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The Elder Scrolls: The History and Culture of the Bosmer (or Wood Elves)

Updated on August 21, 2017

The Bosmer are a hardy, friendly race of Mer who hail from their densely forested home of Valenwood. They are strict carnivores as a result of The Green Pact and they practice a combination of ancestor worship and the traditional Elven Patheon.

A particularly bulky Wood Elf, wielding a greatsword instead of a traditional bow.
A particularly bulky Wood Elf, wielding a greatsword instead of a traditional bow. | Source

The Green Pact

The foundation of the Bosmer religion is an agreement between Y'ffre and the Wood Elves known as The Green Pact. While the exact details of this agreement are unknown to many outside of Valenwood, there are three main tenets that the Wood Elves must follow while in their home province to maintain his protection and patronage.

  1. Only meat-based products can be consumed. This rule includes food, drink, and recreational use. All Bosmer that adhere to the Green Pact are strict carnivores who use every part of the animal they kill. Because of this, the hunt plays an essential part in their lifestyle and culture. They are proficient archers and can move stealthily through the vast woodlands they call home.
  2. Wood and other plant materials from Valenwood can't be used for construction. Cities in the Bosmer homeland are made from large migratory trees. They work with, not against, the natural order of their forest to ensure they maintain a proper balance. However, materials from other regions, commonly Hammerfell, can be used.
  3. When an enemy is killed during battle his body must be eaten. This rule is known as the Meat Mandate and causes the Bosmer to get a bad reputation as savages with most other races. However, most Wood Elves are very unwilling to wage war because of this rule, making them a mostly pacifistic culture that has never, to date, instigated war with another race. When the need for violence does become essential, the Bosmer go through a ritual fasting to prepare for the feast that they are obligated to have. One can only imagine that hunger drives the Wood Elves to be a particularly vicious foe.

It is important to note that the Bosmer are only obligated to follow these rules while in Valenwood are generally don't apply to vegetation outside of their homeland. Regardless, any Wood Elves still adhere to most of these rules even in foreign lands like Skyrim.

The Wood Elves and Religion

While the Wood Elves still have many of the same gods in the typical Elven Pantheon, they have a special focus on the god Y'ffre.

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