Elder Scrolls

Balgruuf the Greater

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Balgruuf the Greater
Jarl Balgruf the Greater
Race Nord
Gender Male
Level 10 - 30
Class Warrior
Faction Whiterun
Rank Jarl
Essential Always
Ref ID 0001A677
Base ID 00013BBD
"I'm on the side of Whiterun."
―Balgruuf the Greater[src]

Balgruuf the Greater lives in his great hall, Dragonsreach. He is a major character in the main quest of Skyrim.


Jarl Balgruuf wears noble clothes, fur-lined boots, and a gold and ruby circlet for a crown (the clothes and boots are rare, found in few places, such as the East Empire Company Warehouse). The Jarl's weapon is a unique war axe (which can only be acquired through theft) that carries his name ― Balgruuf's War Axe. If the Dragonborn fights Balgruuf in the Battle for Whiterun, he will equip Steel Plate Armor, without the helmet.


He has a brother named Hrongar, and three children, Frothar, Dagny and Nelkir. No one ever mentions the Jarl's spouse, but one can speculate that she died at least some time before the beginning of the Dragon Crisis.


While eventually becoming loyal to the Empire, he puts his people's interests first, many times denying the Imperial Legion permission to garrison soldiers in his city so as not to portray martial law ― if he is asked what side he is on in the war, he will say that he is "on the side of Whiterun.", showing a great sense of loyalty towards Whiterun. He is shown to be against the Stormcloak Rebellion after the Dragonborn chooses a side in the Civil War, slandering them if they seize Whiterun with the Stormcloak army. He is generally more interested in dragons than the Civil War in which he is involved.

According to his son Nelkir, he still worships Talos and hates the Thalmor as much as Ulfric and the other Nords do, if not more, although he never admits so himself.

Balgruuf has strong bonds with his friend and Housecarl, Irileth, whom he fought alongside with during his time in the Legion.


Dragon Rising and The Way of the VoiceEdit

After the Dragonborn appears before the Jarl to tell him of the dragon attack on Helgen, the Dragonborn learns that another dragon, Mirmulnir, is attacking the Western Watchtower. Together with Irileth and several Whiterun Guards, the Dragonborn defeats the dragon and returns to the Jarl. Jarl Balgruuf then dubs the Dragonborn Thane of Whiterun and advises that they visit the Greybeards at High Hrothgar for instruction on how to learn the Thu'um

Battle for WhiterunEdit

At first, Balgruuf will remain neutral in the Civil War. But once the Dragonborn chooses a side, Balgruuf will eventually decide to help the Imperial Legion, regardless of which side the Dragonborn's chose. Alternatively, siding with the Stormcloaks means the Dragonborn must fight Balgruuf, Irileth, and several of the Whiterun Guards during the assault. If Vignar Gray-Mane becomes Jarl of Whiterun, Balgruuf, along with Irileth and Proventus, travel to the Blue Palace in Solitude, seeking refuge with Imperial sympathizer Elisif the Fair.

Glory of the DeadEdit

He is seen at Kodlak Whitemane's funeral if he is the Jarl of Whiterun.


Once the Dragonborn is recognized as a Thane of Whiterun, they are given a housecarl named Lydia, who can serve as their follower. Additionally, he grants the Dragonborn permission to purchase Breezehome, a house in Whiterun, for 5000 GoldIcon. He also presents the leveled Axe of Whiterun to the Dragonborn, a status symbol of the Thanes of Whiterun. A sword, rather than an axe, may be received.



War provisionsEdit

Proventus: "My lord, our provisions are running dangerously low. Our stores of meat, wine, and grain are all but depleted."
Balgruuf: "Purchase more supplies, then. That's your job as Steward, isn't it? Why do you trouble me with these details?"
Proventus: "My lord, since Ulfric Stormcloak's uprising, the cost of goods has doubled. I'll need more coin if I'm to provision us properly."
Balgruuf: "Our coffers are nearly empty. I can scarcely afford to pay the guards, and we need every one of them in these troubled times. You'll have to make do with what we have, Proventus."
Proventus: "Yes, my lord."

Legion supportEdit

Hrongar: "Have you reconsidered my idea?"
Balgruuf: "I haven't changed my mind, if that's what you're asking. I won't leave Whiterun defenseless, even for a day."
Hrongar: "If we send half our guards to aid the Legion, just for a few days, it could tip the scales in the Empire's favor. The Companions can help protect the city, and the Emperor will be in our debt."
Balgruuf: "Have you lost all sense? We are short on guards as it is! If we lose half our men, the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves' Guild will have the run of the city. The Stormcloaks will be the least of our worries! The answer is no, I tell you! Now stop pestering me with your war-mongering!"

The Bannered MareEdit

Irileth: "Balgruuf, did you slip out again last night for a drink at the Bannered Mare?"
Balgruuf: "Heard about that, did you? Yes, I went out for a pint or two. What of it?"
Irileth: "These secret visits to the tavern will make you an easy target for an enemy assassin. You should have told me first."
Balgruuf: "Damn it, woman, I'm the Jarl of Whiterun! I won't apologize for talking to my people. You can't protect me every moment of the day."
Irileth: "That might be so, but it will never stop me from trying."


Balgruuf: "I won't say it again, Vignar; Talos worship is forbidden. It's the Empire's law, and we're still a part of the Empire."
Vignar: "A law made at the tip of an Aldmeri sword, aye. A sword stained red with Nord blood. Is this what our people fought and died for? To forsake our most beloved ancestor and divine?"
Balgruuf: "I'm no happier about this than you are, but I don't want the see the Thalmor rounding up people in the streets and throwing them in prison."
Vignar: "Do your loyalties lie with the Thalmor, then?"
Balgruuf: "I warn you, Gray-Mane, you are treading on dangerous ground."
Vignar: ""Don't threaten me, boy. You're either a Nord who respects our traditions, or you're not. If not, it isn't me you'll have to answer to, but the people of this city and this Hold."

Note: the preceding conversation never actually occurs during the game, as Balgruuf and Vignar never meet.[1]


  • "You have my attention."
  • "Speak your mind."
  • "It pleases me to see you again."
  • "Now, if you don't mind, I've got a city to keep."


  • It is possible to pickpocket gold from him and have it respawn with a larger amount.
  • It is possible to gain a bounty in Eastmarch if, when on the Stormcloaks' side, the Dragonborn attacks him before he becomes hostile.
  • Jarl Balgruuf was initially meant to be killable during the The Whispering Door quest. When inspecting the quest through the Creation Kit, it is revealed that all of his children were meant to fall under the influence of Mephala, eventually committing patricide. Hrongar would have replaced Balgruuf as Jarl, having many unused lines of dialogue that parallel that of Balgruuf's during the Civil War Quest and Main Quest.
  • During the Battle for Whiterun (if the Dragonborn has sided with the Stormcloaks), Balgruuf can be pickpocketed for a Necklace of Waterbreathing, which is odd since Balgruuf is never actually anywhere near water in normal gameplay.
  • When asked about him by Gerdur, she will reply saying that he has been at odds with Ulfric for years.
  • Sometimes, after buying Breezehome, and the Miscellaneous quest "Talk to Jarl Balgruuf" is still active, if the player talks to him, Balgruuf will say he can buy Breezehome, even after actually buying it.
  • Balgruuf was voiced by Michael Gough.



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