The Great Calamity is an event from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This event serves as the main historical context of the game. It corresponds to the disaster caused by Calamity Ganon throughout Hyrule that occurred one hundred years ago before Link's awakening from his long sleep inside the Shrine of Resurrection. After he awakens and leaves the Shrine, Link discovers a ruined Hyrule, in which are several ruined locations such as the Temple of Time and Hyrule Castle, which is now controlled by Calamity Ganon whom Princess Zelda had managed to seal there for 100 years.
10,000 years before the events of Breath of the Wild, the Sheikah developed powerful ancient technology to help the Royal Family of Hyrule and the Goddess' chosen hero combat Calamity Ganon's cycle of resurrection which had laid waste to Hyrule in the past. This resulted in the creation of the four Divine Beast and an army of Guardians which would aid the Goddess-blood Princess and the Hero in defeating and sealing Ganon. The four Divine Beasts were piloted by four champions chosen from the Gerudo, Goron, Rito, and Zora. Together with the Princess and Hero of that period, they used the Divine Beasts to defeat Ganon who was then resealed by the Princess and Hero. At first the Sheikah's technology was hailed as the power of the gods by the people of Hyrule and the Sheikah were considered heroes. However over time the people of Hyrule and Royal Family began to fear the Sheikah technology as a threat to the kingdom and the Sheikah became outcasts and were exiled despite all they had done for the kingdom resulting in schism among the Sheikah. While most Sheikah who remained loyal to Hyrule choose to bury their technology and return to a simpler existence, some Sheikah angry over how they had been treated turned against the kingdom and form the Yiga Clan dedicating themselves to eliminating all those who stood in the way of Ganon.
The Great Calamity
One century before Link's awakening inside the Shrine of Resurrection on the Great Plateau, Hylians rediscovered the ancient relics of the Sheikah constructed ten thousands years prior, including the Guardians and the four Divine Beasts, used to watch over the kingdom of Hyrule. The Sheikah still loyal to the Royal Family including Impa, Purah, and Robbie assisted the Royal Family in studying the ancient Sheikah technology and in the excavation the Guardians and Divine Beasts. Princess Zelda assisted them in their research due to her interest in science as she had trouble awaking her powers. During that time, the Royal Guard series weapons where created using ancient technology to for the Royal Family's guard detail to combat Ganon, however the process was not perfect as while the weapons were powerful, their low durability made them unsuited for combat. The discovery of the Divine Beasts and Guardians coincided with the prophecy about Ganon's return, so King Rhoam and the people of Hyrule decided to create a group of warriors to protect them, the Champions.
Commanded by Princess Zelda, their ranks included Link, her knight and personal bodyguard who was the current incarnation of the legendary hero, and a representative of each major race of Hyrule: Revali of the Rito, Daruk of the Gorons, Princess Mipha of the Zora, and Urbosa of the Gerudo. While the other Champions piloted their race's respective Divine Beast, Zelda was sent on a pilgrimage under Link's protection, praying to statues of the goddess Hylia for the power to defeat Calamity Ganon.
With the help of the Sheikah's Guardians and the Divine Beasts, the people of Hyrule prepared for the return of Calamity Ganon. During this time, the Champions bonded with each other, with Zelda growing especially fond of Link once she realized their similarities as people burdened with tremendous legacies to live up to. However, Zelda was unable to unlock her power in time, and Calamity Ganon proved to have learned from its previous defeat; using its near limitless dark power, it killed the pilot Champions, took control of the Guardians and Divine Beasts. With the Guardians and Divine Beasts under his control the fears of their misuse where realized resulting in the destruction of Hyrule Castle Town and countless settlements across Hyrule. King Rhoam was killed and the remaining soldiers and Knights of Hyrule who survived were helpless against the Guardian onslaught.
Link and Zelda were confronted by an army of Guardians at Fort Hateno and wielding the Master Sword Link valiantly defended both the Fort and Princess Zelda, but despite destroying countless guardians even his strength and skill were not enough to overcome their numbers and he was gravely injured. However, Zelda saved Link from the fatal blow, finally unlocking her power.
