Elder Scrolls Lore Report - Aldmerisn't, Ayleidoom, Thalmor(e)


There’s been a lot of debate on the Forge and in the Discord lately about the Thalmor, and how they might treat individuals or organizations outside of those of Altmer origins. In order to thoroughly dissect the inner machinations of the Third Aldmeri Dominion, we must go back to the beginning.


10928892477?profile=RESIZE_710x(a statue of Auri-El, whom the Altmer believe to be the personification of Anuiel) 


In the Merethic Era, a race of technologically sophisticated, proto-Mer appeared in Tamriel. Allegedly hailing from a long-lost continent known as Aldmeris, the Aldmer are often believed to be the first advanced civilization in all of Nirn – sometimes the Hist are given this accolade. Though even the Elder Scrolls supposedly discredit the existence of Aldmeris, the origin of the Aldmer is irrelevant. It was said they had a mighty, chivalric high culture, but little record of it exists. The modern Altmer are almost identical to their aboriginal ancestors – indeed; it is even rumored they selectively breed for these qualities. In any case, as the Aldmer began to spread across the continent, they began to evolve away from each other. Those that remained in Summerset eventually became the Altmer. Some emigrated to the great forests of Valenwood and slowly evolved into the Bosmer we know today. Two groups migrated into Morrowind. One dove underground, fascinated by science and the illusion of truth, and became the Dwemer, while another favored divine grace, their already golden skin taking on an even more deep hue, and became the Chimer, forerunners to the Dunmer. Some Aldmer travelled in Cyrodiil and became the Ayleids. Some sailed south into Pyandonea and became the Maormer. Those that ventured into the tundra of Skyrim became the Snow Elves. Some followed Trinimac and were cursed into Orsimer when he became Malacath and then migrated into High Rock and founded Orsinium. High Rock itself became a popular place for the early Mer, who mingled without pause with the early Nedic peoples, the ancestors to our modern man in Tamriel, and this crossbreeding led to the Bretons, mixed blood of the Nedes and non-Orc Aldmeri settlers.


As the Aldmer diverged, those that remained in Summerset maintained their height and their golden skin. Also called High Elves, they are considered a very proud people – so, in fact, that outside of Summerset, they are seen as snobby. They consider themselves the most civilized culture in Tamriel: the common tongue of the continent is derived on Altmeric speech and writings and much of the Empire’s crafts, arts, laws, and sciences are descended from Altmer traditions. Additionally, the Altmer are exceptionally gifted in the arcane, more than any other race, and they are particularly resistant to diseases. Ironically, they also suffer a vulnerability to magicka, fire, frost, and shock, making them weak to their own strength. Despite this, they are among the longest living creatures in Tamriel, with the average Altmer living two to three times longer than a human – a 200 year old Altmer is considered relatively old while a 300 year old Altmer is considered quite old. Many Altmer become prolific and powerful mages due to their natural affinity to magic and the many years they can devote to study.


Believed to be the most direct, least adulterated descendants of the Aldmer, some theories suggest there might be no difference between the original Aldmer and the modern Altmer; though the Maormer believe it is they who are the purest descendants and the Altmer are a mongrel race – there is some evidence to support their belief. The Ceporah Tower, among other ruins, predates the arrival of the Aldmer by almost 200 years. It is suggested the early Aldmer may have battled the Sload of Thras for control of Summerset , among other ancient creatures, and eventually formed the Crystal Tower and founded the Arcane University and reached the pinnacle of their magicka prowess.



(an Altmer map of Summerset protected by, left to right, Xarxes, Auri-El, Mara, and Y'ffre, with the Crystal Tower atop)


The Aldmer are thought to have settled in Summerset until the dissidence of Veloth, which led to the diversification of the races of Mer – the Chimer, the Bosmer, the Orsimer, the Ayleids. It is not known exactly when the Dwemer or Snow Elves emerged, but a common ancestry is believed. As far as the Maormer are concerned, it is socially accepted that the Maormer actually emigrated to Pyandonea before the Aldmer left Aldmeris. This is corroborated by tapestries hanging in the Crystal Tower. Whatever the case, it wasn’t until after the divergence of the Aldmer that the first Altmer governments began to rise.


