptance of Galarion's charter which established the first Mages guild in Firsthold in 2E 230. This led to the widespread proliferation of magic, magic weapons, magic enchantments, and magical potions to the public (Mages Guild Charter). It's little surprise that it was a member of the still powerful Direnni family, acting with the Potentate, that ensured the Guild act went through which formalized the Mages guild through Tamriel in 2E 321 in the Guilds Act (Di Rerums Direnni) which would also see the rise of 17 other official guilds including the Fighters Guild (History of the Fighters Guild).

    Another important event of note came from the annual Maormer attacks which, during the Interregnum in 2E 486, was spotted before they made landfall. The Alinor Royal navy was dispatched by King Heidellith to engage and chase a small Maormeri fleet. The Maormeri fleet withdrew to Pyandonean waters with the Alinor navy in pursuit. It turned into a colossal ambush, with Altmeri ships stuck in great kelp forests, many mazes and mists blocking navigation and line of sight, and attacks from the sea serpents and Maormeri fleet butchered the Altmeri fleet. However, a single ship survived and returned to Alinor to tell of the expedition. Despite the severe losses, the survival of even one vessel was considered a miracle and an attribute to the Altmers “nautical genius” (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition).

     

    A New Ideal: Creation of the Thalmor and the First Dominion

    Beginning in the early 9th century the Camoran line of Valenwood came to open warfare over a Dynastic dispute of succession. While it started off as a minor regional struggle, one of the factions attempted to draw Colovian military support in favor of territorial concessions in the north. The Altmer, having stayed neutral until this point, was forced to recognize a one thousand year old stewardship treaty with the remaining line, Camoran Anaxemes. Around 2E 830 the Colovians invaded Valenwood, eliminating Maormer enclaves along the coast which had encroached on Bosmeri territory, and struck into Valenwood itself. Altmeri forces arrived in Valenwood soon afterward. Quickly, a provisional government consisting of both Bosmer and Altmer nobles was established in Eldenroot for the purposes of governance. Half the delegation was from Valenwood's tribal and territorial Branch Chieftains, and half were from the Altmeri nobility of the Summerset Isles. This joint provisional government was called the Thalmor.

    This Government’s mandate was to use force to act as a bulwark against Colovian encroachment and restore the boundaries which had previously existed before the Colovian invasion. The Colovian army was ill prepared to face the Altmer forces, and themselves and their Bosmeri allies were swiftly routed from Valenwood who stopped at the traditional borders of the River Strid. Over zealous Bosmeri raids continued for a time, heightening tension but were quelled with more professional Altmeri soldiers stationed as border forts along the front lines until the region stabilized and was recognized abroad. In the end Camoran Anaxemas was placed on the throne and he agreed to the cost of military support, fifty years of service as a vassal of the King of Alinor. The Capitol of Valenwood would be changed from Falinesti to Elden Root, while the Thalmor themselves seemed to be hosted in Alinor (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition).

    The combined Thalmor government wasn't entirely welcomed by the Bosmer of Valenwood but it was far preferable to either the state of affairs that existed before, or the Camoran Dynastic feuds and Colovian dominance that would have been the alternative (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition). Under the Aldmeri Dominion's tenure the general methods of transportation, trade, and political machinations were greatly improved for both realms and it created a solid, unified government free from the wars, rebellions, and other uprisings that plagued the newly founded Septim Empire in Cyrodiil. In the end, the deescalation left the newly formed 'Imperials' with a stronger land force but an inferior navy compared to the Aldmeri Dominion. While a fifty year ban had been put into effect restricting outsiders from the Summerset Isles outside of Alinor, Ambassadors were exchanged and political discourse resumed. Pamphlets such as the 1st edition Pocket Guide to the Empire were produced in the Imperial City, Septim's official stance is that he was heir to all of Reman Cyrodiil's holdings, and military attaches and travel were both allowed for dignitaries. The Aldmeri Politician Andel Crodo successfully argued for the Dominion to pursue a course of non-aggression and non-intervention. Crodo advocated for the promotion of a pan-mer identity to promote unity despite hostility and snide arrogance from Dunmer of Morrowind (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition).

