The dwarven empire once spanned the length and breadth of Thedas, encompassing a vast number of thaigs which were connected via the Deep Roads, until one by one fell to the incursion of the darkspawn. The history of the dwarves is a long one and encompasses the rule of numerous kings and queens.
To be a king or queen in dwarven society is to have both immense power as well as an immense system of checks and balances in the form of the Assembly and, to a lesser extent, the Shaperate. Subsequently, the form of government of the dwarves can be described as a constitutional monarchy.
The Assembly holds the power to advise the king, approve or veto acts of the king, propose policy, declare Paragons, and elect new kings. The Shaperate works in conjunction with the ruler and the Assembly by overseeing matters of civil dispute. It is often consulted as a neutral third party in disputes both legal and social and sets legal precedent and determines the authenticity of documents and the binding nature of contracts.
The king or queen hold their position for life, as do the deshyrs, unless they are removed or replaced. As the ruler, the king or queen is the theoretical war-leader of Orzammar but in practice this means that the ruler merely commands the warrior houses sworn to their own house and their allies. The king also has authority over the Legion of the Dead.
Kings and Queens of the dwarven empire
After the First Blight, the communication lines between the four surviving kingdoms of Orzammar, Gundaar, Hormak and Kal-Sharok started to fail. Because of that, at -195 Ancient (1000 TE), each kingdom elected its own king or queen while maintaining allegiance to the High King or Queen of Orzammar. By -35 Ancient the kingdoms of Gundaar and Hormak had fallen to the horde, while communication with Kal-Sharok was already lost. After the rediscovery of Kal-Sharok in 9:12 Dragon, King Endrin Aeducan demanded from Kal-Sharok to submit to Orzammar's authority, since technically he is still the High King of the dwarven empire. However this demand is outright refused and causes tensions between the two dwarven kingdoms.
- Bloadlikk: According to the legend he was the youngest and wisest of the Seven Brothers who founded the Dwarven Empire. Furthermore, he became the first king of the empire and is the founder of the noble caste.
- Orseck Garal: A king of the dwarven empire. He ruled during an age of expansion and greatness for the dwarves. He is credited by some for moving the capital from Kal-Sharok to Orzammar by putting the idea forth the Assembly. He was named as Paragon by his successor after his death.
- Endrin Stonehammer: A friend and ally of Orseck Garal, he succeeded him as the new king of the dwarven empire. He is credited with having built the Stonehammer Hall in Orzammar. He also forged a strong trade alliance with Archon Darinius of the Tevinter Imperium as well as attended the first match of the Grand Proving arena in Minrathous. For his accomplishments, Stonehammer was named as Paragon on his deathbed and he is considered to be the most famous of the dwarven Paragons.
- Aeducan: A warrior caste dwarf who saved the dwarven empire from annihilation and achieved victory against the darkspawn during the First Blight but countless thaigs were still lost to the horde. For this he was made a Paragon and a king. He is also the founder of House Aeducan. His Queen is named Anika.
- Kelgak: Under his reign the Deep Roads were expanded with a connection between the Great Thaig of Gundaar and the Aeducan Thaig.
- Valtor: He ascended to the throne in -260 Ancient. Valtor preserved some of Caridin's writings on creating golems after the Paragon destroyed most of them. Valtor had Caridin himself put on the Anvil of the Void when his desire to create golems was opposed by the Paragon. Caridin vanished in -248 Ancient, the eleventh year of Valtor's reign.
- Getha: One of few queens mentioned by name. In the second year of her reign she sent the entire Legion of Steel, an all-golem regiment, to recover Paragon Caridin but none returned. Due to the incalculable loss of the Legion of Steel, Queen Getha was deposed.
- Threestone: Arguably one of the most important kings in dwarven history, he sealed the Deep Roads in -40 Ancient in a last bid to save Orzammar from the darkspawn invasion. This effectively separated the last great kingdoms of Kal-Sharok, Gundaar, and Hormak from the capital and isolated the dwarven empire into, seemingly, one lone city with a few outlying thaigs.
Kings and Queens of Orzammar
In modern-day Orzammar the king or queen's power is leveraged by that of the Assembly, the dwarven governing body who chooses the king and from whom kings are typically drawn. Although the king rules Orzammar they must garner the support of the Assembly lords, called deshyrs, to maintain his position, for kings can--and have been--expelled from the throne. Unpopular kings and their heirs are deemed unfit to rule and the kingship then passes to another. While the chosen ruler is typically male, women have also been chosen by the Assembly to rule.
- The “Lost King”: This king was utterly removed from the Memories, his deeds unknown. He ruled during the Divine Age for a 30-year period.
- Orrick Garen: He lived in the early Exalted Age and he is the only king who became a Paragon during his reign. He sentenced his son Tethras to exile into the Deep Roads for the murder of his sister Unaria. Eventually he found out that the Carta was responsible for the murder and he was so overcome with guilt that he was constantly sending Legionnaire units for ten years into the Deep Roads in an effort to find him and bring him back. As a tribute to his son, he changed the name of his house from Garen to Tethras as well as his own name. This is disputed by Varric Tethras who says that as a tribute to his son, the heirs of House Garen took the name Tethras and eventually one of them became a Paragon on his own right and founded House Tethras.
- Eithnar Bemot: He became a Paragon and King of Orzammar in a single move from the Assembly during the Fourth Blight. He is the founder of House Bemot.
