Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

A female and male Nord in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Nord card art from The Elder Scrolls: Legends.

"Tradition has it that the Nords came to Tamriel from the continent of Atmora in ancient days."
Imperial Geographic Society[src]

Nords, also known as Sons of Snow[1] (Dragon Language: K.svgU.svgL.svgD.svgO.svgO.svgD.svg Kul-Do-Od, "Sons-Of-Snow"[note 1]) are a race of men from the province of Skyrim. The Nords have a natural resistance to the frost,[2] which evolved due to their settlement in the northern, colder reaches of Nirn,[citation needed] and are known for their prowess as warriors.[2] Some say that the Nords are famously hot-blooded in order to compensate for their freezing environment, and their political climate can be as shifting and dangerous as the winds.[3] Eager to augment their martial skills beyond the traditional methods of Skyrim, they excel in all manner of traditional warfare. Nord culture centers on the quest for honor and glory, with emphasis also on the family and community.[citation needed] Nords see themselves as eternal outsiders and invaders, and even when they conquer and rule another people; they feel no kinship with them.[4] Coming from a warlike culture, they believe that an honorable death in battle will grant them entrance into Sovngarde.[5][6]

By game[]


Nordic architecture as it is seen in The Elder Scrolls Online.

Main article: Skyrim

Skyrim is the northernmost landmass of the continent of Tamriel, and according to Nordic tradition, is the site of one of the earliest civilizations founded and governed by Men during the Merethic Era, many thousands of years ago.[7] These early Men arrived on Tamriel by sailing south from the ancient continent of Atmora, the northern-most pinnacle of the world.[citation needed] In present day, Skyrim is home mainly to the direct descendants of these Atmorans, a people known as the Nords; large, hardy men and women who are notorious for their militancy and innate resistance to frost and frost magic, both a consequence of the cold, harsh climate of their homelands.[8] Bordered by Morrowind to the east, Cyrodiil to the south, Hammerfell to the southwest, and High Rock to the west, Skyrim forms the uppermost province of the continent of Tamriel. To the northeast, the Sea of Ghosts borders the Holds of Winterhold, and far northeast lies the island of Solstheim. Skyrim has nine Holds, each is governed by a Jarl, who keeps civility and order in their designated Hold. Jarls are largely independent, but swear fealty to Skyrim's High King.[8]


Different Nord faces

The Nords are a race of Men who typically are regarded as light-skinned, fair-haired which is often braided, and imposing in size and build.[9] They are the direct descendants of the Atmorans, who in ancient days sailed to Tamriel from the frozen continent of Atmora, and to a lesser extent of the Nedic peoples,[8] who were human natives of Tamriel that gradually interbred with the Atmorans over the centuries.[citation needed] The Nords, along with the Redguards and Orcs, are on average more muscular and larger of size than the other races of Nirn. They are known to have an innate resistance to the freezing cold as well as a fierce and uncompromising mindset in the face of adversity; physiological and psychological traits that are likely a consequence of countless generations having successfully endured the harsh, overcast northern climates of Atmora and Skyrim.


Merethic Era[]

The Nords were first known as the Atmorans,[8] of the northern continent known as Atmora. It is unknown if the climate of Atmora was ever temperate enough to sustain anything other than a hunter-gatherer population, though there are some references to "distant green summers" and "chilling green shores" in literature.[10][11]

A statue of Ysgramor wielding his legendary Battleaxe Wuuthrad.

At some point in Atmoran history, there was a great civil war. In the midst of this, Ysgramor, a revered Nordic hero, gathered all who would follow him and sailed south.[7][12] They eventually came ashore at the northernmost point of Skyrim, at a place now known as Hsaarik Head. As there was already an Elven, or Mer, population on the continent, the immigrants had dubbed it "Mereth."[7] Contrary to popular belief, Ysgramor was not the first human to create a settlement in Tamriel; he and his colonists were simply the latest of a long line of immigrants from Atmora. There was, in fact, already an indigenous human population upon their arrival.[12]

In the early days, mer and men lived in relative peace with one another. Over time, it is said that racial tensions arose as the Snow Elves realized that the settlers would soon surpass their own numbers if left unchecked.[7] The decision was made to halt the expansion of the human settlers, using any means necessary. This culminated in the Night of Tears, when a Snow Elf army fell upon the unsuspecting human city of Saarthal and razed the settlement to the ground.[13] The only remnants of the city in the Fourth Era are the ruins found south of Winterhold.