Desperate Zelda sought the aid of her Sheikah allies, ordering Purah and Robbie to take Link to the Shrine of Resurrection on the Great Plateau, where he would recover in a deep sleep for the next one hundred years. Zelda returned the battle-damaged Master Sword to its pedestal in front of the Great Deku Tree. The Great Deku Tree enquired as to what she planed to do now that Link was incapacitated and Zelda reveals that the Master Sword spoke to her and told her that her destiny was not finish. Leaving the sword under the ancient tree's protection, Zelda then used her power to seal Ganon and herself within Hyrule Castle.
With Zelda containing Ganon in Hyrule Castle, Impa, Purah, and Robbie chose to split up in the hopes one of them would survive long enough to aid Link when he woke up which could occur at any time. Impa remained behind to lead the surviving Sheikah in Kakariko Village which survived the Calamity, while Robbie escorted Purah to Fort Hateno where they parted company. Purah set up the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab in Hateno Village where she continued her research into upgrading Runes to assist Link when he awoke. Robbie traveled to the Akkala region and set up the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab where he worked to develop high-tech weapons and armor to aid Link in combating the Guardians. The soldiers and knights who survived the fall of Hyrule Castle retreated to the Akkala Citadel where they made their final stand against the Guardians, leaving Link the only known surviving member of the Knights of Hyrule. Princess Zelda and Link's heroic actions were remembered by the people of Hyrule and Hateno Village survived the Great Calamity due to Link's heroic defense of Fort Hateno while the Champions where revered among their respective tribes as heroes. Impa, Purah, and Robbie all managed to survive the next 100 years. Impa became a grandmother to Paya while Impa's elder sister Purah used an reverse aging rune in an attempt to restore her youth though it went to far and she ended up in the body of a six year old girl. Robbie married Jerrin a Sheikah woman whom Impa had sent to assist him in his research and the two had a son they named Granté. King Rhoam's spirit remained in the physical world in order to watch over Link in order to help him when he finally awoke. Though Ganon was kept under seal by Zelda, the Guardians and monsters that served him continued to roam the lands and ruins of Hyrule though the people of Hyrule managed to survive and forge a somewhat peaceful existence in the remaining towns and settlements that survived the Great Calamity. The divine beasts however became dormant until Link's awakening caused Ganon to reactivate them. Link would eventually awaken one hundred years later though the healing process had left him with amnesia and physically weakened, though through the telepathic guidance of Princess Zelda and the assistance of spirit of King Rhoam, the Sheikah, and Hylia herself he would set out on a quest to free the Divine Beasts and defeat Calamity Ganon to save Zelda and restore the Kingdom of Hyrule.
It is possible, although not clear, that this may be what caused Link's death in the possible "Hero Dies and Fall" branch of the timeline split in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; however, this may also be a new installation that splits either much earlier or much later in one of the other timelines.
Another possibility is it is not connected to any timeline splits due to the lack of time travel in Breath of the Wild and is implied to occur after the events of Ocarina of Time.
Events in The Legend of Zelda series
|Age of Burning Fields · Creation of Hyrule · Great Calamity · Great Cataclysm · Great Flood · Peace Agreement · Shipwreck · Slumber of Restoration|
|Great War of Ikana · Hyrulean Civil War · Imprisoning War · War of the Bound Chest|
|Carnival of Time · Champion Festival · Hyrule Festival · Korok Ceremony · Picori Festival · Picori Festival Tournament · Wing Ceremony|
|Autumn · Spring · Summer · Winter|
|Blood Moon · Endless Day · Endless Night · Graduation Ceremony · Horde Battle · Jam Session · Lunar Phases · Oasis Flight · Restoration Ceremony|
|Bad Uncle Rupee's Ashen Rupeeland · Destruction of Termina · Game Over|