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The most naturally talented warriors in Tamriel, the dark-skinned, wiry-haired Redguards of Hammerfell seem born to battle, though their pride and fierce independence of spirit makes them more suitable as scouts or skirmishers, or as free-ranging heroes and adventurers, than as rank-and-file soldiers. In addition to their cultural affinities for many weapon and armor styles, Redguards are also physically blessed with hardy constitutions, resistance to poison, and quickness of foot. Redguards do not share the same blood as the other human races, and they have no known connection with the ancestral Nordic homeland of Atmora.
Redguards (formerly "Yokudans") hail from the western continent of Yokuda, which sank into the sea in ancient times. The cause of Yokuda's sinking is attributed either to natural factors (earthquakes, tsunamis, or volcanic eruptions) or to the revenge of a defeated band of Ansei called the Hiradirge. Upon the sinking of their homeland around 1E 792, the Yokudan fleet set sail to the east, eventually arriving in what would later be Hammerfell. The bulk of the refugees remained on the island of Herne while the Ra Gada, the Warrior Wave, continued on to mainland Hammerfell in 1E 808.
They attacked all settlements of Nede and Mer along with the native beasts, leaving no survivors and building upon the ruins left behind. After only a few brutal months, the Ra Gada had established a strong presence along the western shores of Hammerfell, disrupting and replacing the Imperial and Nordic raiders who had preyed upon the area for centuries. From the footholds along the coast, they continued to launch assault after assault, eventually succeeding in driving off the Orcs and making way for the High King and the Yokudan royalty, known as Na-Totambu, to safely arrive in Hammerfell. The "Redguards", a phonetic corruption of "Ra Gada", solidified their place in history as magnificent warriors by defeating the strong and hardy Orcs. Despite how long ago they arrived, the Redguards are still the comparative newcomers: every other modern race had already emerged before the Ra Gada arrived at Tamriel's shores.
The Redguards scorned their neighbors initially, and didn't even trade with them until after their worth had been proven in the successful Siege of Orsinium in 1E 980. Their own native language, Yoku, was almost entirely replaced to help stabilize foreign trades, although the language is still spoken. Hammerfell was easily absorbed by the Septim Empire in 2E 864, as it had been weakened by a bloody civil war, though the Empire subsequently had to make some significant concessions of power following a successful revolt in Stros M'Kai. Redguards would become more outgoing under the Septim Empire, and many branched out in to other parts of Tamriel. Redguards reportedly served as mercenaries under the Camoran Usurper around 3E 267.
King Camaron of Sentinel would be killed during the War of Betony in 3E 403, a short but vicious land dispute with Daggerfall over the eponymous island of Betony. The aftermath brought a lot of bad blood between the Bretons and Redguards of the Iliac Bay region. Following the Miracle of Peace, Sentinel (then under King Lhotun) greatly expanded to take over the entire northern coast of Hammerfell. It's known that near the end of the Third Era, the Redguards of eastern Hammerfell harbored a fierce grudge against Skyrim, and yearned for a chance to take back land that was seized during the War of the Bend'r-mahk in 3E 396.
In 4E 171, the Great War erupted when the Aldmeri Dominion demanded, in part, that the new Emperor Titus Mede II cede large tracts of southern Hammerfell to them. The Empire fought back, but ultimately made the concession as part of the White-Gold Concordat of 4E 175. Though the rest of the Empire left them to their fate, the Redguards refused to accept this and suffered mass devastation all over southern Hammerfell in their long, though successful, repulsion of the Dominion's invasion. Many Redguards remain bitter over the Empire's abandonment, and their valiant struggle has convinced many throughout Tamriel that the entire Concordat was a mistake, and the Empire would have persevered had it fought on.
They are of average human height, above average human strength and agility, and show a remarkable capacity for surviving in hot, dry climates. They generally possess dark skin, ranging from light brown in hue, to nearly black, and often with a significant red tint. They possess very curly hair and rarely more than a wispy mustache and beard, and their degree of body hair varies. Tattoos and body piercings are common.
 Forebears and Crowns
When Hammerfell became a province of the Second Empire and demarcated in the Imperial custom, Redguard society was formally divided into two main socio-political groups: the Crowns and the Forebears. The Crowns are descended from the High King and the Na-Totambu who ruled in Yokuda; they hold Yokudan tradition in high reverence and greatly dislike foreigners. Their influence has been waning since the last High King perished in 2E 862 and his son, the Crown Prince A'tor, reacted by viciously butchering the Forebear citizenry. When Tiber Septim's forces conquered the land two years later, it was perceived as a humanitarian gesture to stop the senseless bloodshed. While the intervention did cease open war, the hostility between the various regions of the province remains so great that some have been known to ignore their brethren when they're trying to repulse a foreign invasion.
The Forebears are descended from the Ra Gada warrior class which conquered the province, and in so doing were exposed to many Nedic (and later Breton and Imperial) traditions and ideas, while the ancestors of the Crowns were not. The Forebears seek modernity; they are more cosmopolitan than their Crown counterparts and more welcoming of the Empire and its way of life. They have adopted modified Imperial and Breton styles for their dress, architecture, and names, and many have even reorganized their traditional gods and spirits to fit into the Imperial pantheon of the Divines. Forebears are generally predominant in coastal cities and other major trade centers, while most Crowns live in more secluded regions, notably the deserts and other inhospitable areas.
More recently, a third faction, the Lhotunics (after their founder King Lhotun), has emerged espousing the progressive and cosmopolitan values of the Forebears while maintaining a strong respect for their past, though the specific compromises are not known. The movement is largely political: the Forebear kingdom of Sentinel is uniquely well-suited to forge a compromise between the two Redguard factions because it has been a seat of both Forebear and Crown power, and its economic and military strength has made it one of the most powerful and respected kingdoms in all of Tamriel. Since the Miracle of Peace and beyond, the Lhotunic movement has served as a unifying force for Sentinel as it gains dominion over more territory, and since much of that territory is dominated by disgruntled Crowns, the necessity of the Lhotunic movement is apparent. Due to their moderate platform and these expansionist policies, the Lhotunics are generally disliked by the remaining Forbears and Crowns.
 Society and Religion
Like all races, Redguards have been shaped by their home. Their Yokudan heritage left them with advanced seafaring, agricultural, military and even astronomical knowledge that allowed them to thrive in a place where others merely hoped to survive. The Redguards had their own oral language, Yoku, but that was quickly replaced to ensure better contact with their neighbors. Redguard society is extremely martial, and nearly everyone is expected to have a grasp of basic weaponry and combat, although only the rulers are generally expected to have any knowledge of strategy, formations and tactics. Only the strongest, fastest and smartest Redguards are accepted into the demanding military (which consists mainly of various knightly orders), and they are expected to prove themselves worthy by facing death. Even their entertainment, like snake charming, bears some risk to it. The practice of eastern magic is greatly frowned upon by Crown and Forebear alike, and outsiders are not tolerated in many parts of Hammerfell.
They are a highly disciplined and enterprising people, having centuries of experience with warfare in their homeland. Their warriors are acknowledged to be among the best in the world. The Redguards are also known for their naval prowess, and their fleets have proved a match for the Empire's best armadas, as seen during the Stros M'Kai revolt. Stros M'Kai and some parts of mainland Hammerfell hold many Dwemer ruins, and some young Redguards seeking to enter military service must brave the dangers of these ruins. Most of their holidays and traditions seem to revolve around either the celebration of natural phenomena or the commemoration of great battles and warriors.
Many of the nomadic tribesman, who mainly travel around the Alik'r Desert, have developed a deep, spiritual connection with the land and adhere to traditional Yokudan beliefs, which includes deities and spirits of all kinds, from Pixies (or faeries) to Satakal, the god of everything (a sort of fusion of Anu and Padomay that bears many similarities to the malevolent Nordic god Alduin). Occasionally, Satakal will destroy everything, and the spirits who manage to find a way to survive make their way into the Redguard pantheon of gods (evidencing a Redguard mentality that violence is necessary for growth).
The chieftain of the modern Redguard pantheon is Ruptga, Tall Papa, the first to survive Satakal's destruction. Others include Zeht, Tall Papa's wife Morwha, Tava (considered equivalent to Kynareth), HoonDing (a god of necessary war against infidels), Leki, Onsi, and Diagna. Demons include Malooc, an enemy of the Ra Gada. Tu'whacca was thought to be some sort of god of apathy before the creation of the world, when he became a caretaker and protector of souls (similar to Arkay). The Yokudan creation myth involved Sep, a "crazy" merchant god who convinced the others to create the mortal world to make it easier for more spirits to survive Satakal's inevitable onslaught. Except it didn't make it easier; rather, the mortal plane acts as a trap and makes apotheosis even harder. In this way, the Redguard view of creation has more in common with the Elven tradition than that of other humans, who view the mortal plane as a blessing.
 The Book of Circles
- Train your opponent to make the wrong response. — The Book of Circles, Loredas Maxims
The Book of Circles was written by Frandar Hunding, a spiritual leader of the Redguards, in order to pass on his insights. When he was thirty years old (around 1E 750), he retired to a cave and began writing what would become the Book of Circles. For Redguards, it is an enormous part of their culture and everyday life. Reading from it was abandoned some time in the middle of the First Era until Hallin, the only Ansei at the time, brought back the "old ways" and told each warrior to read the book. The people of the Alik'r celebrate "Dirij Tereur" every year on the 5th of Frost Fall, a holiday honoring Frandar Hunding, and festivities typically include readings from the book.
Each household in Hammerfell has an alcove by its hearth just big enough to hold a copy of the Book of Circles in honor of Hunding. The book is still highly regarded as a treatise on blade mastery and even other experts at the skill refer to it. It is said to include "thirty-eight grips, seven hundred and fifty offensive and eighteen hundred defensive positions, and nearly nine thousand moves essential to sword mastery".
 See Also
- For game-specific information, see the Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind, and Daggerfall articles.
- The spinoff game The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard was set in Stros M'Kai and featured the Redguard mercenary Cyrus as its main character.
- The Book of Circles by Frandar Hunding — Proverbs on the creation and use of swords
- Daily training regimen of Harayya, sword-adept instructor — Schedule for a sword master
- Divad the Singer by Destri Melarg — The early years of Divad the Singer
- From The Memory Stone of Makela Leki by Makela Leki — Diary of Leki, a Redguard warrior and master of Ansei
- Holidays of the Iliac Bay by Theth-i — An overview of Breton and Redguard holidays commonly celebrated in the Iliac Bay region
- How the Yokudans Chased the Stars — The legend of the Star Man and the Warrior
- Notes For Redguard History by Destri Melarg — An unmailed letter from an author to his publisher
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Hammerfell — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Ra Gada: Hammerfell — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Redguards, Their History and Their Heroes by Destri Melarg
- The Warrior's Charge — An old poem of the Redguards that deals with the constellations
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Hammerfell — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Other Lands — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- ^ a b Holidays of the Iliac Bay — Theth-i
- ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Cyrodiil — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Ra Gada: Hammerfell — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- ^ Lord of Souls — Greg Keyes
- ^ The Fall of the Usurper — Palaux Illthre
- ^ The War of Betony — Vulper Newgate
- ^ a b Tamriel's Timeline, The Daggerfall Chronicles — Ronald Wartow
- ^ The War of Betony — Fav'te
- ^ The Warp in the West — Ulvius Tero
- ^ a b A Concise Account of the Great War Between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion — Legate Justianus Quintius
- ^ Lu-ah's Journal — Lu'ah Al-Skaven
- ^ The Mystery of Princess Talara, Part I — Mera Llykith
- ^ Events of Redguard.
- ^ a b c Redguards, Their History and Their Heroes — Destri Melarg
- ^ Ghraewaj — Tidasus
- ^ The Alik'r — Enric Milres
- ^ The Faerie — Szun Triop
- ^ a b c Varieties of Faith in the Empire — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor
- ^ The Monomyth
- ^ Divad the Singer — Destri Melarg
- ^ a b From The Memory Stone of Makela Leki — Makela Leki
- ^ Daily training regimen of Harayya, sword-adept instructor
- ^ Notes For Redguard History — Destri Melarg
- ^ Events of Daggerfall
- ^ Words and Philosophy