Aes Sedai (History)
From Tar Valon Library
Author: Kyria d'Oreyn
Unless stated otherwise, all information herein is taken from TWoRJTWoT.
Before the Breaking of the World male Aes Sedai used to exist, but after saidin was tainted every man attempting to channel goes horribly mad and has to be gentled. This was not the only change that occured over time. The White Tower replaced the Hall of the Servants as the ruling body two or three hundreds years after its destruction, the Ajahs became consistent groups with a set purpose, and most people came to be wary around Aes Sedai where they esteemed them before.
Age of Legends
During the Age of Legends, when status and honor mattered, it was the Aes Sedai who held the highest positions among society. Their ability to channel the One Power enabled them to serve the betterment of the world, hence their name, which means "servant of all" in the Old Tongue. Their symbol was a circle, the black and white halves seprated by a sinuous line, representing "the equal and opposing balance of the saidin and saidar that made up the halves of the True Source."
Both men and women used to work together towards achievements that the Aes Sedai of today can only dream of. They were employed in many fields and their services were highly in demand because the gift of channeling was rare. They strove to distinguish themselves through exceptional personal work that would earn them a third name, a great honor during that time. Aes Sedai had a lot of time to do this as the ability to touch the True Source allowed them to live longer than average humans, often up to six hundred years.
Some of the professions practiced by Aes Sedai had little or nothing to do with the One Power. They included:
- Architects: Architectonical structures during the Age of Legends were sights to behold, beautiful cities interwoven with gardens, trees and wells; high, glittering towers joined with delicate arches; buildings were made out of crystal, glass or metal in a wide variety of geometrical forms. Anything they wanted could be done.
- Composers/Musicians: Asmodean could play the harp, flutes, and instruments that are now unknown such as the balfone, the corea, the obaen and the shama.
- Historians: Balthamel researched the histories of cultures long gone at the institute of higher learning in M'Jinn.
- Investment advisors: Moghedien
- Lawyers: Be'lal
- Philosophers: Ishamael wrote books such as Analysis of Perceived Meaning, Reality and the Absence of Meaning, and Disassembly of Reason that were highly influental on the arts.
- Sportsmen/Athletes: Sammael was skilled in a number of disciplines, such as archery and bloodless sword fights.
It is not known how much Aes Sedai took part in world government, other than that they were often democratically elected into the world parliament, or "council," and once held considerable power, although not the complete leadership. They also occupied a lot of high positions, but since Aes Sedai made up only two or three percent of the population, non-channelers took up the majority of the other offices.
The Aes Sedai themselves were loosely organized through a guild that "controlled and regulated all those who channel" had branches in all parts of the world that housed Aes Sedai; big cities featured impressive buildings, while in small villages, the channelers met in someone's house, which was temporarily appointed for that purpose. They were internally governed through the Hall of the Servants, located in Paaran Disen, described as having massive columned entrances, large ornate doorways and polished floors of glowing white elstone". This supervised the channelers as well as set and applied laws affecting them. Detailed rules of conduct and procedure were essential, as the Aes Sedai often worked in teams, and punishment for breaking them was handled internally; the outside world never realized any of it.
They also seemed to be divided into ajah, informal and temporary groups following a common set of beliefs that constantly shrank or grew or combined and divided as they were needed for a certain goal or purpose. During the Age of Legends, there were a lot of them, "a vast sea of ajah" as a manuscript found in the Royal Library of Cairhien says.
Leaders among the Aes Sedai were referred to as "First among Servants" and sat on the High Seat. The last leader at the end of the Age of Legends, Lews Therin Telamon, "wore the Ring of Tamyrlin" and "summoned the Nine Rods of Dominion" (TEotW, Prologue), although no more information pertaining to them have survived the Breaking.
The Aes Sedai themselves were served by the Da'shain Aiel, men and women who lived according to the "Way of the Leaf," a pacifistic code of honor. Each Aes Sedai apparently had a Da'shain to serve them, but their service could be transferred to another Aes Sedai, e.g. through marriage; Charn remarks that marrying Nalla would put him into Zorelle Sedai's service (TSR, Ch. 26).
