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Illustration of a typical Imperial male

Also known as Cyrodils, Cyrodilics[1], Cyro-Nordics, and Imperial Cyrods,[2] the well-educated and well-spoken Imperials are the natives of the civilized, cosmopolitan province of Cyrodiil. Imperials are also known for the discipline and training of their citizen armies, and their respect for the rule of law.[3] Imperials have proved to be shrewd diplomats and traders, and these traits, along with their remarkable skill and training as infantry, have enabled them to colonize various other nations and create the Empire.[4][5] Their hegemony has waxed and waned throughout the eras, and most historians refer to three distinct Empires, the ends of which each mark a new epoch in Tamrielic history.

Cyrodiil, the home of the Imperials


An engraving of Tiber Septim
A color-coded map showing the different regions of Cyrodiil

The Imperial race emerged out of the original Nibenese tribesman, Nedes and Cyro-Nords in the Merethic Era.[1][6][7] They were subjugated by a race of Aldmer, the Ayleids, but a rebellion against these rulers, formed under the guidance of Saint Alessia in 1E 242, would prove so successful that Ayleids were driven to extinction (though they left behind many treasures[8]).[1][6][9] The Alessian Empire united Imperials and pursued campaigns in other provinces, but when the Colovian west broke away, the resulting civil war in Cyrodiil ended the Empire.[6]

The eastern Nibenay Valley region and the western Colovian Estates developed distinct cultures, but still united under the Colovian Reman I to repel an Akaviri invasion in 1E 2703, creating the Second Empire.[1][6] The Akaviri had devastated many human lands, and Reman feared invasion from the Summerset Isle, so he allowed the remaining Akaviri to live and fight for him against the Elves.[6] Soon the Second Empire controlled every province of Tamriel except Morrowind.[6] The events surrounding the attempted conquest of Morrowind led to the end of the Reman emperors, and the First Era, in 1E 2920: the Akaviri Versidue-Shaie, who had earned a position as a trusted advisor, took control following the deaths of the Remans and the disastrous Four-Score War.[10]

The Akaviri Potentates would rule until 2E 430, but eventually assassinations and poor leadership would make the Empire crumble, leading to the Interregnum: for four hundred years, petty states all over Tamriel quarreled with each other, especially Cyrodiil.[1][11] The Imperial Province devolved into a collection of warlords squabbling over a no-man's land of cultural stagnation.[1][12] Eventually, it would take a Nord to reunite the Imperial Province: Tiber Septim was appointed general of the forces of Cuhlecain, a petty Colovian king. He routed all of Cuhlecain's enemies who would face him and his armies on the battlefield, quickly reuniting Cyrodiil. When Cuhlecain was assassinated in 2E 854, Tiber Septim assumed the throne.[6] In a few decades, the provinces would be reunited once more under his Third Empire, and this once-outsider to Cyrodiil had become the symbol of the whole realm.[1]

Ironically enough, most if not all of the Emperors of the Third Age would be Nordic or Breton, not Imperial. Following the cataclysms of the Oblivion Crisis, the leaderless Empire would once again begin to crumble, but it was an Imperial who seized the opportunity for glory: Titus Mede, a Colovian king, would seize the Imperial City with less than a thousand men and declared himself the new Emperor, though not much is yet known about this new dynasty.[13]


The defining feature of Imperial culture is its cosmopolitanism.[1] Although some individuals may be the most arrogant bigots in Tamriel,[14][15][16] culturally the Imperials are very conciliatory and congenial, making them skilled diplomats and traders.[1] Even Imperial Vampires claim some semblance of civility.[17] It's easy to understand given their geography and cultural schisms: Cyrodiil borders almost every other province, and the historical separation yet underlying unity and interaction of the Cyrodilic regions made the Imperials well practiced at building bridges and maintaining order. Though there are many regions, the two most powerful effectively controlled all regions close to them: the western Colovian Estates and the eastern Nibenay Valley.

