- Main article: Unification of Ferelden
When the Alamarri peoples first split from Neromenians, they migrated southeast and crossed the Frostback Mountains in -2415 Ancient. There, they found a new homeland that would eventually become "Ferelden", which means "fertile valley" in the Alamarri tongue. However, the fertile valley did not become a sovereign nation for almost 3000 years. This period of time is littered with numerous wars the Alamarri tribes waged, both with foreign powers such as the Tevinter Imperium and Orlais, as well as their fellow tribes. During that time the Alamarri developed their own political system which remains largely intact to this day. With time, powerful nobles would turn their land into bannorns, then arlings, and finally teyrnirs. The nobles continued the Alamarri tradition of infighting and continued to fight with each other over petty and personal matters in order to gain more power. A few of the most powerful nobles put forward their bid for kingship over the Alamarri, but without success.
Then in the Exalted Age came a man named Calenhad who was born to a merchant. Through a series of events he got involved in the war for kingship, during which time he first became a servant to one of the candidates for the throne. When his master decided to use him to gain advantage against other nobles, Calenhad acted honourably; and through his actions gained respect and command of the armies of his former master. He married his master's noble daughter, and became a teyrn—and a candidate for king himself.
As he was leading his men more joined his side, for he was known to be more honourable than other true nobles. Calenhad also gained followers in the Circle of Magi, as well as the Ash Warriors. By then, Andrastianism had become very popular in other lands. Calenhad gained the trust of those amongst the Alamarri who followed the faith, as he was said to be a devoted Andrastian himself.
In 5:42 Exalted a Landsmeet was called and Calenhad made an appearance with his army, including mages of the Circle, templars and the Ash Warriors. With allies at his side, Calenhad challenged the biggest threat to his rule, the most powerful noble—Simeon, the teyrn of Denerim. Calenhad was matched in combat and wounded, but ultimately Simeon was defeated by Lady Shayna. The nobles voted Calenhad to be king, and the fertile valley became the nation of Ferelden. Calenhad Theirin started the royal family of Theirins who sat on the Fereldan Throne for the next three centuries.
Grey Warden rebellion
- Main article: Battle of Soldier's Peak
In 7:5 Storm, King Arland Theirin, who earned the reputation of a tyrant, ascended to the throne. Some banns approached Warden-Commander Sophia Dryden, who previously held a claim to the throne, to intercede, and she agreed. She violated the Grey Wardens' neutrality by gathering allies to rebel against the king. Arland discovered the plot and his forces eventually routed Sophia and her followers at Soldier's Peak, where the Wardens held out for a brief time, despite being outnumbered. After defeating the Wardens at Soldier's Peak, Arland banished them from Ferelden. The order would have no presence in Ferelden for another two centuries.
Little is known of what followed Arland's rule, as a civil war for the throne occurred soon after his death. The war lasted a decade and wiped away most records of his reign.
- Main article: Second Orlesian Invasion of Ferelden
The nation was invaded by Orlais in 8:24 Blessed and fully conquered 20 years later. The Theirins were forced into hiding, but the rebellion against the invaders persisted. For the next several decades, the nation was under Orlesian occupation. Orlesian noble Meghren was installed as the king of Ferelden during the late years of the occupation.
- Main article: Fereldan Rebellion
Ferelden was freed through the efforts of Maric Theirin, who was the rightful heir to the throne, with the help of Loghain Mac Tir and Rowan Guerrin. They mustered the remaning rebels against the occupier. A large number of Orlesian forces was defeated at the Battle of River Dane, forcing Emperor Florian to withdraw all support for Meghren. Eventually by 9:00 Dragon, King Meghren and the remnants of his court fled to and barricaded themselves inside Fort Drakon. Maric challenged Meghren to a duel and killed him in single combat, ending his rule and the Orlesian occupation. Maric then married Rowan and set out to rebuild Ferelden.
