The Thalmor refers to an Altmeri governmental organization that has served each of the three Aldmeri Dominions in varying capacities. It is also a general term for the members and paramilitary enforcers of that organization.
The Thalmor began as an obscure Altmeri council within the government of the Summerset Isles that was tasked with safeguarding Altmeri heritage. With the ascension of Ayrenn to the Altmeri throne and the establishment of the first Aldmeri Dominion in 2E 580, the Thalmor's role was expanded to become the executive arm of the alliance, a bureaucracy that managed the Dominion's day-to-day affairs and liaised between its various local leaders and factions. It incorporated representatives from all three of the Dominion's member races, in ratios appropriate to their administrative abilities. The Thalmor Inner Council served as Ayrenn's personal advisors, and included such notables as King Aeradan Camoran of the Bosmer and Lord Gharesh-ri of the Khajit, as well as a number of other Bosmeri and Khajiti nobles who were included largely as figureheads.[OOG 1]
During the second Aldmeri Dominion, formed in 2E 830, the Altmer reconstituted the Thalmor as the new governing body of Valenwood. They claimed they had the authority to create this government on behalf of a claimant to Valenwood's throne, Camoran Anaxemes, whose ancestors had signed an ancient treaty with the Summerset Isles. As Valenwood previously possessed no true, unifying government, the Thalmor purported to maintain order in the region to uplift their Bosmer brethren. In reality, the formation of the Thalmor was far from an altruistic gesture: the Altmer desired to control Valenwood because the region, along with southern Hammerfell, harbored various pirate groups which had long threatened the Summerset Isles. Fed up with the constant pirate attacks, the Altmer hoped to secure the shores of Summerset for good by denying the pirates any safe haven from which to attack them. The Thalmor was dissolved a short time later when Tiber Septim brought Valenwood into his Empire using the overwhelming power of the Numidium.
Sometime prior to the Oblivion Crisis in 3E 433, the Thalmor resurfaced as a radical political movement that espoused Elven supremacy and xenophobia. For years they were largely ignored, but in the aftermath of the Oblivion Crisis they exploited the confusion to claim credit for the salvation of the Altmeri people, which greatly enhanced their influence. In 4E 22, the Thalmor overthrew the Altmeri monarchy and seized control of the Summerset Isles, renaming them Alinor. Valenwood was brought under the Thalmor's control in 4E 29, creating the third Aldmeri Dominion, and the Elsweyr Confederacy voluntarily dissolved and reformed the ancient kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine in 4E 115, which then became client states of the Thalmor.
It is said that of all of his enemies, Emperor Titus Mede I never managed to defeat the Thalmor, and it would be Titus Mede II who would pay the price. When Titus II inherited the Imperial throne, the Thalmor instigated the Great War with him by delivering a series of ultimatums to the Imperial City, then presenting the head of every Blades agent who had been stationed in the Aldmeri Dominion when he refused their demands. After four years of bloody war that reached a stalemate, the Emperor was forced to sign the White-Gold Concordat, essentially giving in to the Thalmor's original demands. One of the terms was the outlawing of the worship of Talos, and the right of the Thalmor to enforce that ban within the Empire. Another term of the Concordat was that the Empire relinquish large tracts of land in southern Hammerfell to the Dominion. Even though the Empire acquiesced, the Redguards of Hammerfell seceded from the Empire and fought on. They eventually repulsed the Thalmor from their territory, leading many to believe that the Concordat was a mistake, and Titus II had overestimated the Thalmor's strength when he signed it.
By 4E 201, the Thalmor carried out campaigns of persecution against Talos worshipers from their embassies in various provinces, which also allowed them to gather extensive intelligence on the Empire's internal affairs. It was widely believed that the Thalmor were preparing for a second attempt to conquer Tamriel, a conflict which the Empire stood very little chance of surviving in its present state of disarray.
- Aicantar of Shimmerene Answers Your Questions — Aicantar of Shimmerene
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Aldmeri Dominion — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Wilds Remain: Valenwood — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Rising Threat, Vol. II — Lathenil of Sunhold
- Rising Threat, Vol. IV — Lathenil of Sunhold
- A Concise Account of the Great War Between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion — Legate Justianus Quintius
- The Infernal City — Gregory Keyes
Note: the following references are not found in-game. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.
- Reddit AMA With The ESO Writing Team, Sept. 10, 2014