Disclaimer: Real quick before this series begins there are a few things you need to know and disclaimers that must be said. It’s not an over exaggeration to say that the Elder Scrolls universe has some of the richest lore in gaming. Really, the number of books you can find scattered throughout the world is mind boggling enough, with over 800 books in Skyrim alone. I set out to make this series to prepare myself for the Elder Scrolls Online, and because I felt the videos currently out there simply don’t do TES justice. There needs to exist a simple, and practical way to digest Tamriel’s long history.
This series is obviously for the all the lore lovers out there, but it’s also meant to serve the more casual Elder Scroll gamer as well, simply by using good storytelling and good presentation.
In preparation for this series I spent far too much time than any human being should raiding the shelves of the Bards College in Solitude and reading the pages of countless wiki articles. I thought that’d prepare me, but as it turns out, the old saying is true. “History is made by the one who writes it.” Most of what you’re about to hear is written and spoken by the citizens of Tamriel themselves, meaning the source material is far from infallible. As a matter of fact, it even contradicts itself in places, showing us that authors often let their own bias effect their writing. Just know that the only history we can know to be true is that which we witness playing the games, as well as what we find written in the Elder Scrolls themselves.
All that aside, I’m not going to let this keep us from learning all there is to know. If you want to be a nerd about it, think of yourself as a student at the College Winterhold learning about Tamriel’s checkered past, because that’s the tone I’ll be using in this series. And even though I’m an Aldmeri Dominion guy myself, I’ll try to keep this series as unbiased as possible.
One last thing, and this is aimed at you lore nuts. I’m not perfect, and I promise you now, with a series as ambitious as this, I will slip up. I’m counting on the lore masters out there to serve as a last line of defense in my fact checking. If you find a mistake, feel free to leave a correction in the comment section below, and make sure to include a source, or it will be ignored. Any corrections I’ll be forced to make will appear as video annotations, but if I do my job right this will be a rare occurrence.
What better place to start then the dawn of time itself? This is Tamriel, it is but a single continent on the planet known as “Nirn”. As we broaden our perspective we can see Nirn is part of other heavenly bodies like moons and planets. These heavenly bodies make up the realm of existence called Mundus. Mundus itself was the brainchild of Lorkhan (the missing god). Magnus, the divine being we draw our magic from, acted as the architect who helped Lorkhan by laying out the plans for Mundus’ creation. As powerful as Lorkhan and Magnus were, creating an entire realm of existence was a monumental task that required help from the Aedra, who are more commonly known as the divines. It’s pretty unclear whether the Aedra willing volunteered in creation, or if Lorkhan tricked them, but in the end, the Aedra gave part of themselves for the creation of Mundus, and in turn they created Nirn and Tamriel as we know it today; however, not every god-like being agreed with our creation.
“Daedra” is the name given to the divine beings that did not take part in creation. Unlike the Aedra, the Daedra are thought to retain the full might of their power because they elected to “sit out” while Mundus was being constructed. The citizens of Tamriel worship both the Daedra and the Aedra; however, the latter is more widely accepted in the greater Empire. More on that later.
Suffice it to say, the only thing we’ll be concerning ourselves with is the biggest and most significant planet in Mundus. Nirn.
There are 5 known continents on Nirn.
Akavir – The continent of Akavir, also known as “Dragon Land”, is the landmass east of Tamriel. History has proven that Tamriel and Akavir have a very hostile attitude toward each other to say the least. Akavir has invaded Tamriel several times in the past and we know that Tamriel has invaded Akavir at least once. We as citizen of Tamriel know very little about Akavir and much of the information we do hold is acknowledged to be incomplete or inaccurate altogether.
Atmora – The continent of Atmora is the landmass north of Tamriel, and legend says that it was from here that the first humans came. It was Ysgramor, the ancient Atmoran King, who fled civil war in Atmora determined to make a new life for his people in Tamriel.
Yokuda – The western continent of Yokuda, which sank into the sea in ancient times, was the original home of the Redguards. Although Yokuda no longer exists, it is included on one map of Western Tamriel. What caused Yokuda to sink remains shrouded in mystery, but the Redguards themselves seemed to be under the impression that the destruction of Yokuda was in some way their fault. Upon the sinking of their homeland in the 1st Era the Yokudan fleet set sail to the east, where they shored in Tamriel.
