Bosmer (Aldmeris, "green/forest/tree sap mer"), or Wood Elves, hail from the province of Valenwood (South-West part of Tamriel). Rejecting the formalities of the civilized world, the Bosmer discarded lavish living for a life in the wilderness, among nature, the trees, and animals. In fact, their major cities are actually located in giant walking trees that roam the forest province of Valenwood. They decorate their bodies to resemble their forest surroundings. Because of this, many view them as barbarians. Despite their infamy, they are known to be extremely agile and quick. Their nimbleness serves them best in any art involving thievery. Many are well respected archers, due to their inherent mastery of the bow.
The Wood Elves are the various barbarian Elven clanfolk of the Western Valenwood forests. Collectively, they are known as the "Wood Elves," but Bosmer or Tree Sap People are synonymous terms for this group of people. Tree Sap suggests the wild vitality and youthful energy of the Wood Elves, in contrast with their more dour cousins, the Altmer and Dunmer. In the Aldmeri Language "bos" means "forest" and "mer" means "people," so "Bosmer" translates to "Forest People."
According to the Elder Scrolls Online "Ask Us Anything" Forum , elves of all three kinds (Bosmer, Dunmer, Altmer) live about two or three times longer than the other races (humans, Orsimer, Khajiit, and Argonians). A 200 year old elf is old, a 300 year old elf is very old. Anyone older than that has prolonged their life through powerful magic. Orsimer, while technically Mer, are counted as "beast-race" according to this.
- 1 By game
- 2 Valenwood
- 3 Physiology
- 4 History
- 5 Religion
- 6 Notable Bosmer
- 7 Appearances
- 8 References
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- Main article: Valenwood
Valenwood is a south-western region of the Empire of Tamriel, and home to the Wood Elves. Valenwood is a largely uninhabited forest wilderness. The coasts of Valenwood are dominated by mangrove swamps and tropical rain forests, while heavy rainfalls nurture the temperate inland rain forests. The Bosmer live in timber clanhouses at sites scattered along the coast and through the interior, connected only by undeveloped foot trails. (See the Green Pact).
The Bosmer are one of the smallest races in Tamriel with males being smaller than females. They are born with skin colors ranging from light brown to pale tan to light green. Some Bosmer also may have horns. Biologically, the Bosmer are cousins of the Dunmer, or Dark Elves, Orsimer, or Orcs, and the Altmer, or High Elves. The Wood Elves lineage is less noble than that of the Altmer, but they have adapted well to Tamriel.[UL 1] After the Ayleids fled mainland Cyrodiil, they joined the Bosmer in seclusion, eventually being totally assimilated by the Bosmer. This probably significantly affected biology of modern-day Bosmer.
The Bosmer province of Valenwood was claimed as a wasteland province of the Second Empire, and its geography is partially described in several Imperial surveys. The Bosmer live in many different towns. However, due to the Green Pact, they have built none of them themselves. The Wood Elves permitted a few roads to be built by the Second Empire, but neglect their maintenance, as the Bosmer do not need roads to move easily through the thickest forest; these roads would be now overgrown were it not for the High Elves of the Thalmor, who have repaired and widened them for rapid passage of their arms to and from the coast.
The Bosmer are commonly believed to have had constantly changing forms known as "Changelings" during the Dawn Era, and were eventually taught to maintain one shape by Y'ffre under the terms of the Green Pact. Those who refused were largely killed in the ensuing war and had their spirits bound to the Ooze. Writings[source?] describe the Bosmer's settling on the shores of Valenwood in a different way than most historical records describe. It says that the Bosmer (or Aldmer/Altmer) of the time wanted to be free of the main-stream way of life on Alinor (or the Summerset Isles) and instead wanted to live a life of simplicity in the forest and, because of this, left their home of their own accord. However, the Imperial Geographic Society describe the Aldmer (or Altmer) landing on the shores of the province in ancient times, and leaving some of their own people behind so that they would have ties to the Tamrielic mainland when in a time of need (this would explain the supposed pact of old that they made which gave the Thalmor the right to annex Valenwood at the beginning of the Aldmeri Dominion's revival).[source?]
The First Era was founded after King Eplear, a Bosmer, and founder of the Camoran Dynasty, began his rule. Soon after this founding, the Bosmeri began to change, to suit the environments of the forest in which they lived. In return for the patronage of Y'ffre, the Forest God (either one of the old ancestor spirits or an aspect of the true pantheon), they swore never to kill, injure, or eat any of the vegetation of the new home, which became known as the Green Pact. The Bosmeri unity should be considered an important military feat in itself, as Eplear managed to unify the disparate groups into a unified group. In 1E 340, the Camoran Dynasty formed a trade pact with the human slave rebels of the Alessian Order. They were then forced to undo this in 1E 369, when one of the Great Hunts killed king Borgas of Skyrim, who was planning on declaring war on the Bosmer. Valenwood was able to maintain its independence for the majority of the First Era. It was only in 1E 2714, after unrelenting warfare from the Cyrodiils and Colovia combined, coupled with the devastating effects of the Thrassian Plague, that finally brought the Camoran Dynasty into the Reman Empire. Reman then ensured that Valenwood would not be a threat to the Second Empire by raising the cities of Falinesti, Silvenar, Haven, Archen, Eldenroot, and Woodhearth from local trading posts to full-fledged powers in their own right. Falinesti is today considered the capital of the Bosmer; the previous capital is unknown.
After the fall of the Second Empire in 2E 430, the Camorans tried to unify themselves once more under one banner. However, they had culturally drifted too far apart. They then began to war with one another, with the Khajiit to the east, and the Colovians to the north. As they were not unified, they offered no resistance to the encroachments made by the Maormer of Pyandonea.
The majority of human outposts built during the time of the Second Empire have been abandoned during the Interregnum, and have been reclaimed instead by "beastfolk" such as Centaurs, Orcs, and Imga that share the forests with the Bosmer tribes. Humans, in general, have learned not to intrude in the forests of Valenwood. While they once depended entirely on the annual Stridmeet caravans of the Colovian West,the Wood Elves now rely entirely on the sea power of the Aldmeri Dominion for whatever they require from the outside world (as of 2E 864).
For a brief period of time, the Colovian armies used Bosmer Archers, such as in the War of Rihad in 2E 862. However, they were highly undisciplined and too prone to desertion to be of significant use. As a rule, Bosmers are adept at sneaking, and one of their most famous poems, the Meh Ayledion literally means The One Thousand Benefits of Hiding. They are recorded as having been involved in the War of the Red Diamond, alongside the provinces of Hammerfell, Summerset Isle, Elsweyr, Black Marsh, and Skyrim and although it is not explicitly mentioned which side they fought on, it is likely that they went to the aid of Emperor Cephorus Septim I. However, the war itself left Valenwood unscathed.
Valenwood became part of the Aldmeri Dominion, a coalition of the Altmer, Bosmer and Khajiit sometime between 2E 580 and 2E 582, with Elden Root, a city of Valenwood acting as their capital. They also became part of the Second Aldmeri Dominion that was considered to be the most stable empire in Tamriel. They ruled until the armies of Tiber Septim wiped them out.
After conquering Valenwood, Tiber Septim wisely decided to let the Bosmeri retain some symbols of its independence, so as to limit dissension. Thus, they allowed the creation of local chiefs and the Camoran Kings to remain.
Also known as Haymon Camoran, Hart-King, and Camoran Hart-King, the Camoran Usurper began his deadly attacks on Valenwood in 3E 249. Two years later, in 3E 251, the Camoran Usurper had conquered all of Valenwood, and began his fateful march northwards before eventually being defeated at the Battle of Firewaves by Baron Othrok of Dwynnen in 3E 267.
- Main article: Five Year War
At the close of the Third Era (as of 3E 432), significant changes were occurring in Valenwood. The Wild Hunt had been sighted again for the first time in "over 500 years." The "Walking City" of Falinesti has taken root for the first time in recorded history, and there is a new Bosmer prophet, the Precursor, preaching that the old Forest God Y'ffre is returning with new gifts for his favored people. Whether these are isolated events, or signs of some great change coming to Valenwood, remains to be seen.
