The region of the North known as the Vales did not exist properly as a concept until the close of the 8th Age, with the sinking of Harnholme. Prior to that date, the region formed the hinterland of the great dwarven kingdom. There, men and dwarves lived in fair companionship. The vales were administered by elected governors, the Valrátha, who served for life and received their confirmations directly from the Everking of the Dwarves.
During the chaos of the 8th Age, Ozmiandre of the Graywood grew up in the Valeland. His father was a Valrátha in the west. It was said that this wizard went to Miles to see the Pillar as a young man, but also that his contest with the awakening deity Lumä caused Harnholme to sink into the ocean, creating the White Sea and leaving the Valrátha without guidance.
For the long years of the 9th Age, the Vales remained semi-independent, though greatly depleted of population. Having never had the traditional structure of nobility, unlike most other lands, the Valelanders rejected this social structure in favor of something more egalitarian. The life-elected positions of the Valrátha became known as Governorships, and the Council of Governors met at Michel's Rock (now Michelstadt) each year to determine policy and organize collective defense.
As the Age wore on and threats from the outside began to emerge, the Valelands grew much closer to the elvish kingdom of Iiriem. During the 9th Age's defining moments, the War of Necromancy, the Vales successfully remained out of the conflict by closing their borders with elvish magic.
However, this unity was sapped by a number of contentious Governor's Councils and the death of a number of successive governors of Ferling and Northvale. With the fading of the Vales' unity, they became prey to outside influences.
Toward the close of the 9th Age, in the years following IX.700, the Vales became the seat of the so-called Bandit Kings, groups of bandits that plagued Iiriem and Dorlan. These kings formed a piecemeal kingdom that lasted for nearly fifty years and encompassed most of the Vales settlements. Some Valelanders bridled under the rulership of false kings, while others relished the chance to raid and do damage to the surrounding lands.
In the year IX.706, Hrunir Fastorth came from the Arinnfal to found Pinehall in the Black Mountains of the Vales. In IX.753, the Bandit King Michel was executed at Michel's Pool. Teral and Avaria both set their sights on the Vales in the early 10th Age. Eventually, after generations of internecine conflict, Teral conquered the Vales and transformed them into an outflung province of that necromantic empire. By X.390, Dorlan and Pinehall engaged in the March War, which led to the destruction and abandonment of Pinehall in the east of the Vales, beyond the Teralian dominance.
After the fall of Teral, Dorlan once again set her sights on the Vales.
Today, most Valelanders are not aware of the august history of egalitarianism that pervaded the Vales, nor would a Valelander recognize the word Valrátha, unless they were dwarvish. The eastern Vales are ruled from Dorlan and have become a province known as Ferlia. The western Vales, while still free, occupy a treacherous position between Essad-dominated Teral in the north, the Goblins in the west, and Imperial-allied Frelonde in the south.
It seems that the old traditions of the dwarven vales are about to be extinguished.