The Elder Council, also known as the Imperial Council, is the central government of the Empire of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls. The Tamrielic government is a unicameral and unelected body. For a long time since the days of Pelagius Septim II, it has consisted of the wealthiest men and women in the Empire, though this is implied to have changed. The Council would lose their authority over the Emperor under the efforts of Emperor Uriel VI and Empress Morihatha, resulting in the Emperor being permitted to rule directly, with the Elder Council holding additional power.
While the Reman Dynasty ruled the Empire, the Elder Council delved into exploration of Aetherius, through the use of the Royal Imperial Mananauts. These expeditions would end, however, as no success was made due to the high cost of magicka required.
During 2E 283, most of the Reman Empire had started to crumble. The provinces were becoming rebellious, and openly challenged the rule of the Potentate, Versidue Shaie. They refused to pay taxes, and worked against Imperial garrisons within the provinces. Upon the destruction of the Imperial Fort in Dawnstar, the Elder Council convened in what would be known as the Council of Bardmont, named after a town south of Dawnstar. Here the potentate declared universal martial law, and demanded the princes of Tamriel to dissolve their armies, which resulted in a war which would take a heavy toll on the Empire, but would end up in reforms regarding the Fighters Guild and Mages Guild.
In 3E 82, the Emperor Pelagius Septim II inherited the Ruby Throne from his father, Uriel Septim II. His father had caused a great debt for the Empire due to his poor financial and judicial management. In order to resolve the debt of the Empire, Pelagius dismissed the entire Elder Council, allowing only those willing to pay great sums of septims to keep their seats, and encouraged similar acts among his vassals. Though the reforms of Pelagius did resolve the economic troubles of the Empire, it was said that Pelagius may have sent away important advisors who could not afford the sums, which may have led to some of the troubles his heir, Antiochus Septim, had to face during his rule. Pelagius died in 3E 98, and his death may have been at the hands of one of the vengeful Council members he sent away.
In 3E 99, the Council had not yet convened to name Antiochus Emperor. Antiochus blamed Potema Septim for the delay, as she supported the claim of her son, Uriel Septim III, for the throne. Six weeks had passed since the Emperor's death, and the Council claimed the delay was related to the updating of records and preparation for the coronation. Potema would eventually try to blackmail Antiochus through a forged letter, which stated the father of Antiochus was not Pelagius Septim II, but failed in convincing Antiochus to give up his claim. Shortly after, Antiochus would be crowned Emperor, and as an Emperor he was not interested in the politics of the Empire. Unlike the Emperor himself, his children did play in the political field, Magnus Septim had married Hellena, the Imperial Queen of Lilmoth after the original Argonian priest-king was executed. Magnus would represent Imperial interests in Black Marsh admirably. Cephorus Septim and his wife, Bianki ruled over Gilane in Hammerfell. But the most active of all the Septims of this time period was the Wolf Queen of Solitude, Potema.
Years later, in 3E 119, Antiochus had fallen into a coma. After months, the Elder Council prepared for the coronation of his daughter, the fifteen-year-old Kintyra Septim II, who was engaged with Council member Modellus. Potema, however, disagreed with the notion that Kintyra would become Empress. She went to the Elder Council, and held a speech there. Starting off with flattery and humility, and following up with praise of Antiochus Septim, emphasizing on the importance he had with the Elder Council during the War of the Isle. Not long after, Potema spoke of the true motif she had arrived. She made Antiochus out as a man who bedded many whores within the city, and as such, claimed his children were bastards. After saying this, she proposed her own son, Uriel III, be named the rightful heir. This proposal would be refused by the Council, and Potema would be sent back to Skyrim.
On the third of First Seed, 3E 120, Kintyra Septim II was crowned, with her uncles, Magnus and Cephorus both being attendance, but her aunt, Potema being in Skyrim. Because of this coronation, Potema started the assembling of a rebellion, which would be involved in the War of the Red Diamond. Originally, Potema had the support of Skyrim, High Rock, and northern Morrowind, but High Rock switched allegiances due to the influence of Cephorus and Magnus. Hammerfell, Summerset, Valenwood, Elsweyr and Black Marsh were divided, however, the majority of its kings supported Cephorus and Magnus. The Council would be involved in the war, having some authority over the Imperial armies, they split up the Imperial forces to attack western High Rock and eastern Morrowind after the advances of Potema and Uriel's armies, resulting in the Imperial City being besieged and conqeured by Uriel III's forces, and Uriel's proclamation of Emperor. The war would end up with the deaths of Potema Septim and Uriel Septim III, and the coronation of Pelagius Septim III.
