General:Skyrim In the New Era

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Book Information
Source: Substack
Writer(s): Douglas Goodall
Publication Date: 19 Feb 2024
Skyrim Through the Ages
by Soren Long-Tooth
A history of Skyrim following the Imperial Simulacrum

Skyrim has seen many changes over the years. The Jarl found some of his great-great-grandfater’s maps the other day and asked about the changes since that time. Since few outside of bards and sages remember, this is to preserve the tales of how things came to be before they pass from memory.

The Fate of Snowhawk

Once one of the greatest cities of the West, Snowhawk fell due to a cowardly magical attack in the War of the Bend'r-mahk. Redguard forces and allied Orcish mercenaries lay siege to Snowhawk from Frostfall 3E 397 to Sun's Dawn 3E 398.

They failed to take the city, but later that month, Snowhawk's walls fell into shadows. All the people and most of their possessions, even their thatched roofs, were unharmed, but all the worked stone of the town was gone. All Nords suspected some foul trick of the Redguards, but they denied any knowledge of it.

Most of the survivors moved to Karthwasten, Solitude, and Whiterun (which was greatly expanded at this time). Fort Snowhawk was dedicated to the memory of the town in 4E 21.

The Rise of Karthwasten and the Mistake

After the fall of Snowhawk, Karthwasten became the largest and most influence [sic] city in The Reach. The city had political troubles between feuding Nordic Clans (my own among them), Reachmen, and Imperial meddling.

In 3E 425, the feuds grew too large to maintain the peace. The Stone-Fists of Markarth Side (so named because it was on the high side of the river) and the Silver-Bloods of Karthwasten both marched out with their armies. Kynareth blessed them with an unexpected blizzard and the armies marched past each other in the snow. Each one found the other's town undefended and took it with little bloodshed. This became known years later as Helvar's Mistake or Svarra's Mistake, depending on whose side you were on.

When the blizzard passed three days later, they found they hadn't made a conquest so much as an exchange. Both sides attempted to retake their original city in minor skirmishes for years until High Queen Una marched on both cities and forced them into her peace. As a legal fiction to preserve certain family traditions and deeds (for instance, the Stone-Fists were allegedly promised 'the lands of Karthwasten as long as a Nord draws breath' by King Wulfharth) the names of the towns were swapped, and the families will now insist they have ruled their current city for ages.

Why the West is Smaller

This is a puzzle, even to those who were born there. Some say the older maps were wrong or local lords exaggerated the size of their holdings. But old folks in the Reach and further West, especially near Orcish lands, say that the land itself is smaller, scrunched up, from when they were younger. Houses grow shorter over the years until the family's possessions no longer fit. Fields that once supported a family now barely feed a child. And so on.

Some wizards from Cyrodiil came to study the area once and one said that "the dream of Orsinium pushes the lands away to make room for itself, both long before and long after it becomes." I've lived in the Reach most of my life and have seen some things change, but I can't speak as to why it occurs, and I don't trust what some wizard says.

Morthal, Stone-Hill, and Stonehills

In 3E 420 Vigdis Stone-Fist inherited the throne of Morthal. She was young, beautiful, and as mad as Pelagius. One of her first acts was to rename the town to Stone-Fist. One unreliable contemporary source (a mocking bard's song about her) claims it was because she was haunted by Morihaus in her dreams.

Shortly thereafter she changed her own name to Stone-Hill. Again, an unreliable source (the same song) claims it was because she didn't have fists of stone, but she had one stone hill in the middle of a frozen swamp.

After her death the town became known as Stonehills before it fell into the hands of the Raven-Hands (who likewise have a long reputation for madness). Perhaps the town will be named Ravencrones or Old Ravens a century from now.

"High King" Ivar Snow-Bear

An embarrassing bit of history many wish forgotten is the rule of "High King" Ivar Snow-Bear. He was born in Nimalten and somehow became the ruler of the town. He made the pilgrimage several times and learned a little of the thu'um.

In 3E 424 he declared himself the High King. Among his reasons were that only he knew the Voice and only he was named Ivar.

Due to the infighting of that era, he found some supporters, particularly in The Rift and Eastmarch. He renamed Nimalten to Ivarstead and declared it the new capital.

High Queen Una, who was already fighting to prevent a civil war in other areas, dealt with him in a controversial way. She met with him, acknowledged him as High King, bowed to him, even promise herself in marriage (which never took place). In turn, she convinced him to turn over the boring day-to-day rule to her and the court of Solitude.

After that, all serious business went through High Queen Una under Ivar’s "authority." Ivar still kept an most entertaining court. High Queen Una would sometimes assign Imperial and Summerset emissaries to "the true capital" in order to get rid of them. This kept the peace, but many in the west felt it mocked the title of High King.

Ivar is responsible for many minor changes to the names of villages and landmarks in Skyrim. The most important is the renaming of Shor's Stone. Ivar Snow-Bear had a long-running feud with a Dunmer, Bralderi Venim. Whether Bralderi existed or not is of some dispute, but in any case, Ivar renamed Vernim Wood to Shor's Stone because he thought it was named after Bralderi.

The Adoption of Helgen

Helgen has a long history under a variety of names, but for most of the Third and Fourth Era, the town was part of Cyrodiil, just over the border. It was about a day's ride from Bruma and mostly served as a caravan stop and lumbermill.

Among the many odd disasters of 4E 100-105 were the mysterious burning of Oakwood (the cause of the fire that started in the sacred grove and rapidly engulfed the entire town has never been found), the Wild Automatons of Neugrad Watch (the last of which was destroyed in 108), and the Red Dagger murders in Bruma (which were "solved" a dozen times, yet continued) . These disasters led to the survivors, almost all of sturdy Nordic blood, moving to Helgen. The greatly increased Nordic population and the waning of Imperial power led to the town becoming part of Skyrim in practice, even if it is not yet recognized as such by the Empire.

These are just a few of the changes Skyrim has had since the time of the Jarl’s great-great-grandfather. Who knows what the future holds?