I am a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls, let's get that fact out of the way right away. These games will eat up your time because there is so much to do, and so far to level up. The maps are massive, there are seemingly endless missions and the storytelling is masterfully crafted. And one of my favorite things about the whole franchise is the interconnected lore that you get glimpses of. The going-ons of the world of Nirn is shoved right in your face, you need to talk to crowds of people to learn the word of mouth history of the place. Tamriel has been a place of flux for thousands of years, and some of it is contained in those books you can't be bothered to read because you are busy sneak attacking a skeleton.
But if you can be bothered to read them, you'll find out a lot has happened. Since I don't have the rest of my life to write this article, I won't talk about everything that has happened in the Elder Scrolls. Instead, I'll do my best to fill you in on all of the wacky stuff that happened in-between Oblivion and Skyrim. And trust me, a lot has happened, since there is a 200-year leap between those games, the largest leap in-between any two of the titles in the series. Turns out all of the heroic deeds you pulled off in Oblivion had some long-lasting consequences, and not all of them were good. Which explains why the world of Skyrim is pretty much in shambles.
32 There Was No Emperor For 400 Years
Although this happened during the events of Oblivion it is pretty much the jumping off point for all the craziness that happened in between the two games. Martin Septim gives his life defeating Mehrunes Dagon, leaving the throne empty. Even in the brief time you were in the world of Tamriel, the empty throne was a huge ordeal.
This is the first time the throne has been empty in 400 years.
As a widespread Empire that had a fairly strong grip on most of the known world, for it to suddenly be left leaderless presents a major problem.
31 The Daedra Abruptly Disappear
Because you are the coolest, you closed the Oblivion Gates with relative ease. Although that’s undoubtedly a good thing, that means the thousands of Daedra that were pouring out suddenly ceased their attack. Not only did they cut out a huge chunk of the population, but it also left a lot of questions.
Most of the simple folk didn’t know why they were being attacked in the first place, to the point where some people were even in denial about it even happening. For whole towns to be demolished by an attacking force that suddenly disappeared, that’s going to leave a weird vacuum.
30 The High Elves Drift Away From The Empire
With no leader, the territories begin to slip away from the Empire. One of these empires is Summerset Isle, home of the High Elves. High Elves have always had a fairly generous opinion of themselves, but things get even worse when a faction within the High Elves known as the Thalmor pops up.
The Thalmor are a bunch of Elf purists, which is a fantasy way of saying they are bigots. They believe that all others were inferior, and need to be guided by the High Elves. The stage is set for them to rise to power.
29 The Thalmor Take All The Credit
Like every terrible leader who has no right to be in power, The Thalmor begin to make outrageous claims of what they have done to help society at large. Their biggest claim to fame was the closing of the Oblivion Gates, something you’ll notice was actually very much your accomplishment as the player.
It’s a pretty brilliant plan, if you think about it. Nobody is taking the credit for something that saved the lives of millions, and since nobody has any theories, why not just claim you knew some High Elf magic?
28 The Thalmor Are Considered Heroes! (Because They Silenced Everyone Who Disappeared)
Tamriel doesn’t exactly have the Internet, so there is bound to be a lot of misinformation flying around (it’s rampant in real life and we can Google everything.) So for a brief time, the Thalmor are celebrated as heroes, because nobody knows any better.
Of course, you can’t fool all the people all the time, so a few people start to call this out as nonsense. Those people are quickly silenced, and the myth of the great Thalmor continues without any dissenters.
27 High Chancellor Ocato Ends Poorly
And I don’t mean that he gets impeached. If any of you remember the political upheaval from Oblivion you’ll remember that while Martin Septim remained to be found, the acting leader of the Empire was High Chancellor Ocato. After Martin sacrifices himself, I guess Ocato would just be acting ruler for a long time, gaining the title of Potentate.
Well, apparently in the interim period, someone thought it would be easier just to do away with Ocato, for reasons that aren’t clear. He is quietly dispatched of, leaving things in further ruin.
