Calenhad was born in 5:10 Exalted as the third son of a Highever merchant on hard times. He was eventually sent to a distant cousin, a poor young knight named Ser Forannan, who made Calenhad his squire and dog-handler.
As the tale goes, Ser Forannan and his squire became caught up in one of the wars of unity at the time: Arl Myrddin was a strong but generally disliked man who was making a bid for kingship. Forannan's own lord, a young fool of an arl named Tenedor no older than Calenhad, was besieged by Myrddin's forces at his castle, today known as West Hill. When Myrrdin called Tenedor out to parley, the young arl asked for a volunteer from among the squires, someone who could masquerade as Tenedor in the parley party. Calenhad kneeled before Tenedor and asked for the honor.
The following years Calenhad won victory after victory and more allies flocked to his banner including Aldenon, the famed mage and former consultant to Arl Tenedor who became Calenhad's chief advisor, his faithful squire Ser Tillers, and the legendary warrior Lady Shayna, both of whom became close friends of the future king. By 5:33 Exalted, only Simeon, the infamous Teyrn of Denerim stood in the way of Calenhad. At Aldenon's suggestion Calenhad went to the Brecilian Forest to recruit the Ash Warriors to his cause, which he did but when he returned he also brought with him the Templar Order and Circle mages. The Circle also crafted for him a silver armor which repelled both arrows and blades. Outraged that his friend would betray him by what he saw as condoning the oppression of mages and inviting the Chantry into the nascent Kingdom, Aldenon left in a fury. In spite of Aldenon's absence, the battle was a victory. Teyrn Simeon nearly killed Calenhad but Lady Shayna saved him and killed Simeon though she was greatly injured in the process. In the 33rd year he became the Teyrn of Denerim. Later on, Calenhad moved through the Bannorn and successfully laid siege to Redcliffe Castle; becoming one of three men who was able to do that.. Unopposed by the year 5:42, Calenhad convened a Landsmeet and was crowned as the first King of Ferelden with his wife Mairyn, the daughter of Arl Myrddin as its first Queen.
The peace did not last however as Lady Shayna who had secretly been in love with Calenhad, seduced him, allegedly with a love potion given by a witch which was later revealed to be Simeon's sister. Queen Mairyn discovered them and fled to Myrddin who threatened to revoke his support and spark a new civil war. Lady Shayna confessed to Calenhad that she had manipulated him with forbidden magic but Calenhad still refused to have her executed, infuriating Myrddin. Lady Shayna against Calenhad's instructions went to Queen Mairyn to plead for peace but was slain by Myrrdin. Calenhad, regrettfully challenged Myrrdin to a duel and slew him to avenge her death, sparking outrage amongst the other arls and nobles. As the threat of a new civil war loomed over the young kingdom, Calenhad issued a proclamation abdicating his throne to his unborn son whom Queen Mairyn was carrying and would eventually begin the Theirin dynasty in earnest as King Weylan I. After that Calenhad vanished, never to be seen again. Supposedly he tracked down Marterel the Elusive, Aldenon's last apprentice and convinced him to reveal where his old friend had gone and then went in search of him. Neither Calenhad nor Aldenon were ever seen again.
The Chantry named Calenhad one of the Anointed in 7:88 Storm.
The Qunari have their own version of Calenhad's rise to power. Like in the Theodosian historian claim, he was born in destitution, being a common dog handler, with no real strength. But he was always ambitious and struggled to gain knowledge that might bring him power. He made many bargains to trade stories upon stories, until at last he gained from a certain scribe a powerful secret that he would use as payment to a certain witch, that would start him on the path to power. The witch led him to a cave where a Great dragon lay dying. Calenhad used his dagger on the ancient creature and drank some of its blood, gaining new strength that made him undefeatable in battle. A measure of this strength was passed on within House Theirin from that time onward, and it allowed Calenhad to conquer all of Ferelden and establish his bloodline as royalty, which would endure into the Ages.
- "Perhaps if more of our people lived by honor, we would learn to trust each other long enough to live together."