The Summerset Isles (also Sumurset Isle and, rarely, Summurset Isle) are two islands located southwest of Tamriel, west of Valenwood. The province is home to the Altmeri people. The islands are 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 Second 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 sorcerers, and spellweavers, magic affinities 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.
The First Altmeri Dominion was destroyed by Tiber Septim. The Second Dominion gained the alliance of Valenwood and forced the Confederacy of Elsweyr to join their political alliance after the disappearance of Masser and Secunda from the sky.
Cyrodiil, Hammerfell, and Skyrim
The Thalmor invaded Cyrodiil, during the Great War of the Mede Dynasty. Conquering it, the White-Gold Concordat was signed, effectively ending the war and ruling out 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 Isle 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 Altmer of the lands have allowed little in the way of exploration of their lands, 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, with the aid of the Numidium brought 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 and is largely considered to be the main religion of its people.
In the last few years of the Third Era, Summerset Isle has been at peace with its neighbors, minus one instance where it nearly came to blows with the Empire over 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. For much of this time, they may have been right. But after the incorporation of Summerset 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 Psijic Order and its base, the Isle of Artaeum, disappeared from Tamriel during this period.
It should be noted that not all Altmer believe in 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."
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.