- For other uses, see Aldmeri Dominion.
The Third Aldmeri Dominion, colloquially known as the Aldmeri Dominion or the Thalmor, is a powerful union established in 4E 29 by the Thalmor, a group of radical Altmer supremacists in the Summerset Isles who advocated for the supremacy of the various races of Mer over Men, and a new Merethic Era.
Following the consolidation of Valenwood and the Summerset Isles into the Third Aldmeri Dominion, the Dominion began a policy of expanding Aldmeri influence and power across Tamriel at the expense of the Third Empire of Cyrodiil. The Aldmeri Dominion first expanded into Elsweyr, adding the Khajiiti kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine as its client states, dissolving Elsweyr Confederacy.
The Dominion fought the Great War against the Empire after a declaration of war in 4E 176, which ultimately ended in the White-Gold Concordat, with terms beneficial to the Dominion. The Dominion's power then expanded throughout portions of the Empire under the guise of enforcing the Concordat, particularly the ban on Talos worship in Skyrim.
Formation and expansion
During the Oblivion Crisis, the Thalmor rose to prominence as a key factor in closing many Oblivion Gates and held off the Daedra until the Champion of Cyrodiil and Martin Septim defeated Mehrunes Dagon in the Battle of the Imperial City. Despite this, the Crystal Tower was destroyed by Daedra. Reeling from this cultural shock, the Altmer gave power to the Thalmor, who claimed to have ended the threat of the Oblivion Crisis altogether.
The Thalmor are allege to have assassinated Ocato in 4E 10, then acting as Potentate following the end of the Septim Dynasty. This event caused the Third Empire, to descend into a civil war known as the Stormcrown Interregnum. During this time, the Thalmor overthrew the monarchy of Summerset and purged the Summerset Isles of the members of all those of non-Mer descent.
In 4E 29, sympathizers of the Thalmor in Valenwood overthrew the Imperial administration of the province, and joined Valenwood with the Summerset Isles to form the Third Aldmeri Dominion. Following this, the Dominion severed all contact with the Empire. Following the return of the moons after the Void Nights, the Thalmor claimed they restored them to the sky. gaining the favor of the Khajiit. Following a coup in 4E 115, the Elsweyr Confederacy was formally dissolved, and the kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine became client states of the Third Aldmeri Dominion.
Around this time, the Dominion is noted to have begun purges of those with mixed racial makeup in Hammerfell and High Rock, as well as infiltrating areas of Cyrodiil and possibly funding rebellions there.
Finally, the Dominion felt confident enough of its own power to challenge the Third Empire, which was still the dominant force in Tamriel at the time. The Dominion's military was prepared and a plan was put into motion to bring war to Cyrodiil, which had been untouched by foreign invaders since before the conquests of Tiber Septim.
Prior to the beginning of the Great War, the Blades and Penitus Oculatus were charged with investigating Dominion activity. However, the Dominion hunted down and eliminated the agents of the Blades who were stationed in Valenwood, Elsweyr and Alinor.
In 4E 171, the Dominion dispatched an ambassador to the Imperial City with an ultimatum and a "gift." Among other thins, these included that Emperor Titus Mede II pay tributes to the Dominion, disband the Blades, outlaw the worship of Talos, and cede large portions of Hammerfell to the Dominion. The Emperor rejected the ultimatum, and the ambassador presented the Dominion's gift: hundreds of heads that had come from the executed Blades who were stationed in the Dominion lands.
Following the Imperial rejection of the Dominion's ultimatum, Dominion military forces led by Lord Naarifin, invaded Cyrodiil through its border with Elsweyr. Naarifin and his Aldmeri army invaded southeastern Cyrodiil, capturing Leyawiin, Bravil and much of southern Cyrodiil. Meanwhile, Lady Arannelya led an army in the invasion of Hammerfell via southern Cyrodiil from Valenwood, by-passed the Imperial cities of Anvil and Kvatch. Reinforced by Aldmeri forces from the Summerset Isles who landed on the coastline of Hammerfell, Arannelya's forces defeated the weak Redguard resistance and forced the Imperial Legion to retreat across the Alik'r Desert.
With the Empire's forces reeling, the Dominion turned its attention to the Imperial City. Knowing he could not win the battle outright, Titus instead ordered a full retreat north before the city could be completely surrounded, sacrificing the 8th Legion as a rearguard to cover this retreat. The city was then sacked, and Dominion forces wreaked incredible atrocities on the citizens, beginning the process of completing a prophecy known as The Culling.
Believing themselves victorious, the Thalmor contacted Mede, offering terms of surrender, which Mede used as a diversion while he marshaled his reinforcements for a counterattack. Using the Dominion's tactics against them, Mede's forces attacked and drove back the occupying Aldmeri forces in Cyrodiil, surrounding the Imperial City within five days in the Battle of the Red Ring. When the city was besieged, Dominion forces attempted to withdraw, but were rebuffed by the Legions surrounding the city led by General Jonna. The entire Dominion force within Cyrodiil was then destroyed.
The Great War ends in 4E 175 with the White-Gold Concordat, a treaty largely similar in substance to the terms initially rejected by Titus in 4E 171, including ceding Hammerfell and banning Talos worship.
War with Hammerfell
Following the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, the Dominion continued a war with Hammerfell, opposed by the now united Crowns and Forebears and a contingent of "invalids" formally discharged from the Imperial Army. This eventually forces the Dominion from Hammerfell, leading to the Second Treaty of Stros M'kai being signed in 4E 180, ending the war.
Skyrim Civil War
The Dominion takes advantage of the Markarth Incident and pressures the Empire to enforce the ban on Talos worship stipulated by the White-Gold Concordat by punishing Ulfric Stormcloak and his followers. This eventually resulted in a civil war, which the Dominion wishes to draw out for as long as possible. This mostly entails a hands-off policy, although the Dominion was considering action to save Ulfric in order to prolong the war.
The Dominion maintain an embassy in Skyrim, and have been known to secretly capture and imprison any Nords who question their doctrines or beliefs. Their Justiciars were sent to Skyrim to enforce the White-Gold Concordat. That position of enforcing the Concordat is used elsewhere to justify a Thalmor presence in negotiations between the Empire and the Stormcloaks. Secretly, they have been instigating conflict between the Empire and the rebel Stormcloaks, directly interfering only in certain instances to keep the Skyrim Civil War going.
Government and Politics
The Thalmor, as of the Fourth Era, is the governing council of the Third Aldmeri Dominion. The Thalmor are Altmer supremacists who seek to end the Empire and the dominance of man, imposing a new Merethic Era. They also claim that they were the ones who ended the Oblivion Crisis, using that as a basis for their authority.
'Thalmor' was the name of the provisional government set up by the Bosmer and the Altmer during the Aldmeri Dominion. They are agents of the Aldmeri Dominion who investigate and stop any worship of Talos in the Empire. It is commonly believed that the Thalmor would have destroyed the Empire of Tamriel if not for the White-Gold Concordat, which included the removal of Talos from the Pantheon of Gods.
The Thalmor claim to be the saviors of Mer, during the Oblivion Crisis. The Thalmor claim they closed the Gates of Oblivion in the Elven lands much like the Champion of Cyrodiil did at Kvatch and Bruma. It was ultimately the sacrifice of Martin Septim that ended the Oblivion Crisis completely.
The Altmeri Religion forms the basis for most of the other religious practices on the continent, primarily due to its widespread acceptance prior to the advent of human civilization. It is generally assumed that the Altmer pantheon derives directly from the original gods of the Aldmer, and was nearly identical to that of the Ayleid that ruled central Tamriel before the Alessian revolt.
The Altmer pantheon consists of eight of the Aedra that originally cooperated to form Nirn, the mortal plane. They primarily worship those Aedra which removed themselves from the creation process in time to save their divinity, with a few notable exceptions. As with nearly all Tamrielic religions, they revere Akatosh, whom they call Auri-El, as their chief deity, at least in principle. However, Akatosh, along with the Altmer deities Stendarr and Mara, were part of the creation process until its end, and so were severely weakened from their original form. In practice, the Altmer followed the teachings of Trinimac, the champion deity of the elves, who was still able to physically walk the face of Tamriel during the Mythic Era. Other key divines in their pantheon include Magnus, the source of magic on Tamriel, and Phynaster, the patron god of the Summerset Isle, whom the Altmer claim taught them to live much longer lives (by taking shorter strides).
Although they do not revere him as a god, in fact quite the opposite, the Altmer do acknowledge the divinity of Lorkhan, the patron god of man. Much of the early Altmer history involves conflicts between Trinimac and his elves, and Lorkhan and his humans. The Altmer cast Lorkhan as a treacherous, shifty character who tricked the other Aedra into carrying out his plan for creation. As the elves believe themselves to be direct descendants from Akatosh, they blame Lorkhan for the loss of their divinity. (This is the key difference between human and mer theology: humans consider themselves creations of the gods, not descendants of the gods.) Unfortunately for the Altmer, Trinimac disappeared near the end of the Mythic Era; according to legend, he was eaten by the Daedric Prince Boethiah and reformed into Malacath. The start of the First Era marked the beginning of a sharp decline in Altmer cultural and religious dominance across Tamriel.
