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- See also: Chantry
The Imperium in flames
The first Blight devastated the Tevinter Imperium. Not only had the darkspawn ravaged the countryside, but Tevinter citizens had to face the fact that their own gods had turned against them. Dumat, the Old God once known as the Dragon of Silence, had risen to silence the world, and despite the frenzied pleas for help, the other Old Gods did nothing. The people of the Imperium began to question their faith, murdering priests and burning temples to punish their gods for not returning to help.
In those days, even after the devastation of the first Blight, the Imperium stretched across the known world. Fringed with barbarian tribes, the Imperium was well prepared for invasions and attacks from without. Fitting, then, that the story of its downfall begins from within.
The people of the far northern and eastern reaches of the Imperium rose up against their powerful overlords in rebellion. The Tevinter magisters summoned demons to put down these small rebellions, leaving corpses to burn as examples to all who would dare revolt. The Imperium began to tear itself apart from within, throngs of angry and disillusioned citizens doing what centuries of opposing armies could not. But the magisters were confident in their power, and they could not imagine surviving a Blight only to be destroyed by their own subjects.
Even after the Blight, Tevinter commanded an army larger than that of any other organized nation in Thedas, but that army was scattered and its morale dwindling. The ruin of Tevinter was such that the Alamarri barbarians, who had spread their clans and holds over the wilderness of the Ferelden Valley at the far southeast edge of the Imperium, saw weakness in their enemy, and, after an age of oppression, embarked on a campaign not only to free their own lands, but to bring down mighty Tevinter as well.
--From Tales of the Destruction of Thedas, by Brother Genitivi, Chantry scholar.