It has also been speculated that the Snow Elves had an alternative motive to their actions. When the city was originally built, the Atmorans uncovered a source of great power underneath Saarthal and attempted to keep it buried. The elves learned of this and coveted it for themselves.[13][14]

Only Ysgramor and his two sons, Ylgar and Yngol, escaped the slaughter and returned to Atmora, vowing to avenge their people.[10] Ysgramor returned to Skyrim, bringing with him the famous Five Hundred Companions,[7] a name later adopted by a group of mercenaries in Whiterun.[15] Upon their return to Tamriel, they slaughtered the Snow Elves living there and began a program to completely eliminate and destitute the Snow Elf population.[11]

After horrific losses to Ysgramor and his Companions, the Snow Elves retreated to their last haven on Solstheim. Led by the Snow Prince, the Snow Elves took a final stand against the Nords. The conflict between them ended at the Battle of the Moesring, in which the Snow Prince was unexpectedly killed by a twelve-year-old girl. This death shattered the spirit of the remaining Snow Elf warriors. Many fled, and those that remained on the battlefield were killed.[16]

First Era[]

In the year 1E 113, King Harald, of the Ysgramor dynasty, was the first man to unify Skyrim, and in 1E 143 the last of the elves (Snow Elves and Ayleids) were driven out of the province. After the 78-year reign of King Harald, a Moot was created to establish the next High King from the royal family. This Moot was different from the Moots of Skyrim in the Fourth Era, as this Moot acquired power for itself, which was its ultimate downfall.[7]

In 1E 240, King Harald's son, King Vrage the Gifted, started the Skyrim Conquests. He carved out the First Empire of the Nords and by 1E 290 ruled all the northern regions of Tamriel. These regions included Morrowind, most of High Rock, and some northern reaches of Cyrodiil. The capital of the Empire was Windhelm, a city built by Ysgramor after his conquest of the elves. His keep, the Palace of the Kings, still stands, housing the Jarl of Eastmarch. It´s one of the few structures still intact from the First Era.[7]

But after the rein of King Borgas in 1E 369, who was killed during the Wild Hunt, the First Empire began to crumble. As there was no heir to the throne, the now ineffective Moot was unable to establish a new High King of Skyrim, beginning the War of Succession. The Empire lost all lands beyond Skyrim, and was never able to regain these provinces.[7]

The War of Succession ended in 1E 420 with the Pact of Chieftains, which stated that a Moot would only be held when the High King died with no living heirs. After this, Skyrim's successions would not be disputed on the battlefield until the Civil War of 4E 201.[7]

In the Late First Era, there was an invasion from Akavir. These men, who came from the North, were the Akaviri Dragonguard, from whom the Blades claim origin. The Nords, the warriors they were, were the first to challenge these invaders. However, the Nords were defeated and the Dragonguard carved a path through Skyrim. The Nords joined Reman Cyrodiil at the Battle of Pale Pass. Accounts on the battle vary, but was ultimately a victory secured against the Akaviri, who swore loyalty to Reman Cyrodiil.[17]"

Second Era[]

The dawn of the Second Era saw even more conflict for the Nords. Led by the general Hjalti Early-Beard, the Nordic Holds were locked in conflict with the Reachmen of High Rock over territory within Skyrim. Allying himself with the Colovian king Cuhlecain, Hjalti was able to push the Reachmen back into the nearly impregnable fortress at Old Hrol'dan. The two forces seemed at an impasse until the intervention of a Nord King specter, Ysmir. Ysmir came to Hjalti in the night, and taught him the Way of the Voice. When the morning came, Hjalti led his army to the gates of the fortress and shouted down its walls, achieving victory. Hjalti was then given the name Talos, meaning Stormcrown.[7]

