For other uses, see Jarl Balgruuf.
"If it's the war you're referring to, I'm on the side of Whiterun."
―Balgruuf the Greater[src]

TES5 Balgruuf Sideofwhiterun

Balgruuf the Greater is the Nord Jarl of Whiterun Hold, residing 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 Jarl's weapon is a unique war axe (which can only be acquired through Pickpocket) that carries his name—Balgruuf's War Axe. If the Dragonborn fights Balgruuf in "Battle for Whiterun," he will equip Steel Plate Armor, minus 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. Nelkir mentions how he does not have the same mother as Dagny and Frothar, suggesting either that the Jarl has been married twice and both his spouses died, or that he was married once and either cheated on his spouse or, after her death, had Nelkir with another woman or is adopted.


While eventually becoming loyal to the Empire, he puts Whiterun'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; according to Gerdur, Balgruuf and Ulfric had been at odds for years and fears Balgruuf will side with the Empire out of spite.[1] He is generally more interested in dragons than the Civil War in which he is involved. Since Whiterun's provisions were terribly diminished during the Skyrim Civil War and Ulfric's uprising had doubled the costs of goods, Balgruuf ultimately sided with the Empire in order to preserve the more lucrative trade agreements with the Empire.

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. If encountered at the party at the Thalmor Embassy, he will make this view very clear and will also be more than happy to disrupt the proceedings on behalf of the Dragonborn.

Balgruuf has strong bonds with his friend and Housecarl, Irileth, whom he fought alongside with during his time in the Legion. As such, she rarely lets him out of her sight and berates him for a lack of concern for his personal safety.

In the Official Game Guide, Balgruuf is viewed by many as the embodiment of a true Nord and his allegiance with the Empire as having actually convinced many would-be Stormcloaks that the Empire may actually be the answer to Skyrim's problems.


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 chose. If the Dragonborn sided with the Legion, Balgruuf will give a speech at the end of the battle. 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.



Quest-related dialogueEdit

Message to WhiterunEdit

Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak asked me to deliver this axe to you. "Did he now? Ha. The man is persistent, I'll give him that. I suppose it's time I give him an answer..."

Immediately after finishing speaking to the Dragonborn, he will ask Proventus his opinion on the matter.

Balgruuf: "Proventus, what do you make of all this? If Ulfric were to attack Whiterun..."
Proventus: "As in all things, lord, caution... I urge us to wait and see."
Irileth: "Prey waits."
Balgruuf: "I'm of a mind with Irileth. It's time to act."
Proventus: "You plan to march on Windhelm?"
Balgruuf: "I'm not a fool, Proventus. I mean it's time to challenge Ulfric to face me as a man, or march his Stormcloaks up to the gates."
Proventus: "He'll do no such thing! A dagger in the back is all you could expect!"
Irileth: "He was rather straightforward with Torygg."
Proventus: "Torygg? He simply walked up to the boy and murdered him!"
Irileth: "That "boy" was High King of Skyrim."
Balgruuf: "I'm not the High King, but neither am I a boy. If Ulfric wants to challenge my rule in the Old Way, let him. Though, I suspect he'll prefer to send his "Stormcloaks" to do it for him."
Irileth: "True. He's already proven his personal strength. Now he seeks to prove his army's."
Proventus: "Then might I urge you to consider General Tullius' request? I mean, if you are bent on offending Jarl Ulfric..."
Irileth: "Ulfric is the one who has offended. But, Proventus has a point. Ulfric has made it clear; in his mind, to refuse his claim is to side with the Empire."
Proventus: "And what harm is there in letting a few Legionnaires die in place of your own men?"
Balgruuf: "It seems cowardly."
Irileth: "Was it cowardly then to accept the White-Gold Concordat?"
Balgruuf: "This again? That was different. Was I given a chance to object to the terms of the treaty? No. The Jarls weren't asked. We were told. And we had to like it."
Proventus: "The chests of gold didn't hurt."
Balgruuf: "Damnit! This isn't about gold!"
Irileth: "It's time to decide."
Proventus: "Lord, wait. Let us see if Ulfric is serious."
Balgruuf: "Oh, he's serious. But so am I."
Irileth: "Finally."