The One Power
Because the ability to touch the True Source is a genetically recessive trait, only two or three percent of the world population could learn how to channel. To find all those with the spark, Aes Sedai tested young people at regular intervals. These tests were not mandatory, but considering the honor of being chosen to train and serve among the "elite ranks of the servants of all," only a few refused the opportunity, as they were not prepared to face the responsibility that comes along with the status.
The ability to learn could manifest at any time during a ten-year period, somewhere between puberty and the late twenties, and would be sleeping until discovered. This is why Aes Sedai encouraged the candidates to take the test again at some other time, but a lot gave up after one or two tries. Another reason for the encouragement is the danger of the inborn spark; it would manifest whether a person wants to or not and if not guided to safely touch the Source, three out of four die from the after-effects channeling has on them.
Those who wanted to be tested did not need to be prepared in any way, the only requirement was physical presence and concentration. Due to the differences of saidar and saidin, women had to be tested by female Aes Sedai and men by male Aes Sedai. These supervisors channeled very little of the One Power so as not to hurt or burn out the candidates. Those who passed were sent to a school where they would be trained to become Aes Sedai at no charge.
Men usually didn't show the ability to learn before the age of sixteen, but no later than the mid twenties. If not discovered by then, a man could not learn to channel. During the test, the male Aes Sedai created a tiny flame and had the aspirant concentrate on it for about ten to thirty minutes. If the man could learn to channel, he would feel a kind of resonance.
Women could manifest the ability to learn as soon as they were twelve or thirteen, but no later than twenty-one. A female Aes Sedai could determine those with the spark inborn within a radius of ten to fifteen feet, feeling a kind of "kinship," without having to use the One Power. For the rest, the Aes Sedai would also create a tiny flame, but here the aspirant had to feel the flow of the Power being channeled. Sometimes, a woman was guided to momentarily channel the flow herself; succeeding meant a great potential to be able to learn fast.
The ability to channel offered many possibilies and the use made many Aes Sedai creative in their trade of art. Purposes the One Power was used for include:
- Agriculture: Along with the seedsinging, the use of the One Power made fields produce optimum yield, so that food was abundant and no one needed to hunger.
- Development of living constructs: One of the Aes Sedai's research projects was the creation of contructs made with the One Power and how to use them. They included:
- Chora trees: Lining the streets in every city, these artificially created plants and their big green trefoil leaves emanated "an aura of peace and well-being to any who passed beneath them."
- Nym: Appearing to be made entirely out of plants, the Nym were capable of feeling and using the One Power to make things grow. They also participate in the seedsinging with the Da'shain and Ogier.
- Design and construction of angreal, sa'angreal and ter'angreal. Aes Sedai lost the knowledge of how to create those objects during the Breaking of the World.
- Healing: All Healers of the body were channelers, called Restorers. They were faster and more efficient than any surgery or medicine; because of this, people were not afraid of getting injured or falling ill. Scars, for example, were easy to rememdy. There were also healers of the mind, dedicated to treating those who the One Power and other methods of healing did not affect. It is unknown whether these were also all Aes Sedai or if non-channelers could also take up this profession.
- Mining: Aes Sedai with a strength in Earth searched and extracted ores without damaging the structure of the environment. They also created alloys stronger than any constructed without the use of the Power. During the War of Power they used similar techniques to harden steel, thus creating Power-wrought swords that never needed sharpening and wouldn't break no matter how much pressure was used.
- Technological research: Aes Sedai led most research and development, most prominently at the Collam Daan, because the One Power offered a wide variety of scientific fields for exploration. The Aes Sedai only worked out the theoretical part of projects, however, while technicians and other non-channelers took care of the construction and repair.
- Weather control: Aes Sedai manipulated the weather, often with the use of ter'angreal (TPoD, Ch. 2), to the advantage of agriculture among other things. Thanks to this, natural diseases, drought and floodings were unknown.
Depriving a channeler of the ability to touch the True Source was called "severing" and was penalty for a severe crime. Severing could not be reversed, the ability to channel not be restored, until recently.
Depending upon the purpose which a circle was used for, an Aes Sedai was chosen based on their strength in the Five Powers, while the leader was appointed according to his or her ability in melding the flows. When a circle was necessary to perform a task, Aes Sedai could be summoned from their other occupation by the Hall of the Servants to aid with their particular strengths and skills.
