Skyrim, also known as the Old Kingdom, Throat of the World, the Fatherland or Keizaal (Dragon Language: Keiz-Aal, "Rebellion-May"[note 1]), is a vast region set in the northern part of Tamriel. It is the home of the Nords, large and hardy men and women who have a strong resistance to frost, both natural and magical. Skyrim was originally inhabited by a race of Mer known as the Snow Elves, though after the Nordic-Falmer War, the Snow Elves were mostly destroyed and the Atmorans settled the land. It is bordered by Morrowind to the east, the Nibenay and Colovia in Cyrodiil to the south, Hammerfell to the southwest, and High Rock to the west. The island of Solstheim lies to the northeast of Skyrim, now a sovereign territory of Morrowind.
The Nords are the race of men native to Skyrim. Nords consider themselves to be the Children of the Sky. They call Skyrim the Throat of the World because it was where the sky first brought the North Winds upon land and formed them. Breath and the voice are the vital essences of a Nord; the art of breathing, speech and articulation is with them. Though the art of speech is usually associated with the goddess Dibella, the art of the Thu'um, or Storm Voice, is associated with Kynareth, who gave Men the ability to speak.
Expedition to Skyrim
During the Merethic Era, a legendary Atmoran leader named Ysgramor led an expedition from Atmora, across the Sea of Ghosts  to the land that would later be known as Skyrim. They called the land Mereth, in recognition of the vast number of Mer that lived there. It was the first region of Tamriel to be settled by humans. According to legend, Ysgramor landed first at Hsaarik Head, at the extreme northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape. It is said that he and his companions were fleeing the civil war in Atmora, which at that time had a sizable population.
The Atmorans settled the area that in the future would be known as Winterhold; they eventually built a city in the region and named it Saarthal. For a long while, relations between the Snow Elves and the Atmorans were relatively peaceful.
Night of Tears
The Night of Tears was the infamous sacking of Saarthal by the Snow Elves. There are a variety of accounts as to why this happened. Some say the Snow Elves saw that the Nords, with their considerably shorter life expectancy, fast rates of physical maturation and expedient (by Elvish standards) reproductive cycle, would eventually overtake them if left unchecked. Another theory suggests that the sacking of Saarthal was brought on by the Atmoran discovery of the Eye of Magnus beneath the city. Other sources are less certain in their pronouncements, but also point to a very focused attack on locations that are not of strategic importance, lending weight to the theory that the Eye of Magnus, not the extermination of the Nords was the primary reason for the attack. According to legend, only Ysgramor and his two sons were able to escape back to Atmora.
When Ysgramor and his sons returned to Atmora, they told stories of the events that occurred in Skyrim, and gathered many around them for a return to retake Skyrim and avenge Saarthal. After Ysgramor was set to return to Skyrim with an army known as the "Five Hundred Companions", composed of the heroes of the Atmoran Civil War. On the Day of Final Passage, the Five Hundred Companions left the port of Jylkurfyk to return to Skyrim.
The Nordic-Falmer War took place in the late middle Merethic Era, and was a campaign which seemed to be indecisive for much of its duration. The battle that decided it for the Atmorans was the Battle of the Moesring. During the battle, the Atmorans were winning and it appeared that they would be victorious, until the arrival of the Snow Prince. He rallied and led his forces into combat, inspiring the troops of the last remaining army of Snow Elves, before allegedly being killed by a small child. The death of the Snow Prince shattered the morale and motivation of the remaining Snow Elf warriors. Many Snow Elves fled, and those who remained on the battlefield were killed. The Snow Prince himself was buried with honor by his Nord foes.
The war would end shortly after, and was followed by a purge of Skyrim's remaining Snow Elves. The Five Hundred Companions, without much resistance, secured the region and laid the foundations for the Ysgramor Dynasty.
War against the Giant clans of Sinmur
Ysgramor and his Five Hundred Companions not only fought the Snow Elves, but also the Giants. After many hundreds were slain in battle, the Giant of Legend, Sinmur, was cornered in his barrow and fought Ysgramor to the death. However, the Giant was no match for Ysgramor's mighty axe, Wuuthrad. The axe was driven into Sinmur's skull after he was brought to his knees by Ysgramor. With the death of Sinmur, the Giants were never as mighty a threat and so the war ended.
Founding of Whiterun
After the war against the Snow Elves, the Five Hundred Companions broke into separate groups to find their way in the newly conquered land. The crew of Jorrvaskr, led by Jeek of the River, journeyed around Skyrim until they came upon a mysterious yet wondrous sight; "a monument of a bird, whose eyes and beak were opened in flame." This monument, that would soon later known to be known as the Skyforge, was older than the Snow Elves themselves. It was supposedly as old as Nirn and was "some remnant of the god's efforts to render a paradise in Mundus before the shattering of Lorkhan." A city was built up around Jorrvaskr, and this city became known as Whiterun, with the initial area around it later known as Whiterun Hold.
Founding of Windhelm
Ysgramor and his group traveled eastwards, heading towards Yngol Barrow. After stopping there, Ysgramor's eyes turned to the south, where a river met the sea. He decreed that he and his crew would build a great city, in monument to the glories of Mankind, and so he could look upon his son's final resting place and "feel that his line would know peace in this new home that was never known in Atmora." The city was built with a long bridge stretching across the White River, with much of the city made of stone. This city would be known as Windhelm, the City of Kings.
When the Atmorans came to Skyrim, they brought with them their history and culture, including their religion. Their religion focused on the worship of animal gods, the chief deity of which was the dragon. Just as dragons ruled supreme in Atmora, with dragon priests being their lieutenants to whom actual governance was left, the same occurred in Tamriel.
At an unknown time, the people of Skyrim rebelled against the Dragons. At first, people died by the thousands. Later, Kyne, the Nordic goddess of the Storm, intervened to help Mankind. She gave Paarthurnax the task of teaching Mankind the Voice.
