Elder Scrolls

Becoming Thane

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Becoming Thane
Becoming Thane of Whiterun
Location Residence of the Jarl
Becoming Thane is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The Dragonborn can become a Thane of all the holds in Skyrim. The standard formula for each hold is to complete a specific quest or objective for the Jarl and then help out a specific number of citizens within the hold, either by doing quests, miscellaneous objectives, or helping out in some other way.

Becoming a Thane of a Hold carries several perks, including gaining a housecarl if there is property in the hold, and the ability to demand guards to ignore minor crimes.

As noted below many of the potential quest giving citizens (as well as some merchants / potential followers) are at risk of death from dragon attacks, and vampire attacks if Dawnguard is installed. To completely avoid this simply do not start the main quest by talking to the Jarl of Whiterun, and only visit settlements during daylight hours to avoid vampires. No dragons will be encountered (their burial sites will still be intact) and vampires do not appear during the day so the quests to purchase all properties except Breezehome and Hjerim can be safely completed. Dragonsreach can still be entered (e.g. to access the merchant) as long as the Jarl is not spoken to. However if this is done the Dragonborn cannot become the Thane of Whiterun, as it requires them to do the main quest.

A player can then level up to their required level (e.g. using alchemy / smithing / doing side quests) and then reverse-pickpocket decent equipment onto any NPCs that they wish to have a chance of surviving dragon attacks when the main quest is actually started. Blacksmiths are especially vulnerable as they spend their days outside, are wearing unarmored gear and will happily attack a legendary dragon with their personal iron dagger despite having e.g. Daedric weapons in their inventory.

Eastmarch (Capital: Windhelm)Edit

Imperial Legion QuestlineEdit

After completing the Reunification of Skyrim quest, Brunwulf Free-Winter will become Jarl of Windhelm. The Dragonborn must speak to Brunwulf, and Brunwulf will offer the title of Thane contingent on them helping five people of Windhelm and purchasing Hjerim from Brunwulf's steward. After these two objectives have been completed, Brunwulf will grant the Dragonborn the title of Thane, give him a random leveled weapon of Eastmarch, and appoint a housecarl to serve them.

Stormcloak QuestlineEdit

After progressing through the questline Liberation of Skyrim: Liberate Falkreath Hold, the Dragonborn will receive the option to become a Thane. This is done by selecting the "My Jarl, is there anything further you need?" conversation option. Ulfric Stormcloak will respond that there is a place in his court for a new Thane, but the title can only be given to one known throughout the hold and that owns property in Windhelm.

Regardless of the questline followed, there are two requirements to becoming Thane of Eastmarch:

  • Purchase Hjerim from Jorleif for 12,000 gold.
  • Assist five citizens of Eastmarch.

There are several easy ways to assist the people of Eastmarch:

While completing Blood on the Ice is not a prerequisite of becoming a Thane of Eastmarch, the quest will automatically start upon the purchase of Hjerim. Also, if on the Legion's side in the Civil War, Brunwulf's bandit quest must be done to become a Thane anyway.

Falkreath Hold (Capital: Falkreath)Edit

Upon speaking to Jarl Siddgeir, he will request a bottle of Black-Briar Mead. If the Dragonborn waits to reach level ten without visiting Falkreath, the Jarl will request to see them by sending a letter.

The starting quest for the Jarl to obtain a drink is a "radiant" quest that cannot be started if the Dragonborn is already on one of the following quests considered to be part of Rare Gifts.

After getting his drink, the Jarl will give the Dragonborn a quest to kill a bandit leader in a radiant location. Upon completing this objective, the offer of becoming a Thane will be made.

It is also possible to receive a letter where Siddgeir wants to talk to the Dragonborn.

