Beings called the titans arrived on Azeroth. They created the dwarves (called the “earthen”).
The titans depart, empowering the dragonflights to care for the world and the Well of Eternity.
Kaldorei Malfurion Stormrage, Tyrande Whisperwind and Illidan Stormrage; the demigod Cenarius; and the dragonflights defeat the Burning Legion in the War of the Ancients. The war splits the continent in three, forming the Maelstrom that plagues the seas to this day.
The night elves banish the Highborne from Kalimdor, then close their borders. No one hears from them again for quite some time.
Highborne settle in Lordaeron, the first elves to visit the continent since the battle with the demons. They settle in the north and call their new country Quel’Thalas; they change their name to high elves.
The humans build the nation of Arathor to unite against troll attacks. Humans and high elves meet and become allies.
Arathor gets too populous, and internal strife causes it to break apart into seven independent nations: Lordaeron in the north; Azeroth in the south; Kul Tiras, an island, to the west; Stromgarde, north of Khaz Modan; Alterac, south of Lordaeron; Gilneas on the western peninsula; and Dalaran, the mage city south of Alterac.
Civil war erupts in Ironforge, with the Bronzebeard clan defeating the Wildhammer and the Dark Iron dwarves. The Wildhammer dwarves settle on the mountain of Grim Batol. Later, the Dark Iron dwarves attack Grim Batol and Ironforge at once, managing to destroy Grim Batol, but losing against the combined forces of Wildhammer and Ironforge dwarves. The Wildhammer dwarves settle on Aerie Peak.
Eager to conquer a new world and aided by corrupted Alliance magi, the orcs attack. The First War begins.
Stormwind proves harder to take than they had thought, however, and the humans slaughter many orcs in the first battle. Orc warlocks hide the orc outpost from prying eyes and the remaining orcs reside there, healing and preparing for more battles.
The new Warchief of the Horde, Orgrim Doomhammer, lays siege to Stormwind. Under his lead, the Horde takes Stormwind castle in a massive battle. A half-orc assassin kills King Llane.
Doomhammer, having just destroyed the human’s pride and joy in the south, seems to retain enough compassion to understand that although sacking a kingdom is accepted, dabbling in dark magic is not. He captures Llane’s assassin, who is loyal to the warlocks, and tortures her into revealing their plans. Lord Anduin Lothar takes control of the Stormwind refugees, leading them north to Lordaeron. Thus the First War ends.
King Terenas of Lordaeron calls the other human kings together to discuss the Horde and Stormwind. Backed by Daelin Proudmoore of Kul Tiras, he moves that the humans unite to save the Stormwind people and remove the Horde from the land. Kul Tiras, Dalaran and Alterac are agreeable, while Gilneas and Stromgarde are hesitant.
The orcs move north into Khaz Modan, and the Ironforge dwarves contact the humans for help. The dwarves of Ironforge and their allies, the gnomes, join the Alliance.
The high elves, longtime allies of the human nations, add their bows and magic to the growing arsenal. The Wildhammer dwarves, due to Horde aggression and high elf appeal, also join.
The human Archbishop Alonsus Faol forms the holy warriors, the Knights of the Silver Hand. Some Ironforge dwarves join the humans in training as paladins.
Too soon after the previous war, the Horde advances north. They destroy much of Quel’Thalas.
The Alliance manages to force them back to retreat to Stormwind. The Alliance’s push continues and the Horde falls back to the mouth of the Dark Portal. Beloved Lord Anduin Lothar of Azeroth falls in the final battle. The Alliance destroys the orcs’ portal to Azeroth, and imprisons most of the orcs in camps held by Alliance forces.
The Second War ends.
The orcs reconstruct the Dark Portal, and King Terenas fights the Horde on its own soil. He sends his greatest heroes, Khadgar, General Turalyon, high elf ranger Alleria, Wildhammer dwarf Kurdran, and the human veteran Danath, through the portal. The warlock Ner’zhul opens several portals; the magic causes the orcs’ homeworld to rip apart. The heroes sacrifice themselves, closing the portal to Azeroth from Draenor, saving the land. Its unknown if they survived, and if they did, where they are now.
The human mage Rhonin leads an attack on the last powerful free orc clan: Dragonmaw. Rhonin and his band break the control the orcs have over the red dragonflight, and the dragons do the rest of the Alliance’s work for them.
The orc shaman Ner’zhul, now imprisoned in ice as the Lich King, corrupts archmage Kel’Thuzad of Dalaran. Kel’Thuzad forms the Cult of the Damned, maddened mortals who are obsessed with the undead, to aid him in creating a plague of undeath.