The tide began to turn in favor of Man, and eventually, Dragons were hunted down and the cultists were killed or overthrown. The Atmorans solidified their victory after Hakon One-Eye, Felldir the Old and Gormlaith Golden-Hilt seemingly vanquished the Dragon lord Alduin. Mankind would win the Dragon War, with many Dragons killed and the remnants of the Dragon Cult dispersing and going into hiding. What was left of the Dragon Cult built the Dragon mounds, entombing themselves and the remains of the dragons that died during the war with the belief that Alduin would one day return and resurrect the faithful.
Split with Atmora
Snow Elves persisted within the borders of Skyrim until the reign of the Thirteenth of the Ysgramor Dynasty, King Harald, at the beginning of the First Era. King Harald was the first to relinquish all holdings in Atmora, proclaiming the people of Skyrim as independent, as until that time, the Nords of Atmora and Skyrim had been considered the same group.
The First Empire of Men
Vrage the Gifted started the expansion that would eventually lead to the First Empire of Men. Within fifty years of his reign, the Nords ruled all of Skyrim as well as parts of High Rock, Cyrodiil, and the Dunmer lands of Morrowind.The acquisition of Morrowind was particularly bloody, still remembered by the Dunmer. The purpose of the formation of the Chimer-Dwemer kingdom of Resdayn was to expel the Nords.
War of Succession
In 1E 369, High King Borgas was killed during the Wild Hunt. His death led to the start of Skyrim's War of Succession. The War of Succession caused Skyrim's influence over many of its dominions to wane. The Direnni Hegemony took advantage of the internal strife in Skyrim, and began taking land north and south of High Rock, even claiming portions of Skyrim at certain moments.
First Battle of Red Mountain
In 1E 416, the discord produced by the War of Succession greatly weakened the Nords and caused them to be expelled from Morrowind during the First Battle of Red Mountain (the Second Battle of Red Mountain would occur in 1E 700). The Nords lost all of their territory in Morrowind, and their armies suffered huge casualties at the hands of the combined Chimer-Dwemer army.
War of Succession ends
In 1E 420, the Skyrim War of Succession ended with the Pact of Chieftans and the crowning of Olaf One-Eye as High King. Records indicated that Olaf expanded Skyrim's boundaries when he conquered the Reach.
Following Olaf's reign, the Crown of Verity was created to ensure that the Moot would select a ruler worthy enough to rule Skyrim. The crown caused controversy when it rejected the Moot's choice of King, Asurn Ice-Breaker. Following this rejection, Asurn was then killed by Kjoric the White, who took the crown for himself.
War of Righteousness
Relations soured with Cyrodiil when Kjoric rebelled against Emperor Gorieus and his Alessian Army, but was killed at the Battle of Sungard in 1E 477 or 478. His son and heir, Hoag Merkiller, resented the Alessian Order so much that he allied with the Direnni Hegemony and King Rislav Larich's insurgents in their war against the Order. Hoag was soon killed at the Battle of Glenumbra Moors and his successor, Wulfharth, continued his predecessor's work in devastating the Alessian Order.
High King Wulfharth reestablished the Nordic pantheon as the mainstream faith in Skyrim, drove the Direnni Hegemony from Skyrim, and waged war against the Orcs. Legend has it that Wulfharth drew the ire of the Orcs' god Orkey, and that he had the ghost of Alduin Time-Eater reduce all the Nords to the age of six. Wulfharth pleaded with Shor to aid them and supposedly Shor's own ghost fought the Time-Eater on the spirit plane, as he did at the beginning of time, and won. Orkey's followers, the Orcs, were ruined by this act. Wulfharth watched the battle in the sky and learned a new thu'um that would change his people back to normal. But in his haste to save so many, he shook too many years out on himself. He grew older than the Greybeards themselves, and died.
Allegedly, Wulfharth would later be resurrected as Shor's avatar and united the sons of Skyrim to invade Morrowind and reclaim the Heart of Lorkhan. The initial battles for the Nords were devastating after making landfall. Although they thought the Dwemer and Chimer armies would be weaker with reports of them warring with each other, they were surprised to be beset by both armies. Believing that Shor's army would need all the strength it could muster, Wulfharth had also allied himself with orcish clans and House Dagoth in his holy war, much to the vexation of some Nords who still clung to old hatreds. Some tales claimed Voryn Dagoth deceived Wulfharth and the Nords into believing he was an ally and betrayed the sons of Skyrim by leading them into a combined Dwemer-Chimer ambush. Other tales claimed that some of Wulfharth's Nords deserted him when he allied himself with their traditional enemies and fell in the climactic battle with the combined Dwemer-Chimer army. Ultimately, Wulfharth died at the Battle of Red Mountain in 1E 700, either by being weakened by Dumac and slain by Indoril Nerevar, or blasted away into ashes by Vivec. The Tribunal wrested Kagrenac's Tools and the Heart of Lorkhan from Voryn Dagoth and used them to give themselves divine powers. Unbeknownst to them, Voryn Dagoth did not die from their conflict but had secretly connected himself to the Heart long ago, turning into Dagoth Ur and becoming a divine being himself.
While the Akaviri Potentate saw the decline and disintegration of much of the Second Empire, Skyrim was one of the most rebellious provinces in this respect, destroying a fortress at Dawnstar, which catalysed the Potentate to crush all other large-scale armed forces on Tamriel.
During this period, Skyrim maintained most of its own structure, with the Moot continuing to elect kings and functioning largely independently of Versidue Shae and his son. King Logrolf was the last High King during the Potentate, and was assassinated in 2E 431.
