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Exalted March

The Exalted Marches are religious crusades led by the Orlesian Chantry, though the first Exalted March was that of Andraste against the Tevinter Imperium, and thus predates the Chantry proper. The second Exalted March was against the elves of the Dales, who had been Andraste's allies during her fight against the Imperium but whose relations with Orlais and the Chantry had deteriorated to the point of war by the time of the early Glory Age. During the Black and Exalted Ages, four Exalted Marches were called against the Imperial Chantry, considered heretical in Orlais. Most recent were the three Marches against the Qunari invaders during the Steel and Storm Ages, which were called by both the Andrastian and Imperial Chantries.

According to the Chantry, the faithful who give their lives to the Exalted Marches earn a special place at the side of the Maker as the "Exalted".[1]

Against the Tevinter Imperium[]

See also: Exalted March against the Tevinter Imperium
See also: Andraste

In around -180 Ancient (1015 TE), a massive horde of barbarians crossed the Waking Sea from the south led by the warlord Maferath and Andraste, the Betrothed of the Maker.[2] Some records claim the barbarians were driven north by the darkspawn, others that Andraste was bringing freedom to the people of the Imperium who had been long oppressed by the depravities of the magisters.[3] The Imperium was forced to abandon the island of Estwatch to focus on their mainland troubles. Maferath's armies steadily gained ground, in part thanks to a slave uprising led by the elf Shartan, and they prevailed at the Battle of Valarian Fields in -171. Before they could lay siege to Minrathous, Andraste was betrayed by her husband Maferath in -170. She was taken to Minrathous and burned alive while Maferath was granted much of the lands in southern Thedas. He took Ferelden for himself, while dividing what would become Orlais, Nevarra and the Free Marches to his sons. For their service in battle against the Imperium, Maferath gave the elves a new homeland in the Dales. The Long Walk began as a massive influx of elves settled the region.[4]

Against the Dales[]

See also: Exalted March of the Dales

The cause of the conflict that resulted in the destruction of the Dales is disputed. The Dalish claim it was primarily racial and religious persecution over their refusal to let in Chantry missionaries and templars. Chantry sources blame the Dales' increasing isolationism and their refusal to lend aid during the Second Blight. There were also rumors that the elves kidnapped humans to sacrifice to their gods. Border skirmishes had broken out by the early Glory Age. Tensions reached a head with an elven attack on the village of Red Crossing in 2:09 Glory.[5][6]


A statue commemorating the fall of the Dales in the Emerald Graves

In 2:10 Glory, after the elves had made serious gains, including capturing Montsimmard and marching on the Orlesian capital of Val Royeaux, Divine Renata I called for a holy war. Officially, only a single nation, the besieged Orlesian Empire, fielded troops in answer to the Divine's call, though some templars from other countries joined as well. Despite considerable victories, including the sack of Val Royeaux in 2:14, the elves were pushed back and eventually defeated; their capital of Halamshiral was conquered in 2:20. Despite this loss, a group of elves refused to admit defeat and made their final stand on the Exalted Plains. The human forces, led by Sister Amity, Lord Demetrius Aron and Ser Brandis of Lac Celestine met them on the field. The elves, who were vastly outnumbered, refused to lay down their arms when given the chance. Lord Demetrius was slain during their charge. The death of the great warrior Lindiranae, wielder of the legendary blade known as Evanura, marked the end of the Exalted March.[7][8]

The elven kingdom was dismantled at the end of the war. Mentions of Shartan and elven contribution to Andraste’s cause were labeled heretical by the Chantry, and Chantry artwork and teachings denoting them were destroyed. The elves were then forced to either assimilate into Orlesian cities, living as second-class citizens in slums called alienages and converting to the worship of the Maker, or adopt a nomadic lifestyle that separated them from humanity to keep their own pantheon (the Dalish).

Against Starkhaven[]

After King Fyruss failed to take over the Free Marches, his Tevinter allies turned on him, usurping him in 2:45 and ousting him from Starkhaven.[9] This led the Chantry to declare an Exalted March to reconquer Starkhaven from the Imperium in 2:80. The following battle for the independence of Starkhaven was short, but bloody.[10]

Against the Imperial Chantry[]

See also: Imperial Chantry

In 3:87 Towers, disagreements between priests in Tevinter and Orlais, primarily about the role and control of magic, resulted in a schism and the appointment of Grand Cleric Valhail as the first Imperial Divine of the Tevinter Chantry, in opposition to the Divine in Val Royeaux.[11] As a man and a mage, Divine Valhail was widely reviled outside of Tevinter and dubbed the "Black Divine." Relations between the two factions deteriorated quickly; the Andrastian Chantry called for retaliation against the Black Divine after he declared a holiday to celebrate the death of Divine Joyous II in 3:99 Towers.

