Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Female (left) and Male (right) Imperials in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

"The Imperials are the educated and well-spoken natives of the civilized, cosmopolitan province of Cyrodiil. Imperials are known for their enlightened rule of law and government, and the discipline and training of their citizen armies. Though physically less imposing than the other races, they are shrewd diplomats and traders. Their legions have enabled them to subdue all the other nations and races of Tamriel, and to have erected the monument to peace and prosperity that comprises the Glorious Empire."
Imperial Dialogue Topic[src]

Imperials, also known as Cyrodilics[1] or Cyrodiils,[2] are a race of men from Cyrodiil, the province in the center of Tamriel. Members of the Imperial race are some of the most well-educated, wealthy, and well-spoken people in Tamriel.[3] Natives of the civilized cosmopolitan province of Cyrodiil, they have proved to be shrewd diplomats, traders,[4] and tacticians.[5]

By game[]


Imperial from The Elder Scrolls: Legends.

Main article: Cyrodiil

Cyrodiil is the cosmopolitan heartland of Tamriel. It has served as the seat of power for several major empires, such as the Alessian Empire, the Reman Empire, and the Septim Empire, and as such is commonly known as simply, "The Imperial Province."[6] It is home to the Imperial City where the Emperor and his Elder Council live and rule.[2]


Imperials can be differentiated from Bretons and Nords by their fair to swarthy skin, as opposed to the typically fairer complexion of Bretons and Nords. However, Imperial skin tone is not as dark as that of Redguards. Imperials also have slightly sharper faces than other races of men. They are descendants of the native Nedic and other Proto-Cyrod peoples that were enslaved by the Ayleids.[7][6]


"Cyrodilic history truly begins by the middle of the Alessian Reformation, when civilization and cultivation had allowed the region to emerge as a discernible Tamrielic power."
Imperial Geographic Society[src]

Imperials, like any race, have had their share of both internal and external conflicts in their native homeland. Due to relatively frequent invasions from various Elven civilizations and simply Cyrodiil's sheer size, unification of the region as a whole was proven a difficult task.[2]

The earliest known Empire in Cyrodiil was the Empire of the Ayleids, which had ruled since before recorded history. The Fall of White-Gold Tower in 1E 243 is the year generally associated with the end of Ayleid rule over humans in Cyrodiil.[8] In the same year of Alessia's rebellion came the Alessian Empire, created by the former human slaves of the Ayleids, including Alessia.[9] The Empire, alongside the monotheistic religion that had grown to prominence during the same time, the Alessian Order, eventually collapsed in a war known as the War of Righteousness.[2]


The Imperials are considered clever and industrious, as well as educated and well-spoken. Placing faith in hard work, education, and discipline, they are known for their enlightened rule of law and government. Imperials also make for shrewd diplomats and traders. In general, Imperials prefer free trade and diplomacy over most other things, but are not afraid to use force if necessary.[10] The Imperials accept freedom of religion alongside different cultures, and their Empires are held together by a strong Emperor, the bureacracy, the rule of law, and the Legions. Throughout the social classes where Imperial culture has flourished, education and wealth is broadly distributed, allowing many citizens to become literate.[11] Imperial culture also enables free trade within the lands of the Empire.[12][13] Slavery is commonly shunned by Imperial ways, and is illegal within Imperial land.[14] Due to the size of the Empire during the Third Era, Imperial culture has become a combination of various cultures of their subjects. As such, any of any race can advance in wealth and status in commerce, the bureaucracy, and the military. Near the end of the Third Era, moral and political corruption at the highest levels of Imperial society, and the cost of military occupations in hostile provinces, made people suspect the Empire was approaching a decline.[15] Imperial taxes are handled by the Census and Excise, and are based on the head count of the taxed region. The Census and Excise also deals with Imperial licenses, such as imports and mercenary company incorporation.[16] Imperial buildings are often of timbered, half-timbered, or stone construction, with peaked roofs, right angles and flat planes, and plain, undecorated exteriors.[17]

Within Imperial culture, blood vampires are considered monsters to be hunted and destroyed. Despite this, however, notions of noble and virtuous vampires exist in Imperial tradition, and are believed to also take part in the Mages Guild and Imperial aristocracy.[18] The latter being proven right by Count Janus Hassildor, the vampiric count of Skingrad.


Main article: Colovia

Colovia is the western portion of Cyrodiil. The natives of the land are the Cyro-Nords who had left the fertile lands of Nibenay. Their culture developed different from their eastern counterparts, with a dislike for magic and industry, instead preferring warfare and plundering. Upon conquering the entirety of western Cyrodiil, these Colovians also became masters of seafaring, creating fleets whose earliest voyages allowed them to raid the Illiac Bay and the Cape of the Blue Divide annually, until the arrival of the Yokudan Navies, which were superior. When the East of Cyrodiil fell to the Alessian Reformation, the west stood strong, and continued to venerate the Eight Divines, following which Colovia isolated itself by forming the Colovian Estates. In 1E 2200, the All Flags Navy under the command of Bendu Olo, the Colovian King of Anvil, successfully invaded Thras. Because of this Colovia grew in wealth, resulting in the War of Righteousness, in which the Alessian Legions attempted to conquer the Colovians, ultimately failing and resulting in the fall of the Alessian rule.[19]

For over four hundreds year, the West enjoyed relative peace and quiet, until the rise of Reman Cyrodiil. This son of the west unified the Colovians and the Nibenese to fight against the Akaviri in 1E 2703, succesfully fighting them in the northern reaches of Cyrodiil. At the end of the war, the people of Cyrodiil felt united, and felt a responsibility to protect the northern human kingdoms.[19]

Following the death of the last Reman Emperor, the East and West split from another and became independent once more. One of the kings of the Colovian Estates, Cuhlecain eventually rose up. In but a year's time, Cuhlecain's army had unified more than half of Cyrodiil, and aimed his eyes on Nibenany and the Imperial City. The Nords and Bretons, fearing another Empire forming, attempted an invasion of the Colovian West, only to fail at the Battle of Sancre Tor.[19]

Since the days of Tiber Septim, the Colovians still posses most of their frontier spirit. Being self-sufficient, hearty, extremely loyal, hard working, tough-minded,[20] and uncomplicated. They also pride themselves in their reputation for being independent, rough, and rebellious,[21] with much of their income coming from the export of wood.[22] When the Empire suffers a weak ruler, the Colovians withdraw onto their own land and take care of their own, believing they kept the national spirit alive. At the same time, when a mighty Emperor has the throne, the Colovians gladly serve in his ranks. Many Colovians take up positions in the Imperial Legions and Navy, proud for their role within the army, not caring for courtly life. Even so, despite the Colovians feeling superior as a people to their Nibenean cousins, they are often neglected in Cyrodiil due to the Nibenese forming the heart of the Empire.[19]


Main article: Nibenay

Imperial society truly started in the Nibenay Valley, a large grassland with Lake Rumare at its heart. Rice and textile were its main exports, though the people of Nibenay also traded in hide armor, moon sugar, and ancestor-silk. Following the decline of the Alessian Empire, the Colovian West and Nibenean East were seperated.[19] The Heartlands and Nibenean Valley are considered the breadbasket of Cyrodiil. Colovia being largely unimportant, excluding Skingrad, which is famous for its wines and tomatoes.[21] Poor farming is done in Colovia, with isolated farms and settlements dotting the land, as most of the population lives near the coast.[21]

The people of Nibenay are seen as the soul of Cyrodiil, being famous for their kindness towards defeated enemies, tolerance, and administrative capabilities. Within the Nibenay Valley the Cyro-Nordic tribes learned a self-reliance which managed to seperate them both culturally and economically from Skyrim. The Nibenese around this time also formed a support troop for their armies, the Battlemage. When the Alessian Doctrines had come to pass, these Battlemages became the ruling body of the Nibenese, but were quickly replaced by the Alessian Priesthood. The Eight Divines were put aside in favor of ancestor spirits and animal gods, which were encouraged by the Alessian faith. Nibenean culture would adapt to this religious reform greatly, resulting in restrictions on certain kinds of meat, alongside the increasing sentiment for animal cults, made agriculture and husbandry nearly impossible in the east. As such, many of eastern Cyrodiil became merchants, over time allowing their lands to become the wealthiest of Cyrodiil. Even so, the merchants were reminded the priesthood held the real power, being forced to pay many coins to the priesthood.[19]

The people of Nibenay form the heart of the Empire, as well as its cultural center; but it is one that is fragile, and only held together by a strong Emperor. Nibeneans relish in costumes, tapestries, tattoos, brandings, and elaborate ceremony. They are more inclined to philosophy and the evolution of ancient traditions. They follow a number of cults; most famous are the Cult of the Ancestor Moth, the Cult of Heries, the Cult of Tiber Septim, and the Cult of Emperor Zero. Where as the Colovians shun these ways, the Nibeneans embrace them. Eastern Cyrodiil also prides itself in its Akaviri heritage, shown in various Akaviri dragon-motifs in their territory, from the Imperial City to remote villages. For their agriculture, the Nibenese use thousands of workers to ply the rice fields. Above the farmers are the merchant-nobility, then the temple priests and cult leaders, and yet above those is the aristocracy of the Battlemages. The highest power of Nibenean culture is granted to the Emperor.[19]