Early Imperials in eastern Cyrodiil strongly believed in the Alessian Doctrines, even after the Empire's fall, which made them disfavor many practices, notably farming.[6] They defaulted to mercantilism, and became a wealthy merchant power with a vibrant society that made colorful clothing, conducted elaborate ceremonies, and loved tattoos and philosophy.[6] Through their river network, they were able to export many goods, including textiles, fabrics, moon sugar, rice and armor.[6] Though their beliefs were monotheistic, they often focused on the numinous nature of some facet of society, and many diverse cults operated openly over the years, dedicated to many animal spirits and hero-gods, as well as ancestor worship.[6][18][19] The Colovians, in contrast, took on a more austere but adventuresome lifestyle, in keeping with their Nordic ancestry, and often became mercenaries and pirates.[6][18] The unification under Reman I didn't eradicate these differences, although, of course, the Eight Divines was predominant all over the province by the end of the First Era.[1][6]

The respect and admiration Imperials had for Tiber Septim is nothing compared to the veneration they have for him as a god of the Nine Divines, regardless of the heresies often espoused about him.[20][21] His accomplishments inspired them to believe they could do anything they set their mind to.[22] The end of his dynasty was greeted with great mourning, although also with great pride, as his last known descendant, Martin Septim, sacrificed himself to save all of Tamriel.[23] Imperials know all too well that dynasties are destined to rise and fall; all it will take is time before the Glorious Empire once again reigns over Tamriel.


Main Article: Imperial Cuisine

Imperial cooks approach food the same way they face the rest of life: in a straightforward and proud manner. As shrewd diplomats and traders, they stock their larders with many of the best ingredients Tamriel has to offer. Cyrodiil's central location in Tamriel, paired with its wealth and power, assures that the Imperials eat well from a variety of meats, vegetables, and spices from across the continent.[24]:11


Major portions of Imperial culture and identity involves the various Empires throughout their history.

Alessian Empire[edit]

The Alessian Empire, also called the First Empire,[25] the Empire of Cyrodiil,[26][27] and the Empire of Men,[28] was established by the former human slaves of the Ayleid Empire in 1E 243 following the Alessian Slave Rebellion.[29] The Empire traces its founding to the moment when Saint Alessia received the Dragonfires and the Amulet of Kings from Akatosh; she used the Amulet to drive the Daedra out of the mortal realm.[30] Akatosh told Alessia that as long as the Dragonfires remained lit and her heirs wore the Amulet of Kings, the gates of Oblivion would remain shut and Tamriel would be spared the depredations of the Daedra.[30]

See the main article: Alessian Empire

Second Empire[edit]

The Second Empire, also known as the Cyrodilic Empire[6], the Empire of Cyrodiil,[31] and the Second Empire of Men,[6] was a human-led empire that, at its height, controlled every region of Tamriel with the exception of Morrowind.[6] The history of the Second Empire is divided into two main periods: the reign of the Reman Dynasty that witnessed the final centuries of the First Era, and the subsequent Akaviri Potentate that ushered in the Second Era.

See the main article: Second Empire

Empire of Cyrodiil[edit]

The Empire of Cyrodiil[32][33] (also known as the Imperial Empire[34]) refers to an Imperial state that existed during the early years of the Interregnum. Although identified as an empire, it differed from the Alessian Empire, Second Empire, and Third Empire in that its only permanent dependency was Cyrodiil itself, and it was at no time ruled by a Dragonborn emperor.

See the main article: Empire of Cyrodiil

Third Empire[edit]

The Third Empire (also called the Holy Cyrodiilic Empire of Tamriel[35]) was declared by Tiber Septim in 2E 854 after the chaos of the Interregnum, and was forged through a decades-long conflict to unite Tamriel known as the Tiber Wars.[6] It lasted throughout the whole of the Third Era and two centuries into the Fourth Era, when it began to decline.

