Glenumbra was first mentioned in the Nordic Census of High Rock following the province’s conquest by the First Empire. The recorded size of the town is surprisingly large – according to the census, at the time it housed almost a thousand inhabitants and is noted to have the space for at least three times as many grown people. This immediately grabs a researcher’s eye, considering this was a time when Daggerfall was a simple fishing village along the coast, especially since Glenumbra is a settlement quite far inland, whereas according to this same census most of the natives resided along the shore, where food was easier to come by.
The explanation for this unusual size is a rather simple, albeit grim one – it was a centre of slave trade, one of the largest in High Rock. Elven slave-drivers would bring their living merchandise from all over western High Rock to sell the hapless slaves to their future masters, of whom there was never a shortage – slavery was widely practiced in all of Tamriel during its early history. While slaves came and went, there were still many permanent inhabitants in the town, who settled around the centre of trade hoping for profit, and slaves themselves were apparently often kept in Glenumbra for quite a while until being sold off, not to mention the permanent (as permanent as it could be with constant deaths and replacements) enslaved population that worked the fields that kept them and their masters fed.
While the Nordic conquerors were not as eager when it came to slavery and the location of the town was quite inconvenient even if they desired to keep to its original purpose, that did not mean they would not make use of the many slave-cages that the Elves had left behind. Assuming a role not much better than its previous, Glenumbra would go on to become a major prison for what Elves were not put to the sword immediately upon capture, as well as their native supporters. However, the settlement surrounding the citadel that was built as a safeguard against slave uprisings shrunk considerably during the time of Nordic rule, since a prison offered much less opportunity for profit than a major slave market.
With the return of the Direnni, Glenumbra would finally be freed of its dark past, to some extent. Much of the town had deteriorated due to the declining population and a great many slave cages were dismantled by the Direnni to forget the time when they held Elven prisoners, along with a portion of the citadel at the heart of the settlement; with no more permanent resident of note, the fortress lay abandoned for a great many years, casting an uneasy shadow over the farming village that built on the ruins of the old slave market. Eventually, it would become the home of a mage lord and his family, granted the position and the arcane power in return for helping the Direnni administrate the surrounding lands. With the second fall of the Elves, this same mage lord line would go on to become the predecessors to the modern bloodline of the barons of Glenumbra Moors.
While the citadel of Glenumbra was undeniably a formidable fortification, the magocrats did not for long maintain independence after the fall of the Direnni. Local folklore would have us believe that the ruler of Glenumbra was defeated in an arcane duel by the mage lord of neighbouring Glenpoint, who proclaimed himself king after the event and would go on to rule the town and its surrounding lands until being defeated by King Thagore of Daggerfall several centuries later. Shortly after this defeat, Daggerfallian troops occupied the fortress, but the amount of land that this new occupant managed to unite surpassed the achievements of Glenpoint – most of contemporary Glenumbra seems to have fallen under Daggerfall in the following years.
Glenumbra would finally regain independence some time after the Siege of Orsinium that broke the power of Daggerfall, much of the northern part of the modern-day barony breaking off some fifty years following the disastrous venture in the east, though the town itself would not be claimed by this new realm until almost a century later, at which point the most influential of the nobles that led the effort against Daggerfall declared himself baron of Glenumbra Moors, claiming right by blood due to some obscure relation to the first mage-lords of the town that is impossible to verify in the present day.
However, while its powerful southern neighbour focused on the Iliac Bay and left Glenumbra largely undisturbed, the barony was far from peaceful. Its borders shifted again and again as was common in High Rock at the time, crumbling into much smaller realms shortly after Daggerfall was driven out. However, there was but one barony of Glenumbra Moors even during this time, with its centre and the baron’s seat of power firmly established in the citadel of Glenumbra. The capital would expand quite a bit despite the volatile times, new inhabitants building straight on top of the old ruins of the slave market. The town can be presumed to have reached and perhaps even surpassed its size during the first recording in the Nordic census; however the Thrassian Plague that swept over the west would again reduce the population by approximately two thirds.
However, while it claimed the lives of many, the Plague in the long run would turn out to be for the better. While the bloodline of the Glenumbrian barons survived, many of their neighbouring petty realms lost their ruling lines, making easy pickings for Glenumbra either through force or claims, valid or not. Glenumbra even fought a successful war against Glenpoint; however whatever gains made were quite soon reversed, common in High Rock. Some five hundred years after the Thrassian Plague, the ruling baron expanded his realm to the coast of the Abecean Sea; however that bears little significance besides the symbolism of having coastal land, as even today the part of the shore under Glenumbra Moors remains too treacherous for ships and the realm has no larger port.
While Glenumbra has long since put behind its past as a major slave market, the barony and the capital town in particular are noted as some of the most unpleasant lands in High Rock. While the stain of Broken Diamonds – Empress Kintyra II Septim’s murder during the war of the Red Diamond – is perhaps to be held at fault for this to some extent, there is no denying that the lay of the land itself (particularly the rocky shore) is responsible as well and its ancient influences can still be subtly felt on some levels, regardless of whether the inhabitants of Glenumbra themselves remember it, adding up to make what would otherwise be just another barony of High Rock a rather depressing land.
