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Housecarl

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Lydia

Lydia, housecarl to the Dragonborn in Whiterun.

Housecarl (or Huscarl) is a title bestowed upon the bodyguard of an important person in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Generally excelling at physical combat, the housecarl protects their liege, their home, their family, and their assets with their lives. The nine Jarls of Skyrim each have a housecarl. It is common practice for Thanes to have housecarls as well. Persons of extreme notability, such as the Dragonborn who emerged during the Dragon Crisis of the Fourth Era, may have several housecarls, each of whom might have accompanied them into combat as a follower or engaged them as a spouse.

Relationship to liege

A housecarl is a formidable warrior, and is usually found next to, or close by their master. If their Jarl or Thane is attacked, the housecarl will be the first to enter the battle to fight for his or her liege's life. It is socially acceptable for a Thane to marry their housecarl.

In Falkreath, the title seems to be more of an office — as Helvard puts it, "I protect the Jarl, whoever that might be."[1] This means that the Housecarl of Falkreath is not sworn to protect a single individual and continues his service if a new Jarl takes over. On the other hand, it may simply be Helvard's personal preference.

Housecarls to notable figures

Jarls

Hold Housecarl 1 Jarl(s) served Housecarl 2 Jarl served
Eastmarch Galmar Stone-Fist Ulfric Stormcloak Legate Hrollod

Brunwulf Free-Winter  

Falkreath Helvard Siddgeir; Dengeir
Haafingar Bolgeir Bearclaw Elisif the Fair
Hjaalmarch Gorm Idgrod Ravencrone Teeba-Ei Sorli the Builder
The Pale Jod Skald the Elder Horik Halfhand* Brina Merilis
The Reach Faleen Igmund Yngvar the Singer Thongvor Silver-Blood
The Rift Unmid Snow-Shod Laila Law-Giver Maul Maven Black-Briar
Whiterun Irileth Balgruuf the Greater Olfina Gray-Mane Vignar Gray-Mane
Winterhold Thaena Korir Thonjolf* Kraldar
* Serves as Housecarl even before his master becomes Jarl.

Others

Housecarls appointed to the Dragonborn

Becoming the Thane of a Hold will grant a personal housecarl. In the base game, all available housecarls are Nord warriors, as is Gregor, the housecarl for the Pale, who is added by The Elder Scrolls V: Hearthfire. Of the other two Hearthfire housecarls, Valdimar is a battlemage rather than a warrior, and Rayya is a Redguard rather than a Nord.

The five housecarls in the base game have the same base gear: a set of Steel Armor without a helmet, accompanied by a Steel Sword and Shield. The three Hearthfire housecarls each have a slightly different equipment: Rayya duel-wields scimitars; Gregor uses a two-handed Steel Greatsword; and Valdimar wears light Scaled Armor, wields a Steel Mace, and uses Destruction spells.

After being appointed, housecarls can be found in the player's House or Homestead in the relevant Hold. If this property is not owned, the housecarl will wait in the Jarl's residence.

Housecarls match Character Level at the time of appointment, with a level cap of 50.

No housecarl is available in Winterhold.

Name Location Required Thaneship Sex Race Marriage
Argis the Bulwark Vlindrel Hall, Markarth The Reach M Nord Yes
Calder Hjerim, Windhelm Eastmarch M Nord Yes
Gregor The White Hall
or Heljarchen Hall
The Pale M Nord Yes
Iona Honeyside, Riften The Rift F Nord Yes
Jordis the Sword-Maiden Proudspire Manor, Solitude Haafingar F Nord Yes
Lydia Dragonsreach
or Breezehome, Whiterun
Whiterun F Nord Yes
Rayya Jarl's Longhouse
or Lakeview Manor
Falkreath F Redguard Yes
Valdimar Highmoon Hall
or Windstad Manor
Hjaalmarch M Nord Yes

† Only available with The Elder Scrolls V: Hearthfire.

Real-world meaning

In Medieval Scandinavia, the housecarls (húskarl) were personal male servants of Scandinavian Chieftains, Jarls and Kings, their roles encompassed many aspects involving a person's home such as organizing the household, guarding the master's properties and were also in charge of protecting their master's interests. The word housecarl is a direct translation of the Norse word húskarl (house man). The term was also used in Anglo-Saxon England, where the Housecarls were not just bodyguards and keepers of household but the elite fighters and leaders of the Jarl's armies.

Trivia

Bugs

  •  360   Marrying Mjoll the Lioness, the Dragonborn does not receive a housecarl when a house is purchased from a Jarl's steward, because Aerin, Mjoll's companion, lives with her and thus her husband or wife should she marry. This happens because there would be no sleeping quarters for a housecarl because Aerin takes the only remaining bed.

References

  1. Conversation with Helvard.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Housecarl

  • Wife and Steward fight/argument?

    11 messages
    • 120, I think what Frozen was referring to was something else. The fighting over a dropped item isn't exclusive to Hearthfire, but this appar...
    • It may have just been a bug. Two NPCS fighting over an item that's not really there.
  • New Housecarl

    2 messages
    • Ok, quick question. So if my housecarl in, say, Windhelm dies. Will I be able to get a new one? I was thinking that if I bring a follower to ...
    • You can have steward only in Morthal, Dawnstar and Falkreath - if your steward dies, yes you should be able to hire new one (I´ve done it on...

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