However, the Nordic people resented the fact that Cuhlecain and Hjalti sought to reforge the old Empire. In the year 2E 852, shortly after the two generals traveled to Cyrodiil, an allied force of Nords and Bretons marched south and conquered all major passes and settlements in the Jerall Mountains. Staging their forces at Sancre Tor for the winter, the allied invaders dared Talos to face them. Talos could only amass a small army to stand before the walls, so he resorted to subterfuge. Though the fort was surrounded by unscalable terrain, a Breton traitor showed the general a small mountain trail that would lead his forces into Sancre Tor from the rear. The Nord-Breton alliance only saw that the general had left a severely weakened force in the field and, leaving a small force to man the walls, they sallied forth to take the field. Meanwhile, Talos reclaimed the Amulet of Kings and led his forces from within the walls of Sancre Tor. Using his army and his Thu'um, he swept aside the defenders and took the keep. Seeing this, the Nords abandoned their alliance and swore fealty to Talos, claiming him heir to the Empire. Soon after, Hjalti took the name Tiber Septim, and declared a new Empire, which now included the Nords of Skyrim.[7] Skyrim itself, however, still had to be conqeured. Though there aren't many details regarding the invasion, it is known that the of warchiefs of Danstrar fought against Imperial forces.[18] It is also known that Skyrims conquest was a "ballet" compared to the conquest of Hammerfell.[19]

Third Era[]

The Wolf Queen Potema in the Fourth Era

The Third Era began with a royal wedding in Skyrim, between Mantiarco of Solitude and young Potema Septim, later called the Wolf Queen.[citation needed] The already-widower Mantiarco married the young Septim daughter by accident of custom, as she stole the Promise of Marriage actually meant for her mother. However, the marriage proceeded and Mantiarco came to love Potema. She went on to bear him a son, Uriel Septim III. Soon after, it was discovered that Mantiarco's first son, Bathorgh, was actually the love child of his first wife and his warchief Lord Thone. In his grief, Mantiarco expelled his son from the realm, never to be heard from again. Whether or not Bathorgh was actually born of this affair is still a matter of debate.[20]

In 3E 121 the War of the Red Diamond was fought with the Wolf Queen's son, Uriel Septim III, who claimed Kintyra II was a bastard and her claim to the throne was therefore false. With the help of this mother, Uriel Septim gathered forces from High Rock, northern Morrowind, and Skyrim. With these, he was able to conquer enough of Tamriel to proclaim himself Emperor. But during the Battle of Ichidag his army was defeated by Cephorus Septim, and Uriel himself was captured. He was on route to the Imperial City when the caravan was attacked by vigilantes, killing Uriel.[21] The war ended when Potema Septim was killed in the last siege of Solitude.[22][21]

During the Imperial Simulacrum, when Jagar Tharn, a battlemage, posed as Emperor Uriel Septim VII old animosities between Skyrim and their neighbors in Hammerfell and High Rock were reignited, setting off the War of Bend'r-Mahk. One of but many wars occurring during the Simulacrum, the conflict saw the reclamation of territory Nords had not claimed since the 1st Era. Peace was finally restored when Uriel VII wrested the throne from his impersonator.[7]

Fourth Era[]

The Thalmor Justiciar and a Nord prisoner.

After the Oblivion Crisis, Skyrim appeared relatively unscathed, moreover, its economy and society profited from the turmoil that occurred in Cyrodiil.[citation needed] More than a century later, in the year 4E 171, a war broke out between the Aldmeri Dominion and the Empire of Tamriel. This war was extremely devastating and both sides suffered heavy losses, a treaty was formed between both parties, and was known as the White-Gold Concordat. This agreement included many conditions, some of the main terms that 'affected the Nords' were the outlawing of the Talos worship and the disbandment of the Blades. This enabled the Thalmor to move freely throughout the entire Empire, thus allowing them to hunt down any Talos worshipers and slaughter the last of the Blades. As a result, many Nords began to favor Skyrim's secession from the Empire. Eventually Ulfric Stormcloak, the Jarl of Windhelm, organized these rebels into the Stormcloaks. Soon after, Ulfric challenged the High King of Skyrim to a duel. Ulfric slew him with the legendary Thu'um which sparked the Civil War between Ulfric's supporters and the citizens of Skyrim that stayed loyal to the Empire. The latter were backed by numerous outposts of the Imperial Legion across Skyrim.[citation needed]

Society and culture[]

Dragonsreach in Whiterun.