See the main article: Third Empire

Imperial Institutions[edit]


The Battlespire, also called the Spire and the Celestial Citadel, is the magical war academy of the Imperial Battlemages, and a testing facility for candidates seeking to join the Imperial Guard. The strongest mages in the Empire reside and train in the Battlespire. It is described as the fortress of all fortresses that encompasses the entirety of a realm, with ramparts that tower over the edges of Oblivion. Beyond them, only the Void.

It is possible to access numerous realms of Oblivion from the Battlespire through the use of teleportals and voidgates. The facility is moored in place by five great Anchors, which assure its safety and stability in the surrounding flux. Access to the edifice is granted via the Pillar of Light, a teleportation device linked to the Weir Gate.

Some sources place the Battlespire in a Slipstream Realm deep in Aetherius, whereas the battlemages state that it intersects with several planes of Oblivion and others place it in Oblivion itself. As the mortal mind can be driven to madness by Oblivion, the Battlespire is useful as it allows the mind to acclimate to the contradictory nature of the outer realms without the same levels of mental strain.

Elder Council[edit]

The Elder Council, also called the Imperial Council, and the Imperial Council of Elders, is the foremost administrative body in the Cyrodilic government. The Council's actions are governed by the rules and procedures outlined in the Elder Council Charter. It typically convenes at the Elder Council Chamber in the lower floors of the Imperial Palace in the Imperial City. The leader of the Elder Council holds the title of High Chancellor, and a Chief Councilor is designated as his deputy.

Though it theoretically merely helps the Emperor govern by dealing with various details, the Council has proven capable of wrestling a substantial amount of authority away from the Imperial throne, and there is often a power struggle between the two. The Council has legislative authority, and may vote on and enact new laws they deem proper. However, the reigning Emperor retains the power of veto, a right famously exploited by Uriel Septim VI to restore the power of the Emperor when faced with an unruly Council.

When the Council is not in some sort of disagreement with an Emperor, its members are often looking for ways to curry favor with the Ruby Throne. Each member receives an amulet worth a small fortune which is specially crafted as a symbol of their office. As a prominent family in Cyrodiil garners more and more power and repute, people eventually start thinking it is only a matter of time before they obtain a representative on the Council, though it is not clear exactly how new Council members are appointed. Appointment is seen as both an honor and burden, though some nobles view it only as a means to obtain more power and influence.

Imperial Legion[edit]

The Imperial Legion, also known as the Red Legion, Imperial Army and the Ruby Ranks, is the main fighting force of the Empire of Tamriel. It is often pluralized as the Imperial Legions. It operates under the auspices and authority of the Emperor himself. With its vast numbers, quality training, and rigid discipline, the Legion is considered one of the best armies ever assembled in history. The primary mission of the Imperial Legion is to preserve the peace and rule of law in the Empire. Those who protect the Emperor and the Imperial Province are sometimes called the Imperial Guard and the Imperial Watch. A Legion Centurion is typically in command of the Palace Guard of the White Gold Tower. The Tribunal God Vivec referred to the Legion as moths.

In peacetime, the Legion serves primarily as a garrison force — manning forts, patrolling roads, and providing guardsmen for towns, cities, counties, and nobles. They are empowered to arrest criminals and seize their property, among other things. In wartime, the Legion's responsibilities and powers are greatly increased. During conflicts, the Legion serves as an invading and occupying force, overwhelming opposition with numerical superiority and strict economy of force. The aquatic equivalent of the Imperial Legion is the Imperial Navy, with the two often overlapping.

For more information, see the main lore article.

Imperial Mananauts[edit]

The Royal Imperial Mananauts of the Elder Council were a largely unknown group who were known to travel to Aetherius. They were believed to be a holdover from the days of the Reman Dynasty.[36][UOL 1] During the reign of Reman the Cyrodill, the Imperials would come up with a plan to colonize the two moons Masser and Secunda, and would start building the Megalomoth vessel-fortress NVN Manywife, for this purpose. However, Reman didn't live long enough to see its completion and the vessel would be rechristened the NVN Accrual by Emperor Reman II. Reman II would personally oversee the first lunar landing of the moon Secunda.[UOL 2]

University of Gwylim[edit]

The University of Gwylim (also called the University of Gwilym or Gwylim University) is an ancient scholarly organization possibly dating back to the late First Era. The University of Gwylim Press has been responsible for many publications throughout history. It is known that the university awards the Gwylim Prize to scholars at times.