Aldmeris – Birthplace of the Elves, Aldmeris is one of Nirn’s greatest mysteries. So little is known about this southern continent, that some question it’s very existence. The Moth Priests say that Aldmeris is not a physical place, but actually a collection of images existing only in the minds of elves. It’s hard to argue with the Moth Priests considering their claim is based on a near-infallible source- the Elder Scrolls themselves.
Now we arrive in Tamriel. A land of swords and magic, bigotry and barbarism, social and political intrigue; an Era does not come and go without a conspiracy, or without blood being spilled for one cause or another. Our vast continent is a land dividend; divided by race, culture, and often divided by greed. The most apparent divisions are identified by the nine provinces that help define modern Tamriel’s diverse people.
To the north lies Skyrim, cold and rugged. Though currently inhabited primarily by Nords, the Elves who they replaced had resided there since time immemorial. Skyrim is the province where Ysgramor, the ancient Atmoran King, first made landfall after crossing the Sea of Ghosts. A legendary hero of Men, Ysgramor would later make conquest on the Elves in major event known as the Return, and in doing so, he would send a message to all of Tamriel. From then on, the race of Men were here to stay.
In the northeast lies Morrowind, which is dominated by the island of Vvardenfell, which in turn is dominated by Red Mountain, a massive volcano. Red Mountain will erupt twice in Morrowind’s history, each time having profound effects on the province. Some species in Vvardenfell even depend on the ashfall for survival. Modern Morrowind becomes home to the Dark Elves after they are banished from Cyrodiil for committing the capital offence of Daedra worship.
In the southeast lies the swampland knowns as Black Marsh, home to the reptilian race known as the Argonians, as well as a race of sentient trees known as the Hist. The mysterious Argonians are native to Black Marsh and they organize themselves on the tribal level with great efficiency.
Southern Tamriel yields itself to great deserts and jungles. Elsweyr is home to a feline race of humanoids known as the Khajiit. Sources say the Khajiit predate even the elve’s arrival on the continent, making them one of Tamriel’s truest natives along with the Argonians.
In the southwest lies Valenwood, which became home to the Wood Elves before the 1st Era began. Realizing the great forests were too wild to tame, the Wood Elves decided to adapt instead. In A Pocket Guide to the Empire, it describes Valenwood as “A sea of endless green, a maze of foliage with half-hidden cities growing like blooms from a flower, the home of the Bosmer is Tamriel’s garden.”
The Summerset Isle is the large island southwest of Tamriel’s mainland, and it is believed to be the first province occupied by Elves as they came from Aldmeris. The Summerset Isle will become most associated with the High Elves and for being the heart and soul of the Aldmeri Dominion.
When people think of the western province of Hammerfell, they think of the Alik’r desert and it’s human inhabitants, the Redguards. Finding the Alik’r desert a poor place for a home, the Redguards fleeing Yokuda build great port and trade cities along the coast of Hammerfell where they enjoy lives filled with travel and adventure sailing mostly as mercenaries throughout Tamriel.
It is said the history of Tamriel begins in the northwest province of High Rock. It is here where the Adamantine Tower stands as a testament to a long forgotten age. High Rock might be home to the oldest structure in Tamriel, but it also serves as home to the Bretons, and more recently, the Orcs. The Bretons divide the province into multiple city-states and minor kingdoms, while the Orcs are happy to call Orsinium their home.
And thusly, we arrive at the heart of Tamriel. In the Ages to come Cyrodiil will act as home to the Heartland High Elves who were rumored to be the first humanoids to settle in this province. It was these elves that built the great centrepiece of Tamriel, the White Gold Tower. Tall and imposing, the White Gold Tower will become the ultimate seat of power in the centuries to follow. The Heartland Elves, also known as the Ayleids, bring about their own destruction by enslaving the humans that later came to the region. The result was the slave rebellion, and the birth of the Imperial race. Cyrodiil will carry on without the Ayleids, in their place, the Imperials will sacrifice much in efforts to hold the heart of Tamriel. In the 1st Era they will successfully repeal an Akaviri invasion. In the 2nd an arcane explosion of energy near the White Gold Tower will be heard throughout all Tamriel, spurring the bloody Faction Wars and later crowning Tiber Septim ushering in an Empire. Rebellions, conspiracy, Daedra- you name it. Blood finds it’s way to heart of Tamriel.
Despiste it’s chaotic nature, to us Nirn is above all a land of beauty, mystery, and adventure. The stage has been set, the pieces in place. But who is pulling the strings?
Art by Nick | http://www.youtube.com/user/Dednutreap
Commentary by Josh
Photoshop work by Josh & Kyle