Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls
Tamriel Anthology Map

A map of Tamriel from The Elder Scrolls Anthology.

"Why do you think your world has always been contested ground, the arena of powers and immortals? It is Tamriel, the Realm of Change, brother to Madness, sister to Deceit."
Mankar Camoran[src]

Tamriel, also known as Dawn's Beauty in Aldmeris,[1], Starry Heart of Dawn's Beauty,[UL 1] Taazokaan[2] (Dragon Language: TAaZOKAaN),[note 1] and the Arena,[1][3] is one of several continents located on Nirn, and has for much of its history been divided into the nine provinces of Black Marsh, Cyrodiil, Elsweyr, Hammerfell, High Rock, Morrowind, Skyrim, the Summerset Isles, and Valenwood.[4][5] All of The Elder Scrolls games to date have focused on the continent of Tamriel.


Recorded Tamrielic history is divided into six distinct eras: the Dawn Era, the Merethic Era, the First Era, the Second Era, the Third Era, and the Fourth Era.[6][7] The Eras are typically marked with by the founding or ending of a dynasty.

Dawn Era[]

The Dawn Era began with the creation of Mundus; it is an era that is known mostly through myth and legend, which are different in different cultures, however most scholars agree on what events led up to the start of recorded history. Time did not exist and when it was created it was not linear, like during a Dragon Break.[8] The Convention took place at the "end" of this era, at the imposition of linear time.[6]

Merethic Era[]

The Merethic Era, otherwise known as the Mythic Era, was the era between the start of linear time and recorded history.[9] The Atmorans came to Tamriel from Atmora; after they arrived, they began to spread throughout mainland Skyrim.[7][10] When the Aldmer first arrived in Tamriel it is believed by most that they initially settled in the Summerset Isles, and then spread eastward into the mainland of Tamriel.[11] As the Aldmer settled Tamriel, they changed culturally in relation to their new environment. The ones who stayed in Summerset Isles became the Altmer; those in Valenwood, the Bosmer; those in Skyrim, the Snow Elves; in Morrowind, the Chimer and the Dwemer; in Cyrodiil, the Ayleid; and in High Rock, a mix between the Aldmer and the Nedes birthed the Bretons.[6]

It was a time when all manner of mythological occurrences are said to have taken place. The era was commonly considered to be outside of verifiable history, as humanity did not possess a written language to speak of until the end of the Mythic Era.[7] A variety of merish records, on the other hand, date back to the Merethic Era.[11][12][13]

First Era[]

The First Era began with an expansion of both man and mer peoples, with varying degrees of conflict and accommodation.[14] The Nords were particularly warlike, conquering not only Skyrim but areas of High Rock and Morrowind as well.[15] The First Empire of the Nords ultimately fell to a combined force of Chimer and Dwemer to found Resdayn, but in time they would turn against each other, resulting in the disappearance of the Dwemer and the ascendancy of the Tribunal in the governance of the province.[16][17]

The apparently cordial relations between Ayleid and men in Cyrodiil ultimately broke down, and Alessia led a slave revolt to liberate men in the province, having received a blessing and the Amulet of Kings from Akatosh, the latter of which was to serve as a symbol of Imperial power for most of Tamriel's history.[18] After a period of relative stability, this empire eradicated the remaining Ayleids under the direction of the Alessian Order.[19] The order itself fell during the War of Righteousness, which wiped out both the Order and the Empire.[20]

The Second Empire was founded in 1E 2703, when Reman Cyrodiil unified the province to fight off an Akaviri invasion.[20] Victory in this battle brought both the Dragonguard and the Akaviri Potentate to Tamriel.[20] Reman and his descendents then went on to conquer all of Tamriel except Morrowind, founding the Second Empire, which some call a golden age.[21][22] Reman II began the Four-Score War with Morrowind, which ended the same year Reman III was assassinated by the Morag Tong,1E 2920. As Reman left no heirs, the Potentate Versidue-Shaie ruled in his place, and declared the end of the First Era.[23]

