The Third Empire, also known as the Septim Empire, Cyrodilic Empire, Dragon Empire, or Tamrielic Empire is an empire founded by the conqueror Tiber Septim in the late Second Era. The Septim Dynasty ruled the Third Empire during the Third Era, but the bloodline was extinguished in the Oblivion Crisis; the Mede Dynasty rose to power in the early Fourth Era and has held the Imperial throne ever since.
At its height, the Third Empire spanned across the entire continent of Tamriel and small colonial territories on Akavir and the island nations of Cathnoquey, Esroniet, Yneslea and Roscrea, it administered feudal control through the nine provinces, with an Emperor or Empress acting as supreme ruler.
Bolstered by centuries of relative peace on the continent of Tamriel, a developed and robust military, and thriving commerce between ethnically diverse provinces, the Third Empire was a leading political, economic, and cultural force on Nirn during its time.
The Third Empire was founded through a series of wars in the late-Second Era. After the Battle of Old Hroldan, Talos, also known as Hjalti Early-Beard, was called by the Greybeards, who told him he was destined to rule all of Tamriel.
Following the Battle of Old Hroldan, an alliance of Skyrim and High Rock attempted to prevent Hjalti's king, Cuhlecain, from creating another Empire by taking over Sancre Tor, a fort in the mountains of County Chorrol. Following their defeat, the Nordic army deserted the alliance, and joined Hjalti's army, with the aid of which all of Cyrodiil was conquered. After the unification of Cyrodiil, Cuhlecain was murdered, either by a Reachman assassin as a result of the Battle of Sancre Tor,, or by Hjalti himself as a means of becoming Emperor. Whatever the case, in the aftermath Hjalti was crowned Emperor, and took on himself a Cyrodiilic name, Tiber Septim.
After Septim was crowned, he would slowly invade, conquer, and persuade the other provinces of Tamriel to become part of his Empire. Skyrim and High Rock were the first provinces to be conquered, followed by Black Marsh, Hammerfell, and the lands of the Second Aldmeri Dominion, for which Septim used the Numidium.
When Tiber Septim finally conquered all of Tamriel, he declared that the following year a new era should begin, thus beginning the Third Era. Tiber Septim's thirty-eight year reign was described as a "lawful, pious, and glorious age." As well as initiating governmental reforms, he is credited for reviving the Cult of the One, an ancient Nordic belief, and erecting a Temple for it in the Imperial City. After Tiber Septim's death in 3E 38, he was succeeded by his grandson, Pelagius Septim. Only a few years into his reign, Pelagius was assassinated while praying in the Temple of the One. Pelagius died with no heir, and so Tiber Septim's niece Kintyra Septim became Empress. Following her death in 3E 48, Uriel Septim succeeded her, increasing the military and founding the many guilds, such as the Fighters Guild and the Mages Guild.
After Uriel's death, his son Uriel Septim II succeeded him. Uriel II's reign ended the brief period of peace founded during Tiber Septim's reign and his reign was "cursed with blights, plagues, and insurrections." Pelagius II succeeded his father, and inherited his massive debt. To fix this, Pelagius dismissed all members of the Elder Council and only let them retain their seats if they payed large sums of money. He encouraged his vassals to do likewise, and during his 17 year reign, the empire returned to prosperity.
Antiochus succeeded his father, but he had little intention of running the empire, and instead spend most of his time with his many mistresses. His reign was rife with civil wars, even more so than his grandfather's reign. He only barely defeated the armies of Pyandonea in the War of the Isle with the help of the Psijic Order. He was succeeded by his daughter, Kintyra Septim II. Kintyra II was captured in a coup staged by Uriel Septim III and the War of the Red Diamond began. Cephorus Septim won the war, and became the next emperor. Cephorus' grandson, Pelagius Septim III, was mentally unable to rule and his wife, Katariah, ruled in his stead. During the reign of Cephorus Septim II, an event with the Camoran Usurper occurred. After Chephorus II died, he was succeeded by his son, Uriel Septim V.
Uriel V was regarded as the greatest conqueror emperor since Tiber Septim himself. Uriel would conquer several kingdoms including Roscrea, Cathnoquey, Yneslea, and Esroniet. He would also invade Akavir, but it ended in a complete disaster and Uriel's death. Uriel's son, Uriel Septim VI succeeded him at the age of just five years old. When he eventually did become old enough to rule, he died in a horse accident. Uriel V's sister, Morihatha Septim succeeded her nephew. She would slowly begin to quell the riots and civil wars that have been happening since the days of Chephorus II. Angered by the slow progress, she was assassinated in 3E 339. Her nephew, Pelagius Septim IV succeeded his aunt after her assassination. Pelagius would continue his aunt's work and unified the empire once more, saying that the empire was closer to unity than it had during the days of Uriel I. When Pelagius died in 3E 368, his son Uriel Septim VII succeeded him.
