The Ayleids, also known as the Wild Elves or Heartland High Elves, were the first race to establish an empire in Tamriel. They lived in a tribal society, with each "tribe" being different from the next. They were the establishers of the Imperial City, creating and designing the White Gold Tower, and apparently spoke a variation of Old Cyrodiilic. Because they lived so long ago and their language is largely undecipherable, little else is known about them. Throughout Cyrodiil many Ayleid ruins can be found. These ruins are filled with dangerous traps, monsters, bandits, and undead. Many would-be treasure hunters have died trying to plunder these lost ruins of the Ayleids.
Much like the Dwemer, what little is known about the appearance of the Ayleid comes primarily from their architecture and early writings. Most Ayleid ruins include at least one statue, presumably of an Ayleid warrior, usually holding a sword aloft. The general appearance looks similar to that of the Altmer, which most scholars consider fairly likely given the Altmer's concerted effort to maintain a "pure" Aldmeri appearance. A brief description given in volume 5, Second Seed, of 2920 describes them as "darker than Altmer, but lighter than Dunmer", suggesting a complexion similar to that of the Bosmer.
At one point the Ayleids controlled the entirety of the Imperial Province of Cyrodiil, and enslaved the Cyrodiilic and Nordic populations (which at that point were both part of the same prototypical race of men). During this time, the Ayleids made great strides in the arcane arts. The downfall of the Ayleid civilization was a combination of cultural hubris and revolution fomented amongst their slaves. With the blessing of the Aedra, a slave named Alessia led a revolt that resulted in the destruction of the Ayleid civilization. The surviving Ayleids frequently showed up as civil servants to the nobility in the Alessian empire, or fled to Valenwood and interbred with the Bosmer. The last known King of the Ayleids was the ruler of the city of Nenalata who controlled eastern Cyrodiil.
In the expansion to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Knights of the Nine, it is revealed that the Ayleids held a close relationship with the Daedric Princes. It is implied that they used the Daedric magic to increase their strength to the point where they could conquer the Cyrodiilic and Nordic races, as mentioned above. This could have been a contributing factor to the Aedra giving their aid to the human races against the Ayleids to help destroy or otherwise cripple Daedric influence in Nirn.
The White Gold Tower, the central spire of the Imperial City in Cyrodiil, was the central temple of the Ayleids. It now serves as the Imperial Palace for the Tamrielic Empire. The rest of their capital city was either razed or buried beneath the Imperial City.
By the Second Era, the Ayleids were driven into a state many would regard as "primitive" (hence Wild Elves) and lived deep within the forests of Cyrodiil, though little is still known of modern Ayleids and their culture. Their tribes apparently possessed wildly disparate cultures, but shared a thread of xenophobia, likely remaining from the Alessian Reformation when Ayleidic culture was nearly destroyed. The last reported sighting of an Ayleid occurred nearly a thousand years before the events of the Elder Scrolls games. It is unknown whether a few Ayleids still survive in the wilds of Cyrodiil, or whether their ancient race finally expired and passed into memory.
By the middle of the Mythic Era, the Ayleids controlled a large swath of land in what is modern-day Cyrodiil. This included at least the forested areas around the Niben river basin, parts of the Valus and Jerall Mountains, and areas west into Colovia. However, they were not ruled, as is often assumed, by a single, powerful central government. By the start of the First Era, a powerful aristocracy had divided the region up into a number of small kingdoms. Modern scholars are aware of at least three, with their capital cities being Lindai, Nenalata, and Miscarcand. The White Gold Tower itself appears to have been used for some sort of central council chamber, or at least held significance over that of any one capital city, as its defeat marked the end of the Ayleid civilization.
About a century into the First Era, a slave woman was born to the humans living on Ayleid-controlled Niben. This slave, who eventually ended up at the now-sacred Ayleid site of Sancre Tor (Golden Hill), would receive divine inspiration, and direct divine help, to rouse her fellow slaves and revolt against their masters. She became known to her people as Alessia, the Slave Queen, and her army, with the help of the Nords and likely some of the more radical Ayleid nobles, defeated the Ayleid kingdoms and conquered the land in the name of the Cyrodiilic Empire (in an interesting side note, the city of Sancre Tor itself, where Alessia is said to have formulated her revolt, ended up in the neighboring kingdom of Colovia until near the end of the First Era).
Within about 400 years of their overthrow, the strongly anti-mer Alessian Order had driven out, or exterminated, most remaining Ayleid settlements. Scholars generally believe that the Ayleid immigrated en masse to Valenwood, and possibly Summerset Isles, where they were integrated into those mer races. There are persistent rumors, which cannot be rejected outright, that wild tribes of pure Ayleid still hide within the Cyrodiilic forests. In any case, the Ayleid abandoned their cities, which have fallen into ruin, though the magic and mechanical traps which were installed near the end of their history still function.
Indeed, one of the finest sages of the University of Gwilym was a civilized Ayleid Elf, Tjurhane Fyrre (1E2790-2E227), whose published work on Wild Elves suggests a lively, vibrant culture. Fyrre is one of the very few Ayleids to speak freely on his people and religion, and he himself said "the nature of the Ayleid tribes is multihued, their personalities often wildly different from their neighbor[ing] tribes" (Fyrre, T., Nature of Ayleidic Poesy, p. 8, University of Gwilym Press, 2E12).
- The Ayleids are possibly based on the Estrucans and Greeks, who ruled much of Italy (Cyrodil) before the Romans (Imperials). The architecture of many Ayleid ruins exteriors also closely resembles the architecture of many ancient Greek/Roman buildings.
|Humans||Atmoran • Breton • Imperial • Keptu • Kothringi • Nede • Nord • Orma • Redguard|
|Mer||Aldmer • Altmer • Ayleid • Bosmer • Chimer • Dunmer • Dwemer • Lefthanded Elf • Maormer • Orsimer • Snow Elf|
|Beast||Argonian • Imga • Khajiit • Lilmothiit • Sload|
|Akaviri||Ka Po' Tun • Kamal • Tang Mo • Tsaesci • Dragon|
|Et'Ada||Aedra • Daedra|
|Other||Atronach • Giant • Goblin|
- Frontier, Conquest
- 2920, vol 05 - Second Seed
- Bravil: Daughter of the Niben
- The Wild Elves
- Magic from the Sky
- Glories and Laments
- Cleansing of the Fane
- Treatise on Ayleidic Cities
- The Last King of the Ayleids
- Rislav the Righteous
- Arcana Restored