The Nords had a diverse culture that spread across multiple aspects, such as music, food, the arts, education, festivals and holidays, architecture and infrastructure, and religion.[citation needed] They consider themselves to be the children of the sky, referring to Skyrim as Throat of the World, because they believe it is where the sky exhaled the North Winds on the land and formed them. When they defeat great enemies they take their tongues as trophies. These are woven into ropes and can hold speech like an enchantment.[4]

The Nords have a reputation of being fierce proud warriors. Nord warriors are said to value their fierce independence, are hardy in the thankless severity of their lands, and are comfortable with appalling violence as a daily occurrence. Their armor and weaponry reflects their boisterous fury, but may also be revered as part of a family's trappings. For the Nord is a warrior race, and all from the goat farmer to the High King own an armament of some kind.[23] The typical Nord warrior holds his or her reputation in high regard and insulting a Nord's strength, bravery, or honor in any way almost inevitably leads to violence as the offended party attempts to prove otherwise. They are also known to revel in the imbibing of their drink of choice: Mead. Refusing a drink is seen as an admittance of weakness and is a sure way to alienate yourself from the Nords that invited you to their revelry. Though they may seem rude, insults are not always meant to offend and can be used as terms of endearment.[24]

Aside from being warriors, Nords excel in blacksmithing and craftmanship. For the Nord, the creation of fine (if inelegant) weapons and armor is as important as proficiency with a blade, axe, or hammer. Such skills are learned from youth and are almost mandatory.[25] Through the ages, the Nords have learned to manipulate steel the way a sculptor would clay. Most Nords are also literate and can both read and write.[9] Those who value the art of speechcraft become bards. Some of these bards become skalds, who use their talents in writing, music, and poetry to record tales of the sights they've seen and the battles they've fought.[26]

A spiritual relationship exists between the Nords and the life-force of breathing, which is associated with the Sky Goddess Kynareth. Breathing is integral to Nordic society and culture. While the art of speech was usually associated with the goddess Dibella, the art of breathing and the use of the Thu'um, or Storm Voice, was associated with Kynareth. Kynareth was the goddess who gave Men the ability to speak.[4][27] Breath and the voice were the vital essence of a Nord. Almost all Nords had the ability to speak, but some had the ability to use the Thu'um, or Storm Voice. Those Nords who could articulate their breath into a Shout were called Tongues. The most powerful Tongues cannot speak without causing destruction. They must go gagged, and communicate through a sign language and through scribing runes. Wind was fundamental to the Nords and it is said that the further north one goes into Skyrim, the more powerful and elemental the people become. Those that live in the far wastes always carry a wind with them and thus require less shelter and dwellings.[4] The expression "Wind guide you" was a common expression in Nordic culture.[28] The use of the Thu'um as a weapon has not only been lost, but is forbidden by the Empire. Apart from the students of the discredited School of Thu'um in the Imperial City, Ulfric Stormcloak was reputedly the last man to wield this power. However, the ancient Greybeards still sit atop the many steps leading to the peak of High Hrothgar, where the Nordic race was born, meditating on the known Shouts.[7]

Like all Tamrielic races (Dunmer excluded), the religion of Skyrim is focused on the Aedra and their old ally, Lorkhan. Kyne is notably more assertive and warlike than the nature-loving Kynareth. Although Mara is present in her role as a mother goddess, it was Kyne who is the mother of the Nords. Kyne is considered by some to be the actual leader of the Nord pantheon. She is one of the Hearth Gods, watching over the present cycle of the world. Her titles are numerous, revealing much about the character of Kyne. Kyne is called the Kiss at the End, for most Nords agree that Kyne leads the dead to Sovngarde. She is revered as the Goddess of Storm, called upon to bring rain and snow in dry times. She protects her faithful from the raging gales and blizzards that regularly sweep across the Skyrim expanse. Other names applied to Kyne include Blessed Warrior-Wife and Widow of Shor and the Mother of Nords. Warriors favor Kyne, as they call upon her for strength in battle and victory in conflict.[29] Nord hunters also acknowledge her as the mother of men and beasts. Kyne's Sacred Trials prove the worth of Nord hunters in Kyne's eyes. Kyne teaches Nords to respect the beasts and blesses the hunter who will face their champions. True Nord hunters are those who survive the Trials and consequently earn Kyne's blessing.[30] She is also credited with sending her son Morihaus (and perhaps Pelinal Whitestrake) to the aid of the Cyro-Nordic slaves in their uprising. The chief of the pantheon of Skyrim is Lorkhan, known to them as Shor. The Nords know Shor as the king of the gods, a champion of men in their struggles against the elves. He was treacherously slain by elves, yet continues to bestow favor on his people by aiding them with immortal champions such as Ysmir, another member of the Nordic pantheon. Today, Ysmir is the name by which Nords recognize the divinity of Talos.