Uriel VII's reign was an overall stable one, but was dotted with occasional strife and near-catastrophe. His Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn, possibly at the urging of Mehrunes Dagon, imprisoned him and ruled in his stead for several years. The Emperor escaped just in time to thwart an attempt by the King of Wayrest to conquer Daggerfall. By the time Dagoth Ur threw Morrowind into crisis, there was talk of the failing health of the Emperor, and concerns over the future of the Empire. During this time Wulf, an avatar of Tiber Septim appeared and spoke about the Empire's rulership needing a change, only a few years later would Wulf's words turn into reality.
As it turned out, the Emperor's health was not an issue, until an assassin prevented him from fleeing from the Imperial City after learning of the murder of every known heir to the throne. Their murderers, a cult called the Mythic Dawn that served Mehrunes Dagon, were preparing Tamriel for an invasion by the Daedra Lord. Septim's sole, albeit illegitimate heir, Martin, closed shut the jaws of Oblivion by metamorphosing into an avatar of Akatosh and defeating Dagon, sacrificing himself for the Empire.
The Empire was left without an heir once more, but this time, with no remaining legitimate Septim heritant. The Elder Council, which had essentially ruled during the periods of the weakest emperors, assumed absolute authority. Many provinces whispered rumors of dissolving the Empire; Black Marsh being the first.
Ever since the beginning of the Fourth Era, the Third Empire has undergone heavy changes, both culturally and politically. The death of Martin Septim and the end of the Oblivion Crisis marked the end of the Septim Dynasty, only to be led by the Mede Dynasty. The Elder Council continued to rule for fifteen years before the death of Chancellor Ocato, igniting a sanguinary civil war in Cyrodiil. It ended when Colovian warlord Titus Mede I conquered the Imperial City and took over what was left of the Empire.
When Titus Mede I took the throne, the Empire was nothing like what it used to be. The province of Black Marsh seceded from the Empire following the Oblivion Crisis, and Morrowind was largely destroyed, with only the most western portion being ruled by the Dunmer and the south being taken over by the now-independent Argonians. In the wake of the Oblivion Crisis, the Thalmor convinced the Altmer of the Summerset Isles that they were their saviors from the Daedra invasion and consolidated their power. In 4E 29, the government of Valenwood was overthrown by Thalmor collaborators and a union with Alinor proclaimed. Thus was the Aldmeri Dominion reborn. Leyawiin and Bravil had become independent city-states, and were constantly at war with one another. Elsweyr had declared independence and turned into the ancient kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine. The Empire's ineffectual protection and seeming indifference to Morrowind's plights made them reviled by the Dunmer. After the Empire "released its grasp" on Morrowind, House Hlaalu, the last Imperial ally in the province, was ousted from the Grand Council, and Morrowind left the Empire, as had Hammerfell. Additionally, it is implied that High Rock had also left the Empire, leaving it with Skyrim and most of Cyrodiil.
During the rule of Titus Mede I, Bravil and Leyawiin were reclaimed. Hammerfell was also reconquered, and, if High Rock did leave the Empire, High Rock was also reclaimed. Under his leadership, rebels in Valenwood were also supplied by the Penitus Oculatus. Under later Emperors, Elsweyr was presumed to have been reclaimed, though Elsweyr was lost again following the Void Nights of 4E 98. The status of Morrowind's affiliation with the Empire is questionable as they have full autonomy and appear to have little love for the Empire. Furthermore, the An-Xileel's invasion of Morrowind during the Accession War prevented the Empire from reclaiming Morrowind. During the Void Nights, the Thalmor claimed that they had restored the moons using previously unknown Dawn Magicks, but it is unclear if they truly restored the moons of just took advantage of foreknowledge that they would return.
Regardless of whether the Thalmor spoke truly or not, the Khajiit credited the Thalmor as their saviors. Fifteen years after the occurrence of the Void Nights, Imperial influence in Elsweyr had diminished so much that the Empire was unable to stop the coup of 4E 115 which dissolved the Elsweyr Confederacy and recreated the ancient kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine as client states of the Aldmeri Dominion.
By the time of the Great War, the Empire was only a shadow of its former self. Only by signing the White-Gold Concordat was the Empire able to survive the Dominion's onslaught and thus end the Great War. The concordat led to the loss of Hammerfell, the southern part of which would have been handed over to the Dominion if not for the Redguard uprising (though most of the demanded territory was already conquered by Dominion forces). The northern portion of Hammerfell had been warring with the Dominion-held southern portion until the Second Treaty of Stros M'kai, which declared a truce between the Dominion and Hammerfell, resulting in the former's forces withdrawing. Included within the White-Gold Concordat was an immediate and thorough banishing of Talos worship, which would later result in the forming of the Stormcloak Rebellion in Skyrim (though many Talos worshipers now simply worship in secret). After the signing of the White-Gold Concordat and the events of the Markarth Incident, the Aldmeri Dominion's Thalmor agents established an embassy in Skyrim. The Thalmor Justiciars were sent to Skyrim to enforce the White-Gold Concordat and make sure that the Empire doesn't break it again. However, the Justiciars are also known to secretly capture and imprison any Nords who question their doctrines or beliefs. Furthermore, the book known as The Talos Mistake was published by an Imperial Liaison to the Aldmeri Dominion. This supposedly details Emperor Titus Mede II's personal belief that worshiping Talos is morally wrong and that the decision to ban Talos worship was a decision of his own making and was in no way coerced by the Aldmeri Dominion. According to the publication, the Emperor, and indeed the Empire itself, recognizes that allowing the worship of Talos was a mistake and publicly declares its support of removing Talos worship from Tamriel. Most of this book is, however, contradicted by several high ranking Imperial officials, as well as members of the Thalmor, making the reliability of the book questionable. All that is left of the Third Empire are the provinces of High Rock, a recovering Cyrodiil which took the brunt of the Great War, and the war-torn province of Skyrim that would eventually undergo a civil war and a Dragon Crisis.
