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Ferelden, as we think of it now, did not exist before the Exalted Age. Instead, the valley was divided up into dozens of old Alamarri clans. They warred constantly with one another over land, honor, the allegiance of the freeholders, and, on one notable occasion, the name given to a favorite mabari.
Most of what we know about the founding of our nation comes from old songs that the bards passed down through the Ages. The songs are filled with wild exaggerations and outright lies, but this hardly differs from the scholarly papers of some of my contemporaries. There is no agreement among poets or scholars on how he did it, but Calenhad gained the support of the Circle of Magi, and they crafted for him a suit of silvery white armor that, by all accounts, repelled both arrow and blade. Calenhad led his army across the valley and captured Redcliffe--one of only three men who ever successfully laid siege to that fortress--and presented himself to the banns of the Landsmeet as their king.
The poets tell us that every lord knelt before Calenhad without question. The fact that he attended the Landsmeet surrounded by Ash Warriors and loyal mages of the Circle is generally omitted from the ballads, however.
From Calenhad came the line of Theirin kings and queens who reigned, uninterrupted, until the 44th year of the Blessed Age, when the Orlesian invasion came. The rightful king was forced to flee Denerim, and for 70 years (sic) a puppet sat upon the throne.
--From Ferelden: Folklore and History, by Sister Petrine, Chantry scholar
Related codex entriesCodex entry: History of Ferelden: Chapter 2
- Considering that Ferelden was fully conquered in 8:44 Blessed, the Orlesian occupation lasted 58 years, not 70 as the text mentions.