Assist three citizens of Falkreath Hold. This can be done in several ways, including:

  • Selling vegetables at Corpselight Farm.
  • Delivering ashes to the Hall of the Dead for Thadgeir (Dengeir's house).
  • Retrieving Runil's journal from a radiant location.
  • Selling firewood at Half-Moon Mill.
  • Investing in a store.
  • Stealing a private letter from Lod for Dengeir.
  • Dropping a piece of armor in front of Tekla may cause her to ask if she can keep it. Allowing her to keep it counts as helping a citizen.

Because Falkreath has the fewest citizen quests of any hold, and because the town is so open to dragon attacks, if the Dragonborn waits until the mid-game or endgame to become Thane, it can be difficult to find enough citizens alive to do three quests. This becomes an even worse problem with Dawnguard installed, as citizens will also be attacked by vampires. Lod (the blacksmith) and Narri (the tavern worker) can be killed. Players can usually find the remaining quests they need by finding citizens who tend to stay inside buildings and by investing 500 gold in Gray Pine Goods using the Investor Speech skill.

The quest objective for the Jarl will be different depending on civil war quests. If the Hearthfire expansion is installed (and enabled), the Dragonborn may receive a letter at any time early in their adventures from Siddgeir requesting a meeting at his longhouse in Falkreath. If this is the case, if the Dragonborn goes to meet him, the first part of this quest will be skipped entirely in favor of the next part of the quest to become a Thane.

The Jarl of Falkreath is added as a citizen so when the quest is started only two citizens need to be helped.

Rewards for earning this title include the Blade of Falkreath, along with the standard Thane option for dealing with pursuing guards in the hold.

Haafingar (Capital: Solitude)Edit

Talk to Falk Firebeard in the Blue Palace and he will give the quest The Man Who Cried Wolf, investigating the lights and sounds coming out of Wolfskull Cave, which is located in the mountains west of Solitude. After completing the quest, talk to Falk again for a reward. Then speak directly to the Jarl herself and she will thank them and assign one more task.

She will ask that Torygg's war horn be placed on a Shrine of Talos as a tribute to her late husband. Take the war horn to the specified Shrine and place it at the foot of the statue of Talos, then return to Elisif. She will invite the Dragonborn to become a Thane, but only after meeting the requirements.

There are several ways to assist the people, including:

Once this has been done, return to Jarl Elisif and become a Thane of Haafingar and be given the Blade of Haafingar.

Some time after Wolfskull Cave has been cleaned out and the Dragonborn has leveled up at least once, a courier arrives with a letter from Falk requesting a meeting. This initiates the quest to hunt down Potema's spirit, The Wolf Queen Awakened. It is not required to become a Thane, but completing it counts toward the total of helping citizens in Solitude.

Hjaalmarch (Capital: Morthal)Edit

Becoming Thane of Hjaalmarch is fairly straightforward. Investigating the house that burned down, then completing the subsequent quests, will cause the grateful Jarl to say that she'd be happy to make the Dragonborn a Thane once "known through her Hold." This translates into taking miscellaneous quests to help three different people, most of whom can be found in Morthal. Note that completing the quest Laid to Rest may count as one of these assistance quests.

If the only reason for becoming thane is to purchase the land for the Hearthfire DLC, it is not necessary to actually finish helping with the three tasks before being allowed to purchase the land. Upon finding and speak to Aslfur, he may have a dialog option for buying a house, at which point he will say that while there are no houses available, he can sell some land.

The title also includes being awarded the Blade of Hjaalmarch.

Similar to Falkreath, if this is attempted late in the game, it may be difficult to find three citizens alive to help, especially if Dawnguard is installed.

The Pale (Capital: Dawnstar)Edit

Thane of The Pale is obtained by completing the following tasks: The quest Waking Nightmare, which is begun by talking to Erandur in the Windpeak Inn. Then complete three minor quests.

The Dragonborn must be level 22 to obtain the quest to kill a giant, which then leads to the offer to become a Thane (after completing the three minor quests)

the Blade of the Pale is awarded along with the title.

  • An eighth quest for the local museum also exists, but it does not count towards the quest.
  • When selling firewood to Aeri, she will ask that a letter be delivered to the Jarl; this does not count towards the quest.

The Reach (Capital: Markarth)Edit

To become a Thane of Markarth, the Dragonborn needs to kill groups of Forsworn for the Jarl and his steward. Then they must retrieve Hrolfdir's Shield (this quest is only given when at level 20 or higher). The Dragonborn must then help five citizens of Markarth and own Vlindrel Hall to become a Thane.

Alternatively, the Dragonborn can side with the Stormcloaks and take The Reach by force through the Civil War quests. This will change the Jarl to Thongvor Silver-Blood and the Dragonborn will immediately be granted the permission to purchase property and become a Thane without doing anything else.

The above is also possible if the Dragonborn negotiated the exchange of Markarth during Season Unending. The Blade of the Reach is awarded along with the title.

The Rift (Capital: Riften)Edit

Speak to the Argonian named Wujeeta in the fishery on the docks outside the city. Give her the Potion of Healing that she asks for, then ask her about her skooma dealer. Speak to the Jarl to begin the Skooma Trade Quest.

Unlike every other Thane quest, at least 3 other quests to help citizens of the Rift must be completed before the Jarl will offer the title. When enough citizens have been helped, a new miscellaneous quest will appear named, "Speak to the Jarl of Riften.. Before the title can be accepted, Honeyside must be purchased (normally 8,000 gold, it can be purchased with only 5,000). There are a number of quests that can be completed to assist the citizens of the Rift. They include:

Whiterun Hold (Capital: Whiterun)Edit

The Dragonborn becomes a Thane of Whiterun as part of the main quest. After killing the dragon at the Western Watch Tower and revealing that they are the Dragonborn, the Jarl becomes eager to dub them Thane of Whiterun. After becoming a Thane of Whiterun the Jarl will award them the Axe of Whiterun.

Siding with the Stormcloaks in the Civil War places Vignar Gray-Mane on the throne as Jarl of Whiterun and the Dragonborn's status as Thane is revoked. To become a Thane again, the Dragonborn must assist five citizens of Whiterun and purchase Breezehome, (if this hasn't already been done). Speak to Vignar after he is promoted to Jarl about becoming a Thane. He'll award a Blade of Whiterun and grant them the title of Thane again.

Winterhold (Capital: Winterhold)Edit

Retrieve the Helm of Winterhold from a radiant location for the Jarl Korir, and then help three people in the hold.

This can be done by

The Blade of Winterhold will be awarded, along with the new title.


  • Giving a coin to a beggar counts as assisting a citizen.
  • Dropping an item and granting a character's request to take it counts as assisting a citizen.
  • Some quests do not count as assisting a citizen, even if it seems it should.
  • Investing in a shop using the Investor perk from the Speech skill tree counts as helping a citizen.
  • Defeating a Dragon inside any town will count towards helping citizens.
  • Helping a blacksmith in any town counts. (Can only be done once.)
  • Helping one character on two different missions will only count as assisting one citizen.
  • Winning a brawl with a citizen counts toward helping the citizens.


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

  1. Confirm all bugs with other editors on the talk page before adding them below.
  2. Always try reloading an old save first, before asking for assistance.
  3. Do not discuss possible bug fixes or origins. Leave those and all other first-person-anecdotes on the talk page, not the article.
  4. Always add  360  ,  PS3  , or  PC   to clarify which system the bug appears on.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Becoming Thane

  • I can't become thane of Riften.

    39 messages
    • If you buy Honeyside AND upgrade it at all before talking to the Jarl again, there's a bug that often won't let you become thane. Here's a ...
    • For all the people who have Maven for jarl in Riften: If you began helping citizens before she became jarl, you may have to talk to the FOR...
  • Becoming Thane of Falkreath

    29 messages
    • wrote:Sorry to bring this up once again, but I just tried with several armors, weapons etc (you know to drop it off in front...
    • Two months later, long past anyone caring, including myself, but YAY. Turns out, there are TWO characters at Half-Moon Mill, and I had only kil...

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