The High King or High Queen[note 1] is a monarch who is typically responsible for governing the province, although in places with High Kings or Queens, the holds, regions, or provinces usually have more autonomy than in other places.[source?]
In Skyrim, the High King or Queen typically inherits the throne by birth and rules for life or until abdication. In the event that no direct heir to the throne exists, High Kings are selected by a moot, or vote, conducted by the current Jarls of each of the nine Holds. High Kings are traditionally either related to the previous High King, or a Jarl of one of the Holds. Votes occur most commonly when the previous High King dies. By Nordic tradition, a High King can be challenged in a duel of arms for the right to the throne. If they refuse, the challenger has grounds to call for a moot to elect a new High King.
The High King swears fealty to the Emperor, and as such Solitude is the city most directly influenced by Imperial culture and politics; thus the Jarl of Solitude has served as High King for generations. According to some source the Moot is, therefore, more formality and theater than anything else. Other sources state that the Moot always meets to select a new High King. Originally, the High King was based in Windhelm, as it was the first capital city established by Ysgramor in the Merethic Era. The Capital had also shifted to Winterhold sometime in the First Era, but as of the Fourth Era, the High King reigns from Solitude.
As a result of the Reman Empire's fall in 2E 431, High King Logrolf was assassinated. When Jarl Svartr claimed his daughter Freydis was illegitimate, a partial moot in Windhelm convened Freydis was High Queen, while a partial moot in Solitude convened Svartr was High king. As a result, the province was split into the West and East kingdoms, ruled separately by each High Kings of the capitals. In 2E 582, High King Svargrim ruled the West Kingdom until his death in in that year, while High King Jorunn the Skald-King ruled the East Kingdom.
In the Fourth Era, upon the death of High King Torygg, the Jarls could not agree on the next High King. Torygg's widow, Elisif the Fair, the Jarl of Solitude, had a legitimate claim to the throne. However, according to Ulfric Stormcloak, the Jarl of Windhelm, ancient Nord tradition dictates that when the High King is bested in battle, the winner can call a Moot to have a new High King chosen. Ulfric believed this gave him a stronger claim to the throne. This resulted in Civil War because the Empire considered the duel unfair and an act of murder, due to Ulfric's use of the Thu'um. It is strongly implied that Ulfric initiated the challenge, plotting to intimidate the other Jarls into naming him High King, though Ulfric and his supporters maintained it was a lawful challenge to prove Torygg's weakness as a leader and Skyrim's wretched condition. However, if the city of Solitude is taken by the Stormcloaks and the war resolved in their favor, Ulfric's earlier statement is proven true; saying he supports the decision of the Moot, whether he is crowned King or not. However, he still asks Elisif to swear fealty to him, and all Jarls who fought against him are replaced.
Listed below are the previous High Kings and High Queens of Skyrim followed by their respective reigns:
- High King Harald of Windhelm, Founder of the Kingdom of Skyrim (1E 143–1E 221)
- High King Hjalmer of Windhelm – (1E 221–1E 222)
- High King Vrage of Windhelm – (1E 222–1E 2?)
- High King Gellir – (1E 2?–1E ?)
- High King Borgas of Winterhold, last of the Ysgramor Dynasty (1E ?–1E 369)
- High King Olaf One-Eye of Whiterun (1E 420–1E 452)
- High King Kjoric the White (1E 4?–1E 478)
- High King Hoag Merkiller (1E 478–1E 480)
- High King Wulfharth (1E 480–1E 533)
- High King Erling of Solitude (1E or early-mid 2E)
- High King[note 1] Roleke (late 1E)
- High King Irthvyd the Impassive (late 1E, ruled for "decades")
- High King Temylda (late 1E, ruled for up to 40 years)
- High King Alldimar the Ghostmaker (late 1E, ruled for 2 years)
- High King Logrolf of Windhelm (2E ?–2E 431)
- High Queen Freydis of Windhelm – disputed, only controlled Eastern Skyrim – (2E ?–2E ?)