A group of researchers at the Collam Daan, led by Mierin Eronaile and Beidomon, found a thinning in the Pattern that apparently covered "an undivided source of the One Power seperate from the True Source" while in search for an alternate energy that did not bear the same restrictions as saidar and saidin. They drilled a hole in that place, only to find that the power emanations they had located actually came from the Dark One.
The opening of the Bore, as the hole in the Pattern came to be called, caused a backlash that shook the very fabric of reality. Through the Bore the Dark One could now touch the world, corrupting humanity, so that crimes that were previously unheard of were committed ever more frequently. Chaos emerged and the societal structure began to dissolve. People gathered among the ranks of the Dark One, even Aes Sedai who were drawn by the prospects of power, immortality and/or revenge. They became known as Dreadlords.
Those coming from the scientific branch of biology research like Aginor hybridized human and animal genes to create ferocious soldiers to strenghten their forces. The first of these creatures were the Trollocs.
The War of Power
During the one hundred years after the drilling of the Bore, the Darkfriends, as the Dark One's followers called themselves, wreaked havoc and gathered as many like-minded people as they could, until they were strong enough to act and take over world domination. This was the actual beginning of the War of the Shadow, also called the War of Power because channelers used the One Power as a lethal weapon.
At the beginning of the war, people turned to the Aes Sedai for help against the Shadow’s forces. Lews Therin, who then was First among Servants, was chosen leader of the Ogier, who joined the fights, as well as the Aes Sedai and other humans who fought on the side of the Light. Channelers on both sides provided the soldiers with new armors and weapons and anything available was altered to be of use in the war.
They also discovered balefire, which outshone the destructive force of every other weave by far. For one whole year it was used to erase armies and entire cities off the face of the earth, until both sides realized the real damage it caused. It not only killed anything it touched, it also burned the threads out of the Pattern, endangering reality to the point of falling apart. Without an official agreement, both sides stopped using it.
In the last year of the war, when Lews Therin suggested that they attack the Bore directly and seal it, he faced opposition. Although he had the plan already laid out and the cuendillar seals prepared, Latra Posae Decume, apparently an Aes Sedai with much influence, defied him and supported a strategy that involved two huge sa'angreal being made to be able to destroy the Shadow's forces completely. She gathered many followers to see that the second plan was carried out and even reached an agreement with female Aes Sedai not to help Lews Therin's undertakings. With the Fateful Concord, as it was called, the leader of the Aes Sedai lost those powerful females he needed to form a circle in order to place the seals on the Dark One's prison.
Even when they lost possession of the sa'angreal's access keys, Latra Posae would not step aside for Lews Therin's plan, instead she sent out spies to retrieve the ter'angreal from the Shadow-held territory, but they were destroyed before they could reach their goal.
When Lews Therin desperately tried to hold the area with the sa'angreal, he realized that there was no other way than to carry out his initial plan, even without female assistance. Together with one hundred and thirteen other male Aes Sedai, generally called the Hundred Companions despite their number, and some ten thousand soldiers, he attacked Shayol Ghul and sealed the Bore, trapping the Dark One and the thirteen strongest Forsaken who were meeting in the Pit of Doom.
In the moment the seals were placed, a backlash from the Dark One tainted saidin (whether it was intended by the Great Lord or a consequence of trying to prevent the sealing is unknown). Lews Therin and the remaining sixty-eight Companions instantly went mad.
A more detailed description of what happened can not only be found by following the link to the War, but also in the Strike at Shayol Ghul, a version of The Fall to the Shadow in “The World of Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time,”” written by Robert Jordan himself. Some other events with Aes Sedai involvement during the War include:
- Aginor created gholam and other Shadowspawn (LoC, Prologue). Gholam were used to kill Aes Sedai (ACoS, Ch. 39). Some of these creatures were made in exchange for human souls; it is estimated that during the years of the War more than ten thousand men, women and chidlren were kidnapped every day.
- Lews Therin easily defeated Ishamael at the Gates of Paaran Disen (TEotW, Prologue).
- Some of Lews Therin's general betrayed him, Tel Janin Aellinsar (Sammael) and Barid Bel Medar (Demandred) among them, to join the Shadow's forces.
- The Choedan Kal were created, the strongest known sa'angreal.
- Be'lal, among others, destroyed the Hall of the Servants.
