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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  • GR HollanderCooper - November 30, 2011 4:31 p.m.

    This was fantastic. Thank you.
  • Daedazrael - November 30, 2011 4:36 p.m.

    I'd just like to point out that Titus II is a stone cold badass. He personally led his forces into combat at the Battle of the Red Ring and supposedly wielded Boethiah's Daedric Artifact, Goldbrand.
  • DualWieldingIsNotFeasible - November 30, 2011 4:39 p.m.

    Well, now I can make sense of which wars people keep saying they're still mad about.
  • Soulibon - November 30, 2011 4:40 p.m.

    And it comes full circle.
  • Fenderstat - November 30, 2011 4:41 p.m.

    Those Thalmor are so damn smug! Bethesda have created an enemy so deliscously devious, underhanded and sneaky that I love to hate them. i go out of my way to kill any non essential thalmor and release any prisoners they are escorting. I also strip them naked and leave them in piles along the road, roleplaying a real empire loyalist, one who doesn't hide behind a truce which f*cks them over, much like a murderous zorro. Once I get my hands on a kill essential npc mod i'm making my way to that embassy and slitting that ambassadors throat and leaving it in the middle of solitude for all to see.
  • Fenderstat - November 30, 2011 4:43 p.m.

    Btw Nice one Nevarine. Real hero of morrowind you were!
  • TheRandomFool - November 30, 2011 4:45 p.m.

    You forgot to mention the bit about the Mages' guild disbanding, and the whole "Giant Flying DeathCity of Undead Daedra" deal. Might be a bit important.
  • Manguy17 - November 30, 2011 4:47 p.m.

    Great article, I thought i knew most of it already. But this shed some more light on the situation.
  • FlagrantPilgrim - November 30, 2011 4:48 p.m.

    Awesome article.
  • n8dogg - November 30, 2011 5:03 p.m.

    makes me feel like an ass for being the hero of oblivion.
  • Bakinshake - November 30, 2011 5:14 p.m.

    I hate the thalmor! I was a high elf in oblivion and I still am in skyrim and everyone is pissed at me! Although I do feel like a rebel when i kill them
  • pr0tostar - November 30, 2011 5:15 p.m.

    Thank you for this, Matt! I'm new to TES with Skyrim because friends with opinions I trust wouldn't shut up about it. This gives me a nice roundup of all I've bee.n mission without having to waste a day skimming through wikis lol. Buw ow, now I wanna play Morrowind to see how that Ministry-meteor incident plays out!
  • pr0tostar - November 30, 2011 5:17 p.m.

    Eem, don't mind my dyslexic fit of a comment there, I'm exhausted... lol. Great article, carry on.
  • QuickSticks45 - November 30, 2011 5:21 p.m.

    Now it all makes sense, i've never had the time to sit down and read all of the books but i'm really glad that someone had the balls to go and write out the whole history, thank you
  • TheInvincibleDragon - November 30, 2011 5:25 p.m.

    I never liked the Altmer anyway. they are too freakin' arrogant. Glad to take them down a notch. Other than that, good recap. I was really wanting to know what happened between Oblivion and Skyrim.
  • Stabby_Joe - November 30, 2011 5:31 p.m.

    Then there's the changes to the Dark Brotherhood... AHH! Too many details! How are the writers doing all this?! Great article BTW!
  • D0CCON - November 30, 2011 6:29 p.m.

    I loved this. This is like when I dived into Portal's backstory after being intrigued by it and even manages to add to the complexity of the Civil War (although I've already won it for the Empire in my game). I picked up on a lot of this, but the details were nice. I've made a second character who will join the Stormcloaks and the amazing thing is I can feel just as justified fighting for them as I can fighting for the Empire (although I wished they'd realize they should be taking their anger out on the Thalmor and fighting them, not the Empire).
  • rooster2814 - November 30, 2011 8:01 p.m.

    Great article. Thanks.
  • wampastompa - November 30, 2011 9:24 p.m.

    This is incredibly helpful, trying to keep track of all the different elves is making my head spin
  • Crabhand - November 30, 2011 10:22 p.m.

    This is a really good recap for those who don't go skimming through extra material.

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