10928895283?profile=RESIZE_400xA clan of Altmer moved to High Rock and established a settlement in the early First Era, the beginning of the Direnni Hegemony. As the Alessian Rebellion began, Ayleid refugees fleeing into High Rock strengthened the Hegemony, to the degree that, at its height, the Direnni Hegemony commanded parts of Skyrim and Hammerfell. Despite their power, the Direnni always numbered few and they interbred with the native Nedes, producing the Manmer race that would eventually become the Bretons, who would become stewards and administrators within the Hegemony. During the battle of Glenumbra Moors in First Era 482, though the Direnni successfully defeated the Alessian invasion, they were so weakened that the Breton nobility finally took this opportunity to drive the Direnni almost out of High Rock entirely, forcing their retreat to the Isle of Balfiera – coincidentally, this was the location of the primordial tower itself, Ada-Mantia, which would then become known as the Direnni Tower. The Direnni would remain to rule in Balfiera until the Warp in the West in Third Era 417. Their stronghold in Summerset, however, had fallen early in the Second Era.


10928895660?profile=RESIZE_400xWhile the Direnni were rising, garnering power, and then falling, the sea-insulated Altmer of Summerset, though “protected” from external problems, they had plenty of domestic conflicts to deal with, not to mention constant invasions from the Sload and the Maormer. Despite this, in Second Era 580, amid the chaos of the Interregnum that followed the collapse of the Second Empire, Queen Ayrenn of Summerset allied with the Bosmer of Valenwood and the Khajiit of Elsweyr in what became called the Elden Accords and formed the First Aldmeri Dominion. Dominion propaganda decried the flaw of man, promoting that it was the Elves who deserved to rule across Tamriel. They venerated that only Aldmeri peoples were fit to be their stewards. To this end, the Dominion fought in the Three Banners War against the Daggerfall Convenant and Ebonheart Pact for control of Tamriel, a war whose final outcome is unknown, but all three entities ceased to exist by Second Era 800.


In Second Era 830, a Second Aldmeri Dominion was established following an Altmer intervention in a dynastic dispute in Valenwood. This new Dominion once again became aligned with the Bosmer and Khajiit, but, this time, they included the Maormer among their new allies, despite being their hereditary enemies. However, the Second Aldmeri Dominion similarly failed to conquer Tamriel as they were effortlessly defeated by Tiber Septim and his Numidium, finally bringing Summerset into the Empire in Second Era 896. The Maormer soon resumed their hostilities against Summerset in the War of the Isles in Third Era 110, with the Altmer accepting aid from the Septim Third Empire to survive. The Altmer remember these incidents with shame and terror, likely contributing to social unrest among their youth in the Third Era.


In Third Era 433, the Oblivion Crisis proved to be even more trauma for the now disaster-prone Altmer. As Daedra began to swarm allover Tamriel, the seas themselves became unnaturally turbulent, killing many of the Altmer attempting to flee into Summerset and wrecking the ports that might have received them. The Crystal Tower stood for a long while as a bastion against the forces of Mehrunes Dagon, serving as a stronghold for the surviving refugees before it was destroyed by a powerful Daedric spell. An organization called the Thalmor, who had previously served as an obscure bureau for the preservation of Altmeri heritage in the First and Second Dominions, was reformed by a cabal of Altmer supremacists following the chaos of the Crisis, taking the name and claiming credit for saving the Altmer from extinction using “deep and subtle magicks”. In Fourth Era 22, the new Thalmor seized power in Summerset and deposed the Altmer monarch, renaming the province Alinor. In Fourth Era 29, an allied faction of the Thalmor took rule of Valenwood and formed a new union with the Altmer and the Third Aldmeri Dominion was formally established.


10928896055?profile=RESIZE_584xThis Third Dominion broke all ties with the Empire and the Altmer lands shut off outsiders as the Thalmor began to consolidate their power. The Night of Green Fire in Fourth Era 42 proved how ruthless the Thalmor were in this pursuit, during which a group of Altmer dissidents were cruelly massacred by Thalmor mages at Sentinel. Their unquenchable thirst for power proved Thalmor expansion to be inevitable. During the Void Nights of Fourth Era 98 to 100 where Nirn’s moons completely vanished, the Thalmor claimed credit for their restoration and persuaded the Khajiit to once again ally themselves with the Dominion, finally cementing the collaboration in Fourth Era 115. With their power and rule reestablished, the Thalmor set their sights on their greatest prize: the Empire itself. In Fourth Era 171, the Great War began. A series of punishing defeats forced the Empire to surrender with the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, outlawing worship of Talos and dissolving the Blades. The Empire flew into turmoil when Hammerfell refused to sign and seceded from the Empire. Shortly after the signing, Ulfric Stormcloak, a hero of the Great War for the people of Skyrim, murdered High King Torygg, instigated the Stormcloak Rebellion, and led the Empire into further darkness. By Fourth Era 201, with the possible assassination of Emperor Titus Mede II, the Thalmor had finally attained a position of great power within Tamriel, though the actual situation in Alinor itself is still entirely unclear.