When the conversation above meets its end, Balgruuf will say to the Dragonborn, "So, about this axe. You can return this axe to our friend; the esteemed Jarl of Windhelm has my answer. Make sure he gets it." If interrupted during the beginning of the above conversation, Balgruuf will say, "One moment. But don't go far. I expect I'll need you." If interrupted in the later part of it, he will instead make his decision prematurely, saying, "I've made up my mind, even if my advisers are still squabbling. I'm sending you to Windhelm. You can return this axe to our friend. The esteemed Jarl of Windhelm has my answer. Make sure he gets it."

Balgruuf will then cement his decision with a statement regarding making terms with General Tullius about the latter's Legionnaires:

Balgruuf: "Proventus. Bring me my pen. And the good parchment."
Proventus: "Are we writing a letter, Lord?"
Balgruuf: "Yes, to General Tullius. I need to make a few things clear before I accept these Legionnaires of his."

Battle for Whiterun (Stormcloaks)Edit

Balgruuf will be found at his throne in Dragonsreach during the battle. When the palace is entered, Irileth will initiate a short warning against the attackers, to which Balgruuf will reply that such efforts will have no effect. He then proceeds to take out his sword and attack:

Irileth: "Halt! In the name of the Jarl, Balgruuf the Greater."
Balgruuf: "It's a little late for that, don't you think?"
Irileth: "Stay back, lord!"
Balgruuf: "I'll be damned if I let this rabble take my city without raising my own sword."
Irileth: "Protect the Jarl with your lives!"

When he is defeated, Balgruuf will surrender, saying, "Enough! That's enough. I surrender... I surrender. Peace! Everyone stand down. That's an order. Stand down!" At this point, Vignar Gray-Mane will enter Dragonsreach and a final conversation will take place:

Vignar: "Balgruuf!"
Balgruuf: "Vignar Gray-Mane! Your family was noticeably absent from the walls. Now I know why. Wouldn't a dagger in the back have sufficed?"
Vignar: "You think this is personal? The Empire has no place in Skyrim... not any more. And you? You have no place in Whiterun anymore."
Balgruuf: "A convenient position to hold now. But mark my words, old man, in the days to come, Ulfric will spread his rebellion thin. And what then? We need the Empire, as much as it needs us. We Nords are the Empire! Our blood built it. Our blood sustains it! You of all people should know that."
Vignar: "If this was my Empire, I'd be able to worship whoever I damned well pleased. You wish to see an Empire without Talos? Without its soul? We should be fighting those witch-elves, not bending knee to them. The Emperor is nothing more than a puppet of the Thalmor. Skyrim needs a High King who will fight for her, and Whiterun needs a Jarl who will do the same."
Balgruuf: "Tell me, Vignar. Was all this worth it? How many of those corpses lining our streets wear the faces of men who once called you friend? What about their families?"
Galmar: "Enough! Both of you! There is a burning city out there that needs a government."
Vignar: "He's right. Galmar, come, let us restore order."
Balgruuf: "This isn't over. You hear me you old fool! This isn't over! And you. A Stormcloak? I'd thought better of you. (Referring to the Dragonborn.) You'll all come to regret this day."

If spoken to after that in the palace, Balgruuf will defensively say, "I surrender! Give me a few hours to gather my household, and I'll depart. You have my word." If he is followed into his chambers, he will walk to a room in the Dragonsreach Jarl's Quarters with every single resident of the palace in it, who will mostly only plea, "Please! Have mercy... I beg you..."

After this, Balgruuf will only be encountered in the basement of Solitude's Blue Palace.


Whose side are you on? "If it's the war you're referring to, I'm on the side of Whiterun. No doubt General Tullius and his friends in the Empire will tell you that I owe them my loyalty, and perhaps I do. Ulfric Stormcloak would say that I owe my allegiance to the Nord people as they fight for Skyrim's independence. Perhaps this is also true. The day might come when I am forced to draw my sword for one side or the other. But that day has not come yet."

Why do you think Ulfric killed the High King? "No doubt he thought it was the only way to make his point. And also because he knew he could."

How can you protect Whiterun from the dragons? "With good planning and constant vigilance. Even now, my court wizard, Farengar, continues his research into ways we might drive back these... terrors. We must also have ample reserves of water to combat the fires that will surely spread after an attack. But our greatest weapon? Courage. For if we cannot kill the beast, we must at least have the tenacity to drive it back. Until brave heroes step forward to destroy these monsters, that is the best we can do."

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 have the chance to speak of it.[2]

Post-Civil War dialogueEdit

After being exiled from Whiterun by the Stormcloaks, Balgruuf, along with Irileth and Proventus will relocate to the basement of the Blue Palace in Solitude.

Where are your children? "If the gods are merciful, they've found a safe place to hide in the city. I hope Vignar doesn't find them. He'll ask a king's ransom, I'm sure."
Why side with the Empire? "Mutual advantage! Any fool can see that. For centuries, we have benefited from the Empire's protection, and prosperous trade with the south. In exchange, the people of Cyrodiil sleep peacefully, knowing their northern border is guarded by the fiercest warriors in all of Tamriel."
What will it take to end the war? "Ulfric Stormcloak's head on a pike. Do you think Ulfric really cares about Skyrim's independence, or the welfare or its people? I promise you, he doesn't. He's nothing more than a barbarian renegade, whose lust for power has cost the lives of countless innocents."


  • "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."
  • "What do you want, milk drinker?" —In the Blue Palace after being exiled
  • "After Whiterun is retaken, Ulfric will pay in blood for his insolence." —After being exiled
  • "Next time, deal with Avenicci." —After being exiled
  • "We are honored to have you as Thane of our city, Dragonborn."


  • It is possible to pickpocket gold from him and have it respawn with a larger amount.
  • 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.
  • Balgruuf was voiced by Michael Gough, who also voices Vilkas, Calder, and a few other characters.
  • Balgruuf is one of the two Jarls that refer to the player character as "Dragonborn", the other being Ulfric Stormcloak.


This section contains bugs related to Balgruuf the Greater. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  / XB1  ,  PS3  / PS4  ,  PC  / MAC  ,  NX  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person-anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  • It is possible to gain a bounty in Eastmarch if, when on the Stormcloaks' side, the Dragonborn attacks him before he becomes hostile.
  • 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.
  • Even after killing Ulfric Stormcloak and ending the war, he will still talk to the player as if the war is still ongoing



  1. Asking Gerdur if Balgruuf is loyal to the Empire, she'll tell you, "I wouldn't say that. But he and Ulfric have been at odds for years, and I'm afraid Balgruuf will end up siding with the Empire because of it. But it's hard to believe that even Balgruuf would choose Elisif over Ulfric."
  2. Creation Kit

Start a Discussion Discussions about Balgruuf the Greater

  • Balgruuf - The High King we deserve?

    93 messages
    • They should create a expansion mod, where dragonborn becomes an emperor and where you can appoint balgruuf as high king of skyrim would be fun...
    • CzechMate wrote:Balgruuf is the most reasonable of the jarls, shows a good amount of interest in the people, and unlike Elisif, or Ulfric is le...

    38 messages
    • Balgruuf is so sexy. I think it's how calm and leveheaded he is. I can't imagine anyone hating him.
    • AnOldWhig wrote:Yep. He's a good guy and wants to do what is right. In my opinion, one of the few leaders in Skyrim that want to do the ri...