    Tiber Septim's Empire continued to expand into Black Marsh then Morrowind, where Tiber Septim negotiated for peace with the Tribunal, avoiding an all out war. What wasn't known was one of the terms of agreement to avoid the war was Vivec exchanging peace for their artifact, Numidium. With Zurin Arctus dispatched to Alinor, a peace summit was scheduled averting a declaration of war (On Morrowind, Arcturian Heresy). The Imperials and Dominion lived in a tense but brief period of harmony for several years. Before Vivec's deal Septim had given up on any notion of defeating or attacking the Dominion in any way despite his known hatred and dislike for the elves (Arcturian Heresy, Redguard). He still used propaganda and human ethnocentrism as common tools but tried to supress the many uprising that plagued the empire with diplomatic solutions. Meanwhile, even as the Imperials were being opposed by Hammerfell and High Rock the Dominion were making alliances with both the Bretons of the Reach in what is now Skyrim, as well as the Redguards of Stros M'Kai, the now vacant seat of the Thassad dynasty. The Khajiit of Elsweyr, on the othe rhand, chose to remain neutral under their Mane (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition, Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition, Redguard). Sepitm was their opponent, and while he was reviled in the human lands for being an oath-breaker, a traitor, and a liar, his Altmeri critics lauded him for being a politician who used diplomacy rather than warfare as a first resort with respects to foreign policy. Even the more warlike places such as Skyrim were noted for generally not being interested in any conflict with the Dominion in the days leading up to the breaking point (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition).

    Everything culminated in a secret, swift attack by the Imperial which destroyed the Aldmeri Dominion overnight. Despite it being a time of peace, with a notably shrewd but diplomatic Emperor, the Divine weapon Numidium was unleashed on the Dominion's political capitol of Alinor (Arcturian Heresy, On Morrowind, Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition). Extra-canonical material from one of the lead writers at the time of Morrowind says that Alinor fell in an hour to Numidium, not a surprise, the same machine destroyed more than 50% of the population of High Rock in 2 days and ruined the Illiac basin, dissolving 40 of the 44 independent kingdoms during the Warp in the West incident of 3E 417.

    The most stable government in Tamriel fell in a day, Tiber Septim called a close to the second era in 2E 896 and forcefully integrated the Summerset Isles into the Empire (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition).

     

    Darkest Days: The Septim Empire

    Tiber Septim's invasion didn't just defeat a military and political unit, it forcefully changed the Altmeri way of life and their culture in one stroke. While most people familiar with the Elder Scrolls world are only familiar with the 3rd era as a time of relative peace after a small period of the Simulacrum, it was the worst time in Altmeri history. For 400 years Tamrielic individuals used the outdated Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition which was a simple coloration of history to promote an human-centric ideal until the second edition was printed in 3E 331 (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition). It didn't take care to explain theological differences at all, instead, worship of the 8 Divines became the state religion to be followed in the Summerset Isles as well as Imperial territories except Morrowind where Septim had made concessions to obtain Numidium in the first place.

    Unlike his earlier conquests, Septim, by the time of the 3rd era, was well known for being brutal with conquered lands, crushing all internal opposition while causing needless destruction and mass depopulation (On Morrowind). The cult of Tiber Septim began to rise after his death in 3E 38 and while posterity calls it “a lawful, pious, and glorious age, when justice was known to one and all” (Brief history of the Empire), the Altmer were still trying to begin to pick up the pieces. Tiber Septim, the ruthless warlord who destroyed the city of Alinor and the whole Dominion, was elevated to the position of a Divine above Divines. The same now defeated Altmer had to deal with this new religion.Hero cults were common in the Empire, especially amongst provincials, soldiers, and newly integrated foreigners. But the Altmer weren't integrated, rather they were forcefully assimilated into the Empire. The Altmer, for the first time, were forced to look externally outside the Summerset Isle, and to re-evaluate the importance of their culture which had been stripped away by the occupation. Their youth were forced to reinvent what it meant to be an Altmer as their millenia old society was torn apart and put under the Imperial banner. Because of this, the Summerset Isles and the Altmer in particular, were made into the most divided province in Tamriel, waging not a physical civil war but an ideological war with many dangerous splinter groups. It became a struggle of new vs. old values, none of them were ready for the coming events (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition).