- Sammael's governed territories went rack and ruin; when it was once reported to the Forsaken that his captives only had half of the food necessary for them to live, Sammael ordered one half of the prisoners to be executed.
- Asmodean blinded or crippled his rival artists, leaving them unable to perform.
- Lanfear operated from the World of Dreams, putting people up against the system and driving her enemies insane, causing them to commit suicide.
- During her time as governor, Semirhage had prisoners torture each other to death and turned important captives to the Shadow.
- Mesaana taught children in schools to spy on their friends and family and report. They were also encouraged to destroy everything that interfered with the Dark One's glory.
Time of Madness
Although Lews Therin and his Companions went mad the instant the male half of the True Source was tainted and began to destroy anyone and anything to cross their path, other male Aes Sedai stayed sane for the most part of the following ten years. They could feel the taint on saidin, like a film of rancid oil that they had to penetrate in order to channel and that slowly seeped into their bones, driving them insane.
"The taint had trapped the minds of all the [male channelers] in twisted dreams of madness, while saidin gave them the power to make the dreams instant reality," causing the Breaking of the World. Storms broke out, volcanoes erupted and earthquakes shook the world; entire mountain ranges were flattened, new ones rose, the ocean flooded the land, while in other areas new ground emerged from the seas. In short, the whole face of the earth was changed dramatically.
Male channelers knew that every time they reached for the True Source it brought them one step closer to the madness and sought to prevent that from happening. Some tried not to channel at all, which was impossible (they could as easily have given up breathing), others committed suicide, while a few agreed to be cut off from the Power; they would die a couple of years later anyway. Most, however, would find sanctuary in Ogier stedding, where they could neither sense nor touch the Source. In the end, this also did not help much as the need to channel saidin was greater than their will and every last male channeler eventually left the stedding and went mad.
In thanksgiving of offering them refuge, the male Aes Sedai created the Ways for the Ogier, enabling them to visit their kin in other stedding that were unreachable during the Breaking. They gave them the Talisman of Growing, a ter'angreal enabling the Ogier to "grow" new Ways to other stedding that weren't already connected.
At the beginning of the Breaking, the female Aes Sedai realized that the Da'shain Aiel would be killed if they stayed in the cities, but would not leave them for their own safety, because they were sworn to the Aes Sedai. It had been Foretold, possibly by Deindre, that the Aiel were going to produce a man who would fight against the Dark One. To give the Aiel a purpose for leaving to a place of safety, the Aes Sedai gave them angreal, sa'angreal and ter'angreal to take out of reach of the male channelers. When tens of thousands of Aiel had banded together and the objects of the Power been loaded onto wagons, Solinda told Jonai, apparently a leader or representant of the Da'shain, to take everyone out of Paaran Disen and keep moving until they found a place of safety (TSR, Ch. 26).
Other events during that time include:
- Lews Therin destroyed his entire palace in his madness and along with it all the ones close to him, whether tied by blood or friendship. Ishamael appeared to heal Lews Therin in order to make him realize how complete his defeat was. When the Dragon regained a sane mind again, he demanded to know what Ishamael had done to his family, while the Forsaken reminded him that it was Lews Therin's doing. To counter the immense pain of his loss, Lews Therin drew deeply on the One Power, destroying himself and creating the island of Tar Valon and Dragonmount in the process, as if to mark his tomb (TEotW, Prologue).
- Jaric Mondoran killed ten thousand Da'shain in his madness when they were trying to make him remember of who they were and what he had been (TSR, Ch. 26).
After the Breaking
The remaining female Aes Sedai were scattered all across the world due to tectonic plate movements during the Breaking. In Seanchan, for example, groups of Aes Sedai or individuals reigned over some territory or other, but never for long as everyone was scheming against each other for the better part of two thousand years. The Aes Sedai in Seanchan must also have helped import strange beasts from mirror worlds to fight against the remaining hordes of the Shadow, because Portal Stones can only be activated by channeling.
Additionally, their widely ramified organization broke down and they had to rely on indivual Aes Sedai or groups of them to carry out tasks like finding girls who could channel or gentling men. These groups often saw themselves independant of each other.