26 But Who Was Behind It? (Spoilers: The Thalmor)
Here’s the weird thing about taking out someone like Potentate Ocato; he was an incredibly powerful Battlemage. It wasn’t like he was just some slouch you could come up to and stab in the back. Sure, he was a somewhat incompetent leader, but he knew his way around some defensive magic.
Couple that with the fact that he would have been incredibly well protected, in the most heavily fortified city in the Empire, and you are left with one huge clue. The Thalmor were behind his extermination. A dissenter even tried to confirm this, but unfortunately, had no proof.
25 Sheogorath Comes Back
Possibly the best part of Oblivion was the Shivering Isles DLC. In it, you help the Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath, turn himself back into his original form, the Daedric Prince of Order, Jyggalag. Unfortunately, the next time we see him, he’s back to being his old, totally insane self.
So we don’t have an exact timeline of when it happened, but at some point, Jyggalag turned back in Sheogorath, and then decided to take a weird vacation in the mind of Pelagius Septim III.
24 Black Marsh (And The Argonians) Break Away
Shortly after the untimely demise of Ocato, the Black Marsh decides to secede from the Empire. In case you were unaware, Black Marsh is the land that the Argonians, our favorite Lizardfolk, hail from. It is a gross, fetid swamp that nobody likes to visit, except the Argonians.
So little is known about Black Marsh that there is little indication as to why they seceded. It isn’t even clear which governing body decided to secede, since it isn’t clear if they are run by a royal family or a council of officials.
23 So Do The Elsweyr (The Khajiit) Also Secedes
Things get progressively worse for the Empire when the homeland of the catfolk Khajiit decides to also secedes. This is more of a loss than Black Marsh since it doesn’t suck, and by all descriptions, is a weirdly beautiful place.
The Khajiit are even more secretive than the Argonians, since a huge facet of their whole society is based on the value of secrets. We do know the Khajiit are ruled by a Mane, their spiritual leader, so it can be assumed that they are the one who decided to cut ties with the Empire.
22 Vivec City Is Destroyed
Those of you who played Morrowind may remember the Ministry of Truth as a giant floating rock floating magically above Vivec City. This was actually a hollowed out meteor that Vivec held aloft to prevent it from destroying the city.
Well, around this time, since Vivec lost his Godhood, this meteor now fell straight into Vivec City, completely destroying it. See, not everything bad that happened in-between the games was caused by you! Some of it was just plain bad luck.
21 The Red Mountain Erupts
The huge tremor that resulted from the asteroid colliding with Vivec City had some other nasty effects as well. The nearby Red Mountain, a dormant volcano, became suddenly active. This is not a great development for the surrounding area.
The main setting for most Morrowind adventure is the island of Vvardenfell, which the Red Mountain is located on. Since the volcano is fairly large, when it erupts, it completely obliterates Vvardenfell. This is a massive blow to the whole province of Morrowind.
20 All Of Morrowind Is Destroyed
I was being fairly literal when I said this was a huge blow to the province of Morrowind. Much like the same meteor that probably helped exterminate the dinosaurs, this meteor also sent out waves.
The waves from the island of Vvardenfell swamped the rest of Morrowind.
So maybe after some time, life may again begin to thrive in the area, but being suddenly covered in hot, sick water tends to play hob with the ecosystem. Maybe the Argonians can move in.
19 The Argonians Move In
Turns out the Argonians were mad at the residents of Morrowind, the Dark Elves, for years of slavery in the past. Seems like a good reason to hold a grudge.
So when Morrowind finds itself suddenly missing a huge chunk of its’ population, as well as a sudden change in landscape to fertile swamp, there was never a better time to invade.
18 The Dark Elves Flee
A common story of people in a land being torn apart by war is for them to flee to neighboring countries as refugees. If they end up in a nicer country, they will be welcomed with open arms by people empathetic to their plight.