Following Logrolf's assassination, the Crown chose his daughter, Freydis, as High Queen. This was disputed by Svartr, the Jarl of Solitude, who held a partial moot to proclaim himself High King in the west, signaling the split of Skyrim into two kingdoms. Svartr was unable to keep an influx of orcs fleeing the recent destruction of Orsinium out of his realm, and the chieftain Yashnag gro-Yazgu, along with increasingly rebellious Reachmen, was a disruptive presence in the West for several decades, although some sources claim this was confined to Falkreath. This was ultimately ended in 2E 467 when Hakkvild slew Yashnag in single combat. Without a leader, the orcs scattered into the Wrothgarian Mountains.
The Second Akaviri Invasion of Tamriel
The Second Akaviri invasion landed east of Windhelm in 2E 572, rather than landing on the east of Morrowind. The leader was the king of the Kamal, Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal. They sacked Windhelm, and killed Queen Mabjaarn and Nurnhilde, her heir. Jorunn, her younger son, either escaped the sack, or was in Riften and came to Windhelm as the gates fell. In response to this invasion, the Ebonheart Pact is formed.
Jorunn and rallied troops from across eastern Skyrim, including summoning the spirit of Wulfharth to help the Nords. Following the return of Jorunn, now calling himself King Jorunn, the Nords held the Akaviri at bay while the Dunmer approached from the East and cornered the Akaviri at Stonefalls, and supplemented by a legion of Argonians, drive the Akaviri into the sea.
Another account claims that Jorunn and Fildgor Strong-Prince arrived at the battle at the same time, and following the invasion dueled for the kingship of Eastern Skyrim to avoid civil war. After three hours of fighting, Jorunn emerged victorious and banished Fildgor, who fled to the Daggerfall Covenant. Ten years after the formation of the Pact, Jorunn is noted to be its head.
Battle of Sancre Tor
In 2E 852, an allied force of Nords and Bretons occupied the fortress of Sancre Tor in the Jerall Mountains in northern Cyrodiil, which was then besieged by Talos under the authority of King Cuhlecain, and defeated through Breton treachery. Following the battle, the Nords swore allegiance to Tiber Septim, and joined the efforts to conquer Cyrodiil. Note that available texts regarding the battle do not say that this was the point where Skyrim joined the Second Empire, merely that Nordic troops joined the Cyrodilic army.
There is no documented account of how or why Skyrim was reunified, but it had presumably been a single entity for some time when the first Pocket Guide to the Empire was published in 2E 864, as its division and reunification does not merit a mention in the text. Another possibility is that the Imperial Geographic Society had some motive to hide the fact that the kingdom was ever divided. It is also likely that Tiber Septim reunified Skyrim through his actions at Sancre Tor in 2E 852.
The Wolf Queen
Princess Potema, child of Pelagius II, known to Tamrielic history as the "Wolf Queen", was married to King Mantiarco, noted as "King of Solitude". In 3E 82, when she was 14, she had her first child, Uriel, after many miscarriages. In the intervening years, she spent much time gaining the allegiance of other Skyrim nobility. She initially attempted to be made Empress herself by forging a letter by her brother, claiming he knew he was a bastard, but she was discovered. Following this, Potema and her son Uriel attempted to have her brother's heir, Kintyra, declared a bastard before co-ordinating several attacks on the empire across Skyrim and High Rock, and ultimately a successful attack on the Imperial City in 3E 121. These initial attacks resulted in the Empress Kintyra's capture in 3E 121 and execution at Glenpoint Castle in High Rock, and Uriel proclaiming himself Uriel Septim III. This triggered the War of the Red Diamond.
The War of the Red Diamond lasted for six years, between the rival claimants. Uriel was captured after the Battle of Ichidag in Hammerfell in 3E 127, and killed by a mob while traveling to Cyrodiil for trial. Following this, Potema's allies deserted her and swore loyalty to Cephorus, while Potema summoned Daedra and raised undead to serve her dwindling armies in the next years. After a 3-year siege of her castle in Solitude, the Wolf Queen was declared dead in 3E 137.
The Oblivion Crisis
At the beginning of the Fifth Century of the Third Era, the Oblivion Crisis began with Mehrunes Dagon's attempt to enter Tamriel in his "true and terrible form." Oblivion Gates opened up all over Tamriel, and a massive war between Mortals and Daedra ensued. Though most of the fighting took place in Cyrodiil, it is known that Oblivion Gates opened up all across Tamriel.
The Red Year and its Aftermath
In 4E 5, Red Mountain erupted in Morrowind. Much of the land was destroyed, and as such many Dunmer were forced to flee their homeland. to 4E 6. In 4E 16 the High King of Skyrim gave the island of Solstheim to the Dunmer, giving the refugees coming from Morrowind a place to live. Four years later, in 4E 20, the Decree of Monument was signed by the Jarls to "decree this site as a monument to the struggle of those who fled their native home of Morrowind in the time following the Red Year."
The Forsworn Uprising
In 4E 174, a group of Reachmen launched an uprising in which they took the city of Markarth. This event would later be known as "The Forsworn Uprising." Since the Empire was fighting against the Third Aldmeri Dominion in Cyrodiil at the time, Markarth was undefended and was thus left open for attack. The Reachmen who took control of Markarth took over the government administration and created an independent Reach kingdom.
Two years later, in 4E 176, Hrolfdir, who was the Jarl of Markarth prior to the Reachmen reclaiming it, asked a militia force led by Ulfric Stormcloak to retake Markarth. The militia was victorious, however, many people who were related to the Forsworn were executed, those of the Forsworn who didn't flee Markarth were killed, except for Madanach, Nepos the Nose and a handful of others. Those of the Forsworn who did manage to escape swore revenge against the Nords for preventing them a life of independence. After this, the Imperial Legion returned and had to accept the agreement of free Talos worship, which was made between Ulfric and Hrolfdir, supposedly due to chaos running through the streets in Markarth. However, sometime after this, the Thalmor found out that the Empire wasn't honoring the White-Gold Concordat and demanded them that Ulfric and his men be arrested or face another war. The choice was clear for the Jarl, Ulfric and his men were arrested and the Thalmor came to Skyrim with their treaty enforcers, the Thalmor Justiciars, to ensure that the Talos ban wouldn't be dishonored again. It was the founding day for the Stormcloaks and where the civil war in Skyrim truly started.
