The Interregnum was a period in Tamriel's history between the fall of the Second Empire and the proclamation of the Third Empire by Tiber Septim. It began when the last of the Akaviri Potentates, Savirien-Chorak, and all of his heirs were murdered in 2E 430. The resulting collapse of central authority led to five centuries of bickering between racial alliances, small kingdoms, and petty states. During this time, Tamriel's provinces reasserted their independence, and the remnants of the Second Empire nominally survived as the Empire of Cyrodiil, a rump state confined to Cyrodiil that was ruled by a succession of warlords.
The Interregnum was marked by a general decline in living standards across Tamriel. A note in one tale from the era goes so far as to call the prevailing attitude one of "anti-intellectualism", another source talks of the "dark and cumulative losses" of the period, and a third describes the period as "days and nights of blood and venom". A further sign of intellectual decline was the transformation of the Dwemer in popular culture from a mysterious and unfathomable race to a mere vehicle for light comedies and romances. Additionally, roads and cities fell into ruin and were not repaired until centuries later. Even the famed Amulet of Kings was lost. Some regions and organizations found the period full of opportunities, however. The services of the Dark Brotherhood were much in demand and the society filled its coffers with gold.
The geopolitical effects of the Interregnum were both far-reaching and varied. For example, High Rock, an area with an extensive history of factionalism, was more able to deal with the collapse of central power and fared much better than the rest of Tamriel, lapsing back into its usual structure of kingdoms and city states without difficulty. In contrast, Skyrim was divided as never before when it split into two kingdoms, Eastern Skyrim and Western Skyrim, following the assassination of High King Logrolf and a succession dispute in 2E 431, and then lost control of The Reach to the Reachmen.
The time of Three Banners
Perhaps one of the most pivotal stretches of the Interregnum occurred in the sixth century of the Second Era, when Tamriel became engulfed in a series of crises as well as a continent-wide conflict between three alliances known as the Three Banners War. The first of these alliances was precipitated by a Reachman invasion of High Rock under the command of Durcorach the Black Drake, the first Longhouse Emperor of Cyrodiil, in 2E 541. As Durcorach swept through the kingdoms of High Rock, they responded by banding together under the first Daggerfall Covenant. The new Covenant was strong enough to repulse and destroy Durcorach's horde, while a strategic alliance with the Kingdom of Sentinel and the promise to restore Orsinium as sovereign territory cemented the political longevity of the Covenant under the tactful leadership of High King Emeric.
In 2E 572, northeastern Tamriel faced a similar threat in the form of an Akaviri invasion under the command of Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal, who ravaged the lands of Eastern Skyrim and Morrowind. The Akaviri were only defeated by the combined might of the Nords, Dunmer, and Argonians, and the Ebonheart Pact was formed in the aftermath of their victory, creating an alliance between Eastern Skyrim, four of the five Dunmeri Great Houses, and the Argonian tribes of Thornmarsh, Shadowfen, and Murkmire. Despite the tensions between the three unlikely allies, the threat presented by the corrupted Empire of Cyrodiil necessitated cooperation within the Pact to protect their homelands from foreign occupation.
The third alliance was established in southwest Tamriel in 2E 580 with the ascension of Ayrenn to the throne of the Summerset Isles. At the time, the nearby provinces of Valenwood and Elsweyr sought allies against an increasingly chaotic rule in Cyrodiil, and were more than willing to agree to Queen Ayrenn's overtures to join her in establishing the first Aldmeri Dominion.
Meanwhile, in the heartlands of Cyrodiil, Duke Varen Aquilarios of Chorrol led an uprising against the Emperor Leovic, grandson of Durcorach, after Daedric worship was legalized in the Empire. After personally executing Leovic and assuming the Ruby Throne, Varen set out on a quest with four companions to recover the lost Amulet of Kings. Secretly, Varen feared his reign would be short-lived since he was not a Dragonborn, and he was convinced by the Altmer sorcerer Mannimarco that the Amulet of Kings could be used in a ritual to gain Akatosh's blessing and be imbued with the Dragon Blood. Trusting Mannimarco proved to be a disastrous mistake, however, as when Varen conducted the ritual, he instead broke Alessia's divine covenent with Akatosh, thereby destroying the ancient barrier between Nirn and Oblivion in an event known as the Soulburst. With Varen missing and the other companions scattered, Mannimarco set into motion the plan of his master, Molag Bal, to merge Tamriel into Coldharbour via the Planemeld. Varen's wife, Clivia Tharn, became Empress Regent and allied with Mannimarco, but her father Abnur despised the sorcerer, leading to a split in the family and Abnur's subsequent capture. The Empire quickly crumbled into a state of disarray as corruption ran rampant and Molag Bal's Dark Anchors appeared in the skies across Tamriel, culminating in the fall of the Imperial City to Molag Bal's forces and Clivia's disappearance. By 2E 582, amidst the Imperial power vacuum, the Three Banners War began in earnest, and the Daggerfall Covenant, Aldmeri Dominion, and Ebonheart Pact vied for control of the Ruby Throne in an effort to restore peace and prosperity to Tamriel.
Rise of the Third Empire
During the entirety of Interregnum, petty warlords had attempted to seize control of Cyrodiil's capital and to reestablish the Empire. None of them lasted for long, until, in the year 2E 852 the king of Falkreath, Cuhlecain, sought to proclaim himself "Emperor of All Cyrodiil". Two years later, with the help of his general Talos who reclaimed the Amulet of Kings, he took the Imperial City from the battlemages of the Eastern Heartland, but was assassinated shortly after. It is uncertain whether or not Cuhlecain was ever crowned Emperor. The Third Empire was certainly established when Talos took the name Tiber Septim and was crowned in his stead in 2E 854, signaling the end of the Interregnum, although the rest of Tamriel did not submit to his rule until the conclusion of the Tiber Wars in 2E 896.
- The Brothers of Darkness — Pellarne Assi
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Cyrodiil — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Song of the Alchemists — Marobar Sul
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Arena Supermundus: The Tapestry of Heaven — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Brief History of the Empire — Stronach k'Thojj III
- The Ransom of Zarek — Marobar Sul
- The Amulet of Kings — Wenengrus Monhona
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Sons and Daughter of the Direnni West: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- The Crown of Freydis — Taleon Mythmaker
- Orcs of Skyrim — Thora Far-Wanderer
- Triumphs of a Monarch — His Majesty King Emeric
- Guide to the Ebonheart Pact
- Ayrenn: The Unforeseen Queen — Headmaster Tanion of the College of Aldmeri Propriety
- Welcome to New Aldmeri Irregulars — Aicantar of Shimmerene, Sapiarch of Indoctrination
- Eulogy for Emperor Varen — Lord Abnur Tharn, Chancellor of the Elder Council
- Chronicles of the Five Companions
- Events of Elder Scrolls Online
- Dialogue with Councilor Itinia in ESO
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: The Elsweyr Confederacy — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- The Arcturian Heresy — The Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker