|Appears in||Arena, Skyrim|
Solitude (also known as Haafingar) is one of the nine-major cities in the province of Skyrim, situated on the highland bluffs of Haafingar. The city is a major trading capital amidst the Sea of Ghosts, with an expansive and illustrious history that makes it the prominent political power that it is known for. It is the home of the Bards College, an institute that preserves the ancient Nordic traditions of music and story-telling. Solitude is seen as the Imperial seat of power in Skyrim, in fact, it has been a city of the Third Empire since the union of King Mantiarco and Queen Potema Septim.
Layout & Geography
Solitude is one of Skyrim's largest cities, as well as one of its key ports, built on a natural landmark known as the Great Arch. This arch proved vital in Solitude's growth as a kingdom, in its later years, the main city was built atop of this arch while the busier-sections of Solitude, such as the crowded harbors on the coast are built underneath on the Mouths of the Karth. The main road runs underneath the arch and goes around the peninsula until it reaches the highlands and the provincial border. The city lies on the southern highlands of Mount Kilkreath, specifically, the highest point on top of the arch. Solitude is neighbored by several settlements, including Dragon Bridge to the south and High Rock to the far west, towards Jehanna.
The road towards Solitude's entrance is heavily-defended by the gates, the Squall Gate and the Storm Gate, as well as several towers. Solitude contains a unique style of architecture only seen in Haafingar, consisting of rounded architecture and pointed roofs. This is attributed to High King Erling. The city's western district is known as the Well District, known for its regal and grandiose streets. To the north, on the mountainside is Castle Dour, the city fortress that contains the Temple of the Divines and the Emperor's Tower. The city's eastern district is also it's residential, as well as both the Bards College and the Blue Palace, the seat of power for the Jarl of Solitude, and later the High King of Skyrim. Both the east and west sides are separated by an arching bridge that connects the Castle Dour to the Windmill, one of Solitude's most iconic landmarks. Its wind power is used to open the massive warehouse that is stored underneath the mountain.
The Kingdom of Solitude & Western Skyrim
The information surrounding Solitude's founding is largely unknown, but it was not originally built on the great arch. It was a port-town on the Karth River situated near the great arch and using it as both a windbreaker and an easily-visible landmark, an ideal base for the ancient Nords. The founders of Solitude were said to be deeply devoted to the Divines, and this sentiment continues to live in modern-times as the local temple is the biggest place to worship the pantheon in Skyrim. The town started to gain more of its footing as a well-defended settlement amidst the coronation of Erling, who ordered the construction of Solitude's outer walls, which has a rounded architecture. He later built the towering bridge that separates the Wells District with the east-side, to safely escort the well-known privateer, Captain Jytte to Castle Dour, the original seat of power of Solitude. Sometime before the province of Skyrim was formally founded by High King Harald in 1E 143, the Emperor's Tower, the original home of Haafingar's kings was replaced by the Blue Palace.
The earliest known texts that describe Solitude as a well-established kingdom, when the province held ties with the First Empire, concurrent to the formation of the Bards College. The Kingdom of Solitude was one of the greatest oppositions against Olaf One-Eye, who rose to supremacy in the wake of the War of Succession. Olaf's wrath over the city was swiftly-executed and animosity between the king and the city created one of Solitude's longest-living traditions, the Burning of King Olaf. It is held annually in the courtyard at the Bards College. It has since become one of the most significant trading ports, collaborating with other cities of worth such as Senchal, Wayrest, and West Anvil.
In 2E 431, the assassination of High King Logrolf brought about a time of change in the province of Skyrim. Naturally, the throne would have been passed to the High King's next of kin, ideally, Jarl Freydis of Windhelm. However, tension had arisen between the east and west when Jarl Svartr of Solitude had challenged her claim to leadership and thus called for a moot. The moot had chosen Svartr as their High King, and what followed was a decisive schism that created the West and East Kingdoms of Skyrim, with the west under the rule of High King Svartr of Solitude. His domain became the capital of the western kingdom, which remained active for several years, even to the early years of the Alliance War in 2E 582, when it was ruled by High King Svargrim.[UOL 1]
The Wolf-Queen & the Mad King
In the early-Third Era, the elderly King Mantiarco reigned over Solitude in the years of the Third Empire, under the rule of Emperor Uriel Septim II. However, the relations between the Nordic kingdom and the Empire had slowly waned, prompting the union between King Mantiarco and the then fourteen-year-old, Potema Septim. At first, she was only a pawn of a political marriage, but the King's love for her had led to her increase power to totality. After several miscarriages, in 3E 97, Potema gave birth to Uriel Mantiarco and he was quickly named the heir of Solitude. In 3E 99, the Emperor and later in the spring, King Mantiarco had passed away, leaving the kingdom in a joint-rule between King Uriel and Queen Potema. In this time, the Queen had established relationships across the northern tier of the empire, (i.e., Ebonheart and Glenpoint), sowing the seeds of contempt against the Empire.