- High King Svartr of Solitude – disputed, only controlled Western Skyrim – (2E ?–2E ?)
- High Queen Mabjaarn Flame-Hair of Windhelm – disputed only controlled Eastern Skyrim – (2E ?–2E 572)
- High King Svargrim of Solitude – disputed, only controlled Western Skyrim (2E 561–2E 582)
- High Queen Nurnhilde of Windhelm – disputed, only controlled Eastern Skyrim - (2E 572 - 2E 572) 
- High King Jorunn the Skald-King of Windhelm – disputed, only controlled Eastern Skyrim – (2E 572–2E ?) and the Ebonheart Pact (2E 582 -2E ?)
- High King Istlod of Solitude, the father of Torygg (4E ?–4E ?)
- High King Torygg of Solitude (4E ?–4E 201) 
The Jagged Crown
- Main article: The Jagged Crown
The Jagged Crown is the crown of the High King of Skyrim and was used to symbolizes the power over Skyrim. It is made from the teeth and bones of dragons. It is believed to date back to the time of King Harald and is said to contain a portion of the power of every king or queen who wore it since.
The last monarch to wear the crown was King Borgas, but it was believed lost when he was killed in the Wild Hunt of 1E 369. Legend holds that his body was secretly returned to Skyrim and buried with the crown, but the exact whereabouts were lost in the following War of Succession. During the Civil War questline, the Dragonborn can help recover the crown for either the Imperial Legion or the Stormcloaks, providing a great symbolic victory to the side in question.
The Crown of Verity
- Main article: Crown of Verity
The Crown of Verity was an alternative to the Jagged Crown created when the Jagged Crown was lost in the Wild Hunt of 1E 369. It infamously rejected Asurn Ice-Breaker as High King in the fifth century of the First Era, cementing its authority deep into Skyrim's politics.
- Main article: Emeric of Cumberland
In High Rock there has only ever been one High King, Emeric of Cumberland. A master warrior, brilliant politician, well-rounded in trading, speechcraft, and a brilliant strategist, he was also the King of Wayrest, High King of High Rock, the founder and Leader of the Daggerfall Covenant, and the founder of the Cumberland Dynasty.
- High King Ja-Fr
- High King Ar-Azal
- High King Fahara'jad
- High King Thassad II, the last Na-Totambu High King of Hammerfell
- In ancient and medieval Germanic Europe (on which Skyrim and the Nords are largely based), authority was usually bestowed upon a high king or emperor, who held the title but had varying levels of authority, depending on the country (in England and Germany, very little; in Scandinavia a fair amount). This system was developed out of ancient Germanic tribal tradition, where their rulers were elected by the freemen of the tribe (and in turn, higher rulers were elected from these representatives of the tribes).
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- Skyrim's Rule
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Skyrim
- Dialogue with Sybille Stentor
- Dialogue with Ulfric Stormcloak
- Loading Screens (Skyrim)
- The Crown of Freydis
- Events of The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor
- Events of The Elder Scrolls Online
- Dialogue with Elisif the Fair
- Dialogue with Gerdur
- Conclusions of hold battles in the Skyrim Civil War
- Plaque outside of the Palace of the Kings
- Frontier, Conquest
- King Edward, Book X
- The Aetherium Wars
- A History of Daggerfall
- Rislav the Righteous
- The Five Songs of Wulfharth
- Walking the World, Vol XI
- Scandals of Solitude's Royalty
- Dialogue with Oengul War-Anvil
- The Brothers' War
- Great Moot atop Skuldafn in Online
- Nords Arise!
- Dialogue with Galmar Stone-Fist
- The Worthy Ar-Azal, His Deeds
- The (Improved) Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: Hammerfell
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Hammerfell
- Intro of The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
- Saradin's Diary
- The Rise of Queen Ayrenn