Dragon Age: Origins
- Main article: Fifth Blight
In 9:30 Dragon, the Grey Wardens, who had been allowed to return to Ferelden in 9:10 by King Maric, warn that a Blight is imminent and gather the King's army in the Korcari Wilds in hopes of stopping it in its infancy. But memories of the Orlesian occupation linger in many Fereldan minds, especially Teyrn Loghain's. Despite Loghain's opposition to inviting Orlesian forces to aid Ferelden against the Blight, King Cailan, Maric's son, is determined to put old hatreds aside for the sake of fighting the darkspawn. However, before the Orlesian troops can arrive, Loghain abandons Cailan and the Wardens to the darkspawn at that pivotal battle at the ruins of Ostagar. After returning to Denerim, Loghain names himself regent for his daughter Queen Anora, King Cailan's widow, claiming that the Wardens were the ones who abandoned the battle. But having seized the throne so soon after Cailan's death sparks suspicions amongst some of the nobles while others swallow the lie, leading to a civil war that threatens to leave the nation vulnerable to the Blight.However, the two newest members of the Grey Wardens, The Warden and Alistair, having survived the massacre at Ostagar thanks to the help of the legendary Witch of the Wilds Flemeth, work to recruit an army to fight the Blight using ancient treaties signed by Orzammar, the Dalish and the Circle of Magi. Eventually, with the aid of Arl Eamon, the two Wardens are able to depose Loghain during a Landsmeet and unite Ferelden to stand against the Blight. The Landsmeet also settles the matter of succession, with either Queen Anora, Cailan's widow, or Alistair, Cailan's half-brother, claiming the throne (separately or together in marriage). The Blight soon ends with the death of the archdemon Urthemiel during the Battle of Denerim, sparing Ferelden from certain destruction. The Warden who helped stopped the Blight is named the Hero of Ferelden.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
- Main article: Amaranthine Conflict (9:31 Dragon)
In 9:31 Dragon, six months after the conclusion of the Fifth Blight, the Arling of Amaranthine—formerly the seat of Loghain's ally Arl Rendon Howe–is granted to the Grey Wardens in recognition of their service to Ferelden. The new Warden-Commander is sent there to rebuild the order and find new recruits.Despite the death of the archdemon, the darkspawn have not retreated to the Deep Roads (as was natural following prior Blights) and there are reports of a new, highly intelligent breed of darkspawn. Through investigation, the Warden-Commander discovers that these intelligent darkspawn have broken into two warring factions, one led by the Mother and the other led by the Architect. Both amass darkspawn armies and their civil war threaten the safety of Amaranthine. The Warden-Commander has no choice but to destroy the Mother to restore peace, but has the option to either kill the Architect or allow him to live and continue his work.
Dragon Age II
Many Fereldans flee the Fifth Blight by crossing the Waking Sea into the Free Marches. Coastal cities such as Kirkwall are inundated with Fereldan refugees, sparking strong anti-Fereldan sentiments in the local population.By 9:37, Ferelden is still recovering from the Blight and is at risk of invasion by Orlais, as some Orlesian nobles are looking to recover their lost province.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Main article: War against the Elder One
In 9:41 Dragon, the monarchy offers the rebel mages sanctuary in Ferelden, in the arling of Redcliffe. However, their generosity to the rebel mages draws some ire. The templar host pursue them across the border, sparking fierce skirmishes throughout the Hinterlands, while some speculate that Starkhaven placed trade sanctions against Ferelden as a sign of protest. Conflict between mages and templars only worsens after the destruction of Divine Justinia V's peace conclave and the creation of the Breach.
With the help of Arl Gallagher Wulff, Grand Enchanter Fiona's refuge in Redcliffe is infiltrated by Venatori agents, who spread fear and misinformation. By capitalizing on their fear, and through use of time magic, Magister Gereon Alexius is able to conscript the rebel mages into service to the Tevinter Imperium. He throws Arl Teagan out of Redcliffe, thus alienating Ferelden's monarchy. If the Inquisitor chooses to recruit the rebel mages, then Alexius is ousted from Redcliffe and Ferelden's monarch rescinds their offer of sanctuary to the mages, forcing them to join the Inquisition as either full-fledged allies or conscripted prisoners. Otherwise, the Venatori leave Redcliffe with the rebel mages as their conscripts, who later act as Corypheus' army during the attack on Haven.Ferelden's monarch later asks the Inquisition for help in dealing with the Venatori in Denerim and in arranging negotiations with Orlais' ruler after the conclusion of the peace talks in Halamshiral.
Ferelden is located in southeast Thedas, itself located in the southern hemisphere. Its climate is harsh and varied.
Dividing Ferelden from Orlais to the west are the Frostback Mountains. To the North, the Waking Sea separates it from the Free Marches. The southeast holds the Brecilian Forest, where in 9:30 Dragon clans of Dalish elves can be found. To the far south are the forbidding forests, swamps and eventually tundra of the Korcari Wilds. To the north of the Wilds lie the Southron Hills and the Hinterlands. The central region of Ferelden contains Lake Calenhad and the Bannorn. In the far northern region are The Coastlands, which include more swamps and forests.
- Dales End
- Denerim – capital of Ferelden
- Elmridge – a small town in West Hills
- Fisher's End – a small abandoned town in Fallow Mire
- Harper's Ford
- Jainen – in the Waking Sea Bannorn, likely on one of the islands west of West Hill, home of a Circle of Magi
- Redcliffe Village (Hinterlands)
- South Reach – east of Lothering; part of the South Reach Arling
- Wutherford – probably near Lake Calenhad Docks
- Sothmere – within the Southron Hills, bordering the Hinterlands, part of Stenhold arling
- Vintiver – within the Southron Hills
- Caer Bronach (Crestwood)
- Caer Oswin (Bann Loren's Lands)
- Castle Cousland (Highever)
- Fereldan Castle
- Fort Connor (Hinterlands)
- Fort Drakon (Denerim)
- Grand Forest Villa (Hinterlands)
- Hargrave Keep (Fallow Mire)
- Kinloch Hold (Lake Calenhad)
- Redcliffe Castle (Hinterlands)
- Soldier's Peak
- Stenhold (on the border of the Korcari Wilds)
- Therinfal Redoubt
- Vigil's Keep (Arling of Amaranthine)
- West Hill
- Winterwatch Tower (Hinterlands)
- Edgehall – located west of Lake Calenhad
- South Reach – between Lothering and Denerim
- West Hills – south of Redcliffe
- Calon – under the domain of the Arling of Redcliffe
- City of Amaranthine
- Dragon's Peak
- Oswin – also known as Bann Loren's Lands
- Southern Bannorn – on the eastern shore of Lake Calenhad
- Storm Coast
- Waking Sea – on the northern shore of Ferelden
- West Hill
- White River
- Winter's Breath
- Denerim Alienage (conditional)
- Lake Calenhad
- Lake Luthias (Hinterlands)
- Brandel's Reach
- Brecilian Forest
- Fallow Mire
- Frostback Mountains
- Gherlen's Pass
- Sulcher's Pass
- Korcari Wilds
- Southron Hills
- Trade Route
- Ferelden's coastline faces the Waking Sea to the north and the Amaranthine Ocean to the east.
- The Imperial Highway enters Ferelden in the Frostback Mountains via Gherlen's Pass and circles Lake Calenhad and the Bannorn. Then one branch ends in Denerim and another at Ostagar which is also the Highway's southmost point.
- The Bannorn is effectively the "bread-basket" of Ferelden, containing the most arable land.
- Ferelden has two islands off its northeast coast: one containing the city of Alamar and another named Brandel's Reach. Alamar is considered rather independent of Fereldan politics. This could be explained by the rocky Brandel's Reach reputedly being a haven for raiders, making Alamar an unpopular place to live or visit.
- The various hills and mountains of Ferelden are still occupied by Avvars, and the Korcari Wilds by the Chasind, tribes independent of Ferelden. Dalish elves can also be found traveling through the nation, or hiding in the Brecilian Forest.
Culture and society
Ferelden is a relatively temperate nation in the far southeast of Thedas, historically populated by a simple militaristic culture that has only begun to "civilize" in the last few centuries. The Chantry is now revered by the 90% of the population. Fereldan cities are considered virtually anarchic by the standards of most outsiders. The Fereldan desire for freedom has engendered a cultural mistrust of law enforcement, and 'laissez-faire' attitudes in general.
While the worst offenses are quickly put down by the authorities, many others are ignored and citizens are often left to make their own justice. Petty theft is common, as guardsmen will only go out of their way to deal with serious disruptions. Commerce is given little official scrutiny as long as taxes are paid; businesses such as brothels and gambling halls are not only tolerated, but expected.
The Fereldans are a puzzle. As a people, they are one bad day away from reverting to barbarism. They repelled invasions from Tevinter during the height of the Imperium with nothing but dogs and their own obstinate disposition. They are the coarse, wilful, dirty, disorganized people who somehow gave rise to our prophet, ushered in an era of enlightenment, and toppled the greatest empire in history.
There are few things you can assume safely in dealing with these people: First, they value loyalty above all things, beyond wealth, beyond power, beyond reason. Second, although they have nothing in their entire country which you are likely to think at all remarkable, they are extremely proud of their accomplishments. Third, if you insult their dogs, they are likely to declare war. And finally, the surest sign that you have underestimated the Fereldans is that you think you have come to understand them.
