What happened between Oblivion and Skyrim? Here's a brief history

Meanwhile, the Thalmor backed a coup of the Bosmer (aka wood elf) home of Valenwood. Empire forces and loyalist wood elves were defeated, and Valenwood fell. The Thalmor named their territory the Aldmeri Dominion, after the pre-Empire elven nation.

So, the end result of the first 50 years after Oblivion was a weakened Empire and a powerful, independent nation of scheming jerk elves. That set the stage for The Great War, the aftershocks of which defined the world of Skyrim.

Above: Jerks

In 4E171, An Aldmeri ambassador rolled up to the Imperial City with a covered wagon and a list of demands for Emperor Titus Mede II. The Empire was to cede large chunks of Hammerfell, disband the Blades, and stop worshipping Talos. (Talos is the first emperor, Tiber Septim, who allegedly ascended to godhood. He had steamrolled the old Aldmeri Dominion with a borrowed dwarven weapon of mass destruction, and the Thalmor weren't fans.)

Emperor Titus II refused, and the ambassador dumped the contents of the cart. It was the heads of every Blades agent spying in the Aldmeri Dominion. The war was on.

The Aldmeri invaded Hammerfell and Cyrodiil, and over several years, they advanced until the Imperial City itself was surrounded. Titus II's army fought its way out of the city to link up with reinforcements from Skyrim, and the elves sacked the Imperial capital. The palace was burned and the White Gold Tower, the most recognizable landmark in Oblivion, was looted.

Above: This doesn't end well, part II

The Thalmor thought they had won the war, and Titus II encouraged them to think that, all while planning a counterattack. The attack, called The Battle of the Red Ring, took the elven forces by surprise and completely crushed them, thanks in no small part to Nord reinforcements from Skyrim. The Imperial City was in the hands of Imperials again.

Even though the Aldmer forces in Cyrodiil were destroyed, the Imperial armies were in no shape to continue fighting. Titus II took advantage of the victory to negotiate a peace treaty.

The White-Gold Concordat, negotiated at the namesake tower, didn't seem great for the Empire. It disbanded the Blades, ceded occupied Hammerfell to the Aldmeri, and outlawed the worship of Talos. In short, it was everything the Aldmeri ambassador had asked for before he redecorated the throne room with Blade noggins.

Above: "Well, I tried"

Titus II believed that granting these terms after fighting to a standstill was better than having just given in in the first place. Giving in would have meant a civil war in the Empire, but at the time of the treaty, all the territories wanted an end to the fighting.

Still, the Concordat left territories like Hammerfell and Skyrim feeling betrayed. The Redguards of Hammerfell rejected the treaty and fought the Aldmeri Dominion for five more years, eventually driving them out and making a second peace treaty necessary.

Many Nords were outraged at the outlawing of Talos worship. Tiber Septim was a Nord, and the cult of the first emperor was popular in Skyrim. Many soldiers from Skyrim died to retake the Imperial City, and the White-Gold Concordat seemed like a betrayal. The Nine Divines may have officially become the Eight Divines in the Empire, but many Nords kept the faith. (Also, if you pray to Talos, all your diseases are cured. So there's that.)

Above: Talos, this is the Empire. We have to talk. It's not working out

So, at the beginning of Skyrim, the Aldmeri are taking the long view, waiting for the Empire to weaken and fall apart from within. The Empire is biding its time, trying to recover its strength so it can oppose the Aldmeri. Many Nords think the Empire is no longer strong enough to protect Skyrim. A Jarl by the name of Ulfric Stormcloak has just paid a visit to the high king, and a certain prisoner is on his way to be executed...

Any prejudice against elves is the view of the author alone. Any discrepancies in the timeline are a result of warps in reality.

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  • SDVan - July 29, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    Well technically the Altmer (High Elves) are decendents of the Aylids (Heartland High Elves). I don't believe that it was fair to make the player choose between an "all nord" faction or the faction that supported the Altmer as well. If Skyrim added a DLC that expanded into Morrison's or Cyrodiil which, has been hinted, then hopefully, the story would become more clear to the player. I plaed as a Bosmer in Oblivion and play as a "decendant" of that same Bosmer in Skyrim. I love how in Oblivion, the Bosmer are shorter than everyone else but in Skyrim, they seem to have had a growth spurt.
  • OmgBBQ - March 11, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    I'm a dark elf and I joined the Stormcloaks. Mostly because I thought that the Nords deserved to lead themselves and me and Talos are bros. In the end I think The're going to join forces anyways to stop the Thalmor, but until then let Skyrim do their thing.
  • IChooseUAntistaMON - December 2, 2011 5:05 p.m.

