The Summerset Isles (also Sumurset Isle and, rarely, Summurset Isle), or Alinor' ('during the timeline of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) is made up of three islands (Summerset, Auridon, and Artaeum) located southwest of Tamriel, west of Valenwood. The province is home to the Altmeri people. The islands were considered part of the Tamrielic Empire, although they reside in the Abecean Sea.
The Summerset Isles are ruled by the Aldmeri Dominion. A branch of the Third Aldmeri Dominion, the Thalmor, serve as international ambassadors of the Dominion's governing body. It is unclear whether the Thalmor serve as the "inner-sanctum" of the Dominion, or as a sort of oligarchy class of aristocrats and warlocks.
The ruling elite of the Summerset Isles consists of powerful spies and wizards, as magicka affinity is genetically predisposed in the Altmeri race. The Altmer have a monarch, who is presumably an Imperial King. It is also known that the second most powerful governor of the Isles, and one of the most powerful sorcerers in Tamriel, is the Arcane Arch-Magister, the leader of the great Crystal Tower.
Third Aldmeri Dominion
Early Periods 4E 22 - 170
In 4E 22, the government of the Summerset Isles was overthrown by the Thalmor; a radical nationalist political party, who proceeded to rename the Isles Alinor and set about purging dissidents and non-Altmer from the Isles. Non-Altmer were then-on forbidden to enter the Isles.
In 4E 115, after the catastrophic events of the Void Nights from 4E 98-100, for which the Thalmor took the credit for the ending of, a group of Khajiiti Thalmor supporters threw a coup against the Elsweyr Confederacy, ultimately ceding it to the Aldmeri Dominion as Anequina and Pelletine.
The Great War and the White Gold Concordat 4E 171 - 175
In 4E 171, tensions between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion reached breaking point as the Thalmor denounce the Empire and order them to step down or war was imminent. The Empire resists, and the Great War between the Third Aldmeri Dominion and the remnants of the Empire of Tamriel begins.
Both Cyrodiil and Hammerfell are attacked quickly and much to the Empire's surprise, from Elsweyr. The Thalmor move quickly, taking the city of Leyawiin and besieging Bravil. Hammerfell is disorganized and ravaged by civil conflict, and the southern coast is quickly taken, driving the Empire North across the Alik'r Desert. By 4E 173, all of the Southern coast of Hammerfell with the exception of Hegathe, which is besieged and later taken - as is Skaven. However, the Aldmeri forces in Hammerfell is severely weakened by their victory and the subsequent advance into the Alik'r; and is withdrawn and focused on Cyrodiil. Both Bravil and Anvil fall to the Aldmeri, and the Imperial City becomes the main centre of the Great War. After a climactic battle, the Imperial City falls to the Aldmeri Dominion.
By 4E 175, the Empire focuses the amassed strength of all of its forces on retaking the Imperial City. After the Battle of the Red Ring, the Aldmeri force in Cyrodiil is destroyed and for a while it appears that the Empire has won. However, it soon comes to their attention that the heavy losses at the Battle of the Red Ring has pushed the Empire's forces beyond continuing the war. A treaty is negotiated which cedes Hammerfell to the Aldmeri Dominion and allows the Thalmor the ability to crush Talos worship all throughout the Empire. This is called the White-Gold Concordat, and is a catalyst for both of the subsequent rebellions in Hammerfell and Skyrim, whose cultures suffer directly as a result of the White-Gold Concordat, much to the amusement of the Thalmor.
Cyrodiil, Hammerfell, Skyrim, and High Rock
The Thalmor invaded Cyrodiil as part of the Great War of the Mede Dynasty. This conflict ended in the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, which among other things criminalized the worship of Tiber Septim's god-form. Shortly thereafter, the Dominion sent the Thalmor to intervene in both Hammerfell and Skyrim, empowered by their wish for total rule of Tamriel. The Second Treaty of Stros M'kai was signed in 4E 180, twenty years before the Dragon Crisis in Skyrim, ending the war in Hammerfell. Prior to the Dragon Crisis, the influence of the Thalmor in Skyrim is unclear. It is known that the Dragonborn's support for either the Imperial loyalists or the Nordic nationalists changed the tide of the Civil War present there.
Origin and first settlements
Summerset Isles is the traditional home of the Altmer, or High Elves, and the possible first landing place of the Mer arriving from their ancient homeland. The Altmeri peoples are directly bred from the Aldmeri peoples before they died off. The Altmer of the lands have allowed little in the way of exploration of their own, beyond the capital of Alinor by Ambassadors of the Second Empire of Cyrodiil. Recently, travel into the Isles has been more frequent, as Tiber Septim, using the Numidium, forced it into the Third Empire, but most of the Isle is still unknown. It is also noted that daedra worship in the Summerset Isle is quite prevalent.