    This set the stage for the Maormer invasion of 3E 110, called the War of the Isle. A large Maormeri fleet, paid for by the dissident Skyrim Queen Potema, pursued King Orgnum to attack in order to scramble the fleet of the incompetent Emperor Antiochus and to make money to fill her coffers for an eventual bit to overtake the Empire. It took Antiochus Imperial fleet, as well as the various Altmeri Navies, and even the Psijic Order, usually neutral in politics, to destroy the Maormeri fleet as it neared Artaeum. Since then the Maormer raids have stopped (The Wolf Queen).

    Since then there were few other external troubles, but Summerset Isle was plagued with internal troubles. Imperial cultures and Imperial ideals came with new things, good and bad. There was now a far greater degree of mobility for other races in gaining positions of power: Morgiah 'the Black', daughter of Queen Barenziah of Morrowind, became Queen of Firsthold. The people were unhappy not only because of her race, and that her half-Altmeri children still looked completely Dunmeri, but because she debilitated dissident groups, traditional groups, and acted bitterly to the people of Firsthold as well despite being a good and clever ruler. This also notably broke the concubinage rules of Fisthold. This was all due to a failed revolt started by Lady Gialene, daughter of the king of Skywatch and a mercenary force was destroyed by minimal force of loyal soldiers and palatial guards while the majority of the citizen soldiers were quelling pirates in the Abscean sea (The Firsthold Revolt).

    Jagar Tharn's Imperial Similacrum of 3E 389-399 resulted in old ties being renewed between mer; Alinor support being put behind Bosmeri groups such as the Parikh clan in 3E 396 (Words and Philosophy). This let the Bosmer gain control of the southern expanse of Valenwood, but it may, or may not have also been the instigation phase of the War of the Blue Divide that happened concurrently with the Bosmeri-Khajiit 5 year war. Due to the continued presence of piracy in the Abscean sea, spanning as from the Firsthold revolt to that present time in 3E 397, the Altmeri forces took action against Valenwood's coast. The objective, and the result, was that several small coastal islands were ceded to the Summerset Isles and many of Valenwood's harbors were destroyed. The war was vicious and short, comprising the navel campaign and the siege of Woodhearth. This later action was seen as a strategic error, starvation was calculated to bring the Bosmer around swiftly without any routes for logistics, but cannibalism amongst the Bosmer doesn't appear to have factored in. Nevertheless, when it ended most of the damage was to port facilities and the only territory lost to the Aldmer was territories that they seemed to have owned before (A Dance in Fire).

    After the wars came an even more brutal period for the Altmer as internal politics were brought to a boil. Worship of the 9 Divine, including Talos, was somewhat common amongst radicals, and a shadowy group calling themselves 'The Beautiful' met in salons for artists and philosophers. It created small extremists groups who believed that the Altmeri identity should be forgotten and the future alone should be embraced. To symbolize this, The Beautiful attempted to destroy the greatest of Altmeri monuments, the Crystal Tower. When these attacks failed they turned their attention other monuments and statues before turning their attention to the Royal families of the Summerset Isle. They abducted and brutalized the princess of Shimmerene before butchering her. This alone sparked outrage against the ideal, while simultaneously worship of Daedra began to increase (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition, Events of Oblivion).

    The Psijic Order started to recruit new members at a staggering pace, admitting 30 new members in 2 years between 3E 430-432 where as previously there was only 17 admitted in 1,000 years, they never explained their reasons but it was a foreboding omen (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition). Then came the events of the Oblivion Crisis.

     

    The Rise and the Fall: Beginnings of the Modern Thalmor

    The events of the Great Anguish, called the Oblivion Crisis in Cyrodiil, crisis came as a shock to nearly everyone in Tamriel (aside from the Argonians), so few were ready for its scale and consequences. While the Altmer as a people did better in defending themselves against the Daedra than the Cyrodiils did, they may have lost something even greater.