Skyrim Civil War
The Civil War in Skyrim is known to have started before 4E 199 and after 4E 176. The exact cause for the war is a matter of debate in the province. On the Imperial side, it is generally thought that Ulfric coveted the High King's throne and that he just want to become High King of Skyrim. On the Stormcloak side, however, people see him as a liberator who tries to free Skyrim from the claws of a corrupt and dying Empire. Whiterun is neutral in this war and it's current Jarl, Balgruuf the Greater claims that it will stay that way until the Hold is forced to draw its sword against one side or the other. There haven't been recorded any significant clashes in the Civil War prior to The Last Dragonborn arriving in Skyrim. Save from a few skirmishes outside of Windhelm, Whiterun, and Skyrim in general. As a result, not much territory has been gained by either side.
The Dragon Crisis was a series of events that occurred in 4E 201, when Alduin, the Nordic god of destruction, returned to Tamriel. He, along with the many dragons that he resurrected, caused destruction and chaos throughout Skyrim, already in strife from the Skyrim Civil War. However, a mysterious individual—later revealed to be the hero of legend, the Last Dragonborn—rose up and was able to defeat Alduin, as foretold by the Elder Scrolls.
Skyrim is the most rugged region of Tamriel; not only containing five of the highest peaks on the continent, but also very snowy and cold. Much of Skyrim is vertical; mountains, cliffs, and deep valleys. The vast majority of settlements cling to these valleys.
Flora and fauna
A vast number of types of flora are found throughout Skyrim. Plants can be found anywhere in Skyrim, even in the least hospitable of locations. Flora such as Snowberries and Frost Mirriam are capable of surviving in cold, harsh conditions. There are nine types of Fungi found in Skyrim. These can be found in cave networks beneath the surface. Of particular note are Jazbay grapes, originally a rare delicacy, tundra cotton, an alternative clothing fibre to animal skins, and Bleeding Crown, a fungus common to many of Skyrim's caverns.
One of the most intriguing plants in Skyrim is the Nirnroot plant. Nirnroot typically grows near fungi and water resources, and depends on water and sunlight to survive. This rare plant is light green or crimson and emits a very bright glow, as well as a chiming sound. Nirnroot flourished on Skyrim and all of Tamriel until the event known as the Sun's Death in 1E 668, which catastrophically affected almost all plant life, including Nirnroot.
A number of animals found in Skyrim are domesticated. These include the dogs, horses, chickens, cows and goats. The horses of Skyrim are hardy and strong, and "make up for endurance what they lack in speed." Horses and horse-drawn carriages are commonly used as methods of transportation. Both being capable of traveling the harsh terrain and climate with ease.
The Pale is located in the central northern area of Skyrim and extends to the northern coast where Dawnstar is situated. The hold borders Hjaalmarch to the west, Whiterun to the south, and Winterhold and Eastmarch to the east. Most of the region is treacherously cold with pine forests that stand facing the harsh winds whipping down the mountains. Only in the southernmost part of the hold towards Whiterun does the harsh terrain abate and become grassy plains.
A garrison town on the northern coast of Skyrim, the port of Dawnstar is the trade center of the region. Once the location of a major Imperial fortress until its destruction in 2E 283. Dawnstar is one of the northern most cities in Skyrim along with Solitude and Winterhold.
Falkreath Hold is the second-southernmost hold in Skyrim, after the Rift. It borders Cyrodiil to the south (via the Pale Pass) and Hammerfell to the west, with a single road leading to both provinces. Its capital is the city of Falkreath, the epicenter of the region. The other notable town in the hold is Helgen, the first settlement in Skyrim to be attacked by a dragon during the Dragon Crisis. Lake Ilinalta, the biggest lake in the province, covers a large portion of the northwestern part of the hold; it feeds the White River. The Jerall Mountains cover Falkreath's southern border, and the eastern part of the hold features mountains adjacent to the Throat of the World.
A smaller city, Falkreath is situated on one of the southernmost roads in Skyrim and is not far from the province's southern border. The city has been the site of many historical battles. Given its history, the city is known for its large cemetery, which dominates the southern part of the town.
The Reach covers much of the western border of Skyrim, with High Rock and Hammerfell to the west. This mountainous region is dotted with juniper trees and rich in valuable ores, especially silver. Surrounding Holds include Whiterun to the east, Haafingar past the mountains to the north, Hjaalmarch to the north-east and Falkreath to the southeast. The Reach is infamous for harboring the Forsworn, Reachmen who are fighting a long war of independence and seek to retake Markarth from the Nords and free the hold from Imperial authority.
Nestled in the westerly Druadach Mountains of the Reach, Markarth is the capital city of the hold. Markarth was notable for possessing the Imperial College of the Voice, which was founded by Tiber Septim to restore the Voice to the art of warfare. Half of the town is controlled by a wealthy family known as the Silver-Bloods. Violence runs rampant throughout most of the city due to the Forsworn and governmental corruption. Originally known as Nchuand-Zel, the city's architecture is primarily Dwemer in style. The city features significant elevation change within its limits, as well as a pair of rivers flowing through it.
Hjaalmarch is located in northern Skyrim, at the mouth of the Karth River. Morthal lies near the center of the hold. The hold borders Haafingar, separated by the Karth River to the northwest, The Reach to the west, Whiterun to the south and The Pale to the east. Much of the terrain is covered by wetlands, marshes, and swamps, collectively known as the Drajkmyr Marsh. One of the largest Ancient Nordic ruins in Skyrim, Labyrinthian, is located in the southern part of the hold.