Unfortunately, the displaced Dark Elves fleeing Morrowind end up in Skyrim, where they are forced to live in slums. For a fantasy game, that kind of sad outcome is a little to realistic. They couldn’t even move somewhere warm.
17 Titus Mede Takes Control
With the Martin Septim and Ocato no longer on the throne, there was a huge vacancy for the role of Emperor. Enter Titus Mede, a warlord from humble beginnings. He takes an army of only 1000 men and advances on the Imperial City.
If you recall, Imperial City is already like a giant fortress, and the White-Gold Tower is like a smaller, stronger fortress inside it. Against all odds, Titus took control of the city, the palace, and claimed the throne for himself.
16 The Mede Dynasty
Like the Septim Dynasty which had sat on the throne before him, Titus Mede had every intention of letting his descendants remain on the throne. And much like the Septims, he succeeded for the next 200 years, up until the events of Skyrim.
As far as I can tell, though, that only equals two generations, since, by the time you meet the dude, they are only on Titus Mede the Second. Which is more family members than I've ever had as royalty, but still, it hardly qualifies as a dynasty.
15 The Fall Of Valenwood
We haven't heard from the Thalmor for a while, what have they been up to? Oh, just some serious tampering in the affairs of sovereign nations, you know, the usual. This leads to the seizure of the territory of Valenwood.
Valenwood is the home of the Wood Elves, and since the Thalmor are genetic purists, they see Wood Elves as low creatures. By backing a coup inside Valenwood from behind the scenes, they stand poised to install a puppet government.
14 The New Aldmeri Dominion
It's becoming more and more clear that the Thalmor have some pretty grand designs on the land of Tamriel. Now that they have control of both the Summerset Isles and Valenwood, they declare this new territory the Aldmeri Dominion. This is not a good sign.
This is actually the Third Iteration of the Aldmeri Dominion, so that alone should tell you that the Thalmor have some old scores to settle for past grievances. Every time the Aldmeri Dominion pops up, they try to establish Elvish dominance over other races.
13 The Thalmor Make Demands (Including A Threat To Talos)
So now that the Thalmor have a bit of power, they send an ambassador to Titus Mede II to make some demands. These demands include stopping the worship of Talos, disbanding The Blades (basically spies) and to surrender parts of Hammerfell.
The grudge against Talos is an old one. Talos was the first Emperor, and he ascended to Godhood apparently. He did this after using a secret weapon created by the dwarves to completely obliterate the original Aldmeri Dominion. The other two demands just make strategic sense.
12 Refusal Sparks A War — A Great War
Obviously, Titus Mede II flat out refuses to meet these demands, which is about where things turn ugly. See, the ambassador had brought a cart with him, and upon hearing the refusal, he emptied the contents of his cart.
It was the head of every Blade that had been sent to keep tabs on the Aldmeri Dominion inside their territories.
Obviously, this is a pretty violent declaration, so The Great War starts. My question is, were they expecting the refusal? Because if Titus had accepted the terms, they still would have had a cart full of heads.
11 The Aldmeri Invade Cyrodil
Turns out that the Aldmeri Dominion asking for Hammerfell to be turned over to them was just them being polite, because as soon as the war started, it wasn't long before they totally captured it. After that, they marched straight into the Cyrodil.
It didn't take long after that for the Aldmeri to completely surround the Imperial City. The city was the last holdout in the takeover, and proved to be difficult to sack. Difficult, but not impossible. Things were looking grim for Titus Mede II.
10 Titus Escapes
Keep in mind that Titus Mede's father was a renowned warlord. Apparently, he inherited a few crafty tricks, and used them to lead a legion of his men in an attack, clearing a path out of the city. It was a hard fought battle, but eventually, Titus was able to escape.
From there he fled to meet up with some of the Nords of Skyrim, in the hopes of bolstering his numbers. Titus may have lost the battle, but the war wasn't over yet.
