The Ayleid were the first known race to establish an empire in Tamriel. The Imperial City was originally a fortress called the "Temple of the Ancestors" which was built by the Ayleids. They were also known as the Ancient Ones, Wild Elves, and Heartland High Elves.
The Ayleids were known for being both tremendously powerful and highly tyrannical. Their enslavement of other, younger races, including Humans and sometimes other Mer, led to their downfall. Their cities and tombs dot the countryside of Cyrodiil, in every county, and are sometimes inhabited by undead liches of their former kings. They also left behind many relics, which have been targeted by many a treasure hunter throughout the centuries.
The Ayleids are deeply admired by many arcane masters among the modern Aldmer, who consider themselves the most direct descendants of these most powerful and advanced ancient Mer. Their desire to recover the power and station held by the Ayleids is one of the driving inspirations of the Aldmeri Dominion and their rulers, the Thalmor.