Her relationship with the Empire came to a climax in the coronation of Empress Kintyra II when she degraded the newly-named ruler and her mother, Magna by questioning their legitimacy to the Ruby Throne. King Uriel III and Queen Potema were banished from the inner court, returning to Solitude to form a large-scale rebellion against the Third Empire. These events gave way to the War of the Red Diamond, which escalated to the death of the Empress in 3E 114 and the ascension of Emperor Uriel Septim III. But the conflict slowly ended in the favor of Kings Cephorus I and Magnus when the former defeated the Emperor and brought him to his death in Gilane. By 3E 137, the elderly Queen Potema was kept in the Blue Palace, as Emperor Cephorus I relentlessly sacked the city of Solitude. With no real army at her disposal, Potema used daedra, her necromancers and the undead to face against her brother. She died sometime during the siege but her legacy continued through underground factions like the Hörme. But some theologians hypothesized that Potema became a spiritual-daedra that continually haunts the Blue Palace and turns its monarchs insane. This is one of the theories that caused Pelagius III's insanity.
Following Potema's defeat, Pelagius III was named the King of Solitude, placed there by Emperor Cephorus. But there were many stories of his peculiar eccentricities, such as his constant shift in weight but expressive personality. Although these were few and far between, and only became worse when his father, Magnus I became the Emperor of Tamriel in 3E 140 and more attention went towards the Kingdom of Solitude, knowing that Pelagius III was the heir-apparent. Legends had spread throughout the Empire as Pelagius III's exploits became more well-known, such as countless declarations of war to the Kingdom of Silvenar or the many cases of stripping during public speeches. By the decree of his father, Pelagius III married Duchess Katariah of Vvardenfell, whose family, the Ra'athim Clan was acquainted with Potema during the war. Despite the political motives, it was also a personal choice by the Emperor, who recognized Katariah as a shrewd diplomat. When the Emperor passed away in 3E 145, Pelagius III and Katariah moved to the Imperial City and his sister, Jolethe became the Queen of Solitude.
The Late-Third & Fourth Era
During the Imperial Simulacrum in the late-Third Era, the city-state of Solitude was an active settlement. It was ruled by Queen Hania and it had a rivalry with Snowhawk. By the waning years of the Third Era in 3E 432, it was ruled by King Thian, in the time where Solitude was one of the most influential counties in the province. Under Thian's leadership, it expanded much further with the union with Queen Macalla, engulfing another major port city, the town of Dawnstar. But it also went further north with the annexation of the Fiefdom of Roscrea, former territory conquered by Emperor Uriel Septim V in 3E 271. Solitude soon sponsored several expeditions that attempted to explore the northern waters behind Skyrim's coast and Roscrea.
Another city that prospered in that time was the province's capital, Winterhold, but its legacy was later destroyed by the Great Collapse in 4E 122. The role of capital shifted to its ancient rivals in Solitude and it continued for another century to High King Istlod, who in turn passed away and the moot chose his son, Torygg. In 4E 201, the High King was approached by the Jarl of Windhelm, Ulfric Stormcloak, who challenged him in a duel for leadership. What many did not realize was that he used the power of his Thu'um to obliterate the High King and kill him. With the help of his supporters, he escaped Solitude and prepared for war.
The Skyrim Civil War followed suit, between the Imperial power in west Skyrim that was spearheaded by the military-governor, Tullius and the ruling-regent, Elisif the Fair, and the Stormcloaks, the nationalist rebellion in the Old Holds maintained by Ulfric Stormcloak's court in Windhelm. General Tullius and Legate Rikke oversaw the operations of the Imperial Legion from Castle Dour while Jarl Elisf continued to govern Haafingar from Solitude.
In that same year, a necromantic cult tried to resurrect Potema from the mountains and her spirit later fled to the Solitude Catacombs, to take her corporeal form and pose a significant threat. She was later exorcised by a warrior serving the court. For the first time, the Burning of King Olaf was postponed for the year. The Jarl had seen it as poor taste following the malice at the palace, but it was something that the Headmaster at the Bards College, Viarmo could not take lightly. To convince Elisif to start the festival, he sent a student to retrieve a lost part of the Poetic Edda known as King Olaf's Verse, in the hopes to convince the Jarl to commence the festival. Fortunately, their endeavors worked in their favor, and the Burning of King Olaf had went successfully.
Solitude Stalwart (Legends)
- Arena was originally conceived as a fighting game featuring a tournament that took the player to each of Tamriel's cities to challenge different gladiatorial teams. According to a file from that stage of development left behind in the final game, Solitude's gladiatorial team would have been called "the Ravagers".[UOL 2]
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Map of Skyrim — The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- Map of Skyrim — The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Solitude & Winterhold loading screen in Skyrim
- Walking the World, Vol XI — Spatior Munius
- The Alik'r — Enric Milres
- King Olaf's Verse
- The Crown of Freydis — Taleon Mythmaker
- Meet the Character - Eerika Skjoralmor — Torik
- Biography of the Wolf Queen — Katar Eriphanes
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Throat of the World: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- The Madness of Pelagius — Tsathenes
- Solitude location and rumors in Arena
- On the Great Collapse — Arch-Mage Deneth
- Sybille Stentor's dialogue in Skyrim
- Nords Arise! — Anonymous
- General Tullius' dialogue in Skyrim
- The Man Who Cried Wolf quest in Skyrim
- The Wolf Queen Awakened quest in Skyrim
- Tending the Flames quest in Skyrim
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.