"I'm not the High King, but neither am I a boy. If Ulfric wants to challenge my rule in the Old Way, let him."
Balgruuf the Greater[src]

A Traditional Nordic Duel, referred to both as the Traditional Way[1] and as the Old Way,[2] was a duel used by the Nords of Skyrim to determine a ruler over a certain Hold,[2] and sometimes, the province itself.[3][4]

Political duelEdit

The duel was fought between two Nordic people (most often Jarls) who sought to rule over a Hold of Skyrim, or Skyrim itself.

According to Jorunn the Skald-King, the duel goes as follows:

  • A challenger challenges the opposition, and the opposing party accepts.[5]
  • They fight until one of the two is bested.[5]
  • The victor banishes the loser from the lands he won.[5]

According to Ulfric Stormcloak, the duel goes as follows:

  • A challenger challenges the opposition, and the opposing party accepts.[1]
  • They fight until one of the two has died.[1]
  • The victor takes the land from the defeated.[1]

Honorable duelEdit

An honorable duel is a normal duel between two people (most often Nords) as either a sign of strength or justice. Additionally, the Thirsk follow a similar pattern.


  • Geirmund and Sigdis Gauldurson. Sigdis Gauldurson was guilty of crimes against Skyrim and her people. When he was cornered in a Nordic ruin he challenged Geirmund, knowing he was honor-bound to accept. In the duel both the combatants slew one another.[6]
  • Gisl Round-Gut and Einarr. Einarr was the chieftain of Thirsk, to prove himself worthy of leading Thirsk, Gisl slew Einarr and presented his sword as a trophy.[7]

Historical political duelsEdit


Kjoric the White fought against another Jarl, Asurn Ice-Breaker, during the First Era for the title of High King after the crown of verity rejected Asurn, he threatened to kill the other Jarls if they didn't support his claim.[8] Asurn was defeated in a duel, granting Kjoric the position of High King.[8]


Temylda, an advisor to the childless High King Irthvyd the Impassive in the late First Era, successfully battled several Jarls for the title.[4]


Jorunn the Skald-King fought against his brother, Fildgor Orcthane,[5][9] in the Second Era over the throne of Windhelm. The duel was fought until Fildgor was bested in combat. Upon defeat, Jorunn banished his brother from his lands, and started his rule as Jarl, and later on, King.[5][9]


Ulfric Stormcloak fought against his High King, Torygg, in the Fourth Era over the throne of Skyrim. Unlike the duel between Jorunn and his brother, Ulfric used the Thu'um against Torygg,[1] and killed him (by Ulfric's account with his sword,[1] by the words of most of the people of Solitude, as well as Torygg, through the voice),[3][10][11][12][13] instead of besting and banishing him. Many in Skyrim consider Ulfric a murderer,[14][3][15][16] while others claim Ulfric simply followed Nordic tradition.[17] The outcome of this duel worsened the Civil War in Skyrim.[16]


  • According to The Crown of Freydis, it is Nordic law to "strike down" one's opponent in a political duel. The book, however, does not elaborate on whether it means "kill" or simply "defeat."[8]



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