In 3E 145, Pelagius was proclaimed Emperor, and his behavior was noted down from the start. From embarrassing dignitaries and offending kings, to an attempt of hanging himself following a ball. As such, the throne would be handed over to his wife, Katariah Septim I, with Pelagius himself meeting death in 3E 153 at the age of thirty-four.
Katariah was shunned by many for being a Dunmer, and considered her ascendancy the true mark of the decline of the Septim bloodline. Others, who supported Katariah, stated that despite her not being related to Tiber, her son was. Katariah would end being well-liked by the people of the Empire, but the Council greatly opposed her. Due to unrest in Black Marsh, and the massacring of Imperial troops within the land, the Council and Katariah had to find a solution to the problem of the Imperial armor used in the land, as it would endanger them during summertime. Whereas Katariah proposed a former slave, a member of the council named Hazadir proposed Sirollus Saccus, the finest armorer in the Imperial City. The two would both craft armor, which would be tested by a champion in the Imperial City Arena. The armorer who would come out on top would receive the commission. The Arena was slightly flooded to simulate the climate of Black Marsh, and would end with the armor of Hazadir coming out on top, and Katariah obtaining the support of the Council. Katariah would later die in a minor skirmish in Black Marsh, which was in part caused by a disenfranchised branch of the Septim family.
The real aftermath of the decision by Pelagius Septim II are apparent under the rule of Uriel Septim IV. Due to Uriel VI being adopted into the Septim family, many members of the Council refused to accept him as a blood descendant of Tiber Septim. Under the rule of Katariah Septim the Council had taken over much responsibility, and due to the alien and strong-willed nature of Uriel IV it was nearly impossible to command their unswerving fealty. This resulted in the Council and the Emperor being at odds many times, with the majority of the time the Council coming out on top. Since the days of Pelagius II, the Council had consisted of the wealthiest men and women within the Empire, and they wielded true, and conclusive, power. Due to the dislike between the Council and the Emperor, the Council voted to disinherit the son of Uriel IV, named Andorak Septim, and a cousin who was more closely related to Tiber Septim was instead chosen to be the heir in 3E 247, named Cephorus Septim II. This would result a war between the forces loyal to Cephorus and those loyal to Andorak, which eventually ended when the Elder Council gave a part of High Rock, the Kingdom of Shornhelm, to Andorak.
By 3E 268, the throne had been taken over by Uriel Septim V, who returned favor to the Empire after many wars. He turned the attention of Tamriel away from strive within itself by conqeuring Roscrea in 3E 271, Cathnoquey in 3E 276, Yneslea in 3E 279, and Esroniet in 3E 284. Four years later, he set out on an expedition for Akavir, which would ultimately result in the death of the Emperor.
Following the death of the Emperor, his son, Uriel Septim VI was only five years old. As such, the throne was provided to his mother, Thonica, under certain restrictions. The Elder Council kept the real power in the Empire, as they had done ever since Katariah I. The Council enjoyed their freedom and power so much, that Uriel was only given the throne in 3E 307, when he was 22 years of age. The Emperor has slowly been taking over position of responsibility, but both the Council and his mother were hesitant to give up their power. By the time he was crowned Emperor, he held little power, save for the imperial veto. Uriel would frequently take advantage of this power, however, and by 3E 313, the Emperor truly held power in the empire. Through the use of defunct spy networks and guard units, he bullied and coerced difficult members of the Elder Council, and he had the support of his half-sister Morihatha Septim. It was later said by the sage Ugaridge that "Uriel V conquered Esroniet, but Uriel VI conquered the Elder Council." Following the death of Uriel VI, Morihatha would continue where he had left off. She returned the power in the Imperial province to the Emperor and Empresses of the land. She took action against rebellions in the Empire which had been ongoing since the days of Cephorus II. Despite her success in these battles, her slow pace frustrated the Council. An Argonian councilman known as Thoricles Romus is commonly believed to have been responsible for her death at the hands of assassins in 3E 339, following her refusal to send troops to his troubled homeland of Black Marsh. Thoricles was summarily tried and executed, but protested innocence until his death.
During the Oblivion Crisis of 3E 433, it was said that the Elder Council held the real power in the Empire, and that the Council, being led by High Chancellor Ocato, had been running the Empire for the past 15 years. Following the murder of the Emperor and his heirs, the Empire was left without a Septim to put on the throne. Ocato insisted the Council could govern the Empire perfectly fine, and that most of the Council had returned to their home provinces to deal with local matters, with only the Inner Council meeting regularly. At this same time, the Council could not pull the Legions back from the provinces due to the entire Imperial army being fully commited and the political aftermath it would have to pull the troops away. Eventually, the Elder Council would accept Martin Septim as the Emperor, but before the Dragonfires could be relit and the official coronation could take place, Mehrunes Dagon invaded the Imperial City. Martin would eventually smash the Amulet of Kings in the Temple of the One and take on the shape of an avatar of Akatosh to fight Dagon. Martin came out victorious, but at the cost of his own life. The Oblivion Crisis was over, and the Septim dynasty had ended.
Following the crisis, opinions were divided regarding Ocato. Some counts supported the High Chancellor, as he was the de-facto ruler of the Empire, the count of Bravil feared Ocato would attempt to make himself Emperor. Others pointed out that Ocato, and the rest of the Council, cared nothing for Cyrodiil, as they focused on the other provinces and left Cyrodiil to fend for itself.
During the early Fourth Era, the full Elder Council tried their best to find an heir to the throne, but failed. Because of this, the Empire beyond Cyrodiil began to splinter, and Ocato reluctantly agreed to become the Potentate following the terms of the Elder Council Charter until Imperial rule could be reestablished. The Potentate did the best he could to combat the circumstances which were tearing the Empire apart, and making headway until the eruption of Red Mountain. The eruption resulted in Morrowind being thrown into chaos, and Black Marsh suffering from destroyed roads and Imperial garrisons being cut off. While Morrowind and the Imperial forces within Black Marsh were still in shock due to the Oblivion Crisis and the eruption of Red Mountain, the Thalmor incited the Argonians to form a massive uprising, resulting in Black Marsh becoming independent and southern Morrowind falling to the Argonians. Not long afterwards, Ocato was assassinated by the Thalmor, resulting in the Stormcrown Interregnum and the Elder Council fracturing. The interregnum was filled with violence, plots, and back-stabbing alongside violent unnatural storms, which were speculated to be the judgement of the Nine Divines. With the Empire lacking a ruler, the Thalmor took over Summerset and renamed it Alinor. Only after seven years did the Interregnum end, with Titus Mede taking the throne. Titus Mede proved a shrewd and capable leader, and was endorsed by Skyrim because of it.
Many years later in 4E 201, Titus Mede II would rule over what remained of the Empire, consisting of High Rock, Skyrim, and Cyrodiil. One member of the Elder Council, known as Amaund Motierre, sought the death of the Emperor. Amaund elaborated that upon the death of Pelagius Septim, a necessary change took place in Imperial policy, and that some now sought a similar change. Amaund claimed the death of the Emperor would serve the Empire and all of Tamriel in ways which could not be imagined. Whether the Emperor was assassinated or not is unclear.
The following are laws and decrees either agreed upon or established by the Elder Council.
- In 3E 246, the Elder Council, decreed that, in Skyrim, any man without a liege who occupied a castle for more than three months would be granted the rights and titles of that estate.
- If two claimants with equal titles to land are set in deadlock, a duel must be held.
- Sometime after Pelagius Septim's accession to Emperor in 3E 82, Pelagius dismissed all of the Elder Council, and allowed only those willing to pay great sums to resume their seats. He encouraged similar acts among his vassals and the kings of Tamriel.
The Elder Council's task is to keep the Empire running. Their responsibilities consist of the day-to-day management of the Empire, such as the administration and overseeing provinces, advising the Emperor, and the creation of laws. They are also tasked with handling the specific ruling of the Empire. Where the Emperor rules, the Council deals with all the details. The Council also holds some power over the Empire's military actions, and has the authority to pull forces from the provinces if needed.