9 The City Is Taken
With Titus and his troops making a hasty retreat, there was nothing stopping the armies of the Aldmeri Dominion from marching straight into the heart of the city. They made quick work dismantling the grandeur of everything the Septims and the Medes had built over the years.
The palace was promptly burned, because that's what you do when you conquer a city. And the White-Gold Tower, the absolute coolest landmark in Cyrodil, is sacked. All hope seems lost, for now.
8 The Thalmor Celebrate Their Victory
After watching Titus scamper off with his tail between his legs, and ending the night with the burning of the Imperial City, it's justified that the Thalmor thought they had won the war. After all, who was left to oppose them?
This is exactly what Titus Mede II wanted them to think, while he amassed his forces in Skyrim. When the Elves least expected it, he was going to attack and win back the city which he felt was rightfully his.
7 The Battle Of The Red Ring
Convinced he had gathered an army big enough, thanks mostly to the Nords from Skyrim, Titus launched a surprise attack on the Imperial City, which started The Battle Of The Red Ring. The whole affair was pretty one-sided, really, and Titus was back on the throne.
After reclaiming the city, Mede's new army set about taking back the rest of Cyrodil. The tide of the war had finally changed, with the Thalmor now being pushed back into the Aldmeri Dominion.
6 The White-Gold Concordat
The victory over the Thalmor was a pyrrhic one, since both sides were so depleted of forces they could neither attack nor defend. Titus Mede II though this would be the perfect time to negotiate a peace treaty with the Aldmeri.
And by a peace treaty, I mean he gave them everything they asked for in the first place. He gave them Hammerfell, he disbanded The Blades and all worship of Talos was forbidden. What was the point of the war in the first place?
5 Hammerfell Rejects The Treaty
Despite being conquered by the Thalmor before the signing of the treaty, the Redguard (the residents of Hammerfell) had been fighting a war of resistance the entire time. So you can imagine their surprise that when it seemed it was their time to be free of their invaders, the Empire sold them out, and their own country out from under them.
Obviously, they rejected the White-Gold Concordat, claiming that it bought peace for Cyrodil only, at the expense of their own freedom. Kinda hard to argue against that.
4 The Redguard Beat The Thalmor
Although not an outright victory and more of a fight ending in a standstill, the end result would be the same; the Thalmor completely pull out of Hammerfell. Of course, this is a win for the Redguard, but the Empire had already denounced Hammerfell in order to save face with the Aldmeri.
So Hammerfell was back in the hands of the Redguard, and now they had an axe to grind with both the Aldmeri and the Empire. The Thalmor are sufficiently pleased with this outcome.
3 Alduin Returns
This is another event that is hard to put an exact date on. Thrown into the time stream countless eons ago, the evil dragon Alduin was flung far into the future, finding himself back in Tamriel sometime after the Oblivion Crisis.
Alduin then sets about trying to destroy everything and everyone, for reasons that only make sense to two-dimensional villains. He starts waking up other dragons, who begin terrorizing the world of Skyrim. You'll notice this is probably one of the absolute worst times this could have happened.
2 The Nords Are Furious
After the worship of Talos is forbidden, the people of Skyrim become furious. Talos is their go-to deity, and worshipping him has been shown to have actual measurable results, so they are understandably miffed that some Emperor thousands of miles away took away their religious freedoms.
This is a double slap in the face for the Nords because they feel that without their help, Titus Mede II would have never been able to reclaim the throne. Because of this tension, many Nords continue to worship Talos in secret.
1 The Thalmor Bide Their Time
So now the Thalmor simply sit back and watch everyone tear each other apart. The Nords hate the Empire, as do the Redguard. The Argonians and Dark Elves hate each other, and most people hate the Aldmeri.
Tensions are high.
On top of that, Titus Mede II still thinks he can push back against the Dominion when he gathers enough forces. Gathering forces is going to prove to be difficult since he pretty much made enemies with everyone with the White-Gold Concordat. Makes you miss the days when the most difficult thing was entering the Planes of Oblivion.