Five Hundred Companions, often simply called the Five Hundred or Companions, were a group of Nordic warriors led by the legendary Ysgramor in late Merethic Era. The Five Hundred Companions were an army who played a vital role during events of the time period known as the Return. They were fierce warriors who came from Atmora. Their goal was to avenge the brothers and sisters who fell victims of elves during their raid known as Night of Tears.
When Ysgramor and his two sons, Yngol and Ylgar, returned to their homeland, Atmora, after the Night of Tears, they told stories of elven treachery and murders in Saarthal. This inspired men of Atmora to raise an army and avenge the fallen, claiming the Mereth for themselves.
On the Day of Final Passage the Five Hundred set sail for Mereth using longboats that had been made in their massive shipyards of Jylkurfyk. Due to a massive storm, known as the Storm of Separation, Yngol and his crew were the first of the dead. After arriving at Hsaarik Head, the warriors sought to reclaim and avenge the Saarthal and so they did. Many shields were broken during the battles, but in honor of the fallen Shield-Brothers, the faction kept its name - The Five Hundred Companions.
After reclaiming Saarthal Five Hundred formed the Circle of Captains. It was decided that each Captain should take his own boat and crew make its own way, seeking their fates throughout the world. This began a long period of the slaughter of elves and the grand expansion of Men on Tamriel. It is known that Companions spread all over Tamriel, from the valleys of Skyrim to the swamps of Black Marsh.
The Expansion and Elven slaughter or Five Hundred ended with final breath of the harbinger, Ysgramor. It is said to have been seen all over Tamriel as a huge dark storm, and left even the fiercest warriors grieving. Most of the warriors laid down their mighty axes, never to pick them up again. Thus ended the period known as The Return.
- Main article: Companions
After the events of the Return, the remaining Companions lost their grip over Tamriel and most became simple settlers and farmers of the land. Therefore, only remnants of the once great army were present in Skyrim.
The Companions had still survived till the Fourth Era, more precisely, the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. During that time the faction had given up its original name and had become known simply as The Companions. Traditions and goals had changed over time as well. For example, no longer were Companion groups under the control of Captains since sailing and settlement were no longer driving racial concerns. Some of them have embraced lycanthropy, offered by foul hagravens. A more significant difference was in the motives of the companions: by the Fouth Era Companions had become mercenaries who hunted beasts and criminals, but not Mer.
Five Hundred Companions were a group who considered that every man should be able to make his own path without guidance of others. There were no rules that bound someone under rule of another. Companions were free to come and go as they wish. The only thing that bound him to his Shield-Brothers and Sisters was his honor. As a result there were not so many ranks within the army.
- Main article: Harbinger
The Harbinger was considered to be the commander of the army. During the time of the Return this role was taken by Ysgramor. Companions followed his commands and listened to his advice but he did not command the army with an iron fist, and men followed him by their own free will.
The Harbingers's role shrank significantly after the assembly of the Circle of Captains. No other harbingers were considered rulers among the Companions after the death of Ysgramor.
- Main article: Captain (Five Hundred Companions)
Captains were commanders of longboats and their crews. After the reclaiming of Saarthal, the Circle of Captains was assembled to decide what the Five Hundred should do next. It was decided that every crew and its captain should make their own way and split up. Like the the Harbinger, a captain did not have an iron-fisted rule over his men and they followed him freely.
As the Companions settled, sailing decreased in importance and so longboats were no longer needed. Thus the rank of Captain was lost. However the tradition of the Circle remained.
Shield-Brothers and sistersEdit
- Main article: Shield-Brothers
Shield-Brothers or Sisters weren't actually a rank in the Five Hundred Companions. However, it was a common phrase to add to one's name. It meant that that they would watch each others' back in battle and won't hesitate to fight for each other.
This phrase is still commonly used among Nords as a sign of trust among warriors.
- Ysgramor, Harbinger of the Five Hundred, Captain of Ylgermet
- The names of the Five Hundred Companions are still recited every Thirteenth of Sun's Dawn at the Feast of the Dead in Windhelm.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Mentioned only)
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Skyrim
- Songs of the Return, Vol 2
- Songs of the Return, Vol 7
- Songs of the Return, Vol 19
- Songs of the Return, Vol 24
- Songs of the Return, Vol 56
- Night of Tears
- Yngol and the Sea-Ghosts