Lore: Tiber Wars
- Tiber Septim brought peace to Tamriel in 2E 896, by conquering all of the known world. Thus began the Third Era. — One of the loading screens in Skyrim
The Tiber Wars were a series of conflicts spanning through the second half of the last century of the Second Era, started by the Colovian warlord Cuhlecain and continued by his general Tiber Septim. The results of the wars were manifold, most important of them being the end of the Interregnum with the founding of the Third Empire with Septim as its first Emperor, the proclamation of the Third Era, and the unification of Tamriel for the first and only time in its history.
- The coastlands of Tamriel, to the northwest of our desert homeland. Mighty Tiber Septim bids fair to become Clan-Mother to them all. — J'ffer in Redguard
The Tiber Wars started when Cuhlecain, the King of Falkreath, supported by Chevalier Renald—a member of a knightly order descended from Reman's bodyguards—decided to wage war to unify the Colovian Estates. To secure his northern borders in his future bid for conquest, Cuhlecain allied himself with Skyrim against the forces of the Western Reach. Leading his forces was a young general called Hjalti Early-Beard, later on named Talos.
After the successful pacification of Old Hroldan, Nord and Breton nobles, rightfully fearing the ambitious Colovian king and his undefeatable general, formed an alliance and invaded northern Cyrodiil. The resounding victory at Sancre Tor was the turning point of the conflict, as the Nordic generals, suspicious of their Breton allies, flocked to join Talos' armies. This trend of recruitment would continue for the next ten years in Skyrim, especially among young men.
Finally able to turn his attention to internal affairs, Cuhlecain unified the Colovian Estates in under a year. Not much more passed before the rest of Cyrodiil shared a similar fate, with the Imperial City itself being captured in 2E 854. Just as he was preparing to crown himself Emperor of All Cyrodiil, Cuhlecain was assassinated, circumstances of which are subject to much controversy. In his stead, general Talos was crowned by the Imperial Battlemage Zurin Arctus as Tiber Septim, founding the Septim Dynasty. Over the next ten years he waged war with most of the neighboring nations, to claim them for his new Empire, but never again doing it personally, preferring to work on administration of the newly conquered territories. The jarls of Skyrim and the petty kings of High Rock were the first to fall.
- As the Empire of Tiber Septim sweeps through the kingdoms of Tamriel in a glorious bid for conquest, Septim is opposed on all sides, but never more fiercely than by Hammerfell the ancestral home of the Redguards. — Intro of Redguard
The best understood episode of the Tiber Wars was the conquest of the Redguard kingdom of Hammerfell. Despite observing the might of the quickly expanding Empire, the already aged and ill High King of Hammerfell Thassad II resisted all forms of Imperial invasion. It was only after his death in 2E 862 that Hammerfell began to weaken, but not from an external invasion, but rather from an internal revolution—a civil war between the two most prominent factions: the rebellious Forebears and the loyalist Crowns supporting Thassad's heir A'Tor. After initial defeats, the Forebears signed a pact with the Emperor, granting him minor territory concessions in exchange for helping them in the civil war. The already weakened Crowns still provided heavy resistance to invading Imperial forces, until at last they were cornered at Stros M'Kai in 2E 864. The Battle of Stros M'Kai was won thanks to the shrewd tactics of Admiral Richton and the aid of Septim's vassal dragon Nafaalilargus. The Empire swiftly took control over all of Hammerfell, imposing several Provisional Governors to rule its parts. After three months of brutal occupation, both Redguard factions revolted one after another against their new Imperial masters, forcing Tiber Septim to sign a more favorable treaty with both of them.
- The Mantella was infused with the life force of Tiber Septim's Imperial Battlemage, and with it, Septim crushed all who stood in his way. — A letter received by the Hero of Daggerfall
After the pacification of Hammerfell following the First Treaty of Stros M'Kai, Tiber Septim found himself left with opponents that were far stronger and more unified than the petty human statelets. It was said that he considered whether further expansion was even an option, seeking peace with the royal court of Alinor. Nevertheless, military expeditions and skirmishes in both Elsweyr and Black Marsh were recorded circa 2E 861 and with the Aldmeri Dominion even earlier.
By the time a viable invasion of Morrowind was put into motion (sometime after 2E 882), the Betmeri territories were already conquered. Black Marsh, however, was never successfully invaded, with its strategically unimportant inner swamps carefully avoided by Septim's troops. Even though his generals feared the Dunmer as dreadful and fanatic foes, Septim realized Morrowind's weakness in the in-fighting of its most prominent factions—the Great Houses. Despite expecting a more prolonged conflict, Septim was offered peace by the Dunmer after only a few brief skirmishes. One of the terms was rumored to have been allowing Septim to use Numidium to crush the forces of the Aldmeri Dominion, whose navy was regarded to be superior to the Imperial Navy. Without the Heart of Lorkhan, Tiber was forced to find another source for the Numidium, which he found in the Mantella, around which many historical controversies have arisen. After the brief conquest of Summerset Isle, the official integration of Morrowind as an Imperial province and the destruction of Numidium at the hands of a rotting undead wizard, the whole of Tamriel was finally united, putting an end to the Tiber Wars, which had raged unabated for 44 years.
- Battle of Old Hroldan, 2E 852. Cuhlecain's general Hjalti Early-Beard successfully led his king's Colovian troops and their allies' berserkers into breaking the Reachmen lines, forcing them to fortify themselves at Old Hroldan. The next day Hjalti approached the gates of the besieged city, protected by the winds created by a storm following his trail. Reports say that the ancient Nord art of thu'um was used to shout down the walls of Old Hroldan, after which Hjalti's army took the city with relative ease by force. As a result, he was nicknamed Talos, meaning Stormcrown, by his Nordic troops.
- Sack of Sancre Tor, 2E 852. While his army was distracting the majority of the defenders, Talos made his way inside the fortress of Sancre Tor, capturing the Nord and Breton leaders and making them order their troops to surrender. St. Osla of Chorrol has a statue dedicated to her for her actions in the battle, where she healed the warriors that had fallen in battle. Sancre Tor was abandoned and Talos recovered the Amulet of Kings.
- Battle of Five Bridges. After the initial success of his foes, Tiber Septim commanded his reserves to victory, attacking only after his foes were completely victorious, as advised by his Battlemage Zurin Arctus. Having been lulled into a false sense of security by their victory, Tiber took the enemy army by surprise, routing an army twice the size of his own.
- Taking of the Imperial City, 2E 854. After a siege of the capital, the battlemages of the Eastern Heartlands surrendered before Cuhlecain's armies. Before he could crown himself Emperor, he was assassinated, and Talos was crowned in his stead as Tiber Septim.
- Moth Rebellion, 2E 857.[nb 1]An uprising in the Imperial City. The Third Legion, mostly made out of newly-recruited Colovian peasant boys, was sent from nearby Anvil to quell it. There the Legion earned its sobriquet "The Faithful" while besieged in the Hesod Barracks by the Cultists. After the rebellion ended, Tiber Septim triumphantly reentered the capital.
- Battle of the Bjoulsae. Under the command of Amiel Richton, an Imperial squadron crushed Wayrest's naval power in a surprise dawn attack.
- Sack of Senchal. After the besieged Khajiiti refused to surrender, General Pottreid ordered the Third Legion to attack the city of Senchal, with free reins. Due to heavy civilian casualties, including children, the battle was omitted from officially-sanctioned Imperial history.
- Battle of Black Rocks, 2E 863.[nb 2] The forces of the Aldmeri Dominion caught the Third Legion by surprise and almost completely destroyed it. The remnants of it made the core of the newly created Ruby Legion stationed in Nibenay Valley.
