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"And you don't have to give treasure to the government. With some of this stuff I could have a decent time here - perhaps in Calormen. It sounds the least phoney of these countries."
Eustace Scrubb[src]

Calormen — or more formally, the Calormene Empire — was an empire in the south of the World of Narnia. Most of the country had a semi-arid climate, and its most notable geographic features were a volcano known as the Flaming Mountain of Lagour.

On Calormen's east was the Bight of Calormen, on its west were a Conglomeration of Nations, and on its south lay, quite possibly, the Southern Waste. The Great Desert was in the north of the country and was virtually uninhabited; the difficulty of crossing this desert prevented aggressive Calormene governments from invading Archenland and Narnia (nation) for many centuries.


The Calormene Empire was founded in the early days of the Age of Conquest, after certain exiled outlaws from Archenland fled across the Southern Desert and arrived in a then-uninhabited land. They founded the Calormen empire in this new land in the year 204, which started off in the northern band of the country. This was led by a cult leader from Archenland who was called the Tisroc, who claimed himself to be a descendant of the god Tash.

In the year 300, Calormen's population grew too large and so they started to settle in Telmar, which was a then uninhabited nation to the far west of the Kingdom of Narnia. Yet after only two years, Aslan turned most of the inhabitants into dumb beasts because of their atrocious behavior. The turned, voiceless animals soon destroyed each other, and the Telmarine society collapsed. The few that weren't changed began an anarchist existence.

158 years later, in 460, twelve seafaring pirates from Earth's "South Sea" arrived in the possibly ocean land of Telmar, forcibly mixing their families with the descendants of the remaining Calormene settlers to make an intelligent (but also rough, brutal, and warlike) race of integrated Telmarine people. This had ultimately resulted in Telmar becoming a kingdom, in which its western border became the western frontier of the Calormen Empire.

The details of early Calormen's history are never explicated, but because the country is described as an empire, presumably early Calormenes expanded from Tashbaan south and west, conquering new provinces for the Tisroc. Although Calormen ruled with an iron fist, there were occasional uprisings that were put down, most notably at the battle of Zalindreh.

During the Age of Winter, the Calormenes were apparently aware that Narnia was in an endless winter under the rule of Jadis. However, they thought her army was too powerful to defeat. Lasaraleen told Aravis that Narnian was a land of perpetual snow and ice ruled by demons and sorcerers, although by that time Jadis' rule had been ended by the Pevensies. It was during this age that Calormen conquered many nations in the Southern Waste, made them colonies of the empire, and traded the locals as slaves with Telmar.

One of the most notable confrontations between Calormen and the northern countries was the Archenland Conflict, which was during the Golden Age in 1014. Prince Rabadash, the son of the Tisroc, was furious that Queen Susan of Narnia had rejected his advances. He led a small army across the desert in an effort to surprise and quickly conquer Archenland, and then use it as a staging ground for abducting Susan and, in the future, conquering Narnia. But his plans had been discovered by four travelers - Aravis, Hwin, Bree, and Shasta - who warned Archenland of the impending invasion on their way from Calormen to Narnia. A Narnian relief army arrived to aid the Archenlanders, and the Calormenes were defeated.

After the battle, Rabadash was captured by Archenland, and a trial was held there for his wicked deeds, during which Aslan himself appeared. In the end, Aslan punished him for his cruelty and arrogance by changing him into a donkey but said that he would change back into a man once he stood outside the Temple of Tash in his homeland. He was, however, warned that should he ever venture more than ten miles from his home, he would change back into a donkey, and would forever remain so.

During the early Dark Age, Rabadash succeeded his father as Tisroc when he died, after which he was called "Rabadash the Peace Maker," as he could not risk personally waging any wars, because of his curse. However, after he died, and his own son succeeded him, he was renamed "Rabadash the Ridiculous" in Calormene history books.

In later centuries of the Dark Age, Calormen competed with Archenland for rule over Narnia. The Lone Islands became a colony of the Empire, and became a nation that traded slaves with other islands, most notably Galma and Terebinthia; however, the Seven Isles were largely left to their own devices. Ultimately, Telmar was successful in capturing Narnia and established a long dynasty. Throughout the Telmarine Age of Narnia, they were an ally of Calormen, since the Telmarines royalty married into Calormen nobility. During the Age of Exploration, after the War of Deliverance, not only did Calormen lose its alliance with Narnia but also Telmar itself, as well as the slave trade from the Lone Islands at the hands Caspian X, along with islands such as Galma and Terebinthia.

