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The Reach is the large southwestern hold of Skyrim; it gives way to High Rock to the west and Hammerfell to the south, though exactly where has changed over the course of history and various wars. Near the southwestern corner, the capital Markarth, formerly a Dwemer stronghold, is built into the living rock of the Druadach Mountains, which are replaced by the Jerall Mountains near the hold's southeast corner. The Karth River begins in the southern region and drains the mountains, running like a deep gouge through the middle of the hold. The peaks of the Druadach range lie to the west of it, and high bluffs typically rise on the east leading to grassland and tundra.
The hold is inhabited by Nords and the native Daedra-worshipping Reachmen, who are primarily of Breton descent. They are known for resisting foreign rule by using ancient magic and an intimate knowledge of the landscape to their advantage in guerrilla warfare and espionage tactics. An Orc stronghold could be found in the steppes of the mountains in the south of the hold in the Fourth Era, and there have been several settlements over the years along the Karth, such as Karthwasten and Old Hroldan.
Around 1E 1030, the Reach was ruled by ten warring kings. Most of them bowed down to the Imperial invading forces of Empress Hestra, though many ultimately joined the rebellion led by Red Eagle, the legendary Reachman. They could not win this conflict, but in a campaign lasting two or more years, Red Eagle and his followers made the Empire pay dearly for invading their land. Although the Empire was ultimately able to exert control over the Reach, widespread resistance continued, until Reman himself turned his attention to the “the madmen of the Reach” after thwarting the Akaviri invasion in 1E 2704. He divided the geographical Reach between the legal provinces of High Rock and Skyrim to reduce the power or incomes of any individual ruler. Almost continuous forays out of Evermore or Solitude attempted to impose control, but were never able to succeed absolutely. Around 2E 582, the Reach was an independent Reachman kingdom, ruled by the so-called Despot of Markarth. Nationalistic Reachmen passively resisted throughout the eras, until finding the perfect opportunity in 4E 174, while the forces of the Empire were committed to fighting the Aldmeri Dominion. They rose up, seizing Markarth and most of the hold, ruling the Reach as a independent kingdom for two years. The government of Skyrim, growing desperate, enlisted a militia led by Ulfric Stormcloak which retook the Reach in 4E 176. The survivors of the revolt were scattered into the wilderness, becoming the Forsworn.
- For game-specific information, see the Skyrim article.
- The Holds of Skyrim:
A Field Officer's Guide
For Use by Officers of the Imperial Legion
- The City of Stone: A Sellsword's Guide to Markarth — Amanda Alleia
- The "Madmen" of the Reach: - A Cultural Treatise on the Forsworn — Arrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar
- The Legend of Red Eagle — Tredayn Dren, Archivist of Winterhold
- The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: Northern Bangkorai and the Mountains — Flaccus Terentius, 2E 581
- The Bear of Markarth - The Crimes of Ulfric Stormcloak — Arrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar
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