Second Era[]

The Second Era started after the Akaviri Potentate Versidue Shaie ordered the assassination of the last of the Reman line in 1E 2920. Facing rebellious nobles building up their own sizeable forces, he used his remaining legions to crush all independent armies and instituted what would become the Fighters Guild as a place to hire mercenaries.[24] He also affirmed the charter to found the Mages Guild, begun by Vanus Galerion in Firsthold on the Summerset Isles in 2E 230.[25][26] Both Shaei and his son were in turn assassinated by the Morag Tong, ending the Second Empire centuries after the death of the last Reman.[20][27] This began the Interregnum, which lasted for centuries and saw many petty kings attempt to take the throne of Cyrodiil, and other provinces become their own network of independent kingdoms and alliances, if they were not already.[20]

The kingdom of Elsweyr was created in 2E 309, when the Khajiit kingdoms of Pellitine and Anequina reconciled their historical differences and the ruling families married.[13]

There was a second invasion from Akavir in 2E 572, landing in Skyrim.[28] It was repelled either by a joint force of Argonians, Dunmer and Nords, or by Vivec flooding the land.[29][30]

In 2E 578, Molag Bal launched an invasion on Tamriel known as the Planemeld, in an attempt to drag Nirn out of Mundus and into his realm of Coldharbour.[31][32] Molag Bal was doing this by using devices known as Dark Anchors, but a hero known as the Vestige led an army into Coldharbour and put an end to his scheme.[33] Also in this era was the Three Banners War between the Ebonheart Pact, the Daggerfall Covenant, and the First Aldmeri Dominion, during which the three factions struggled to gain control over Cyrodiil and the rest of Tamriel.[33] The Interregnum ended after Tiber Septim conquered Tamriel, declaring a new era in 2E 896 to mark the completion of his conquest.[34]

Third Era[]

The Third Era was the time of the Septim Dynasty. The early years were mostly peaceful, barring the assassination of Pelagius I.[34] The first major upheaval of the era was the War of the Red Diamond, where Potema Septim tried to claim the Ruby Throne for herself and her son Uriel.[35] This involved parts of Skyrim and Morrowind turning against the Empire, and only ended in 3E 137, after the Empress Kintyra, Uriel Septim III and Potema were all dead.[36][37]

The later years of the Third Era show an increasing level of political instability across Tamriel. The Camoran Usurper arose in Valenwood around 3E 253, and conquered Valenwood and Hammerfell with an army of daedra, before being stopped at High Rock in 3E 267.[38][39] The imprisonment of Uriel Septim VII and the time of the Imperial Simulacrum brought many more small wars across the Empire as Tharn's governance faltered.[40][41] Ultimately Tharn was defeated by the Eternal Champion, and Uriel Septim returned to the throne of the Empire.[42] The Iliac Bay area of High Rock witnessed the reactivation of the Numidium and reorganization of the High Rock political landscape in 3E 417, known as the Warp in the West.[43][44]

A few years later Morrowind was changed by the apparent reincarnation of Indoril Nerevar, and the downfall of the Tribunal.[12] The Oblivion Crisis arose six years later when Mehrunes Dagon, attempted to invade Nirn. This caused widespread devastation, including the destruction of the Crystal Tower.[45] At the beginning of this the current emperor, Uriel Septim VII was assassinated along with all his heirs, save one illegitimate son, Martin Septim. Ultimately Martin destroyed the Amulet of Kings and sacrificed himself to defeat Dagon,[46] bringing the Septim line of emperors to an end.

