Open main menu

UESPWiki β

Lore:Snow Elf Empire

Skyrim, the province where the Snow Elf Empire was based

The Snow Elf Empire, as it's name suggests, was ruled by the Snow Elves. Little is known of the empire, other than what has been derived from scholarly works, legends and myths. Given that the religious pantheon of the Snow Elves overlaps significantly with the Aldmer pantheon (which itself was first established on the Summerset Isles) suggests the Snow Elves split from their Aldmer brethren on Summerset in the Middle Merethic Era.[1][2] When they arrived in the land known today as Skyrim, they founded their empire and prospered greatly, and according to some scholars possessed a degree of sophistication and power unparalleled in Tamriel at that time.[3] Its unknown the extent to which their borders reached, as virtually no Snow Elf structures or cities remain in Skyrim, except one that was discovered underground near the city of Riften.

When the Atmorans migrated to their lands in the Late Merethic Era, the two races live in relative peace for some time, and the Atmorans thrived, summoning more of their kin from Atmora to build the city of Saarthal.[4] The peace didn't last and soon the Snow Elves found themselves in constant conflict.[1] The catalyst that would lead to the destruction of the Snow Elf Empire was the infamous Night of Tears. Why the elves instigated the massacre of Saarthal is disputed; attributed motives include fear, religious and military provocations, territorial disputes, and a desire to possess an ancient power the humans had uncovered.[4][3]

The elves drove the Atmoran survivors from their shores, but Ysgramor soon returned with his Five Hundred Companions and began his onslaught on the elven empire. It is unknown how long the conflict, known as the Return, lasted but by the beginning of the First Era the elves built the Chantry of Auri-El in the isolated Forgotten Vale to serve as the epicenter of their religion.[nb 1] Whatever resistance the elves put up was no match for the Atmoran horde and the war continued in their favor.[1] After wiping out organized elven resistance in Skyrim, the Nordic armies sought their enemy out on the island of Solstheim. The elves made a last stand in the Battle of the Moesring: after an intense battle, their leader, the Snow Prince, was killed, and the empire of the Snow Elves was destroyed.[5] The survivors fled underground to hide and those who remained on the surface were exterminated in the following decades, even as late as 1E 140.[6][7]

Around three centuries passed until the Dwemer arrived in Skyrim sometime after 1E 420.[8][9]. They Dwemer established their own kingdom under Skyrim itself, and many Snow Elves turned to their underground brethren for help.[10][11] The Dwemer offered to provide them a haven, but forced their wards into servitude, only allowing them to consume a toxic fungus which rendered them blind. Over time, the servants became slaves, but despite this the Snow Elves would rise up against their Dwarven Masters waging the unseen War of the Crag, which was at a standstill for centuries until the dissapearance of the dwarves. Unfortunately winning the war against the Dwarves by default did not stop the death knell of the Snow Elves, as they still degenerated into the bestial race known today as the Falmer.[10]



  1. ^ According to Kodlak Whitemane, the Companions are "nearly 5000 years old", which would indicate that the Return occurred sometime in the last five centuries of the Merethic Era. Similarly, the memorial plaque for High King Harald in Windhelm proclaims him as 13th in the line of Ysgramor, which if referring to generations, would indicate Ysgramor being alive around the second century before the end of the Merethic Era.