- Queen Valda Aeducan: Ruler during the Storm Age. She forged a trade agreement with Emperor Etienne I of Orlais in 7:80 Storm and gifted him a bronto trophy to commemorate this event.
- King Barran Aeducan: Ruler during the Blessed Age. King Barran and Grand Duke Gratien made an expedition to the Deep Roads in 8:31 Blessed, an event which further improved the relations between the two nations. A deepstalker trophy was gifted to the Grand Duke to commemorate this event.
- Annalar Geldinblade/Perethin: Geldinblade reigned during the period around 8:48 Blessed when the Primeval Thaig was rediscovered--and promptly lost again on his order. He was assassinated in 8:50 Blessed, sparking a civil war. It is mentioned that Endrin Aeducan succeeded him, however this isn't possible considering that Endrin became king at 8:96 Blessed and his father, Ansgar, was also a king.[note]
- Ansgar Aeducan: The father of King Endrin Aeducan.
- Endrin Aeducan: He took the throne of Orzammar at 8:96 Blessed. He is the father to the Dwarf Noble as well as Trian Aeducan and Bhelen Aeducan. In his reign the lost great thaig of Kal-Sharok was rediscovered.
In the eve of the Fifth Blight, King Endrin Aeducan passes away and Orzammar suffers an internal crisis as none of the two candidates can gain enough support in the Assembly in order to be elected as the next king. During A Paragon of Her Kind quest line it is decided who Orzammar's next ruler will be:
- Bhelen Aeducan: The third and youngest child of King Endrin Aeducan. As a prince his most notable trait was his ability to stay out of trouble. As a king he proves to be a reformer and trade with the surface lands increase and caste restrictions are loosened. The casteless are permitted to take arms against the darkspawn in exchange for new freedoms. For the first time in generations, the line in the Deep Roads is pushed back, and a few thaigs are reclaimed. If the Anvil of the Void was recovered, then the darkspawn are driven back as far as the Dead Trenches.Later on, if a Dwarf Commoner Warden survives the events of the Fifth Blight it is revealed that Bhelen marries Rica Brosca who thus becomes his Queen.
- Pyral Harrowmont: Head of House Harrowmont, he is well known for being an able administrator, and the author of many compromises in the ever-warring Assembly as well as King Endrin Aeducan's most trusted advisor. As a king he tries to isolate Orzammar from the surface.
- If the Anvil of the Void was preserved, caste restrictions and the rights of the nobles both grow. A law is also passed which excludes the casteless from common areas of the city.
- If the Anvil is destroyed, Bhelen's rebellion leaves him unable to find stability and after a protracted illness he passes away.
Kings not placed in chronology
- Darbir: During his reign the Assembly declared that it insults the Ancestors for casteless dwarves to perform any work that a dwarf of recognized caste can perform.
- Felbin the Mad: Felbin went mad and was dethroned by the Assembly.
- Gherlen/Gherlon the Blood-Risen: He was born casteless. However, he ventured to the surface and after he gained enough prestige from his adventures, he returned to Orzammar and became a Paragon and king by overthrowing the previous ruler. His tale is still honored by dwarven adventurers.
Kings and Queens of other kingdoms
- Jegrek: A king of Gundaar, killed by Beregrand of the warrior caste in a Proving. The Memories mention that this event had dire consequences for the entire kingdom.
Princes and Princesses
- Hendir: A dwarven prince who encountered chieftain Tyrdda Bright-Axe of the Alamarri within his territory. Instead of fighting, her tribe peacefully left the dwarven land and also stroke an alliance and established trade. Hendrin who loved Tyrdda joined her on the surface and married her but the feelings were not mutual. Upon her death Hendir named their daughter as the new chieftain.
- Scaea: A dwarven princess and lover of the human Luthias Dwarfson. She lived around -355 Ancient.
- Tethras Garen: The son of king and Paragon Garen. In the early Exalted Age, he was accused for the murder of his sister and was exiled into the Deep Roads where he found his death. His name was redeemed when it was revealed that the Carta was responsible for Unaria's death.
- Unaria Garen: The daughter of king and Paragon Garen. She was murdered by Carta but her brother Tethras was framed for the murder.
- Trian Aeducan: The eldest child of King Endrin Aeducan, Trian was the crown prince of Orzammar. In the eve of the Fifth Blight he is killed and his younger sibling is accused for his murder.
- Dwarf Noble: The middle child of King Endrin Aeducan. They are accused of murdering their elder brother Trian Aeducan. As punishment the Assembly decides to remove their name and deeds from the Memories and exile them to the Deep Roads where they will find certain death. The Dwarf Noble survives if they are the Warden.
- Lord Harrowmont and Piotin Aeducan also mention that the Aeducans ruled for nine generations. However these claims have a chronological conflict with the years that Annalar has ruled.
- Additionally, a noble located in the Diamond Quarter mentions that House Aeducan has held the throne for 370 years.
- The new king or queen is coronated during a special ceremony in the Chamber of the Assembly by the Shaper of Memories.
- Astyth the Grey, became a Paragon at 1:95 Divine after she sacrificed her life to save the king from an assassin.
- Rica Brosca erroneously calls King Gherlen as Gherlon in the beginning of the Dwarf Commoner Origin. This is either a developer mistake or can be attributed to her lack of proper education.