    The Summerset Isles was ravaged by Daedric portals opening up, the seas erupted and smashed the Altmeri harbors so no one could flee the island and no one could help the island (had there been anyone available to help). People started to flock to civilian centers, one major source was the tower Crystal-like-Law which became a refugee camp. The Altmer civilians were desperate and terrified as Daedra appeared at the outskirts of their settlements. At the Crystal Tower the Daedra waited until the Altmer started to regain a modicum of confidence, then struck. Many captured Altmer were brought forward and flayed alive by the Daedric legions, subjecting the refugees to the horrors inflicting upon their long suffering kin as the captives were defiled, carved to pieces, eaten, impaled on war machines, or used as feed for Daedric beasts. When they attacked the soldiers and wizards attempted to stem the died, killing many Daedra, but with limitless denizens of Oblivion, there was little hope the tower could hold out for long. The last wizards and soldiers formed a rearguard in the tower, organizing a last stand while the civilians escaped through lower tunnels in the Crystal Tower's substructure.As the civilians made it away from the tower the last soldiers were overwhelmed; the Crystal tower, and everything in it, collapsed and was entirely destroyed. Six thousand years of history, irreplaceable relics of their ancestors, the revered graves and bodies of the first Aldmeri settlers on Tamriel, countless archives and the second greatest center of magic on Tamriel, was destroyed, and with it, the Altmer's solid connection the past. It isn't possible to overstate the importance of this loss, it effectively robbed the Altmer of their history by destroying their connection with the tower which acted as the beacon of unity that connected all elves, and all Altmer together.

    What happened next is an oddity, 'time lost all meaning and the Daedric horde vanished'. While it might be convenient to assume it was the Hero of Cyrodiil and Martin Septim's doing (as the source writer Lathenil of Sunhold does in his Series the Rising Threat), the Thalmor claim responsibility and is vindicated by Imperial scholars later (The Great War). There is more evidence that the Hero of Cyrodiil and Martin Septim was mostly contained in Tamriel, the Argonians themselves, without any help, repelled the Argonain invaders with the leadership of the Hist. So it isn't impossible that the Thalmor do deserve some credit for the subsequent magics and organization (Infernal City) a fact which is readily accepted by later Imperial military authorities (The Great War). The people, in any case, need guidance after all the destruction, and they turned to the Thalmor.

    There are always dissenters, one such supposed military survivor of the Last Stand at the Crystal Tower, Seer Mage Rynandor the Bold, publicly doubted the Thalmor. He ignored the common public and spoke saying he favored 'logic and fact' (which, given the connection to the Dwemer, can be construed as heretical) and was exiled for it. Others formed groups, such as Lathenil, which were created strictly as anti-Thalmor and anti-Government cabals. These groups hoped to both monitor the Thalmor as well as spread dissent while finding popular leaders to present a front to the Altmeri people.

    The Seer Rynador and several deckhands were killed under mysterious circumstances and Lathenil claimed an attempt on his life. At this point in time, the Empire itself hasn't broken apart, but individuals like Lathenil are attempting to instigate civil war and insurrection in the isles. There are still other more serious problems. With the death of Martin Septim Chancellor Ocato convened the Elder Council which failed to reach a consensus on the heir to the Imperial throne, and then is forced to take up the mantle of Potentate (The Rising Threat).

    The Argonains, then the Khajiit of Elsweyr seceded from the Empire in the first years after the death of Martin Septim (likely 4E 1-2). Not long after, Red Mountain erupts (4E 4-6). The shockwave from either the ministry of truth's crash or the eruption of Red Mountain itself causes a major tsunami to hit the Summerset Isles (The Infernal City). In this wake of the disaster the Argonans invade and claim Morrowind. Ocato is assassinated soon after and his murder sparks the Stormcrown Interregnum at the end of the first decade of the forth era (The Rising Threat).

    As an aside, while it is a likable story in many respect for people that dislike the Thalmor, there are problems at the cultural genesis of the story. For one, Lathenil was very young when the event happened, which meant he grew up in a post Dominion world, and publicly admitted to converting to the Nine Divines, thus accepting Talos as a god when many of his contemporaries lived under the horrid destruction wrought by Septim. He has, what was called, an intensity that at least bordered on madness which made him ignored at home and even in the Imperial City. This adds up to being a personality that is searching for a new identity rather than the standard 'basis' for everyday Altmer. Thus he shares far more in common with Cyrodiils than other High Elves. Many of the events he blames on the Thalmor are disproved elsewhere, including putting the blame on Red Mountain's eruption and the Argonian revolution squarely on the Thalmor, and praising Martin Septim for single handedly getting rid of all the Daedra in the Oblivion crisis. Furthermore, his material was published and distributed by Emperor Mede to drum up support against the Mer in much the same way as Tiber Septim had done with the 1st Edition Pocket Guide to the Empire which casts doubt on the intent of the material, to educate or to instigate and indoctrinate (The Rising Threat).