Certain Daedra, such as Hermaeus Mora, can also be found in the Nordic pantheon.

The Skaals in their village, isolated in the northern area of Solstheim.

An isolated tribe living on the island of Solstheim known as the Skaal follow a different form of faith from their mainland brethren. Instead of having regular religious worship, they venerate nature. They believe that certain parts of nature, such as the winds, the trees, and the sun, were given to them by the All-Maker, a benevolent, unknowable creator-deity. In this regard, wolves and bears are especially sacred to this small tribe. They believe all aspects of nature must constantly be in harmony, for this is what gives the Skaal their shamanic powers. The Skaal also tell tales of the Adversary, the enemy of mankind, and the Greedy Man. As other tales show, the Greedy Man is none other than Hircine,[source?] cast in this case as a demon. Although they do not worship them, the Skaal are also aware of the existence of the Daedric Princes.

Notable Nords[]


  • The Nords, being the descendants of the Atmoran and Nedic peoples, and leaving behind a legacy of exploration and conquest in parts of Tamriel, are a real-life reference to the history of the Normans; a people of mixed ethnicity that sprang from the Frankish and Norse cultures during the 10th and 11th centuries, who left behind a large political, cultural, and military legacy in various parts of Europe as well as the Near East.
  • Nord translates to "North" in Norwegian, German, French, Romanian, Faroese, Swedish, Italian, Catalan, Icelandic and Danish, while "Noord" has the same meaning in Dutch and Afrikaans.
  • The looks by which Nords tend to be portrayed (tall, light skinned, blond, bearded, long-haired) is based on the appearance which is often stereotypically attributed to the people of Scandinavian, Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic descent.
  • Much of their warrior-centric culture is based on the ancient Germanic cultures of Northern and Western Europe during Antiquity and the Middle Ages (such as the Norse, Swedes, Danes, Franks, Saxons, Angles, Cimbri, Chatti, Frisians, Alemmani, Marcomanni, Suebi, etc.). Hrothgar, for example, is the name of a legendary Danish king from the tale of Beowulf, and Sovngarde seems to be a conflation of the home of the Norse pantheon, Asgard, and Odin's hall of the slain, Valhalla. Additionally, numerous Nords have Scandinavian names: Sven, a common name in Scandinavia and German Europe (spelled 'Sveinn' in Icelandic, 'Svend' in Danish); Bjorn, (in Norway/Sweden/Iceland/Denmark spelled Bjørn/Björn); also Arngeir, Harald, Hilde, Hakon (in Norway/Sweden/Iceland spelled Håkon or Haakon/Håkan/Hákon), and Frida (spelled Fríða in Icelandic and Faroese) are quite common Scandinavian names.
  • The titles used in Skyrim (king, jarl, thane, housecarl) are all real titles used in Germanic Europe in the Medieval Era: jarl is West Old Norse, and a cognate of the English word "earl" with the same meaning. 'Thane' is native English (variously spelled 'thegn', 'thain') and refers to any lesser warrior or noble in service to another (a similar rank would be the later medieval knight). Housecarl is the English form of Old Norse 'húskarl', both meaning "house-man" and referring to bodyguards of important people.
  • Some Nord names are also words in Scandinavian languages. For example, Heimskr is an Icelandic word (Heimskur) which means "stupid" or "narrow-minded." Markarth is derived from the Norse/Icelandic word "Markaðr/Markaður" meaning "market."



  1. It should be noted that this title is not proved to have been given to Nords by actual dragons.