The Atmorans were among the first human settlers on Tamriel and had been emigrating from Atmora for many years prior. They called the land Mereth, in recognition of the vast number of Mer that lived there, and befriended the local Elves.
Sack of SaarthalEdit
One night, an invading force of Elves descended upon Saarthal and slaughtered the inhabitants. The city itself was burned to the ground. These events became known as the Night of Tears.
Originally, it was believed that the Elves motive was to exterminate the Atmorans as they realized the rate at which Man's population was growing. If left unchecked, these settlers would become a great threat to Elvish civilization on Tamriel. Another theory, proposed by Imperial scholars, is that the Snow Elves' motives for attacking Saarthal was that they feared that the Atmorans' culture would surpass their own, and thus sought to drive the men from their lands.
It has been speculated however that when the city was originally built, the Atmorans found a source of great power located underneath Saarthal and attempted to keep it buried. The elves learned of this and coveted it for themselves.
Some reports suggest that the initial attack on Saarthal was very focused, and did not appear to correlate to any locations that were established as points of defense or importance. Not only did the elves know the apparent layout of the city, but that their assault was based on a specific directive and perhaps a singular goal .
Other reports suggest Ysgramor committed unspecified "provocations and blasphemies" that led to the genocide.
Ysgramor and his two sons, Yngol and Ylgar, survived and fled back to Atmora but would later return with an army known as the Five Hundred Companions to lead a reprisal campaign against the elvish population of Skyrim. The city was retaken and eventually rebuilt .
Ysgramor and his army hunted the Snow Elves and other Mer alike, and made possible the rise of men, eventually establishing the First Empire. These series of events gained the name of The Return and have since led to a strong hatred and prejudice between the races of Men and Mer.