Emperor Thoriz Pelagius Septim III (3E 119–153), also known as Pelagius the Mad and the Mad Emperor, was the Jarl of Solitude, and the twelfth Emperor of Tamriel after the death of his father Magnus Septim. Because his mother was an Altmer woman named Utheilla, he and his sister, Jolethe, are Imperial and Altmer half breeds. Later, he married a Dunmer woman named Katariah I, who succeeded him to the throne as a regent-dowager, until their son Cassynder was old enough to rule.
When Pelagius was just over a year old, Antiochus died and his daughter, Kintyra, assumed the throne to the acclaim of all. Kintyra II was Pelagius' cousin and an accomplished mystic and sorceress. Kintyra II's reign was usurped by her and Pelagius' cousin Uriel, by the power of his mother, Potema, the so-called "Wolf Queen of Solitude."
Early Life during the War of the Red Diamond
The man who would be Emperor of all Tamriel was born Thoriz Pelagius Septim, a prince of the royal family of Wayrest in 3E 119 at the end of the glorious reign of his uncle, Antiochus I. Wayrest had been showered with much preference during the years before Pelagius' birth, for King Magnus was Antiochus' favorite brother.
When Pelagius was just over a year old, Antiochus died and his daughter, Kintyra, assumed the throne to the acclaim of all. Kintrya II was Pelagius' cousin and an accomplished mystic and sorceress. Kintyra II's reign was usurped by her and Pelagius' cousin Uriel, by the power of his aunt Potema, the "Wolf Queen of Solitude." The year after her coronation, Kintyra was trapped in Glenpoint, and imprisoned in the Imperial dungeons there.
All of Tamriel exploded into warfare as Prince Uriel took the throne as Uriel III, and High Rock, because of the imprisoned Empress' presence there, was the location of some of the bloodiest battles. Pelagius' father, King Magnus, allied himself with his brother Cephorus against the usurper Emperor, and brought the wrath of Uriel III and Queen Potema down on Wayrest. Pelagius, his brothers and sisters, and his mother Utheilla fled to the Isle of Balfiera.
All who met Pelagius on the Isle described him as a handsome, personable boy, interested in sport, magic, and music. Even assuming diplomats' lack of candor, Pelagius seemed, if anything, a blessing to the future of the Septim Dynasty.
When Pelagius was eight, Cephorus defeated Uriel III at the Battle of Ichidag and proclaimed himself Emperor Cephorus I. For the next ten years his and Potema's armies clashed with one another. At the conclusion of the Siege of Solitude, which ended with Potema's death and the end of the war, Cephorus placed his nephew on the throne of Solitude.
King of Solitude
As King of Solitude, Pelagius' eccentricities of behavior began to be noticeable. As a favorite nephew of the Emperor, few diplomats to Solitude made critical commentary on Pelagius. For the first two years of his reign, Pelagius was at the very least noted for his alarming shifts in weight. Four months after taking the throne, a diplomat from Ebonheart called Pelagius "a hale and hearty soul with a heart so big, it widens his waist." Five months later, the visiting Princess of Firsthold wrote to her brother that "the king gripped my hand and it felt like I was being clutched by a skeleton. Pelagius is greatly emaciated, indeed."
Cephorus died childless (as his children perished during the War of the Red Diamond), three years after the Siege of Solitude. As the only surviving sibling, Pelagius' father Magnus left the throne of Wayrest and took up residence in the Imperial City as the Emperor Magnus I. Magnus was elderly and Pelagius was his oldest living child, so the attention of Tamriel focused on Solitude. By this time, Pelagius' eccentricities were becoming infamous.
There are many legends about his acts as King of Solitude, but few well-documented cases exist. It is known that Pelagius locked the young princes and princesses of Silvenar in his room with him, only releasing them when an unsigned declaration of war was slipped under the door. When he tore off his clothes during a speech he was giving at a local festival, his advisors apparently decided to watch him more carefully. On the orders of Magnus, Pelagius was married to the beautiful heiress of an ancient Dunmer noble family, Katariah Ra'athim.
Nordic Kings who marry Dunmer seldom improve their popularity. There were two reasons for their union; Magnus was trying to cement relations with Ebonheart, where the Ra'athim clan hailed from. Ebonheart's neighbor, Mournhold, had been a historical ally of the Empire since the beginning, and the royal consort of Queen Barenziah had won many battles in the War of the Red Diamond. Ebonheart had a poorly kept secret of aiding Uriel III and Potema. The other reason for the marriage was more personal. Katariah was as shrewd a diplomat as she was beautiful. If any person was capable of hiding Pelagius' madness, it was she.
