- “Its gates forever shut.
Heaven has been filled with silence,
I knew then,
And cross'd my heart with shame.
—Andraste 1:11 ”
Born to a Fereldan, Brona, Andraste was an escaped slave from the Tevinter Imperium who rose to power after the First Blight had ended and Dumat was slain. She fought against the Imperium, which had been significantly weakened by the First Blight. As part of the Exalted Marches, she conquered most of the south while fighting to destroy the magisters, whom she blamed for the Blight. The people she led in her campaign were the barbaric ancestors of the Fereldans, the Alamarri.
To the Imperium, Andraste was an opportunist, a barbarian taking advantage of their weakness. The reason the Imperium did not fall entirely to her army was because of Maferath, Andraste's mortal husband. Feeling that the barbarians had overextended themselves (and, according to later belief, because of jealousy towards her being the Maker's wife as well), he made a deal with the magisters to keep the south in exchange for turning Andraste over to them. She was burned at the stake in Minrathous. Her death is known as the second sin, which caused the Maker to turn from humanity once again. Yet, because of her, the Imperium, for all intents and purposes, fell, and the Chantry was formed, focused around her teachings.
Archon Hessarian, who ordered Andraste's execution, was the first person converted to following the Chant of Light. According to the Chant, the Archon saw the error of his ways as soon as Andraste was burned. It was he that put the sword through her heart to put her out of her misery, which is why the sword is a symbol of mercy in Andrastian lore, and later repented her execution entirely (though Chantry dissenters claim Hessarian only converted because he could not stem the tide against Andraste's followers, only emboldened by the death of their leader, and repented his actions as a means to stay in power).
He turned on his former ally Maferath and ushered the way for the Tevinter Imperium to eventually become an Andrastian nation, though the Chantry as an organization did not yet exist at this time.
Andraste had several sons but they are all believed to have died in the civil wars that tore the south apart after Maferath's death. There have been many claimants in the centuries since, saying they were descendants of survivors, but the Chantry has disavowed each of them. To date there are no known legitimate heirs to Andraste's blood.
After her death, her followers smuggled her remains away to the Fereldan mountains. A temple was built around her ashes and for Ages a Guardian has watched over it. This temple commemorates her memory and prevents the unworthy from viewing her remains. Her remains stayed in the mountain, undisturbed for many years and eventually rumours began to spread that her ashes held curative properties.
Interestingly enough, there is a book called "The Search for the True Prophet", which is a gift for Wynne, that mentions the possibility that Andraste wasn't, in fact, the Maker's Chosen, but rather "just" an extraordinarily powerful mage. This would explain Andraste's insight on the dangers of magic, whereas most humans, unable or unwilling to separate good magic from evil, fear it all. The text of the book mentions that it has been saved from a fire at some point in time, suggesting that there has been fierce opposition to any depiction of Andraste that runs counter to official Chantry doctrine. This is also a possible explanation for the healing powers of her ashes.
- Before the developers decided on the name of Andraste, she was named Augusta.
- The story of her life in many ways mirrors that of Joan of Arc, including the manner of her death. Her role within the Chantry religion is that of a messianic Christ-figure and the vessel her ashes are contained in is presented much like the Holy Grail of Christian lore, right down to knights dying in its pursuit as they did in the Arthurian cycle. It is also guarded in a similar manner to the Grail as seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
- The book called "The Search for the True Prophet" also alludes to elements of Christian lore; it is an allegory to various texts that mention the possibility of Jesus (Andraste) being just an extraordinary prophet (mage), not the Son of God (Maker's Chosen).
- Andraste, according to Dio Cassius, was an Icenic war goddess invoked by Boudica while fighting against the Roman occupation of Britain in AD 61. This ties in with parallels of the fictional Andraste being a tribal queen, like Boudica, and leading a military campaign against an empire (the Roman Empire/Tevinter Imperium).
- In Greek mythology two sea nymphs, usually called Adrastea and Ida, nursed Zeus and sheltered him from his father, the titan Cronus. Later, Zeus placed the two nymphs in the sky as the Great Bear and the Little Bear. The story of Andraste loosely parallels this as she supported and defended the Maker (Zeus) and was rewarded and taken away to be by his side (the sky). There is also the great similarities in the two names.
- Elements of Andraste are also allegories for the Prophet Muhammad, including the prophet herself acting as a military leader -- something found in the life of Muhammad but not Jesus.