    I am a Dark Elf and I joined the Empire because the StormCloaks only like Nords
  • jackthemenace - December 3, 2011 1:35 a.m.

    I'm a Khajiit and I joined the Stormcloaks. I decided that, to add to the RPG aspect, my Khajiit had been arrested purely based on racism, and then jailed because of homosexuality (which I decided that the empire's against). So, after he bust out of Prison, my Cat-man decided to join the Stormcloaks to take down the empire, and avenge the loss of his beloved, Jeremy. Anyway, brilliant guide :D Me and a mate had spent AGES the other week trying to piece together what had happened between the two games, so thanks a lot for this :)
  • BIGMercenary - December 2, 2011 12:47 p.m.

    Now, add in the mobile game storylines and you've got nothing but more confusion, even though the Travels games have little to do with the overall history.
  • Stahlbrand - December 2, 2011 7:14 a.m.

    Nice summation. You have to read alot of Skyrim in-game books to put it all together yourself (or the not-at-all-good 'The Infernal City'). So putting it all here is a good service for the many people playing now who either didn't play Oblivion, or didn't go nuts-deep in the fiction. Also, bonus points for the Warp in the West jape.
  • boondocks50 - December 1, 2011 11:54 p.m.

    im still so confused, the aldemari are high elves or just elves in general?
  • EdDeRs1 - December 2, 2011 8:26 a.m.

    high elves, there is no term for elves in general except well, elves
  • mattboyd - December 2, 2011 7:15 p.m.

    Ok, so: Altmer = high elves Aldmer = first elves, the common descendants of all elves in Tamriel. Altmer think they're the closest to the original elves.
  • jarrett-regal-k - December 3, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    I think you mean Aldmer are the common *progenitors* of all elves in Tamriel.
  • mattboyd - December 8, 2011 1:34 a.m.

    Oops. Yes. The common ancestors, not descendants.
  • mattboyd - December 2, 2011 7:27 p.m.

    More to the point: The Aldmeri Dominion is a nation, and the people in charge are high elves. Not everyone loyal to the Dominion is a high elf, and not every high elf is loyal to the Dominion.
  • talleyXIV - December 1, 2011 4:47 p.m.

    I was going to read it but then it was super long, and I don't even play this game so you know.
  • Yeager1122 - December 1, 2011 9:39 a.m.

    Super heplful dont have the time to read all the books nice to know the backstory.
  • archnite - December 1, 2011 11:59 p.m.

    Gamesradar remember when every article was like 7 pages? So you reformatted and have like 3 at max... well TWO is TOO many can you cut down every article to like maybe a parenthetical phrase? ALSO WTF how do I type an epsilon into captcha?
  • EdDeRs1 - December 1, 2011 9:10 a.m.

    i just hope that they releaise some DLC that allows whatever faction u supported (Empire or Stormcloackes) to teach those elven bastards a lesson, and your caracter is at first used as a spy/assassin by his/her commanders, weakening the enemy and trying to start an elven rebellion against the bitch elves, and when the rebellion is in full swing, u take command of a newly established unit of Blades/Stormcloack elites and take fortress cities from within before the big invasion comes, and u act like the Rock and layeth the smackdown on some candy arses
  • Person5 - December 1, 2011 8:05 a.m.

    hm. I was an Argonian in Oblivion and again in Skyrim, but knowing that Black Marsh seceded kinda makes me not want to fight for the empire anymore. Though its either that or joining the Stormcloaks, winning, then them saying "thanks for winning us the war, lizard, but Skyrim is for the Nords, so get out" then I can only play in Black Marsh since I would be deported
  • ThatFanInThePeacoat - December 2, 2011 1:18 p.m.

    I think situations like that point out that neither side is good or evil. They're both just out for different goals. Also, I also love playing as an Argonian. It really helps give the feeling of futility when first starting out the game, then the feeling of growing stronger and stronger comes in while I play, all to be ultimately shut down by the end when I realize: Sure, I've helped the empire, and myself to an extent, but what about my fellow Argonians? My position in this world is still small.
  • rabidpotatochip - December 1, 2011 6:57 a.m.

    We also would have accepted "a wizard did it".
  • UFAlien - December 1, 2011 6:25 a.m.

    Little tidbit left out here: After Elsweyr seceded, it was absorbed into the Aldmeri Dominion and split into two states. So if you want to split up the original map from Oblivion into nations/kindgoms at the start of Skyrim: Cyrodiil, High Rock, Skyrim, and Hammerfell are The Empire. Summerset Isle, Valenwood, and Elsweyr are the Aldmeri Dominion. Black Marsh and Morrowind are Argonia. You're welcome.

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