Seeking to recreate the previous incarnations of the Aldmeri Dominion, the Thalmor expanded their power into the provinces of Valenwood, Elsweyr, and briefly into Cyrodiil and Hammerfell. 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 Mede Empire of Cyrodiil. The Aldmeri Dominion first expanded into Elsweyr, adding the Khajiiti kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine as its client states. However, this expansion caught the attention of the Mede Empire, which began a rivalry between the Dominion and the Empire that would ultimately lead up to the Great War, a devastating conflict fought between the Dominion and Empire. Following its peace treaty with the Empire after the Great War, the Third Aldmeri Dominion experienced increased prestige and power that the Mer had not possessed since the Second Aldmeri Dominion, which had been defeated by Tiber Septim in the final years of the Second Era. Confident of its ability to dictate the Mede Empire, the Dominion further expanded its influence into the other provinces of Tamriel, including the homeland of the Nords, Skyrim. It also reestablished diplomatic relations with the Mede Empire, even though they were still engaged in a cold war. During this time, the Thalmor seem to view the Wood Elves as racially inferior, as it is mentioned that they carry out regular purges.
It is unknown what the majority of the Bosmer think of the Skyrim Civil War. Malborn, the Bosmer contact in the quest "Diplomatic Immunity," hates the Thalmor because the Thalmor killed his family.
The main religion in the forests of Valenwood is that of the Forest Gods and ancestor worship. According to legend, the Bosmer witnessed the death of Yffre, the first of the Ehlnofey to die. In his passing, his spiritual energies formed an Earthbone, a natural law, to limit certain aspects of the world. Yffre's Earthbone placed a limit on the ability of a being to change its form and nature, as previously they could change them at will. However, the Bosmer, having witnessed the formation of the Earthbone, learned how to manipulate it to avoid its restrictions. The most notable of their uses of this ability is the Wild Hunt, a ritual known only to the shaman of Valenwood. This act is reserved to protect Valenwood from invading forces, the ritual permanently transforms all participants into mindless, blood-thirsty monsters, who will then consume all of their enemies and then themselves. The Bosmer have noted that all monsters in the world were born from previous Wild Hunts. And is also enacted at the end of each era as a ritualistic practice within Valenwood.
A Khajiit story gives us a possible explanation of how the Bosmer were created or came to be: The Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi. It goes as follows, in scripture from The Words Of Mother Ahnissi: 'Y'ffre heard the First Secret and snuck in behind Azura. And Y'ffre could not appreciate secrets, and he told Nirni of Azura's trick. So Nirni made the deserts hot and the sands biting. And Nirni made the forests wet and filled with poisons. And Nirni thanked Y'ffre and let him change the forest people also. And Y'ffre did not have Azura's subtle wisdom, so Y'ffre made the forest people elves always and never beasts. And Y'ffre named them Bosmer. And from that moment they were no longer in the same litter as the Khajiit.
And because Y'ffre had no appreciation for secrets, he shouted the First Secret across all the heavens with his last breath so that all of Fadomai's children could cross the Lattice. But Azura, in her wisdom, closed the ears of angry Ahnurr and noisy Lorkhaj so they alone did not hear the word.
The Green Pact
- Main article: Green Pact
The Bosmer allegedly made the Pact with Y'ffre, the Forest Deity. The Bosmer were religiously carnivorous and cannibalistic as a result of the Green Pact, a central portion of the Bosmer faith. The Green Pact is never explicitly shown, but in its simplest form, it sets these rules down: Bosmer may only consume meat-based products and are forbidden to harm any plant for their own betterment. As a result of these stipulations, Bosmer are dependent on either stone or imported timber for construction purposes.
The Green Pact has also heavily impacted Bosmeri cuisine, combat, and weaponry. They have developed methods of fermenting meat and milk to develop powerful alcoholic beverages and weapons such as bows are often made of treated and shaped bones. Most notable about Bosmeri combat is their stipulation that a combatant must consume an enemy's corpse within 3 days of killing them. Their families are allowed to help eat the kill. This has led to changes in approaches to combat, such as fasting and planning family feasts following a battle. They also cannot smoke anything of a vegetable nature. Bone pipes are common, however, and are filled with caterpillars or tree grubs.
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- Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Valenwood
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