Once the dominant arcane institution of Tamriel, the Guild has experienced a sharp decline following the dissolution of the Septim Empire and subsequent loss of Imperial funding and support; finally, after the Imperial City was sacked in the course of the Wars of the Shattered Ruby in 4E8, many of the high wizards of the Arcane University fled Cyrodiil altogether. They would find refuge in the Kingdom of Daggerfall, where the Imperial Mages' Guild was to be reformed by royal mandate and recognized as a client of the Crown.
See also: Mages' Guild
After the Oblivion Crisis and the apotheosis of Martin Septim, Imperial authority throughout Tamriel quickly unraveled as several rival claimants to the Sundered Throne arose, and tore Cyrodiil apart in another interregnum. The Mages' Guild soon found many of its farthest-flung outposts and guildhalls cut off from the Arcane University and in jeopardy; with its entire Morrowind chapter already lost to the bonfires of Almalexia's revolt, other branches were now in danger of being forcibly disbanded or outright destroyed. The sudden loss of Imperial funding, protection and oversight left the Guild open to infighting, fracturing and outside competition.
In the months to follow, the greatest efforts were made to use any and all resources on hand to salvage what might yet be salvaged. Whole guildhalls in Summerset were tucked away in obscura, hidden from the eyes of all but the high masters of the Guild; where nothing else could be done, entire libraries and countless arcane artifacts would be smuggled away, taken into the great vaults of the Arcane University. Through wit, guile, and no small amount of magic, the Guild managed to weather the initial storms - at the cost of much of Summerset, Morrowind, Valenwood, and whatever foothold it ever had in Argonia.
The worst, however, was yet to come, and whatever tenuous balance the archmagisters of the Guild had managed to strike would be lost in a flash when the Imperial City fell in 4E8. With the University besieged from without and beyond by a cohort of renegade battlemages, many of the high wizards chose exodus over death - when the gates finally gave, there was nothing left within but a myriad of arcane traps and a half-pillaged vault. This was no victory, however, and it was obvious the Guild would not long survive with its leadership in exile.
Initially, plans were made to rendezvous in the ravaged port city of Anvil, where a new home might be pieced together from the remnants of the local guildhall; however, a much more appealing opportunity soon presented itself. Reaching out through Daggerfall's own chapter of the Mages' Guild, King Camaron Thagor extended an offer of hospitality - and royal protection. After brief deliberation, and with Daggerfall's superior infrastructure and the relative stability of High Rock in mind, the archmagisters elected to accept; not more than a month later, the Guild arrived at a final and satisfactory agreement with the Crown of Daggerfall, and His Majesty's Imperial Guild of Mages, Witches and Sorcerers was included into the kingdom's register of royal guilds.
In the years to follow, most of the tomes and treasures rescued from the sack of the Arcane University would be relocated to the Guild's new headquarters in the city of Daggerfall, together with the surviving members of the Council of Mages and the Archpalatinus of the Order of the Lamp. Contact with many of the surviving guildhalls throughout Tamriel has since been reestablished, and something approaching regular operations resumed - and with nothing less than an official rescinding of Hannibal Traven's short-lived ban on necromancy.
Structure and Organization Edit
The modern Mages' Guild retains much of its Cyrodiilic organization. The Arch-Mage remains the ultimate authority in all matters regarding guild policy, checked only by the Council of Mages - composed of the four other archmagisters, and, after its most recent amendment nine years ago, the Archpalatinus of the Order of the Lamp. Together, these six chart the course of the Guild on the highest level; however, the details of implementation are typically the purview of individual Guild Stewards, and most retain considerable autonomy in all matters. Often, the only way for the Council to know what is happening in its own guildhalls is by appointing an official emissary, and it maintains a number of such - both in far-flung guild enclaves, and in the courts of various rulers throughout Tamriel.
Beneath the Council of Mages and the various Guild Stewards, matters remain much as they have for centuries. Senior Warlocks supervise and instruct less experienced magicians, conjurers and apprentices, often whilst pursuing their own avenues of study and research. Between various arcane services they provide to the public, such as alchemy and enchantment, and local patronage - especially in Daggerfall itself, where the Guild is under oath to reserve alchemical and enchanting services to its own membership so as not to infringe on the monopolies of specialized royal guilds - individual guildhalls typically boast a strong financial foundation upon which to build their various inquiries.
It is worth noting that the militant arm of the Guild, the Order of the Lamp, has benefited greatly from its relocation to High Rock - the cradle of many a chivalric coven. In the troubled times following the Oblivion Crisis and the collapse of the Septim Empire, countless Breton hedge-knights and spellswords have flocked to its banners to seek quest and purpose, to the effect that many guildhalls - even those further removed from High Rock, in Hammerfell, Skyrim or Cyrodiil - are now guarded by sizable adjacent chapterhouses. This is but a physical expression of the Order's growing clout within the Guild, and it is no coincidence that the Council of Mages has recently been expanded to include the Knights' Archpalatinus.
Relationship with the Crown Edit
The Mages' Guild lies under the official protection of the Crown of Daggerfall, and King Camaron holds the title of Magister-Protector of the Guild of Mages to reflect this. In exchange, the Guild considers itself under the protection of the Thagors - meaning that it extends its services freely to the Twin Thrones, defers to their authority in any and all matters wherein the Kingdom of Daggerfall is affected or concerned, and swears to abide by any and all royal edicts, charters and mandates.
Initially, the archmagisters of the Guild were reluctant to sign over so much of their freedom; it took the Guild Steward of Daggerfall to explain that the royal authority of the Thagors is not entirely alike to that exerted by the Septims, or by the intrusive Imperial bureaucracy. True enough, the Guild has had only minor and periodic interference from the kingdom's central hierarchy to reckon with, and has otherwise been left to its own devices. That is not to say no friction has developed, however - in particular, some in the Guild remain bitter about the loss of their traditional businesses in enchanting and alchemy, and the necessity to surrender them to the ancient and established local guilds.