The university's faculty are known to have an interest in practical pedagogy, and is known to offer training in the magical school of Illusion. Tjurhane Fyrre, an Ayleid scholar, was one of the finest sages of the university. His book on Ayleidic culture, Nature of Ayleidic Poesy, was published by the university in 2E 12. Fyrre was also responsible for writing a number of unpublished biographies on various Ayleid kings, including King Narilmor of Garlas Malatar. Other Ayleidic texts were also published by the university, including Ayleid Cities of Valenwood, written by the Esteemed Historian Homfrey in 2E 455. "The Gwylim Praxis" by the Aureate Serpent is a book that describes methods of draining magicka from intelligent creatures at the moment of death, but it is unknown what its connection to the university is.


Imperial Religion primary focuses on the Eight Divines, or the Eight and One which includes the ascended Talos.[37][38] The Imperials have a lot of cults dedicated to various religions with the Imperial City.[39][6][18] Despite this, the Imperials have a history of restricting and banning the worship of deities that are not of the traditional Eight Divines. The study of these other gods was encouraged though. During the First Empire, the Imperials were strictly forbidden from worshiping or idolizing the deities Magnus, Y'ffre, Sheor, and Phynaster and worship of these deities was considered heresy.[40]


The Eight and One[edit]

Akatosh, the Dragon God of Time
Chief among the gods, with mastery over the flow of time. Associated with dragons and the qualities of endurance and virtuous service.[20]
Arkay, the Mortals' God
God of cycles, particularly that of birth and death. Presides over funerals and burial rites, as well as ushering in the changes of the seasons.[20]
Goddess of beauty and art, and one of the most popular of the Divines. Widespread cults are dedicated to both healing and sexual instruction.[20]
God of logic, wisdom, and the arts of magic. His temples act as educational institutions in literature, history, and law.[20]
Goddess of the heavens, winds, and rain. Patron of sailors and travelers, and often propitiated for good fortune in life.[20]
Mara, the Mother-Goddess
Goddess of love, compassion, and the bounty of nature. Presides over marriage ceremonies, befitting her ancient origins as a fertility goddess.[20]
Stendarr, the Steadfast
God of mercy, justice, and righteousness. Patron of all those who wield righteous might to protect the weak, from emperors to holy warriors. [20]
Zenithar, the Trader God
God of work, commerce, and wealth, invoked for success in business ventures. Teaches prosperity through honest industry, rather than violence or deceit.[20]
Talos/Tiber Septim
A mortal and emperor who upon death became a divine, the respect and admiration Imperials had for Tiber Septim is nothing compared to the veneration they have for him as a god of the Nine Divines, regardless of the heresies often espoused about him.[20][21] His accomplishments inspired them to believe they could do anything they set their mind to.[22] The end of his dynasty was greeted with great mourning, although also with great pride, as his last known descendant, Martin Septim, sacrificed himself to save all of Tamriel.[23] Imperials know all too well that dynasties are destined to rise and fall; all it will take is time before the Glorious Empire once again reigns over Tamriel.

Other Deities[edit]

Reman, The Cyrodiil
Culture god-hero of the Second Empire, Reman was the greatest hero of the Akaviri Trouble. Indeed, he convinced the invaders to help him build his own empire, and conquered all of Tamriel except for Morrowind. He instituted the rites of becoming Emperor, which included the ritual geas to the Amulet of Kings, a soulgem of immense power. Also called the Worldly God and called a conqueror god along with Talos.[20]
Morihaus, First Breath of Man
Ancient cultural hero god of the Cyro-Nordics. Legend portrays him as the Taker of the Citadel, an act of mythic times that established Human control over the Valley Heartland. He is often associated with the Nordic powers of thu'um, and therefore with Kynareth.[41][18][20]
Shezarr, God of Man
Shezarr was the spirit behind all human undertaking, especially against Aldmeri aggression. He is sometimes associated with the founding of the first Cyrodilic battlemages. In Colovia they worship him as Shor.[20]


To BOETHIA the Fount of Inspiration.

