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When the reigning king died without a successor, Sophia Dryden was one of the two leading candidates to take the throne of Ferelden.  The other candidate, who eventually won the crown, was Arland.  Dryden did not easily accept the loss.  Because of this, she was imprisoned under the charge of treason.  Being a charismatic and famous figure among the people of Ferelden, Arland begrudgingly did not sentence her to death.  Instead, Dryden was forced to join the Grey Wardens, a sentence that would likely kill her anyway. 
Sophia Dryden survived the joining and went on to become one of the Grey Wardens most skilled and beloved commanders.  Prior to her becoming a Grey Warden, the people of Ferelden often saw the Wardens as an antiquated concept.  Dryden was able to return a sense of importance within the masses.  Under her leadership, the recruitment numbers for the Grey Wardens skyrocketed. 
King Arland was seen by most as a tyrannical ruler enveloped in deceit and corruption.  The people of Ferelden pleaded with Dryden to do something about Arland's reign.  A rebellion was inevitable.  Thanks to his spies, King Arland was notified of the impending revolution and ended all government funding of the Grey Wardens.  Many of the Wardens believed that opposing the king was dishonorable, regardless of the king's actions, for it was the Grey Warden's duty to remain neutral in politics.  As Arland's forces marched upon Soldier's Peak, these "dishonored" Warden's abandoned their posts, leaving Commander Dryden short handed in defending the fortress against the siege. 
After several months of defending Soldier's Peak, Sophia Dryden was slain.  Without their charismatic and courageous leader, the remaining Grey Wardens were driven from Ferelden.  For over two centuries, they were absent from the region.  It was not until the reign of King Maric Theirin, known as Maric the Savior, that the Grey Wardens were allowed back into the country. 

Dragon Age: The Warden's Keep 

In this DLC, the player and his/her team are the first people to enter the fortress at Soldier's Peak in several centuries.  It is quickly made apparent that Sophia had been possessed by a demon as a result of her resorting to the use of blood magic in order to defend the keep.  Whether Dryden made a deal with the demon or if it possessed her corpse after she fell in battle is unclear.

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