Ultimate power in the Third Empire is vested in the Emperor, but the day-to-day running of the Empire is overseen by the Elder Council. The Council is devised by the Emperor to help keep the empire running by taking charge of the operations across the Empire, their responsibilities consist of administrating and overseeing provinces, advising the Emperor, and creation of laws (over which the Emperor still holds a veto). While the Emperor and the Elder Council rule over the entirety of the empire, power is also invested in smaller rulers such as the Counts in Cyrodiil or the Jarls in Skyrim to rule over their respective regions.
The armed force of the Third Empire are the Imperial Legions. The Legions are considered one of the most disciplined and effective fighting forces Tamriel has ever seen. Consisting of a wide selection of units, its soldiers are tasked with upholding the law, defending the citizenry, and waging war against enemies of the Empire. Imperial Soldiers patrol the roads of the Imperial provinces, engaging in combat with any threat to the traveler on the road.
The naval force of the Third Empire was the Imperial Navy. The Navy was utilized by the empire during a number of wars such as the Tiber Wars, the Great War, and Uriel V's conquests. During the Tiber Wars, the main fighting was during the conquest of Hammerfell. During the Great War, the Navy fought against the Dominion Navy on Lake Rumare, but these clashes ultimatly ended in failure as the Imperial City eventually fell to the Aldmeri Dominion.
As of 4E 171, the Empire suffered from a military weakness, the cause of this possibly being the many wars the Empire waged before the Great War broke out. After the Great War with the Aldmeri Dominion, the Empire has stationed the bulk of their Imperial forces on the Cyrodiilic-Aldmeri border and is rebuilding its army in order to win the next war.
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
- An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Stormhold
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey
- ↑ Bethsoft timeline 01/25/1998
- ↑ Varieties of Faith in the Empire
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Cyrodiil
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Other Lands
- ↑ Morrowind Lore topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- ↑ Events of Light the Dragonfires
- ↑ Rising Threat, Vol. IV
- ↑ Report: Disaster at Ionith
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Loading Screens (Skyrim)
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.9 Brief History of the Empire, Book I
- ↑ Citizens of the Empire dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- ↑ Etched Tablets on the Throat of the World
- ↑ Dialogue with Arngeir
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 The Arcturian Heresy
- ↑ Battle of Sancre Tor
- ↑ Ice and Chitin
- ↑ Dialogue with Tobias
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: High Rock
- ↑ Dialogue with Krisandra
- ↑  S'rathra's Page on the Official Archived Redguard website]
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 On Morrowind
- ↑ Anonymous Letters
- ↑ Letter from the Underking
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Morrowind
- ↑ The Real Barenziah, Book III
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 Brief History of the Empire, Book III
- ↑ Report: Disaster at Ionith
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 Brief History of the Empire, Book IV
- ↑ Events of The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- ↑ Events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ Outro of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ 32.00 32.01 32.02 32.03 32.04 32.05 32.06 32.07 32.08 32.09 32.10 The Great War (Book)
- ↑ Rising Threat, Vol. II
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City p.233
- ↑ 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 35.6 An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls
- ↑ 36.0 36.1 Dialogue with Adril Arano
- ↑ An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City
- ↑ Nords Arise!
- ↑ Dialogue between Thalmor Justiciars and Ondolemar
- ↑ Dialogue with Thalmor Justiciars
- ↑ Dialogue with Vittoria Vici
- ↑ Dialogue with General Tullius
- ↑ Brief History of the Empire, Book IV
- ↑ The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion -Dialogue with the Counts
- ↑ Skyrim's Rule
- ↑ Ordo Legionis
- ↑ Dialogue with Imperial Legates
- ↑ Dialogue of the Skingrad Patroller in The Elder Scrolls: Legends
- ↑ Combat dialogue with Whiterun Guards
- ↑ Legionnaires seen patrolling the road in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- ↑ Imperial horsemen seen on the roads of Cyrodiil during the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ Intro of The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
- ↑ Dialogue with Legate Rikke
- ↑ Dialogue with General Tullius