On their way to a place of safety, the Da'shain faced many obstacles: the ever-changing landscapes, countless raids that diminished not only the stock of Power-made objects but also the Aiel's numbers, as did natural causes. When Jonai is a tired old man, he thinks that there are only "a handful of thousands where there had been tens" (TSR, Ch. 26). Not only the world around them Broke, but also their culture.
- The first split: A man named Sulwin led away those who wanted to bring back the old days and search for a song they believed would help them do so. They were called Lost Ones by the Aiel; they became the Tuatha'an.
- The second split: When a young Aiel wanted to free his sister from the hands of raiders, he mistook a spear for a stick and accidentally killed one of the men. The young man's family abandoned him and his friends that helped him for breaking the covenant. The castaways did not give up the name Aiel; the young man's family and their descendante came to be called Jenn Aiel.
After the second split, Aes Sedai joined the Jenn Aiel during their journey; they were upset at what had happened to the Da'shain and looked at the other Aiel "with sad eyes" (TSR, Ch. 25). The Aes Sedai still knew about the prophecy from the Age of Legends, which was why they attached themselves to the Jenn.
Led by the Aes Sedai, the Aiel crossed one of the few passes through the Spine of the World, possibly to prevent other cultures from mixing with them. Deep in the Waste beyond this mountain range, they began to build the city of Rhuidean; the layout was likely based on the Aes Sedai's remembrance of cities before the Breaking.
The Aes Sedai realized too late that there would come a time when there would be no more Jenn and the true history of the Aiel would be lost. Yet they had no connection to the warlike Aiel nomads. They created a great ter'angreal in the heart of Rhuidean that contained the history of the Aiel - to preserve it and to ensure that the prophecies would be fufilled – and contacted the Wise Ones through their dreams to tell the clan chiefs they were to come to Rhuidean. If they did not come it would mean their clan would dwindle and disappear over time, while the others stayed strong.
When the clan chiefs all arrived, under the Peace of Rhuidean, they were told that whoever wanted to lead among the Aiel was to come to Rhuidean and learn where they came from and "why [they] do not carry swords" (TSR, Ch. 25). After that time, only a man invited to step through the ter'angreal would be considered clan chief, if he came out alive.
Before their deaths, the Aes Sedai shrouded the village in fog to keep it away from outsider's prying eyes, now that the Jenn Aiel were about to die out and could no longer preserve Rhuidean.
In the hope of uniting the scattered and independant groups of Aes Sedai, representants of the ajah, as those groups were called then (though they apparently differed from the ajah in the Age of Lengeds), came together for conferences. Only twelve women are mentioned: Azille Narof, Biranca Hasad, Catlynde Artein, Dumera Alman, Elisane Tishar, Karella Fanway, Lideine Rajan, Mailaine Harvole, Mitsora Caal, Nemaira Eldros, Salindi Casolan and Saraline Amerano. The others were probably not important enough to be acknowledged, or their names simply got lost.
In the year 47 AB, it was decided to build a new city as then center of their Power, though the building did not begin until the year 98 AB. The name "White Tower" had been used for almost thirty years before the construction work started. The Aes Sedai employed the Ogier stone-masons and gave them free rein on many of the buildings in Tar Valon, because they "recognized the brilliance of the largely organic forms the Ogier created;" the White Tower is the only known construction to be designed by Aes Sedai. After one hundred and four years the city of Tar Valon was completed, in the year 202 AB.
Elisane Tishar, one of the former leaders of the ajah, became the first Amyrlin Seat in the year 98 AB, although she had inofficially held the title for a couple of years prior. The Hall of the Tower was chosen, but it was a council of seven to closely advise the Amyrlin, consisting of Azille Narof, Dumera Alman, Karella Fanway, Kiam Lopiang, Mitsora Caal, Salindi Casolan and Saraline Amerano.
Between the years of approximately 50 AB to 100 AB, the Aes Sedai started to take ruthless action against those who falsely claimed to be Aes Sedai; some of them were stilled, others taken in by the Tower to be trained and finally become Aes Sedai. If there really were that many wilders who claimed such or whether these women were actually Aes Sedai who wanted the independent groups to remain and did not support the construction of the White Tower as center of Aes Sedai power is left unspoken.
At the end of the second century after the Breaking, the seven Ajahs had been formed as we know them today, each with their own purpose. It is unknown how the Hall of the Tower was initially composed, but now three Aes Sedai from each Ajah are elected as Sitters.