The Third War begins
Paladins are unable to cure the plague that sweeps through Lordaeron. Prince Arthas loses his soul and mind during a quest to find a cure, and is the dominating force behind the fall of Lordaeron and the slaying of his father, King Terenas, and the beloved paladin (and his mentor), Uther Lightbringer.
Alliance forces flee west, their hopes dashed with the fall of Lordaeron, Quel’Thalas and Dalaran, and the coming of the Burning Legion.
The presence of the Alliance and Horde alerts the night elves to strange movements. When Tyrande Whisperwind discovers the Burning Legion has returned, she awakens the sleeping druids.
In an unprecedented measure, the night elves, Alliance and Horde unite to battle the demons. Atop Mount Hyjal, the night elves imbue the World Tree with their magic, giving back the immortality and power the Well of Eternity had gifted them. The magic destroys the demon forces.
The Third War, the shortest but the most damaging of them all, comes to an end.
The night elves, mortal, vulnerable and no longer secret, join the Alliance.
Jaina Proudmoore leads the Alliance far south where they settle on a rocky island called Theramore.
The diminished Alliance loses more numbers as most surviving high elves on Lordaeron secede and join the exile Illidan. They call themselves the blood elves to remember their fallen kin, and become Illidan’s army.
Daelin Proudmoore leads an assault on Durotar, failing miserably and leading the orcs back to Theramore. The Horde destroys Admiral Proudmoore and his troops, and damages much of Theramore, but leaves it standing.
Present day. The truce between the Alliance and Horde is still intact, although some say it is in their leaders’ eyes only.
Lordaeron is mostly an undead wasteland, with the Scourge and the Forsaken battling for control. Demons are still a very real threat in many places.
Although many people are just trying to get along with their normal lives, they live with the shadow of death still on the doorstep, whether their doorstep lies in Theramore, Durotar, Stormwind, or a tiny pocket of resistance in Lordaeron. Although not in open war, this is certainly not a time of peace.
Dates mentioned but not on the timeline pages
Note: Most of these are given as estimates by Brann, or authors based off of "present time" rather than exact dates. They may not necessarily match up with specific timeline posted above
The night elves first discovered arcane magic 10,000 years ago, when the race came across the Well of Eternity.
10,000 years ago night elves were communing with Elune through their priestesses, just before War of the Ancients
Around 3,000 years ago, trolls attack nomadic human tribes
First meeting between Arathi humans and high elves asking for help against the trolls. First half-elves are born.
c. - 1,970
A couple of thousand years ago, the first humans appeared at the gates of Ironforge, and name the earthen, "dwarves". Dwarves are taught how to write by human scholars.
Night elves fight the silithid with some success a thousand years ago.
Gnomes have not had Kings or Queens in at least 400 years.
The three dwarven clans split, War of the Three Hammers occurs.
The Dwarves first discovered the gnomes a little over 200 years ago, and became friends with them, allowing them to build Gnomeregan in their lands.
Twenty years ago, the Church of the Light had few members, many had died in Lordaeron. Most temples had only a single priest or were shut.
4 years ago, gnomes closed doors of Gnomeregan to the world and avoided the Third War.
Only four years have passed since the Third War and blood elves came into existence four years ago.
Note: Most of these are given as estimates by Brann, or the authors based off of "present time" rather than exact dates. They may not necessarily match up with specific timeline printed in the Alliance Player's Guide above.
Archeras serves as a laboratory assistant and information repository to Khaz'Gorath in the Bael Modan titan facility.
Library chamber in the Bael Modan titan facility was damaged by quakes.
Forest trolls were the strongest force in Lordaeron over 10,000 years ago.
Many night elves die during the War of the Ancients becoming banshees.
Thrall meets Cairne Bloodhoof for the first time.
Dark Factions (Independent Player's Guide)
Note: Most of these are given as estimates by Brann, or the authors based off of "present time" rather than exact dates. They may not necessarily match up with specific dates on the timeline printed in the Alliance Player's Guide above.
In the last five years, the Argent Dawn and the Scarlet crusade have both adapted the holy light philosophy to suit their own agendas and broken off from the Church of the Holy Light as splinter groups.
Timeline originally published by Blizzard in the Warcraft I manual (1994), with further dates established from the Warcraft II manual (1996), Beyond the Dark Portal manual, and Warcraft III manual. Also includes dates mentioned in the RTS games themselves.