- Battle of Stros M'Kai, 2E 864. Also known as Battle of Hunding Bay by Imperials. Sentinel, Prince A'tor rallied the remaining Redguard Crowns for one final battle. The navies of both sides clashed near the isle of Stros M'Kai in the Hunding Bay. Leading the Imperial New West Navy was Lord Admiral Amiel Richton, who brought in a dragon called Nafaalilargus. The turning point of the battle was Prince A'tor's death by a poisonous arrow from Dram, a Dunmer assassin. Arch-mage Voa tried to save the prince, but due to the strength of the poison he was forced to place his soul in a soul gem and to put his body in a magically induced stasis before being burned by the dragon. After their defeat, the remaining Crowns fled to Stros M'Kai, most of them to the Old Quarter of the city, which was promptly burned to the ground by the dragon, killing them all as a result. Some of the survivors took refuge at the local temple of Arkay. The priests there gave them asylum, hiding the body of prince A'tor in the temple and healing the wounded, only to be forced to surrender the latter to the Imperials. The result of the battle was that the Redguard forces, aside from the Crown-allegiant Restless League, were either completely annihilated or subdued. Following the crowning achievements of his career, Richton was made the Provisional Governor of Stros M'Kai, reigning over the city with terror for the next three months.
- Stros M'Kai Uprising, 2E 864. Led by siblings Cyrus and Iszara, the Restless League came out of hiding and stormed the Palace, with Cyrus himself cornering the Provisional Governor Amiel Richton and the Imperial Emissary Dram aboard a Dwemeri dirigible. Cyrus' sword, enchanted with the soul of Prince A'tor, then killed them both. This act was allegedly the third incarnation of HoonDing.
- Rebellion of Sentinel, 2E 864. After hearing of the Crown rebellion in Stros M'Kai, Baron Volag, leader of the Forebears, came out of hiding and retook Sentinel from the Provisional Governor Senecus Goddkey. As a result of these two rebellions, the First Treaty of Stros M'Kai was signed.
- Sack of Mournhold. One of the several battles that occurred after Septim's legions invaded Morrowind and before the Armistice was signed. The city was razed and the royal family of Mournhold was wiped out, except for the five-year-old heiress Barenziah.[nb 3]
- Surrender of Alinor, 2E 896. Given to the Empire as a part of the terms of the Armistice by the Tribunal, Numidium besieged the capital of Summerset Isles, its fall happening within an hour.[UOL 1] Alinor's fall marked the end of the Tiber Wars, finally unifying Tamriel, in turn leading to the proclamation of the Third Era.[UOL 2]
- Forebear Truce. After the Crown forces regrouped at Stros M'Kai and even got close to retaking the capital of Sentinel, the Forebears, desperate at the prospect of losing the civil war, asked Tiber Septim for aid. The Empire was to lend its armies to the Forebear cause in return for a swath of holding titles along the southeast border of Hammerfell. After the Crowns were crushed and the Forebear leader Baron Volag went into hiding not a day later, rumored to be dead, the treaty was revised, and Imperial garrisons were stationed across Hammerfell "until such a time as the native rulership can see fit to reinstate itself safely on its rightful throne."
- First Treaty of Stros M'Kai, 2E 864. Following the double rebellion of both most prominent Redguard factions, the Empire was forced to draw a treaty with the rebels, finally legitimizing their rule. It was signed by Tiber Septim, Iszara, and Baron Volag, representing the Empire, the Crowns and the Forebears, respectively. While Hammerfell's status as a province remained, a remark from almost two hundred years later stated that the Redguards felt that they "are part of the Empire, but not a subject."
- Armistice. After the Imperials amassed their forces at Morrowind's western borders and had several skirmishes with Tribunal-led Dunmeri forces, Lord Vivec himself proclaimed that he would initiate peace talks with Septim's Empire. The terms of the Armistice were culturally very favorable to Morrowind, such as the freedom of religion and perseverance of the ancient Dunmeri right to own and trade slaves. Strategically, the Armistice was very favorable to the Empire, most importantly the access to Morrowind's rich ebony mines and to the Dwemeri Brass God Numidium.
List of Septim's Subordinates
This is a short list of the most notable officers and associates of Tiber Septim involved in the Tiber Wars:
- Imperial Battlemage Zurin Arctus — Septim's closest subordinate, responsible for the excavation of the Numidium and its empowerment via the Mantella. Died just prior to the invasion of Summerset Isles, either betrayed by Septim or assisting him in subduing the Underking.