Fourth Era[]

In 4E 5, Lie Rock fell upon Vivec City in Morrowind, causing Red Mountain to erupt.[47] The dual cataclysm caused widespread destruction across the province, reducing many cities to rubble.[48] In the wake of the eruption, the province was invaded by the Argonians, taking revenge for years of systematic enslavement by the Dunmer.[47][49]

The Fourth Era saw the general decline of the Mages Guild, due to magic's reputation of having started the Oblivion Crisis. Many splinter groups were subsequently formed in many provinces, such as the Synod and College of Whispers.[47]

In 4E 22, the Thalmor resurrected the Third Aldmeri Dominion in the Summerset Isles. In 4E 29, the Third Aldmeri Dominion invaded Valenwood, overthrew the government and allied themselves with the Bosmer there. In 4E 98, the two moons, Masser and Secunda, mysteriously disappeared, an incident known as the Void Nights. After two years, the two moons finally returned. The Thalmor immediately announced that they had restored the moons using previously unknown Dawn magicks, so the Khajiit credited the Thalmor as their saviors. The Third Aldmeri Dominion was now composed of the Summerset Isles, Valenwood and Elsweyr.[50][51]

In 4E 171, the Aldmeri Dominion sent their ambassadors to the Imperial City with an ultimatum. The list of demands included tributes, disbandment of the Blades, outlawing the worship of Talos and the ceding of large sections of Hammerfell to the Dominion. The Emperor rejected the ultimatum, and the Great War began.[50] After a bloody war fought across Hammerfell and Cyrodiil, the Dominion were defeated at Battle of the Red Ring.[50][52] Following this battle, the current Emperor, Titus Mede II, signed the White-Gold Concordat with the Dominion in 4E 175, which was largely similar to the terms initially rejected. Hammerfell, however, continued to fight, and was ultimately renounced by the Empire, and forced the Dominion to withdraw from the province in 4E 180.[50]

Civil war broke out in Skyrim during the Third Century of the Fourth Era, with conflict worsening following the killing of High King of Skyrim Torygg by Ulfric Stormcloak. Alduin, Nordic God of Destruction and Firstborn of Akatosh, also returned, bringing with him the reappearance of the dragons to Skyrim. However, the Dragonborn ultimately defeated Alduin, averting Tamriel's destruction.[53]


Tamriel is typically divided into nine provinces, outlined below. These have fluctuated throughout Tamriel's history, but these are the most usual form of reference.

Tamriel Map
  • Black Marsh – Also called Argonia,[54] this huge and mostly uncharted region of densely vegetated wetlands is at the southeastern tip of Tamriel. The Argonians and Hist trees are native to this province.[55]
  • Cyrodiil – This province lies in the center of Tamriel and is the home of the human Imperials. Cyrodiil is mostly an expanse of forest and mountains. At its heart is the Nibenay Valley, a vast plain enclosed by equatorial rain forests. Many rivers flow through this area, and as one ventures further south, the land slowly becomes increasingly sub-tropical. For much of Tamriel's history, it is the seat of the Empire.[20] Cyrodiil is the setting for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
  • Elsweyr – Divided across arid badlands to the North and a more humid, tropical zone in the South, this region marks the southern coast of Tamriel. Elsweyr is home to the Khajiit.[13]
  • Hammerfell – Lying in west Tamriel, this province is dominated by the Alik'r Desert. Hammerfell is home to the Redguard human race, who settled there in a series of mass migrations from Yokuda some time after 1E 792.[56] Part of Hammerfell is part of the setting for the game The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.
  • High Rock – Home to the Bretons, this province has been divided into multiple city-states and minor kingdoms for much of its history.[57] Following the Warp in the West, several of these kingdoms consolidated into a handful of larger states.[43] It is a temperate coastal region in northwestern Tamriel. The province contains the Adamantine Tower, where the gods are said to have decided the fate of Lorkhan and Mundus.[58] At various points in its history, High Rock has contained Orsinium, a province belonging to the Orcs.[54][59] The southern region of High Rock is part of the setting for the game The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.
  • Morrowind – The province in the northeast corner of Tamriel and home to the Dunmer (Dark Elves). It consists of a continental mainland and a large island in the center called Vvardenfell, separated by an inlet from the Sea of Ghosts, The Inner Sea.[60] Vvardenfell is also the location of Red Mountain, a volcano that has erupted at least twice in the recorded history of Tamriel.[61][62] The province is the setting for the game, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. There is also an island to the north-west of Morrowind called Solstheim, which is the setting for both Morrowind's second add-on, The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon and Skyrim's third add-on, The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn.
  • Skyrim – This northern, snow-covered, and mountainous region is home to the Nords and the Falmer.[15] Skyrim contains some of the tallest mountains in all of Tamriel, most notably the Throat of the World. Skyrim is less urbanized than Cyrodiil, but the five largest cities do have a sizable population, with the other four cities being more like towns.[63] Skyrim is the setting for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • Summerset Isles – This province is located in the Eltheric Ocean, with the Abecean Sea separating the islands from the mainland Tamriel continent. It is composed of two major islands and an archipelago of smaller ones. These islands are home to the Altmer (High Elves), and as the place where the Aldmer first arrived on Tamriel, is considered by some to be the birthplace of Tamrielic civilization.[11]
  • Valenwood – The province in the southwestern region of Tamriel. This province is mostly forest wilderness.[64] The coasts are dominated by mangrove swamps and tropical rain forests, while heavy rainfalls nurture the temperate inland rain forests.[65] Valenwood is home to the Bosmer (Wood Elves).

Provinces of the Fourth Era[]

In the 200 years before Skyrim, the Empire had lost much of its territory. By 4E 22, The Summerset Isles belonged to the Thalmor faction.[66] By 4E 115, the Third Aldmeri Dominion had been formed, comprising the Summerset Isles (now renamed "Alinor") and Valenwood, which had been seized by Thalmor sympathizers during a coup.[50] Around 4E 5–6, Red Mountain erupted in Vvardenfell, destroying the island and much of northern Morrowind.[61][47] With Morrowind severely weakened, the Argonians (who had seceded from the Empire) invaded, conquering the Dunmer.[49][47] Also, due to the Great War and the White-Gold Concordat that followed, Hammerfell was ejected from the Empire and now belongs to neither it or the Dominion.[50] As of 4E 201, Skyrim is in a state of civil war and, while nominally still part of the Empire, its future status is uncertain.[53]

Below are a list of all provinces and their affiliation:

Note: Elsweyr is divided into client states of the Aldmeri Dominion; the city-state of Rimmen remains independent.


Third Empire[]

Main article: Third Empire

Since the Second Era, the Tamriel had been governed by the Third Empire that, until the Oblivion Crisis, was led by an Emperor of the Septim Dynasty.[66][34] The center of the Empire was Cyrodiil, which was the home of both the Emperor of Tamriel and the Elder Council, which serves administrative functions and as an interim government during times of instability.[67][68] Upon the death of the Emperor, the new Emperor is usually the oldest legitimate child (preferably a son) of the dead Emperor. However, spouses, younger children, siblings and on at least one occasion, an illegitimate child have taken the throne.[69][70]

After the death of the last of the Septim Emperor, the head of the Elder Council and de facto head of state was Imperial High Chancellor, Grand Battle-Mage Ocato.[51]

Following the Stormcrown Interregnum at the beginning of the Fourth Era, the Imperial Mede Dynasty is the ruling family of the Third Empire and retained the Elder Council.[50]

Each province has its own form of government which sees to the affairs of that province. This can vary between being kingdoms, councils or provincial governors, depending on the province in question.[71] There may also be a degree of direct Imperial administration in some places, with an Imperial bureaucracy in place,[72] but the degree to which this is commonplace is unclear.

Aldmeri Dominion[]

Main article: Third Aldmeri Dominion

The Aldmeri Dominion, known also as the Third Aldmeri Dominion, is a powerful union that has repeatedly occurred between the Altmer of Summerset Isles, the Bosmer of Valenwood,[73] and the Khajiit of the Elsweyr Confederacy (or the kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine).[74][50] The Dominion of the Second Era was the most stable power in Tamriel until the coming of Tiber Septim,[64] and at the end of the Interregnum, Tamriel was divided between the Empire and the Dominion.[73]

The Dominion's ruling body, the Thalmor, is a congress of Bosmeri chieftains and Altmeri diplomats,[64] and its armies were responsible for repelling the Colovian invasions of Valenwood,[73] and Thalmor Justiciars also helped to remove every Blades spy in Summerset and Valenwood.[50] At the end of the Second Era, the King of Alinor and the Imperial Battlemage, Zurin Arctus, were to strike a peace treaty between the Empire and the Dominion. However, Tiber Septim instead decided to use the Brass God, Numidium, to conquer the Summerset Isles,[75] an event that is still remembered by many living Altmer with horror.[11] In the early Fourth Era, the Aldmeri Dominion was re-established after over four hundred years.[53]


Main article: An-Xileel

The An-Xileel is a political faction that rules over the Black Marsh which rose during the Oblivion Crisis.[76] And were largely responsible for it departing the Empire of Tamriel and for the Argonian Invasion, and subsequent occupation, of southern Morrowind. They stopped their advance in Morrowind decades ago after being driven back by House Redoran, and haven’t showed the slightest interest in doing anything since then. They have, however, prevented the Empire from reclaiming their territory.[51]

Great Houses[]

Main article: Great Houses

There are five organizations of Dunmer in the region of Morrowind that are known as Great Houses. They have their origins in ancient Velothi tribes, and function effectively as political parties within the Morrowind polity,[77] as well as controlling much of the trade and local administration in the province.[78][79]

Representatives from each of the Great Houses form the Grand Council, the body that has ruled Morrowind since the late First Era.[17] The Houses themselves also have ruling councils, which enforce House policy and conduct.



See also: Pantheons of Tamriel

Many different gods are worshipped across Tamriel, with each culture having its own pantheon of gods. A complete list of these can be found in the book Varieties of Faith in the Empire. However, many of these pantheons represent the same deities,[80] which can broadly be split into two groups:

  • Aedra – The term Aedra comes from the Aldmer and means 'ancestors.'[81] This corresponds with the original Aldmeri belief system that the Altmer are the direct descendants of the gods.[80] The Aedra are the et'ada who Lorkhan persuaded or tricked to create Mundus. These gods form the core of the Imperial pantheon: together with Tiber Septim they form the Nine Divines.[30]
  • Daedra – The term Daedra means 'not our ancestors,' the first being used by the Chimer to emphasize their separation from other Aldmer.[81] Other races adapted the term to a broader use which includes all gods aligned to Padomay (change),[9] although they are also referred to as demons.[82] The Daedra consist of seventeen princes and a large number of lesser Daedra. Contrary to popular belief, not all Daedra are inherently evil.

Note that even where the pantheons appear to venerate the same deities, there is some variance in how they are worshipped and which other deities are worshipped. Each culture has a different interpretation of the gods and their actions, which impacts their beliefs.


The main races of Tamriel are the Bretons, Redguards, Imperials, Argonians, Khajiit, Altmer (High Elves), Dunmer (Dark Elves), Bosmer (Wood Elves), Orsimer (Orcs), and Nords.

Other races in Tamriel include the following:

  • The Falmer or Snow Elves, the original Elven inhabitants of Skyrim, thought by many to be a myth.[15] They were defeated by the Nords, with the last notable battle being the Battle of the Moesring.[83] The remaining Snow Elves sought out shelter with the Dwemer, in return for eating a toxic fungi rendering them blind and making them their slaves. At some point after this, the Snow Elves rebelled against the Dwemer which started the War of the Crag.[84]
  • The Dwemer, meaning "Deep Elves, Deep Folk,"[85][86] "People of the Deep,"[87] "Smart Elves (based on the Dlyxexic Theory),"[88] or as they were commonly referred to by Men, "Dwarves," were an ancient, lost race of Mer that inhabited most of Tamriel, including Morrowind, Skyrim,[89] High Rock and Hammerfell.[90] Their history is somewhat sketchy and unknown,[12] the entire race disappeared instantly during the Battle of Red Mountain, when Lord Nerevar led the Chimer* in an attack against the Dwarves to keep them from using Kagrenac's Tools.[17][91] The Dwemer were trying to use the tools to create a god for themselves. The Chimer saw this as an affront to their gods, which ultimately led to war.[17] It is believed that Kagrenac attempted to use the tools in a desperate gamble, causing the Dwemer to be removed from all of existence.[91]
  • The Ayleids were a race of Mer who were the original rulers of Cyrodiil but many were killed and others were driven into hiding during Alessia's rebellion and rule.[19] Their ruins can be found scattered across Cyrodiil, and are a lucrative venture for anyone skilled and brave enough to venture into one and return with treasures.[70]
  • The Chimer, meaning "changed folk" in Aldmeris, were a small cult of High Elves who were led by the prophet Veloth to the promised land of Resdayn, now called Morrowind, in the Merethic Era.[7][92] During the First Era, their skin changed to grey and their eyes changed to red, which is generally thought to be a curse from Azura for the Tribunal's actions, either murdering Nerevar or using Kagrenac's Tools on the Heart of Lorkhan.[91][16]
  • The Giants, a race of gargantuan humanoids, are found in the wilderness of Skyrim. Infamous for their colossal height and immense strength, Giants share little civil interaction with humans. Giants are often found with Mammoths, processing their milk into cheese and occasionally eating them.[93]

Other continents[]

Although Tamriel is the most well-known and important place in the world, it is not the only one. Far to the north of Tamriel lies Atmora, from which the Atmorans came to conquer Tamriel.[94] Atmora, in the Elvish language, means "Elder Wood."[7]

To the west of Tamriel lies the sunken continent of Yokuda, from which the people that are now called the Redguards came to take over Hammerfell, in the year 808 of the First Era. The people who became the modern-day Redguards came to Tamriel because the region was largely rendered uninhabitable, but the cause of its sinking is debated.[88]

To the east of Tamriel lies the continent of Akavir, which means "Dragon Land." Akavir is home to four major groups: Kamal, Tsaesci, Tang Mo, and Ka Po' Tun. It was once home to the Akaviri, a race of Man and, most notably, the dragons, but the Tsaesci may have driven the dragons and men to extinction, and it is unknown what happened to the Akaviri. Before the Akaviri allegedly became extinct, they had launched multiple invasions on Tamriel in the past.[95]

Below Summerset Isles, just to the south of Tamriel, lies Pyandonea, the tropical home of the Maormer or Tropical Elves.[54]

The Coral Kingdoms of Thras, an archipelago southwest of Tamriel, is the homeland of the Sload, a conservative amphibious sluglike race. The Thrassian Plague devastated Tamriel around 1E 2200, after which a united Tamrielic navy ravaged and sank Thras into the sea. It has since recovered.[96]


  • The Elder Scrolls: Arena is the only game in which players can fully explore Tamriel. The Elder Scrolls Online is planning to have all of Tamriel explorable, and currently has parts of every province and has all of Valenwood, High Rock, and Summerset Isles.[97]
  • "Mundus" can be translated as "world" in Latin.
  • The celebratory article for Arena's tenth anniversary reveals that Tamriel was nothing more than the fantasy world used for the Dungeons & Dragons campaigns that the Bethesda Staff would hold weekly.[98]



  1. The division of Taazokaan is unknown, but "Kaan" is the Dovah name for the goddess Kyne.


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  67. Assassination!Black Horse Courier
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  72. A Short History of MorrowindJeanette Sitte
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  76. An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City
  77. Great Houses of Morrowind
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  80. 80.0 80.1 The Monomyth
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  94. Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: SkyrimImperial Geographic Society
  95. Mysterious Akavir
  96. The Ubiquitous Sinking Isle – Lailfin
  97. The Elder Scrolls Online Interactive Map of Tamriel
  98. The Elder Scrolls Website – Tenth Anniversary Article
Notice: The following are unlicensed references. They are not copyrighted by a ZeniMax Media company, but can still be considered part of The Elder Scrolls lore and are included for completeness.