The history of Hammerfell began long before the arrival of the Redguards upon its shores. The land between the Iliac Bay and the Gold Coast of Cyrodiil was called Hegathe, roughly meaning "Death Lands", in the tongue of the Aldmer peoples. The Ayleid elves set up coastal settlements in the southern portion of what is now Hammerfell, though none survived into the Third Era. The northern Elves, and their Breton descendants, also set up coastal settlements, which became, after the Ra Gada conquest, the cities of Sentinel and Lainlyn.
The Dwemer became the first to fully settle Hammerfell in the year 1E 420. The Rourken Clan of Dwemer left their Morrowind brethren after the formation of the First Council alliance between the Dwemer and the Chimer. Legend has it that the leader of the Rourken threw his hammer, Volendrung, and built Volenfell, the capital of the Western Dwemer, where it landed. Other famous Dwemer cities include the citadel on the island of Stros M'kai and Fang Lair in the Dragontail Mountains. After the Battle of Red Mountain and the disappearance of the Dwemer in the year 1E 700, their fantastical cities were lost to looters, professional expedition groups, the Falmer and the elements of nature. Savage beasts that had once been kept at bay by the Dwemer returned to Hammerfell once more.
The arrival of the Ra Gada in the year 1E 808, marked the beginning of a modern era for Hammerfell.
Leaving their homeland of Yokuda following its decimation in the early eight hundreds, the Ra Gada first landed on the isles of Herne, and then continued onto the other eastern isles and to the mainland by way of the Hew's Bane peninsula. The Redguards - as the Ra Gada came to be called - were a fierce and warlike people, and easily conquered the Breton and Imperial peoples along with the savage beasts and beast-folk of the province.
The Redguards, due to their warrior prowess, managed to subdue all of Hammerfell in a few battles. They quickly built cities atop the ruins of newly conquered cities and ancient ones alike, and within a matter of years the province was theirs. The Imperial, Nord, and Breton peoples did not forgive the Redguard conquest of their lands, and skirmishes continued along the borders for the rest of the century.
Only when the Orsimer, or Orc, nation of Orsinium appeared to challenge their dominance did the Redguards join forces with the Bretons. An alliance of the Sword Singer Order of Diagna, led by Gaiden Shinji; the kingdom of Daggerfall, led by King Joile; and the armies of Sentinel, began an epic siege of Orsinium in the year 950. After thirty years of constant warfare, the Orc kingdom proved to be too much for the alliance. This shared battle led to improved diplomacy between the Redguards and their neighbors. The Redguards opened their borders for trade and to assist other nations in their own wars - such as the alliance with Bendu Olo of the Cyrodilic kingdom of Anvil against the Sload.
Bringing in experience from their native Yokuda, the Redguards were able to tame the harsh land and thrive where others perished. Their culture, religion, and even government were transplanted whole to the new land and their civilization flourished. The new environment did however bring about change. The Yoku language was replaced with the common tongue of Tamriel to better trade with their neighbors, and some of the Ra Gada gods, minor deities in particular, began to take on more Tamrielic aspects. Many of the lower class Yoku and the Ra Gada wanted to adapt and assimilate to the ways of their new land, while the upper class and the Na-Totambu, or ruling class, wanted to keep their traditional ways.
Cities along the border, such as Sentinel in the north and Rihad in the south, adapted particularly fast to the new Tamrielic culture. Trade and cultural interaction encouraged assimilation, and the peoples in those areas became increasingly Imperial. Over time, their views and customs differed enough from that of the traditional Redguards for them to separate into a wholly new sociopolitical faction: The Forebears. Tension between the factions continued to build for the next two thousand years.
In the years 862 of the Second Era, High King Thassad II died of natural causes and the province plunged into a bloody civil war between the Crowns and the Forebears. Prince A'Tor, heir to the throne of Hammerfell, led the Crown forces against the Forebears. Just as the Crown victory appeared certain, the Forebears made a pact with Tiber Septim, who agreed to send his forces into Hammerfell to defeat A'Tor in exchange for Hammerfell's allegiance to the Septim Empire.
Tiber crushed the weakened Crown forces and took mainland Hammerfell. A'Tor and the loyal Crown forces were forced to flee to Stros M'kai, an island fortress in the south of Hammerfell. At the Battle of Hunding Bay, A'Tor met the forces of Tiber Septim in a magnificent naval battle. Just as the Crown forces were about to defeat the Imperial Navy, Dram, a famous Dunmer assassin, shot Prince A'Tor with a poisoned arrow. The Dragon Nafaalilagus, thrall of the Empire, burned down the remaining Redguard forces - and with them the hopes of Hammerfell's sovereignty. Tiber Septim garrisoned Imperial forces in each of Hammerfell's cities and installed Imperial governors to rule the province.
Shortly after, in the year 2E 864, rebellion again arose on Stros M'kai. Cyrus, a Redguard mercenary, defeated first Nafaalilagus and then Governor Amiel Richton, forcing Tiber Septim to sue for peace with Hammerfell. The Empire conceded to let Hammerfell keep many of their traditions and government, and removed the Imperial garrisons and governors from the provinces.
Cyrus, Sura in the Yoku tongue, was the center of many legends. Many Redguard considered him an incarnation of the HoonDing - the Yokudan god of Make Way and Perseverance over Infidels - due to his defeat of the Empire at Stros M'kai. Additionally, there were legends of him battling the Dunmer god Vivec among the wreckage of Yokuda.
The coming of the Empire only widened the rift between the Crowns and Forebears however. When the Camoran Usurper marched on Hammerfell, the Crowns refused assistance to their Forebear brethren in Rihad and Taneth, leading to their defeat and the fall of southern Hammerfell in the Battle of Dragontooth in 3E 253. The Camoran Usurper decimated much of western Hammerfell until he was finally defeated by the navy of High Rock.
Neither did the Forebears come to the assistance of the Crowns in 3E 396, when the Nords attacked Hammerfell in what was known in the Third Era as the War of Bend'r-mahk. That division left Hammerfell weakened, allowing the Nords to capture significant parts of eastern Hammerfell, including the cities of Elinhir, and Dragonstar. Dragonstar became divided into two distinct cities, its eastern half controlled by Skyrim and its western half controlled by Hammerfell. That division remained into the Fourth Era.
War came again to Hammerfell in the year 3E 402, when the kingdoms of Sentinel and Daggerfall went to war over who was to control Betony Island in the Iliac Bay. Priest Vanech of Daggerfall considered the island a holy realm of Kynareth and refused to cede it to Hammerfell. The High Rock city-state Reich Gradkeep agreed to meditate between Lysandus of Daggerfall and Camaron of Sentinel. At those negotiations, Vanech submitted a fake treaty which upset Camaron and eventually plunged the city-state into chaos. Total war erupted between Daggerfall and Sentinel. The war reached its climax at the Battle of Cryngaine Field. King Lysandus was slain on the field of battle, and his son, Gothryd, was crowned King of Daggerfall. King Camaron was likewise slain, and Lord Oresme surrendered to High Rock.
In the year 3E 417 conflict again plagued the Iliac Bay region as the kingdoms of Sentinel, Daggerfall, Wayrest, and Orsinium, as well as the Blades, the Underking, and the Order of the Black Worm, vied over the control of the Numidium, a powerful Dwemer golem used by Tiber Septim to conquer the continent. The Mantella, a device needed to power the Numidium, was in the hands of the Hero of Daggerfall.
In the end, it was not known who received control of the Numidium. It was said that the various squabbling factions destroyed each other, bringing about the mysterious event known as the Dragonbreak, or, in that case, the Miracle of Peace.
The Miracle of Peace redefined politics in the Iliac Bay. High Rock, once a realm of over a hundred squabbling city-states, consisted of only three after the Miracle of Peace: Daggerfall, Wayrest, and Nova Orsinium. Mannimarco, the King of Worms and the leader of the Order of the Black Worm, ascended into godhood and the Underking was able to die a mortal death after the Mantella, which was made from his life-force, was returned to him. Finally, there was peace between High Rock, Hammerfell, and Orsinium. Following the Miracle of Peace, the Forebear kingdom of Sentinel grew to encompass the entirety of the northern coast of Hammerfell, for Abibon-Gora in the west to Satakalaam in the east, at the mouth of the Bjoulsae River. As most of the formerly independent lands in this northern area were Crown in sympathy, King Lhotun was continually involved in military, diplomatic, and even religious missions to keep them under his wing. Lhotun was forced to create what some considered a third party, one with reverence for the Yokudan past but respect for the Imperial ways which, appropriately enough, came to be called the Lhotunic.
Unsurprisingly, the moderate Lhotunics attracted nothing but contempt from the Crown and Forebear kingdoms alike. Clavilla, the Queen of Taneth, tried without success to have the charters of the independent guilds revoked from all sentinel lands, saying that the accepted worship of Satakal was grounds enough for heresy against the Empire. Ayaan-si, High Prophet of Elinhir, called upon the True Crowns of the north to rebel against Lhotun, and financed a number of forays against the borders in Bergama and Dak'fron. His one success was significant. The land of Totambu, named in ancient days after the Na-Totambu of Yokuda, the progenitors of the Crowns, returned to his fold and declared independence from Sentinel. As Lhotun's kingdom surrounded Totambu on all four sides, it was questionable how much longer it could have afforded to assert itself, but nonetheless, its people held their resistance.
Eastern Hammerfell, less concerned with Sentinel, continued its efforts to take back the lands conquered by Skyrim in the War of Bend'r-Mahk. There was no question that Redguards, while lacking the cohesiveness as a society to form effective armies, were once and still remain, excellent warriors and unmatched in guerrilla warfare. Still, little ground was regained, for the Nords too were renowned warriors.
The Fourth Era made the Empire even more of a shadow of its former glory. Valenwood and Elsweyr had been ceded to the Thalmor, Black Marsh had been lost to Imperial rule since the Oblivion Crisis, Morrowind had yet to fully recover from the eruption of Red Mountain, Skyrim was torn between its bloody civil war, and Hammerfell was plagued by infighting between the Crowns and Forebears factions. Only High Rock and Cyrodiil remained prosperous.
After Titus II rejects an ultimatum to make massive concessions to the Thalmor, Aldmeri armies invade. An army led by Thalmor general Lord Naarifin emerges from hidden camps in northern Elsweyr and assaults southern Cyrodiil, flanking Imperial defenses along the Valenwood border. Leyawiin falls to the invaders, and Bravil is surrounded and besieged. Simultaneously, an army under Lady Arannelya crosses western Cyrodiil, bypassing Anvil and Kvatch and entering Hammerfell. This army is joined by smaller forces landing on Hammerfell's coast. Imperial troops are forced into retreat across the Alik'r Desert.
4E 174 — The Imperial City is sacked by Aldmeri forces.
Titus II flees north from the city, smashing through the surrounding Aldmeri forces with his main army and linking up with reinforcements heading south from Skyrim under General Jonna. The Imperial City falls to the invaders. The Imperial Palace is burned, White Gold Tower is looted, and the Aldmeri commit many atrocities against the defenseless populace.
4E 175 — The Battle of the Red Ring results in the complete destruction of the Aldmeri army in Cyrodiil, a victory for the Empire precipitating the end of the Great War.
The Imperial City is retaken and Titus II's decision to withdraw from it the previous year is vindicated. Despite this resounding victory, however, the Empire is exhausted and unable to continue the war. Realizing this, Titus II seeks to negotiate with the Aldmeri Dominion to end the war.
4E 175 — The Great War ends with the White-Gold Concordat.
The Concordat is a peace treaty between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion. The terms of treaty gave the Thalmor free reign to stamp out the worship of Talos throughout the Empire, and ceded a large section of southern Hammerfell. Critics note that these terms are almost identical to the ultimatum that Titus Mede II rejected at the start of the war.
4E 175 — Hammerfell leaves the Empire after rejecting the White-Gold Concordat.
Titus II renounces Hammerfell as a province of the Empire to preserve the treaty after the Redguards oppose ceding their lands. The Redguards see this as a betrayal, and a lasting bitterness between Hammerfell and the Empire is sown to the delight of the Thalmor. Hammerfell continues to war with the Aldmeri Dominion for the next five years.
4E 180 — The Second Treaty of Stros M'kai is signed.
Having been fought to a standstill by the Redguards, the Aldmeri Dominion completely withdraws from Hammerfell, making Hammerfell the only nation to defeat the Second Aldmeri Dominion. The fact that this was done largely by themselves makes this feat more impressive. Finally, through the cooperation between Forebears and Crowns, the civil war in Hammerfell ends.
The main religion of Hammerfell is a combination of the traditional Yokudan pantheon and ancestor worship.
- Satakal - Yokudan god of everything. A fusion of the concepts of Anu and Padomay. Basically, Satakal is much like the Nordic Alduin, who destroys one world to begin the next. In Yokudan mythology, Satakal had done, and still does this many times over, a cycle which prompted the birth of spirits that could survive the transition. These spirits ultimately become the Yokudan pantheon. Popular god of the Alik'r nomads.
- Ruptga - Chief deity of the Yokudan pantheon. Ruptga, more commonly 'Tall Papa', was the first god to figure out how to survive the Hunger of Satakal. Following his lead, the other gods learned the 'Walkabout', or a process by which they can persist beyond one lifetime. Tall Papa set the stars in the sky to show lesser spirits how to do this, too. When there were too many spirits to keep track of, though, Ruptga created a helper out the dead skin of past worlds. This helper is Sep, who later creates the world of mortals.
- Tu'whacca - Yokudan god of souls. Tu'whacca, before the creation of the world, was the god of the cosmos. When Tall Papa undertook the creation of the Walkabout, Tu'whacca found a purpose; he became the caretaker of the Far Shores, and continues to help Redguards find their way into the afterlife. His cult is sometimes associated with Arkay in the more cosmopolitan regions of Hammerfell.
- Zeht - Yokudan god of agriculture. Renounced his father after the world was created, which is why Tall Papa makes it so hard to grow food.
- Morwha - Yokudan fertility goddess. Fundamental deity in the Yokudan pantheon, and the favorite of Tall Papa's wives. Still worshipped in various areas of Hammerfell, including Stros M'kai. Morwha is always portrayed as four-armed, so that she can 'grab more husbands'.
- Tava - Yokudan spirit of the air. Tava is most famous for leading the Yokudans to the isle of Herne after the destruction of their homeland. She has since become assimilated into the mythology of Kynareth. She is still very popular in Hammerfell among sailors, and her shrines can be found in most port cities.
- Malooc - An enemy god of the Ra Gada. Led the goblins against the Redguards during the first era. Fled east when the army of the HoonDing overtook his goblin hordes.
- Diagna - Hoary thuggish cult of the Redguards. Originated in Yokuda during the Twenty Seven Snake Folk Slaughter. Diagna was an avatar of the HoonDing that achieved permanence. He was instrumental to the defeat of the Lefthanded Elves, as he brought orichalc weapons to the Yokudan people to win the fight. In Tamriel, he led a very tight knit group of followers against the Orcs of Orsinium during the height of their ancient power, but then faded into obscurity. He is now little more than a local power spirit of the Dragontail mountains.
- Sep - Yokudan version of Lorkhan. Sep is born when Tall Papa creates someone to help him regulate the spirit trade. Sep, though, is driven crazy by the hunger of Satakal, and he convinces some of the gods to help him make an easier alternative to the Walkabout. This, of course, is the world as we know it, and the spirits who followed Sep become trapped here, to live out their lives as mortals. Sep is punished by Tall Papa for his transgressions, but his hunger lives on as a void in the stars, a 'non-space' that tries to upset mortal entry into the Far Shores.
- Hoonding - Yokudan spirit of 'perseverance over infidels'. The HoonDing has historically materialized whenever the Redguards need to 'make way' for their people. In Tamrielic history this has only happened three times-twice in the first era during the Ra Gada invasion, once during the Tiber War. In this last incarnation, the HoonDing was said to have been either a sword or a crown, or both.
- Leki - Goddess daughter of Tall Papa, Leki is the goddess of aberrant swordsmanship. The Na-Totambu of Yokuda warred to a standstill during the mythic era to decide who would lead the charge against the Lefthanded Elves. Their sword masters, though, were so skilled in the Best Known Cuts as to be matched evenly. Leki introduced the Ephemeral Feint; after wards, a victor emerged and the war with the Aldmer began.
- Onsi - Notable warrior god of the Yokudan Ra Gada, Onsi taught Mankind how to pull their knives into swords.