Ferelden society is descended directly from Alamarri tribal culture and its respect for skill and ability. It is most generally broken up into the nobility and commoners (including city elves). There are also crafters and crafthouses (similar to guilds), who make up a highly valued middle tier between the lowest noble and the highest common classes. They have total power over certain industries in Ferelden.
Beneath the crafthouses, the population is subdivided into common classes called "High Freemen" and "Low Freemen." High freemen are comprised of freeholders (land owners), soldiers and other employed individuals. Low freemen are made up of criminals, prostitutes and elves. For all that, all freemen are allowed to live and go where they wish, and make a living as they will. There are no serfs in Ferelden; all are paid in coin or barter for their work.
In Ferelden, nobles have proper last names, such as the Howes or the Couslands. Sometimes commoners will have last names that stem from noble lines, foreign origins, land ownership or titles granted to family members in the past. Otherwise, most Fereldan commoners introduce themselves with a reference to the area they come from or to their trade, e.g. Gareth of Oswin or Lomo Kettlemaker.
Like many countries in Thedas, Ferelden has a large population of elves who are segregated from the rest of society and live in walled-off alienages. Unlike in other countries, however, elves in Ferelden have rights and are paid for their work. Those who do not find positions of service outside of the alienage are unable to achieve high-paying jobs, but most seem to feel that they have better lives in Ferelden than in other countries, because at least they are free and among family who look out for each other.
Importance of dogs
Visitors and travelers to Ferelden are often curious about local attitudes toward dogs. Throughout Thedas dogs are employed in hunting game, keeping barns and storehouses free of vermin, herding livestock and guarding homes; in the mountains they may even be used as beasts of burden. Fereldans, however, show a particular appreciation for canine companions. The origin of this is tangled up in mythology.
The ability of normal dogs to detect a werewolf even when it is in a human guise is what first led Fereldans to adopt dogs as indispensable companions in every farmhold. Fereldan lore is full of instances where werewolves plagued the countryside and the humans of Ferelden had to undergo many wars to eliminate the werewolf threat.
Dogs are common in Ferelden, both amongst the nobles as well as the common folk and mercenaries such as the Ash Warriors. Keeping dogs is a tradition kept since the times before Ferelden, started by the Alamarri tribes. The barbarians were introduced to mabari by the magisters, who brought the dogs with them during their invasion of the land; many of the dogs decided to stay in the occupied lands after their original masters were defeated. Mabari are said to have been bred from the wolves who served the Alamarri hero Dane and anyone they are paired with are believed by Fereldans to be a person of worth. Furthermore, prominent Fereldan families think that they have a kinship with the mabari because according to Fereldan folklore, they are descendants of Dane, who was reputed to be a werewolf. In addition to that, the mabari have also become an essential part of Fereldan military strategy and a formidable asset to Fereldan armies.
Fereldan food is usually described as hearty and humble, and is not known for being particularly appetizing. "Fereldan turnip" is an insult levied at Fereldans; it presumably stems from their frequent use of turnips. Alistair, in a dialogue with Leliana, jests that Fereldan cuisine involves throwing all the ingredients in a pot and cooking them for as long as possible, until everything looks grey, bland, and unappetizing. Stews seem a particular specialty of Ferelden, such as the traditional Fereldan Lamb and Pea Stew, and the Fereldan Turnip and Barley Stew. Specialty dishes include Fluffy Mackerel Pudding and Alamarri Pickled Krone, a traditional method of preserving krone fish with brine, pine pitch and druffalo dung. Pickled eggs are another popular Fereldan dish, as well as a folk remedy prescribed for any ailment. Ferelden is also known for its ripe cheeses and rich pies. As for drinks, ale is commonly found across Fereldan taverns.
Fereldan law is relatively unregulated compared to that of older nations, and is expected on an individual level to be supplemented by one's martial prowess. Indeed, most petty crimes like theft are overlooked by the city guard in Denerim, whose main concern is protecting their posts. Consequently, the common Fereldan should not expect much help fending off criminal activity unless murder or major property damage has occurred. Slavery is illegal in Ferelden, but criminals still practice it in secret.
There are no laws regulating personal behavior such as bearing arms, drinking, gambling and prostitution. This is not to say that Ferelden is lawless; quite the opposite. The king's seneschal personally appoints arbiters—judges—called "blackhallers" to hear disputes. Blackhallers adjudicate cases from the black granite seneschal's hall in Denerim—hence the name—, and in the countryside, sheriffs appointed by the local bann patrol and keep track of upcoming cases for the blackhallers to hear.
