The Altmer, or High Elves, are a race of elves that inhabit parts of the Summerset Isles. They are one of the ten default playable races, primarily known for their enhanced magical abilities. As a race, the Altmer strive to maintain the appearance of their ancestor race, the Aldmer, primarily through highly selective traditions surrounding marriage and reproduction.
Summerset Isles Edit
The Summerset Isles (also Sumurset Isle and, rarely, Summurset Isle; during the timeline of Skyrim, Alinor) are two islands located southwest of Tamriel, west of Valenwood. The province is home to the Altmer. The islands used to be considered part of the Tamrielic Empire, but are now the capital of the Aldmeri Dominion. Even though the Isles reside in the Abecean Sea, they are still considered a part of Tamriel.
As of the Fourth Era, the Summerset Isle (now Alinor) is no longer part of the Tamrielic Empire and is now the nucleus of the resurrected Aldmeri Dominion.
The Altmer are among the tallest of the humanoid races; taller than most humans and even the other mer races. Their skin maintains a very pale golden hue, not quite the pale white of the northern human races such as Nords or Imperials, but far lighter than the Bosmer. They are slender, with prominently pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes.
On average, Altmer are of smaller build than humans, and thus generally not as strong. Their tall stature also makes them less agile than their Bosmeri cousins. However, Altmer are among the most intelligent and magically-inclined races on Nirn, surpassing even the Bretons in magical aptitude.
The Altmer are one of the oldest races on Tamriel, one of the earliest descendants of the original mer race of Aldmer, and from there, through the Ehlnofey to the divine et'Ada themselves. As a race, they are extremely proud of their Aldmeri heritage and make a concerted effort to maintain their genetic lineage. Their name translates from the Aldmeri language as High Ones or Cultured Ones; a name which is often interpreted to mean "tall", or more often, "snobbish". For their part, the Altmer argue that they are the first true culture on Tamriel and still the most civilized race; an argument that even human scholars find difficult to refute.
The Altmer primarily live in the province of Summerset Isle, a large island off the southwest coast of Tamriel, which shares a border withValenwood. According to their histories, their Aldmeri ancestors arrived on Summerset Isle due to mysterious reasons from the continent of Aldmeris. From here, splinter groups of Aldmer spread throughout Tamriel, but the Altmer remained on the Isles, acting as the nominal head of the empire of Altmeri nations on Tamriel. For most of the Mythic Era, the other races of elves on Tamriel acknowledged the Altmeri king as their own ruler, a practice which persisted until the founding of the Camoran Dynasty in Valenwood which marked the start of the First Era and the beginning of the decline of Altmer-dominated Tamriel. Their influence is still felt across the continent, however, as their culture forms the basis for the religion, language, and even architecture of the Cyrodilic Empire.
The Altmer also have a very precise culture. From their customs to their buildings, or their appearance to their table manners.
The Altmeri religion forms the basis for most of the other religious practices on the continent, primarily due to its widespread acceptance prior to the advent of human civilization. It is generally assumed that the Altmer pantheon derives directly from the original gods of the Aldmer, and was nearly identical to that of the Ayleids that ruled central Tamriel before the Alessian revolt.
The Altmer pantheon consists of nine of the Aedra that originally cooperated to form Nirn, the mortal plane. They primarily worship those Aedra which removed themselves from the creation process in time to save their divinity, with a few notable exceptions. As with nearly all Tamrielic religions, they revere Akatosh, whom they call Auri-El, as their chief deity, at least in principle. However, Akatosh, along with the Altmer deities Stendarr (whom the Altmer view as an apologist of Man) and Mara, were part of the creation process until its end, and so were severely weakened from their original form. In practice, the Altmer followed the teachings of Trinimac, the champion deity of the elves, who was still able to physically walk the face of Tamriel during the Mythic Era. Other key divines in their pantheon include Magnus, the source of magic on Nirn, and Phynaster, the patron god of the Summerset Isle, whom the Altmer claim taught them to live much longer lives by taking shorter strides.
Although they do not revere him as a god (in fact, quite the opposite), the Altmer do acknowledge the divinity of Lorkhan, the patron god of man. Much of the early Altmer history involves conflicts between Trinimac and his elves, and Lorkhan and his humans. The Altmer cast Lorkhan as a treacherous, shifty character who tricked the Aedra into carrying out his plan for creation. As the elves believe themselves to be direct descendants from Auri-El, they blame Lorkhan for the loss of their divinity. This is the key difference between human and mer theology: humans consider themselves creations of the gods, not descendants of the gods. Unfortunately for the Altmer, Trinimac disappeared near the end of the Mythic Era; according to legend, he was eaten by the Daedric Prince Boethiah and reformed into Malacath. The start of the First Era marked the beginning of a sharp decline in Altmer cultural and religious dominance across Tamriel; in modern times, Altmer outside of Summerset are as likely to worship the Nine Divines as their own traditional gods.