Hammerfell was an arid land consisting mostly of deserts, mountains, and grasslands. The few forests of Hammerfell were found mainly along the coasts and along the borders between Hammerfell, High Rock, and Skyrim. The rugged Dragontail Mountains lined northern Hammerfell's border with Skyrim. The Colovian Highlands made up part of Hammerfell's southern border with Cyrodiil. The southeastern region of Hammerfell was occupied by grasslands similar to those found in the Gold Coast region of Cyrodiil. The Dak'fron Desert, a region of rocky desert in the northern region of Hammerfell, bordered the Dragontail Mountains and what was perhaps the most prominent geographical feature of Hammerfell - the Alik'r Desert.
The Alik'r Desert took up all of the western region of Hammerfell, and was widely regarded as the most inhospitable region in all of Tamriel. Until the coming of the Ra Gada in the eight hundreds of the First Era, the deserts were populated only by monstrous beasts, including giant scorpions. While the fauna of the Alik'r Desert remained deadly into the Third Era, the Redguards had managed to significantly reduce the presence and threat of those creatures. The Alik'r Desert was also the home to ruins of countless civilizations that had perished beneath its sands. Its blazing heat, ferocious sandstorms, and lack of water, made it nearly impossible to survive in the Alik'r Desert. The Desert was inhabited only by the nomadic Dune Dweller Redguards.
The Alik'r Desert was a region of northern Hammerfell, within the Iliac Bay region, that was best known for its large desert. The Alik'r Desert also completely surrounded the province of Bergama. The provincial seat was the city of Alik'r. During the Warp in the West, the Alik'r Desert region became a part of the city state of Sentinel. Dragonstar was a city in Hammerfell, just south of the border with High Rock and Skyrim. Elinhir was a city in eastern Hammerfell, close to the border with both Skyrim and Cyrodiil. It was close to the Skyrim city of Falkreath. Gilane was a city in southern Hammerfell lying west of Taneth and southeast of Sentinel. The ruins of the capital city of the Rourken Clan could be found nearby. Hegathe was a large city in southwestern Hammerfell, to the south of Sentinel. In the Merethic Era, 'Hegathe' was the name given to Hammerfell by the Aldmer.
Rihad was a port city at the southern edge of Hammerfell, just north of its border with Cyrodiil. Rihad was located on the coast of the Abecean Sea, on the main road between Anvil and Taneth. The Brena River flowed into the Abecean Sea just south of the city. The city was an eclectic mix of Redguard Forebears, survivors of the Yokuda Ra Gada, followers of Satakal, a few Bretons, and warriors-in-training from all over Tamriel. Buildings in the city with its flying domes, flying dew sails, and the mosaic colophons were constructed over the old and new ruins of past civilizations. In 3E 253, armies of Taneth and Rihad were defeated in the Battle of Dragontooth by the Camoran Usurper, which led to the fall of southern Hammerfell. The city was the birthplace of the well-known historian Destri Melarg.
Judging by its location, the Kingdom of Sentinel could have been nothing other than a merchant power: it was situated on the rocky, infertile northern hills of Hammerfell overlooking the Iliac Bay. It was bordered by Myrkwasa and the Alik'r Desert to the south, and by Antiphyllos and Ayasofya to the east. The uninhabited isle of Cybiades lied off the coast to the north. It was built in the time of the first Redguard colonization of Hammerfell, to serve as a base for their battles against the Bretons, but had since been expanded by the Third Era. The main city streets of Sentinel was a great market leading from the docks to the front gates. Sentinel was an exotic retreat for the nobility of Daggerfall and Wayrest, who delighted in the exotic cooking, craftsmanship, and bizarre plays.
Skaven was a city in north-central Hammerfell. Once the home of Crown Prince A'Tor, Stros M'kai was an important mountainous island off the southern coast of Hammerfell near the Cape of the Blue Divide. Stros M'kai was renowned for its completely steam-powered Dwemer ruins, including the marvelous observatory known as the Orrery. Taneth was a city in southern Hammerfell on the Abecean Sea lying northwest of Rihad and east of Gilane.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, there is a way to be in this province with borders on, across from the Brena River, approximately where Rihad should be. It is a very small area that you can walk around, however.
- It is widely believed throughout lore that Hammerfell received its name from the artifact Volendrung being thrown into it by the leader of the Rourken Clan of the Dwemer, making it the place the clan would migrate to.
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Hammerfell
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Hammerfell
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- The Elder Scrolls Online