- Lord Admiral Amiel Richton — A naval officer who started his service as a captain under Cuhlecain. Rose in rank rather quickly during the Tiber Wars. He commanded the Imperial New West Navy against Hammerfell, dealing a crushing blow in the Battle of the Hunding Bay. Appointed Provisional Governor of Stros M'Kai and killed three months later in an insurrection.
- General Symmachus — A high-ranking non-Imperial officer, involved in the invasion of Morrowind, from where he hailed. Received the rank of a general after the Sack of Mournhold, having a personal grudge against the ruling family of the city. Lived to see the end of the Tiber Wars, becoming the Prime Minister of Morrowind and later on king consort to Barenziah.
- General Pottreid — Commander of the Third Legion. According to an account of one of his legionnaires, he, along with his legion, was deployed all over Tamriel. It is uncertain if he shared the fate of the Third Legion at the Battle of Black Rocks.
- Admiral Vasi Hadrach — Known only as Richton's predecessor. Murdered in a brothel in Daggerfall by rebel Reachmen.
- Provisional Governor Senecus Goddkey — Appointed the Provisional Governor of Sentinel after Baron Volag went into hiding, who cast him out of Sentinel a couple of months later in a planned insurrection.
- Provisional Governor Titus Alorius — Appointed the Provisional Governor of the Western Reach, a region that had always had poor relations with the Empire.
- Commander Beatia of Ylliolos — Officer in charge of a legion stationed in Porhnak. Known for her tactical brilliance with which she survived an ambush by the Nords in 2E 855.
- Nafaalilargus — Tiber Septim's "proud soldier" and "loyal vassal", actually a well-paid mercenary. Being a red dragon, he was a living symbol of the rapidly expanding Empire.
- Count Sven Advensen — Known only as a retired Nord officer. Lived to see the end of the Tiber Wars and was given the county of Blackmoor to rule as a reward for his loyalty.
- Imperial Emissary Dram — A former assassin of the Morag Tong, served as Tiber Septim's personal emissary. Heavily involved in the campaigns in Hammerfell, where he was killed in an insurrection.
- Chevalier Renald — A member of a knightly order that were predecessors of the Blades. Supported Cuhlecain to get to Septim, then Hjalti Early-Beard, believing him to be the foretold Dragonborn.
- Rise of Tiber Septim — An article over at the Imperial Library containing an overview of the Tiber Wars
- Tiber Septim — A lore article about the conqueror of Tamriel
- Third Empire — A lore article about the history of Septim's legacy
- Imperial Legion — A lore article about the men and women behind Septim's undertaking
- The Arcturian Heresy by The Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker — A brief, undated, early historical document covering the Underking and Tiber Septim
- Battle of Sancre Tor — The story of how General Talos defeated the stronghold of Sancre Tor
- Ice and Chitin by Pletius Spatec — A tale of the manipulation of chitin armor
- On Morrowind by Erramanwe of Sunhold — A historical synopsis of the Imperial conquest of Morrowind
- The Arcturian Heresy — The Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker
- Battle of Sancre Tor
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Events of Redguard
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Hammerfell — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- The Eastern Provinces
- Attrebus' biography on Redguard's old site
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Aldmeri Dominion — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Dagoth Ur's Plans — Tribunal Temple
- A Short History of Morrowind — Jeanette Sitte
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The War with the Trees: Argonia and the Black Marsh — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Biography of Queen Barenziah — Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe
- On Morrowind — Erramanwe of Sunhold
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Blessed Isle: Alinor and the Summersets — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- The Legendary Sancre Tor — Matera Chapel
- The Imperial Library – The City of Chorrol
- The Art of War Magic — Zurin Arctus, with Commentary By Other Learned Masters
- Richton's biography on Redguard's old site
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Prologue — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- WAR IN THE WEST — Jalba
- Varieties of Faith... — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- The Real Barenziah — Plitinius Mero
- Brief History of the Empire v 1 — Stronach k'Thojj III
- The Wolf Queen, v5 — Waughin Jarth
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Ice and Chitin — Pletius Spatec
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.