Morthal is a small city at the southern edge of the Drajkmyr Marsh, between Fort Snowhawk and the Stonehills mining village. It is situated on an off-path river from the River Hjaal, which starts from the Whiterun Hold and ends around the Karth River, where it meets the Sea of Ghosts. Morthal's folk traditions include a legend about the "Pale Lady," a dangerous ghost who is said to stalk the marshes to find her daughter.
The Rift is located in the southeastern part of Skyrim and features autumnal forests ringed by mountains. The lower half of the region is known as the "Stony Basin," containing mining settlements like Shor's Stone and Fort Greenwall. The elevation rises closer to the capital city of Riften. The hold is bordered on the west by mountains adjacent to the Throat of the World. Just east of these is Lake Geir, a source of food for the surrounding settlements, including Ivarstead, Nimalten, and Geirmund's Hall. In the southeast of the Rift is the Smokefrost Peaks sub-region, which is warmed by the nearby volcano of Trolhetta. The Velothi Mountains stand to the east. The city of Riften is also found here, built on the shores of Lake Honrich.
Riften, also known as Rifton, is capital of the Rift. This town is located in south-eastern Skyrim, close to the province's borders with both Cyrodiil and Morrowind and on the eastern shore of Lake Honrich. Home to the Skyrim Thieves Guild, it was in Riften that Barenziah joined the Guild during her return to Morrowind from exile in Skyrim. The city's outskirts are primarily farmland, utilized mainly by the Nords of the Snow-Shod Clan and other ancestral families of the Rift. A canal runs through Riften, where fishing skiffs dock their ships and sell produce. Larger vessels utilize the Riften Docks on the outside of city walls.
Haafingar is the smallest hold in area, located in the far northwest of the province. Since the Fourth Era, the High King of Skyrim is seated in the wealthy city of Solitude. The hold is separated from Hjaalmarch by the Karth River and the Reach by mountains. Dragon Bridge is the only access to the hold by road, crossing the Karth River. Much of the hold is rocky and mountainous with soaring snowy mountains surrounding the north and west of Solitude, though the lower lying areas including Dragon Bridge are mostly comprised of forests and hills.
Solitude is the center of Imperial influence within Skyrim and capital city of Haafingar.
The capital city of Solitude is one of the largest cities in Skyrim. It is set upon a great stone arch that towers above the mouth of the Karth River, and is bordered by mountains to the north. The Bards College and elaborate Blue Palace are located here, as well as a large Temple of the Divines. In addition to its natural defenses, Solitude's outer gate is fortified by the Sky Tower. Solitude is a major port, and its ships control much of Skyrim's northern coastline.
Solitude's Bards College is known for its liveliness, including an annual week of celebrations, the climax of which is the burning of "King Olaf" in effigy, possibly a now-forgotten contender in the War of Succession. Graduates have no trouble finding employment in noble households across Tamriel, and many take to becoming wandering minstrels, providing entertainment in courts across Tamriel.
Whiterun Hold is the central hold of Skyrim, and is named for its capital city, Whiterun. It features a wide variety of geographical features, including vast plains and snow-capped mountains, including the Throat of the World, which is the tallest mountain in all of Tamriel. The monastery of High Hrothgar is also situated on the mountain. Whiterun Hold is the hub of trading and a core part of the province's economy. Other notable settlemenets in the hold include Riverwood and Rorikstead. The hold is divided by the White River, leading from Lake Ilinalta in Falkreath Hold, to the south. The local giant population uses the grasslands and tundra outside Whiterun as a pasture for their mammoth herds, and a place to set camp, such as in Bleakwind Basin.
Located in the central part of the hold, the area around the city of Whiterun is very open, stretching far to the Sundered Hills of the Reach. The hill known as the Skyforge was the foundation of Whiterun's construction, the city having grown around it since its discovery by the Five Hundred Companions. The city is well-fortified city, with watchtowers all along the border and a drawbridge protecting its western and only gate. The city is divided into three districts: the mercantile Plains District, the residential and wealthier Wind District, and the upper Cloud District, made up of the palace of Dragonsreach. The city contains the Gildergreen, an ancient tree that grew from the Eldergleam Tree of Eastmarch.
Winterhold is located on the northeastern corner of Skyrim, with the Sea of Ghosts to its north. It is a cold region, largely covered in tundra and high mountain ranges. Along the coast is a polar environment of glaciers and icebergs. The surrounding holds are Eastmarch to the south and the Pale to the west. The hold is home to the College of Winterhold.
Winterhold, sometimes known as "The Winterhold," is one of the four oldest holds in Skyrim, known collectively as "Old Holds," and was once the province's capital, In 4E 122, the city was diminished greatly in size due to environmental change known as the Great Collapse, although the College of Winterhold was left unharmed. With only one connecting road, Winterhold is one of the most isolated cities in the province.
Eastmarch is located along the eastern border with Morrowind, separated from its neighbor by the Velothi Mountainss. The northern part of Eastmarch features snowy tundras and mountains, while the central and southern areas of the hold are volcanically active and contain a number of sulfur pools called Aalto. The western part resembles much of central Skyrim. The Darkwater River runs throughout the region, near Fort Amol and Darkwater Crossing. It continues into the north-flowing White River. The ancient monastery of Mistwatch is the home of the Ternion Monks, who are some of the few worshippers of the Ancient Nordic Pantheon that still exist in Skyrim.
Eastmarch's capital city, Windhelm, is located along the Yorgrim River in the northern part of the hold, before the boreal forests that inhabit the central province. Many settlements like Lower Yorgrim live along the river, feeding off its fish. To the south is the sacred forest of Kynesgrove. To the east connecting the city of Blacklight in Morrowind is Dunmeth Pass. The Icewind Peaks sub-region is highly mountainous, featuring only a few small settlements such as the village of Cragwallow. The ruins of Mzulft was one of the biggest Dwemer cities in Skyrim. The ruined temple of Skuldafn sits high among the Velothi Mountains, containing a portal to Sovngarde, the Nordic afterlife.
