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The History of Nirn and "The Elder Scrolls"

Use this map of Nirn as a reference for where the events discussed below took place

Use this map of Nirn as a reference for where the events discussed below took place

A Rich History

The Elder Scrolls is such an in-depth and beautiful game. The history that takes the Four Eras back to their beginning is a colorful journey. Tamriel is a majestic island that has suffered many millennia of constant war. The dirt and grass of the land are soaked through and through with blood. The people of the land have descended from a great line of heroes back to the Ehlnofey and the Aedra.

The history of Elder Scrolls is a long journey through thousands of years of wars, treaties, and more battles. The story is a very in-depth one, and if you would like to see all of it, visit the Elder Scrolls Wiki.

Here I will go through and highlight the important stories that changed Tamriel today. I will not be going into detail on each of the games. If you want a plotline for the games, play them.

In the current detailing of history, time is told in six eras. The first two eras are, for the most part, lost in time. Legend tells of the Dawn Era, the first of the six eras, and it entails the creation of Sithis, the Elder Scrolls equivalent of God, and the et’Ada that formed after him. No dates are known for this era; we don’t even have a rough estimate of the time.

The second era, the Mythic Era, entails the coming of Nirn, the plane on which Tamriel exists, and the creation of time. In this Era, you must judge for yourself what you will believe and what you will not believe. Though time existed, they had not discovered a way to write down and log their events. The dates of each discovery are unknown, but the order of each story is known.

Next is the First Era (technically the third era), and it entails the first two empires. Then follows the Second, Third, and finally, the Fourth Era.

If you would like a detail of each race before you begin, read my Races of Elder Scrolls page first. I think most of the races below will make more sense if you understand who they are first.

The Mythic Era

At first, the et’Ada were formless, only spirits, but then Akatosh found a way to manifest himself into form. Akatosh brought with his existence the concept of time. Shortly after his manifestation, the other et’Ada learned from him and manifested themselves, giving rise to hundreds of et’Ada. For a while, they lived out their existence on this plane without cause or purpose. Then, one day the et’Ada Lorkhan came to his fellow et’Ada with a plan to create a world of beings that they could rule over. These creatures would be “the soul of the universe.” Most of the beings weren’t interested in his idea, while others believed it to be a trick (giving way to Lorkhan’s reputation as “the Trickster”). Before long, Lorkhan had a few followers that agreed to help him with this, and they created the plane of Nirn.

While they created Nirn, it became apparent to some of the et’Ada that they were using their own energy to create this planet. Some of them chose to stay and give all of their energy, while others fled, trying to save themselves. Magnus, initially the chief architect of Lorkhan’s plan, was the first to flee. With his departure from the realm, he punched a hole in the sky, giving us the Sun (also, with his departure he gave us magic). Magic is linked to Magnus, and because he escaped our plane of existence when we use magic, it flows from Magnus, who is not bound by our rules, giving magic’s ability to break natural laws. Other et’Ada fled from the creation, but they were not able to leave in time, trapping them on our plane of existence and connecting them to Nirn forever. The et’Ada who remained with the creation found themselves in a very weak state after its creation. It is said that with the creation, Lorkhan was destroyed, his body being used as the mass that created Nirn, which explains the discovery of his heart deep within Red Mountain.

The last group of et’Ada that gave up their energy for Nirn discovered that they would need to procreate to continue their existence. With each generation that came, the et’Ada lost more and more of their “divinity,” eventually leaving them in a mortal state. These beings came to be known as the Ehlnofey, the first inhabitants of Nirn. From the Ehlnofey came the existence of Mer (elves) and Man. With the branching of their existence, each race took its own interpretation of what happened. The Mer believed themselves to be descendants from the Ehlnofey, while Man believed themselves to be a creation of the et’Ada. The elves believed that Lorkhan tricked the et’Ada into creating Nirn. They gave the name of Aedra to any spirit that helped Lorkhan and died through the creation of Nirn. They gave the name of Daedra to any spirit that didn’t help and remained in the spiritual realm. Both races believe the Aedra to be Gods, forms to be worshipped, while the Daedra are believed to be evil and not to be worshipped.

