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The Reach is a geographic region located between High Rock, Skyrim and Hammerfell. The region has changed politically over the course of history and various wars, and has been separated from the Western Reach since the end of the First Era. In the Fourth Era, it is the large southwestern hold of Skyrim. Near the southwestern corner, the capital Markarth, formerly a Dwemer stronghold, is built into the living rock of the Druadach Mountains, which are replaced by the Jerall Mountains near the hold's southeast corner. The Karth River begins in the southern region and drains the mountains, running like a deep gouge through the middle of the hold. The peaks of the Druadach range lie to the west of it, and high bluffs typically rise on the east leading to grassland and tundra.
The region was inhabited historically by the native Daedra-worshipping Reachmen, who are primarily of Breton descent. The Nords conquered the region at different times, as well the Cyrodiilics, but the Reachmen survived each time to revolt again. The Reachmen are known for resisting foreign rule by using ancient magic and an intimate knowledge of the landscape to their advantage in guerrilla warfare and espionage tactics.
In the Fourth Era, despite being located within the Nordic domain, the Reachmen and settled Bretons constitute the demographic majority of the Reach and its various settlements. An Orc stronghold could be found in the steppes of the mountains in the south of the hold, and there have been several settlements over the years along the Karth, such as Karthwasten and Old Hroldan.
Around 1E 1030, the Reach was ruled by ten warring Reachman kings. Most of them bowed down to the Imperial invading forces of Empress Hestra, though many ultimately joined the rebellion led by Red Eagle, the legendary hero of the Reachman. They could not win this conflict, but in a campaign lasting two or more years, Red Eagle and his followers made the Empire pay dearly for invading their land. Although the Empire was ultimately able to exert control over the Reach, widespread resistance continued, until Reman himself turned his attention to the "madmen of the Reach" after thwarting the Akaviri invasion in 1E 2704. He divided the geographical Reach between the Imperial provinces of High Rock and Skyrim to reduce the power or incomes of any individual ruler, and the Western Reach has existed as a separate entity ever since. Almost continuous forays out of Evermore or Solitude during the period of the Second Empire attempted to impose control, but were never able to succeed absolutely.
Around 2E 582, the Reach was an independent Reachman kingdom, ruled by the so-called Despot of Markarth. During this period, numerous tribes attempted to extend their influence into High Rock and Skyrim. Nationalistic Reachmen passively resisted throughout the eras, until finding the perfect opportunity in 4E 174, while the forces of the Empire were committed to fighting the Aldmeri Dominion. They rose up, seizing Markarth and most of the hold, ruling the Reach as a independent kingdom for two years. The government of Skyrim, growing desperate, enlisted a militia led by Ulfric Stormcloak which retook the Reach in 4E 176. The survivors of the revolt were scattered into the wilderness, becoming the Forsworn.
- For game-specific information, see the Skyrim article.
- The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: Northern Bangkorai and the Mountains — Flaccus Terentius, 2E 581
- The Holds of Skyrim
- The City of Stone — Amanda Alleia
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition — The Imperial Geographical Society and 'YR', 2E 864
- The "Madmen" of the Reach — Arrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar
- Annals of the Dragonguard — Brother Annulus
- Holdings of Jarl Gjalund
- The Legend of Red Eagle — Tredayn Dren, Archivist of Winterhold
- Events of ESO
- The Bear of Markarth — Arrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar