For those of you who haven't played Morrowind (heresy!), the premise of the game is that the Emperor personally ordered the release of a prisoner from the Imperial City's prison who appears to fulfill the Nerevarine prophecies, which speak of a reincarnation of the Dunmer war hero Indoril Nerevar, a being who will repel the attacks of Dagoth Ur, an enemy of Morrowind, see the fall of the Tribunal, who are the religious leaders and demi-gods of the Dunmer faith and nation as a whole, and possibly restore the independence of Morrowind outside of Imperial control.

The Emperor, at the start of the game, sees the prisoner, who will be the Player for the events of Morrowind, as fulfilling at least part of the Nerevarine prophecies, and after speaking with his advisors, he commands the prisoner to be shipped to Morrowind and released as a free man with orders to make contact with Caius Cosades, the head of the local Blades in the area. Through directions given to Cosades via a coded package, the player speaks to informants to learn about the Nerevarine Cult and the Sixth House, and then is initiated into the Nerevarine Cult as a prospective Nerevarine.

Ultimately, the player acquires Nerevar's Moon-and-Star, a ring cursed to kill anyone who wore it aside from Nerevar himself, thus proving that he truly is the Incarnate, then he gathers the support of the ashlanders and Great Houses by being recognised as the reborn Nerevar and Hortator (a war leader who leads the unified Great Houses in times of war), and gets the attention of Vivec himself, who recognises that the player is destined to end the Tribunal's divinity by defeating Dagoth Ur and saving Morrowind from the blight.

Now, I bring all this up, because the question I've always had is "Why?" -- Why did the Emperor research into and then start pulling the strings to fulfill an ancient prophecy related to the Dunmer? The Nerevarine Cult believes that, in addition to defeating Dagoth Ur, who is a dangerous threat to the stability of the province,  and proving the Tribunal to be false gods and dismantling the Tribunal Temple's religion, he or she will also drive the Empire out of Morrowind.

Did the Emperor just happen to be studying ancient customs and prophecies and recognise Dagoth Ur's threat to Morrowind and eventually to Tamriel as a whole and then decide that keeping Tamriel as a whole protected was worth it at the loss of control over Morrowind (looking more into the short-term)? Most of Morrowind is wrapped up in their own customs, with only the Hlaalu truly being integrated into the Empire and enthused about the relations between the Empire and the proud Dunmer people, so it could have been argued that letting go of Morrowind wouldn't be badly taken by the Dunmer people, and he'd reckon that despite initial turmoil from the Temple being destabilised, the people as a whole would thrive under a reborn Nerevar once free of the threat of Dagoth Ur's tyranny. 

Or, did he see the Nerevarine, should the prophecy be true, as a true leader of the Dunmer who could protect and lead the Dunmer people in the near to distant future and be a leader in a way that none of the Tribunes or the mortal monarch of the province could manage (more of a long-term look)? That's equally possible, because at the start of Oblivion, the Emperor tells the player that he's seen visions of his death and the coming of dark times for all of Tamriel. And, the Emperor's health had been failing around the events of Morrowind, which had resulting in the recalling of Legions to Cyrodiil and orders to recall key members of the Blades to the capital to aid in the succession, meaning that while attention was focused on the capital, the day to day affairs of the other provinces were being less scrutinised.

Without conclusive proof that visions of the Oblivion Crisis only started to happen relatively soon to the event (which happens six years after the events of Morrowind and the rise of the Nerevarine), it's entirely possible that the Emperor was acting to stabilise the province by removing internal threats and then pulling strings to unify the Great Houses and the ashlanders under one competent leader, in the event that the Emperor was incapacitated, that the succession issues lead to war, or in the event that visions of the Empire's destabilisation were true and were coming to him years before the actual event.

This long-term look at the stability of the province against many threats, rather than just the threat of Dagoth Ur alone, as I posited in my first theory, is the one I believe to be most legitimate of my two theories, based on dialogue from Caius Cosades, who says to the Nerevarine, "You're no fool. The days of the Empire are almost over. When the Emperor dies, nine hells're going to break loose. Forget about the Imperial City. Think locally. Worry about the Sixth House and Dagoth Ur. And squabbles between the Great Houses and the colonists. The rest of the political nonsense doesn't amount to a plate of scuttle." This clearly foreshadows the fall of the Empire in Oblivion and sets up that thngs will become really bad in the imminent future, and that a true leader will be needed entering the final years of the Third Era and the Fourth Era, a role that the popular Tribunal wouldn't be able to fill as their powers diminished and as Dagoth Ur grew powerful or was defeated, breaking the Tribunes and Dagoth Ur's unnatural divinity.

We might never know Uriel VII's motives for believing what many thought was an ancient superstition and sending a prisoner to change the political and religious landscape of Morrowind, but it's certainly fun to think about.

