Although they all fall under the umbrella term of "men" or "humans," the individual races of Tamriel that fit within that category are highly varied and unique. Perhaps the most unique among them are the Bretons, a magically gifted race with a history and culture that, while bearing a great many similarities to those of their other human cousins, most certainly has a flavor that is all its own. Though if their conventionally human appearance isn't quirky enough for you, you could always go study the lizard people.
Most are well acquainted with the Bretons' magical aptitude, as it sets them apart from other humans, but few know precisely why they're so particularly gifted in that department, much less find themselves intimately acquainted with Breton society. Today, however, we're looking to change that. Keep scrolling to join us as we examine ten little known and immensely interesting facts concerning The Elder Scrolls' proud and magically inclined Bretons. Perhaps once you're finished, you'll find yourself so charmed that you'll boot up Skyrim and go create one.
10 They're Born Of Elven Ancestry
The story of the Bretons begins with the interbreeding of elves and humans in the province of High Rock, where said elves once ruled and lorded. There's some debate as to whether the humans were Nedic or Atmoran in terms of ancestry, but one thing is for certain: The Bretons most certainly descend from the mixing of elven blood.
This neatly explains why the Bretons are much more adept in the magical arts than the other races of men and women. They were often looked upon as a "mongrel" race, but have attained a proud identity and culture all their own in spite of such derisive regard.
9 A Divided People
Throughout their history, the Breton people have been divided. Much of their land had historically been divided up among a great many petty kingdoms, numbering well into the dozens at one point, that endlessly skirmish, squabble, and bicker among themselves for comparatively small gains in political power.
The numerous small kingdoms that dotted their lands gave rise to the phrase, "Find a new hill, become a king." This division persisted well into the conquest and appropriation of their province into the Empire. Eventually, they would find themselves united by an ineffable, mystical occurrence that we'll also touch on in this list.
8 Stuck On Feudalism
Breton social structure is best defined as classical feudalism, providing significant illumination on their division as a people. The greater majority of the Breton population is made up of the poor and the peasantry, with the resplendent nobility constantly vying for power among itself.
However, the Bretons seem fairly content with this way of things, and wear this division and disparity as a sort of badge of honor, with great value and praise rendered unto people that have successfully navigated from a poor social class to a place of wealth and prosperity within their society.
7 They Have A Fondness For Questing
Though relegated to the deep, class-based divide presented by feudalism, the Breton attitude is one of ambition, and they consistently toil to rise above their circumstances at every turn. A popular method of affecting social mobility is by way of questing, performing acts, favors, and services in pursuit of renown and fortune.
It can be said that Bretons are more or less obsessed with it, and it has become an indispensable cornerstone of their culture. This isn't limited to the province of High Rock, either, as Bretons are known to venture far and wide to pursue their golden opportunities for glory, wealth, and power.
6 A Breton Assassinated Emperor Cuhlecain
Cuhlecain, often referred to as "Emperor Zero" by the ensuing Septim dynasty, was actually the emperor that the famed and renowned Tiber Septim (also known as Talos) served as a military general, and immediately succeeded. During the second era, Tiber Septim converted the Nords and defeated the Bretons in combat in Cuhlecain's name, though the latter provoked a deadly response.
A nightblade hailing from the province of High Rock infiltrated the Imperial Palace and slew Emperor Cuhlecain, inflicting a dire wound on Tiber Septim in the process. However, as is evident, Tiber Septim survived the attempt and would go on to become one of the greatest emperors the Empire had ever seen.
5 They Have Many Knightly Orders
The feudal nature of Breton society, coupled with the many petty kingdoms spread out over the province of High Rock, make for a varied selection of knighthoods to be seen throughout. A number of them can be interacted with and even joined, during the events of the second game in The Elder Scrolls series, Daggerfall.
While available information on their current status as of the fourth era is precious little, the sheer number of knightly orders that were featured in Daggerfall is incredibly lengthy. From the famous Knights of the Dragon to the Knights of the Rose in Wayrest, it is doubtless that at least some of them have continued to prosper in the interim.
4 They've Warred Bitterly With The Redguard
Though allied by the Daggerfall Covenant during the second era, fighting side by side apparently did not provide a stable foundation for peace between the Bretons and the Redguard. All it took to test their uneasy coexistence was a minor dispute over a tiny island off the coast of the Iliac Bay.
In the interest of brevity, both belligerents pressed claim over the small island of Betony, after it sought protection from the dangers of piracy. This culminated in a bloody, though short-lived conflict that spanned roughly two years. Although the Bretons would win most of the battles therein, it would be at the cost of the Daggerfall's then-king, Lysandus.
3 A Mysterious Event United Them (Mostly)
The events of Daggerfall essentially culminated in an event that impacted both High Rock and Hammerfell quite drastically, though not necessarily for the worse. Many lives were lost, and the landscape of the Iliac Bay region itself was forever changed by this indescribable event, known as the Warp in the West. Even time itself seemingly abandoned the laws it conventionally abides by.
But what had once been some forty or so individual and squabbling kingdoms in the area was, all at once, reduced to only four. Those that emerged were Sentinel, Wayrest, High Rock, and Orsinium, all bound to the Empire. It would also become known as the "Miracle of Peace," as despite the destruction preceding it, the region was largely stable for some time after.
2 They Are Rivals With The Orcs
If the Bretons entertain any specific racial enmity that is greater than their mutual feud with the Redguards, it would most definitely be with the Orcs. Ironically, they were the third allied race involved in the Daggerfall Covenant. However, this prejudice existed well before the Covenant.
After many years of warily watching their orcish neighbors, the Bretons banded together and marched on the homeland of the Orcs, Orsinium. The war was anything but one-sided, as the sturdy Orcs withstood the siege for an agonizing thirty years before they were finally defeated, and forced to seek their homes elsewhere.
1 The Forsworn Of Skyrim Are Bretons
Composed of Reachmen, which are quite typically a half-way point between Bretons and Nords, the Forsworn are more or less a radical element of the "native" population of the Reach. It sits squarely between High Rock and Skyrim, hence the mixture of Breton and Nord blood in their veins. Having been displaced by the Nords, they fight ferociously to stake their claim to what they consider to be their land.
It might be difficult to believe, given their wild, unrefined appearance when compared to the more civilized aesthetic of the Bretons. However, their aptitude for and pursuit of magic definitely provides more than a subtle hint towards their Breton ancestry.