To HIRCINE who is Half the Conscience of Men.

To MALACATH who speaks all Language Sideways.

To MEHRUNES DAGON whose Mistress is the Blazing Sun.

To MOLAG BAL whose Breath is Most Foul.

To NAMIRA whose Works endure forever.
—Excerpt from the 16 Acceptable Blasphemies[nb 1]

The Imperials generally have a negative view of Daedra, with notable differences between the behavior of Colovians and the Nibenesse during the Interregnum. As Colovians are especially religious, they will typically refuse to associate themselves with Daedra.[42] During this period, however, the Nibenese were more inclined to turn to Daedra worship.[43] In Tiber Septim's empire, the Daedric Princes were invoked as the 16 Acceptable Blasphemies.[44]

The Imperial's distaste for Daedra was readily apparent during the reign of the Longhouse Emperors, a short-lived Reachfolk Dynasty that was brought to an end after Emperor Leovic legalized Daedra worship (allegedly at the behest of corrupt advisors). Leovic consequently drew the ire of many nobles who had once been counted among his supporters.[45] One of these erstwhile supporters, Duke Varen Aquilarios of Chorrol, marshaled the armies of the Colovian Estates and led them against Leovic in open rebellion from 2E 576 to 2E 577.[46] In the end, Varen killed Leovic in the Imperial Throne Room, and the reign of the Longhouse Emperors came to a close.[47][48]

House Tharn of Nibenay has always kept ties with the forces of Oblivion.[49] During Emperor Varen's reign, Abnur Tharn unwittingly helped Mannimarco cause the Soulburst, and subsequently pledged his loyalty to the necromancer (and by extension, Molag Bal) in the interest of preserving the Empire.[50][51] Unlike Abnur Tharn, several other members of the family had aligned themselves with Molag Bal wholesale: Abnur's nephew Javad was a prominent figure in the Stonefire Cult (an offshoot of Mannimarco's Worm Cult),[42] and Septima Tharn led the Seventh Legion in the Daedric Prince's name.[52][53][54][55]

The Tharn family's dealings with Molag Bal was the primary motivator for the Daggerfall Convenant, Aldmeri Dominion and Ebonheart Pact's invasion of Cyrodiil. At first, their goal was to depose the Tharn family, but the conflict devolved into the Alliance War.[56] To his credit, Abnur Tharn joined the Five Companions in their quest to end the Planemeld.[51]

Despite the Imperial distaste for Daedra worship, it is not banned in Cyrodiil, due in part to the Imperial Charter that permits the Mages Guild to summon Daedra. However, the opinion of religious institutions and the general public is hostile, a fact that encourages Daedra worshippers to practice in secret. Some even build their shrines out in the wilderness, where they may be attended by a community of faithful in peace.[19]

Sanguine has been a favorite for several Emperors since the foundation of the first Empire. During the reign of Reman Cyrodiil records indicate Sanguine resided in White-Gold Tower where he is said to have helped Reman with the dubious draftsmanship of the Crendali Festivals. The vulgarities found within these festivals did nothing but hinder Imperial expansion efforts within the Summerset Isles during Reman Cyrodiil's tenure.[UOL 3]




  • Common Cyrodilic names, certain aspects of Nibenese architecture, and Colovian martial tradition (military organization and equipment) should seem familiar, as they are inspired by the real-world Roman Empire.
  • Imperials were not considered a distinct race within the games until Redguard, but have been a playable race in every major entry since. The only named character from the earlier games that has been confirmed to be an Imperial is Emperor Uriel Septim VII, though this knowledge only comes from the later games of the series.