4 comments

Comment from: Legoless [Visitor]
Legoless

Uriel VII had the Dragon’s sight. Ignoring succession issues and the imminent Oblivion Crisis, Dagoth Ur planned to conquer Tamriel with the Blight - seems like reason enough to send help to Morrowind.

05/11/15 @ 07:56
Comment from: thuum [Member]  
thuum

Well, Uriel does have a knack for picking good people to pardon. I kind of figured that he saw the connections and assumed that it was meant to be, since he seems to put a lot of faith in the Nine Divines and their unknowable plans for mortals, etc. etc. But I think I like your theory better.

05/11/15 @ 16:38
Comment from: minor edits [Member]  
minor edits

Along with what the others said, A Life of Uriel Septim VII indicates that improving relations with “the East” was one of his top priorities since even before the events of Arena, decades before Morrowind. It raised the possibility to me that sending the Nerevarine to Morrowind was the culmination of a larger, longer-term project than we might suspect.

05/11/15 @ 20:34
Comment from: JLE [Visitor]
JLE

Indeed. Possibly a bit of all of these. Morrowind has always been troublesome for the Empire to get, and keep, in any case, and may well be no great loss to them if it becomes independent relatively peacefully (it’s clear that there will be no actual armed rebellion behind any drive for independence, under the Nerevarine).

Uriel, of course, did not foresee everything. He expected his own death soon - he was already an old man, in failing health: there were already rumours that his official legitimate sons had already been killed and replaced by impostors (rumours which turned out to be false, but in any case irrelevant since they too were slain by the Mythic Dawn uprising: indeed, the Mythic Dawn themselves may have started those rumours as a way of putting Uriel on his guard against the wrong threat, as a distraction from their true plans.) It is quite possible that Uriel may have seen this much at least, “no trueborn son will live to succeed you", even if he himself expected his death to be of natural causes and old age since there were no active in-court plots to actually seize the throne from him and his line. The one thing he did not expect was a plot to actually destroy the entire world with the idea that its perpetrators might rule in the next.

He may even have been planning to let the Empire itself devolve relatively peacefully into more of a federation of semi-independent states that were largely locally self-governing with only the lightest of hands from the centre: rather more like the modern European Union in which the majority of the power is still perceived to lie with the nation states - and seen the idea of the Nerevarine as someone who could be negotiated with to make such a settlement, using Morrowind as a pilot scheme for an example which could be later extended to the rest of the Empire (thus allowing the Nerevarine to “lead Morrowind to independence” by cooperation and consent with the Empire, fulfilling the prophecy without violence and remaining on allied terms.)

That way, if Uriel should die and have no living son to succeed him, civil unrest - which he knew must inevitably happen at his own death even if there were no supernatural consequences to worry about - would be limited largely to Cyrodiil, and the strife would be over a role which would after him become mostly ceremonial, while the provinces would be largely untouched.

But, until too late, he did not foresee that his death would come not peacefully but by assassination: he did not foresee the rise of the Mythic Dawn cult: nor, indeed, until the day of his end, did he really see that it was not just mortal threats of civil war that he must guard against, but an invasion from Oblivion itself by the Daedra, a threat against which mere civil wars pale into insignificance.

Nor, of course, did anybody realise that the fading of the Tribunal’s power (to be replaced by the Nerevarine) would also cause the fall of the mini-moon hosting the Ministry of Truth, the destruction of Vivec City, the eruption of Mount Dagoth-Ur and the depopulation of Vvardenfell Island.

Had Uriel lived a little longer, the Empire might have held together even after that - the Nerevarine rebuilding a shattered Morrowind with Imperial assistance, and an alliance made that would hold and serve as an example to other provinces: instead, quite apart from the Daedric invasions and the loss of life on all sides, the loss of the Emperor and all his sons (including his bastard, who might have succeeded to his father’s plans had he survived the Oblivion Crisis) plunged the whole Empire into chaos and civil strife, with Black Marsh seizing the opportunity to avenge the scars of slavery before Morrowind had the chance to show it had really changed its spots, the Altmer-supremacist secession in the west, and the collapse of the Empire in chaos before the chance of any “planned / organised devolution into stable allied states” could happen.

In other words: Uriel may well have been planning to avert the cost of the all-too-predictable human (and mer) effects that would follow with the ending of his line… but thanks to the apocalyptic cult and the greater danger of the Daedric invasion which almost destroyed the whole world, those selfsame more mundane troubles happened anyway, and the almighty Empire-wide civil war that Uriel had been trying to avert happened anyway. Worse still, even the civil war was peanuts in terms of disaster and destruction, compared with the actual apocalypse that *was* averted…

08/28/15 @ 20:52