While it’s true enough that the Thalmor have no qualms with aligning themselves with the other races of Mer and the Khajiit, they don’t see it as an equal partnership. In fact, the Thalmor don’t even consider Altmer who turn against the Thalmor to be equal – this was proven by the Night of Green Fire as well as by their relentless vendetta against the Psijic Order. Despite the societal reforms made by the Psijics, much of these changes were entirely reversed in the Fourth Era by the Thalmor, who introduced a policy of persecution and open slaughter of dissidents and non-Elven races. Surviving Altmer dissidents were forced to flee far across Tamriel, but they remain frequently targeted by Thalmor assassins. The fear of the Thalmor has led to public disapproval of the Thalmor being almost entirely non-existent.


10928895878?profile=RESIZE_710x(concept of the Divine Persecutors, Thalmor agents) 


The reason for the debate in the Forge is as to whether the Thalmor would allow a non-Mer to serve them. The short answer? No. The long answer? The Thalmor believe they are superior to every other creature on Tamriel – possibly even all of Nirn. To that end, they wouldn’t see a non-Mer working for them as working for them. They would simply see it as a lesser creature acknowledging that the Thalmor are the rightful rulers of Tamriel. To put it plainly, the Thalmor see non-Mer as lesser creatures deserving of purification by Thalmor rule, to whatever end that might mean and they see the Kinsmer as relatives who need to be restored to their original, unadulterated Altmer forms. Simply put, what the Thalmor desire is a racial cleansing. All non-Mer will be wiped off Tamriel or become less than servants, while the Kinsmer will return to their pure form as Aldmer.



(the Thalmor Embassy in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)


Despite this unavoidable truth, it is equally true that there are many non-Altmer members of the Thalmor, though the capacity they serve in seems to be relatively mundane. The Khajiit seem to serve as Thalmor assassins more often than not – J’datharr is one such assassin, sent to kill Malborn, and Shavari, sent to kill the player character of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; there is also Tsavani, the old Khajiit cook at the Embassy. The Bosmer work as civil servants, doing daily tasks – such as Malborn, working at the Thalmor Embassy; though he is later revealed to be a spy for surviving Blades’ member Delphine. The only known human agent of the Thalmor is Gissur, a spy working for Rulindil, although the dialogue between the two suggests Rulindil finds it distasteful, even insulting, just to speak to Gissur.














(left to right: Gissur & Rulindil, J'datharr, and Shavari)


The simple truth is that the Thalmor, though willing to allow non-Mer to serve them, albeit disdainfully, and accepting of non-Altmer who wish to join, albeit only to hope they can shed their skin and become Aldmer once again, do not view the non-Mer races as creatures deserving of preservation, but of persecution. The Ayleids put it best: “As balangua, Ehlnada racuvar! (By my power, the mortal gods shall be cast down!)”


10928897677?profile=RESIZE_710x(though not Altmer, the Ayleids held similar ideals about the superiority of Elves over man; bonus points if you can isolate the quote above [hint: he is depicted in the above image])

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Fimvul is the current master of the Skyforge Library. Interested in the Elder Scrolls from a young age, he has been diving headfirst into the richer aspects of the lore of the series for over a decade. With years of experience and research under his belt, he hopes to enlighten his readers with the wondrous mystery that surrounds the Elder Scrolls universe.


  • Ah Umaril, and arguably Ayrenn seems to treat non Mer the best, but that could be in part due to her many adventures, which while she may see Elven superiority, and they can be better in certain aspects due to their naturally longer lives, she likely would not gel with The modern Dominion.

    • While it's certainly true that Ayrenn would be "less racist", she still set the precedent by which the modern dominion originates their philosophy. The first dominion still attempted to instill mer rulers across all of tamriel under the principle that they believed only mer had the right to rule. Perhaps less belligerent and antagonistic, but the same ideal nonetheless. I don't disagree that she'd likely be horrified by what the thalmor have turned into, and equally horrified by the things they do casually, but I don't think she'd necessarily disagree with the cause, just the methods.

    • Good point

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