The Andrastian Chantry called four Exalted Marches between 4:40 Black and 5:10 Exalted against the Tevinter heretics. Each Exalted March fell just short of its goal of conquering Minrathous, however, and the Marches did little but cement the separation between Minrathous and Val Royeaux. The Imperial Chantry started to form its own dogma and policies, and the groundswell of mages fleeing from southern lands into Tevinter bolstered the empire's waning power.[12] It is likely that more Marches would have continued the war, had the outbreak of the Fourth Blight not intervened. Tevinter retaliated for the Marches by refusing to send aid to the southern nations against the darkspawn.

Against the Qunari[]

See also: Qunari and New Exalted Marches
See also: Codex entry: Par Vollen: The Occupied North, Codex entry: The Llomerryn Accords, and Codex entry: The Raiders of the Waking Sea

In 6:30 Steel, the Qunari conquered Par Vollen and began to use it as a base to strike at Seheron and Rivain. By 6:42 Steel, they had conquered much of the Tevinter Imperium, Rivain, and Antiva and began to assault the Free Marches. It took many years for human resistance to become organized, and it was 7:23 Storm before the Qunari were pushed back to Seheron and Rivain. After the Battle of the Nocen Sea, the largest naval engagement in recorded history, resulted in a stalemate, an impasse began.

Three Exalted Marches were called between 7:25 and 7:84 Storm by both the Andrastian and Imperial Chantries, the former to reclaim Rivain, the latter to retake Seheron and Qarinus. The first, called in 7:25, proved successful. The second, declared in 7:52, was a disaster, with the Qunari capturing much of Antiva. In 7:55 Storm a third and final Exalted March was called.[13] By 7:84 Storm, the Qunari had been pushed back to only the city of Kont-aar in northern Rivain and Par Vollen. By that stage, rebuilding all the destruction that had been caused was considered more important than trying to dislodge the Qunari from Kont-aar once again. A meeting between envoys of all human nations except Tevinter and the Qunari in Llomerryn resulted in the signing of the Llomerryn Accords in 7:84 Storm and a declaration of peace.[14] While there was no peace between Tevinter and the Qunari, skirmishes were few while the Qunari pulled back to Par Vollen and rebuild.[15]

Contemplated Exalted Marches[]

Exalted Marches that were contemplated but never carried out.

Against the Grand Cathedral[]

In the early Divine Age, the Chantry relied on mages to kindle the flames of the holy braziers present in every chantry. Dissatisfied by their role as lamp-lighters, the mages of Val Royeaux snuffed the sacred flames in protest and barricaded themselves inside the choir loft of the Grand Cathedral. Divine Ambrosia II was outraged by their behavior and attempted to order an Exalted March on her own cathedral, but was discouraged from this idea by her own templars. The flames remained unlit for twenty-one days while negotiations were carried out. The mages eventually left for the Circle of Magi with the signing of the Nevarran Accord in 1:20.[16][17]

Against Orzammar[]

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins.

During the events of Dragon Age: Origins, this may happen in two cases:

  • If the Warden helped Brother Burkel open up a chantry in Orzammar, he draws in a surprising number of converts among the dwarves. They quickly attract the ire of more conservative quarters, and before long the Assembly severely restricts the Andrastians' rights. Brother Burkel resists, and is slain while being arrested during a peaceful demonstration in the Commons. The Assembly claims this was an accident, but news of the resulting riots reach the Chantry on the surface, where the Divine even contemplates a new Exalted March.
  • If the Warden helps Dagna join the Circle of Magi, she will later author a comprehensive theory of how lyrium vapors relate to the supply of magic. It gains a great deal of attention and inspires mages from other parts of Thedas to establish a new circle in Orzammar itself, one that has ready access to dwarven lyrium and lies outside the Chantry's power completely. The willingness of Orzammar to harbor Apostates sparks outrage that begins whispers that the Divine is contemplating a new Exalted March.

Against Kirkwall[]

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age II.

See also: Faith (quest)
Following the death of Viscount Marlowe Dumar during the First Battle of Kirkwall and the de-facto rule of Knight-Commander Meredith, tensions between the city's mages and the local chapter of the Templar Order grow considerably, leading many to fear a mage revolt within Kirkwall. Unwilling to allow these rebellious mages to launch an insurrection, and perhaps the beginnings of a new Tevinter Imperium, Divine Justinia V begins to contemplate an Exalted March on the city to end the threat and restore order, sending an agent to determine the extent of the danger. However, the contemplated Exalted March was never called, even in the aftermath of the mage uprising after the destruction of the Kirkwall Chantry and the Mage-Templar War bringing the Chantry to the brink of collapse.


  • Emperor Kordillus Drakon I's military campaigns to unify the disparate cults of the Maker are sometimes called Exalted Marches, though they are usually not included in the official count.[18]