"With the building of Tar Valon and the White Tower, and the information of the Hall of the Tower, the Aes Sedai were well on their way to creating a new centralized organization to replace that which had ben lost. They were also in a unique position to wield influence and power in a world of young and struggling nations." In effect, the term "White Tower" came to replace that of "Aes Sedai" in political matters.
- During the conferences with the goal to unite the Aes Sedai again, women threatened to walk out of them, because they did not want to support the plans. Maybe some of their names were intentionally left out of the records, but we know of two of the original twelve who probably did so. An excerpt from a letter from the year 77 AB states that Lideine Rajan and some of her followers were stilled, "whereupon the rest submitted themselves" (they must have been rebelling). Mailaine Harvole took Lideine's fate as an example, gave up her resistance and told her followers to kneel as well (probably before the Amyrlin Seat).
- Birgitte and Gaidal helped the founding of the Tower (KoD, Ch. 32).
- Between the Breaking and the Trolloc Wars, a good many queens are said to have been Aes Sedai, Queen Mabriam en Shereed of Aramaelle among them.
The Trolloc Wars
In the year 1000 AB, Trollocs invaded the Ten Nations under the command of Dreadlords, ravaging the lands. A lot of the female Dreadlords were supposedly renegade Aes Sedai, which would be the first mention of the Black Ajah's existance. The White Tower for its part sent Aes Sedai to support the nations, but not to follow their command. Small groups of them accompanied each banner, a military formation consisting of "roughly fifteen hundred horse, primarily archers, or three thousand infantry."
Other events during this time include:
- Queen Eldrene of Manetheren executed the victors of the Battle of Bekkar (probably via balefire), who killed her husband Aemon and his soldiers, but drew too deeply on the True Source and destroyed herself and the city of Manetheren in the process.
- The soldiers of Manetheren waited for Aes Sedai to help them, but Tetsuan, the then Amyrlin, betrayed Manetheren out of jealousy for Eldrene (TGH, Ch. 5).
Guaire Amalasan, who came to be known as the Second Dragon, rose in FY 939 and nations fell behind him until Artur Paendrag Tanreall moved against him in FY 943, along with soldiers from Tar Valon and a number of Aes Sedai, though even those were no match for Amalasan in the One Power.
When they finally won over him, the Second Dragon was captured and escorted to Tar Valon to be tried. Even though by Tower law no one was allowed to trespass on the White Tower's estates with more than twenty armed and as many unarmed retainers, Hawkwing brought his whole army only a few miles short of the Osendrelle. It is unknown whether the Aes Sedai in his company tried to stop him or if the soldiers originating from Tar Valon were wounded so badly that the Aes Sedai actually asked for the escort; despite having captured and shielded Guaire Amalasan, these women were punished for breaking Tower law.
As soon as Amalasan was in the White Tower, Aes Sedai sat in judgement on him for several days and he was sentenced to gentling. But word had spread of Amalasan's capture and two generals had mobilized armies and independantly moved toward Tar Valon to his rescue.
A day after his arrival, the Amyrlin Bonwhin Meraighdin sent a message to Hawkwing, allowing his army to rest for five days before they had to be beyond the borders of Tar Valon. It is left unsaid whether Hawkwing stayed longer than that or the attack led by Sawyn Maculhene and Elinde Motheneos (rumors claim she was a renegade Aes Sedai) struck during those five days, but either way it was a surprise and Hawkwing’s help was needed. Hawkwing was supposedly even allowed to get inside the city to be able to defend it better, although sources from the White Tower never mention his presence or that of an army not sworn to Tar Valon.
The armies were defeated, Maculhene and Motheneos died and Amalasan's followers were scattered after he was gentled. Hawkwing conquered the rest of the Westlands, with the exception of Tar Valon-held territory and Moreina. Under normal circumstances the White Tower settled wars through negotiation, but none of these were recorded during Hawkwing's Consolidation.
In the beginning of his reign, Hawkwing held no animosity toward the White Tower. In FY 944 he even asked for help in negotiations with countless enemies, but he received no reply. Likely, Bonwhin had never forgiven Hawkwing for breaking Tower law and sent Aes Sedai advisors to every ruler who drew up his forces against the man. He knew that the Aes Sedai put his enemies up to challenging him.