Given the blackhallers' busy schedules, trials can take some time to occur. A suspect may surrender an item of great value to the local sheriff and be released "on his bond" until the time of the trial rather than waiting in a dungeon. This property will be returned if the suspect returns to be judged. Otherwise, the property is retained by the sheriff and the suspect has the charge of fleeing justice added to their criminal record.
As long-term imprisonment is frowned upon in general in Ferelden, punishment is often quick and violent. Common methods include public humiliation, whipping, disfigurement, fines and even executions.
There's no firm rule that dictates who rules the household. Fereldans are willful and their families tend to be managed by whoever can. Usually, the oldest child inherits the majority of the property regardless of gender, but there are some cases where a younger brother or sister is named the heir simply because he or she seems more capable.
- Main article: Fereldan royalty and nobility
Unlike most kingdoms, power does not reside exclusively with the nobility. Rather, it arises from the support of the freeholders and even the king is not the unchallenged ruler. For many centuries the nobility has gathered annually to hold the Landsmeet, a council which functions as the official legislative body of Ferelden and it can even override the king or queen on any matter of law.
The royalty and nobility of Ferelden is divided into several ranks.
Some kingdoms ridigly define the rights of vassals and their duty to their liege. In Ferelden, a relatively new kingdom, the arls and arlessas theoretically command their arlings' banns and lords. In practice, those lessers often zealously maintain their independence.
Some Fereldan vassals must be goaded instead of ordered—swayed, not ruled. Vassals owe military obligations to their liege, yet often deny even sworn oaths and signed contracts. In contrast, the vassals expect their liege's protection despite provocation otherwise. A successful Fereldan liege applies force, persuasion, and duplicity in equal measure.—From A Guide to Statecraft, published anonymously
To our neighbors, Ferelden seems utterly chaotic. Unlike other monarchies, power does not descend from our throne. Rather, it rises from the support of the freeholders.
Each freehold chooses the bann or arl to whom it pays allegiance. Typically, this choice is based on proximity of the freehold to the lord's castle, as it's worthless to pay for the upkeep of soldiers who will arrive at your land too late to defend it. For the most part, each generation of freeholders casts its lot with the same bann as their fathers did, but things can and do change. No formal oaths are sworn, and it is not unheard of, especially in the prickly central Bannorn, for banns to court freeholders away from their neighbors—a practice which inevitably begets feuds that last for ages.
Teyrns arose from amongst the banns, warleaders who, in antiquity, had grown powerful enough to move other banns to swear fealty to them. There were many teyrns in the days before King Calenhad, but he succeeded in whittling them down to only two: Gwaren in the south, Highever in the north. These teyrns still hold the oaths of banns and arls who they may call upon in the event of war or disaster, and similarly, the teyrns still hold responsibility for defending those sworn to them.
The arls were established by the teyrns, given command of strategic fortresses that could not be overseen by the teyrns themselves. Unlike the teyrns, the arls have no banns sworn to them, and are simply somewhat more prestigious banns.
The king is, in essence, the most powerful of the teyrns. Although Denerim was originally the teyrnir of the king, it has since been reduced to an arling, as the king's domain is now all of Ferelden. But even the king's power must come from the banns.
Nowhere is this more evident than during the Landsmeet, an annual council for which all the nobles of Ferelden gather, held for almost three thousand years except odd interruptions during Blights and invasions. The sight of a king asking for—and working to win—the support of "lesser" men is a source of constant wonder to foreign ambassadors.
- Ser Aaron Hawthorne
- Queen Anora
- King Cailan Theirin
- King Calenhad Theirin
- Ser Cauthrien
- Cullen Rutherford
- Arl Eamon Guerrin
- Brother Ferdinand Genitivi
- Knight-Commander Greagoir
- First Enchanter Irving
- Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir
- King Maric Theirin
- Nathaniel Howe
- Arl Teagan Guerrin
- The Warden (only if they are not a human magi, a dwarf or a Dalish elf)
- Codex entry: Geography of Ferelden
- Codex entry: History of Ferelden: Chapter 1
- Codex entry: History of Ferelden: Chapter 2
- Codex entry: Politics of Ferelden
- Codex entry: The Noble Families of Ferelden
- Codex entry: Culture of Ferelden
- Codex entry: Dogs in Ferelden
- Codex entry: Ferelden After the Blight
- Codex entry: How to Act Fereldan
- Visiting foreigners (notably Sten and Marjolaine) have claimed that Ferelden smells of "wet dog".
- Ferelden is approximately the size of England.