The Aldmeri Dominion refers to any of at least three separate empires established by the Altmer on the continent of Tamriel over the course of its history. The term "Aldmeri" is literally translated as "Home of the Elves".
The original Aldmeri Dominion, also known as the First Dominion, was an empire founded by Queen Ayrenn in 2E 582, in the midst of the Interregnum. It was conceived after Ayrenn assumed the throne of Alinor. Having traveled Tamriel extensively before returning to the Summerset Isles, she was aware of the dire threats menacing the world and saw it as the proper duty of the Elves to put things right. At the same time, the Bosmer and Khajiit were facing troubles of their own and in need of allies. Consequently, the Summerset Isles, Valenwood, and Elsweyr joined together to form the Dominion, which warred with the rival Daggerfall Covenant and Ebonheart Pact over possession of Cyrodiil's Ruby Throne and control of Tamriel. The First Dominion's ultimate goal was to usher in a new age of Elven rule across Tamriel in order to protect the land from the careless actions of the younger races.
The Second Dominion was formed in 2E 830 when the Summerset Isles conquered Valenwood over a dynastic dispute. When the heirs of the Camoran Dynasty sought to capture Valenwood's throne, a faction of Bosmer attempted to make peace with their enemies in the Colovian Estates by offering part of the Valenwood territory in exchange for the faction's own claimant. The Altmer, upon hearing of this, invaded Valenwood, citing a stewardship clause in a thousand-year-old treaty between their nations. The Altmer established the Thalmor as the new government in Valenwood on behalf of their claimant Camoran Anaxemes, whose ancestors had made the treaty. Since the Interregnum still gripped Tamriel, the Colovian armies were easily forced back by the Elves and the Second Aldmeri Dominion was born. Over the next several years, the Thalmor strengthened their hold on Valenwood and Bosmer tribes continued to skirmish with the Colovian Estates. The Elves also made allies with some Reachmen, the Maormer of Pyandonea, and the Elsweyr Confederacy.
Meanwhile, Tiber Septim rose to power in Cyrodiil and began his conquest of Tamriel. The nascent Third Empire expanded and encroached on Dominion territory, forcing the Bosmer attacks to subside. Despite their military setbacks on land, at sea the Elven forces were considerably more powerful and steadfastly held the southern waters from the Cape of the Blue Divide to the Topal Bay. Although there was no formal declaration of war between the Dominion and the Empire, Tamriel had become divided between them in an unfolding clash of civilizations. The catastrophic use of the Numidium ended the long confrontation in 2E 896, resulting in the surrender of the Summerset Isles and the human conquest of Tamriel. The Second Dominion would represent the last time for centuries that the Elves of Tamriel ruled sovereign kingdoms on the continent, the legacy of the Direnni and Aldmer holdings.
The Oblivion Crisis that ended the Third Era and weakened the Empire provided the opportunity for the Third Aldmeri Dominion to form. The Thalmor, who had survived as a marginalized political faction that espoused Elven superiority, painted themselves as the saviors of the Summerset Isles during the Crisis. The Altmer public believed these claims, and with the Empire too disarrayed to reassert its authority, the Thalmor's popularity swelled. In 4E 22, the Thalmor solidified their position and seized total control of the Summerset Isles, renaming it Alinor. Seven years later, a Thalmor-backed coup overthrew Valenwood's government, routing Imperial forces and their Bosmer supporters. Alinor and Valenwood then proclaimed a union, and the Aldmeri Dominion was reborn.
For the next 70 years all contact between the Dominion and the Empire was severed, leading to speculation of civil unrest in Alinor. Whatever the cause of this silence, it ended in 4E 100 with the abatement of the Void Nights: the Thalmor declared they had caused the return of Masser and Secunda. This earned them great favor in the former Imperial province of Elsweyr; the Khajiit in particular had suffered during the moons' absence. Under Thalmor influence, Elsweyr split into the kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine in 4E 115, and subsequently become client states of the Dominion.
As the Dominion grew, so did tensions between it and the Empire. In 4E 171, the Thalmor invaded Hammerfell and Cyrodiil after Emperor Titus Mede II rejected their ultimatum, opening the Great War. Initially seeking only to add Hammerfell to its territory, the Thalmor soon realized that the Empire was much weaker than they initially assumed and advanced deeper into Cyrodiil. The Imperial City fell in 4E 174, but Titus II escaped and joined Imperial legions stationed in Skyrim, where he plotted his counterattack. The Thalmor army in Cyrodiil was obliterated in the Battle of the Red Ring, their greatest defeat, the following year.
Rather than capitalizing on his victory to evict the Thalmor from Hammerfell or attack the Dominion, Titus II acknowledged that the Imperial legions were exhausted and decided to agree to the White-Gold Concordat. Under the Concordat's terms, the Great War formally ended, Talos worship was banned within the Empire, and a significant portion of southern Hammerfell was ceded to the Dominion. Angered by the terms, Hammerfell rejected the Concordat, forcing Titus II to renounce it as an Imperial province. The Thalmor continued fighting Hammerfell over the next five years, but signed the Second Treaty of Stros M'Kai and withdrew from the region completely when the war reached a stalemate.
By 4E 201, the Dominion and the Empire had settled into an uneasy peace. When Skyrim became embroiled in a civil war between Imperial loyalists and secessionist Stormcloaks, the Dominion watched the conflict warily. A long civil war would keep both Skyrim and the Empire distracted and off-balance, but a victory by either faction would hinder the Dominion's plans, one way or another. It was believed that whatever the outcome, a second conflict between the Dominion and Empire was inevitable.
- For game-specific information about the First Dominion, see the ESO article.
- Altmeri Imperatives and Dialectics, Vol. 1 — An Altmeri-centric essay comparing the downfalls of Ayleid and human empires
- Handbill distributed in Firsthold — An advertisement supporting the Aldmeri Dominion
- Life in the Eagle's Shadow — A journal recounting the rise of the Aldmeri Dominion in the Second Era
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Aldmeri Dominion — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ Ayrenn: The Unforeseen Queen — Headmaster Tanion of the College of Aldmeri Propriety
- ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Aldmeri Dominion — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ A Concise Account of the Great War Between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion — Legate Justianus Quintius
- ^ Thalmor Dossier: Ulfric Stormcloak