Ascent and Death
On the 8th of Second Seed, 3E 145, Magnus died quietly in his sleep. Jolethe, Pelagius' sister, took over the throne of Solitude, and Pelagius rode with Katariah to the Imperial City to be crowned Emperor of Tamriel. It is said that Pelagius fainted when the crown was placed on his head, but Katariah held him up so only those closest to the thrones could see what had happened.
Pelagius Septim III never truly ruled Tamriel. Katariah and the Elder Council made all of the decisions and only tried to keep Pelagius from embarrassing them all.
It is known that Pelagius was obsessed with cleanliness, and many guests reported waking to the noise of an early morning scrub-down of White-Gold Tower. Pelagius, while inspecting the servants' work, suddenly defecated on the floor to give them something to do.
When Pelagius began to bite and attack visitors to the White-Gold Tower, he was sent to a private asylum on the Isle of Betony. Pelagius was transferred to several other asylums, including asylums in Valenwood, Torval, and Black Marsh. During his stay in the asylum in Torval, Pelagius planned a ball.
On a warm night in Sun's Dawn in his 34th year, Pelagius Septim III died after a brief fever in his cell at the Temple of Kynareth on Betony. Katariah reigned for another 46 years before passing the scepter onto the only child she had with Pelagius, Cassynder.
After Pelagius' death, the asylum he was contained in was destroyed. However, a group known as the Apostles of Light transported each original stone to the Shivering Isles, where it was reconstructed and renamed The Howling Halls. Pelagius' ghost still haunts the Isles to this day. During the first days of the Fourth Era, Sheogorath's champion raided the Halls and wiped out the Apostles. He also discovered Pelagius' pelvis, the only surviving remains of the mad emperor.
Later in the Fourth Era, the Last Dragonborn was given Pelagius' Hip Bone during Sheogorath's quest, where he had to cure Pelagius of his madness by entering his mind and to send him back to the Shivering Isles.
Pelagius' wild behavior has made him perversely dear to the province of his birth and death. The 2nd of Sun's Dawn, which may or may not be the anniversary of his death, is celebrated as the Mad Pelagius Festival, a time when foolishness of all sorts is encouraged. And so, one of the least desirable Emperors in the history of the Septim dynasty has become one of the most famous.
Duties of an Emperor
Sheogorath: "More tea, Pelly my dear?"
Pelagius: "Oh, I couldn't. It goes right through me. So many detractors and undesirables, naysayers, buffoons. My...My headsman hasn't slept in three days."
Sheogorath: "You are far too hard on yourself, my dear, sweet, homicidally insane Pelagius. What would the people do without you? Dance? Sing? Smile? [laughter] Grow old? You are the best Septim that has ever ruled. Well, except for that Martin fellow, but he turned into a Dragon god, and that's hardly sporting. You know, I was there for that whole sordid affair. Marvelous time! Butterflies, blood, a Fox, a severed head... Oh, and the cheese! To die for."
Pelagius: "Yes, yes, as you've said countless times before."
Sheogorath: "Harumph! Well, if you're going to be like that, I think its best I take my leave. I said a good day to you, sir, I said good day!"
Pelagius: "Yes. Leave me to my ceaseless responsibilities and burdens."
- The Wolf Queen, v7 determines the date of Pelagius' birth to have been in 3E 125. If so, he would have been twelve during the Siege of Solitude, which The Madness of Pelagius asserts was his first battle.
- The Wolf Queen claims that Pelagius' mother was named Hellena, while The Madness of Pelagius says it was Utheilla of the Direnni Clan.
- In Potema's biography, The Wolf Queen, it is suggested that she was the cause of Pelagius' madness, having disguised herself as an old woman during the siege of Solitude, and giving young Pelagius an enchanted necklace that would destroy his mind over time.
- Sheogorath claims that Pelagius' last act as Emperor, on his deathbed, was to "outlaw death."
- Because in-game a character can only be one race or another, Pelagius is considered a Breton, which makes him more human than elf, despite the child usually being the same race as the mother.
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
|Emperor of Tamriel|
|Magnus Septim||3E 145–3E 147||Katariah (as Regent)|
|High King of Skyrim|
|Potema Septim||3E 137–3E 145||Jolethe Septim|
|Jarl of Solitude|
|Potema Septim||3E 137–3E 145||Jolethe Septim|