By FY 954, Hawkwing made peace with the White Tower without written convention and accepted an Aes Sedai advisor, Chowin Tsao of the Green Ajah. Still, other rulers had advisors from Tar Valon at their sides, though the White Tower officially took up a neutral position.
During the "Black Years" (the time after Amaline's death), a temporary break in their dealings occured for five years between FY 962, when Chowin was still his advisor, and FY 967, when they reconciled and Hawkwing agreed to accepting another Aes Sedai advisor. In FY 974, he entrusted a lot of Aes Sedai with about a third of his important and responsible positions. Some even served as governors, though it is almost certain that these women took Bonwhin's orders over Hawkwing's.
Jalwin Moerad appeared at the court of the High King in FY 973 and became his closest advisor by late summer of FY 974. Then, in the fall of the same year, Hawkwing fired every Aes Sedai in his service; at the beginning of spring in FY 975, he wanted the head of every Aes Sedai who would not forsake Tar Valon. By summer of the same year, his commanders had occupied the complete area around Tar Valon and Hawkwing himself had lain siege on the city. Tar Valon would have fallen if not for the food that was continuously shipped in from nobles and other people.
There are many theories on what caused the sudden change. These include that Tar Valon used him to strengthen its own power; that the Tower stood behind the rebellions against him; that Bonwhin had a part in the deaths of Amaline and their children; that Hawkwing simply decided to possess all of the Westlands; and that Moerad made him do it.
Other events during this time include:
- Thirty Aes Sedai took refuge in the Stone of Tear when the rest of Moreina fell, and helped to defend it.
- Hawkwing is said to have refused an audience with the Amyrlin Bonwhin.
- Hawkwing came to distrust Aes Sedai so much that he even refused Healing before his death.
War of the Hundred Years
With the death of Artur Hawkwing, every ruler wanted a part of his empire under their control, if not all of it. The resulting wars that wracked the whole of the Westlands would last over a century and would later be known as the War of the Hundred Years.
Souran Maravaile, one of Hawkwing's generals, continued the siege on Tar Valon for a few months after the death of the High King. Deane Aryman, the Amyrlin Seat raised after Bonwhin's deposal, tried to approach him to settle the enmity toward the White Tower. It is not entirely clear whether her efforts were fruitful or if it was Maravaile's lover, Ishara, who made him renounce the siege. Whoever it was, Deane managed to re-establish the Tower's prestige in the following years.
Newly crowned as the first Queen of Andor, Ishara knew that her nation would need the White Tower's support and adopted a law stating every first-born female must go to the Tower to be trained, whether she could learn to channel or not, and that every queen must have an Aes Sedai advisor.
In FY 1021, Lothair Mantelar founded the Children of the Light, who were dedicated to rooting out Darkfriends. Over the years they became the Aes Sedai's arch enemies, believing it was they who broke the world and calling them Darkfriends.
New nations rose from the ashes of Hawkwing's empire, but not much Aes Sedai involvement is recorded. Events we do know of include:
- Isebaille Tobanyi delivered the brothers she loved and the throne of Arad Doman to her enemies because the White Tower told her to (ACoS, Ch. 6).
The Aiel War
King Laman of Cairhien cut down the Avendoraldera, which his ancestors received from the Aiel as a gift four hundred years prior, to make a throne out of it. In late spring of the year 976 NE, ten thousand Aiel crossed the Spine of the World to execute him for this crime
Two and a half years after invading the Westlands, the Aiel spread to Tar Valon. To drive them back, the nations of the Westlands temporarily united against them two years after the invasion; this was known as the Grand Alliance. At first, most members would have accepted Lord Agelmar Jagad of Shienar as captain-general, but other rulers put forward their claim to be the leader, the Amyrlin Seat Tamra Ospenya among them. Each nation, therefore, was granted a seat in a decision-making council; Marya Somares, Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, received one as well and was advised by Azil Mareed, High Captain of the Tower Guard.
The Battle of Tar Valon, also called the Battle at the Shining Walls among other things, started the morning before Danshu (a feastday celebrated on the last day of Nesan) in the year 978 NE; the Alliance was founded to protect Tar Valon from being overrun and even Aes Sedai themselves took part in the battle and offered Healing to the wounded; every Tower initiate who was not Aes Sedai or soldier was confined to the Tower grounds (NS, Ch. 1).
