Bretons are the human descendants of the Aldmeri-Nedic Manmer of the Merethic Era and are now the inhabitants of the province of High Rock. They are united in culture and language, even though they are divided politically, for High Rock is a fractious region. Bretons make up the peasantry, soldiery, and magical elite of the feudal kingdoms that compete for power. Many are capable mages with innate resistance to magicka. They are known for a proficiency in abstract thinking and unique customs. Bretons appear, by and large, much like other pale-skinned humans. They are usually slight of build and not as muscular as Nords or Redguards. Their Elvish ancestry is usually only detectable upon a closer inspection of their eyebrows, ears, or high cheekbones, though many individual Bretons appear to be more Nordic or Imperial than anything else. The great diversity in their appearance is to be expected from their politically fractured society, though their clothes, accents, customs and names are fairly uniform.
There is evidence of human settlements in High Rock dating back at least a thousand years before recorded history. Before or soon after the start of the First Era, Aldmer came to High Rock from the Summerset Isles and interbred with Nedes, eventually creating the Breton race. Sometimes there was conflict, but also long periods of coexistence in a multiracial society. While the Aldmer maintained control of Tamriel, the Manmer lived as lower-class citizens, supporting their elven brethren. Notably, this subservience and general harmony meant they were spared during the Night of Tears. The Skyrim Conquests brought much of High Rock under the control of the Nords around 1E 246, though they would lose control around 1E 369 as a result of Skyrim's War of Succession. They apparently never controlled Wayrest, which likely wasn't founded until several hundred years later. Around the same time, the Alessian Order would make campaigns against the Direnni, weakening them enough for the locals to rebel against them. Most of High Rock would be free from elven control by 1E 498, though they would remain in the province for most of the First Era. Other historical enemies of Bretons, besides each other, include Orcs and various supernatural creatures that roam High Rock.
Over time, the emerging Bretons absorbed the remaining Nordic and Imperial population in High Rock, and the land would be definitively Breton by the end of the First Era. Tiber Septim's Empire would later easily conquer the squabbling kingdoms that emerged during the Interregnum, but would find it impossible to truly squash the sectarian conflicts between them that hampered trade and prosperity. Since most Emperors in the Third Era were Bretons, or had spent their youth in High Rock, Bretons were generally supportive of Imperial rule, but were often disgruntled by its inefficacy at protecting them from violent conflicts. It wasn't until the Miracle of Peace that the problem would at least be reduced: the roughly two dozen fiefdoms dotting southern High Rock (where the great majority of the people are located), were united into three kingdoms: Daggerfall, Wayrest, and Orsinium.
The word most often used to describe Breton villages is "quaint". Function is valued over form, resulting in earthern, hand-crafted dwellings free from ornament. Most people in High Rock live in small cottages; only the nobility and their servants stay in large castles. Despite efforts under Tiber Septim to demilitarize the province by demolishing defensive structures, many villages are still surrounded by high walls, and fortresses dot the landscape.
The Bretons' largely agrarian and hierarchical society is feudal in nature. Most Breton cities are sprawling trade hubs, and most of the people are either middle-class peasants or destitute beggars. The jockeying for power amongst the various monarchs and powers of the Iliac Bay region is a deeply ingrained, even cherished, part of Breton culture. Though they have several paths to prosperity, becoming a nobleman by performing quests and services to curry favor with various rulers is considered the best way, which has created a cultural "quest obsession" amongst young Bretons. The desire to find some great opportunity for fortune and glory has made Bretons venture all over northern Tamriel, even to such remote locations as Thirsk on the island of Solstheim, where one adventurous Breton once earned the position of chieftain. Many use their magical talents to earn success. They're often considered a friendly and humorous people, though there is little love lost between many Bretons and Redguards following the vicious War of Betony.
Bretons are said to enjoy intellectual pursuits; they often have an affinity for anything related to logic and ordered complexity. Their love of knowledge and affinity for commerce drives them into a host of careers, including trading, the military, sailing, medicine, textiles, manufacturing, writing, theology, philosophy, banking, all kinds of artistry, and other scholarly pursuits. Espionage has also proven to be one of their strong suits; Breton double agents, assassins, and spies have turned the tide of wars throughout recorded history.
Bretons are not disposed to "excessive religion", but most accepted the Aldmeri pantheon of gods while under elven rule, then made the transition to the Divines. The most notable spirits traditionally worshipped by Bretons are Akatosh, Magnus, Y'ffre, Dibella, Arkay, Zenithar, Mara, Stendarr, Kynareth, Julianos, and Phynaster. They also recognize Sheor, the Bad Man, believed to have been introduced by the elves during their conflicts with the Nords as a demonized version of Shor.
People of northern regions of High Rock cremate their dead, while burial remains common in the south.
- During character creation in TES: Arena, choosing the Breton race elicits the following: "Thy race is descended from the ancient Druids of Galen, quick witted and strong in the mystical arts. Thy folks are crafty and intelligent, a learned people who use their gifts to guide others to enlightenment..." There has been no mention of the Druids of Galen since.
- For game-specific information, see the ESO, Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind, Daggerfall, and Arena articles.
- Holidays of the Iliac Bay by Theth-i — An overview of Breton and Redguard holidays commonly celebrated in the Iliac Bay region
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Sons and Daughter of the Direnni West: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Wayrest, Jewel Of The Bay by Sathyr Longleat — A history of the city Wayrest
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ a b Provinces of Tamriel
- ^ The Sage — Aegrothius Goth
- ^ Holidays of the Iliac Bay — Theth-i
- ^ a b King Edward, Part IX
- ^ How Orsinium Passed to the Orcs — Menyna Gsost
- ^ a b c A History of Daggerfall — Odiva Gallwood
- ^ a b c d e Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Sons and Daughter of the Direnni West: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- ^ a b c Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: All the Eras of Man, A Comprehensive History of our History — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- ^ Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation: A Social History of Cyrodiil — University of Gwylim Press, 3E 344
- ^ a b c Wayrest, Jewel of the Bay — Sathyr Longleat
- ^ The Last King of the Ayleids — Herminia Cinna
- ^ The Fall of the Usurper — Palaux Illthre
- ^ Map of Iliac Bay
- ^ The Warp in the West — Ulvius Tero
- ^ a b Charwich-Koniinge Letters, Volume 1 — Charwich
- ^ The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: High Rock — Flaccus Terentius, 2E 581
- ^ Tamrielic Artifacts — Yagrum Bagarn
- ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ The Cake and the Diamond — Athyn Muendil
- ^ Thirsk, a History -- Revised — Bereditte Jastal
- ^ The War of Betony — Fav'te
- ^ The War of Betony — Vulper Newgate
- ^ On Artaeum — Taurce il-Anselma
- ^ Banker's Bet — Porbert Lyttumly
- ^ 16 Accords of Madness
- ^ The Refugees — Geros Albreigh
- ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Cyrodiil — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ Battle of Sancre Tor
- ^ Book Three of 2920, The Last Year of the First Era - First Seed — Carlovac Townway
- ^ Words and Philosophy
- ^ Chance's Folly — Zylmoc Golge
- ^ a b Varieties of Faith in the Empire — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor
- ^ Corpse Preparation