During absence of an Emperor, the Council is supposed to rule the Empire as an interim under the leadership of the High Chancellor. The Council may elect an Emperor/Empress Regent with restricted powers should the incumbent Emperor not yet reach an age of majority or be incompetent.
In unique situations, the Elder Council can be forced to take regency for a long time, thus allowing them complete control over all military forces of the Empire. The Elder Council, alongside the Emperor, can also implement a War Tax during times of war to fund the Legions.
The Council convenes at its chambers in the center of the Imperial Palace complex, within the Imperial City. The Council chamber is comprised of a large circular table, encircled by tall chairs. The table is in the exact center of a dome-shaped room. The palace is built inside the ancient Ayleid White-Gold Tower, which extends hundreds of feet into the air.
The exact details of what makes up the council is unknown. Known members are:
- Emperors of the Empire of Tamriel
- Lord High Chancellors/Imperial Battlemage/Chancellor
- Chief Councilors
- Battlemage, as an advisor.
The Council is further sub-divided into two groups. The Elder Council as a whole, and the Inner Council which holds regular meetings. Each of these members is provided with an amulet as a token of office. This amulet is worth a small fortune.
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls Online (mentioned only)
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Eras
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Rising Threat, Vol. IV
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Rear Guard
- ↑ Warrior
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 How Orsinium Passed to the Orcs
- ↑ A Letter to Selina III
- ↑ Regarding Your Loss
- ↑ The Blackwater War, Volume IV
- ↑ Fighters Guild History, 1st Ed.
- ↑ The Armorer's Challenge
- ↑ Letter to Imperial City
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 Brief History of the Empire, Book III
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Brief History of the Empire, Book IV
- ↑ Skyrim's Rule
- ↑ Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Birthsigns
- ↑ Fighters Guild History, 1st Ed.
- ↑ The Wolf Queen, Book II
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Brief History of the Empire, Book I
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 The Wolf Queen, Book III
- ↑ The Wolf Queen, Book IV
- ↑ The Wolf Queen, Book V
- ↑ The Wolf Queen, Book VI
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Brief History of the Empire, Book II
- ↑ The Wolf Queen, Book VIII
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 The Armorer's Challenge
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 Rumors said by nobility in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ Brother Piner's Notes
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Dialogue with Ocato during "Allies for Bruma"
- ↑ Events of "Light the Dragonfires"
- ↑ Outro of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ Overheard rumors in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 Dialogue with Ocato during "Imperial Dragon Armor"
- ↑ Dialogue with Ocato during "Light the Dragonfires"
- ↑ Dialogue with Millona Umbranox during "Allies for Bruma"
- ↑ Dialogue with Andel Indarys during "Allies for Bruma"
- ↑ Dialogue with Narina Carvain during "Allies for Bruma"
- ↑ Dialogue with Arriana Valga during "Allies for Bruma"
- ↑ Dialogue with Janus Hassildor during "Allies for Bruma"
- ↑ Dialogue with Regulus Terentius during "Allies for Bruma"
- ↑ Dialogue with Marius Caro during "Light the Dragonfires"
- ↑ Rising Threat, Vol. III
- ↑ Dialogue with Amaund Motierre during "The Silence Has Been Broken"
- ↑ Dialogue with Amaund Motierre during "Hail Sithis!"
- ↑ Rumors said by nobility in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ 45.0 45.1 Events of "Assassination!"
- ↑ The Madness of Pelagius
- ↑ Conversation between Martin Septim and Ocato during "Light the Dragonfires"
- ↑ 48.0 48.1 Loremaster's Archive: Politics and the Imperial City
- ↑ Rumors in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ Letter to Imperial City
- ↑ The Wolf Queen, Book V
- ↑ "Repeal of the War Tax" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- ↑ Events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- ↑ Guide to the Imperial City
- ↑ 55.0 55.1 55.2 55.3 55.4 Minutes of the Elder Council
- ↑ Dialogue with Astrid during "The Silence Has Been Broken"
- ↑ Gameplay from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim