Winterhold or Winterhold City[note 1] is one of the nine major cities in Skyrim and is the capital of the Winterhold region. Throughout history, Winterhold was the capital of Skyrim and was the center of progress in the entire province. Winterhold lost its status after the Great Collapse, when a large majority of the city had plunged into the Sea of Ghosts.
- 1 By game
- 2 Description
- 3 History
- 3.1 First Era
- 3.2 Second Era
- 3.3 Third Era
- 3.4 Fourth Era
- 4 Gallery
- 5 Trivia
- 6 Appearances
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
The scope of Greater Winterhold is left largely unknown. There are no accurate representations of Winterhold before the Great Collapse, the only time it has appeared before the event was in The Elder Scrolls: Arena. The ruins of Winterhold during the Fourth Era is smaller than the other cities in Skyrim, being smaller than the poverty-driven Morthal. The road that runs through the town leads to the College of Winterhold, located on a mountain sticking out of the Sea of Ghosts. The College and the town are connected by a bridge that is ransacked from the Great Collapse. The city of Winterhold is the most isolated city in the Holds of Skyrim, it is located in the snowy mountains of the north, around Mount Anthor. Most of the city has plunged into the Sea of Ghosts, leaving ruined homes in its wake. The Jarl's Longhouse was most likely not the seat of power in times before the Collapse, but being the largest building left, it became the Jarl's Longhouse.
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The Origins of Winterhold & Shalidor
The foundation of Winterhold has been told through myths, describing the exploits of the Great Wizard Shalidor. According to some rumors, Shalidor created the city of Winterhold with a simple whispering spell, what followed after was the creation of the Labyrinthian and the College of Winterhold. Shalidor was one on the opposite spectrum on magic accessibility, while Vanus Galerion believed that magic should be given to the common-folk, Shalidor wanted to enhance the standard on magic within magic users. This ideology led to the creation of the different schools of magic and the College of Winterhold, something that would become the staple of the city. Shalidor would later create the Isle of Eyevea, a haven for the Mages of Tamriel, it was eventually absorbed into the Shivering Isles and brought back into Tamriel.
The Fall of Borgas; the War of Succession
During the early years of the first era, Borgas was the High King of Skyrim, residing in the city of Winterhold, the capital of Skyrim. Borgas was a staunch supporter of the Alessian Order, the religion that is worshipped throughout the Alessian Empire. Seeing that the Wood Elves of Valenwood were not followers of the Order, he had orchestrated an invasion of Valenwood. This joint war resulted in the initiation of the Wild Hunt, a ritual performed by the Bosmer where they turn into feral forms of themselves, to the point where they act like feral animals. The Wild Hunt killed Borgas. As a result, records say his body was never found until the fourth era in the ruins of Korvanjund. Borgas was the last of the Ysgramor Dynasty, a family dating back to the Merethic Era and Atmora itself. A Moot was created to determine a new High King to rule the province. The Moot, however, proved to be a failure when it failed to recognize Jarl Hanse of Winterhold to be the next High King, this sparked the War of Succession, where many fought for the throne. This war ended in 1E 420 when Olaf One-Eye became High King and the signing of the Pact of Chieftains, which states that the Moot is only used when a King dies without any heirs. The Moot has filled this role admirably and has been used several times through the eras.
The Winterhold Rebellion & Emperor Kastav Cyrodiil
In 1E 2804, the city of Winterhold had manifested a rebellion within its walls known as the Winterhold Rebellion. It was in response to Emperor Kastav Cyrodiil's order to kidnap several people from Markarth and Hroldan, to ensure that the local Jarls would fulfill the conscription quota he had enforced. The master of the Dragonguard did not allow them to help quell the rebellion for unknown reasons. The Emperor had also cut off their supplies much to the dismay of the Dragonguard. Regardless, the Grandmaster supported the master's actions even though it had violated the Oath of Allegiance. After some time, Kastav had stepped down as the Emperor and was replaced by Reman Cyrodiil II, who sought to fix all of Kastav's mistakes, this included the Winterhold Rebellion. Reman II orchestrated a treaty between the two factions and Winterhold remained a part of the Reman Empire.
The Dragonguard & the Fool who sacked Winterhold
In 1E 2805, the Dragonguard had denied an Akaviri man named Kalien and their sanctuary, Sky Haven Temple was besieged in Kalien's rage. He was denied entrance into the Dragonguard for a reason and so after he destroyed the temple, he traveled to the city of Winterhold and sacked it with his powerful magic, this event would be known as the Sack of Winterhold. After the siege on the temple was lifted, Reman II was named Emperor and the Dragonguard was honored to guard the Emperor during his travels in Skyrim, boosting their prestige. With this new found respect, the Sky Haven Temple was able to construct Alduin's Wall and the Blood Seal of Sky Haven.
Winterhold during the Reman Interregnum
During the reign of the Akaviri Potentate, the province of Skyrim was ruled by High King Logrolf, who was a close ally of Versidue Shaie and was unfortunately assassinated around the same time in 2E 431. Eyes were looking towards Freydis, Logrolf's daughter, assuming she would become the next High Queen leading Skyrim into the future. Controversy would soon arise from the Kingdom of Solitude, when Jarl Svartr would claim that Freydis was illegitimate for the throne and that a moot was required to determine the new leader. The Moot had spoken, and the leaders of Skyrim voted for Svartr to become the High King. However, the Crown of Verity, the one that has chosen the High King for generations since Olaf One-Eye had chosen Freydis to become the High Queen. The province became divided, the Nords of the Old Holds followed Freydis while the Nords of West Skyrim followed Svartr. Skyrim had split into two separate kingdoms which would later affect the province for the next few years. The city of Winterhold, as well as the Winterhold region, would join the Eastern Skyrim Kingdom.
Years later, the Kingdom of Eastern Skyrim would come under the control of Jorunn the Skald-King, a descendant of Freydis and the son of Mabjaarn Flame-Hair, the Jarl of Windhelm during the Second Akaviri Invasion. The current ruler of Winterhold is currently unknown. The Nords of Winterhold are a part of the Ebonheart Pact, an alliance with the Dunmer of Morrowind (with the exception of the Telvanni folk), and the Argonians of the border regions in Black Marsh.[UL 1]
The Septim-Gersen Alliance; The Rise of Morihatha Septim
In 3E 313, the Septim Empire had ruled over the continent since the beginning of the third era. At this time, the Empire was governed by Uriel Septim VI, who was not given actual control until he was twenty-two years old. He would boast about how he rules over Tamriel; he would defunct spy networks and manipulate the Elder Council. One of his allies was Morihatha Septim, who had substantial power after marrying Ulfe Gersen, the Baron of Winterhold. The Septim Empire would rule over the Barony of Winterhold, giving them significant wealth and power. When Uriel VI fell off his horse and died, Morihatha had taken the throne at the age of twenty-five. She has been described as the most beautiful women in Tamriel and was considered a shrewd politician and well-trained. She had brought the Archmagister of Skyrim into Cyrodiil, bringing the second Imperial Battlemage ever since Zurin Arctus back in Tiber Septim's age.
The Staff of Chaos & the Labyrinthian
During the Imperial Simulacrum from 3E 389 to 3E 399, Emperor Uriel Septim VII was imprisoned along with Talin Warhaft in the Deadlands by Jagar Tharn. Tharn planned for months to capture the throne, and he was able to achieve so in ten years. Tharn had a powerful weapon called the Staff of Chaos, and he split it into nine pieces and scattered them across Tamriel, the staff was the only thing keeping Uriel Septim and Warhaft in Oblivion. A warrior escaped his clutches and traveled all corners of Tamriel to retrieve the missing pieces. The hero was known as the Eternal Champion, and he assembled the staff and defeated Jagar Tharn at the Imperial Palace. The Eternal Champion had at one point visited the city of Winterhold in their quest to recover the pieces. The city of Winterhold was under the rule of King Erarne.
The Eternal Champion reached the city of Winterhold on their quest to find the second piece of the Staff. Through the visions of Ria Silmane and rumors from the people, the Champion had traveled to the distant north, to the city of Winterhold in the province of Skyrim. There the traveler ventured to the Winterhold Mages Guild where they met Thelen Kaarn, a mage from the within the Mages Guild ranks. Kaarn gives the Eternal Champion a proposition if they retrieved an ancient tablet from the Fortress of Ice, the long forgotten home of Shalidor, he would reveal the location of the piece. After defeating the monsters in the stronghold, Kaarn showed the way to the Labyrinthian, an ancient maze located southwest of the city. It was there that the Eternal Champion had obtained the second piece of the staff. The Champion had moved on to find the third piece of the staff somewhere in Tamriel.
The Winterhold Renaissance; The Westward Migration
During the waning years of the third era, the city of Winterhold had undergone a renaissance due to the sudden influx of Dunmeri refugees from Morrowind, many going to the College of Winterhold. The Dark Elves had brought fresh new ideas and enriched their culture, stimulating its old mercantile spirit. Scholars from all over Tamriel traveled to the College to look into the Ysmir Collective, which has books salvaged from the east and the cornerstone of academic life. The Elves of Morrowind have come from as far as the Telvanni District in eastern Morrowind. As time went on, the Nords had grown distrust, resulting in the lives of magic enthusiasts to become stressful. Many Dark Elves would later move back to the Morrowind after the events of the Red Year in the next era.
The Red Year and backlash against the Dunmer refugees
In the aftermath of the Oblivion Crisis, there was a huge distrust against mages, ironic since mages were the forefront against the Daedric Invaders of the Deadlands. The College of Winterhold expected this backlash and was hoping to have it pass by, this was not the case, however. The Red Year of 4E 5 had impacted Morrowind significantly when the Baar Dau had crashed onto the city of Vivec. This event caused Red Mountain to erupt and plague the province with endless seas of Ash. The Dunmer have fled westward across the mountains to places all across the Old Holds, with Winterhold becoming a popular attraction. As time went on, the Dunmer-folk began to leave and return to Morrowind. The island of Solstheim was given to the Dark Elves by the High King of Skyrim, and it was there they re-established the town of Raven Rock, under Councilor Lleril Morvayn. There were small pockets of Dunmer living in Winterhold that endured the growing hatred from the local Nords. Things would take a turn for the worst.
The Great Collapse; Winterhold's Demise
In 4E 122, the city of Winterhold was under the control of Jarl Valdimar, who had a close friendship with Arch-Mage Deneth, the then leader of the College of Winterhold. For about a year, the Sea of Ghosts have experienced a series of ravaging waves that had damaged the city significantly. On one fateful and unexpected day, the city had given way resulting in a devastating event known as the Great Collapse. The College was not affected by the Collapse, due to powerful magic safeguarding the college. Many citizens of Winterhold have believed that the Mages of the College have prepared for the event as if they were involved with the crisis. This rumor caused the distrust of Mages to increase substantially, and it had spread across Skyrim like the plague. The relationship between the Court of Winterhold and the College had slowly diminished, affecting the pursuit of magical studies in Skyrim for several years.
Winterhold during the Skyrim Civil War
During the Skyrim Civil War in 4E 201, the city of Winterhold was under the rule of Jarl Korir, who was raised to hate the College of Winterhold, being the first generation to experience Winterhold after its destruction. Korir and his court had a distrust with the mages, resulting in even more hostility between the College and the city-state. Around the same time, the province of Skyrim had undergone a Civil War between the Mede Empire in Skyrim and the Stormcloak Rebellion. Jarl Korir was a supporter of the Stormcloaks, which operated from the city of Windhelm under the administration of Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak. Winterhold in its current state was unable to offer any substantial help to the rebellion but served nonetheless. The Stormcloaks had a holding in the region known as Fort Kastav, named after Emperor Kastav Cyrodiil and located in between the Pale and the northern Winterhold coast. The Stormcloaks of Winterhold were under the control of Kai Wet-Pommel, who operated out of the Jarl's Longhouse in eastern Winterhold City.
The Eye of Magnus & the College of Winterhold
In the same year, the College of Winterhold had uncovered an ancient artifact dating back to the Merethic Era known as the Eye of Magnus. A giant orb with magical properties that were initially sought out by the Snow Elves during the Night of Tears when the Atmorans settled and founded Saarthal. The expedition was led by Alteration Master, Tolfdir, who took several mages on a field trip to Saarthal. The Eye remained confined within the walls of the College, leading to several magic guilds from all over Tamriel to come and witness the artifact. This ranged from the Synod to the College of Whispers, to even the Psijic Order, who hails from the Isle of Artaeum of the Summerset Isles. Ancano of the Thalmor had kept a close eye on the Eye of Magnus, believing that it could prove useful to the Thalmor, who had substantial control over Tamriel. Ancano, however, had tempered the Eye to such an extent that it caused magicka essence to sprawl all across Winterhold. The explosion killed Arch-Mage Savos Aren and Mirabelle Ervine, the Master Wizard of the College. The College was able to subdue the Magical Anomaly that swarmed the city, but Ancano needed to be stopped.
Ancano of the Thalmor; the Staff of Magnus
A certain student was given the task to find the location of the Staff of Magnus, after delving into the ruins of Mzulft, in the Icewind Peaks of Eastmarch, the student was able to find the Staff, which was located deep within the ruins of the Labyrinthian. The student traveled into the Labyrinthian and defeated Morokei, the long dead Dragon Priest of Bromjunaar. With the staff in hand, the student returned to the College of Winterhold and disabled Ancano's magical barrier. The two fought in a battle of magic which resulted in Ancano's demise. The Psijic Order, believing the Eye should not be in the hands of the ambitious, brought the Eye back to their monastery in Artaeum. The student was proclaimed the Arch-Mage of Winterhold and served the school diligently by mastering all five schools of magic.
- In an earlier development stage, Arena was going to be a tournament-based game where each city had their own gladiatorial team. Winterhold's team was known as the Annihilators.[UL 2]
- There have been two instances in Winterhold where a hero was sent to the Labyrinthian to recover either a piece or the whole of a staff, to then use it on an enemy proficient with magic by a place of magical expertise.
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online (mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends (Heroes of Skyrim) (Return to Clockwork City)
- The city is not referred to as Winterhold City in any sort of way, this names is to differentiate the city from the region, which goes by the same name.
- Holidays in Arena
- A Minor Maze
- Events in The Elder Scrolls Online
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Skyrim
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Valenwood
- Five Songs of King Wulfharth
- Annals of the Dragonguard
- Reman II: The Limits of Ambition
- The Crown of Freydis
- Brief History of the Empire, Part IV
- Events of The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- Events in Fortress of Ice
- Events in Labyrinthian
- Dialogue from Brelyna Maryon
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition: Skyrim
- Dialogue from Brelyna Maryon
- On the Great Collapse
- Events in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Events in College of Winterhold Questline
|Skyrim Locations in Lore|
|Cities||Dawnstar • Falkreath • Markarth • Morthal • Riften • Solitude • Whiterun • Windhelm • Winterhold|
|Regions||Eastmarch • Falkreath Hold • Haafingar • Hjaalmarch • The Pale • The Reach • The Rift • Whiterun Hold • Winterhold|
(Miscellaneous: Bleakrock Isle • Roscrea • Solstheim)
|Landmarks||Arkngthamz • Blackreach • Castle Volkihar • College of Winterhold • Forgotten Vale • Fort Dawnguard • High Hrothgar • Hsaarik Head • Labyrinthian • Mount Anthor • Old Hroldan • Saarthal • Skuldafn • Snowhawk • Throat of the World|