Azil Mareed sent regular reports about the fighting, the contents of which were only shared with full sisters. To receive them immediately, the Amyrlin and her Keeper of the Chronicles stayed awake the entire duration of the battle and had Accepted stand in attendance in case they needed errands run. On the third day of the fighting, Gitara Moroso, the Keeper, had a Foretelling about the Dragon's Rebirth.
Search for the Dragon Reborn
On the same day as Gitara's Foretelling, Tamra decided to offer a bounty of one hundred gold crowns to every woman in and around the city who bore a child between the first day the soldiers arrived and the end of the Aiel War "in thanksgiving for the continued safety of Tar Valon." She sent out the Accepted to take notes on anything relevant to the child (parents, birthday and place, city/country of origin etc.), accompanied by Tower Guards (NS, Ch. 3).
Shortly after, Tamra sent out Aisha Raveneos, Kerene Nagashi, Ludice Daneen, Meilyn Arganya and Valera Gorovni – Aes Sedai from all Ajahs except the Blue and Red – in search of the boychild (NS, Ch. 7); however, the Black Ajah had also found out about the prophesied Rebirth and in order to prevent him from being found, they killed the searchers (NS, Ch. 18). They did not know when exactly the Dragon was Reborn, so they murdered every man who was said to be lucky, because that was often an indication that someone was instinctively learning to channel (NS, Epilogue).
- During that time, there were less than a hundred novices, about sixty Accepted and four hundred and twenty-three Aes Sedai living in the White Tower, with perhaps twice as many sisters scattered across the nations (NS, Ch. 3).
- Moiraine and Siuan were raised on the same day (NS, Ch. 9); Sheriam was tested a week after the Feast of Lights (NS, Ch. 14).
- The Black Ajah questioned and killed Tamra Ospenya to find out about the Dragon Reborn; Ishamael then killed Jarna Malari, Head of the Black Ajah prior to Alviarin, as punishment for trying to find and eliminate the Dragon Reborn (ACoS, Prologue).
Siuan Sanche was stilled and deposed for keeping the Dragon Reborn secret from the Hall. Her deposal caused fights between Elaida and Siuan's supporters on the Tower grounds that left the Tower broken in two parts, each with their own timeline of events.
- Even after the sealing of the Bore, Aes Sedai claim in letters or diary entries that Ishamael has been seen. Captured Darkfriends also claimed to have received orders from him long before the other Forsaken escaped their confinement (TWoRJTWoT). Jonai, a Da'shain Aiel during the Breaking, met an Aes Sedai who also claimed that Ishamael still touched the world (TSR, Ch. 26).
- During the Breaking of the World some of the surviving Aes Sedai hid the seven cuendillar seals of the Dark One's prison in various places to prevent them from being found by mad channelers or Shadowsworn. Few knew of their whereabouts and those died during the Trolloc Wars, taking their knowledge with them to their graves.
- Since the Breaking, women who were born with the spark and learn to channel on their own are called wilders, because there was no one to instruct them.
- Ever since the Trolloc Wars, Aes Sedai had taken no part in battle until the Aiel War (NS, Ch. 2).
- In the history of the Tower, two daughters of beggars rose to the Amyrlin Seat, "as well as daughters of merchants and farmers and craftsfolk, including three daughters of cobblers, but only one daughter of a ruler" (NS, Ch. 3).
- In the Accepted quarters there are two wells, each housing rooms for a hundred Accepted, but it has been closed for as long as Aes Sedai can remember. One well in the novice's quarters with room for four hundred novices is closed too. Once, Accepted and novices had been placed two to a room and half the novices would eventually be tested for the shawl (NS, Ch. 3).
- Not much of the looks ever change in the White Tower; Moiraine thinks novices and Accepted from one or two hundred years ago might still remember everything in the Mistress of Novices' study (NS, Ch. 5).
- Before Elayne, no Aes Sedai had been queen for over a thousand years and even before that few admitted it openly (NS, Ch. 6; KoD, Ch. 36).
- Mashera Donavelle bore seven children from a man she loathed because the White Tower told her to (ACoS, Ch. 6).