    Warlord Mede marches a small army into the Imperial city and claims rulership of the whole Empire. He has a weak grasp on foreign politics but there is few to challenge his rule in 4E 17 (Lord of Souls). It isn't for another 5 years that the Summerset Isles secedes in 4E 22. During this period of time many of the Kings and Queens are overthrown and public panic and actions leads to a mass call for pure Altmeri blood as well as a cull of political dissidents. The Summerset Isles is renamed Alinor, the Thalmor council once more emerged to run the Isles. Until this period though the Thalmor had always been a minor voice in politics, but come the separation they take up reign of islands. Most outsiders didn't recognize this, and to this day don't recognize them, thus calling Alinor the Summerset Isle out of “peevishness or ignorance” (The Great War).

    7 years later in 4E 29 Valenwood rebels. The Bosmer, making good on ties made before the Oblivion crisis, reaches out to Alinor for help. As the Imperials and Loyalist Bosmeri are sent reeling, the forces dispatched by the Thalmor land and the joint forces swiftly rout the Imperial garrisons in an almost identical action as what happened during the First Aldmeri Dominion. Bosmeri sympathizers agree to the arrangements made as Alinor and Valenwood are combined to remake the Aldmeri Dominion.

    As the Aldmeri Dominion settles in to organize itself and let their ideals properly solidify as policy Titus Mede sends operatives of the Penitus Oculatus into Valenwood with arms, funds, and ships dissident half-bloods to fight a proxy war against the new Aldmeri Dominion (Lord of Souls). Most of the leaks were sealed up with the Thalmor agents as they expand to hunt down offensive dissidents. The Refugee camps in Balfiera Isle in High Rock as well as Sentinel in Hammerfell become noteworthy targets. In 4E 42 Thalmor agents move in to the Refugee camp in Sentinel to seize a number of dissidents, but when they fight back with magic it burns the camp down in a haze of green flame before the Imperial legionaries can arrive. As such, it gained the name Night of Green Flame (Skyrim dialogue).

    In 4E 98 Masser and Secundar disappeared creating an event called the Void Night. The Khajiit panicked, and when the moons returned in 4E 100 the Thalmor announced they'd restored the moons with Dawn Magic. It's not clear if this is true or not but it hasn't been denied. Elsweyr credited the Thalmor as their savior, and swiftly the Aldmeri Dominion gained popularity in the Khajiiti land. In 4E 115 the Elsweyr confederacy disintegrated into its two original constituent kingdoms of Anequina and Pellitine. These were accepted as client states to the Dominion. This essentially creates a conjoined military defense pact while the Dominion had significant influence in Khajiiti politics, yet no physical control of them according to The Great War (Best example that may be relevant to people is it being similar to the Warsaw pact of the Soviet Union).

    There is a relative period of peace between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion despite Blades actions calculated to inflict maximum harm. It's unsure how the fires started, but it seems there was a great Inferno in Falinesti which killed many, and likewise there were high profile Prison breaks and other activities perpetrated by the Blades (Thalmor Dossiers). Nevertheless, this peace endures until 4E 171 when an Aldmeri Dominion emissary arrives at the gates of the Imperial city with a covered tribute cart.

    To learn more about the Great War you can find it right here as it is a topic all its own.

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    So that's what we know of the history of the Summerset Isles and the Altmer. It's an often missed set of events given that High elves, so frequently, are though of merely in the sense of being an insignificant player, or merely involved in background disputes. I'm aware this was a fairly lengthy section but I hope that it was useful and perhaps shed some illumination towards the most pertinent part of this Altmer Article. So, coming up next, piecing together the Thalmor.

    And once again, in case it was missed, you can find the Great War topic right here (Link)

     

    ← Part 3: On the Blessed Isles Part 5: Piecing Together the Thalmor →

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