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- "I am the Queen of Solitude, daughter of the Emperor! Summon the daedra! I'll trade the soul of every last subject of mine for a little comfort." — Queen Potema, 3E 97
Queen Potema, the "Wolf Queen of Solitude", the daughter of the Emperor Pelagius Septim II, wife of King Mantiarco, aunt of the Empress Kintyra II, mother of Emperor Uriel III, and sister of the Emperors Antiochus, Cephorus I and Magnus, is best known for her role in the War of the Red Diamond. In 3E 120, she launched a rebellion, and overthrew her niece Empress Kintyra II the following year so that her son could become Emperor Uriel Septim III. Although the war ended in 3E 127, it was another ten years, capped off by a month-long siege at her castle in Solitude, before Potema herself was defeated. She has been described as "unambiguously evil", and is remembered as one of the most dangerous necromancers in the history of Tamriel.
There are certain discrepancies in the sources documenting Potema's life. Biography of the Wolf Queen gives the name of Potema's mother as Qizara, while the historical fiction The Wolf Queen labels her Quintilla. Some sources say or imply that she launched her rebellion in the year 3E 114, though 3E 120-121 has more support among the various sources. However, despite the occasional scholarly mistake or disagreement, there is still a great amount of reliable information about the Wolf Queen.
Born in 3E 67, Potema was one of the four known children of Pelagius II. Her grandfather, Emperor Uriel Septim II, is said to have exclaimed that the newborn looked like a "she-wolf ready to pounce". She was married to Mantiarco of Solitude at the age of fourteen. Though she could have been nothing more than a court pawn, Mantiarco evidently loved her greatly, and she wielded total control (something she apparently took a great liking for). In 3E 97, after many miscarriages, Potema had a son, whom she named Uriel after her grandfather. Her husband died three years later. It is suspected that soon after Uriel III was born, she tricked Mantiarco into disinheriting his son from a previous marriage, leaving her son as the heir to the throne of Solitude. However, Solitude was a mere stepping stone to the throne Potema truly desired for Uriel: the Ruby Throne of the Emperor of Tamriel.
When her brother Emperor Antiochus died, Potema and her son were visiting the Imperial City, and she used the opportunity to accuse the dead Emperor's daughter of being a bastard (in which case her son would inherit the throne). However, she could not stop her niece's coronation as Empress Kintyra II, and, naturally, she was banished from the Imperial court. Potema conspired with various disgruntled kings in High Rock, Skyrim, and Morrowind whose allegiance she had garnered over the years. With Potema's assistance, Uriel III coordinated three attacks on the Septim Empire.
The attack in High Rock resulted in the capture of Kintyra II. The attack in Morrowind centered on numerous Imperial coastal forts and resulted in the demise of the Empress's consort. After reinforcements left for these two provinces, the third attack in 3E 121 was a siege of the Imperial City itself. The city held out for a fortnight before they capitulated, and Potema's son crowned himself Uriel Septim III that same evening (though his surname was actually Mantiarco). His coronation is generally marked as the start of the War of the Red Diamond, though some sources evidently take into account the hostilities that began the year before.
The civil war pitted Potema and her son against her younger brothers Cephorus and Magnus. Potema commanded the allegiance of Skyrim and northern Morrowind. Cephorus and Magnus managed to sway all of High Rock to their side. The other provinces were divided, but most leaders supported the brothers. In 3E 127, Uriel III was captured at the Battle of Ichidag in Hammerfell. The sixty-one-year-old Potema, fighting against Magnus at the Battle of Falconstar, flew into a rage when she heard this and led the successful assault herself. En route to Uriel III's trial in the Imperial City, a mob overtook his prisoner's carriage and burned him alive within it. His captor and uncle continued on to the Imperial City, and by common acclaim was proclaimed Emperor Cephorus I, ending the War of the Red Diamond. Potema finally died in her castle during the siege of Solitude in 3E 137.
The reason it took Cephorus an additional ten years to defeat his sister, nearly his entire reign, was because Potema's fury and increasing madness led her to use extreme measures. Her spirit was evidently extraordinarily strong, and she used her innate talent in Conjuration and Necromancy to inflict as much pain upon her brother's empire as she could. Potema summoned daedra as minions and mounted attack after attack on the forces of the Emperor Cephorus I, employing necromancers to use her enemy's fallen against them. She turned Solitude into a "land of death" and terrified her subjects. It's said that eventually, even her chambermaids and generals were undead monsters.
According to late Third Era sources, the underground organization Hörme still believed Potema and her deposed son Uriel III were the last of the true Septim bloodline, and they periodically raided Imperial holdings as a result. It is rumored that her madness was so intense that it infected the person who took up residence in Solitude after her - Pelagius the Mad.
In 4E 201, a group of necromancers in the wilds of Haafingar attempted to raise and bind Potema's spirit, but the ritual was interrupted by the Last Dragonborn. Potema's spirit was allowed to roam free, and she returned to her old catacombs beneath Solitude to build up her undead forces. The Dragonborn followed her there, defeated her, and had her remains sanctified by a priest of Arkay to banish her spirit.
According to The Wolf Queen by Waughin Jarth, the title "Wolf Queen" came not from Potema's appearance, but from the soul gem necklace she received from her mother, which bore the soul of a powerful werewolf killed by Potema's parents. Jarth also portrayed Potema as being responsible for the insanity of the infamous Pelagius the Mad, writing that during the siege of Solitude, she changed the enchantment on her amulet to slowly bring insanity in the wearer, then gave this amulet to the young prince, who thought she was merely a friendly old lady.
- For game-specific information, see the Skyrim article.
- Biography of the Wolf Queen by Katar Eriphanes — A history of the unambiguously evil Queen Potema, the so-called Wolf Queen of Solitude
- The Wolf Queen by Waughin Jarth — The life story of Queen Potema
- Skyrim Loading Screen
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Throat of the World: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Biography of the Wolf Queen — Katar Eriphanes
- Brief History of the Empire — Stronach k'Thojj III
- The Third Era Timeline — Jaspus Ignateous
- The Wolf Queen — Waughin Jarth
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: All the Eras of Man, A Comprehensive History of our History — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Events of Skyrim
- The Madness of Pelagius — Tsathenes