The next points in history are unknown in their order but what transpired is, for the most part, known. Tamriel, at this point, is inhabited by the beast-people (Khajiit and Argonian). At this point, it is believed that the Aldmeri traveled to Tamriel from their homeland of Aldmeris (known as Old Ehlnofey). At first, they establish land on the coasts, but with their expansion in technology, they drive back the beast-people into the swamplands and forests, giving them reign over most of Tamriel. At this time, the Adamantine Tower is constructed on Balfiera Island on High Rock, the oldest building in all of Tamriel. The documented date of construction, kept by Elvish records, is ME 2500. This record is the earliest written date in all of Tamriel's history. Next, Crystal Tower on Summerset Isle and White Gold Tower in Cyrodiil are built.

The Dwemer, the Deep Elves, begin building underground civilizations, becoming reclusive in their technology. They populate most of Skyrim and Morrowind. This time is also when the Chimer break free from the Altmer and settle in Morrowind, close to the Dwemer. Despite their hate for the Dwemer, the Chimer covet their discoveries and lead many raids against them. Around this time as well, the Orsimer, led by their God Trinimac, fought against the Chimer and their leader Velothi to attempt to halt their movement. Unfortunately, before they are able to do much damage, Trinimac is eaten by the Daedric Prince Boethiah, who turns Trinimac into Malacath. Through this act, the Orsimer are stripped of their elvish features and become beasts. They continue to serve Malacath in their new form, the Orcs.

After this time, the Dunmer begin breaking off into lower families and sects. Some of them became the great houses that rule over Morrowind, while others became the nomad Ashlanders.

Late in the Mythic Era, the Nedes begin migrating to Tamriel. Led by Ysgramor, the Nord hero discovers a runic transcription based on the Elves, and he becomes the first Nede Historian. When they land in northern Tamriel, the Nedes build their fabled city of Saarthal. The Aldmer push the Nedes out of their cities, but the Nedes soon return and take back their land.

Ending the Mythic Era is the rise of the first King. Pelinal Whitestrake (also known as Harrald Hairy Breeks) is an immortal war hero and sorcerer. Gathering armies, he wandered Tamriel, conquering cities as he went before randomly abandoning his men and wandering the land before doing it again multiple times. King Harald, as he is later known, ends the Mythic Era with his rule.

The First Era

From now on, I will mention each occurrence with a date first and a description afterward. I will only mention the matters which are most important.

In 1E 20, we have the first account of the Psijics order.

In 1E 63, the last two ships from Altmora land in Tamriel, filled with dead Nedes.

In 1E 113, Herald, the first Nordic ruler, is born, and in 1E 139, he ordered a campaign against the remaining Snow Elves in the region. That same year the last remnants of the Dragon Cult were discovered by his armies.

In 1E 242, the Cyrodiilic begin an uprising against the Ayleid. The next year the symbol of the Ayleid Empire, the White Gold Tower, falls.

In 1E 369, the Wild Hunt takes place, and the Nord King Borgas dies. The War of Succession begins, and Skyrim begins to lose its holdings in Morrowind and High Rock.

In 1E 416, the Indoril Nerevar and Dunmac Dwarfking form an alliance to protect their land from the Nordic Invasion.

In 1E 420, some of the Dwemer clans settle in Hammerfell and create Volenfell as their capital.

In 1E 500, High Rock is finally freed from the Ayleid control.

In 1E 668, the Red Mountain of Morrowind erupted, and “Sun’s Death” occurs, greatly affecting the Ninroot plants.

In 1E 700, the Battle of Red Mountain occurs, the Dwemer disappeared, and The Tribunal created Ghostfence.

In 1E 792, Yokuda is destroyed by the Ansei, and in 1E 803, the Redguards land in Daggerfell.

In 1E 980, the Redguards defeat the Orsinium, expelling them from their homeland.

In 1E 2200, the Thrassian Plague all of Tamriel.

In 1E 2714, Valenwood cedes the Cryodiilic Empire.

In 1E 2809, the first report of a Dragon in Skyrim.

In 1E 2812, the Black Marsh is officially brought into the Cryodiilic Empire.

In 1E 2903, Almalexia leaves Morrowind for the Isle of Artaeum.

In 1E 2920, the Morag Tong assassinate King Reman Cryodiil III

The Dawn Era

“Before Time began, there was a cube”… Oh wait! Wrong story; that’s next week.

Before the time of Tamriel and Nirn, there was Anu, a state of nothingness. It was in this state of nothing that Padomay (more commonly known as Sithis) was created. After his creation, a group of spirits known as the et’Ada came into existence.

The Second Era

Somewhere between the end of the First Era and the first record of the Second Era, the Morag Tong became the Dark Brotherhood.

In 2E 230, the Mages Guild is formed by Vanus Galerion.

In 2E 288, Dagoth Ur awakens.

In 2E 231, the Fighters Guild was created under the Guild Act.

In 2E 553, the storyline of Elder Scrolls Online the MMO takes place.

In 2E 830, Hjalti Early-Beard is born, later known as Tiber Septim.

In 2E 864, the storyline of The Elder Scrolls Adventure: Redguard takes place.

In 2E 897, Tiber Septim declares the end of the Second Age.

The Third Era

In 3E 38, Tiber Septim dies, and Pelagius Septim becomes King.

In 3E 48, after the rule of a few more emperors, Uriel Septim I is crowned emperor.

In 3E 111, the Nights of the Nine is founded by Sir Amiel Lannus.

In 3E 131, The Nights of the Nine is disbanded.

In 3E 172, the events of the Battlespire took place.

In 3E 389, Jagar Tharn transports Uriel Septum VII and impersonates him for 10 years.

In 3E 399, the events of Elder Scrolls: Arena occurred.

In 3E 417, the events of Elder Scrolls: Daggerfell occurred. Dagoth Ur recaptured Keening and Sunder. Dagoth Odros and Dagoth Vemyn defeat Almalexia and Sotha Sil in battle.

In 3E 426, Sixth House assassins start killing prominent Imperial citizens and House Hiaalu sympathizers.

In 3E 427, Elder Scrolls Morrowind takes place.

In 3E 428, Elder Scrolls Bloodmoon takes place.

In 3E 429, Elder Scrolls Tribunal takes place.

In 3E 433 Elder Scrolls Oblivion takes place. Martin Septim’s death ends the third era.

The Fourth Era

In 4E 22, the Thalmor take control of Summerset Isle and rename it Alinor.

In 4E 29, the Government of Valenwood is overthrown by the Thalmor. The Aldmeri Dominion (the Thalmor) severs all ties with the Empire.

In 4E 122, The Great Collapse of Winterhold occurs.

In 4E 171, the Aldmeri Dominion the Emperor step down from power. When the Empire refuses, the Aldmeri Dominion invades Hammerfell and Cryodiil.

In 4E 172, the Aldmeri Dominion moves into Cryodiil to capture the Imperial City.

In 4E 174, Imperial City falls to the Aldmeri Dominion.

In 4E 175, the Imperials fight and are able to take back the Imperial city but not without heavy losses. The Empire signs a peace treaty, the White-Gold Concordate, ending the war. In the treaty, the Aldmeri Dominion agreed to abandon all the land they gained in the war, and the Empire agreed to ban the worship of Talos. In this same year, Ulfric Stormcloak kills the High King Torygg of Skyrim.

In 4E 201, the Skyrim storyline begins.

This is a broad overview of the Elder Scrolls storyline. A lot of it was removed, but all of the important things are here, in my opinion. If you want to read about all of the details, you can find a full timeline on the Elder Scrolls Wiki. I hope you enjoyed this, and check out my other articles for more information on the Elder Scrolls universe.


James Robertson (author) from Texas on March 07, 2013:

That is definitely true. I did not want to really include any Skyrim information since at the time of the publication of this article it was a new game. Thanks for that part though. You are correct, as far as my knowledge serves me. And they do speak as if it just happened in the game.

Me on March 07, 2013:

In Solitude, they're executing that guard for letting Ulfric Stormcloak get through the gates after he killed the king, but Ulfric killed Torygg in 4E 175, but Skyrim doesn't start until 4E 201. Ulfric killed Torygg 6 years ago, but everybody's talking about it like it just happened last week.

James Robertson (author) from Texas on June 02, 2012:

Skyrim is definitely the most beautiful game of all the Elder Scrolls. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to fully adventure, so I know what you mean. Thank you for the comment.

Kalmiya from North America on June 02, 2012:

I think Skyrim is fascinating with gorgeous graphics. I know my daughter is entranced. I wish I had more time to actually look at it but not possible. Thanks for your hub!