See Also[edit]


for a series of pamphlets on the major cultural styles of Tamriel


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Seat of Sundered Kings: CyrodiilImperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
  2. ^ Crafting Motif 10: Imperial StyleDoctor Alfidia Lupus
  3. ^ Legal BasicsAnchivius, M.Z.F.
  4. ^ Morrowind character creation description
  5. ^ Provinces of Tamriel
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: CyrodiilImperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
  7. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Throat of the World: SkyrimImperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
  8. ^ Magic from the SkyIrlav Jarol
  9. ^ The Last King of the AyleidsHerminia Cinna
  10. ^ 2920, The Last Year of the First EraCarlovac Townway
  11. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Arena Supermundus: The Tapestry of HeavenImperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
  12. ^ Dwemer History and CultureHasphat Antabolis
  13. ^ The Infernal City — Gregory Keyes
  14. ^ Guide to AnvilAlessia Ottus
  15. ^ Guide to BravilAlessia Ottus
  16. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st EditionImperial Geographical Society and 'YR', 2E 864
  17. ^ Manifesto Cyrodiil Vampyrum
  18. ^ a b c d Shezarr and the DivinesFaustillus Junius
  19. ^ a b Modern HereticsHaderus of Gottlesfont
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Varieties of Faith...Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  21. ^ a b The Arcturian Heresy — The Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker
  22. ^ a b The Knights of the NineKaroline of Solitude
  23. ^ a b Events of the Oblivion Crisis.
  24. ^ The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook — Chelsea Monroe-Cassel
  25. ^ Bangkorai, Shield of High Rock — King Eamond
  26. ^ A Life of Strife and StruggleKing Laloriaran Dynar
  27. ^ The Onus of the OghmaPhrastus of Elinhir
  28. ^ The Bretons: Mongrels or Paragons?Phrastus of Elinhir
  29. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: All the Eras of Man, A Comprehensive History of our HistoryImperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
  30. ^ a b Trials of St. Alessia
  31. ^ History of the Fighters Guild
  32. ^ True Heirs of the EmpireErystera Ligen
  33. ^ Knights of the Dragon
  34. ^ Empress Regent Clivia Tharn's dialogue in ESO
  35. ^ The Wolf Queen, v1Waughin Jarth
  36. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Arena Supermundus: The Tapestry of HeavenImperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
  37. ^ Ten Commands: Nine Divines
  38. ^ The Prophets dialogue in Oblivion
  39. ^ The Drake of Blades Answers Your Questions — The Drake of Blades
  40. ^ The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: High RockFlaccus Terentius, 2E 581
  41. ^ The Song of Pelinal
  42. ^ a b Kazirra's dialogue in ESO
  43. ^ From a discussion with Tatianus Lepidus, Colovian HistorianTatianus Lepidus
  44. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: InvocationImperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
  45. ^ Eulogy for Emperor VarenLord Abnur Tharn, Chancellor of the Elder Council
  46. ^ Pirate Queen of the Gold CoastMidara Salviticus, Historian, University of Gwylim
  47. ^ Chronicles of the Five Companions 1Lyris Titanborn
  48. ^ Chronicles of the Five Companions 4Abnur Tharn
  49. ^ Abnur Tharn's dialogue during Council of the Five Companions in ESO
  50. ^ Abnur Tharn's role in causing the Soulburst in the flashback seen during The Harborage in ESO
  51. ^ a b Abnur Tharn's dialogue during Castle of the Worm in ESO
  52. ^ Regarding the HallSeptima Tharn
  53. ^ Septima Tharn's dialogue during Storming the Garrison in ESO
  54. ^ Scholar Laurette Diel's dialogue during The Ravenwatch Inquiry in ESO
  55. ^ Bangkorai, Shield of High Rock — King Eamond
  56. ^ The Elder Scrolls Online: Alliances at War

Unofficial Lore[edit]

Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.

  1. ^ Special ZOS Lore Master Interview with Lawrence Schick
  2. ^ Pocket Guide to the Empire, Second Edition
  3. ^ Imperial Census of Daedra LordsImperial Geographic Survey