The Altmeri religion is a very interesting one due to its mix of culture, heroes, Aedra, and Daedra. Their chief gods are Auri-El, Trinimac, Magnus, Syrabane, Y'ffre, Xarxes, Mara, Stendarr, and Phynaster. Doom Drum, or Lorkhan, is their devil figure.
In the last few years of the Third Era, Summerset Isle had been at peace with its neighbors, save one instance where it nearly came to blows with the Empire over simple Tariffs. To all outward appearances, it has returned to its normal state of unchanging tranquility. In fact, the Altmer are perhaps the most bitterly divided society in the Empire. The war in the province today is a cultural one, which has its origins with the surrender to Tiber Septim four centuries ago which shook Altmer society to its very foundations. While in Skyrim and Morrowind more blood has been shed in recent years, this struggle between the old and the new may have even more radical end results. The very future of the oldest province in the Empire of Tamriel is at stake.
Xenophobia and Supremacist movement
For thousands of years, the Altmer have implicitly believed in their superiority to all other races and cultures in Tamriel. But after the incorporation of Summerset Isle into the Empire, doubts began to creep in. With the insularity of the Summerset decisively broken, many Altmer, particularly the young, began to take a more critical view of the rigid hierarchy of Altmer society and its strict cultural xenophobia. While there had always been discontent on the fringes of Altmer society, which was traditionally resolved by the exile of the malcontents, for the first time a significant element of Altmer began to agitate for social change.
This nascent revolution in the Summerset Isle has taken many forms. Most constructive, surely, is the acceptance of new cultures and races onto its shores, some occupying positions that would have been forbidden just a century ago. The Queen of Firsthold, for example, is the Dunmer Morgiah, daughter of Barenziah and sister of the King of Morrowind, Helseth. Her children, Goranthir and Rinnala, though half-Altmer, are fully Dunmer in appearance, and stand to inherit the throne.
A darker side of this movement, however, is exhibited by a shadowy group who call themselves the Beautiful. Originally a salon for artists with the reasonable philosophy that Summerset must let go of its past in order to move forward, the Beautiful became a revolutionary gang dedicated to the destruction of the greatest monuments of Altmer civilization. The Crystal Tower was naturally an early target, and fortunately attempts against it have failed, but many other great, ancient sculptures and emblems of the past have been vandalized. Since, the Beautiful have turned their attention to living symbols of the Isle, the royalty of Summerset. The particularly gruesome murder of the daughter of the King of Shimmerene has horrified and outraged the public.
Finally, some of the Summerset's youth continue to rebel against their present, ironically, by embracing their past. The Imperial Geographical Society is not allowed to visit the isle of Artaeum to survey and document it, but there is little doubt that the Psijic Order is increasingly popular among the young, and is willing to exploit this. Over the past thousand years, only seventeen new initiates were brought into the order. In the past two years, however, another thirty have joined. Thirty new members of an Order may not be enough to be considered a surprising trend in most circles, but to the tradition-bound graycloaks of Artaeum, it raises many questions. What is the Psijics' aim in this recent recruitment, however, is anyone's guess at this time.
The Great War
After the political chaos of the Oblivion Crisis, the Aldmeri Dominion declared war against the Empire, nearly destroying it. However, Emperor Titus Mede II surrendered to the Dominion, signing a treaty known as the White-Gold Concordat. The treaty, which heavily favored the Aldmeri Dominion, outlaws worship of Talos throughout the Empire, allows the Thalmor free movement throughout the Empire and authority to persecute anyone worshiping the outlawed god.
The province was renamed Alinor, in honor of the isles' capital, during this period by the Thalmor.
The Psijic Order and its base, the Isle of Artaeum, disappeared from Tamriel during this period.
It should be noted that not all Altmer support the Thalmor.
The capital of the Isle, Alinor, has been described by human traders as "made from glass or insect wings." Other accounts, by diplomats of the Reman Dynasty, say that it is "a hypnotic swirl of ramparts and impossibly high towers, designed to catch the light of the sun and break it to its component colors, which lie draped across its stones until you are thankful for nightfall." The province of the Summerset Isles was named after its capital city by the Thalmor during the forming of the Third Aldmeri Dominion
A monument to the spirit of the elven people. Within the glittering walls of the Tower are housed the graves of the early Aldmeri settlers, preserved forever as a lasting symbol of the power of the people for that brief moment in history, fully unified.
- The Pocket Guide to the Empire - outdated pamphlet that shipped with the Redguard game.
- The Pocket Guide to the Empire - a new version of the guide that shipped with the Oblivion game.