Though the barony is quite close to Daggerfall diplomatically, it is not as intertwined with the kingdom as its neighbour, Tulune. Instead of being mired in Daggerfallian politics on many levels and involved directly in the ‘grand game’ of its nobility, Glenumbra’s ties to the kingdom are mostly through its baron, who traditionally holds the opinion of Daggerfall’s king in high regard. There is a quite strong pro-Daggerfallian tendency evident in the court of the barony, which puts it at odds with the neighbouring barony of Glenpoint, ever a vocal opponent of the southern kingdom, however there has been no greater incident between the two realms for many years now – even if border skirmishes are not unseen, they tend to be blamed on the actions of individuals and more notable cases are followed by action against the ‘responsible parties’, usually quite loudly trumpeted but with little actually done.
Like in most of western High Rock, serfdom is quite widely practiced in Glenumbra Moors. Many of the peasants in rural areas are more or less tied to their land and freemen remain very sparse, though there are some instances of tenant farming being practiced and the coastland can be noted to be home to many small communities of rugged free fishermen. The lack of interest in coastal expansion is to be blamed for this, and though these fishermen sometimes cause problems when they turn to small-scale raiding in times when fishing goes worse, there has been no concentrated effort to eradicate them. Mustering these coastal Glenumbrians in times of war can be quite difficult, for many of their villages are located in hard to reach locations – if they do not wish to be reached, they most likely will not be, as the overland routes to many of their villages tend to be more trouble to navigate than forcing the men to war is worth, while trying to reach them by the treacherous waters of the barony’s coast without a local guide or in larger ships pretty much equals suicide.
Glenumbrian nobility is almost entirely comprised of small-holding noblemen – the military nobility. They spend most of their time overseeing their lands out in the countryside, with most of the exceptions to that being when they ride to war. The court of the barony is thus not entirely glamorous, consisting most of the time of the baron’s own retinue. These knights are the only estate that has any say with the baron, since there is no assembly of all the estates (unlike, for example, Daggerfall’s estates-general, which at least puts on the facade of representing all recognized social strata); with the chevaliers holding much of the land in Glenumbra, the Moorstag, as the assembly of the nobility is called, usually involves the baron trying to persuade the nobles to whatever his cause may be, a source of some amusement and wonder for observers from more centralised lands. The niche filled by magnates in other lands seems to have fallen onto bandings between nobles in the barony, alliances made with a common goal in mind which usually tend to be short term (though unions that last generations are not unheard of).
There is some slight differentiation between the nobles of Glenumbra, which corresponds with the slight ethnic differentiation in the barony in general. The inhabitants of the coastal lands and the further inland north-western territories generally tend to be more Elven in their qualities, while Mannish ones are more prevalent in the south-east, around the capital itself. This is undoubtedly because of the large influx of humans during Glenumbra’s days as a major slave market; paradoxically, the south-eastern nobility tend to consider themselves closer to their roots and generally pay somewhat more attention to the arcane in education. In sharp contrast, the magic as taught by the Mages’ Guild is hardly seen among the coastal freemen, village elders usually being the only ones with some grasp of the arcane as they require some knowledge of healing spells to aid their kinsmen (although little actual magic seems to be involved in many cases, more weight being put behind ritual).
The capital town itself has clear ties to its past as a slave market, seen in the layout (since, though the settlement has waxed and waned over the years, it was always rebuilt on the ruins of the initial buildings). The citadel – rarely if ever referred to as such these days – sits in the very middle of the town on a mound, casting an uneasy shadow due to its strange, heavy architecture, a legacy of its ancient builders that predate the Bretons themselves; some have said that the keep, which now serves as the residence of the baron of Glenumbra Moors, looks as though it rose from underground or was carved out of a mountain no longer here, however its strange appearance is somewhat masked by Bretic repairs carried out over different periods.
The town proper is actually divided into three separate districts that sit around the citadel, not forming a continuous ring around it. That is also part of its history, since the ruins of yet more walls can be found inside these districts where slaves lived permanently – safeguards against rebellion, since if there was ever some threat to the Elves in one district it could be sealed off. Relatively few of those walls have been rebuilt, merely the ones that surround the three districts. In general the town is not very pleasant to the eye, dwellings being mishmashes of architecture from various periods and ruins stripped of everything valuable sitting like sore spots all over. These ruins are far from safe, since criminals and the homeless often choose to shelter there, making them dangerous places for all but the best equipped to handle hostiles.
The townspeople of Glenumbra are under the protection of the baron, however in spite of that many often seek patronage from nobility of the surrounding lands and actually do not work in the town but the fields outside it, seeking the safety of its walls.
In general, the people of Glenumbra Moors tend to be superstitious folk, in particular when it comes to death and the dead – relatives and friends of the deceased go to great lengths to ensure the spirit of the one who passed away is not troubled in leaving his or her body, cremation still being widely practiced in rural areas (less so in the capital) as it is said to make it easier for the soul to leave the body, thus ensuring it does not rise again (in truth this does prevent undead, however only because there are no bodies left that necromancers could reanimate). That can probably be drawn to the fact that many older woods in the barony are said by locals to be haunted and undead sightings have been verified in some places, something that is usually blamed upon the battle of Glenumbra Moors that occurred here between Direnni and Alessian forces during the First Era and the unusually high death toll of this battle.