Main article: Nine Divines

The Imperial Pantheon is based upon the original Eight Divines that later became the Nine Divines following the apotheosis of Talos. After the Great War, when Talos worship was outlawed, Imperial society largely returned to worship of the Eight Divines.[23][24] Within the Imperial Cult, people looked to the Divines for the proper way of living a good life, with each Divine representing a different aspect of life. The Cult follows many doctrines, but their simplest is to help and protect one another. The Cult considers it the duty of the strong and wealthy to bear responsibility for helping and protecting others. The first duty is to look after members of the Cult, but after that, one is tasked with helping and protecting any needy person.[25] While there once were differences between Colovians and Nibeneans in religious aspects, by the late-Third Era, all of Cyrodiil followed the Nine Divines.[26] Foreign religions are tolerated within Imperial territory,[11] even within the province of Cyrodiil itself.[27] However, the priesthood within Cyrodiil considers the other gods to be heathen-gods.[28][29]

Following the Great War, the Empire was forced to outlaw the worship of Talos as part of the terms of the White-Gold Concordat.[30][24] After the Markarth Incident, the Thalmor demanded access to Skyrim to enforce the Concordat, as the Empire had broken treaty terms by accepting free Talos worship during said Incident.[30] Ulfric Stormcloak, who had collaborated with the Thalmor during the Incident,[31] was also imprisoned by them during this event.[32] When Ulfric was released and became the Jarl of Windhelm, he started his rebellion.[33] Ulfric would use the ban on Talos worship as his rallying cry,[34] and gain a number of supporters by doing so.[35]


Main article: Imperial Legion

Imperials on their own are less physically imposing than some of the other races of Tamriel. Despite this, their Legions are considered mighty, having enabled the Imperials to subdue multiple societies of Tamriel throughout history and create an their own empires of peace and prosperity.[10] Most of the Imperial army consists of Colovians, who pride themselves in service of the Legions if a strong Emperor sits on the throne. Many Colovians take up positions in the army and navy, being posted as officers and soldiers, and even governors due to their loyalty to the Emperor. The Imperial Battlemages were dominated by the Nibeneans due to the cultural split between east and west Cyrodiil.[19]

The Legions have been involved in many wars, such as the War of the Red Diamond,[36][37] War of the Isle,[38] and the Imperial Invasion of Akavir.[39] After many wars were waged closely together,[40] the Legion became greatly weakened. The Dominion took advantage of this and attacked the Empire, effectively conquering most of Colovia and southern Hammerfell. The Legion was tested to their limits during the Great War. The Emperor at the time, Titus Mede II, eventually signed the White-Gold Concordat, ending the conflict. After years of fighting, it was meant to provide him with the time needed to rebuild his armies,[41] since a continuation of the war would have resulted in the Empire being completely destroyed.[42][43][44] Since then, the Empire has been rebuilding its armies, and has put up garrisons on the border with the Dominion.[45]

Notable Imperials[]



  1. Crafting Motif 12: Barbaric Style
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Cyrodiil
  3. Racial Description in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Official Game Guide
  5. Character creation screen in The Elder Scrolls: Legends
  6. 6.0 6.1 Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Cyrodiil
  7. The Adabal-a
  8. The Last King of the Ayleids
  9. Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Eras
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Imperial" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Empire" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  12. "politics and religion" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  13. "House Hlaalu" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  14. "slavery" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  15. "Imperial culture" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  16. "Imperial Office of Census and Excise" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  17. "Imperial urban style" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  18. "vampires" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Cyrodiil
  20. Guide to Skingrad
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Generic Dialogue in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  22. Gold Coast Guide, Part One
  23. Varieties of Faith in the Empire
  24. 24.0 24.1 The Great War
  25. "Imperial cult doctrine" dialogue topic in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  26. Events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  27. Dialogue with Cirroc
  28. Dialogue with Isa Raman
  29. Dialogue with Arentus Falvius
  30. 30.0 30.1 Dialogue with Alvor during "Before the Storm"
  31. Thalmor Dossier: Ulfric Stormcloak
  32. Dialogue with Cedran
  33. Dialogue with Ulfric Stormcloak
  34. Dialogue with Saerlund
  35. Conversations between Stormcloak Soldiers
  36. The Wolf Queen, Book VI
  37. The Wolf Queen, Book VII
  38. Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Summerset Isles
  39. Report: Disaster at Ionith
  40. Dialogue with Legate Rikke
  41. The Great War
  42. Loading Screens (Skyrim)
  43. Dialogue with Ondolemar
  44. Dialogue with Hadvar
  45. Dialogue with General Tullius