In Narnia's last days, of the year 2555, an ape named Shift made an alliance with the Calormenes to conquer Narnia, and subsequently the rest of her empire. The plot involved the False Aslan Affair, which divided the people of Narnia. However, when Calormen's success seemed within reach at Battle of Stable Hill, Aslan declared the time had come to destroy the World of Narnia. Calormen, along with the rest of the world, was destroyed, but a perfected Calormen was part of Aslan's Country.


The Empire was described as being vast, with Narnia being no larger than one of its provinces. The cultural center of Calormen was the River Calormen, which flowed from west to east along the south side of the Great Desert. The capital city was Tashbaan, located on an island in the river's delta, and the river was bordered for much of its length by farmland and wealthy communities.

The city of Azim Balda, located at a crossroads in the heart of the country, was a major hub for travel and communications. The city of Tehishbaan was located in the west. It was the birthplace of Emeth, a Calormene army officer who fought in Calormen's invasion of Narnia. The south-eastern corner was the southernmost point of the Bight of Calormen, by the Great Eastern Ocean. To the west was likely the Western Wild region and although its south is unclear its believed to be a subcontinent called the Southern Waste which was the southern frontier of the Calormen Empire.


Calormene society was complex, byzantine, and deeply class-conscious, being divided into a rigid, hereditary caste system.

At the top of this class system is the Calormene royal family, headed by an emperor called the Tisroc. Beneath the monarchy is the Calormene nobility, called the Tarkaans, who filled political and bureaucratic positions, as well as holding office in senior military positions, filling the ranks of religious clergy, etc. They hold many social privileges, such as the use of the posts of the Tisroc, and imposition of themselves upon the peasantry for food and shelter. Commoners greet Tarkaans by kneeling before them and bending their heads to the ground. The Calormene peasantry work in a number of occupations including fishermen, farmers, merchants, manual laborers, woodworkers, smiths, etc. At the bottom of the Calormene society is the slave class. Calormene commoners may be sold into slavery as punishment for minor offenses. Prisoners of war and the peoples of conquered nations can and are sold into slavery, as well. In the Tisroc's army the common soldiers call the officers "My Master," but the officers call their senior officers "My Father."

Calormene culture is militaristic and imperialistic. Its foundational legends and stories are centered around battlefield courage, martial victories, and glorification of war and military leaders. Calormen is an expansionist empire which maintains an uneasy peace with its surrounding countries. The Calormene economy appears to be mercantilistic and built upon both slave labor and exploitation of property-less persons, including most commoners. It is also a religious society with a highly developed mythology. The Calormene state religion is polytheistic; many gods and goddesses are venerated, the chief of whom is Tash, who is said to be the ancestor of the Calormene royal house. 

The Calormenes seem to hold simultaneously a fascination and a hatred for Narnians. Anradin refer to the Narnians as "accursed but beautiful." Ahoshta says to the Tisroc, "The gods have withheld from the barbarians the light of discretion." The Calormenes believe that Narnia is chiefly inhabited by demons in the shape of beasts that talk like men, and monsters that are half man and half beast. They believe that Aslan is a hideous demon of enormous power that protects Narnia.

In Calormen, women are often forced to marry in their early teens, as in the case of Aravis. Hwin contrasts this custom to those of Narnia, where no woman is married against her will.


Calormenes were known to be tan-skinned, with the men mostly bearded. Flowing robes, turbans, and wooden shoes with an upturned point at the toe were commonly worn, and the preferred weapon was the Calormene scimitar. Women wore dresses. Slaves and peasants, both men and women, typically wore rags, though the slaves of wealthy households, such as Lasaraleen's, wore beautiful clothes.

Lavish palaces dominated the Calormene capital Tashbaan; the overall motif of Calormene nobility was extreme decadence.

The people of Calormen were concerned with maintaining honor and precedent, often speaking in maxims and quoting their ancient poets. Veneration of elders and absolute deference to power were marks of Calormene society. Calormenes as a people were often serious and reserved. Power and wealth determined class and social standing, and slavery was commonplace. Narnians held Calormenes in disdain for their treatment of women, slaves, and animals.

Behind the scenes[]

  • C. S. Lewis may have based Calormen on western Asia, especially the Ottoman Empire, as well as Ancient Persia and India, including the Mughal Empire. The opulence and overall attitude of the Tisrocs evokes the Ottoman Sultans, and there is an obvious resemblance of "Tarkaan" to "Turk". The Calormenes follow a polytheistic religion more akin to that of early Arabia or India rather than the monotheistic Muslim Middle East.
  • The name Calormen is similar to that of Kalórmë, a mountain in Tolkien's legendarium that is found in the easternmost part of the world, in the Land of the Sun where the Sun rises every dawn, and which is the tallest mountain of Arda after Taniquetil.
  • In the Russian translation of the Narnia books, Calormen is known as "Tarkhistan" (Тархистан).