Windhelm was once the capital of the First Empire of Skyrim, but as of the Fourth Era, it was the capital city of Eastmarch. The palace of the Ysgramor Dynasty still dominates the center of the Old City. Windhelm was sacked during the War of Succession, and again by the Akaviri army of Ada'Soon Dir-Kamal; the Palace of the Kings is one of the few First Empire buildings that remain. In the Second and Third Era, Windhelm was the only sizable city in the Hold of Eastmarch and served as a base for Imperial troops guarding the Dunmeth Pass into Morrowind during Tiber Septim's reign. Following the Great War and the ensuing Skyrim Civil War, Windhelm became the primary hold of the Stormcloaks. The city's proximity to the Sea of Ghosts allows it a status as a lucrative trading post. The city can be accessed through its docks or across a large stone bridge crossing the Yorgrim River. The city is split into several districts: the mercantile Stone Quarter, the residential Snow Quarter (or "Gray Quarter," as of the Fourth Era), and the wealthier quarter of Valunstrad.
Bleakrock Isle is located north of the Dunmer city of Blacklight and northeast of Windhelm. The ruling capital on the small island is Bleakrock Village which is the only real settlement on Bleakrock. There are a few Nordic ruins located on the isle including the massive ruins known as Skyshroud Barrow. Bleakrock Village has a set of ruins to the southeast of it called the Last Rest. Southwest of Bleakrock Village is a monument called Companions Point which depicts Ysgramor of the Five Hundred Companions.
Roscrea is an island that was conquered by Uriel Septim V in the year 3E 271. It is located in the Sea of Ghosts. It was the first of the four known islands conquered by Septim and his expeditionary force. According to records, it took his armies roughly three years to conquer the island. The island was later annexed by Solitude.
The entire province of Skyrim is ruled by the High King or the High Queen, and their consort. Each hold is ruled by a Jarl. Following the death of King Harald, the High King was chosen through a Moot of the Jarls, which has varied in importance from the ultimate legitimizer of a High King's rule to a mere ceremonial acknowledgment of the heir apparent. Disagreements over the Moot in the First Era led to the War of Succession in 1E 369, and after that a Moot has only been convened when the current High King has had no direct heir.
The Jagged Crown was a symbol of leadership and power of a High King or High Queen. It was made out of the teeth and bones of Dragons and was an ancient relic of the Nords. It was made for King Harald. The last High King to wear the crown was King Borgas and the crown was lost during the War of Succession.
There are no known laws or legal documents of Skyrim. There were some surveys, censuses and records used by the government, such as the Book of Life, which was a census that kept track of people and livestock in a certain region. The government also kept records of cities' general status and economic production. One such survey was the Survey of the Holdings of Jarl Gjalund, taken down during the First Era by Slafknir the Scribe, under the rule of Jarl Gjalund.
Other than the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloaks, Skyrim appears to have no centralized armed forces. Each Hold has its own section of Hold Guards who act as both a national guard and police force. These soldiers are the first line of defense against any opposing force who threatens Skyrim and its people. All the Hold Guards were Legion Soldiers prior to the Civil War and were able to be conscripted by the Empire in times of war. After the Civil War erupted sometime after the Markarth Incident, the Hold Guards of Skyrim were divided just as Skyrim itself was, with Haafingar, Hjaalmarch, The Reach and Falkreath Hold remaining under Imperial control and Eastmarch, The Pale, The Rift and Winterhold Hold changing to Stormcloak control.
The Hold Guards and all armed forces are under the command of their respective Jarl of the nine Holds which are largely independent. However, in theory, all Jarls must swear fealty to Skyrim's High King who can unify the Holds' armed forces into a centralized army. The Nords' warlike character and history of conflict contributed much to Skyrim's formidable reputation. As an ally of the Empire, it was also considered to be the Empire's strong arm.
Skyrim is a wealthy and powerful province and traditionally was a profitable trading partner of the Third Empire.
In the Fourth Era, Skyrim was politically unified until the outbreak of the Civil War, which pitted the Eastern Holds against the Western Holds. Although this, coupled with the Great Collapse, has caused some damage to Skyrim's economy, the city of Riften has become an industrial powerhouse, producing mead and fish. Skyrim is also abundant in a variety of wildlife that is hunted as prey by local hunters. These animals are hunted for their meat and pelts which can be sold or utilized for cooking and leather crafting.
There are many forms of economic production in Skyrim. This includes agriculture, which is common despite the harsh and cold conditions, as well as grain production, mining, stone-cutting and logging. In Skyrim, there are many farms, grain mills, mines, lumber mills, docks, and ports that produce goods and services. In addition, the trading and shipping industries are another part of Skyrim's economy. In each major city in Skyrim, of which there are five, there is a central marketplace where business, trading and social activities take place.
Some cities, towns, and villages produce specific goods and services. During the First Era, Rorik's Steading (Rorikstead) produced grain, leather and horses, Korvanjund produced hides and meat, Volunruud produced meat and worked ivory, Bromjunaar produced lumber and stone, Granite Hill held a weekly market and Hillgrund's Steading (Ivarstead).
The East Empire Company is a multi-national, monopolistic trading and shipping company based out of Cyrodiil. The East Empire Company essentially dominates the shipping and trading industry in Solitude, which is a major shipping port of Skyrim. However, the East Empire Company has been having troubles with the Blood Horker pirates, who were used by Clan Shatter-Shield to diminish the flow of Imperial goods to Skyrim, which in turn enabled Clan Shatter-Shield's trading and shipping business to rival them in Windhelm.