The Dominion consider the worship of Talos a heresy and as a part of the White-Gold Concordat, they gained power to stamp out and persecute those who worship Talos. Their hatred of Talos is most likely rooted in the fact that the ascent of a man to godhood is in conflict with their notions of the supremacy of mer over man. Also, Talos is integral to the culture and religion of the Nords. He was a man, born Hjalti Early-Beard, a Dragonborn who was predicted by the Greybeards to defeat the elves and unite Tamriel under the rule of men. The Thalmor thus knew that if the Empire was forced to ban the worship of Talos, many Nords would turn on the Empire. This caused the Stormcloak Rebellion, which served as a distraction from the Thalmor plans to re-ignite the hostilities of the Great War.
Society and culture
The Altmer are one of the oldest races on Tamriel, one of the earliest descendants of the original mer race of Aldmer, and from there, through the Ehlnofey to the divine et'Ada themselves. As a race, they are extremely proud of their Aldmeri heritage, and make a concerted effort to maintain their genetic lineage. Their name translates from the Aldmeri language as High Ones or Cultured Ones, a name which is often interpreted to mean "tall," or more often, "snobbish." For their part, the Altmer argue that they are the first true culture on Tamriel, and still the most civilized race, an argument that even human scholars find difficult to refute.
The Altmer primarily live in the province of Summerset Isle, a large island off the southwest coast of Tamriel, which shares a border with Valenwood. According to their histories, their Aldmeri ancestors arrived on Summerset Isle after fleeing the catastrophic sinking of their original home continent, Aldmeris. From here, splinter groups of Aldmer spread throughout Tamriel, but the Altmer remained on the Isles, acting as the nominal head of the empire of meri nations on Tamriel. For most of the Mythic Era, the other races of elves on Tamriel acknowledged the Altmeri king as their own ruler, a practice which persisted until the founding of the Camoran Dynasty in Valenwood, which marked the start of the First Era, and the beginning of the decline of Altmer-dominated Tamriel. Their influence is still felt across the continent, however, as their culture forms the basis for the religion, language, and even architecture of the Cyrodilic Empire.
Any opposition to Thalmor rule is harshly punished. In 4E 42, Thalmor agents attacked Altmer dissidents who had fled to Sentinel in an event known as the Night of Green Fire, due to the magical attacks employed. By the time Imperial legion forces arrived, the refugee district of the city had been destroyed, and the dissidents were all killed.
The Thalmor agents are active throughout Skyrim and can be encountered in several ways. Initially, the Thalmor are not hostile to the Dragonborn and will only attack when provoked. However, provocation includes the persistent questioning of the Aldmeri policy outlawing Talos worship or outright admission of the worship of Talos.
Thalmor patrols can be encountered along the major roadways and usually consist of one Thalmor Justiciar and three bodyguards.
The Thalmor are still in operation and in charge of Northwatch Keep. An advisor named Ancano was sent to the College of Winterhold to oversee its studies. During his stay, Ancano attempts to absorb the power of the Eye of Magnus, killing the Arch-Mage and the Master Wizard, as well as attacking Winterhold with Magic Anomalies in the process. The Dragonborn, armed with the Staff of Magnus, must end the endeavor.
In the quest "Diplomatic Immunity," the Dragonborn must break into the Thalmor Embassy during a party and retrieve information on the Dragons, and indirectly, Esbern. With the help of Delphine and a Wood Elf named Malborn, the Dragonborn obtains dossiers on the remaining Blades and Ulfric Stormcloak, in which is implied a deeper, sinister motive for their presence in Skyrim. While the Thalmor don't know about the reasons of the Dragons' return, they do know about Esbern, who does. After freeing a tortured prisoner and saving Malborn from the Thalmor, the Dragonborn can escape and search for Esbern in Riften.
- The Great War
- An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City - Gregory Keyes
- Rising Threat, Vol. IV - Lathenil of Sunhold
- Flight from the Thalmor - Hadrik Oaken-Heart; Ashad Ibn Khaled, ed.
- Rising Threat, Vol. I - Lathenil of Sunhold
- Rising Threat, Vol. II - Lathenil of Sunhold
- An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls - Gregory Keyes
- Events of The Elder Scrolls: Legends
- The Bear of Markarth - Arrianus Arius
- Thalmor Dossier: Ulfric Stormcloak
- Loading Screens (Skyrim)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Elenwen dialogue during Season Unending
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Runil's dialogue
- Dialogue with Ondolemar
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (dialogue with Legate Fasendil)