Skyrim uses the Septim, which is the main currency used in Cyrodiil and throughout all of the Empire.
There are two religious pantheons of Skyrim, both worshipped in different time periods throughout Skyrim's history. The first was the Ancient Nordic Pantheon, worshipped during the Merethic and early First Era. The Ancient Nordic Pantheon venerated animal gods; the deities were the hawk, wolf, snake, moth, owl, whale, bear, fox, and the dragon, which some scholars equate to the Nine Divines in different forms. The second was the Nordic Pantheon, revered during the rest of Skyrim's history prior to the Fourth Era. During the Fourth Era they adapted to the Imperial Pantheon.
The Nordic Pantheon consists of various deities, resembling the Nine Divines. Specific deities venerated by Skyrim and her people include: Shor, Tsun, Stuhn, Kyne, Mara, Dibella, Orkey, Jhunal, Alduin, and Ysmir.  These deities are divided into several groups that represent the different stages of the world. Shor and Tsun form the group known as the Dead Gods, who fought and died in order to bring about the current world. Kyne, Mara, Dibella, Stuhn, and Jhunal form the group known as the Hearth Gods, who watch over the current world. Alduin is the Twilight God, who ushers in the next world. Orkey, along with Herma-Mora and Mauloch, form the group called the Testing Gods, from which the Nords guard against rather than worship. Shor is considered the father deity of the province, as opposed to Akatosh, the chief Divine of Cyrodiil. While most pantheons consider the time god to be the head of the pantheon, the Nordic pantheon is led by Kyne. Some scholars report that Akatosh and Alduin are the same deity, while others disagree. Sovngarde is believed to be the Nordic afterlife created by Shor. If a Nord dies a heroic and honorable death, they ascend to Sovngarde.
Daedra worship is rare in Skyrim, although the traditional Nordic Pantheon acknowledges some of these beings. These include Herma-Mora, an Atmoran demon who some claim is the incarnation of the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora, and Mauloch, an incarnation of Malacath, is the patron of the ostracized.
Other Daedric Princes are worshipped in Skyrim by those who do not follow predominant faiths in the province. These include Azura—whose followers fled Morrowind after receiving spiritual dreams from their liege; Nocturnal—worshipped by the Nightingales; Namira—worshipped by a cult of cannibals; and Hircine, largely patronized by lycanthropes.
Worship of Talos is prevalent in Skyrim, despite the signing of the White-Gold Concordat by the Thalmor and the Third Empire as a treaty to the Great War conflict. The document contained explicit demands by the Third Aldmeri Dominion to uproot the worship of Talos in Cyrodiil and its territories. Skyrim, at the time, was a territory of the Empire. Following the Markarth Incident, the Thalmor were authorized to eradicate Talos worship in Skyrim, although the Stormcloaks refused to relinquish these beliefs. Sometime after the Concordant was signed into law, the shrine of Talos in the Temple of the Divines was desecrated and removed.
Many songs are found in Skyrim's culture; some notable songs included Ragnar the Red, the Song of the Dragonborn, The Dragonborn Comes and Tale of the Tongues. Music is also popular in relation to war and propaganda. In the third century of the Fourth Era, when the Civil War was taking place, two songs were produced with lyrics altered to suit each side. The Age of Aggression was for the Empire and The Age of Oppression was for the Stormcloaks. These songs are sung by Bards in inns and Taverns all across Skyrim.
One very notable song of the past was King Olaf's Verse. The verse, written by Bard Svaknir, criticized King Olaf One-Eye and his adventures and referred to his adventures as "lurid and false." In response, King Olaf One-Eye ordered Svaknir to be imprisoned and all copies of his verse to burn. In 4E 201, the Last Dragonborn joined the Bards College; their initiation task was to retrieve the last known copy of King Olaf's Verse from Dead Men's Respite.
Queen Elisif the Fair banned the Burning of King Olaf, a festival of the Bards College, after the death of her husband, Torygg. She considered it to be in bad taste. The Bards, however, desired for the festival to take place. Viarmo and the Last Dragonborn went to Elisif the Fair and presented to her King Olaf's Verse. Elisif soon allowed holding of the Burning of King Olaf festival. The festival was to be held that day, and for all days in the future when the festival was to take place.
Festivals and holidays
A few notable holidays and festivals are customary in Skyrim and in Nordic culture. One notable festival is the Feast of the Dead, which is held on the 13th of Sun's Dawn in Windhelm to honor Ysgramor and the Five Hundred Companions. During the festival, the names of the Five Hundred are recited.
Architecture and infrastructure
The architecture and infrastructure of Skyrim is a mix of rural and urban; much of Skyrim is untamed wilderness, broken up by nine major cities spread across the province. Of these nine cities, there are five that are more urbanized, heavily populated, and more city-like, and four that are smaller, less populated, and more rural in nature.
The actual architecture of the buildings varies, but it is unknown what they were based on. The city of Markarth was originally built by the ancient Dwemer. The buildings were made of stone and the unique metal known only to the Dwemer. After the Dwemer disappeared in 1E 700, people started to settle into Markarth, so the Nords who settled the city did not have to use their cultural styles of architecture and infrastructure.
Examples of Ancient Nordic architecture include longhouses, with "each beam and cornice festooned with carvings of dragons, bulls, boars, leering wild men, and dancing, long-tressed women." The Ancient Nords, known as the Atmorans, built massive structures called Word Walls. Whether it was out of fear or respect, the Ancient Nords learned the language and writing system of the dragons.
There are also examples of Akaviri architecture present in Skyrim. Sometime during the First Era, Sky Haven Temple was constructed for and by the Akaviri Dragonguard. In 1E 2812, Emperor Reman II permitted the construction of Alduin's Wall in the Temple, a massive stone mural built to record all of the Akaviri's accumulated dragon-lore and the Prophecy of the Dragonborn. Sky Haven Temple and Alduin's Wall are testaments to Akaviri architecture and sculpturing, and is considered to be some of the best-preserved examples of early Akaviri structures and sculptures.
Three colleges are recorded as existing in Skyrim throughout its history: the Imperial College of the Voice in Markarth, the Bards College in Solitude, and the College of Winterhold in Winterhold. Tiber Septim endowed a college in Markarth to begin teaching the Voice as a tool of war, but whether this college began teaching or not is unclear. There is no trace of the college in any of the games.
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- If divided differently, the word Keizaal can become Keiza-Al, which translates to "Rebellion-Destroyer."
- Children of the Sky
- Provinces of Tamriel
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Dialogue with Knight-Paladin Gelebor
- Varieties of Faith in the Empire – Mikhael Karkuxor
- Dialogue with Arngeir
- Yngol and the Sea-Ghosts
- The Annotated Anuad
- Before the Ages of Man
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Skyrim
- Night of Tears – Dranor Seleth
- Imperial Report on Saarthal
- Songs of the Return, Vol 2
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Skyrim – Imperial Geographic Society
- Fall of the Snow Prince
- The Falmer: A Study – Ursa Urthrax
- Songs of the Return, Vol 27
- Songs of the Return, Vol 7
- Songs of the Return, Vol 19
- The Dragon War – Torhal Bjorik
- The Seven Thousand Steps etchings
- Alduin's Bane
- Note (Forelhost 1)
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Morrowind
- Nerevar at Red Mountain – Alandro Sul
- The Crown of Freydis – Taleon Mythmaker
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: High Rock
- Olaf and the Dragon – Adonato Leotelli
- Windhelm Palace of the Kings Plaque
- Rislav the Righteous
- Five Songs of King Wulfharth
- Kagrenac's Tools
- History of the Fighters Guild
- Orcs of Skyrim – Thora Far-Wanderer
- The Second Akaviri Invasion – by Yngmaer Raven-Quill
- Jorunn the Skald-King – Helgreir Lute-Voice
- The Brothers' War
- Guide to the Ebonheart Pact
- Events of The Elder Scrolls Online
- Battle of Sancre Tor
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition
- Biography of the Wolf Queen – Katar Eriphanes
- The Wolf Queen, Book III – Waughin Jarth
- The Wolf Queen, Book VI – Waughin Jarth
- Brief History of the Empire, Book I – Stronach k'Thojj III
- The Wolf Queen, Book VI – Waughin Jarth
- Brief History of the Empire, Book II
- The Wolf Queen, Book VIII
- Events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- History of Raven Rock, Vol. I – Lyrin Telleno
- Lymdrenn Tenvanni's Journal
- Events of The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn
- An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls
- Decree of Monument
- The Bear of Markarth – Arrianus Arius
- Dialogue with Nepos the Nose during "The Forsworn Conspiracy"
- Dialogue with Braig
- Dialogue with Igmund
- Dialogue with Alvor
- Dialogue with Thalmor Justiciars
- Dialogue with Solaf
- Dialogue with Saerlund
- Dialogue with Elisif the Fair
- Dialogue with Ralof
- Dialogue with Ulfric Stormcloak
- Dialogue with Vulwulf Snow-Shod
- Dialogue with Balgruuf the Greater
- Dialogue with Captain Aldis
- The Book of the Dragonborn
- Events of the main quest in Skyrim
- Herbalist's Guide to Skyrim
- Sinderion's Field Journal
- The Nirnoot Missive – Sinderion
- Loading Screens (Skyrim)
- The Holds of Skyrim: A Field Officer's Guide, For Use By Officers of the Imperial Legion
- Appearance of Markarth in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Game Guide, "Hold 2: Hjaalmarch"
- Lost Legends
- Name of Riften in The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Real Barenziah, Book II – Plitinius Mero
- Appearance of Riften in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Skyrim's Rule: An Outsider's View – Abdul-Mujib Ababneh
- Appearance of Solitude in Skyrim
- King Olaf's Verse
- Flight from the Thalmor – Hadrik Oaken-Heart
- Appearance of Whiterun in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Appearance of Winterhold in Skyrim
- Brief History of the Empire, Book III
- Dialogue with Galmar Stone-Fist
- A History of Daggerfall – Odiva Gallwood
- Holdings of Jarl Gjalund – Slafknir the Scribe
- Dialogue between Elisif the Fair and Bolgeir Bearclaw
- Dialogue of Balgruuf the Greater
- Nords of Skyrim – My People, My Pride – Hrothmund Wolf-Heart
- Rise in the East
- Dialogue with Cirroc
- Dialogue with Antonius Nuncius
- Divines and the Nords – High Priest Ingurt
- The Alduin/Akatosh Dichotomy: Book Seven of 2920, The Last Year of the First Era – Alexandre Simon, High Priest of the Akatosh Chantry, Wayrest
- Alduin is Real – Thromgar Iron-Head
- Sovngarde, a Reexamination – Bereditte Jastal
- Dialogue with Aranea Ienith
- Dialogue with Alvor
- Dialogue with a priest in the Temple of the Divines
- Songs of Skyrim – Giraud Gemane
- Dialogue with Giraud Gemane
- Events of "Tending the Flames"
- The City of Stone: A Sellsword's Guide to Markarth – Amanda Alleia
- An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City pg 121
- Dragon Language: Myth no More – Hela Thrice-Versed
- Annals of the Dragonguard – Brother Annulus
- Dialogue with Esbern
|Tamriel||Cyrodiil • Skyrim • Morrowind • High Rock • Hammerfell • Valenwood • Elsweyr • Black Marsh (Argonia) |
• Summerset Isles (Alinor)
|Akavir||Tang Mo • Kamal • Ka Po' Tun • Tsaesci|